Sting (Loot #2)Sting
by Jude Watson
Grades 5 & up

Great follow up to Loot! March, his twin sister Jules, and their friends Darius and Izzy are living their dream life after their last big caper when their father’s friend Hamish convinces them to go on one last heist. They are pulling the job in London when things go horribly wrong. Instead of a bag of diamonds, they end up with one lone sapphire. Unbeknownst to them, the sapphire was part of a set of three, cursed by the original owner. Hamish has a buyer, but only if they get all three. Full of twists and turns, this adventure will keep readers on the edge of their seats! Highly recommend for fans of the first book, Ocean’s Eleven, and The Great Greene Heist, grades 5 & up.

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A Rambler Steals Home

A Rambler Steals HomeA Rambler Steals Home
by Carter Higgins
Grades 4 & up

The perfect summer read! Derby Clark, her brother Triple, and her father Garland are ramblers. They spend the different seasons in different places, moving from town to town in their RV with the attached grill. Summers they spend in Ridge Creek, at the stadium of their Triple-A baseball team, the Rockskippers. Derby can’t wait to get back to the place that feels the most like home, but this summer, things are different. The old traditions are falling by the wayside and Derby struggles to make sense of the changes. As she sees the people and the town with new eyes, she realizes that it is time for her to return some of the love and care that she has been given. A sweet look at the importance of kindness. Recommended for grades 4 & up.

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Beautiful Blue World

Beautiful Blue World (Beautiful Blue World #1)Beautiful Blue World
by Suzanne LaFleur
Grades 4 & up

Sofrende is at war and it effects all aspects of Mathilde’s life. Her father is up all night as a safety patrol, which is better than the father of her best friend Megs, who has been drafted to fight. The bombings are coming closer, food is scarce, and Mathilde feels helpless. When Megs decides to take the exam to join the army early, Mathilde does too. As 12 year olds they are the youngest allowed to take it. Mathilde is shocked when she is chosen alone, without Megs. But what she finds is like nothing she had ever expected. While this takes place in a made up world, it feels vaguely reminiscent of the Second World War and somewhat Scandinavian. An important commentary on war in general and nationalism in particular. Highly recommended for grades 4 & up.

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Secrets of Hexbridge Castle & Alfie Bloom and the Talisman Thief

Secrets of Hexbridge CastleSecrets of Hexbridge Castle
by Gabrielle Kent
Grdes 4 & up

Alfie Bloom has been miserable since his mother died. His father spends most of his time either working or trying to invent things. He has only one friend at school and she will be out of town all summer. All of this changes on the last day of school, when Alfie learns that he has inherited the mysterious Hexbridge Castle. He knows of the castle of course, his cousins live nearby. But he never imagined the magical secrets that the castle has held on to all of these years and the role he is to play. Full of adventures, twists, and plenty of magic, this first book in a new series will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Highly recommended for grades 4 & up.

Alfie Bloom and the Talisman Thief (Alfie Bloom #2)Alfie Bloom and the Talisman Thief
by Gabrielle Kent
Grades 4 & up

Now that Alfie has learned the true story of the the castle he has inherited, he is enjoying exploring it and learning about the rest of the secrets it holds. His best friend Amy is visiting for Beltane, and he is enjoying hanging out with her and his cousins. Unfortunately, the calm doesn’t last for long. Ashford the butler has been sneaking off through a portal. He is followed back one night and the castle is attacked by elves. Ashford is kidnapped and Alfie’s talisman is demanded as the ransom. It is up to Alfie, Amy, Robin, and Madeleine to figure out how to rescue Ashford, save the castle, and defeat the elves. A fabulous sequel! Must read the first book in order to understand this one. Highly recommended for grades 4 & up.

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Journey through Ash and Smoke

Journey through Ash and Smoke (Ranger in Time #5)Journey through Ash and Smoke
by Kate Messner
Grades 2 & up

Another excellent entry into the Ranger in Time series. In this adventure, Ranger goes to Iceland and helps a Norwegian girl whose family recently moved there. At first he is confused how can help since she rescues him a couple of times! I will say that the title is somewhat misleading. Although there is a volcano, it is not at the crux of the story. A fun romp through Viking times. Recommended for grades 2 & up.

