Counting Thyme

Counting ThymeCounting Thyme
by Melanie Conklin
Grades 4 & up

Thyme and her family have moved to New York City because her 5-year-old brother has been accepted into a cancer drug trial which is really his only hope. Thyme doesn’t want to be there. She wants to be back home in San Diego with her grandmother and her best friend, Shani. As her parents spend all of their time taking care of Val, Thyme and her older sister Cori must adjust to their new lives the best that they can. Thyme watches as Cori doesn’t always make good choices at her new¬†high school. Luckily, Thyme finds a few friends in her new middle school. She hesitates to get too close to them, however, not wanting to betray Shani or to be known as “cancer boy’s sister.” She is torn between wanting the treatment to keep working to save her brother and wishing she could move back home. This novel will pull at your heartstrings just as Thyme is pulled between family and friends, and her new home and old life. Highly recommended for grades 4 & up.

eARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss

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Just Like Me

Just Like MeJust Like Me
by Nancy J. Cavanaugh
Grades 4 & up

Just because they were all adopted from the same orphanage in China at the same time doesn’t mean that Julia has to have anything in common with Avery and Becca. She is glad that they live far enough away that they don’t have to see each other all of the time. But now they are¬†spending a week together at sleepaway camp (the Christian camp that Becca & Avery have gone to for the past few years) for a newspaper story about adoption. When the three of them are thrown into a cabin with some girls that Becca & Avery have butted heads with in the past, the summer starts off on the wrong foot. But the camp competition is by cabin this year — can the girls put aside their differences to work together towards winning? As Julia makes her way through the week, she realizes truths not only about herself, but about Avery & Becca as well. Based on the author’s adopted daughter’s experiences, this will appeal to students in grades 4 & up who are on a similar journey of self-discovery.

ARC provided by the publisher

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Dream On, Amber

Dream On, AmberDream On, Amber
by Emma Shevah
Grades 4 & up

Amber is having a hard time adjusting to middle school. She hates her name, she hates that she is half-Japanese/half-Italian, she hates that her dad left when she was little, she hates that her phone is an ancient relic and doesn’t even have a camera, and she hates that she has no friends. To make matters worse, she has caught the attention of a very large and angry girl at school, and not in a good way. The only good thing is the art that she creates, and she certainly doesn’t want to share that with anyone! Things come to a head when she is forced to turn in an art piece with the angry girl and convince her younger sister that their father is not coming back for her birthday party. How can one sixth grader handle all of this? Amber’s inner strength surprises even herself. Recommended for grades 4 & up, especially fans of books like The Popularity Papers .

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The Night Parade

The Night ParadeThe Night Parade
by Kathryn Tanquary
Grades 4 & up

Saki lives in Tokyo and hates that she has to go to her grandmother’s house in a rural village for the Obon ceremony. There is barely any cell phone reception and she worries about missing out on what is going on with her friends, especially mean girl Hana, who Saki worries will turn on her while she is away. Her resentment is evident in her actions as she participates in the family rituals, taking shortcuts and arguing about things. When she is invited to go to the graveyard at night with the older group of cool kids, she jumps at the chance. They are only using her for their amusement, though, just like her friends back home. Unfortunately, not only does she get in trouble with her parents, she unleashes a death curse on her family. Now she has only three nights in the spirit world to correct her mistakes. This adventure is an exciting blend of modern Japan and traditional beliefs. Recommended for grades 4 & up.

ARC provided by publisher.

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The Blackthorn Key and Mark of the Plague

The Blackthorn Key (The Blackthorn Key, #1)The Blackthorn Key
by Kevin Sands
Grades 4 & up

Christopher Rowe was fortunate not only to be chosen as an apothecary’s apprentice from the orphanage, but also to end up with a kind and clever master like Benedict Blackthorn. Being an apothecary in London in 1655 is part science, part medicine, and part detective work. Christopher loves all aspects of it until a series of murders that appear to be targeting apothecaries in the area. When Master Blackthorn leaves him a note full of clues in code, Christopher and his best friend Tom must solve them before it is too late. A fabulous historical mystery with equal parts humor and adventure, this one will draw you in from the first page. Highly recommended for grades 4 & up.

