Dear Miss Karana

Dear Miss KaranaDear Miss Karana
by Eric Elliot
Grades 4 & up

Tishmal is a fourth grader who lives and goes to school on an Indian Reservation near Riverside, California. After studying Island of the Blue Dolphins in school, she starts writing letters to Karana, the main character of the book. She compares her life as a current day Native American to what was written about Karana in the book, pointing out the inaccuracies and misconceptions. Her voice as a 4th grade student feels very authentic and will appeal to readers of the same age. Highly recommended to everyone who has read Island of the Blue Dolphins, grades 4 & up.

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See You in the Cosmos

See You in the CosmosSee You in the Cosmos
by Jack Cheng
Grades 5 & up

Alex loves space, rockets, and truth, and he idolizes Carl Sagan, which is why he named his dog after him. With the help of an online forum, Alex has built his first rocket and is heading to a rocket festival in New Mexico to launch it and his “golden iPod” (modeled after Sagan’s golden record) into space. The story is told through Alex’s recordings on the iPod, and we gain insight into his life as he explains what is going on around him. His mother is having some of her “quiet days,” and doesn’t seem to realize that he is leaving. Fortunately his combination of resourcefulness and naivety helps him get where he wants. He is also lucky enough to meet up with truly helpful people along the way. In the process of describing life on earth to potential aliens, Alex discovers what life really is all about. This is only tangentially about outer space. It is much more about emotional growth. Recommended for thoughtful students in grades 5 and up.

ARC provided by publisher

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The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora

The Epic Fail of Arturo ZamoraThe Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora
by Pablo Cartaya
Grades 4 & up

Arturo’s family is centered around the restaurant founded by his grandparents. La Cocina de la Isla is a popular meeting place in their neighborhood — Abuela knows everyone and they all love her. That is until Wilfredo Pipo comes to town. Pipo is a real estate developer and he has a grand plan to “improve” their neighborhood. He tries to win over the community before a big council vote with all sorts of freebies and parties. With Abuela sick and Arturo’s mom unwilling to act, Arturo and Carmen (a close family friend who he has a crush on) take it upon themselves to figure out what is going on and how to stop it. The poems of Jose Marti and Arturo’s grandparents’ journey from Cuba are woven in throughout the story. Recommended for grades 4 & up.

ARC provided by publisher

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Beyond the Bright Sea

Beyond the Bright SeaBeyond the Bright Sea
by Lauren Wolk
Grades 5 & up

Crow doesn’t know who her parents are or where she came from, only that she washed ashore on one of the Elizabeth Islands off the coast of Massachusetts when she was a newborn. She has grown up with a man she calls Osh, with help from Miss Maggie from the nearby island of Cuttyhunk. Most of the other residents of Cuttyhunk want nothing to do with her, for fear that her parents were residents of the now closed leper colony on Penikese island. Although Crow is well cared for and loved by Osh and Miss Maggie, she still has a yearning to find the truth about her birth. With help from Miss Maggie and a very reluctant Osh (who chooses to keep his own past a secret), Crow sets out on a journey of discovery that gives her much more than expected, including a run in with a dangerous stranger that threatens life on the island and all that she holds dear. Although this takes place in 1925, readers will have no trouble identifying with Crow and her search for who she truly is. Highly recommended for grades 5 & up.

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Frogkisser!

Frogkisser!Frogkisser!
by Garth Nix
Grades 4 & up

Princess Anya just wants to sit in the castle library, read books, and learn magic. But when her step-step-father, an evil sorcerer, turns her older sister’s latest love interest into a frog, Anya begins a Quest to change him back. Since he is not her true love, she needs to create a magic balm, the recipe for which was given to her by the castle librarian (and sometimes owl). She sets off with Royal Dog Ardent. Like with all of the Royal Dogs, the princess can both speak to and understand him. As they begin their Quest, they come across several other transformed creatures who need help changing back. Anya also learns of society of robbers who are trying to restore law and order to the land. She is unsure at first about tackling a problem that large, but as she continues to meet others, her Quest evolves. Full of humor, adventure, and magic, this book also tackles the greater issues of power and responsibility. Highly recommended for grades 4 & up.

