The Pond Book News #102 – Kids Saving the World: A Marvelous Week of Magical Middle Grade Releases

Welcome to Issue #102!

Sprout the sparrow, doing a curtsy with their eyes closed and a smile on their face. Their cape swooshes in the wind with their arm extended in their curtsy.

The trees are whispering…

Friends, welcome to another exciting week of The Pond Book News! Every Sunday, The Quiet Pond brings you a fresh issue of book news to catch you up on the week’s lineup of diverse book releases, cover reveals, book news, and sometimes more! Now, onwards to the brilliant books!

Book Releases this Week [September 19th – September 25th]

Iron Widow by Xiran Jay Zhao

The boys of Huaxia dream of pairing up with girls to pilot Chrysalises, giant transforming robots that can battle the mecha aliens that lurk beyond the Great Wall. It doesn’t matter that the girls often die from the mental strain.

When 18-year-old Zetian offers herself up as a concubine-pilot, it’s to assassinate the ace male pilot responsible for her sister’s death. But she gets her vengeance in a way nobody expected—she kills him through the psychic link between pilots and emerges from the cockpit unscathed. She is labeled an Iron Widow, a much-feared and much-silenced kind of female pilot who can sacrifice boys to power up Chrysalises instead.​

To tame her unnerving yet invaluable mental strength, she is paired up with Li Shimin, the strongest and most controversial male pilot in Huaxia​. But now that Zetian has had a taste of power, she will not cower so easily. She will miss no opportunity to leverage their combined might and infamy to survive attempt after attempt on her life, until she can figure out exactly why the pilot system works in its misogynist way—and stop more girls from being sacrificed.

Releases on Sept 21. Add this book to Goodreads!


The Bronzed Beasts by Roshani Chokshi

In love they breathed. In destiny they believed. In the end, will divinity be their demise?

After Séverin’s seeming betrayal, the crew is fractured. Armed with only a handful of hints, Enrique, Laila, Hypnos and Zofia must find their way through the snarled, haunted waterways of Venice, Italy to locate Séverin.

Meanwhile, Séverin must balance the deranged whims of the Patriarch of the Fallen House and discover the location of a temple beneath a plague island where the Divine Lyre can be played and all that he desires will come to pass.

With only ten days until Laila expires, the crew will face plague pits and deadly masquerades, unearthly songs and the shining steps of a temple whose powers might offer divinity itself…but at a price they may not be willing to pay.

Releases on Sept 21. Add this book to Goodreads!


Under the Whispering Door by T. J. Klune

When a reaper comes to collect Wallace Price from his own funeral, Wallace suspects he really might be dead.

Instead of leading him directly to the afterlife, the reaper takes him to a small village. On the outskirts, off the path through the woods, tucked between mountains, is a particular tea shop, run by a man named Hugo. Hugo is the tea shop’s owner to locals and the ferryman to souls who need to cross over.

But Wallace isn’t ready to abandon the life he barely lived. With Hugo’s help he finally starts to learn about all the things he missed in life.

When the Manager, a curious and powerful being, arrives at the tea shop and gives Wallace one week to cross over, Wallace sets about living a lifetime in seven days.

Releases on Sept 21. Add this book to Goodreads!


Things We Couldn’t Say by Jay Coles

There’s always been a hole in Gio’s life. Not because he’s into both guys and girls. Not because his father has some drinking issues. Not because his friends are always bringing him their drama. No, the hole in Gio’s life takes the shape of his birth mom, who left Gio, his brother, and his father when Gio was nine years old. For eight years, he never heard a word from her . . . and now, just as he’s started to get his life together, she’s back.

It’s hard for Gio to know what to do. Can he forgive her like she wants to be forgiven? Or should he tell her she lost her chance to be in his life? Complicating things further, Gio’s started to hang out with David, a new guy on the basketball team. Are they friends? More than friends? At first, Gio’s not sure . . . especially because he’s not sure what he wants from anyone right now.

There are no easy answers to love — whether it’s family love or friend love or romantic love.

Releases on Sept 21. Add this book to Goodreads!


When We Make It by Elisabet Velasquez

Sarai is a first-generation Puerto Rican eighth grader who can see with clarity the truth, pain, and beauty of the world both inside and outside her Bushwick apartment. Together with her older sister Estrella, she navigates the strain of family traumas and the systemic pressures of toxic masculinity and housing insecurity in a rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn. Sarai questions the society around her, her Boricua identity, and the life she lives with determination and an open heart, learning to celebrate herself in a way that she has been denied.

When We Make It is a love letter to girls who were taught to believe they would not make it at all. The verse is evocative and insightful, and readers are sure to be swept into Sarai’s world and rooting for her long after they close the book.

Releases on Sept 21. Add this book to Goodreads!


Big Boned by Jo Watson

Can she be herself in a one-size-fits-all world?

Lori Palmer is the new girl at Bay Water High, where students prize glossy hair, beach bodies, and school spirit above all else. She misses her old school―where her talent as an artist carried more weight than she does―and longs for her old family life, before her parents got divorced and her mom reinvented herself.

