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Jay's 2016 Holiday Shopping List for Lower School Readers

Monday, December 12, 2016

Hello from the library! First, if you haven’t been by the library yet, please feel free to come visit us. Next, for our newest members of the Manhattan Country School community, these are the annual Holiday Shopping Lists. Several years ago, some parents asked me for recommendations for books for holiday gifts. The lists have grown and expanded to include one for grownups as well. I hope you enjoy them! Of course, if you have any questions about other books and anything else related to literature, please let me know.

“When I think about how I understand my role as a citizen, setting aside being president, and the most important set of understandings that I bring to that position of citizen, the most important stuff I’ve learned I think I’ve learned from novels. It has to do with empathy. It has to do with being comfortable with the notion that the world is complicated and full of grays, but there’s still truth there to be found, and that you have to strive for that and work for that. And the notion that it’s possible to connect with some[one] else even though they’re very different from you.”                 
—President Barack Obama

This quote came from a conversation between President Barack Obama and Marilynne Robinson, author of Housekeeping and Gilead (and one of my favorite writers ever.) The president wanted to meet her and talk to her after reading several of her books. It seems to me that this is the very essence of why reading books is critical to us as humans. It is through literature that we can find such valuable connections to the outside world and ultimately, ourselves.
    
Reading a book at a young age is essentially a social undertaking. Before a child can read, this act is usually done with a grownup. As they get a little older, children are usually reading what their peers are reading, unless of course, they have a pushy librarian! It is only when we reach our teens and then adulthood that reading a book becomes a much more solitary operation. Yet, embedded in this act is the hope of making the kinds of connections that the president was talking about—to the past, to other cultures, to information and to some possible answers and questions.

When I first took the job as librarian, I could never have imagined how being a witness to daily connections of these kinds would affect me in such positive ways. This holiday season, I truly hope that you connect with a fantastic book. Happy reading, citizens and please come visit us in the new library space!

2016 Holiday Shopping List for Upper School Readers

2016 Holiday Shopping List for Grown-Up Readers


A Squiggly StoryA Squiggly Story by Andrew Larsen - What happens when you have a story but you're not sure how to write it down? Larsen introduces a boy as he struggles to write a story, even though his sister tells him it's easy. The feeling of frustration at not being able to form letters, the excitement of reading a story aloud to the class, and the just-a-little-bit bossy older sister will all be relatable elements to young readers. The title is illustrated in a graphic novel-style, with speech bubbles and boxes for different images on some pages. The palette of greens, beiges, pinks, yellows, and blues is cool, and the simply drawn cartoon characters are stylized but expressive. The boy and his sister and the students in the boy's class are illustrated with a wide variety of skin tones, giving this volume an inclusive feel. (Ages 4-7)

Bunny Slopes by Claudia Rueda - Time to tackle the bunny slope! Shake to help Bunny make it snow, tilt to help Bunny ski down the slope, and turn to help Bunny escape a cliff in his path. Is there any obstacle Bunny can't conquer? Bringing grins and guffaws with each turn of the page, readers will find Claudia Rueda's innovative bookmaking as entertaining as the twists and turns of a ski slope—and as satisfying as a cozy cup of hot cocoa. (3-6)

Little Penguins by Cynthia Rylant – Snowflakes? Many snowflakes. Winter is coming. So begins this ever-so-simple story. As the snow starts to fall, the excited penguins pull out scarves, mittens, heavy socks, and boots, and Mama helps them bundle up. But when it’s time to go out, one timid penguin decides to stay home. Filled with waddling baby penguins, playful text, and delightful illustrations, this book feels like a young picture-book classic in the making. (4-7)

Can One Balloon Make An Elephant Fly? by Dan Richards – Dan Richards teams up with celebrated artist, Jeff Newman, to share a funny and vibrant picture book about how powerful a child’s imagination can be…with a little encouragement. Evan asks a simple question, “Can one balloon make an elephant fly?” At first, his mother is too busy to answer. But when she takes the time to play the game with her son…magic happens. (4-7)