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The End of the Wild

The End of the WildThe End of the Wild
by Nicole Helget
Grades 4 & up

Things have been hard for sixth grader Fern for the two years since her mother and baby brother died in an accident. Her stepfather has a hard time finding a job. Money is tight and Fern ends up doing a lot to take care of her two younger brothers. Luckily, the woods near their house are plentiful, and Fern’s mother taught her what plants are edible and how best to cook them. Unfortunately, the woods are now in danger. A fracking company has come to their small town and wants to put the wastewater pond right in the woods. On the one hand, it will bring a lot of jobs to a town that desperately needs them. On the other, it may destroy the countryside around them. Fern feels caught in the middle, loving the woods, but knowing the difference a good job could make. A fair look at both sides of the fracking controversy. Recommended for grades 4 & up.

ARC provided by publisher

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Dragon’s Green

Dragon's Green (Worldquake Sequence, #1)Dragon’s Green
by Scarlett Thomas
Grades 4 & up

What a great start to a new series! I don’t want to reveal too much, but if you like fantasy, you are going to want to read this one!

Effie has been spending a lot of time with her grandfather since her father was promoted at work. She suspects that he does magic, but he won’t tell her anything about it and her father insists that magic doesn’t exist. It is only when her grandfather is attacked and hospitalized that Effie starts to learn more about the world he is part of. Through a strange set of circumstances she finds herself learning more about several other of her classmates, whose unique talents help her on the quest save what she can of her grandfather’s. (Seriously, this wasn’t a very good description of the book, but there is too much awesomeness in it and I don’t want to spoil anything. You just need to read it.) Highly recommended for grades 4 & up.

eARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss

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Geekerella

GeekerellaGeekerella
by Ashley Poston
Grades 8 & up

In this retelling of Cinderella, Elle is a huge fan of the classic Starfield series and her father started the ExcelsiCon to celebrate it. After he died, she was stuck at home with her evil stepmother and stepsisters (of course) and their country club life. Elle tries to find her own way, writing a blog about the show and working at a vegan food truck aptly named The Pumpkin. The Prince in this version is a teen heartthrob cast as Prince Carmindor in the Starfield movie remake, to the distress of its hardcore fans. The story sticks to the Cinderella arc successfully, while firmly placing it in today’s world of fandoms and cosplay. A super fun take on an old classic. Highly recommended for fans of Cons and cosplay, grades 8 & up.

eARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss

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Sydney MacKenzie Knocks ‘Em Dead

Sydney MacKenzie Knocks 'Em DeadSydney MacKenzie Knocks ‘Em Dead
by Cindy Callaghan
Grades 5 & up

Sydney has been working hard at maintaining her image and status at her southern California middle school even as family finances get tighter and tighter. Then her parents drop the bombshell — they are moving to a small town in Delaware where her father just inherited a cemetery. Worse, their house is actually part of the cemetery. Sydney is surprised that she can’t play up the “California cool girl” persona at her new school. When she finds out the kids like creepy things, she works with that instead, telling the stories about her house being haunted (which may or may not be true). Things start to escalate when her new friends want to hold a seance. Can Sydney find a way to fit in without stretching the truth too much? A delightfully creepy twist on the issues of trying to fit in in middle school, with a smidge of romance and a pinch of history. Also includes some delicious sounding recipes! Recommended for grades 5 & up.

eARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss

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Joplin, Wishing

Joplin, WishingJoplin, Wishing
by Diane Stanley
Grades 4 & up

Joplin is having a hard time at school. Her best friend has deserted her for the “Fashionistas,” and she is being horribly teased about her grandfather who was a best-selling author but also a recluse. When he died, her mother let her choose one item of his to keep. Joplin chose a broken Delftware plate, with a beautiful Dutch scene. In loneliness and desperation one night, Joplin wishes that the girl painted on the plate could be her friend. The next morning she finds Sophie in the garden. Together with her other new friend Barrett, she tries to unravel the pieces of Sophie’s story and find a way to return her to her time (17th century Holland). But the man who imprisoned Sophie in the plate is also in New York, and he’s been trying to get his hands on it for centuries. This carefully crafted story of greed, loss, longing, friendship, and the power of wishes will captivate readers. (But unlike Sophie, they won’t want to break the spell!) Highly recommended for grades 4 & up.

eARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss

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