Children of Exile by Margaret Peterson HaddixScience Fiction. Rosi and her brother Bobo have always known that they -- along with all the other refugee foster kids in peaceful, perfect Fredtown -- would one day return to their biological parents. When the day arrives, however, the reunion is anything but joyful. Rosi and Bobo's biological parents feel like cruel strangers, and they live in a ruined, dangerous, and desperately poor area where Rosi's bright green eyes make her a target for abuse. What happened to make this place so different from Fredtown? Find out in this series opener, which boasts the nail-biting pace and startling twists that make Margaret Haddix's books so popular.
The Mighty Odds by Amy IgnatowFantasy. The "League of Incredible Nerds with Nearly Useless Powers" doesn't sound very impressive, but it's a fair description of the mismatched middle schoolers in The Mighty Odds. Popular Cookie, bullied Farshad, artsy Martina, and geeky Nick never would have been friends if they hadn't all emerged from a bus crash having developed not-so-super-powers (what's the point of teleporting if you can only travel a few inches?). Now they have to figure out how to trust each other if they want to discover what really happened in that crash. Comics-style illustrations and multiple narrators will keep you turning the pages of this fast and funny adventure.
Ghosts by Raina TelgemeierGraphic Fantasy. Cat and her little sister Maya have opposite opinions about the rumors of ghosts in their family's windswept new hometown of Bahía de la Luna. Bubbly Maya (whose cystic fibrosis makes breathing difficult) is eager to talk to a ghost, but skeptical Cat just wants to keep Maya safe. Egged on by their neighbor and ghost guide, Carlos, Maya's hopes -- and Cat's worries -- grow as Bahía's epic Dia de los Muertos celebration approaches. If you're among Raina Telgemeier's legion of fans, you won't want to miss the honest emotions and inviting artwork in this bittersweet fantasy.
Top Prospect by Paul VolponiSports Fiction. Before he's even started eighth grade, gifted quarterback Travis Gardener's been offered a football scholarship to Gainesville University. It helps that his older brother, Carter, is already playing for the Gainesville Gators, but no amount of advice can prepare Travis for high-stakes games, ESPN interviews, and offers of steroids -- all on top of his everyday problems with his parents, friends, and maybe-girlfriend. Similar to in-the-know sports stories by Carl Deuker or Mike Lupica, Top Prospect offers relatable characters and enough authentic action to hook die-hard football fans.
The League of Seven by Alan Gratz; illustrated by Brett HelquistSteampunk Fantasy. In a steam-powered version of 1875 America, the secret Septemberist Society protects humanity from the Mangleborn monsters imprisoned beneath the earth. When the Septemberists -- including 12-year-old Archie's parents -- are brainwashed, it's up to Archie to save them (and the world). Aided by his wind-up servant, Mr. Rivets, Archie begins to assemble a group of seven heroes, starting with Hachi, a Seminole girl with serious combat skills, and Fergus, a kilt-wearing mechanic. Imaginative and briskly paced, this action-packed steampunk series opener (followed by The Dragon Lantern and The Monster War) is perfect for fans of Brandon Sanderson's The Rithmatist.
Max Helsing and the Thirteenth Curse by Curtis JoblingHorror. On his 13th birthday, Max Helsing gets an unwelcome present: a curse that makes him a target for vampires, ghouls, phantasms, and every other kind of supernatural creature. As the last member of the monster-hunting Van Helsing family, Max is used to defending the world from paranormal beasts (while befriending the less dangerous ones). But now that ALL of the monsters are determined to take him out so they can take over the world, Max turns to his friends Syd and Wing for help. Fast-paced and filled with epic battles, this "gore-spattered, bone-crunching series opener" (Booklist) will leave horror fans hungry for the next book.
After Dark by James LeckHorror. After dreaming all year of a beach vacation, lazy, privileged Charlie Harker spends his summer fleeing from monsters instead. Charlie was horrified when his mom dragged him to the poky little town of Rolling Hills and forced him to help her flip the family's dusty old mansion. But he didn't understand real horror until he met Miles Van Helsing, an eccentric neighbor kid whose crackpot theories about supernatural activity and "zompire" sightings prove, shockingly, to be true. Blending sly humor with paranormal peril, After Dark is as funny as TV's Gravity Falls, but with a snarky, scary edge.
The Rise of Aurora West by Paul Pope with J.T. Petty; illustrated by David Rubin Graphic Adventure. In Paul Pope's Battling Boy, readers were introduced to Acropolis, a city plagued by ravenous monsters. This thrilling prequel shines the spotlight on fierce, feisty Aurora West, daughter of Acropolis' protector, Haggard West. While patrolling with her father one night, Aurora encounters a strangely familiar symbol. Feeling compelled to investigate, she soon uncovers more than she wants to know about her past, including her mother's unsolved murder. Though The Rise of Aurora West is a more personal story than Battling Boy, the exaggerated black-and-white illustrations give it a similar energy, which is sure to grab the attention of fans and newcomers alike.
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