by Wientge, Kristi. Year Published: 2017
Karma Khullar is about to start middle school, and she is super nervous. Not just because it seems like her best friend has found a newer, blonder best friend. Or the fact that her home life is shaken up by the death of her dadima. Or even that her dad is the new stay-at-home parent, leading her mother to spend most of her time at work. But because she’s realized that she has seventeen hairs that have formed a mustache on her upper lip.
With everyone around her focused on other things, Karma is left to figure out what to make of her terrifyingly hairy surprise all on her own.
by Standish, Ali. Year Published: 2017
The Ethan I Was Before is an award-winning story of love and loss, wonder and adventure, and ultimately of hope.
Lost in the Sun meets The Thing About Jellyfish in Ali Standish’s breathtaking debut. A poignant middle grade novel of friendship and forgiveness, this is a classic in the making.
Ethan had been many things. He was always ready for adventure and always willing to accept a dare, especially from his best friend, Kacey. But that was before. Before the accident that took Kacey from him. Before his family moved from Boston to the small town of Palm Knot, Georgia.
Palm Knot may be tiny, but it’s the home of possibility and second chances. It’s also home to Coralee, a girl with a big personality and even bigger stories. Coralee may be just the friend Ethan needs, except Ethan isn’t the only one with secrets. Coralee’s are catching up with her, and what she’s hiding might be putting both their lives at risk. LEXILE = 730L
by Smith, Ronald Year Published: 2015
Despite his name, twelve-year-old Hoodoo has never been able to conjure like the rest of his family members, who, by the 1930s, have been practicing folk magic for decades. Nonetheless, Hoodoo is content with his life in small-town Alabama, living with his strict but loving grandmother, Mama Frances, and hanging around with his friend Bunny. When a stranger comes to town, however, bizarre things begin to happen—corpses are dug up from their graves, mysterious screams echo throughout the night, and Hoodoo begins to have terrifying dreams of a red-eyed demon demanding his left hand. An encounter with the Stranger in the swamp leaves Hoodoo shaken; when Hoodoo finally reports all this to Mama Frances, she reveals that Hoodoo may have to pay for the misdeeds of his father, a powerful mojo man who “came to a bad end.” Hoodoo’s narration is quick and engaging, filled with colloquialisms and direct addresses to the reader that echo oral storytelling. Smith is careful to include details of the Jim Crow South (Hoodoo and Bunny attend the Colored Folks’ Day at the county fair, and Mama Frances works tirelessly for wealthy white families) while depicting the richness of Hoodoo’s close knit African-American community and the beauty (and danger) of the Alabama setting. The horror element is just as vividly drawn, with the terrifying Stranger rivaling Barraclough’s Long Lankin (Long Lankin, BCCB 9/12) in his creepiness. The straightforward plot makes this accessible to younger readers, and the atmospheric setting will certainly leave them with a chill. LEXILE = 600L
by Sheinkin, Steve Year Published: 2017
When superstar athlete Jim Thorpe and football legend Pop Warner met in 1904 at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, they forged one of the winningest teams in American football history. Called “the team that invented football,” they took on the best opponents of their day, defeating much more privileged schools such as Harvard and the Army in a series of breathtakingly close calls, genius plays, and bone-crushing hard work.
But this is not just an underdog story. It’s an unflinching look at the persecution of Native Americans and its intersection with the beginning of one of the most beloved—and exploitative—pastimes in America, expertly told by nonfiction powerhouse Steve Sheinkin. LEXILE = 980L
by Reynolds, Jason Year Published: 2016
Ghost is a young adult novel by Jason Reynolds which follows seventh-grader Castle “Ghost” Cranshaw as he joins a track team andstruggles to deal with his past and his present. As a child, Ghost had to flee his apartment with his mother when his father, in a drunkenrage, tried to kill them. LEXILE = 730L
by Markell, Denis Year Published: 2016
Twelve-year-old Ted Gerson has spent most of his summer playing video games. So when his great-uncle dies and bequeaths him the all so-called treasure in his overstuffed junk shop of an apartment, Ted explores it like it’s another level to beat. And to his shock, he finds that eccentric Great-Uncle Ted actually has set the place up like a real-life escape-the-room game!
Using his specially honed skills, Ted sets off to win the greatest game he’s ever played, with help from his friends Caleb and Isabel. Together they discover that Uncle Ted’s “treasure” might be exactly that—real gold and jewels found by a Japanese American unit that served in World War II. With each puzzle Ted and his friends solve, they get closer to unraveling the mystery—but someone dangerous is hot on their heels, and he’s not about to let them get away with the fortune. LEXILE = 670L
by Lowery, Lynda Blackmon, Leacock, Elspeth, & Buckley, Susan Year Published: 2015
A 50th-anniversary tribute shares the story of the youngest person to complete the momentous Selma to Montgomery March, describing her frequent imprisonments for her participation in nonviolent demonstrations and how she felt about her involvement in historic Civil Rights events.
by Gratz, Alan Year Published: 2017
Josef is a Jewish boy in 1930s Nazi Germany. With the threat of concentration camps looming, he and his family board a ship bound for the other side of the world…
Isabel is a Cuban girl in 1994. With riots and unrest plaguing her country, she and her family set out on a raft, hoping to find safety and freedom in America…
Mahmoud is a Syrian boy in 2015. With his homeland torn apart by violence and destruction, he and his family begin a long trek toward Europe…
All three young people will go on harrowing journeys in search of refuge. All will face unimaginable dangers–from drownings to bombings to betrayals. But for each of them, there is always the hope of tomorrow. And although Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud are separated by continents and decades, surprising connections will tie their stories together in the end. LEXILE = 800L
by Freedman, Russell Year Published: 2016
Though the story of the White Rose student resistance in Nazi Germany has been told elsewhere, Freedman’s focus on the youth of the participants will resonate with readers. Hans Scholl, a free-spirited teen who became disillusioned by the enforced conformity of his Hitler Youth group, joined a banned rival group that discussed forbidden books, and there were no uniforms or marching. Younger sister Sophie got in trouble for reading a book by a Jewish German poet and questioning the pervasive anti-Semitism of her society. While attending school in Munich, the siblings became active in a group of anti-Hitler pamphleteers. The story has its share of dark turns, including arrests, lengthy detentions, and the eventual trial and execution by guillotine of Hans and Sophie. But Freedman treats these aspects gracefully, and the overarching message is one of defiant resistance in the face of overwhelming evil. “You will go down in history,” their father, an outspoken pacifist, told them after their conviction. “There is such a thing as justice despite this. I am proud of both of you.” Stock photos from the period are adeptly interspersed with personal snapshots and portraits to create a strong visual component. VERDICT A highly readable and well-documented overview of a fascinating aspect of World War II. LEXILE = 630L
by Cartaya, Pablo Year Published: 2017
For Arturo, summertime in Miami means playing basketball until dark, sipping mango smoothies, and keeping cool under banyan trees. And maybe a few shifts as junior lunchtime dishwasher at Abuela’s restaurant. Maybe. But this summer also includes Carmen, a poetry enthusiast who moves into Arturo’s apartment complex and turns his stomach into a deep fryer. He almost doesn’t notice the smarmy land developer who rolls into town and threatens to change it. Arturo refuses to let his family and community go down without a fight, and as he schemes with Carmen, Arturo discovers the power of poetry and protest through untold family stories and the work of José Martí. LEXILE = 750L