2017 Intermediate Nutmeg Nominees (grades 4-6)

Gaby, Lost and Found by Angela Cervantes

Gaby, Lost and Found by Angela Cervantes

From School Library Journal

Gr 5-8–When Gaby Ramirez Howard’s mother is deported back to Honduras, the sixth-grader’s life is anything but stable. Her father often forgets to purchase food, but worse, neglects his daughter emotionally. She is an outcast at St. Ann’s where classmates tease her about her family life. With everything falling apart, the protagonist finds strength and self-confidence in the class service project at their local animal shelter. She showcases her writing skills, creating individual profiles for each animal. Although her life parallels many of the abandoned pets, Gaby takes on the role of protector and defender. Her profiles and hard work help many animals find a new home and a true family, something that Gaby is lacking. The plot and tone are spiced with Spanish words along with tidbits of Honduran culture. The author humanizes the controversial issue of illegal immigration and paints an emotionally compelling story. The short chapters and simple plot will keep readers engaged. Kids will be initially attracted by the animal-shelter theme but ultimately maintain interest due to Gaby’s absorbing story. The novel provides a glimpse into the lives of young people growing up in modern society, and is a welcome addition to middle-school collections.–Mary-Brook J. Townsend, The McGillis School, Salt Lake City, UTα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky

Red Berries, White Clouds, Blue Sky by Sandra Dallas

From School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Tomi is a 12-year-old American citizen of Japanese descent living in California during World War II. Her life is turned upside down after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. “No Japs Allowed” signs hang in shop windows and she is excluded from events as a result of her heritage. Ultimately, Tomi and her family are sent to an internment camp called Tallgrass (based on Amache, an internment camp in Colorado). Tomi does not understand why she should be relocated; she was born in America; she is an American. She has never been to Japan and does not even speak Japanese. Rather than feel defeated, she finds strength in dire circumstances. Tomi makes it her mission to improve the lives of those around her and give them happiness. Dallas makes an important time in American history accessible to middle grade readers with this novel that illuminates a time of discrimination while promoting a message of perseverance and tolerance.—Tiffany Davis, Mount Saint Mary College, Newburgh, NY –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
space case

Space Case by Stuart Gibbs

From School Library Journal

Gr 3–7—The year is 2040. Dash, his sister, and their scientist parents are inaugural inhabitants of Moon Base Alpha (MBA), Earth’s extraterrestrial colony. Housing only a few dozen people and governed by a strict commander, MBA is not exactly a barrel of laughs for a 12-year-old boy. However, when one of MBA’s scientists dies suspiciously and a supply ship brings new residents (including a girl his age), life in space becomes much more intriguing. Though the story has many humorous moments—especially involving the insufferable wealthy space tourists—it also has some plausible science. Each chapter is preceded by a reading from “The Official Residents’ Guide to Moon Base Alpha,” NASA’s part propaganda/part instruction manual, containing such riveting topics as “Exercise” and “Food.” Narrator Gibson Frazier keeps the story moving at a good pace, conveying suspense without melodrama. Rather than create pitched character voices, he relies on intonation to differentiate among the large cast. His own voice is deep and clear but boyish enough to suit Dash. The narration flows smoothly, broken only by the humorously intended commercial quality of the “Official Resident’s Guide.” Space Case should appeal to a broad range of listeners but especially space enthusiasts.—Lisa Taylor, Ocean County Library, NJ –This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Mr. Lemoncello's Library

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

From School Library Journal
Gr 4–8—The world’s most famous game maker, Luigi Lemoncello, has just designed a brand-new, state-of-the-art library in his hometown, and he’s invited 12 lucky seventh graders to stay the night just before its grand opening. Avid gamer Kyle Keeley jumps at the chance to meet his idol and see a real live library. After the previous library’s demolition, this is the first library this small town has had in 12 years. Kyle is elated when his essay is chosen, and he gets to be among the first to wander the halls of one of the most interactive libraries ever. Kyle and the other contestants have 24 hours to find a secret exit out of the building and win a spectacular prize, and when the doors shut, the games really begin. Love of literature is a must if you want to escape. Librarians will fall in love with Mr. Lemoncello’s library. This title is filled to the brim with witty literary references, an education on the Dewey Decimal System, and zany word puzzles. Narrator Jesse Bernstein expertly brings to life each character from the whimsical Lemoncello to the pretentious bully Charles Chillington. Insatiable readers who pick up on all the references will adore this book, as will general puzzle and mystery enthusiasts. The antics are similar to Patrick Carman’s Floors while the puzzles are relatable to Blue Balliet’s Chasing Vermeer.—Amanda Schiavulli, Finger Lakes Library System, NY –This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Roller Girl

