After his father dies, Joseph’s untrustworthy guardian sells his horse without his permission. On an epic journey to reclaim his beloved horse, Joseph encounters peril at every step. This is an action-packed historical novel taking place in the late 1800s in Washington State
New Kid is the first graphic novel to win the prestigious Newbery Award. Jordan is a seventh grader whose parents send him to a fancy private school where he is one of the few kids of color. It is a great quick read for kids dealing with challenging circumstances in their lives.
In the first book of Telgemeier’s semi-autobiographical Smile series, Raina has an accident which damages her teeth. This leads to braces, surgery and false teeth, just in time for the start of sixth grade. This short and simple book will make you smile as you commiserate with Raina’s ordeal.
Twelve-year-old Shayla is excited about starting junior high with her friends “the United Nations.” Shayla is Black, Isabella is Puerto Rican and Julia is Japanese American. But as school starts, Shayla faces a bully and is challenged by track. And the United Nations isn’t so united! Black Lives Matter protests are spreading throughout her city and causing tension in her school. True to middle school topics, this book is a timely read.
Sal, a 13-year-old Cuban American magician, is off to a rocky start at his new arts school, thanks to a bully and a know-it-all girl named Gabi. He can summon things from parallel universes, including versions of his own dead mother. But when worlds mix, things don’t always turn out right! Middle schoolers will enjoy the amusing storytelling in this book.
Eleven-year-old Alex records his thoughts on a golden iPod which he intends to send into space. He sets off on an adventure with new friends and makes discoveries about his family along the way in this great quest novel.
Dark-skinned in a family that values lightness, Genesis tries to alter her appearance. Her father’s struggle with alcoholism threatens her family’s stability, and a move puts her off-balance in a mostly white school.
A sequel of sorts to The One and Only Ivan, this quick read is told by Bob, a stray dog living in the zoo that has become Ivan’s home. When a hurricane hits, Bob saves the day. I love the way Applegate gets into the minds of animals and brings them to life.
Gregor and his two-year old sister fall through a hole in their building’s laundry room, landing in Underland. There, giant cockroaches, rats, and humans survive in a dangerous world under New York City. Can Gregor find his missing father in this strange land? I discovered this book after reading the Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, a master storyteller.
A graphic novel about a girl who drifts apart from her best friend after becoming enthralled with the roller derby, devoting herself to compete. Kids learning to discover themselves will relate to this book.
In this classic novel, 12-year-old Claudia and her younger brother run away from home to live in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, evading guards and bathing in a fountain. While at the museum, they solve the captivating mystery of a statue that may be a work by Michelangelo.
After Earth is made uninhabitable by war, Lan’s family has retreated to Mars. As resources dwindle, they set off for Planet Choom, populated by giant mosquito-like beings. Lan’s family is chosen to demonstrate that humans can be cooperative members of society. This funny book is the ultimate school outsider story. Like all great science fiction, it is a great commentary on society
Mourning the loss of his friend Eddie, Tristan heads to his grandparents’ house in Alabama. When a living doll steals Eddie’s journal, Tristan is pulled into another world. Woven with characters from African American lore, this action-packed book keeps the reader hooked.
In this Great Depression-era novel, Ellie and her family struggle to survive, moving to the Maine mountains to live off the land. After an accident leaves her father in a coma, Ellie is determined to revive him. In the process, she learns about community, friendship and personal potential. With scenes featuring dangerous wild animals and gruesome injuries, the book speaks of resiliency and hope in our current struggles.
Lily and her family relocate to care for her aging grandmother. When they arrive, Lily spies a huge tiger, who seems to be connected to stories her grandmother told her. Lily’s fight against the tiger becomes the fight to save her grandmother from terminal illness. This is a well-crafted weaving of Korean folk tales and a family story.