The Airport Book by Lisa Brown - Follow a family and the youngest member's favorite sock monkey through all the inner and outer workings of an airport. In a book that is as intriguing as it is useful and entertaining, we follow a family on its way through the complexities of a modern-day airport. From checking bags and watching them disappear on the mysterious conveyor belt, to security clearance and a seemingly endless wait at the gate to finally being airborne. But wait! There's more! The youngest family member's sock monkey has gone missing. Follow it at the bottom of the page as it makes a journey as memorable as that of the humans above. (5-7)

Goodnight Everyone by Chris Haughton - From the creator of Shh! We Have a Plan comes a mesmerizing bedtime tale of a forest settling into slumber and one little bear trying to stay awake. The sun is setting, and everyone in the forest is getting sleepy. The mice, rabbits, and deer all give great big yawns as they snuggle up with their families for the night. But someone isn't sleepy just yet. Little Bear thinks he can stay awake a bit longer. Can he do it? Chris Haughton's bold and vibrant illustrations will captivate little ones eager to stay up just a teeny bit longer, while sweet depictions of animals cozying up in their beds for the night will soon have them yawning off to a dreamland of their own. (4-7)

Billions of Bricks: A Counting Book About Building by Kurt Cyrus - Grab a hard hat and all your tools, and get ready for a construction adventure in counting! This clever, rhyming picture book leads readers through a day in the life of a construction crew building with bricks. A brick may seem like just a simple block, but in groupings of 10, 20, and more, it can create many impressive structures, from hotels to schools to skyscrapers. Billions of Bricks from Kurt Cyrus is a terrific introduction to counting in quantities for children. (5-7)

A Family Is A Family Is A Family by Sara O’Leary - When a teacher asks the children in her class to think about what makes their families special, the answers are all different in many ways—but the same in the one way that matters most of all. One child is worried that her family is just too different to explain, but listens as her classmates talk about what makes their families special. One is raised by a grandmother, and another has two dads. One is full of stepsiblings, and another has a new baby. As one by one, her classmates describe who they live with and who loves them—family of every shape, size and every kind of relation—the child realizes that as long as her family is full of caring people, her family is special. A warm and whimsical look at many types of families written by award-winning author Sara O’Leary, A Family is a Family springs to life with quirky and sweet illustrations by Qin Leng. (5-8)

More-igami by Dori Kleber - A creative young boy with a passion for practicing origami finds a surprising source of encouragement on his diverse city block. Joey loves things that fold: maps, beds, accordions, you name it. When a visiting mother of a classmate turns a plain piece of paper into a beautiful origami crane, his eyes pop. Maybe he can learn origami, too. It’s going to take practice—on his homework, the newspaper, and the 38 dollars in his mother’s purse . . . Enough! No more folding! But how can Joey become an origami master if he’s not allowed to practice? Is there anywhere that he can hone the skill that makes him happy—and maybe even make a new friend while he’s at it? (4-7)

Real Cowboys by Kate Hoefler - In Kate Hoefler’s realistic and poetic picture book debut about the wide-open West, the myth of rowdy, rough-riding cowboys and cowgirls is remade. A timely and multifaceted portrayal reveals a lifestyle that is as diverse as it contrary to what we've come to expect. (4-7)

The Cat From Hunger Mountain by Ed Young - In a place called Hunger Mountain there lives a lord who has everything imaginable yet never has enough. To satisfy his every desire, he hires builders to design the tallest pagoda; a world-famous tailor to make his clothing from silk and gold threads; and a renowned chef to cook him lavish meals with rice from the lord's own fields. What more could he possibly want? Yet when drought plagues the land, Lord Cat is faced with his first taste of deep loss, he ventures down the mountain and what he discovers will change his life forever. Rendered in exquisite mixed-media collage, Caldecott Medalist Ed Young's deceptively simple fable is a deeply affecting tale about appreciating the value of treasures that need not be chased. (5-8)

Wings by Christopher Myers - Ikarus Jackson, a new boy on the block, surprises his neighbors one day by flying above the rooftops with his "long, strong, proud wings." People start to whisper, though, and soon those whispers turn to taunts, disdain, and finally even dismissal from school. One quiet girl, someone who knows loneliness herself, doesn't think the winged boy is strange. She runs through the streets, searching the clouds for her exiled schoolmate, only to find a policeman yelling at him to get down from the edge of a building where he perched with the pigeons: "Could the policeman / put him in jail for flying, / for being too different?" She musters her strength to tell the laughing onlookers to leave him alone, and she tells her new friend "what someone should have long ago"—that his flying is beautiful. Christopher Myers, who illustrated the Coretta Scott King Honor Book Black Cat and the Caldecott Honor Book Harlem shines in this simple, lovely tribute to individualism, encouraging his young readers to dare to fly too close to the sun despite the warnings of the mythological Icarus.

