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Most Anticipated Middle Grade Books for Fall/Winter 2017

Middle grade is an exciting time for your child. Filled with wonder and exploration, these impressionable years are some of the most memorable. Tucked within all the moments we hang onto for the rest of our lives are the books we hold closest to our hearts. And this fall and winter, the new titles on the horizon are destined to leave their mark.


Here are the most anticipated middle-grade books for fall/winter 2017:

All’s Faire in Middle School

by Victoria Jamieson (September 5, 2017)

Raina Telgemeier fans will love this new book from Victoria Jamieson, the Newbery Honor-winning author of “Roller Girl.” 11-year-old Imogene (Impy) Vega, the home schooled daughter of parents employed at the local Renaissance fair, is entering public school for the first time. She’s eager to begin training as a squire, but first must prove her bravery. Attending a new school is the perfect test! Or so she thinks. When she does something mean instead of brave to fit it with the other kids, life takes an unexpected turn. Can she redeem herself and earn squire status? Or will she be forever remembered as “the mean girl?”

Wishtree

by Katherine Applegate (September 26, 2017)

Trees can’t tell jokes, but they can certainly tell stories. “Wishtree” tackles the heavy topic of prejudice after a Muslim family moves into the neighborhood. Told from the perspective of Red, a 200-year-old oak tree that listens to everyone’s wishes, the book navigates empathy and hope in a time of profound change. “Red’s openhearted voice and generosity of spirit bring perspective gained over centuries of observation. It’s a distinctive call for kindness, delivered by an unforgettable narrator,” says Publishers Weekly.

Things That Surprise You

by Jennifer Maschari (August 22, 2017)

Emily Murphy is about to enter middle school. Although she’s excited, she not nearly excited as her best friend Hazel who thrives on change. As Emily begins to navigate this new chapter in her life, at home things begin to fall apart – again. Her sister’s eating disorder creates tension and worry. “Recommended for middle grade collections, especially for readers with friends or family members dealing with eating disorders,” says School Library Journal.

Thornhill

by Pam Smy (August 29, 2017)

“Thornhill” features parallel plot lines, one told in prose and one in art, set at different times. One story line, from 1982, tells about Mary, a lonely orphan who lives at Thornhill Institute. The other follows Ella in 2017 as she first moves to town. The story lines converge as Ella discovers Mary’s diary and unravels the mystery of the abandoned building next door – and the ghost that calls it home.

The Road to Ever After

by Moira Young (November 14, 2017)

Davy David is an orphan who lives by the seat of his pants in the dead-end town of Brownvale. After Davy discovers a stray dog, a magical journey unfolds. Together, they end up at an old deserted museum and meet the elderly recluse, Miss Flint. She has planned one final trip before her time on earth is done, and asks Davy and the pooch to accompany her. As they set out, and as the miles pass, Davy realizes Miss Flint is getting younger and younger with every step.

Laugh Out Loud

by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein (August 28, 2017)

Jimmy loves reading. So, he starts a book company for kids and run by kids. Some people laugh at him. What 12-year-old starts a business? The naysayers don’t stop Jimmy from dreaming big. In this hilarious book from the popular James Patterson and company, kids will learn that they have the power to achieve anything they set their minds to. “Patterson and Grabenstein emphasize that dreams can come true if you take action and never give up. Fans and educators alike will appreciate the many kid lit authors and titles mentioned throughout. A humorous adventure with a positive message,” says School Library Journal.

The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole

by Michelle Cuevas (September 12, 2017)

After visiting NASA, Stella is followed home by a lonely, hungry black hole. It attempts to live in her house like a pet, but swallows everything it touches. Although it’s inconvenient, it’s also a fantastic way for Stella to get rid of all the things so no longer wants around. All the ugly sweaters her aunt made her. The smelly class hamster she’s supposed to take care of for a month. All the reminders of her deceased father. Gone. It’s not until the entire family and dog are gobbled up that Stella realizes it’s been her own grief that’s been consuming her.

