Black Panther, Harley Quinn, & Mel Blanc | Middle Grade Audiobooks Publishing in January

Asim, Jabari. A Child’s Introduction to African American History: The Experiences, People, and Events That Shaped Our Country. Hachette Audio. ISBN 9781549140839. Reader TBA.
Gr 3-7–Asim’s history begins with the slave trade and the middle passage through the abolitionist movement and the Civil War where many African Americans fought as soldiers. Listeners will learn how slave songs often contained hidden messages and how a 15-year-old Jamaican-born young man named Clive Campbell helped to create hip-hop in the early 1970s.
You’ll experience the passionate speeches, marches, and movements of the Civil Rights era along with and the sacrifices of Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers, and many others. Included are dozens of profiles of political trailblazers like Shirley Chisholm, the first black women elected to Congress in 1968; athletes like Tiger Woods; popular musicians like Miles Davis; and inspiring writers like Toni Morrison, the first African American to win the Nobel Prize in literature.

Beals, Melba Pattillo. March Forward, Girl: From Young Warrior to Little Rock Nine. Dreamscape. ISBN 9781520091426. Read by Janina Edwards.
Gr 5-8–Long before she was one of the Little Rock Nine, Melba Pattillo Beals was a warrior. Frustrated by the laws that kept African Americans separate but very much unequal to whites, she had questions: Why couldn’t she drink from a “whites only” fountain? Why couldn’t she feel safe beyond home—or even within the walls of church? Adults all told her: Hold your tongue. Be patient. Know your place. But Beals had the heart of a fighter—and the knowledge that her true place was a free one.

Blakemore, Megan Frazer. The Daybreak Bond. Recorded Books. ISBN 9781501931987. Read by Cassandra Morris.
Gr 4-6–Mori and her friends Julia, Benji, and Theo have never seen the world beyond the walls of their utopian community, Old Harmonie. That changes when their new friend Ilana is threatened by the rules that are supposed to keep them all safe. Together they escape, hoping to find help in Boston with Dr. Agatha Varden, one of Old Harmonie’s pioneering founders. But as they encounter kids from the outside and face challenges they never expected, Mori and her friends begin to understand the complicated reality of their supposedly perfect world.

Curtis, Christopher Paul. The Journey of Little Charlie. Listening Library. ISBN 9780804168021. Read by Michael Crouch.
Gr 5-8–Twelve-year-old Charlie is down on his luck: His dad just died, the share crops are dry, and Cap’n Buck—the most fearsome man in Possum Moan, SC—has come to collect a debt. Fearing for his life, Charlie strikes a deal with Cap’n Buck and agrees to track down some thieves. It’s not too bad of a bargain for Charlie—until he comes face-to-face with the fugitives and discovers that they escaped slavery years ago and have been living free in Detroit. Torn between his guilty conscience and his survival instinct, Charlie needs to figure out his next move before Cap’n Buck catches on.

Ebbeler, Jeffrey. Melvin the Mouth. Recorded Books. ISBN 9781501990748. Reader TBA.
Gr 4-6–Melvin is an imaginative and noisy little boy who grows up to be Mel Blanc, Looney Tunes cartoon character pioneer and the voice behind Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Woody Woodpecker, the Tasmanian Devil, and so many more familiar personalities. Readers are treated to a typical day for young Melvin, when ordinary tasks like getting ready for school, riding the bus, and completing his chores are charged with sound effects and accompanied by his own personal soundtrack. His knack for making funny noises and using the versatility of his voice was like no other—much to the relief of his teachers.

Hasak-Lowy, Todd & Susan Zimet. Roses and Radicals: The Epic Story of How American Women Won the Right to Vote. Listening Library. ISBN 9780525532217. Read by Cassandra Campbell.
Gr 5-8–When the controversial nineteenth amendment to the U.S. Constitution—the one granting suffrage to women—was finally ratified in 1920, it passed by a mere one-vote margin.The amendment only succeeded because a courageous group of women had been relentlessly demanding the right to vote for more than 70 years. The leaders of the suffrage movement are heroes who were fearless in the face of ridicule, arrest, imprisonment, and even torture. Many of them devoted themselves to the cause knowing they wouldn’t live to cast a ballot.

Kinsella, Sophie. Fairy Mom and Me. Listening Library. ISBN 9780525532071. Read by Cassandra Morris.
Gr 4-6–Ella Brook can’t wait to grow up, because one day she will become a fairy and have her own sparkly wings and a teacher on Fairy Tube, just like her mom! Until then, Ella has to learn by watching her mom in action. But sometimes spells go wrong, and Ella’s mom can never seem to remember the right magic codes on her Computawand. A lot of the time, it’s up to Ella to come to the rescue.

