Fuzzy Mud

Fuzzy MudFuzzy Mud
by Louis Sachar
Grades 4-7

Every student knows that the woods surrounding Woodbridge Academy are off-limits, but when Tamaya and Marshall need to escape from a bully, they cut through them anyway. Chad has threatened to beat up Marshall, and is making good on his threats when Tamaya steps in to defend Marshall. In the woods they encounter some interesting looking “fuzzy mud.” When Tamaya’s hand breaks out in a strange rash and Chad is badly injured, the adults finally begin to believe that this mud is more than it looks like. Interspersed throughout the story are excerpts taken from transcripts of the senate hearing about Biolene technologies, who have created a new organism to be used as clean fuel. An exciting science-laden adventure with an interesting story line about bullying and bystanders as well. Recommended for grades 4-7.

eARC provided by publisher via NetGalley

Goodbye Stranger

Goodbye StrangerGoodbye Stranger
by Rebecca Stead
Grades 5-8

Out of everything that is learned in middle school, it is the lessons learned about friendship that stick with us the most. Rebecca Stead masterfully explores the myriad of friendship snags that middle school students experience on a daily basis. What if you know a secret about a friend? What if a friend asks you to do something that is wrong? Is someone truly a friend who humiliates you? What if s/he is your best friend? Is there room for new friends? Bridge tries her best to navigate the changing dynamics as her two best friends move further and further apart. Just as she overcame a devastating accident before third grade, the reader will be rooting for Bridge to find her way through this, too. Highly recommended for grades 5-8.

ARC provided by publisher.

Chasing Secrets

Chasing SecretsChasing Secrets
by Gennifer Choldenko

Lizzie is not enjoying the life of a proper young lady in San Francisco in 1900. She does not want to be attending Miss Barstow’s school, she would much rather assist her father as he tends to a variety of patients. She wants to learn about science and medicine — not etiquette and dance. When threat of the bubonic plague puts all of Chinatown under quarantine, Lizzie is desperate to find Jing, the beloved family cook. When she discovers Jing’s secret hidden upstairs, she knows she must try even harder. Partly a medical thriller, partly a testament to the power of friendship, this is a novel not to be missed. It includes an interesting look at the early years of vaccination. Highly recommended for grades 4 and up.

eARC provided by publisher via NetGalley.

The Eighth Day

The Eighth Day (Eighth Day, #1)The Eighth Day
by Dianne K. Salerni
Grades 5-8

When Jax’s father is killed, he is surprised to learn that his father made some 18-year-old boy his guardian. Jax wants to go live with his cousins, but instead is forced to stay with Riley who often doesn’t have enough food in the house. But when he wakes up on the Thursday morning after his thirteenth birthday to find a world with no other people in it, he learns that he and Riley are part of a special group. As Transitioners, they live through an eighth day that falls between Wednesday and Thursday. But there is evil in this eighth day, tracing back to the time of Merlin & King Arthur, and it is up to Jax to help stop it. A thrilling fantasy. Highly recommended for grades 5-8.

A Snicker of Magic

A Snicker of MagicA Snicker of Magic
by Natalie Lloyd
Grades 4-8

When Felicity Pickle arrives in Midnight Gulch with her mother and younger sister, she knows that it is a place she wants to stay for a long time. Her Mama, who grew up in Midnight Gulch, has a wandering heart, and Felicity wonders if they will ever be able to stay in one place permanently. As Felicity makes friends with Jonah, who has his own secrets, she begins to learn the history of Midnight Gulch and the magic that it used to have. Now there is only a snicker of magic left, but together Jonah and Felicity are doing what they can to undo the curse and bring the magic back to Midnight Gulch. An excellent story about burdens and responsibility and how our families’ choices can weigh heavy on our futures. Full of surprising twists, this story will keep Midnight Gulch in your heart long after it is over. Recommended for grades 4-8.

The Night Gardener

The Night GardenerThe Night Gardener
by Jonathan Auxier
Grades 5-8

Molly and her brother Kip are happy to leave the orphanage to go and work for the Windsor family, but when they finally arrive at the house, they find things to be much different than they had expected. Mistress Windsor clearly does not want them there, though she reluctantly allows them to stay. There is a mysterious tree that appears to be growing into the house, as well as a scary man who appears in the middle of the night. What is the secret of the Windsor house, and why does it change everyone who lives there? A creepy story with a satisfying end. Recommended for grades 5 and up.

The Sound of Life and Everything

The Sound of Life and EverythingThe Sound of Life and Everything
by Krista Van Dolzer
Grades 5-8

It is 1952, and while World War II is over, some wounds have not healed. Ellie Mae’s brother Daniel and cousin Robby were both killed in the war. When Ellie Mae’s Aunt Mildred learns of new trial experiments to bring back the dead with pieces of their DNA, she sends in Robby’s dog tags with blood on them. Except the blood was not his, and the person who steps out of the pod is not Robby but a young Japanese man. Aunt Mildred wants nothing to do with him, and Ellie Mae and her mother cannot bear to see the way he is treated in the laboratory, so they bring him home instead. Their small California town is not ready to forgive the Japanese for their role in World War II, and life with Takuma is an uphill struggle. Along the way Ellie Mae learns a great deal about prejudice, friendship, and ultimately forgiveness. This book is a fascinating blend of historical fiction and science fiction. Highly recommended to grades 5-8.

Tiger Boy

Tiger BoyTiger Boy
by Mitali Perkins
Grades 3-6

Neel has been selected as the one student from his island to take the test for a scholarship to a prestigious secondary school. He doesn’t want it though — he doesn’t want to leave his home or his family. Instead of studying for it, he and his sister sneak out at night in search of a missing tiger cub. The Bengal tigar is endangered, and this is one of the few cubs in recent years. Neel wants to find her and return her to the reserve before she is captured by an unscrupulous businessman who wants to sell her as parts on the black market. This is a vivid and exciting look into the world of the Sunderbans of West Bengal as well as an important environmental tale. Recommended for grades 3-6.

The Iron Trial

The Iron Trial (Magisterium, #1)The Iron Trial
by Holly Black & Cassandra Clare
Grades 4-8

Callum Hunt’s father has told him over and over that the Magisterium is evil. He is insistent that Call throw the entrance tests so that he doesn’t get picked. He blames magic for killing Call’s mother and wants nothing to do with it anymore. But even though Call does his best to bungle every test, he still ends up chosen to go. Once he arrives, he finds that it isn’t the awful place that his father told him it would be. He has friends for the first time, and seems to be pretty good at his schoolwork. So why does his father want him out? What secrets is he afraid that Call will learn? A great start to a new fantasy series. Recommended for grades 4-8.

Rhyme Schemer

Rhyme SchemerRhyme Schemer
by K.A. Holt
Grades 4-8

Kevin is having a rough start to seventh grade, and is jotting his feelings down in a notebook in free verse poetry (though he doesn’t realize that is what it is yet). His next oldest brother, who torments him endlessly, throws the notebook out of the car window one day on the way to school. Robin, one of the students that Kevin has ridiculed in the notebook as well as in real life, finds it and proceeds to use it to blackmail Kevin and turn him into the laughingstock of the school. When his cold-hearted teacher does nothing to stop the torment, Kevin finds solace in the school library. Told completely through Kevin’s poems, this is a powerful look at the forces that turn someone into a bully, and how it feels when the roles are reversed. Highly recommended for grades 4-8.