Save Me a Seat

Save Me a SeatSave Me a Seat
by Sarah Weeks & Gita Varadarajan
Grades 3 & up

It is a rough first week of fifth grade for both Ravi and Joe — partly for different reasons, and partly for the same reason, a bully named Dillon. Told in alternating perspectives, we watch the events of the week unfold and see how assumptions made too quickly are often wrong. Ravi has just moved to New Jersey from India. He was quite popular and top of his class at his school in Bangalore, and had expected to be the same at his new school. He also assumed that Dillon, the only other Indian student in his class, would want to be his friend. But things are quite different in New Jersey. Joe, on the other hand, knows how mean Dillon is. Joe has Auditory Processing Disorder, and while quite smart, has difficulties with the noise surrounding the average school day. Dillon takes advantage of this, making Joe’s life miserable. This is a quick read and will draw students in from the start. I really enjoyed the glossary at the end, which provided explanations of terms used by both Ravi and Joe. Highly recommended for grades 3 & up.

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Waiting for Augusta

Waiting for AugustaWaiting for Augusta
by Jessica Lawson
Grades 4 & up

Ben Putter feels that he is a disappointment to his golf-obsessed father. Ben loves to paint and has a real talent that he hid from his father. After his father’s death, Ben finds a lump in his throat that won’t go away (even though no one else believes it is there). But Ben knows it is a golf ball. And one night, he finally learns what he must do to get rid of it — take his father’s urn from Hilltop, Alabama to Augusta, Georgia and sprinkle his ashes on the 18th hole on the last day of the Masters’ Tournament. As Ben is making his plans, a runaway girl named Noni overhears him and invites herself along. Noni is quick and crafty and makes the perfect partner to cautious Ben. Together they travel by bus, train, and stolen pick-up truck the 200 miles to Augusta. Along they way Ben learns new truths about himself, his father, and their relationship. Highly recommended to grades 4 & up.

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When the Sea Turned to Silver

When the Sea Turned to SilverWhen the Sea Turned to Silver
by Grace Lin
Grades 3 & up

This companion volume to Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Starry River of the Sky is every bit as magnificent and masterful as the first two. The story opens in the depths of winter as Pinmei’s beloved Amah, the Storyteller, is kidnapped by the Emperor while all the men of their village are conscripted to work on building a giant wall. With the help of her friend Yishan, shy, quiet Pinmei finds the courage to set off to rescue her Amah. Along they way Pinmei learns that she, too, has the gift of telling stories. It is through these stories that she is able to piece together where her Amah is being kept and why. The folk tales are woven seamlessly into the narrative, both enhancing Pinmei’s adventure, and standing equally as well alone. This is a must read for fans of the first two. Highly recommended for grades 3 & up.

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Wishing Day

Wishing Day (Wishing Day #1)Wishing Day
by Lauren Myracle
Grades 4 & up

It is Natasha’s Wishing Day and she is overwhelmed with the choices. She has to choose one wish that is impossible (should she wish for her mother to come back?), one wish that she can make come true (a kiss?), and one that is the deepest wish of her secret heart (???). The oldest of three sisters whose mother disappeared eight years before, they are being raised by their very different aunts. Aunt Vera is down to earth and thinks the magic is a waste of time while Aunt Elena is a firm believer in the magic that runs through their family and their town.The consequences of Natasha’s wishes are mixed into the day-to-day trials of being in middle school, plus she keeps running into the very odd Bird Lady who gives her cryptic messages. As Natasha tries to untangle her mess, she starts to see clues pointing towards her mother’s disappearance. Can she figure it out and find out what happened to her mother? The first in a new series. Fans of Wendy Mass’s Willow Falls books will enjoy this. Recommended for grades 4 & up.

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Summer of Lost and Found

Summer of Lost and FoundSummer of Lost and Found
by Rebecca Behrens
Grades 4 & up

When Nell Dare’s father leaves town unexpectedly, her entire summer changes. Instead of her fun plans in New York City with her best friend, she has to accompany her mother the botanist on a research expedition to Roanoke Island. Once there she starts learning about the English colony that mysteriously disappeared. She is invited by local girl Lily to help hunt for ghosts of the colonists, but Lily is more annoying than fun. When Nell meets Ambrose, though, she finds not only someone to explore the Island with but a true friend. They search for clues and are on the brink of an important discovery when a major storm hits. Pair this book with Blue Birds for an alternative look at this fascinating time period.