The Pancake King by Phyllis LaFarge - Henry Edgewood loves making pancakes. He makes them every day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and everyone in town knows his are the best. But when fame and fortune knock on the door, in the form of a TV appearance and an invitation to the White House, Henry, then far from family, friends, and school, learns that there's a lot more to pancakes than mixing flour, eggs, and milk. This revised edition of the 1971 classic is a humorous reminder to keep our eyes on what's most important, and it is sure to capture the fancy of anybody who's found themselves focused single-mindedly on a pursuit or passion and lost perspective of their priorities. (6-8)

Make Something Beautiful: How Art Transformed a Neighborhood by F. Isabel Campoy - In a town that is dismal and austere, Mira offers her neighbor her joy—art. After Mira hands out some of her paintings, a muralist takes notice of her work. Eventually Mira, the muralist, and the diverse community come together to make their town a beautiful work of art. López's illustrations dominate the landscape of the book and depict the characters' movements in a painterly style. Warm colors portray the community's efforts to brighten their neighborhood and contrast with the more muted tones used to depict the desolate cityscape. The illustrations are rendered with acrylic paints on wood, along with digital tools to layer photos and other objects to create Mira's neighborhood. The prose feels somewhat distant from the charming artwork and themes. The narrative was inspired by an actual event, as noted in the back matter, but the text does not fully transmit the heartwarming story of the powerful influence of art.

Mouse and MoleMouse and Mole: A Winter Wonderland by Wong Herbert Yee - Yippee! It is a winter wonderland! What better day for Mouse and Mole to go sledding, whirl around on ice skates, and build snowmen together? But Mole does not want to go outside. Too cold! Too windy! He prefers to stay as snug as a bug in a rug inside his nice, warm bed. Mouse is lonely. Ice skating and sledding just aren’t as fun for one. Then she gets an idea…a Sno-Mole might do the trick! Mole won’t be needing his hat or scarf or mittens…or will he? Sometimes even best friends want to do different things. But at the end of a cold winter’s day, it's nice to know that your best friend will be there waiting for you, with warm mittens and all. (5-8)

Cakes in Space (A Not-So-Impossible Tale) by Phillip Reeve - Get ready for killer cupcakes! Deadly donuts! And an outer space adventure with illustrations on almost every page. Astra’s family is moving—to a whole new planet. And what does any kid need on moving day? Snacks! But when Astra asks her spaceship’s computer to whip up the ultimate dessert, it makes cakes so amazing that they come to life. Now these cake-monsters are destroying the ship! Can Astra and her robot friend stop them in time? Or are these terrible treats a recipe for disaster? (5-7)

Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea by Ben Clanton - Narwhal is a happy-go-lucky narwhal. Jelly is a no-nonsense jellyfish. The two might not have a lot in common, but they do—they love waffles, parties and adventures. Join Narwhal and Jelly as they discover the whole wide ocean together. A wonderfully silly early graphic novel series featuring three stories. In the first, Jelly learns that Narwhal is a really good friend. Then Narwhal and Jelly form their own pod of awesomeness with their ocean friends. And finally, Narwhal and Jelly read the best book ever—even though it doesn't have any words...or pictures! (5-8)

