Mighty Jack and Zita The Spacegirl by Ben HatkeWhat it’s about: When Earth is menaced by tentacled aliens AND angry giants, intergalactic heroine Zita joins forces with modern fairy tale hero Jack to defend the planet.
Who it’s for: Fans of Zita’s and Jack’s solo series (both by author Ben Hatke) can jump right in to this crossover adventure, while newcomers may want to start at the beginning with Zita the Spacegirl and Mighty Jack.
Lalani of the Distant Sea by Erin Entrada KellyStarring: 12-year-old Lalani Sarita, the last hope of Sanlagita Island.
What happens: After Sanlagita is plagued with disaster and illness, Lalani sets out across the sea on a quest from which no man has ever returned: to bring back good fortune from the legendary Mount Isa.
Did you know? Newbery Medalist Erin Entrada Kelly based this enchanting, hopeful fantasy on folktales from her Filipino heritage.
Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers by Celia C. PérezFeaturing: birdwatcher Cat, journalist Ofelia, foodie Aster, and rebellious newcomer Lane, the first members of a secret new club in Sabal Palms, Florida.
What happens: The four friends band together to convince the Floras, an old-fashioned local girls club, to right a long-standing wrong.
Why you might like it: all four girls take turns telling this story of unlikely friendship, letting you get an up-close look at each girl’s problems, secrets, and hopes.
The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. RaúfWhat it’s about: When quiet, serious refugee Ahmet joins Mrs. Khan’s class, he’s befriended by a group of classmates with an unusual plan to reunite him with his Syrian family.
Who it’s for: This touching story of belonging will appeal to readers who aren’t refugees but who want to understand the experiences of their friends and classmates who are.
Try this next: Jasmine Warga’s Other Words for Home.
Some Places More Than Others by Renée WatsonWelcome to: Harlem, NYC, where African American history comes alive for Oregon-born Amara as she explores her dad’s old neighborhood and finally meets her grandpa and cousins face-to-face.
Who it's for: Readers who love books that focus on how a character changes over time will want to follow Amara as she dives deep into her family’s past and finds her own place within it.
Me, Frida, and the Secret of the Peacock Ring by Angela CervantesThe place: Mexico City’s Casa Azul, where 12-year-old Mexican American visitor Paloma becomes fascinated by famous Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.
The mystery: When Paloma’s new friends Lizzie and Gael reveal that they’re searching for Frida’s missing peacock ring, Paloma -- inspired by her love of mystery books -- agrees to help them.
For fans of: the art details, fast pacing, and you-are-there settings of Blue Balliett’s art mysteries.
Stella Díaz Has Something to Say by Angela DominguezWhat it’s about: Stella Diaz loves drawing, betta fish, and her family. She doesn’t love being in a different 3rd-grade class than her best friend, especially not after she’s assigned to give a speech in front of the whole class.
Who it’s for: new chapter book readers who like realistic stories about school, family, and friends.
You might also like: Juana Medina’s Juana & Lucas, which also has cartoon art and a Spanish-speaking heroine who's frustrated by English.
Nothing Up My Sleeve by Diana LópezIntroducing: 12-year-old friends Loop, Dominic, and Z, who are each dealing with complicated family issues when they discover a new magic shop in their town and decide to train for a statewide stage magic contest.
Read it for: the excitement of competition, characters who talk like real people, and practical tips for doing magic tricks.
Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble by Anna MerianoWhat it's about: Annoyed that she’s not allowed to help at her family's small-town Texas bakery, Leo Logroño steals a magical recipe book and cooks up a big mess.
Don't miss: the recipes at the end (magic not required).
Series alert: If you're charmed by the magical mayhem and cozy family bonds in this fantasy, you're in luck -- it's the 1st in a series, followed by A Sprinkle of Spirits.
Stef Soto, Taco Queen by Jennifer TorresWhat it’s about: Instead of letting her take the bus to school, Stef Soto’s papi drops her off in the family’s battered, embarrassing old taco truck, Tia Perla. Stef hates being seen as the “Taco Queen,” but when the family business is threatened, she might have to step up in Tia Perla's defense.
Why you might like it: Breezy and sprinkled with Spanish, Stef Soto, Taco Queen serves up a fresh, warm-hearted slice of life.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 8-11!
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