Dory Dory Black Sheep

Dory Dory Black SheepDory Dory Black Sheep
by Abby Hanlon
Kindergarten & up

This third book about 6-year-old Dory is the best one yet. Dory is upset that she doesn’t quite know how to read. Her good friend Rosabelle is already reading thick books, which is very frustrating for Dory. So she makes up her own story, which of course involves her fairy godmother Mr. Nuggy and her arch-enemy Mrs. Gobble Gracker as well as a farm, a lost sheep, a superhero, and a trip to outer space. Dory clearly knows the difference between her real world and her imaginary world, and children will have no trouble moving between the two. This beginning chapter book about a struggling reader is meta in the best way. Highly recommended for Kindergarten and up.

Book provided by publisher.

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Ghost (Track, #1)Ghost
by Jason Reynolds
Grades 5 & up

Running has played an important role in Ghost’s life since the night he and his mother ran for their lives, but he never considered it a real sport like basketball. That all changed when he literally runs into a local track team’s practice. Surprised by how much he likes it and how much he wants to be a part of the team, Ghost tries his best to stay out of “altercations” at school. This is hard though when he is targeted by the resident bully about where he lives, what he wears, and more. Luckily his new coach is supportive and sets appropriate consequences for his actions. The more Ghost becomes a part of the team the more he understands that while you can’t run away from who you are, you can run towards a better future. This powerful novel will resonant with all types of athletes hoping to find a better place through their sports. Highly recommended for grades 5 & up.

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Towers Falling

Towers FallingTowers Falling
by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Grades 4 & up

Deja’s father is sick. He hasn’t been able to hold down a job that Deja can remember. While Deja’s mother does the best she can, they were evicted from their apartment. After living in their car for a month, they find a place at a homeless shelter for families. The Avalon is not great, but it is in a better part of Brooklyn then they had lived in before, and Deja starts fifth grade at the best school she has ever gone to. Much to her surprise she is immediately befriended by Ben, who just moved to New York from Arizona, and Sabeen, whose family comes from Turkey. Since it is the 15th anniversary of 9/11, the fifth graders are studying what happened in an integrated curriculum unit throughout their different classes. Deja had never heard of this event, but with the support of her new friends and her teachers, she begins to see how it impacted her own family, particularly her father. This well-crafted and compelling novel is a perfect introduction for a generation of children born after the towers fell. They will make the discovery along with Deja and see how history, both recent and ancient, continues to affect us all. Highly recommended for grades 4 & up.

ARC provided by publisher

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The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island

The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island (Family Fletcher, #2)The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island
by Dana Alison Levy
Grades 3 & up

The fabulous Fletchers are back, this time spending the month of August at their family summer home on Rock Island. The boys have been looking forward to the summer, but as soon as they get there they find that there are many changes. The lighthouse next door, which they think of as their own, has a fence around it with a Do Not Enter sign. The usually empty house next door has a family living in it. Nothing feels quite right. As the summer progresses, they find their way, each with changes of their own. A perfect book for summer — or in the middle of the winter when the summer feels so far away… Recommended for fans of the first book and the Penderwicks, grades 3 & up.

Kudos to Ms. Levy for the way she tackles issues of race and racism in the book! It is not a major plot point, but an important one that was worth addressing.

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Dead Air

Dead Air (The Kat Sinclair Files #1)Dead Air
by Michelle Schusterman
Grades 4 & up

This book about a ghost-hunting TV show is super fun and just the right amount of creepy! Kat Sinclair’s grandmother starred in horror movies and Kat has been watching them since kindergarten. When her father takes a job as the new host of the TV show Passport to Paranormal, Kat is eager to tag along. She doesn’t quite believe in ghosts, but a series of mysterious occurrences has her changing her mind. Along with a few other kids on the set, she begins investigating what really happened to the previous hosts. Recommended for grades 4 & up, but don’t read at night if you are easily scared!

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It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel

It Ain't So Awful, FalafelIt Ain’t So Awful, Falafel
by Firoozeh Dumas
Grades 4 & up

Zomorod (who prefers to be called Cindy) is about to start 6th grade in Newport Beach, just south of LA. She was born in Iran, but spent a few years in Compton for her father’s job, then back to Iran, and now is back in California. It is 1978, and the unrest in Iran is beginning to be shown on the evening news in the United States. Cindy is doing her best to fit in to her middle school. It is hard with a mother who refuses to learn English and desperately misses her family in Iran. Cindy finds herself translating not only language, but jokes and customs as well. Just when Cindy is finally finding her place at school, the Shah is deposed and Americans are taken hostage. With the anti-Iranian sentiment cropping up everywhere coupled with the despair at home, Cindy faces battles on every front. Told with plenty of humor, this is an important perspective on being the “other.” The universal themes of wanting to fit in and being embarrassed by your parents will resonate with middle schoolers everywhere. Highly recommended for grades 4 & up.