The Water Princess by Susan Verde - With its wide sky and warm earth, Princess Gie Gie’s kingdom is a beautiful land. But clean drinking water is scarce in her small African village. And try as she might, Gie Gie cannot bring the water closer; she cannot make it run clearer. Every morning, she rises before the sun to make the long journey to the well. Instead of a crown, she wears a heavy pot on her head to collect the water. After the voyage home, after boiling the water to drink and clean with, Gie Gie thinks of the trip that tomorrow will bring. And she dreams. She dreams of a day when her village will have cool, crystal-clear water of its own. Inspired by the childhood of African–born model Georgie Badiel, acclaimed author Susan Verde and award-winning author/illustrator Peter H. Reynolds have come together to tell this moving story. As a child in Burkina Faso, Georgie and the other girls in her village had to walk for miles each day to collect water. This vibrant, engaging picture book sheds light on this struggle that continues all over the world today, instilling hope for a future when all children will have access to clean drinking water. (6-9)

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas - The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles, who lives alone atop a hill, has a job of the utmost importance. It is his task to open any bottles found at sea and make sure that the messages are delivered. He loves his job, though he has always wished that, someday, one of the letters would be addressed to him. One day he opens a party invitation—but there’s no name attached. As he devotes himself to the mystery of the intended recipient, he ends up finding something even more special: the possibility of new friends. (7-10)

Preaching to the Chickens: The Story of Young John Lewis by Jabari Asim - Critically acclaimed author Jabari Asim and Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator E. B. Lewis give readers a fascinating glimpse into the boyhood of Civil Rights leader John Lewis. John wants to be a preacher when he grows up—a leader whose words stir hearts to change, minds to think, and bodies to take action. But why wait? When John is put in charge of the family farm’s flock of chickens, he discovers that they make a wonderful congregation! So he preaches to his flock, and they listen, content under his watchful care, riveted by the rhythm of his voice. (6-10)

The Princess and the Warrior: A Tale of Two Volcanoes by Duncan Tonatiuh - Award-winning author Duncan Tonatiuh reimagines one of Mexico’s cherished legends. Princess Izta had many wealthy suitors but dismissed them all. When a mere warrior, Popoca, promised to be true to her and stay always by her side, Izta fell in love. The emperor promised Popoca if he could defeat their enemy Jaguar Claw, then Popoca and Izta could wed. When Popoca was near to defeating Jaguar Claw, his opponent sent a messenger to Izta saying Popoca was dead. Izta fell into a deep sleep and, upon his return, even Popoca could not wake her. As promised Popoca stayed by her side. So two volcanoes were formed: Iztaccíhuatl, who continues to sleep, and Popocatépetl, who spews ash and smoke, trying to wake his love. (6-10)

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy - Get to know celebrated Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—in the first picture book about her life—as she proves that disagreeing does not make you disagreeable! Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has spent a lifetime disagreeing: disagreeing with inequality, arguing against unfair treatment, and standing up for what’s right for people everywhere. This biographical picture book about the Notorious RBG, tells the justice’s story through the lens of her many famous dissents, or disagreements. (6-10)

A Poem for Peter: The Story of Ezra Jack Keats and the Creation of The Snowy Day by Andrea Davis Pinkney - The story of The Snowy Day begins more than 100 years ago, when Ezra Jack Keats was born in Brooklyn, N.Y. The family was struggling Polish immigrants, and despite Keats’s obvious talent, his father worried that Ezra’s dream of being an artist was an unrealistic one. But Ezra was determined. By high school he was winning prizes and scholarships. Later, jobs followed with the WPA and Marvel comics. But it was many years before Keats’ greatest dream was realized and he had the opportunity to write and illustrate his own book. For more than two decades, Ezra had kept pinned to his wall a series of photographs of an adorable African-American child. In Keats’s hands, the boy morphed into Peter, a boy in a red snowsuit, out enjoying the pristine snow; the book became The Snowy Day, winner of the Caldecott Medal, the first mainstream book to feature an African-American child. It was also the first of many books featuring Peter and the children of his—and Keats’—neighborhood. (6-10)

Who Built That? Bridges: An Introduction to Ten Great Bridges and Their Designers by Didier Comille - In this latest addition to his popular Who Built That? series, Didier Cornille presents ten of the most important bridges in the world, from the Brooklyn to the Golden Gate; from the first in cast iron to the longest in concrete; from small footbridges to the tallest in the world. Cornille introduces each engineer or architect and the main concepts of their work through charming step-by-step drawings and accessible text. Who Built That? Bridges is a fun primer for children of all ages interested in learning about these incredible structures and the engineering and design concepts behind each one. (6-10)