Once You Know This

by Emily Blejwas (September 19, 2017)

Brittany knows there must be a better life out there for herself, her mom, and her baby brother. One day, she works up the courage to make that life a reality. Will her dreams come true? “This debut novel by Emily Blejwas is perfect for readers who love emotionally satisfying books. Thoughtful and understated, it’s the hopeful story of a girl who struggles to make her future bright – and the makeshift family that emerges around her,” says Junior Library Guild.

The Stars Beneath Our Feet

by David Barclay Moore (September 19, 2017)

It’s Christmas Eve in Harlem, but Lolly Rachpaul and his mother aren’t feeling too festive. They’re still emotionally distraught from the death of Lolly’s brother, who was recently fatally shot. Soon after, Lolly is approached by a gang like the one that killed his brother. They pressure him into joining, but when Lolly refuses, he and his friends are beaten up and robbed. Will he give into the pressure? Or stay his ground? David Barclay Moore paints a powerful portrait of a boy teetering on the edge.

Slider

by Pete Hautman (September 12, 2017)

Competitive eating nearly swallows family and friendship in this one-of-a-kind book about choosing the right path. “With crystalline prose, delectable detail, rip-roaring humor, and larger-than-life characters, Hautman gracefully examines what it means to be a friend, a family member, and, through it all, a kid trying to do the right thing,” says Booklist.

What middle grade books are your kids excited for this fall and winter? Share in the comments!

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Rachel McAdams didn't talk publicly about her pregnancy or her birth story. There are some things this working mama wants to keep to herself, but the fact that she needs to pump at work isn't one of them.

McAdams was recently doing a photo shoot with photographer Claire Rothstein of Girls Girls Girls magazine when she needed to take a pump break. Wearing Versace and a neck full of diamonds McAdmans did what mamas all over the world do every day, and Rothstein snapped a pic that is now going viral.

In an Instagram post, Rothstein explains that she and McAdams had a "mutual appreciation disagreement about who's idea it was to take this picture," but the photographer says she remembers it being McAdams' idea, "which makes me love her even more."

In her caption of the amazing photograph, Rothstein writes: "Breastfeeding is the most normal thing in the world and I can't for the life of me imagine why or how it is ever frowned upon or scared of."

The photographer added that she wanted to put the image out there to change perceptions about breastfeeding, pumping, and working motherhood.

McAdams decision to normalize pumping through this glamorous image is especially cool when you consider that she's not really a social media person, and spends a lot of days in much less glam attire.

She recently arrived for her first interview since welcoming her son in the spring wearing a grey shirt, baggy pants and sneakers, reportedly telling the interviewer (Helena de Bertodano for The Sunday Times U.K.), "I don't even know what I'm wearing today. The shoes are held together with glue. Isn't that sad? I need to get a life."

"I have clothes on and that's a good thing," McAdams told Bertodano during that chat. Her attire for that newspaper interview was a world away from the clothes she wore for the Girls Girls Girls shoot.

During her Sunday Times interview McAdams declined to discuss her son's name or birthdate.

"I want to keep his life private, even if mine isn't," she explained. "But I'm having more fun being a mum than I've ever had. Everything about it is interesting and exciting and inspiring to me. Even the tough days — there's something delightful about them."

Most of us will never look the way McAdams does in this photo while we're pumping, but we can totally understand that sometimes, motherhood means you're wearing sweats and sometimes it means you're pumping in your work clothes (even if for most of us, that doesn't mean Versace).

McAdams may be keeping some parts of her motherhood experience private, but by showing the world this part of her day, she's normalizing something that desperately needs normalizing.

Some mamas pump, and the world needs to know (and accommodate) that.

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To my children,

It's the New Year, and I have been doing a lot of thinking. I want to say, with all of my heart and all of my soul, that I am sorry. I want apologize for anything (and everything) I have said or done that made you feel less-than or sad or small.

I regret, so deeply, the hurt I delivered through harsh words or sideways glances, for steely eyes you didn't deserve and sarcastic replies you didn't understand. I'm sorry for being upset when I should have been more understanding, for resorting to frustration when I should have found more patience, for pulling away when I should have drawn near.

