The Green Bicycle

The Green BicycleThe Green Bicycle
by Haifaa al Mansour
Grades 4 & up

Growing up in Riyadh, Wadjda has a lot of limitations on what she is allowed to do. She also must cover up completely every time she goes outside. That doesn’t stop her from dreaming though, and when she sees the gorgeous green bicycle she knows that she has to find a way to buy it. Things at home and school are hard — her father is gone most of the time, her mother has a horrendous commute to work (and is at the mercy of her driver since women are not allowed to drive), there are rumors that her father is going to marry a second wife, she is ostracized at school, and is constantly getting in trouble. When it looks like the only way to get the money is to win a Quran recitation competition, Wadjda throws herself into it wholeheartedly. But can she learn in a few weeks what the other girls have been studying for years? American tweens will find much to identify with in this spunky 11-year-old from Saudi Arabia. Recommended for grades 4 & up.

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Click Here to Start

Click Here to StartClick Here to Start
by Denis Markell
Grades 4 & up

I just loved so much about this book! Pair it with Insert Coin to Continue for the video gamers in your life.

Ted has only met his Great-Uncle Ted (who he is named after) once, right before his great uncle dies. Ted is quite surprised when Great-Uncle Ted leaves him the entire contents of his apartment with cryptic instructions about finding a treasure. Ted is even more surprised when it turns into a real-life version of the Escape Room video games that he loves so much. As Ted and his friend Caleb, along with his dad’s boss’s daughter Isabel, work their way through the clues and surprises, a shady character seems to be following their every move. They learn more about Great-Uncle Ted, who was sent to an interment camp after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and then fought in Europe as part of a Japanese-American battalion. Is it possible the treasure they are searching for has something to do with his time overseas? The closer Ted and his friends come to solving the clues, the more real the danger becomes. A fantastic mystery with excitement on every page. Highly recommended for grades 4 & up.

eARC provided by publisher via NetGalley

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The Scourge

The ScourgeThe Scourge
by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Grades 4 & up

300 years ago, the Scourge devastated the country of Keldan and now it appears to be back. The River People were blamed for this disease, which spreads quickly and has no cure, though they themselves do not appear to be suffering from it. It is just one more reason for the citizens to hate them. Ani and her best friend Weevil are proud to be River People, doing all that they can to survive in a country that stacks the odds against them. When they are picked up to be tested for the Scourge, everything changes. Suddenly they are fast-tracked to The Colony, where Scourge victims are quarantined until they die. But Ani never goes down without a fight and what she finds does not fit with what she has been taught. Together she and Weevil do what they do best — stick together and find a way to survive. Full of amusing one liners, this action packed survival story will keep readers rooting for Ani and wishing for more. Highly recommended for grades 4 & up.

eARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss

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The Thing About Leftovers

The Thing About LeftoversThe Thing About Leftovers
by C.C. Payne
Grades 4 & up

Fizzy feels like leftovers — and nobody likes leftovers. With her parents divorce and her father’s remarrying, she has moved to a new house and a new middle school in a new part of town where she doesn’t quite fit in. She doesn’t feel like she belongs at her old house where her father still lives or at her new house because of her mother’s new boyfriend. No matter how hard she tries she can’t help but make mistakes and she worries that her next mistake will be her last chance. The only place she truly feels comfortable is cooking and she pours her heart and soul into the Southern Living cook-off. Fizzy is realistic about her own short comings and gives voice to many of the worries that middle schoolers feel, that they just aren’t good enough. Realistic and poignant, with a dash of laughs sprinkled throughout for relief, the only thing this book was missing was recipes for the amazing dishes that Fizzy made. Highly recommended for grades 4 & up.

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When Mischief Came to Town

When Mischief Came to TownWhen Mischief Came to Town
by Katrina Nannestad
Grades 2 & up

Denmark, 1911. 10-year-old Inge Maria has traveled alone by boat from the big city of Copenhagen where she lived in an elegant apartment with her mother to her grandmother’s farm on the small island of Bornholm. She has never met her grandmother before, and the fact that a goat ate half her hair on the boat over certainly does not help make a good first impression. Inge Maria desperately wants to please her grandmother, but she seems to get into trouble more often than not. Whether it is having a bucket kicking contest with a donkey, dancing during music class, or gobbling like a turkey during church, her good natured imagination will have readers laughing out loud. Both hilarious and poignant, Inge Maria will win over readers just as she does her grandmother. Highly recommended for grades 2 & up.

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Black Radishes and Skating with the Statue of Liberty

Black Radishes (Black Radishes, #1)Black Radishes
by Susan Lynn Meyer
Grades 4 & up

Gustave has always considered himself French before anything else, but in the Spring of 1940 it is clear that others are seeing him as more Jewish than French. The Nazi troops are getting closer to France and anti-Semitism is rising within the country as well. His parents close their shop in Paris and move to the small town of Saint-Georges, hoping to find a safe haven in the country. When the Germans do invade, they are just on the correct side of the demarcation line, but safety is relative in the unoccupied zone. And what of the friends and family they left behind in Paris? This moving and nerve-wracking tale of the Holocaust experience of French Jews will keep readers turning the pages and hoping for the best. Based on the author’s father’s experiences. Highly recommended for grades 4 & up.