So Lori decides that the only way to survive the rest of the year is to blend into the background, but her plans go awry when she discovers that the most popular (and hottest) guy at Bay Water High, Jake, is a volunteer at her brother’s school. When her brother befriends Jake’s sister, Lori is suddenly thrust into his unfamiliar and exhilarating world of water polo, parties, and stargazing.

But with her relationship with her mother deteriorating, old anxieties resurface and Lori finds a new artistic release that unknowingly ignites a powerful movement. When the authorities start asking questions, Lori realizes that finding her voice might have gotten her into a world of trouble…but sometimes standing up for what you believe in is as important as standing up for yourself.

Releases on Sept 21. Add this book to Goodreads!


Maya and the Return of the Godlings by Rena Barron

The threat from The Dark is far from over. Twelve-year-old Maya knows this. After crossing the veil between the two worlds, saving her father, and narrowly escaping the sinister clutches of the Lord of Shadows, tensions between the human world and The Dark are higher than ever. And even worse, Maya’s orisha powers as a godling are out of control.

Now a guardian in training, Maya spends her days patching up veils with her father and cleaning up near-disasters like baby wormholes that her erratic powers create. But when Maya and her friends discover that something went terribly wrong during their journey to bring her father back to the human world, they are forced to return to The Dark and restore what they left behind, the one thing keeping the veil from falling: her father’s soul.

The Lord of Shadows is mobilizing his forces for an all-out war against the human world. And this time, Maya and her friends will need all the help they can get. Even if that means teaming up with their greatest enemies, the darkbringers.

Releases on Sept 21. Add this book to Goodreads!


The Insiders by Mark Oshiro

Three kids who don’t belong. A room that shouldn’t exist. A year that will change everything.

San Francisco and Orangevale may be in the same state, but for Héctor Muñoz, they might as well be a million miles apart. Back home, being gay didn’t mean feeling different. At Héctor’s new school, he couldn’t feel more alone.

Most days, Héctor just wishes he could disappear. And he does. Right into the janitor’s closet. (Yes, he sees the irony.) But one day, when the door closes behind him, Héctor discovers he’s stumbled into a room that shouldn’t be possible. A room that connects him with two new friends from different corners of the country—and opens the door to a life-changing year full of magic, friendship, and adventure.

Releases on Sept 21. Add this book to Goodreads!


Room to Dream by Kelly Yang

Mia Tang is going for her dreams!

After years of hard work, Mia Tang finally gets to go on vacation with her family — to China! A total dream come true! Mia can’t wait to see all her cousins and grandparents again, especially her cousin Shen. As she roams around Beijing, witnessing some of the big changes China’s going through, Mia thinks about the changes in her own life, like…

1. Lupe’s taking classes at the high school! And Mia’s own plans to be a big writer are… stuck.

2. Something happened with Jason and Mia has no idea what to do about it.

3. New buildings are popping up all around the motel, and small businesses are disappearing.

Can the Calivista survive? Buckle up! Mia is more determined than ever to get through the turbulence, now that she finally has… room to dream!

Releases on Sept 21. Add this book to Goodreads!


Last Gamer Standing by Katie Zhao

Twelve-year-old Reyna Cheng is the up-and-coming junior amateur Dayhold gamer, competing in a VR battle royale against AI monsters and human players alike. But despite Reyna’s rising popularity and skills, no one know who she is. Gaming is still a boy’s club and to protect herself against trolls, she games as the mysterious TheRuiNar.

When Reyna qualifies for the Dayhold Junior Tournament sponsored by her favorite team, she knows she’s got what it takes to win the championship title and the $10,000 prize.

But when she’s blackmailed and threatened to be doxed, having her personal identity revealed, by an anonymous troll, Reyna will have to deal with a toxic gaming community, family complications, and the increasing pressure to win as the tournament gets underway.

Releases on Sept 21. Add this book to Goodreads!


Cuba in My Pocket by Adrianna Cuevas

“I don’t remember. Tell me everything, Pepito. Tell me about Cuba.”

When the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 solidifies Castro’s power in Cuba, twelve-year-old Cumba’s family makes the difficult decision to send him to Florida alone. Faced with the prospect of living in another country by himself, Cumba tries to remember the sound of his father’s clarinet, the smell of his mother’s lavender perfume.

Life in the United States presents a whole new set of challenges. Lost in a sea of English speakers, Cumba has to navigate a new city, a new school, and new freedom all on his own. With each day, Cumba feels more confident in his new surroundings, but he continues to wonder: Will his family ever be whole again? Or will they remain just out of reach, ninety miles across the sea?

Releases on Sept 21. Add this book to Goodreads!


The Leopard Behind the Moon by Mayonn Paasewe-Valchev

No one knows what lies beyond the magical village door, but Ezomo is determined to find out.