There were the times when you needed more from me, when you asked for more, and I simply couldn't provide. There were the moments when you wanted less of me, needed less from me, and I couldn't—or perhaps I just wouldn't—back away.

I start every day with a hope, a hope that I will be better than the day before.

Sometimes I succeed, but many times, I fail. Every so often, I fail in spectacular fashion. I think about all the times when I wasn't gentle enough or kind enough or attentive enough to you, about all the moments when I was too quick to anger and not quick enough to forgive.

You don't need me to tell you that I'm not perfect. Lord knows, you know far too well.

But I will say it to you, because I think it helps to hear me say it: I am not perfect. I make mistakes. I am human. I have flaws and cracks and blemishes; they are a part of me, just as they are a part of you.

Sometimes, my dear ones, my mistakes are small—like forgetting to pack your lunch or mixing up the dates for Tot Shabbat, or picking you up an hour late from a play date or accidentally switching your piano primer with your brother's, or sending a snack I know you dislike because I didn't have time to go grocery shopping and have no other food in the refrigerator. But sometimes, they aren't so minor.

Sometimes, my mistakes have to do with the way I've behaved, and the words I have said, and the way I have said them. For those times, and for all the times I failed to support you the way I should, or help you in the way you deserve, and love you in the best way I can, I am sorry.

I wish I didn't make so many mistakes. I'm a perfectionist at heart, but when it comes to parenting, there's still so much I haven't mastered. Even after almost a decade of doing this day in and day out, I still feel like a novice in so many regards and as green as I did on day one.

Precious ones, I've come to realize, no matter how hard I try, that I just can't get it right all of the time. I hope you can forgive my failings.

The older I get, the more I realize that life is a jumble of hits and misses. As many times as we try and succeed, we also try and fail. As much as we hope to do right, we often end up doing wrong. It is the story of the human condition—this mix of losses and gains, triumphs and defeats. It's all very messy (think sloppy joes and pancakes dripping with syrup kind of messy), and yet, it's all we know.

My darling ones, I want nothing more than to do right by you and be the best mother I can be for you. I want to love you unconditionally, support you unreservedly, and be present unambiguously.

In the New Year, I resolve to do better for you, to be better with you, and to act as if God is watching. You mean the world to me. You are everything to me. I love you, always and forever.

All my love,

Mommy


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People often say that having a second child doesn't much add to the workload of parenting. There's no steep learning curve: You already know how to make a bottle, install a car seat and when to call the pediatrician. And you're already doing laundry, making lunches and supervising bath time—so throwing a second kid in the tub isn't a big deal.

Except that it is. Having a second child doesn't just mean attaching a second seat to your stroller. Adding a whole new person to your family is more complicated than that, and it's okay to say that it is hard.

A new study out of Australia disputes the popular idea that after making the transition from people to parents, making the jump from one child to two is easy. The researchers found that having a second child puts a lot of pressure on parents' time and their mental health, and mothers bear the brunt of the burden.

When looking at heterosexual couples, the researchers found that before a first child is born both partners feel equal amounts of "time pressure," but once the child is born, that pressure grows, more so for mothers than fathers.

Basically, parents feel psychological stress when they feel they don't have enough time to do all they need to. One baby makes both parents feel more stress, but mom's increase is more than dad's. When a second baby comes, that time pressure doubles for both parents, and since mom already had more than dad, there's now a gulf between them.

The researchers behind this study—Leah Ruppanner, Francisco Perales and Janeen Baxter—say that after a first child is born, a mother's mental health improves, but after a second child, it declines.

Writing for The Conversation, the trio explains:

"Second children intensify mothers' feelings of time pressure. We showed that if mothers did not have such intense time pressures following second children, their mental health would actually improve with motherhood. Fathers get a mental health boost with their first child, but also see their mental health decline with the second child. But, unlike mothers, fathers' mental health plateaus over time. Clearly, fathers aren't facing the same chronic time pressure as mothers over the long-term."

The researchers say that even when mothers reduce their work time, the time pressure is still there and that "mothers cannot shoulder the time demands of children alone."

