April 16


Books Published in 2016 by Ten Authors Who Skyped With My Students by Sandy Otto

In celebration of World Read Aloud Day, my students and I were lucky to Skype with 12 wonderful authors. We even had a visit from a local author. Many of them either just released a new book, or have a book which will be released later this year. Before our Skypes, I ordered as many of their titles as I could. The rest, I pre-ordered. During our Skypes, these authors shared even more soon-to-be-released titles. Of course, I either pre-ordered them or will order when they become available. Once you see the covers and read about these books released in 2016, I’m sure you’ll want to order a many for your classroom library…or for yourself.

I put them in the order of their release.

Superheroes Don't Eat Veggie Burgers

Superheroes Don’t Eat Veggie Burgers by Gretchen Kelley (released on January 5, 2016)

Poor Charlie Burger! He’s just trying to get through 6th grade, but he soon becomes the target of school bully, Boomer Bodbreath. Not only that, but his science teacher actually wants them to write…in science class! When Charlie’s stories about the fictional superhero named Dude Explodius start coming true, life will never be the same.



Sweet Home Alaska by Carole Estby Dagg (released on Feb 2, 2016)

Terpsichore Johnson didn’t ask or expect to be uprooted from her Wisconsin home and move to Alaska. The year was 1934, and Roosevelt had created a plan where families could get free farms in Palmer, Alaska. Fifteen months was all Terpsichore’s mother would give Mr. Johnson to make it work. As their time to leave drew nearer, Terpsichore schemed to convince her mom to choose to stay in Alaska: a place she had grown to love. Think Little House on the Prairie: set in Alaska. Also, read Carole’s first book, The Year We Were Famous.


Last Boy at St. Edith's

Last Boy at St. Edith’s by Lee Gjertsen Malone (released on February 23, 2016)

You’d think that being the only boy in an all-girl school would be a dream come true. However, when you are 7th grader Jeremy Miner and all the other boys have moved away or transferred to other schools, all you can think about is getting kicked out. That’s exactly what Jeremy tries to do, until his series of pranks starts to affect those around him.



Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin (released on April 12, 2016)

When her little brother is accepted into a new cancer drug trial, Thyme and her family must move New York. Once the treatment starts working, it looks like Thyme’s family will be staying in New York for a while. Thyme is torn between her family and the friends she left back home, until she also forms friendships with the neighbors in New York. Thyme’s story will touch your heart!


phil bildner

Derek Jeter Presents Night at the Stadium (released on April 26) and Rookie of the Year (Rip and Red) (released on July 12), both by Phil Bildner

Follow the exploits of 5th grade friends Rip and Red, as they are joined by new girl Tiki. Not only is she funny, but she becomes Rip’s tough competitor on the basketball court and exercises her protest rights by leading a cafeteria rebellion. You’ll want to read Phil’s first book about best friends Rip and Red, called A Whole New Ballgame.

In Derek Jeter presents Night at the Stadium, we hear the story of a young boy who gets separated from his family and stumbles upon the secret world of Yankees memorabilia. Each piece has a magical story to tell. Whether or not you’re a baseball fan like me (although my favorite team is the Minnesota Twins), I’m sure you will enjoy this story.


Sticks & Stones

Sticks & Stones by Abby Cooper (released on July 19)

What if every word said about you became tattooed on your skin? The positive words, like nice, kind and pretty. But also the hurtful words you might hear in middle school, like loser, ugly and pathetic. That actually happened to Elyse, the main character, due to her rare disease. My students got a chance to meet author Abby Cooper. We were some of the first students to hear her read the beginning chapters of this book, her debut as a new author. Their reactions, and their desire to hear more, offer proof that her book will be a huge hit once it’s released.


Memory of Things_HiRes

The Memory of Things by Gae Polisner (released on September 6, 2016)

Gae’s first two books (The Pull of Gravity and The Summer of Letting Go) have been thoroughly enjoyed by my students this year. We are excited for this new book, especially since it focuses on how life and love can go on for Kyle and the ash-covered, costume wing-wearing girl he stumbles upon in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy. I know that my students, who will be 7th graders next year, will connect with the book’s messages of hope and friendship. Plus, in the words of Andrew Smith (an amazing YA author), “This book. It is so freaking good.”


sdl books 2016

Charmed I’m Sure (released on Sept 27) and In Case You Missed It (released on October 11, 2016), both by Sarah Darer Littman

What if Snow White and Prince Charming had a daughter who grew up and didn’t have it so easy? Despite being beautiful, Royal, and privileged, Rosie is unable to get a date for the Fall Festive dance. She sets out to prove that she is the fairest. However, ironically, she ends up wondering if being the fairest will really make her happy. Read about Rosie’s journey of self-discovery in Charmed, I’m Sure.

Imagine this. Hacktivists steal everything in your family’s private cloud. Your entire digital life. Everything you have posted. Every picture taken. Every text conversation. Even your private journal. In the book, In Case You Missed It, Sammy feels like her life is over. Friends turn on her once their secrets are also revealed. Additionally, Sammy’s parents have a few secrets of their own that now threaten to change everything.

You’ll also want to read Sarah’s other books: Backlash, Life After, Purge, Confessions of a Closet Catholic and Want to Go Private?


Die For You

Die For You by Amy Fellner Dominy (released on November 8, 2016)

After moving across Arizona to live with her father, Emma starts senior year starting over. Thankfully, Emma finds Dillon, who saves her from being alone, and gives her a life and a future. That could be the end of their story, but things change once Emma is offered an opportunity that would send her life in a different direction than Dillon planned. Now, Dillon is the one who needs to be saved. How much should Emma sacrifice for love?

Read Amy’s other books: A Matter of Heart, Audition & Subtraction and OyMG.


Crushing It

Crushing It by Joanne Levy (released on December 6, 2016)

This book is about 7th grade Kat, who doesn’t realize she has a crush on her cute next-door neighbor Tyler. Not until her schemes to get him to fall for her best friend Olivia actually work. It doesn’t help that Olivia is the type of girl that boys usually fall for, while Kat feels less than ordinary. I know many of my middle school students will enjoy this one. Also, check out Joanne Levy’s first novel, Small Medium At Large about a girl who was struck by lightning and can now communicate with the dead.



I feel so blessed to have met all of these amazing authors through their generosity and willingness to connect with me and my 6th graders. It’s been a pleasure to read all of the books released so far, and I look forward to reading their new books. These are definitely 10 authors to follow, as I hope they will write many more incredible stories in the years to come.

Sandy Otto is a middle school English teacher in Maple Grove, Minnesota. She is passionate about teaching Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening. Sandy reads YA and MG lit as often as she can. In fact, she recently challenged herself to read 16 books (no picture books) over her 16 days of winter break. She shattered that goal and read 21 books! Sandy loves her Teach Like a Pirate (#tlap) community, and she takes advantage of any opportunity to meet Twitter friends and authors face to face. Follow Sandy on Twitter @sandyrotto and read about how she brings her passions into the classroom by following her blog http://ottogoingagainstthegrain.blogspot.com/