LaReau, Kara. The Uncanny Express: The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters. Dreamscape. ISBN 9781520090887. Read by Rosalyn Landor.
Gr 3-7–Back from their adventure on the high seas, Jaundice and Kale are settling into a quiet life in Dullsville, just the way they like it. The tea is tepid, the oatmeal is tasteless, and the socks are ripe for darning—that is, until Aunt Shallot shows up and reveals herself to be anything but the dull relation they were expecting. Instead, she tells her nieces that she is Magique, Queen of Magic, and that she’s on her way to a big show and is in need of two willing assistants.

Martin, Ann M. Rain Reign. Brilliance. ISBN 9781531877491. Read by Laura Hamilton.
Gr 5-8–Rose Howard has OCD, Asperger’s syndrome, and an obsession with homonyms (even her name is a homonym). Rain was a lost dog Rose’s father brought home. Rose and Rain are practically inseparable. And they are often home alone, as Rose’s father spends most evenings at a bar, and doesn’t have much patience for his special-needs daughter. Just as a storm hits town, Rain goes missing. Rose’s father shouldn’t have let Rain out. Now Rose has to find her dog, even if it means leaving her routines and safe places to search. Rose will find Rain, but so will Rain’s original owners.

Shabazz, Ilyasah & Renee Watson. Betty Before X. Macmillan Audio. ISBN 9781427293688. Read by Ilyasah Shabazz.
Gr 3-7–In Detroit, 1945, 11-year-old Betty’s house doesn’t quite feel like home. She believes her mother loves her, but she can’t shake the feeling that her mother doesn’t want her. Church helps those worries fade, if only for a little while. The singing, the preaching, the speeches from guest activists like Paul Robeson and Thurgood Marshall stir African Americans in her community to stand up for their rights. Betty quickly finds confidence and purpose in volunteering for the Housewives League, an organization that supports black-owned businesses. Soon, the American civil rights icon we now know as Dr. Betty Shabazz is born.

Sheinkin, Steve. Abraham Lincoln, Pro Wrestler. Listening Library. ISBN 9780525528913. Read by Marc Thompson.
Gr 4-6–When Abraham Lincoln overhears a classroom of kids saying “history is boring,” he decides to teach them a lesson. Lincoln quits history—to pursue his dream of becoming a professional wrestler! Now siblings Abby and Doc have to convince Lincoln to go back to Springfield, IL, accept the presidency, and prove once and for all that history is not boring.

Sheinkin, Steve. Abigail Adams, Pirate of the Caribbean. Listening Library. ISBN 9780525528937. Read by Marc Thompson.
Gr 4-6–When First Lady Abigail Adams decides there’s more to life than doing chores in the White House, she escapes to become a Caribbean pirate. Can siblings Abby and Doc fix history before things get too mixed up?

Smith, Ronald L. Black Panther: The Young Prince. Listening Library. ISBN 9780525531319. Read by Dion Graham.
Gr 5-8–Life is comfortable for 12-year-old T’Challa in his home of Wakanda, an isolated, technologically advanced African nation. When he’s not learning how to rule a kingdom from his father—the reigning Black Panther—or testing out the latest tech, he’s off breaking rules with his best friend, M’Baku. But as conflict brews near Wakanda, T’Challa’s father makes a startling announcement: he’s sending T’Challa and M’Baku to school in America. This is no prestigious private academy—they’ve been enrolled at South Side Middle School in the heart of Chicago. Despite being given a high-tech suit and a Vibranium ring to use only in case of an emergency, T’Challa realizes he might not be as equipped to handle life in America as he thought.

Tyre, Lisa Lewis. Hope in the Holler. Listening Library. ISBN 9780525589747. Read by Catherine Taber.
Gr 5-8–Right before Wavie’s mother died, she gave Wavie a list of instructions to help her find her way in life, including this one: Be brave, Wavie B! You got as much right to a good life as anybody, so find it! But little did Wavie’s mom know that events would conspire to bring Wavie back to Conley Hollow, the Appalachian hometown her mother tried to leave behind. Now Wavie’s back in the Holler—and in the clutches of her Aunt Samantha Rose. Life with the devilish Samantha Rose and her revolting cousin Hoyt is no picnic, but there’s real pleasure in sleeping in her own mother’s old bed, and making friends with the funny, easygoing kids her aunt calls the “neighborhood-no-accounts.” With their help, Wavie just might be able to prevent her aunt from becoming her legal guardian, and find her courage and place in the world.

Yee, Lisa. Harley Quinn at Super Hero High. Listening Library. ISBN 9780525589624. Read by Tara Sands.
Gr 5-8–Funny girl Harley Quinn loves fighting crime with her classmates like Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and Supergirl, but she always does it her with own madcap style—and a big mallet! It’s no surprise that Harley can’t resist getting involved in a dance competition and organizing an outrageous battle of the bands. But when a high-tech carnival comes to town, Harley knows that things aren’t what they seem and that only she can get to the bottom of the mystery—and deliver a great punch line while doing it.

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Stephanie Klose About Stephanie Klose

Stephanie Klose (sklose@mediasourceinc.com, @sklose on Twitter) is Media Editor, Library Journal.

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