Adding a second child to the family isn't just a matter of throwing a few more socks in the laundry: It means a schedule that is already stretched is now filling up with twice as many appointments, twice as many school functions. Mothers only have 24 hours in the day, and as much as we wish we could add a couple extra hours per child, we can't.

Time simply can't change to help us, but society can. As the researchers noted, when time pressure is removed, motherhood actually improves mental health.

We love our lives, we love our kids, we love parenting, but there is only so much of our day to go around.

Ruppanner, Perales and Baxter suggest that if society were to help mothers out more, our mental health (and therefore our children's wellbeing as well) would improve even after two or three kids. "Collectivising childcare – for example, through school buses, lunch programs and flexible work policies that allow fathers' involvement – may help improve maternal mental health," the researchers explain, adding that "it is in the national interest to reduce stressors so that mothers, children and families can thrive."

Whether you're talking about Australia or America, that last bit is so true, but this research proves that the myth about second-time parenthood isn't. Even if you already have the skills and the hand-me-downs, having a second child isn't as easy as it is sometimes made out to be.

We can love our children and our lives and still admit when things aren't easy.

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We know life gets a little (okay, a lot) busy around this time of year so if you haven't crossed off everyone on your Christmas list just yet, here's your reminder that you've still got time. Fortunately, that Amazon Prime membership of yours comes in handy... especially for the holidays.

Here are some of the best last-minute gifts to get on Amazon. Also, that extra couple of dollars for gift wrapping is *so* worth it if it's available. 😉

1. Tape Activity Book

So your little can create just about anywhere—on the go, in the car or hanging out at home.

Melissa & Doug Tape Activity Book, $6.47

BUY

2. Instant Pot

Mama, meet your new best friend. 4.5 stars with nearly 30K reviews.

Instant Pot 8-qt, $89.95

BUY

3. Silicone Teething Mitt

Offer relief to your teething one with a mitt that stays in place.

Itzy Ritzy Silicone Teething Mitt, $8.99

BUY

4. Roomba

Give the gift of never having to manually vacuum again.

iRobot Roomba 690, $279.00

BUY

5. Magnetic Tiles

These are always a favorite for kids of all ages. Build endless possibilities and work on fine motor skills—win-win!

Magnetic Tiles Building Blocks Set, $31.99

BUY

6. DryBar Triple Sec

Perfect addition to mama's stocking, or paired with a salon or blowout gift card. Adds *so* much texture and volume.

DryBar Triple Sec 3-in-1, $35.99

BUY

7. Plush Animated Bunny

Plays peek-a-boo and sings for baby.

Animated Plush Stuffed Animal, $32.97

BUY

8. 23andMe

Learn everything you want to know about your family history, where you came from, and even information about your genetics.

23andMe DNA Test, $67.99

BUY

9. Boon Bath Pipes

Make bath time more fun. They suction to the wall and can be played with individually or altogether in a chain.

Boon Building Bath Pipes, $14.99

BUY

10. HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer

For printing all of those adorable Instagram moments—and for getting *all* of the photos off your phone.

HP Sprocket Portable Photo Printer, $99.95

BUY

11. Board Blocks

Kids can sort, learn colors and shapes, and work on their hand-eye coordination.

Wooden Educational Geometric Board Block, $6.39

BUY

12. Ring Doorbell + Echo Dot

A great bundle for the techie in your life.

Ring Doorbell 2 and Echo Dot, $169.00

BUY

13. Pai Technology Circuit Conductor

For the little who wants to learn to code, this offers endless learning fun.

Pai Technology Circuit Conductor Learning Kit, $69.99

BUY

14. Kindle Paperwhite, Audible + Headphones Bundle

Bookworms will love this bundle. Enjoy a new Kindle Paperwhite, wireless bluetooth stereo headphones, and 3 month free trial for Audible for new users.

Kindle Paperwhite Bundle, $139.00

BUY

15. Wooden Grocery Store

We love this imaginative play grocery store, complete with a beeping scanner and hand-cranked conveyor belt.

Melissa & Doug Freestanding Wooden Fresh Mart Grocery Store, $179.99

BUY

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work.We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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