Skating with the Statue of Liberty (Black Radishes, #2)Skating with the Statue of Liberty
by Susan Lynn Meyer
Grades 4 & up

In this sequel to Black Radishes, Gustave and his family have escaped Nazi-occupied France and made it to America just in time. Settling into New York is much different than he expected it to be. He must learn to navigate a new city with a new language and different cultural expectations. Although he did not expect to see it, he faces discrimination as a both a Jew and a foreigner. Things get worse as he makes friends with an African-American girl and sees the restrictions that are placed on both her family and their friendship. The juxtaposition of this against what he just escaped in Europe should be jarring to all young Americans who read this book. Ultimately a hopeful story, Gustave’s eyes are open to both the potential and the problems he sees in America. Highly recommended to grades 4 & up. (I suggest reading Black Radishes first to fully appreciate Gustave’s story.)

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A Clatter of Jars

A Clatter of JarsA Clatter of Jars
by Lisa Graff
Grades 3 & up

This companion book to A Tangle of Knots continues the look at the divisiveness between those who have Talents and those who are Fair. Lily and Max, Chuck and Ellie, and Renny and Miles are all spending the summer at Camp Atropos, a camp for children with singular Talents. Each of them has a Talent, but for Lily, Chuck, and Renny, these Talents come with burdens and secrets as well. In addition, Jo, the camp director, has found a way to use the lake to make copies of the campers’ Talents. In the days leading up to the Talent show, each of the three children as well as Jo try to fix what they feel is broken. Unfortunately, in doing so they create trouble for everyone in camp. Can they use their Talents to straighten everything out before it is too late? For fans of the first book, grades 3 & up.

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The Mapmakers Trilogy

The Glass Sentence (The Mapmakers Trilogy, #1)The Glass Sentence
by S.E. Grove
Grades 5 & up

The Great Disruption of 1799 has changed the course of time. Different continents are in different Ages, and moving between them can be dangerous. Sophia lives with her Uncle Shadrock, the famous cartologer, in Boston in 1891. She has been living with him since her parents left when she was very young, off to help rescue a fellow explorer in an unknown Age. She returns one day to find their house ransacked and Uncle Shadrock missing. He managed to leave her a small note and a cryptic map. This starts her off on an adventure. An excellent book for fans of dystopian worlds and alternate realities. Recommended for grades 5-8.

The Golden Specific (The Mapmakers Trilogy, #2)The Golden Specific
by S.E. Grove
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

You really need to have read The Glass Sentence before attempting this one. There is too much about The Great Disruption and the different ages that exist for it to make sense without reading that. This second volume in the trilogy sees Sophia continuing on the search for her missing parents. She finds a new lead and heads far from home to follow it. Theo, also, has an important role to play here, though an unexpected change of events surprises him. Highly recommended for fans of the series, grades 5-8. I am looking forward to the third book.

The Crimson Skew (The Mapmakers Trilogy, #3)The Crimson Skew
by S.E. Grove
Grades 5 & up

Fantastic conclusion to The Mapmaker’s Trilogy! In the final volume in this steampunk dystopian fantasy, Theo is sent off to war and Sophia is continuing her search for her parents, following the Austentian Map. Although they don’t know it, they are both facing the danger of the Crimson Skew, a noxious red gas that skews one’s perception. Uncle Shaddrack is still looking for ways to fight the evil Prime Minister Broadgirdle from the inside, unaware of what is happening with either his niece or Theo. You do need to read both The Glass Sentence and The Golden Specific to understand what is going on. Recommended for grades 5 & up.

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Bubonic Panic: When Plague Invaded America

Bubonic Panic: When Plague Invaded AmericaBubonic Panic: When Plague Invaded America
by Gail Jarrow
Grades 5 & up

Starting with an overview of the Bubonic Plague through history, this focuses primarily on the outbreak that started in 1900 in the Chinatown area of San Francisco. Ms. Jarrow does an excellent job explaining the myths and prejudices surrounding the various outbreaks which continued into the 20th century when the Plague first showed up in North America. She also explains the science and skepticism that accompanied the search for the cause, cure, and prevention. Pair this with Chasing Secrets for a fictional look at the same outbreak. Highly recommended for grades 5 and up.

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The Sweetest Sound

The Sweetest SoundThe Sweetest Sound
by Sherri Winston
Grades 4 & up

Because she is so shy and quiet, everyone in her small Pennsylvania town calls Cadence “Mouse,” which she hates. She also hates the pitying looks she gets since her mother left. Cadence has an amazing voice and sings in the children’s gospel choir at her church. But she hides in the back, singing quietly, unable to share her gift with the world. She wants to sing out, like her mother did, but she is paralyzed with fear. When a new choir director is hired, Cadence wonders if this is her chance to shine. Between her own fears and the family and friends that she feels are keeping her stuck in the past, Cadence doesn’t know if she will every be able to break free and fulfill her promise. A heartfelt look at the inner workings of one of the quiet ones, this book shines light on the introvert experience in a way that is important for both extroverts and other introverts to read. Full of fun references to other middle grade books as well. Highly recommended for grades 4 & up.

ARC provided by publisher

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