Be Prepared by Vera BrosgolStarring: nine-year-old misfit Vera, who's hoping that she'll finally fit in among the other Russian kids at a Russian American summer camp.
What happens: From mean girls to a terrifying outhouse, camp is nothing like Vera expected -- can she make even one friend before it's finally time to go home?
About the author: This funny, relatable graphic novel is based on the real-life summer camp woes of author Vera Brosgol.
The Unicorn Rescue Society: The Creature of the Pines by Adam Gidwitz, Jesse Casey, and Chris Lenox Smith; illustrated by Hatem AlyWhat it's about: After a mischievous Jersey Devil follows Elliott and Uchenna home from a field trip, the two new friends team up with their eccentric teacher, Professor Fauna, to keep the not-so-mythical creature safe.
Series alert: This zany illustrated chapter book kicks off the Unicorn Rescue Society series.
For fans of: the Imaginary Veterinary series by Suzanne Selfors or the Pip Bartlett books by Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater.
You Go First by Erin Entrada KellyWhat it's about: Charlotte and Ben live far apart, yet over the course of one week, their online Scrabble rivalry turns into a friendship that helps each of them deal with painful situations at home and at school.
Why you might like it: You get the inside scoop on the thoughts and feelings of both smart, awkward characters as they fumble their way towards friendship.
About the author: Erin Entrada Kelly won the 2018 Newbery Medal for her book Hello, Universe.
Following Baxter by Barbara KerleyStarring: eleven-year-old Jordie and her new neighbors, Professor Reese (a physicist) and Baxter (a shaggy, possibly magical dog).
What happens: After Professor Reese disappears in a teleportation experiment, Jordie and her brother TJ join forces with Baxter to search for the missing scientist.
Try this next: Jennifer Holm's The Fourteenth Goldfish, another amusing, offbeat read about the unexpected results of a cutting-edge science experiment.
Big Foot and Little Foot by Ellen Potter; illustrated by Felicita SalaWhat it's about: One day during hide-and-go-sneak class, young sasquatch Hugo accidentally reveals his existence to a human boy named Boone, and a curious, cross-cultural friendship begins.
Series alert: If you like the good-natured humor and cartoon art in this easy-to-read chapter book, you're in luck -- it's the 1st in a series about Hugo and Boone's adventures.
You might also like: Kevin Sherry's Yeti Files series, which also explores the hidden world of cryptids.
When the Beat was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop by Laban Carrick Hill; illustrated by Theodore Taylor IIIWhat it is: a biography of Kool Herc, the DJ who jump-started hip-hop in the 1970s and inspired generations of DJs, rappers, and break-dancers.
What's inside: From his childhood in Jamaica to the explosion of his dance parties in the Bronx, Herc's story unfolds through rhythm-infused writing and art with touches of street-art style.
Look for: superfans can turn to the end of the book to read more about the history of hip-hop.
Fly Away by Patricia MacLachlanStarring: Lucy, who's good with words but can't sing like the rest of her family, and her brother Teddy, who can't speak in words yet secretly sings to Lucy every night.
What happens: When Teddy goes missing during a flood, Lucy realizes that her song might be the only way to find him.
Who it's for: If you're just getting into longer chapter books, this simple, heartfelt story might be right for you.
A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda UrbanWhat it's about: Zoe wants a baby grand piano, so she can fulfill her dreams of becoming a child prodigy. But after her dad panics at the music store, Zoe gets an electric organ, along with a songbook of oldies and a teacher who encourages her to compete in the Perform-O-Rama organ contest.
Who it's for: anyone looking for a quirky, feel-good story about chasing your dreams, however imperfectly.
Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-GarciaWhat it's about: Heartbroken over the death of this grandfather, Cool Papa, harmonica player Clayton runs away to join Cool Papa's blues band...only to discover a different kind of music in the underground world of the New York subway.
Why you might like it: No matter what kind of music you like, you can relate to authentic characters and emotions in this moving story by the author of One Crazy Summer.
The Sweetest Sound by Sherri WinstonStarring: ten-year-old Cadence, who's been hiding her amazing singing voice through years of extreme shyness. This year, however, she's determined to share her musical gift with her church...or at least that was the plan, before a leaked secret recording changed things.
Why you might like it: With her cozy hometown, uncertain friendships, and complicated family, Cadence is a down-to-earth character you'll root for even as she struggles to find her voice.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 8-11!
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