The Meaning of Maggie
by Megan Jean Sovern
Grades 5 & up
This book chronicles Maggie’s year from her eleventh birthday to her twelfth (1988-89), and all of the ups and downs in between. The youngest of three sisters, she has a fairly naive look on life, though clearly she is very book smart. Her family has also kept her in the dark about her father’s battle with Multiple Sclerosis, and he is rapidly declining throughout the year. She means well, but she is much more focussed on how her family’s issues affect her, rather than the people they are actually happening to. It will be very easy for readers of this age to relate to her, and eye-opening for them as well when she realizes that the world does not revolve around her. Recommended for grades 5-7.
Upside Down in the Middle of Nowhere
by Julie T. Lamana
Grades 6 & up
This intense book covers the week from Friday, August 26, 2005 through Friday, September 2. Armani’s family lives in the Ninth Ward in New Orleans, and she is excited to celebrate her tenth birthday on August 28th. The party plans are cut short however, when Hurricane Katrina hits, and changes their lives forever. This is the most vivid and heart-wrenching account of surviving the worst of the storm that I have read. From the storm itself, to the breaking of the levees, then to surviving the chaos of the aftermath, your heart will race along with Armani’s all the way through. Recommended for grades 6-8.
by Esther Ehrlich
Grades 4 & up
Chirp is proud to be a “quahog,” a born and bred Cape Codder. She, her older sister, her dancer mother, and her psychiatrist father have an idyllic life. Chirp loves bird watching, especially in the salt marshes. But it all falls apart in 1972, when Chirp is 11. After a series of baffling symptoms, her mother is diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. But dancing is her mother’s passion, and she sinks into a deep depression. Chirp’s world is turned upside down when her mother is committed to a mental institute in Boston. Chirp has never felt so lost and alone. Can she make sense of her world again? This is a powerful and moving novel. Highly recommended for grades 4-8.
The Mark of the Dragonfly
by Jaleigh Johnson
Grades 5 & up
Piper is a machinist, scavenging for odds and ends from the meteor fields, and fixing them better than anyone else in town. When she comes across a strange girl in the rubble of a trader’s caravan, Piper feels that she must help her. When a man comes searching for Anna, Piper knows that she must protect her. Together they run away, aboard the great steam engine, the 401. Caught as stowaways, the only thing that stops them from being thrown off the train is the dragonfly tattoo on Anna’s arm. But where did she get it, and why is she under protection of the king? Who is the man chasing them, and what does he want with Anna? All this and more is discovered in this exciting steampunk adventure. Recommended for grades 5-8.
Under the Egg
by Laura Marx Fitzgerald
Grades 5 & up
Theodora Tennpenny’s grandfather’s last words to her were about a treasure he had hidden “under the egg.” As Theo explores all of the different meanings that “under the egg” could have in her grandfather’s studio, she finds herself entangled in an art history mystery of epic proportions. With help from a new friend and other people she had never really noticed in her life, Theo delves deeper and deeper into her grandfather’s past and the secrets he had buried long ago. A multi-layered mystery with satisfying twists and turns. Recommended for grades 5-8.
by Nikki Loftin
Grades 5 & up
Imagine a magical valley, where the beauty of nature works to give you everything you need. This is what Peter and Annie find. Peter’s family has moved to the Texas Hill Country after his father loses his job and Peter has some trouble at school. Annie (the wish girl of the title) has cancer and is attending a camp nearby before she is supposed to start treatment again. They find the valley separately and the magic of it brings them together, giving each of them what they need. A powerful, lyrical novel about being true to yourself, even in the face of those who think they know what is best. Highly recommended for grades 5-8.
Ana of California
by Andi Teran
Grades 8 & up
This re-imagining of Anne of Green Gables is set in Northern California, but you don’t have to be familiar with the original to enjoy this story. Ana is a 15-year-old from East LA, an orphan due to gang violence, who has been in the foster care system she was six years old. Now on her last chance, she is sent to spend the summer as a farmhand for a trial program with Abbie and Emmitt Garber (brother and sister) on their family farm. It is hard for Ana to fit in to small town life, but she doesn’t have much time for anything other than farm work. She finds comfort in her sketchbook and tries her best to please the Garbers as this is the nicest place that she has ever lived. With all of the feistiness of the original Anne, Ana will find a place in your heart as you root for to succeed and find a home. Recommended for grades 8 & up.
by Ursula Vernon
Grades 3 & up
Castle Hangnail has been without a Master/Mistress for quite some time. The Guardian is worried, as he has filed for several extensions with the Board of Magic and sent out many invitations for a new master. All of the minions of Castle Hangnail (no, not the little yellow guys) are excited when a Wicked Witch shows up to be the new Mistress. She’s a little bit shorter, a little bit younger (12), and a little less Wicked than they would have preferred, but it is soon clear to everyone that Molly is perfect for the job. Before she can officially take over as Master of Castle Hangnail, she must complete the tasks set by the Board. These include smiting, blighting, and most importantly securing the castle against invaders. This fantastic fantasy has the perfect mix of humor and adventure for young fantasy lovers. I am hoping for a sequel! Highly recommended for grades 3-6.
The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights
by Steve Sheinkin
Grades 5 & up
This book chronicles racial segregation in the US Navy during World War II, particularly the events leading up to and just after the the mutiny trial of a group of African-American sailors known as the Port Chicago 50. This important event in the history of the Civil Rights struggle has been largely written out of the common knowledge. It is vitally important to remember the treatment given to African-American service people as they were supposed to be fighting to preserve democracy for all. A powerful look at an important episode in US history. Highly recommended for grades 5 & up.
The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia
by Candace Fleming
Grades 6 & up
An in-depth look at the life of Tsar Nicholas II, the last tsar of Russia, and his family. It includes a view “outside the palace gates,” of life for the average person at the time, and how the tsar’s policies led to his ultimate downfall. A well-rounded presentation of all sides of the revolution. Includes photographs as well as first hand accounts. Recommended for grades 6 and up.