The Storyteller by Brandon HobsonWhat it's about: Ten years ago, Ziggy Echota's mom disappeared. Now, the 11-year-old Cherokee boy -- along with his sister Moon and new friend Alice -- is following his suspicions and searching for clues about his mom in the secret caves outside their New Mexico town.
Why you might like it: Anxious Ziggy may be relatable for many readers, and the extraordinary characters he meets from traditional Cherokee tales will captivate fantasy fans. (Ages 9-12.)
The Cobra's Song by Supriya KelkarWhat it's about: A small-town summer takes a serpentine twist for 10-year-old Geetanjali. Not only is she getting more and more worried that she'll never match the famous singing skills of her mom and grandmother, she's also got a creeping fear about her aunties' unusual interest in a song about cobras.
For fans of: the thrilling Indian folklore of Roshani Chokshi's Aru Shah series, plus the warmth and music of Amina's Voice by Hena Khan. (Ages 8-12.)
Ruby Lost and Found by Christina LiStarring: impulsive Ruby Chu, who gets caught skipping school after a tough year of fractured friendships and grieving the loss of her beloved grandfather, Ye-Ye.
What happens: Ruby's parents make her spend the summer at the senior center with her grandmother, Nai-Nai. There, Ruby begins to find herself again through a new friendship, a closer bond with Nai-Nai, and mission to save a nearby bakery in San Francisco's Chinatown.
Read it for: vivid characters with messy, relatable feelings. (Ages 8-12.)
Lei and the Fire Goddess by Malia MaunakeaWhat it's about: Since moving to Colorado, biracial 12-year-old Anna Leilani Kama’ehu feels embarrassed by her Hawaiian family's legends of gods and magic. But then Anna insults the goddess Pele while visiting Hawai'i, and the (very real) goddess retaliates with danger and disaster than only Anna can stop.
For fans of: the Polynesian-set adventure of Disney's Moana, and the modern-kid-meets-ancient-myth storytelling of Rick Riordan. (Ages 8-12.)
Tegan and Sara: Junior High by Tegan Quin and Sara Quin; illustrated by Tillie WaldenWhat it is: a graphic novel series opener based on the real lives of twin sister musicians Tegan and Sara Quin.
What happens: Split up at school, the twins have to figure out who they are on their own, even as they share experiences like changing friendships, coming out, and making music.
Art alert: Color-coding in expressive artwork will help you tell the twins apart, while also showing the shifting moods of middle school life. (Ages 10-13.)
The Labors of Hercules Beal by Gary D. SchmidtWhat it's about: While grieving the loss of his parents, Cape Cod kid Hercules "Herc" Beal gets a life-changing homework assignment to connect his own experiences with the twelve labors of the mythological Hercules.
How it's told: through Herc's particular perspective and style, complete with lots of run-on sentences.
Who it's for: readers who like humor and heartbreak intertwined, as well as fans of author Gary D. Schmidt's other books (look for cameos from familiar characters!). (Ages 8-13.)
Long Road to the Circus by Betsy Bird; illustrated by David SmallWhat it's about: It's 1920, and 12-year-old farm girl Suzy is bored. She needs a way to escape and explore -- and it looks like she's found it when she meets circus legend Madame Marantette and her performing ostriches!
Why you might like it: Funny, energetic black and white illustrations capture Suzy's hope as she works to train Gaucho the ostrich.
Did you know... that Madame Marantette and Gaucho were both real? (Ages 9-12.)
Keep It Together, Keiko Carter by Debbi Michiko FlorenceMeet: outgoing Keiko, who's ready to tackle 7th grade as part of a trusty trio with best friends Jenna and Audrey.
What happens: Audrey's demand that all three of them find boyfriends splinters her friendship with Jenna, leaving an uncertain Keiko in the middle. Even more complicated? Keiko's crush on Audrey's brother, Conner.
Read it for: a little bit of romance and a lot of friend drama. And don't miss the follow-up, Just Be Cool, Jenna Sakai. (Ages 9-13.)
Middletown by Sarah MoonWhat it's about: To avoid foster care after their mom is sent to rehab, 13-year-old "not quite a girl" Eli and her older sister Anna lie about having a responsible aunt to stay with them. But as things get tense between the two very different sisters, it gets harder to hide the truth.
Is it for you? This authentic look at a painful family situation might not be for everyone, but it will ring true for many readers. (Ages 11-13.)
Twin Cities by Jose PimientaStarring: twins Luis Fernando and Luisa Teresa, who are divided by more than just the U.S./Mexico border after Teresa decides to attend 7th grade in California while Fernando stays at their school in Mexico.
What happens: Fer makes a dangerous older friend, school stress eats at Teresa, and the tension between them grows almost unbearable.
Art alert: Full-color, hand-drawn art heightens the raw feelings of the siblings' evolving connection. (Ages 8-12.)
Ellen Outside the Lines by A.J. SassThe set-up: Autistic, routine-loving 8th grader Ellen Katz hopes that a school trip to Spain will help her reconnect with her best (and only) friend Laurel, who's grown distant.
What happens: Instead, Ellen is sent on a scavenger hunt across Barcelona with unfamiliar students, including nonbinary newcomer Isa, who makes Ellen reconsider her -- or maybe their? -- feelings about change.
Why you might like it: This sweet own voices book steers clear of stereotypes, letting the characters' personalities shine. (Ages 9-13.)
Contact your librarian for more great books!