Mark of the Plague (The Blackthorn Key, #2)Mark of the Plague
by Kevin Sands
Grades 4 & up

In this action-packed sequel to The Blackthorn Key, The Plague has returned to London. Christopher and Tom are doing their best to survive, although Christopher has no way to support himself since he is an apprentice with no master. Most of the other apothecaries and the upper class have deserted London. Cripplegate, Christopher’s former orphanage, has shut its doors, and Christopher ends up taking in Sally, a girl he had known there, after she is beat up during a riot. When a strange new plague doctor comes to town and begins to make prophecies as well, Christopher and Tom become suspicious of him. Their attention soon turns to an apothecary who claims to have a cure for The Plague. When they see it work, they advocate for mass production and distribution. They are surprised when he chooses Tom to help him instead of Christopher. They become more and more suspicious until they are embroiled in a mystery so deep there is no other way out. Plus there is the constant, underlying fear of contracting The Plague. A fantastic historical adventure. Highly recommended for grades 4 & up. Read The Blackthorn Key first.

eARC provided by Edelweiss

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Full Cicada Moon

Full Cicada MoonFull Cicada Moon
by Marilyn Hilton
Grades 4 & up

The year is 1969 and Mimi dreams of becoming an astronaut. She has just moved from Berkeley, California to a small college town in Vermont where her father is a professor. It is always hard being the new kid, but especially in a small town when you are half-Black, half-Japanese. Told in verse, this novel spans the course of the year, through the ups and downs of school and friendships. Mimi’s internal strength and belief in herself remain steady through it all. Highly recommended for grades 4 & up.

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The Detective’s Assistant

The Detective's AssistantThe Detective’s Assistant
by Kate Hannigan
Grades 4 & up

Based on the real-life cases of Kate Warne, the first female detective hired by the Pinkerton Detective Agency, this book imagines an eleven-year-old niece (Nell) for her. Nell has no other family than her Aunt Kitty and nowhere else to go. As she helps solve her aunt’s cases, she ends up unraveling some of the mysteries around her own life as well. Taking place the year that Abraham Lincoln was elected president, their cases weave theft, murder, and the underground railroad into a fun adventure. Highly recommended for grades 4 & up.

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Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir

Enchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A MemoirEnchanted Air: Two Cultures, Two Wings: A Memoir
by Margarita Engle
Grades 5 & up

This hauntingly beautiful memoir in verse carries the theme of wings and flying throughout Margarita Engle’s childhood. Growing up in Los Angeles, she spent many summers with her mother’s family in Cuba until the cold war and the Cuban Missile Crisis made that impossible. These poems look at what it was like to grow up torn between two cultures, as well as the many travels she took with her family. Recommended for grades 5 & up.

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The Tiara on the Terrace

The Tiara on the Terrace (Young and Yang, #2)The Tiara on the Terrace
by Kristen Kittscher
Grades 4 & up

Fresh off their crime solving in The Wig in the Window, Sophie and Grace are volunteering at the Winter Sun Festival (which seems loosely based on the Tournament of Roses Parade). While working on the flower-covered floats, they become embroiled in a new mystery — the Festival president just turned up dead. The police rule it accidental but our crime fighting trio (Sophie, Grace, & Trista) think otherwise. They work their way into the inner circle of parade royalty in their attempt to stop the murderer before he or she strikes again. Highly recommended for mystery lovers, especially fans of the first book, and anyone who loves a parade! Grades 4 & up.

ARC provided by author.

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Spirit Week Showdown

Spirit Week Showdown (The Magnificent Mya Tibbs, #1)Spirit Week Showdown
by Crystal Allen
Grades 2 & up

Fourth grader Mya Tibbs loves Spirit Week and she is especially looking forward to this year, since the winning spirit partners for each grade will get VIP tickets to the Fall Festival. Mya is also excited to partner with her new best friend Naomi and is eagerly counting down to the start. But when the partners are picked, Mya is paired with Mean Connie Tate who refuses to switch. Now Naomi is blaming Mya for breaking her pinkie promise of winning, and turning the rest of her friends against her as well. Mya doesn’t want to be friends with Connie, but agrees to be “fake friends” with her for the week, for the sake of Spirit Week. As the week progresses however, she learns some surprising things about Naomi, Connie, and herself. This realistic school story accurately portrays the volatile friendships in upper elementary school as well as explores what makes a true friend. Highly recommended for grades 2 & up.

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