Outside: A Guide to Discovering Nature by Maria Ana Peixe Dias and Ines Teixeira do Rosario - Even if we live in the city, nature is still all around us: clouds and stars, trees and flowers, rocks and beaches, birds, reptiles or mammals. What are we waiting for? Let's jump off the couch and begin exploring! Created in collaboration with a team of Portuguese experts, this book, which won the coveted Bologna Regazzi award, aims to arouse your curiosity about fauna, flora and other aspects of the natural world. It includes suggestions for activities and many illustrations to help the whole family get started, leave the house, and go out to discover—or simply admire—the amazing world that exists outdoors. (7-10)

The Green Ember (Book 1) by S.D. Smith - Heather and Picket are extraordinary rabbits with ordinary lives until calamitous events overtake them, spilling them into a cauldron of misadventures. They discover that their own story is bound up in the tumult threatening to overwhelm the wider world. 
Kings fall and kingdoms totter. Tyrants ascend and terrors threaten. Betrayal beckons, and loyalty is a broken road with peril around every bend. Where will Heather and Picket land? How will they make their stand? A captivating story with sword-bearing rabbits, daring quests, and moments of poignant beauty, The Green Ember is a tale that will delight and inspire young readers to courage and creativity. (7-10)

Dory Fantasmagory: Dory, Dory, Black Sheep by Abby Hanlon - Ever since Dory met Rosabelle, a real true friend whose imagination and high spirits match her own, school has been pretty good. But now the class is learning to read, and it's proving to be a challenge for Dory. While Rosabelle can read chapter books in her head, Dory is stuck with baby books about a happy little farm. Dory wishes for a potion to turn her into a reader but things don't go as planned. Suddenly, a naughty little girl who looks an awful lot like Dory's imaginary nemesis, Mrs. Gobble Gracker, shows up. And a black sheep leaves the pages of the farm book to follow Dory to school. It really needs her help—this seems like a job for a superhero! And it would help if she knew how to read. (6-8)

A Boy and a Bear in a Boat by Dave Shelton - A boy and a bear go to sea, equipped with a suitcase, a comic book, and a ukulele. The bear assures the boy that they are traveling a short distance and it really shouldn't take very long. But then they encounter "unforeseeable anomalies": turbulent stormy seas! A terrifying sea monster and the rank remains of The Very Last Sandwich. The odds are pitted against the boy and the bear and their boat. Will the Harriet, their trusted vessel, withstand the violent lashings of the salty waves? And will anyone ever answer their message in a bottle? (6-9)

All About Sam by Lois Lowry - At last Sam, Anastasia Krupnik's irrepressible little brother, gets a chance to tell his own story. From his first days at the hospital, through his Terrible Twos, to his first days at nursery school, we see what Sam is really like. But things are never quite like they seem. In the delivery room, Sam's first words, "Don't drop me," are heard only as "Waaaaahhhh!" And even though he has a perfectly logical explanation for flushing his sister's goldfish down the toilet, no one understands. From training pants to moving day to nursery school, Sam continually tries to unravel the mysteries of the world at large, facing each crisis and adventure head on and responding with his own brand of humor, candor, and naive insight. (7-10)

Juana & LucasJuana and Lucas by Juana Medina - Juana loves many things—drawing, eating Brussels sprouts, living in Bogotá, Colombia, and especially her dog, Lucas, the best amigo ever. She does not love wearing her itchy school uniform, solving math problems, or going to dance class. And she especially does not love learning the English. Why is it so important to learn a language that makes so little sense? But when Juana’s abuelos tell her about a special trip they are planning—one that Juana will need to speak English to go on—Juana begins to wonder whether learning the English might be a good use of her time after all. Hilarious, energetic, and utterly relatable, Juana will win over los corazones—the hearts—of readers everywhere in her first adventure, presented by namesake Juana Medina. (7-10)