There are three important laws in Ezomo’s village: Do not go to The Valley, do not go out at night, and never, ever, ever open the magical door that protects them all. But when Ezomo encounters the leopard believed to have killed his father, he and his two best friends embark on a journey that leads them past the boundaries set by their elders.

With his friends by his side, Ezomo chases after the leopard, certain that it has the power to cure all, and in the process he discovers the true history of his village, and that cautionary tales exist for a reason.

Releases on Sept 21. Add this book to Goodreads!


Amira & Hamza: The War to Save the Worlds by Samira Ahmed

On the day of a rare super blue blood moon eclipse, twelve-year-old Amira and her little brother, Hamza, can’t stop their bickering while attending a special exhibit on medieval Islamic astronomy. While stargazer Amira is wowed by the amazing gadgets, a bored Hamza wanders off, stumbling across the mesmerizing and forbidden Box of the Moon. Amira can only watch in horror as Hamza grabs the defunct box and it springs to life, setting off a series of events that could shatter their world—literally.

Suddenly, day turns to night, everyone around Amira and Hamza falls under a sleep spell, and a chunk of the moon breaks off, hurtling toward them at lightning speed, as they come face-to-face with two otherworldly creatures: jinn.

The jinn reveal that the siblings have a role to play in an ancient prophecy. Together, they must journey to the mystical land of Qaf, battle a great evil, and end a civil war to prevent the moon—the stopper between realms—from breaking apart and unleashing terrifying jinn, devs, and ghuls onto earth. Or they might have to say goodbye to their parents and life as they know it, forever.…

Releases on Sept 21. Add this book to Goodreads!


The Samosa Rebellion by Shanthi Sekaran

Before his grandmother moved from India to the island of Mariposa, Muki Krishnan’s life was good. But now? He has to share his bedroom with Paati, his grandmother, who snores like a bulldozer and wakes him up at dawn to do yoga.

Paati’s arrival coincides with even bigger changes in Mariposa. The president divides citizens into Butterflies—families who have lived in Mariposa for three generations—and Moths, who, like Muki’s family, are more recent immigrants. The changes are small at first. But then Muki and his friends find a camp being built to imprison Moths before sending them away. Soon after, his Paati is captured and taken there.

While devising Paati’s escape, Muki discovers that a secret rebellion is underway, and as he digs deeper, he realizes that rescuing Paati will be the fight of his life.

Releases on Sept 21. Add this book to Goodreads!

Book News

Cover Reveal: The Last Mapmaker by Christina Soontornvat

Illustration: Christina Chung | Design: Hayley Parker | Add this book to Goodreads!


Cover Reveal: Shine On, Luz Véliz! by Rebecca Balcárcel

Illustration: Caribay Marquina | Design: TBA | Add this book to Goodreads!


Cover Reveal: A Prayer for the Crown-Shy by Becky Chambers

Illustration: Feifei Ruan | Design: Christine Foltzer | Add this book to Goodreads!


Cover Reveal: Fake it Till You Bake It by Jamie Wesley

Illustration: Alex Cabal | Design: TBA | Add this book to Goodreads!


Cover Reveal: The City of Dusk by Tara Sim

Illustration: Ben Zweifel | Design: Lisa Marie Pompilio | Add this book to Goodreads!


Cover Reveal: Glorious Poison by Kat Dunn

Illustration: Laura Brett | Design: TBA | Add this book to Goodreads!


Cover Reveal: T. J. Powar Has Something to Prove by Jesmeen Kaur Deo

Illustration: Fatima Baig | Design: Kristie Radwilowicz | Add this book to Goodreads!


Book Announcement: A dual-POV YA romancedebut by Ebony LaDelle featuring a radio host and an aspiring writer


Book Announcement: A YA novel-in-verse about sexual assault, religion, and healing by Hannah V. Sawyer


Book Announcement: A YA fantasy by Bethany Baptiste about potions, politics, and a brewing war


Book Announcement: A YA romcom about Chinatown, gentrification, and alternate internet personas by Livia Blackburne


Book Announcement: A debut YA sci-fi by Rose Egal about aliens and elite squads at a secret military academy


Book Announcement: A time-loop YA fantasy by Zeba Shahnaz set in a doomed royal ball


Book Announcement: A YA debut by Charlene Thomas about high school football and hidden secrets


Book Announcement: A middle grade about mental health stigma and Latine families by Andrea Beatriz Arango


Book Announcement: A YA graphic novel featuring two sisters set in the aftermath of the 1982 Guatemala civil war by Pablo Leon


Book Announcement: A grumpy x sunshine YA romance set in India by Nisha Sharma


Book Announcement: Waka T. Brown’s forthcoming middle grade fantasy retelling of Japanese folklore, featuring overprotective parents and a wish-granting demon


Book Announcement: A middle grade about Japanese-American identity and a viral Instagram video by A. Y. Hashitate


Book Announcement: A middle grade by Meg Eden Kuyatt about an autistic girl and neurodivergence


Book Announcement: A middle grade exploring gender in sports, grief, and figure-skating by Caroline Huntoon

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s