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Scar Island

Scar IslandScar Island
by Dan Gemeinhart
Grades 4 & up

Slabhenge Reformatory School for Troubled Boys is an old insane asylum on an small rock island rising out of the sea and is just as creepy and evil looking as one would expect. Jonathan Grimsby has been sentenced there, but for what is slowly revealed throughout the book. There are a dozen boys at Slabhenge, and when a freak accident incapacitates all of the adults, the boys must figure out how to take care of themselves. As one would expect, a leader arises but not everyone agrees with his methods. I love that the author is self-aware enough to call out Lord of the Flies in the text. This survival story will grip readers from the first page. Highly recommended to grades 4 & up.

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by Megan Shull
Grades 4 & up

13-year-old Frannie feels so alone in her family. Her older sister torments her and her older brother ignores her. Her parents seem to resent her. Life feels cold and miserable and she is full of fear. When her parents announce a surprise trip for just the two of them over Christmas, Frannie is terrified of being left alone. As her worst fears seem to come true, she falls asleep on Christmas Eve wishing for a new family and a different life. Imagine her surprise when she wakes up on Christmas morning in another girl’s body. She is now Dakota, with two loving parents and an adorable younger sister. Though still fearful, Frannie takes some chances and tries things she wouldn’t have as herself. When she wakes up the next morning, it is Christmas Day again, but this time she is in a different girl’s life. This happens several more times, and Frannie begins to gain both strength and wisdom from her changes. Both funny and poignant, this story helps illustrate that no matter what it looks like on the outside, everyone is fighting their own battles on the inside. With kindness and grace, each of us can find the resilience to go on. Highly recommended for grades 4 & up.

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Lone Bean

Lone BeanLone Bean
by Chudney Ross
Grades 2 & up

Bean is having a hard time at the beginning of third grade. She lost touch with her best friend Carla over the summer and now Carla has a new best friend, leaving Bean with no one. Her older sisters are mean to her. Her father is forcing her to play a musical instrument. And the teacher that everyone says is so nice doesn’t seem to like her. Her only choices for friends at school seem to be Stinky Stanley, Goody Two-Shoes Gabrielle, and Mean Tanisha. Bean tries each one out, in a series of increasingly poor choices. This realistic portrayal of the friendship struggles of a third grader is very relatable. Recommended for grades 2 & up.

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A Long Pitch Home

A Long Pitch HomeA Long Pitch Home
by Natalie Dias Lorenzi
Grades 4 & up

Bilal is surprised when he, his siblings, and his mother suddenly leave Pakistan for America. His father must stay behind. They go to Virginia, where they stay with his aunt, uncle, and teenage cousin. The move to the United States is difficult for Bilal — in Pakistan he had good friends and was the star of the his cricket team. His cousin enrolls him in baseball camp to make the transition easier, but baseball really isn’t anything like cricket. Bilal can pitch, but batting is a lot harder. Plus, the English his coaches and teammates are speaking is very different from what he learned in school. To make matters worse, there is a girl on the team as well. Bilal worries constantly, about his father, his playing, his English. He knows he is fortunate in a lot of ways, and he has the help and support of many people in his life. This is an excellent look at the difficult transition of moving to the United States. Bilal is so likable and relatable that readers can’t help but become involved in his story and root for his success. There is plenty of baseball to keep sports lovers interested as well. Highly recommended for grades 4 & up.

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One Half from the East

One Half from the EastOne Half from the East
by Nadia Hashimi
Grades 4 & up

When Obayda’s father loses his leg in a car bombing attack, her family must move from their apartment in Kabul to the countryside with their extended family. Life is very different in this small village for Obayda and her three older sisters. There are greater restrictions on girls, plus their father won’t leave his bedroom. When her bossy aunt convinces her mother that a boy would bring better luck to the family, Obayda is “changed” into Obayd. Her hair is cut off, she wears boys’ clothes, and goes to the boys’ class at school. Obayd finds he likes his new found freedom and the way he is treated as a boy. When he meets another bacha posh, they try to find a way to stay boys forever, without returning to the restrictive life of Afghani girls. A fascinating look at the harm of gender stereotyping, and what it truly means to be a boy or a girl. Highly recommended for grades 4 & up.

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