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El (whose real name is Laughter) is so excited for her first day at a new school- until she finds out her younger sister is seriously ill. Suddenly her life becomes endless worry, hospital visits, and sleepless nights- all while juggling old and new friends, bullies, and schoolwork. This is a beautiful book about growing up and seeking hope in the midst of adversity and uncertainty. El and her family feel so real and their story is relatable for anyone who has endured difficult times. A truly lovely, cathartic book about finding love, hope, and laughter in the darkest of times.
This suspenseful novel about a ghost investigating his own death will have readers holding their breath until the last page. Denis has been a ghost in the afterlife for five years while his parents and twin brother Matt grieve for him on Earth. No one, including Denis, knows how he died. But when 12 year old Matt reinvestigates the cause of Denis's death, Denis is forced to pay him a visit. Soon the twin brothers-ghost and human- end up working together to solve the mystery. But spending time on Earth comes at a cost, and Denis doesn't have much time. Abbott's book is a thrilling adventure about the unbreakable bonds of family that is as funny as it is cathartic.
This is a true page turner that is not for the faint of heart. Eleven year old Cape Cod native Owen Todd expects to have a great summer with his best friend Sean, until Sean’s mom hires Paul, a young man from their church who will babysit while his mom works long hours at her new job. What follows is a chilling story of a boy helplessly watching his friend be abused while wondering one thing: Should he tell or not? Abbott doesn’t shy away from the consequences of either decision, or the impact of the abuse on Sean and Owen. This is a heart wrenching and important book, and would be recommended for mature readers ages 10 and up.
This is a stunning graphic novel about a young girl named Priyanka who is desperate to find out more about her Indian heritage. However, since her mother refuses to talk about the past, Priyanka begins to investigate on her own. She soon discovers an old pashmina tucked away in her mother's things. When she wears it, she is magically transported to India. Thrilled, Priyanka is determined to find out the truth about her family's past- and help her mother heal. This is a gorgeous story about reconciling with past trauma as well as growing up with two cultures.
This lovely book was almost made into a Disney animation, but became a picture book instead. The result is a charming story about a boy trying to find his breath after his mother tells him to "catch his brath" after playing. Brigg's illustrations are so dynamic they seem alive, and his play on words is delightful. The sparse use of color makes the illustrations stand out, and the last page will make older readers smile.
When fourth-graders and best friends Sussy and Guy get their own leopard gecko, everything seems to be going right. But after a horrible unexpected tragedy, Sussy and her gecko Matylda must learn to bond and go on without him. Sussy and Guy’s friendship is one of the strongest I’ve encountered in children’s literature. McGhee explores the underestimated strength of friendship, as well as writing extremely appealing characters you can’t help but love. This book will appeal to fans of Because of Winn Dixie and All About Jellyfish.
Matthew has OCD, and it's ruining his life. He can't leave the house, see his friends, or stop cleaning everything around him. But when he's the only witness to a neighbor’s disappearance, he realizes he might be the only one who can solve the case. This book addresses OCD with gut-wrenching accuracy; this and a compelling Rear Window-esque mystery will keep readers engaged until the last page. Debut novelist Thompson is definitely a writer to watch!
This is a beautiful book about a girl who doesn’t quite belong in her working class neighborhood or the wealthy prep school she's attending on scholarship. What Jade does know is that she isn’t excited about Woman to Woman, a new mentorship program designed to help girls like her – she doesn’t want to become anyone’s charity case. Now she must balance new friends and old, a mentor who seems to need more help than she does, and finding time to create her art. Watson’s poignant writing captures Jade's story beautifully as well as a hopeful theme that is refreshingly genuine.
This phenomenal book follows our protagonist, Ryder, and her train ride to her new guardian, an old relative that she’s never met. At only 12, her life has been harder than many adults, but as she will tell you herself, she never cries. As she gets to know the other passengers on the train, she finds kindness she never expected, while also being forced to confront the pain of her past. Mosier explores Ryder’s emotional journey with devastating honesty and insights that actually made me gasp out loud. An absolutely incredible read!
Conor’s mother has been ill for a year and he is barely able to cope. But one night, a monster appears in his window and promises to help. Is it a dream? Can the monster cure his mother? This story of a boy facing loss and grief will strike a chord for many readers. It is a poignant story that is likely to be a modern classic. Look for the illustrated edition by Jim Kay, it is especially stunning!
As always, Snicket has written a thrilling finale to his new series “All the Wrong Questions”- full of his trademark self-referential humor and suspense. Most interestingly, he remains unafraid of writing about themes sometimes not expected in children’s literature, such as moral ambiguity and the motivations of villains. This book is darker than its predecessors, but also makes a satisfying series finale that also serves as a prequel to A Series of Unfortunate Events.
This story about two fifth grade outsiders who become friends and take on their class bully is funny and moving. Whether you’ve been the new kid or have lived in a place all your life but don’t feel as if you fit in, you will be able to relate to Ravi and Joe. Varadarajan and Week's honest and humorous writing styles complement each other beautifully as they narrate the story of these boys in alternating chapters. Fans of Jerry Spinelli’s work will definitely appreciate this book and its themes of challenging conformity.
This is a beautiful book about a girl starting seventh grade in the worst way: after losing her best friend, Franny. Because of events before the accident, Suzy is tormented by guilt. But after going on a class trip to an aquarium, Suzy believes she can find an explanation for what happened. Bejamin's prose gracefully explores Suzy's emotional state as she struggles to cope. This is a fantastic debut novel with an expertly crafted character study at its core.
You do not need to love ballet to be able to relate to Anna Pavlova, a poor girl from Russia who grew up to be a legendary dancer. Anyone with a dream will be able to understand Anna's passion and admire her determination to not let rejection stop her. Anna also believed in sharing her success- she was one of the few people of the time who believed ballet was for everyone, not just the elite. Julie Morstad's illustrations are simply dazzling and complement Synder's poetic words wonderfully. This book will enchant children and adults alike.
Don’t read this book. It is full of misery and woe and will only ruin your day. The main characters, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire, are intelligent and charming, but the misfortune they endure is abominable, a word which here means, “so terrible that you might throw this book across a room”. And unless you want to be distressed for many months, do not read the other 12 books in the series. Spare yourself and read about something cheerful instead.
Who says horror can't be for kids? This is a thrilling book about eleven-year old Ollie, who saves a mysterious book from being thrown in a river. Within its pages is a centuries old story about "the smiling man" - a mythical figure who can grant any wish- for a heavy price. When her class goes on a field trip to a well-known local farm, she begins to realize that the characters in the book are real- and very dangerous. Now Ollie, along with a couple unexpected new friends, must save their class from an unthinkable fate before it's too late. This book is fast-paced and exciting and has well-written characters- a must read! -Kokie