Sticks & Stones

Sticks & StonesSticks & Stones
by Abby Cooper
Grades 4 & up

Elyse was born with a rare disorder that causes the words people call her to actually appear on her skin. The nice words (awesome, cool, fun) feel good, but the bad words (loser, stupid, freak) itch horribly. It was fine in elementary school, when the teachers could make sure that no one called her mean names. Now that she is in sixth grade, though, she does not have a safety net. Every name she hears about herself, including the ones she despairingly thinks about herself, shows up on her arms and legs. Her best friend ditched her for the popular crowd, her crush dumped her, and Elyse has taken to eating her lunch in the bathroom. She wears long sleeves and long pants so no one else will see what is happening to her. Everything changes when the competition for Explorer Leader is announced. Big posters are hung of former leaders, each with compliments written all around. Elyse knows that these are the words she wants. If only she can be chosen as Explorer Leader, then all will be right. But there is only one Explorer Leader for the whole sixth grade and the competition is fierce. Elyse must step out of her comfort zone and believe in herself if she has any chance of making it happen. Luckily, she also has a series of anonymous notes cheering her on. An important book about being kind to yourself and the power of words. Highly recommended for grades 4 & up.

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The Secret Life of Lincoln Jones

The Secret Life of Lincoln JonesThe Secret Life of Lincoln Jones
by Wendelin Van Draanen
Grades 4 & up

Starting in a new school is tough, especially when you don’t want to share the details of your life. Lincoln and his mother have managed to escape his mother’s abusive boyfriend and are starting over in the north. Lincoln feels like he doesn’t fit in at all, with his Southern accent, his Southern manners, and especially because he has to spend every afternoon at the eldercare facility where his mother works. Lincoln prefers to live in the fantasy world of the stories he writes. As they slowly piece their lives back together, Lincoln begins to see the real world superheroes around him. A book filled with hope and a quiet strength. Recommended for grades 4 & up.

eARC provided by publisher via NetGalley

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The Girl Who Drank the Moon

The Girl Who Drank the MoonThe Girl Who Drank the Moon
by Kelly Barnhill
Grades 4 & up

As is required by the laws of the Protectorate, Luna is taken as an infant from her parents and left in the woods, an offering to the witch. The townspeople assume that she is dead, just like the babies left each year before. What they do not realize, however, is that Xan, the witch, rescues these babies, feeding them on starlight and finding them loving homes in the Free Towns. But Xan makes a mistake, feeding Luna not just starlight, but moonlight as well. Feeling responsible for the enmagicked child, Xan raises her in the home she shares with Glerk the swamp monster and a tiny dragon named Fyrian. Luna grows up happy and loved, unaware of her magic or her origins. Back in the Protectorate, however, things are changing. Luna’s mother is imprisoned for refusing to give up her baby and Antain, the Elders’ apprentice, is slowly building up a rebellion. As Luna grows, Xan weakens, and everything leads towards a final battle in the woods. A book about the importance of hope as well as not making assumptions, searching for truth, and a parent’s never-ending love. 2017 Newbery Medal Winner. Recommended for grades 4 & up.

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The Candymakers and the Great Chocolate Chase

The Candymakers and the Great Chocolate ChaseThe Candymakers and the Great Chocolate Chase
by Wendy Mass
Grades 3 & up

This sequel to The Candymakers is every bit as much fun as the first one! It is once again told from the multiple perspectives of Logan, Miles, Daisy, and Philip, with different pieces of information revealed by each. The book starts several months after the end of the candy competition, with the Harmonicandy about to be released to the public. Logan’s dad has arranged for the four kids to go on a tour of several candy shops to help promote the new candy. As the big reveal approaches, though, several issues occur at once, threatening the future of the Harmonicandy and raising questions about each of their families. As before, they learn that by working together and trusting one another anything is possible. A thoroughly satisfying look at friendship and chocolate. Highly recommended for grades 3 & up. You must read the first book before this one.

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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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