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Once Was a Time

Once Was a TimeOnce Was a Time
by Leila Sales
Grades 4 & up

Lottie’s father was a physicist in Bristol when World War II began. Now he is working on a top secret project for the British government, trying to discover how to make time travel work before the Axis powers do. Lottie and her best friend Kitty have absolute faith not only that time travel exists but that her father while figure it out. When they find themselves in a life-threatening situation, Lottie makes a split-second decision to step through a time travel portal and winds up in Wisconsin in 2013, leaving Kitty behind in 1940. Wracked with guilt and only 10 years old, Lottie must figure out how to live in this strange new future world while never giving up the hope of seeing Kitty and her family again. This is a phenomenal novel, about friendship that spans centuries and being true to yourself and your dreams. Highly recommended for grades 4 & up.

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The Wolf’s Boy

The Wolf's BoyThe Wolf’s Boy
by Susan Williams Beckhorn
Grades 4 & up

When Kai is born with a twisted foot, he is considered cursed and left to die. Instead, however, he is saved by a mother wolf who looks after him with her own pups. His own mother takes him back shortly thereafter, but he is not given a true name or allowed to hunt as the other boys do. He further breaks with tradition when he rescues a wolf pup runt and brings her to live with his family. As Uff grows older, Kai tries to teach her the wolf skills she needs to survive as well as how to behave among humans. When tragedy strikes, Kai sets out on his own rather than risk losing the wolf he has grown to love. Full of details about early humans, this well-researched and engaging story explores not only the bond between people and their dogs, but also looks at how we treat others who are different from ourselves. A fascinating adventure! Highly recommended for grades 4 & up.

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Children of Exile series

Children of Exile (Children of Exile, #1)Children of Exile
by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Grades 5 & up

Twelve-year-old Rosi and her younger brother Bobo have spent their entire lives in Fredtown, being raised by their Fred-Mama, Fred-Daddy, and all of the other Freds. They and the other children were removed from their homes by the Freds because it wasn’t safe for them. Now, though, things have changed and with very little warning they are returning to their original home and their birth parents whom they know nothing about. After a long plane ride back, Rosi is shocked to meet her parents and see the conditions they live in. After being raised by the kind, caring Feds who taught tolerance and peace, her hometown is a shock. She is a shock to her parents as well, who weren’t expecting a fully grown daughter even though it had been twelve years. As Rosi and Edwy, the only other twelve-year-old, explore about their new/old home, the shocks continue to come. Told in true Margaret Peterson Haddix style, this book will have readers’ on the edge of their seats with cliffhangers and unexpected twists. It can also be a fantastic discussion starter for looking at current events in the world today. I can’t wait for the rest of the trilogy!

eARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss

Children of Refuge (Children of Exile, #2)Children of Refuge
by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Grades 5 & up

In this second book in the Children of Exile series, we follow Edwy’s story. He is separated from Rosi, kidnapped by his own father, and sent to live with an older brother and sister that he never knew he had in Refuge City. The more he learns about Refuge City, the more he realizes how vastly different than anything Fredtown and the Freds prepared him for. When he learns what happened to Rosi (which was in the first book), he sets aside his new life in Refuge City to find her. The non-stop action will keep readers engaged while questioning the lessons they are taught by the well-meaning adults in their lives. It is full of plenty of Haddix’s signature twists as well! Please read the series in order. Highly recommended for grades 5 & up.

eARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss

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Race to the South Pole

Race to the South Pole (Ranger in Time #4)Race to the South Pole
by Kate Messner
Grades 3 & up

Another winning entry in the Ranger in Time series!

Just when Ranger is enjoying the snow at home, he is whisked through time on another mission. Landing on Robert Scott’s ship the Terra Nova, Ranger finds himself rescuing Jack, a Chinese-Maori New Zealander who has stowed away on the ship. This is the first of Ranger’s many rescues as he and Jack join Captain Scott’s expedition to Antarctica in the hope of reaching the South Pole. This well-researched adventure does an excellent job combining historical excitement with a few fictional characters. A great author’s note and bibliography provide additional information for interested readers. Highly recommended for grades 3 & up.

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