The Losers Club by Andrew ClementsFiction. It's called the Losers Club to prevent people from joining. Lots of members are the last thing that book-loving sixth-grader Alex wants in a club that he only started because his after-school program doesn't have any choices for kids who just want to sit and read. Alex is fine with sharing his quiet reading time with Losers Club co-founder Nina (who, okay, he kind of likes), but frustrated by the other people who join – people like his former best friend who turned into a total jerk. Funny and hopeful, The Losers Club is sure to satisfy fans of author Andrew Clements' popular school stories.
Pablo & Birdy by Alison McGheeFiction. Ten years ago, the "winds of change" swept over the little island of Isla, washing ashore baby Pablo and his lavender parrot, Birdy. Now, Pablo's 10th birthday is coming up, and the winds of change are returning with the promise of "fortune lost or fortune gained." Pablo hopes to gain answers: Where did he come from? And why is Birdy, who can't talk or fly like Isla's other parrots, suddenly changing? If you like books with memorable characters and a touch of magic, be sure to pick up Pablo & Birdy. For another story about a curious island kid, try Lauren Wolk's Beyond the Bright Sea.
Wedgie & Gizmo by Suzanne Selfors; illustrated by Barbara FisingerAnimal Fantasy. When Elliott's dad marries Jasmine and Jackson's mom, the whole family has to get used to living together -- including the family pets. Gizmo, Elliot's guinea pig, is an evil genius with plans to take over the world. Those plans do not include getting dressed up by Jasmine or playing nice with Wedgie, the cape-wearing corgi. Wedgie, on the other hand, is excited about EVERYTHING, and just wants to make friends with "the Furry Potato." Gizmo and Wedgie take turns telling the story of how they learn to get along in this goofy, giggle-worthy chapter book, the 1st in a series.
The Countdown Conspiracy by Katie SlivenskyMystery. Thirteen-year-old American Miranda had barely let herself hope that she'd be one of the cadets chosen for an international mission to Mars. The competition was fierce, and now that she's made the team, her life is even more difficult. Some people think Miranda shouldn't have been chosen, and on top of the tough training program, the cadets have to deal with threatening attacks -- could Miranda be the target? You'll relish the blend of science fiction and mystery as you gather clues and race to the end of this futuristic, action-packed adventure.
Beanstalker and Other Hilarious Scary Tales by Kiersten WhiteFairy Tales. Though the characters are familiar -- Cinderella, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood -- these fairy tales don't end with happily-ever-afters. Filled instead with bloodthirsty monsters and dark shadows, they play with both words and expectations: here, Rapunzel has a short, spiky 'do and a long pet snake named Herr. As funny as they are scary, the stories all share a snarky narrator, who often butts in with comments such as "fee fie foe fum, Jack, that plan was really dumb…" If you like the gross and gruesome style of Adam Gidwidtz's Grimm series, you'll want to devour these "disturbingly delightful" (Kirkus Reviews) tales.
Public School Superhero by James Patterson and Chris Tebbetts; illustrated by Cory ThomasGraphic Novel Hybrid. Stainlezz Steel is a powerful superhero who's always battling villains and looking out for the little guy. He's also the fictional creation of 6th-grader Kenny Wright, who lives with his grandma, loves chess, and gets bullied at his crowded city school. The school's new principal, however, actually seems to care about Kenny, so when an unwanted transfer threatens to take her away, Kenny channels Stainlezz Steel for the courage to step up and speak out. Peppered with comic book-style illustrations, Public School Superhero is an honest (and hilarious) peek into one kid's life and imagination.
The Marvels by Brian SelznickFiction. In 1766, young Billy Marvel survives a shipwreck and gets a job at a fancy London theater. In 1990, Joseph Jervis runs away from school to look for his uncle in London. Billy's story is presented entirely through lifelike, carefully shaded pencil illustrations, while Joseph's is told only through words. The way in which these two characters connect might surprise you, even if you're already familiar with Brian Selznick's layered, award-winning storytelling. Based on a true story, The Marvels is a bittersweet tale of lost love and found family that will stay with you long after the final page. (Fans of Brian Selznick may also be interested in the movie version of his book Wonderstruck, in theaters this fall.)
Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure by Nadja Spiegelman; illustrated by Sergio Garcia SanchezGraphic Novel Hybrid. It's field trip day, and as Mr. Bartle's 6th grade class gets ready to visit the Empire State building, new kid Pablo feels sure that he can manage the New York City subway on his own. Yet when the class boards one train, Pablo winds up on another, leading Alicia (his subway-savvy field trip partner) on a fast-paced chase through the city. Busy artwork reflects the colorful bustle of real-life NYC, while maps and diagrams help you follow Pablo and Alicia's travels. If your eyes are especially sharp, you might even spot the Where's Waldo-like characters who appear throughout this unusual graphic novel hybrid.
Desmond Pucket Makes Monster Magic by Mark TatulliFiction. Desmond Pucket considers himself a "Gourmet of Gore," and relishes nothing more than using his special effects skills to pull disgusting practical jokes at school. The school disciplinary officer, however, isn't amused by toilet goblins or exploding zombie heads -- Desmond will have to change his ways if he wants to go on the upcoming class trip. Only now, another prankster is creating slimy surprises…and letting Desmond take the blame! Readers who enjoy the cartoon illustrations, gross-out jokes, and instructions for special effects in this series opener won't want to miss the sequels, starting with Desmond Pucket and the Mountain Full of Monsters.
Hamster Princess: Harriet the Invincible by Ursula VernonGraphic Fantasy. Princess Harriet Hamsterbone is no Sleeping Beauty, that's for sure. For one thing, she's a hamster. For another, she refuses to hide just because she's been cursed to fall into an enchanted sleep on her 12th birthday. Believing instead that the curse will protect her until age 12, Harriet rides forth on her trusty quail to fight monsters, go cliff-diving, and generally have adventures before her fateful birthday. And when the curse finally does strike…well, you'll have to read this witty, cartoon-illustrated chapter book (the 1st in a series) to find out what happens!
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