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

A Newbery Honor book
New York Times Bestseller
A Spring 2015 Indie Next Pick
New York Times Book Review Notable Children’s Book of 2015
A New York Public Library Best Book for Reading and Sharing of 2015
Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2015
School Library Journal Best Book of 2015
Kirkus Reviews Best Book of 2015
A Top 10 Latin@ Book of 2015
Parents Magazine Best Children’s Book of 2015
A Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2015
A Texas Bluebonnet Award 2016-2017 nominee
A 2016 YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers selection
A 2016 YALSA Popular Paperback selection
An ALA Notable Children’s Book of 2016
A 2015 Nerdy Book Club Award Winner for Best Graphic Novel

From School Library Journal
Gr 4–8—Twelve-year-old Astrid realizes that her interests are distinctly different from those of her best friend. Mesmerized while viewing a roller derby, she dreams of becoming a “Roller Girl” but discovers that the sport is considerably more daunting than she imagined and is not without physical, social, and emotional pain. Nevertheless, Astrid is determined to succeed. While this graphic novel provides interesting information about the sport, at its heart it is a story of friendship, exploring the tensions which test the girls’ relationship as they move from childhood to adolescence. Astrid learns to be honest with herself, her mother, and her friends through a series of stressful events. The graphic novelist employs several excellent visual devices: angles to denote action and effective placement and space within panels. Jamieson’s clever use of imagery is noteworthy. For example, desert and prehistoric depictions are used to suggest exaggerated perceptions of elapsed time. Her clothes shopping “hell” sequence is spot-on. Panels with stick figures are employed for comments, notes, and explanations. A prologue effectively frames the story and the realistic style with full-color art is reminiscent of the work of Raina Telgemeier. While at times some panels are a bit text-dense, the story will engage readers who will identify with Astrid as she deals with frustrations and disappointments. It will especially appeal to those whose aspirations fly in the face of convention. Offer this comic to fans of Telgemeier’s Smile (Scholastic, 2010) and Laura Lee Gulledge’s Page by Paige (Abrams, 2011).—Barbara M. Moon, Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
Masterminds by Gordon Korman

Masterminds by Gordon Korman

From School Library Journal

Gr 4–6—Serenity, New Mexico is an idyllic community for all its inhabitants. Everyone has everything they need and no one lies. As the local newspaper boasts, “Serenity Voted #1 in USA for standard of living.” Eli has always been happy with his life and never had any reason to want to leave. One day though, while on a bike ride past the outskirts of town with his best friend Randy, Eli begins to feel sick. When he recovers from his illness he discovers that Randy, who convinced him to ride out, has to leave town. Randy tells everyone that he is going to his grandparents’ house, but he is acting strange and no longer wants to hang out with Eli. After Randy leaves, Eli finds a note that makes him realize this may not be the perfect town after all. Eli and a few friends begin to uncover secrets and discover that honesty may not be at the heart of Serenity. They also realize that they can’t trust anyone, especially not their parents. Korman has created a fun and creative story that delves into the philosophy of what makes us human and whether or not we are defined by our circumstances. Told in alternating voices, readers will get insight into life in Serenity and make life-changing discoveries with the characters. This unique and action-packed story is filled with twists and turns that readers will not see coming. A wonderful start to what promises to be a thrilling series.—Kristyn Dorfman, The Packer Collegiate Institute, Brooklyn, NY –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy

From School Library Journal

Gr 3–6— With four brothers, a dog, a cat, school projects, soccer matches, and a grumpy neighbor, the Fletchers are your typical American family…with two dads, and siblings who are adopted kids from various ethnic backgrounds. While 12-year-old Sam ponders whether trying out for the school play will interfere with his identity as a soccer player, 10-year-old Jax negotiates changing friendships and a veteran project that involves talking to the unfriendly Vietnam vet next door. Meanwhile, Eli, also age 10, finds that his new, academically oriented school isn’t everything he expected it would be, and six-year-old Frog attempts to convince his family that his kindergarten best friend is not imaginary. Turtles and kittens are requested, camping trips are taken, and holiday celebrations (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Chanukah, and Christmas) involve minor kitchen fires, missing turkeys, and other mishaps. Through it all, Dad and Papa complain about the mischief as often as they join in themselves. Although the tone is never preachy, the brothers nevertheless learn over the course of the year that identities can expand, friendships can evolve, and making mistakes is okay. With its semi-episodic structure, laugh-out-loud humor, and mix of zaniness and love, Levy’s debut offers something truly significant: a middle-grade family story featuring gay parents and interracial families that is never about either issue. Fans of Beverly Cleary’s Quimbys, Judy Blume’s Hatchers, and, more recently, Jeanne Birdsall’s Penderwicks will fervently hope that more Fletcher misadventures are yet to come.—Jill Ratzan, I. L. Peretz Community Jewish School, Somerset, NJ –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy

From School Library Journal

Gr 4–7—A delightful and inspiring debut. Mama has a wandering heart, which means that 12-year-old Felicity Pickle and her little sister, Frannie Jo, have wandered along with her in their battered van. But Midnight Gulch feels like home, and not just because it’s where Mama grew up. It’s one of those quirky little towns where there just might be magic. It’s the characters that make this story shine: gruff Aunt Cleo and her tongue-tied swain; Oliver and Ponder, purveyors of unusual ice cream and baked goods, respectively; Jewell Pickett, hair-stylist and auto-mechanic extraordinaire; and her son Jonah, who has the amazing ability to make things better for anybody, despite his own difficulties. And Felicity, who sees words everywhere and uses them in remarkable ways. She’s a girl who loves deeply and openly, and who creates her own kind of magic. Added to these elements are a series of folkloric backstories about feuding brothers, doomed romances, mysterious do-gooders, lost children, and a curse. Mibs Beaumont and her magically gifted clan from Ingrid Law’s Savvy (Dial, 2008) would feel right at home here. As Felicity loves to say, “Yes…yes…yes!”—Mara Alpert, Los Angeles Public Library –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel

From School Library Journal

Gr 5–8—All aboard for an exciting tale of steam-powered automatons, a bloodthirsty sasquatch, colorful circuses, and magical paintings. Aspiring artist Will Everett knows he’s not cut out to follow in the footsteps of his railroad manager father, but his pampered life leaves little opportunity for adventure. Then he boards The Boundless, the world’s largest and most luxurious train. After acquiring the key to the railway owner’s funeral car, Will is running for his life, pursued by deadly enemies who will do anything to possess the car’s valuable contents. He is rescued by Mr. Dorian, ringmaster of the famed Zircus Dante, and an escape artist called The Miraculous Maren. These two performers, however, have their own secret agenda for helping Will. As The Boundless thunders toward its destination, Will must decide who to trust, if anyone. Along the way, Will is on the adventure of a lifetime. With its imaginative plot, cast of colorful, well-rounded characters, and nonstop action, Oppel’s latest is a delight to read from the first page right through the satisfying conclusion. Take note: This book will be popular!—Alissa J. Bach, Oxford Public Library, MI –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile by Marcia Wells

Eddie Red Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile by Marcia Wells

From School Library Journal

Gr 4–6—Edmund Xavier Lonnrot has a photographic memory and amazing art abilities, but in lots of ways he is just an ordinary sixth grader—growing tongue-tied and sweaty-palmed around a crush, playing video games with his best friend, and trying to convince his parents to give him more independence. His remarkable skills come to the attention of the local police, after he witnesses a man fleeing an altercation. Eddie can draw the suspect from memory and he is hired to help with a complicated art-theft case. Now known as “Eddie Red”—the codename he is given—he is eager to help, hoping to earn money to keep attending the school he loves in the wake of his father’s recent layoff. Although he assists the police, his realistic sixth-graderness leads to some problems: using an officer’s taser just like in the movies, getting really bored during stakeouts, and getting tied up after underestimating the real dangers involved. The plot moves along at a good pace, and though at times it strains belief, most readers won’t mind. Eddie’s portraits are sprinkled throughout the book, giving it added visual appeal and filling in some of the gaps in character development. “Eddie Red” is bound to be a series that will appeal to fans of fast-paced mysteries who have outgrown David A. Adler’s “Cam Jansen” (Viking) books, but are not quite ready for the nuance of Blue Balliett’s Chasing Vermeer (Scholastic, 2004).—Gesse Stark-Smith, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR –This text refers to the Hardcover edition.