The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay CurrieSupernatural Mystery. Cold patches, unseen footsteps, a color-changing painting, and a crying ventriloquist dummy: witnessing all of these weird things convinces Tessa that her family has moved into a haunted house. Things get even more hair-raising as Tessa and her new friends dig into the house's history, making this creepy mystery a "perfect flashlight read" (Booklist).
The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan GlaserFiction. The five Vanderbeeker kids -- Oliver, Hyacinth, Isa, Jessie, and Laney -- love their family's old apartment on Harlem's 141st Street. When their grumpy landlord Mr. Beiderman says they have to move out, the siblings band together in all-out effort to change his mind. Combining eccentric characters and cheerful chaos, this charming tale is just right for readers who love Dana Alison Levy's Family Fletcher series.
The Notations of Cooper Cameron by Jane O'ReillyFiction. Ever since his grandpa died, Cooper's thoughts keep telling him that his family won't be safe unless he counts things, or washes his hands, or takes careful notes of his observations. Dealing with these thoughts can be tough, especially since Cooper's dad angrily refuses to understand. For another honest, moving look at a kid with obsessive-compulsive disorder, pick up Kathleen Lane's The Best Worst Thing.
The Witch Boy by Molly Knox OstertagGraphic Novel Fantasy. Now that he's 13, everyone expects Aster to shape-shift like the other boys in his small, magical community. Aster's true skill, however, is witchcraft...which is taught only to girls. So Aster keeps learning spells in secret until a dangerous situation forces him to make a choice. With colorful art and characters you'll root for (heads up, Raina Telgemeier fans!), this fantasy is hard to resist.
Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! by Mariko Tamaki; illustrated by Brooklyn AllenFantasy. Lumberjane scouts Mal, Molly, April, Jo, and Ripley are simply trying to earn their plant identification badges when they spot a beautiful (but SUPER-stinky!) unicorn, and before they know it they're caught up in a thrilling supernatural adventure. If you're hooked by this chapter book starring kick-butt heroines who believe in "friendship to the max!", you're in luck: it's the 1st in a series based on the popular Lumberjanes comics.
Garvey's Choice by Nikki GrimesNovel in Verse. Why do people seem to want Garvey to be someone he's not? Kids at school tease him for being fat, and his dad is disappointed that Garvey isn't athletic like his sister. Only his friend Joe understands that Garvey prefers science fiction and music to sports. Written in short tanka poems, Garvey's Choice is a sensitive, honest read that's just right for fans of Jacqueline Woodson and Sharon Creech.
The Fourth Stall by Chris RylanderFiction. From their "office" in an unused school bathroom, sixth-graders Mac and Vance work as fixers, helping students with all kinds of problems (for a fee, of course). After they agree to protect a kid from a high school bully, the job threatens both their business and their friendship. Action and humor add oomph to this middle school mobster story, the 1st in the Fourth Stall trilogy.
Pack of Dorks by Beth VrabelFiction. Lucy is one of the coolest girls in fourth grade, but it only takes a single day for her so-called friends to turn into jeering bullies who brand her a dork. Now, Lucy has to decide: is popularity worth fighting for, or is she better off with her fellow dorks? You'll have to read this relatable and quietly funny book to find out.
EllRay Jakes is Not a Chicken! by Sally Warner; illustrated by Jamie HarperFiction. When his dad promises a day at Disneyland in return for one week of good behavior at school, third-grader EllRay Jakes tries to stay out of trouble, but it's not easy – especially not after he's targeted by class bully Jared. If you like this realistic school story (the 1st in the EllRay Jakes series), you might also enjoy Karen English's Carver Chronicles.
Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita VaradarajanFiction. Newly arrived in New Jersey from Bangalore, India, Ravi is sure that his best friend at school will be Dillon, a popular American-born Indian student. But Joe, a tall white kid with a learning disability, knows from experience that Dillon is a bully. Ravi and Joe take turns describing the events of this "lunchroom drama" that will leave you "begging for seconds" (School Library Journal).
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