The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World by Shannon Hale and Dean HaleFantasy. Doreen Green is new in town, and she's hiding a big secret: she has the proportional strength and speed of a squirrel -- not to mention the fluffy tail. Doreen wants to fit in, but when a villain threatens her new neighborhood, she knows it's time to step up and become a superhero. She gains support for her new mission from her squirrel pal Tippy-Toe as well as from Ana Sofía, a classmate who uses hearing aids and shares Doreen's curiosity (and love of the Avengers). Whether you're a Marvel fan or a newcomer, you'll be nuts about the upbeat energy and quirky humor in Squirrel Girl's leap from comics to chapter books.
Me and Marvin Gardens by Amy Sarig KingFiction. Since his best friend has become a bully, 11-year-old Obe has lots of time to clean up the creek on his family's remaining piece of farmland, and that's where he finds the creature. Beagle-sized but with hooves, slimy skin, and a taste for plastic, the creature bonds with Obe, who names it Marvin Gardens. However, with so many housing developments being built nearby, it's hard to keep Marvin a secret for long… Similar to Sara Pennypacker's Pax, this sensitive story of a boy and his unusual companion will make you think about "how we treat each other and the planet" (Publishers Weekly).
The Luck Uglies by Paul DurhamFantasy. Eleven-year-old Rye knows the legend: years ago, the Bog Noblins preyed on Village Drowning, devouring villagers and wearing necklaces made from their feet. The fearsome creatures were driven away by the brave Luck Uglies, a secret society that hasn't been heard from since. But now the Bog Noblins are back, awakening the villagers' terror -- and Rye's curiosity. Along with her friends Quinn and Folly, Rye sets out to discover the village's secrets and the fate of the Luck Uglies. Bold characters, brisk pacing, and tons of action combine to make this series opener "a thumping good story" (Kirkus Reviews).
A Whole Lot of Lucky by Danette HaworthFiction. When 12-year-old Hailee's family wins the lottery, her life changes in unexpected -- and not necessarily good -- ways. Hailee thinks that they'll move to a big, fancy house and that she'll get her very own horse...but what actually happens is that her parents send her to an expensive private school. Now she's got to make new friends and figure out how she fits in (or doesn't) with the rich kids. Warm, witty, and more about friendship than money, this is a great pick for kids who like realistic characters and situations.
Lucky Strike by Bobbie PyronFiction. Eleven-year-old Nate is the unluckiest person in Paradise Beach, Florida. He's never won a coin toss, never been picked first, and his birthday wishes never come true. The only thing about Nate that isn't unlucky is his choice of smart, logical Gen as a best friend. After all, it's Gen's quick thinking that saves Nate's life when he's struck by lightning. After the strike, however, Nate's luck takes a turn, and though his popularity skyrockets, his friendship with Gen is threatened. Funny, folksy, and satisfying, Lucky Strike will be a hit with fans of Ingrid Law's Savvy and other realistic books with just a hint of magic.
The Junction of Sunshine and Lucky by Holly SchindlerFiction. Though Auggie loves her neighborhood, she's excited about starting fifth grade in a different part of town. Her excitement disappears, however, after her best friend ditches her for a group of rich girls and the town's "beautification committee" starts fining her poor neighborhood for looking too shabby. Unwilling to back down, Auggie and her grandfather Gus use objects they've rescued from Gus' trash-hauling truck to start a beautification project of their own -- one that could either divide or unite their community. If this feel-good story leaves you curious about outsider art, you might also want to try Shelley Pearsall's The Seventh Most Important Thing.
Three Times Lucky by Sheila TurnageMystery. Ever since her dramatic arrival (as a baby, she washed ashore during a hurricane), 11-year-old Moses LoBeau has lived in Tupelo Landing, North Carolina with eccentric Colonel LoBeau, the man who found her, and Miss Lana, who runs the local cafe. Mo's life is pretty quiet until an unpopular local resident is murdered and a detective comes to town looking for the culprit, stirring up all kinds of other trouble in the process. Readers who enjoy colorful ways with words, complicated yet compelling plots, and unforgettable characters will feel they've hit the jackpot with Three Times Lucky, the 1st in the Tupelo Landing series.
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