When apprenticed mapmaker Sai sets out to carve a new future for herself, she discovers that her ambition has a cost. What will she be willing to pay if it means she'll get everything she always thought she wanted? A beautiful exploration of ambition, heritage, family, and the costs of colonialism from Newbery Honor-winner Christina Soontornvat. Also dragons.
Perhaps the most perfect creepy book for middle schoolers that I have ever read. Sisters Winnow, Mayhap, and Pavonine live in the strange, otherworldly Straygarden Place surrounded by tall, interminable, antagonistic grass. When eldest Winnow abruptly leaves the security of the house, she returns with an acute delirium and begins to turn the same sickening silver as the grass itself. Chewins writes Mayhap's increasing paranoia and the growing sentience of Straygarden Place with such easy, vivid poetry that readers will find themselves utterly transported into this twisty, turny, and unpredictable tale.
Adventure is the last thing Barclay wants, and he's sure he won't find any apprenticed to a mushroom farmer. An accidental trip to the woods flings him into a hidden world of magic, Beasts, Beast collectors, and all the adventure he thought he didn't want.
Barclay's world is quirky and weird, and I'm so jealous I can't wander into the woods, bond with a Beast, and gain magical powers, too! Perfect for fans of Pokemon and How To Train Your Dragon!
Amari's adventure begins when she receives a package from her missing brother. Before he went missing, he nominated her for an elite summer camp with the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs. She has a lot of catching up to do if she wants to fit in with her supernatural peers and solve her brother's disappearance!
This is one of those compulsively readable books that will have you bingeing the whole thing after finishing the first chapter. Not only does this book paint a rich picture of Zoe's life and the classic issues that arise in middle school (friendship fallouts, parent troubles, finding and pursuing interests), but it also clearly and carefully introduces readers to the injustices of modern incarceration and the prison complex's dependence on institutional racism, all without being heavy. A super enjoyable and informative triumph of a book.
My Father's Words begins with a tragedy, but ends with a heart full of hope. In this little novela, Fiona and Finn O'Brien lose their father in the first chapter in a car accident. They must learn to cope with their grief, but luckily their friend Luke has a great idea. Why not volunteer at the local dog shelter? They learn that by helping others, they in turn are able to help themselves. I have read many books about death and grieving, but My Father's Words by Patricia MacLachlan (The Poet's Dog) may just be the best of the bunch. A beautiful book suitable for any age.
Emilia is a neurodiverse preteen who struggles with concentrating in school. But she has a great team to help her focus: her driven mom, her somewhat controlling abuela, and her best friend, Gus. But when Emilia's dad returns from the Marines, she's not so sure how to communicate with him. He seems so...different. And if that isn't stressful enough, something's going wrong in her neighborhood. Why are all the parents upset that her school is absorbing new students? Why does Clarissa treat Gus differently? Why does it suddenly feel like she lives in two worlds? This is a book about the heart: the heart of community, the heart of family, and the heart of history. You'll be rooting for Emilia from beginning to end.
Mac Barnett, beloved children's author, has published quite a few cherished books. But before he was a New York Times bestselling author, he was a kid. And when he was a kid, he was a spy. This (true?) story chronicles Mac's early years as an undercover spy for the Queen of England and all the dangerous cool-guy tasks he had to complete to rescue the crown jewels. Perfect for the kid with a big imagination who enjoys a good laugh. Can be read aloud or read alone by a new reader!
Lolly's brother died last year. Everything is mostly back to normal, but Lolly still feels a stone in his heart when he thinks about Jermaine. The only time he feels better is when he's building his Legos. One day, he starts building out of his imagination instead of following the instructions--and slowly, his worldview begins to change. Told with a strong and compassionate voice, The Stars Beneath Our Feet is a tender story about grief, family, and coming together as a community.
A moving story about life and death and what lives on. The Poet's Dog is Teddy, an Irish Wolfhound, and he is the thread that connects the past and the present. Through him, the love of his former owner, Sylvan, who gave him words, and taught him to save others, lives on. A slim and meditative book about love and caring for others during times of hardship.