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Hour of the Bees

Hour of the BeesHour of the Bees
by Lindsay Eagar
Graes 4 & up

The last thing that Carol wants to do is spend her summer on her Grandfather’s ranch in the middle of the desert, miles from anywhere. She’s never even met him before! But Grandpa Serge has dementia and her father needs the whole family to go and help take care of him and pack up the ranch in order to sell it and move him into an assisted care facility. Carol is prepared to hate everything about the ranch, but finds herself liking it there. She is even more surprised when she realizes that she enjoys spending time with her grandfather. As he tells her stories of a village with a magical tree, she finds herself drawn into a different world. The characters have the same names as her grandparents and Carol begins to wonder how much of the story is true and how much is confused because of the dementia. As the summer progresses, she finds more and more clues pointing towards the truth of the stories and the magic of the tree. But time is running out, both for her grandfather and the ranch. A lyrical novel about both growing up and exploring one’s roots. Highly recommended for grades 4 & up.

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Fortune Falls

Fortune FallsFortune Falls
by Jenny Goebel
Grades 4 & up

What if all of those superstitions about black cats, four leaf clovers, broken mirrors, and rabbits’ feet were really true? That is what life is like in the town of Fortune Falls, where some people are born Lucky and others Unlucky. Although children are considered Undetermined until they take the Luck Test at the age of twelve, most have a pretty good idea which direction they are heading. So it is for Sadie. Her best friend Cooper is a Lucky and his parents have already forbidden him to spend time with her even though she is still Undetermined. Together they hatch a plan to find enough lucky objects to help Sadie pass the Luck Test. But when a major crisis happens, it seems like there won’t be enough luck in the world to overcome it. A fun read about take control of one’s destiny. Recommended for grades 4 & up.

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Wolf Hollow

Wolf HollowWolf Hollow
by Lauren Wolk
Grades 5 & up

This book. Wow. I had heart palpitations the entire time I read it. I couldn’t put it down.

Annabelle and her two younger brothers live a quiet, happy life on their farm in a small town in Pennsylvania with their parents, grandparents, and aunt. They are mostly untouched by World War II, raging far away from them. Even the man who wanders the hills and rarely speaks seems mostly harmless. But all that changes when Betty comes to stay with her grandparents. Betty is more than just a mean girl — she is vicious and cruel and she is targeting Annabelle. Annabelle keeps the first attacks to herself. She doesn’t want to involve anyone else and she truly can’t believe that Betty will do anything worse. But things do get worse. And Betty is a liar as well as bully. Will anyone believe Annabelle when she has kept silent so long? And can she stop things from spiraling out of control before it is too late? 2017 Newbery Honor book. Highly recommended for grades 5 & up.

ARC provided by publisher.

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The Best Worst Thing

The Best Worst ThingThe Best Worst Thing
by Kathleen Lane
Grades 4 & up

This was a very hard book to read because of the realistic, stream of consciousness style of presenting Maggie’s thoughts. I found my heart beating faster as I read through all of Maggie’s checks and re-checks.

Maggie worries. A lot. About everything. And these worries are much more than the usual starting middle school worries. She worries that horrible things are going to happen to her family. She needs to keep everyone safe by performing certain rituals such as repeating everything twice, making sure she only has an even number of items, and holding her breath for a specific amount of seconds. If she makes any mistakes she must start over. She has a nightly routine of checking every door and window in the house, plus under and behind furniture. Maggie doesn’t like being scared all of the time and she doesn’t like feeling out of control. As she re-examines her fears, she begins to make a plan to save at least one thing that is important to her. For introspective readers, grades 4 & up.

ARC provided by publisher.

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Mars Evacuees & Space Hostages

Mars EvacueesMars Evacuees
by Sophia McDougall
Grades 4 & up

It’s been 15 years of war with the Morrors, and for 12-year-old Alice Dare that is more than her whole life. Her mother is a heroic spacefighter in the Exo-Defense Force and her father is onboard a submarine when Alice and a couple hundred other kids are evacuated to Mars to begin their army training. Mars is being terraformed into an inhabitable planet, but it still has a long way to go. There is not much out there other than the kids, some scientists, a few army trainers, and the civilian robots who take care of them. When things start to go horribly wrong (think Lord of the Flies), Alice and her two friends Josephine and Carl, as well as as Carl’s younger brother Noel and a robot goldfish set out for help. Along the way they discover what exactly is going on with the aliens. This is action-packed and funny, science fiction at its best! Highly recommended for grades 4-7.

Space Hostages (Mars Evacuees #2)Space Hostages
by Sophia McDougall
Grades 5 & up

Fantastic sequel to Mars Evacuees! Alice Dare and the other “plucky kids from Mars” (Carl, Noel, Josephine, Thysaa, and of course Goldfish) have been invited to go back into space to celebrate the opening of a new home planet for the Morrors. This time they are traveling on a somewhat sentient ship called the Helen of Troy out into deep space when things start to go terribly wrong. Full of the same humor, science, and adventure as the first, fans of science fiction will not want to miss this series! I can only hope that there will be a third. Highly recommended for grades 5 & up.

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