Book Uncle and Me by Uma Krishnaswami - Every day, 9-year-old Yasmin borrows a book from Book Uncle, a retired teacher who has set up a free lending library next to her apartment building. But when the mayor tries to shut down the rickety bookstand, Yasmin has to take her nose out of her book and do something. But what can she do? The local elections are coming up but she’s just a kid. She can’t even vote! Still, Yasmin has friends—her best friend, Reeni, and Anil, who even has a black belt in karate. And she has grownup family and neighbors who, no matter how preoccupied they are, care about what goes on in their community. Then Yasmin remembers a story that Book Uncle selected for her. It’s an old folktale about a flock of doves trapped in a hunter’s net. The birds realize that if they all flap their wings at the same time, they can lift the net and fly to safety, where they seek the help of a friendly mole who chews a hole in the net and sets them free. And so the children get to work, launching a campaign to make sure the voices of the community are heard. (7-10)

Fuzzy by Tom Angleberger and Paul Dellinger - When Max—Maxine Zelaster—befriends her new robot classmate Fuzzy, part of Vanguard One Middle School’s new Robot Integration Program, she helps him learn everything he needs to know about surviving middle school—the good, the bad, and the really, really, ugly. Little do they know that surviving seventh grade is going to become a true matter of life and death, because Vanguard has an evil presence at its heart: a digital student evaluation system named BARBARA that might be taking its mission to shape the perfect student to extremes! With a strong female main character that will appeal to all readers, Tom Angleberger and Paul Dellinger’s new novel offers readers a fresh take on robots. Fuzzy will find its place in the emerging category of bestselling books featuring robots, including Jon Scieszka’s Frank Einstein series and James Patterson’s House of Robots. (8-12)

The Illustrated Compendium of Amazing Animal Facts by Maja Säfström - An artfully playful collection of unexpected and remarkable facts about animals, illustrated by Swedish artist Maja Säfström. Did you know that an octopus has three hearts? Or that ostriches can't walk backward? These and many more fascinating and surprising facts about the animal kingdom (Bees never sleep! Starfish don't have brains!) are illustrated with whimsical detail in this charming collection. (7-12)

LouLou and Pea and the Mural Mystery by Jill Diamond - Lou Lou Bombay and Peacock Pearl have been best friends since first grade. Every Friday afternoon, they get together in Lou Lou's backyard garden for their PSPP (Post-School Pre-Parents) tea party. They chat about school, discuss Pea's latest fashions, and plot the weekend's activities. But all plans go out the window when a series of small crimes crop up around El Corazón, their quaint and quirky neighborhood, right before the Día de Los Muertos procession. First, Pea's cousin's quinceañera dress is tragically ruined. Then Lou Lou's beloved camellia bush, Pinky, suffers a serious blow. And that's just the beginning! When clues start to appear in El Corazón's outdoor murals, the best friends join forces, using Lou Lou's floral expertise and Pea's artistic genius to solve the mysteries. (7-10)

Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke - Jack might be the only kid in the world who's dreading summer. But he's got a good reason: summer is when his single mom takes a second job and leaves him at home to watch his autistic kid sister, Maddy. It's a lot of responsibility, and it's boring, too, because Maddy doesn't talk. Ever. But then, one day at the flea market, Maddy does talk―to tell Jack to trade their mom's car for a box of mysterious seeds. It's the best mistake Jack has ever made. In Mighty Jack, what starts as a normal little garden out back behind the house quickly grows up into a wild, magical jungle with tiny onion babies running amok; huge, pink pumpkins that bite; and, on one moonlit night that changes everything…a dragon. (7-10)

A Long Pitch Home by Natalie Dias Lorenzi - Ten-year-old Bilal liked his life back home in Pakistan. He was a star on his cricket team. But when his father suddenly sends the family to live with their aunt and uncle in America, nothing is familiar. While Bilal tries to keep up with his cousin Jalaal by joining a baseball league and practicing his English, he wonders when his father will join the family in Virginia. Maybe if Bilal can prove himself on the pitcher’s mound, his father will make it to see him play. But playing baseball means navigating relation-ships with the guys, and with Jordan, the only girl on the team—the player no one but Bilal wants to be friends with. A sensitive and endearing contemporary novel about family, friends, and assimilation. (8-12)

