Cuba in My Pocket by Adrianna CuevasThe setting: Cuba, 1961, where 12-year-old Cumba and his family are growing more and more fearful of Fidel Castro's harsh government.
What happens: Cumba's family sends him -- alone -- to live with a distant relative in the United States. Although he's scared for his loved ones and bewildered by his new home, Cumba manages to find hope with new friends.
Did you know? Author Adrianna Cuevas based this heart-wrenching story on her own family's history.
The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo; illustrated by Sophie BlackallWhat it's about: After medieval monk Brother Edik finds Beatryce, a girl with no memories, he realizes that she's the child prophesied to "unseat a king." To keep her hidden, he sends Beatryce (with her fierce goat protector, Answelica) into the woods, where she finds allies and tries to discover who she is.
Book buzz: This historical, fairy-tale flavored story by popular author Kate DiCamillo also features artwork by award-winning illustrator Sophie Blackall.
For fans of: Adam Gidwitz's The Inquisitor's Tale.
Yusuf Azeem Is Not a Hero by Saadia FaruqiStarring: robotics-loving Yusuf, who's just starting sixth grade in his small Texas hometown.
What happens: The 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks prompts a wave of prejudice against Muslims like Yusuf and his family. Can the typically quiet Yusuf find a way to speak out against injustice?
How it's told: Yusuf's moving story is sprinkled with entries from his uncle's 2001 journal, giving you a peek at how 9/11 changed things then, as well as now.
Playing the Cards You're Dealt by Varian JohnsonWhat it's about: Anthony "Ant" Joplin is determined to carry on the family tradition of winning the annual spades tournament, but it's tough to focus when both his best friend and his dad are acting weird, and he's got a crush on his trash-talking new spades partner, Shirley.
Read it for: Ant's relatable challenges with family and friends, and with figuring out how to be a (good) guy.
Don't miss: the fun, easygoing explanations of spades for readers who might not have played.
Kaleidoscope by Brian SelznickWhat's inside: a dazzling, sophisticated collection of short stories that are all connected through the unbreakable bond between two kids.
Featuring: glowing forest lights, a sailing trip to the moon, and a 500-year battle, as well as giants, angels, a genie, and a dragon.
Book buzz: Similar to author Brian Selznick's earlier books (such as The Invention of Hugo Cabret), this new book -- and its richly detailed illustrations -- showcases the author's imaginative storytelling style.
The Disaster Days by Rebecca BehrensWhat it's about: Life on tiny Pelling Island feels safe to 13-year-old Hannah...until an earthquake shakes everything up, leaving Hannah and the neighbor kids trapped in a damaged house with no adults and no way to call for help.
Why you might like it: Hannah is a typical kid stuck in a scary situation, and you'll be rooting for her as she finds her courage.
Try this next: Alone in the Woods, another suspenseful survival thriller by author Rebecca Behrens.
The Darkdeep by Ally Condie and Brendan ReichsWhat it's about: There are rumors that a Beast lives in Still Cove, Washington, but when middle school friends Nico, Tyler, Emma, and Opal wind up in the cove by accident, what they discover is more amazing than any rumor -- and it could be far deadlier.
Series alert: If you can't get enough of The Darkdeep's eerie, imaginative thrills, you're in luck -- there are two sequels, The Beast and The Torchbearers.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 8-11!