The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer - Alex and Conner Bailey's world is about to change, in this fast-paced adventure that uniquely combines our modern day world with the enchanting realm of classic fairy tales. The Land of Stories tells the tale of twins Alex and Conner. Through the mysterious powers of a cherished book of stories, they leave their world behind and find themselves in a foreign land full of wonder and magic where they come face-to-face with the fairy tale characters they grew up reading about. But after a series of encounters with witches, wolves, goblins, and trolls alike, getting back home is going to be harder than they thought. (7-12)

Like Magic by Elaine Vickers - This sweet middle grade novel featuring a diverse cast of characters proves that friendship can be just around the corner. For three 10-year-old girls, their once simple worlds are starting to feel too big. Painfully shy Grace dreads starting fifth grade now that her best friend has moved away. Jada hopes she’ll stop feeling so alone if she finds the mother who left years ago. And Malia fears the arrival of her new baby sister will forever change the family she loves. When the girls each find a mysterious treasure box in their library and begin to fill the box with their own precious things, they start to feel less alone. But it’s up to Grace, Jada, and Malia to take the treasures and turn them into something more: true friendship.

The Way Things Work Now by David MacCaulay - Explainer-in-Chief David Macaulay updates the worldwide bestseller The New Way Things Work to capture the latest developments in the technology that most impacts our lives. Famously packed with information on the inner workings of everything from windmills to Wi-Fi, this extraordinary and humorous book both guides readers through the fundamental principles of machines, and shows how the developments of the past are building the world of tomorrow. This sweepingly revised edition embraces all of the latest developments, from touchscreens to 3D printers. (8-12)

The Most Important Thing: Stories about Sons, Fathers, and Grandfathers by Avi - One of the most beloved writers of our time presents seven short stories exploring the vital ties between fathers and sons. Luke sees the ghost of his father but can’t figure out what Dad wants him to do. Paul takes a camping trip with the grandfather he’s just met and discovers what lies behind the man’s erratic behavior. Ryan has some surprising questions when he interviews his prospective stepfather for the job. In a compellingly honest collection of stories, multiple-award-winning author Avi introduces seven boys—boys with fathers at home and boys whose fathers have left, boys who spend most of their time with their grandfathers and boys who would rather spend time with anyone but the men in their lives. By turns heartbreaking, hopeful, and funny, the stories show us boys seeking acceptance, guidance, or just someone to look up to. Each one shines a different light on the question "What is the most important thing a father can do for his son?" (8-12)

Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes - Garvey’s father has always wanted Garvey to be athletic, but Garvey is interested in astronomy, science fiction, and reading—anything but sports. Feeling like a failure, he comforts himself with food. Garvey is kind, funny, smart, a loyal friend, and he is also overweight, teased by bullies, and lonely. When his only friend encourages him to join the school chorus, Garvey’s life changes. The chorus finds a new soloist in Garvey, and through chorus, Garvey finds a way to accept himself, and a way to finally reach his distant father—by speaking the language of music instead of the language of sports. This emotionally resonant novel in verse by award-winning author Nikki Grimes celebrates choosing to be true to yourself. (8-12)

Unidentified Suburban Object by Mike Jung - Chloe Cho is curious about her cultural heritage. Her parents were born in Korea but never speak of their time or families there, no matter how often Chloe asks. The only Asian American in her school, Chloe is excited when her new history teacher is also Korean, but alarmed to learn of an assignment where she needs to interview her parents to share a family story. She is finally able to convince her father to tell her one but receives an F on the assignment and is accused of plagiarism. When Chloe confronts her father, showing him a website that retells the account he claimed happened to his uncle, he must finally tell her the truth. A game-changing family secret is revealed that alters Chloe's perception of herself and the genre of the novel. Jung spends a lot of time hammering home how unwilling Chloe's parents are to speak of their past, making their secret a very welcome and original surprise and giving the novel some needed energy. Chloe's response to her parents' news ripples into every corner of her life. Furious she's been lied to, she rebels against not only her parents but her friends and teachers as well. While Chloe herself is a gifted student, the book has enough twists and humor to broaden the audience to include reluctant readers. (9-12)