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Jay's 2017 Summer Reading List for Lower School Students

Friday, June 16, 2017

Each summer for the past 10 years, I’ve shared summer reading lists with the MCS community. There is one for the Lower School, one for the Upper School and one for parents. While I take books and reading rather seriously, the intent of these lists is for enjoyment. Over the years, I have been so very fortunate to build such meaningful relationships with children through stories and books. I’ve also been very lucky to get to know so many amazing parents. I truly believe that it is incumbent upon all adults in children’s lives to sustain and support children’s deep connection with stories and books. Just simply reading-aloud to your child/children each day for as long as you can will do wonders. Parents always have an open invitation to come say hello and talk with me about books, reading and your child’s time in the library. Of course, you may also shoot me an email (jfung@manhattancountryschool.org) if that’s easier. Thanks and have a great summer!

Jay's 2017 Summer Reading List for Upper School Students

Jay's 2017 Summer Reading List for Grown-Ups


(PB – Picture book, ER – Easy Reader, CB – Chapter Book, GN – Graphic Novel)

Jabari JumpsJabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall - Working up the courage to take a big, important leap is hard, but Jabari is almost absolutely ready to make a giant splash. Jabari is definitely ready to jump off the diving board. He’s finished his swimming lessons and passed his swim test, and he’s a great jumper, so he’s not scared at all. "Looks easy," says Jabari, watching the other kids take their turns. But when his dad squeezes his hand, Jabari squeezes back. He needs to figure out what kind of special jump to do anyway, and he should probably do some stretches before climbing up onto the diving board. In a sweetly appealing tale of overcoming your fears, newcomer Gaia Cornwall captures a moment between a patient and encouraging father and a determined little boy you can’t help but root for. (PB – ages 4-7)

Green Pants by Kenneth Karegel - Jameson only ever wears green pants. When he wears green pants, he can do anything. But if he wants to be in his cousin’s wedding, he’s going to have to wear a tuxedo, and that means black pants. It’s an impossible decision: Jameson would love nothing more than to be in his cousin's wedding, but how can he not wear green pants? Will Jameson turn down this big honor, or will he find a way to make everyone happy, including himself? In this pitch-perfect ode to individualism, acclaimed author-illustrator Kenneth Kraegel creates a character readers of all ages can root for — whatever color pants they wear. (PB – ages 4-7)

Quackers by Liz Wong - Quackers is a duck. Sure, he may have paws and whiskers. And his quacks might sound more like...well, meows, but he lives among ducks, everyone he knows is a duck, and he's happy.

Then Quackers meets another duck who looks like him (& talks like him, too!)—but he calls himself a cat. So silly! Quackers loves being among his new friends the cats, but he also misses his duck friends, and so he finds a way to combine the best of both worlds. Part cat, part duck, all Quackers! (PB – ages 4-7)

Lily’s Cat Mask by Julie Fortenberry - Armed with a vivid imagination and her trusty cat mask, Lily can take on anything--even a new school...But when her teacher tells her no masks allowed in class, Lily worries, can she make friends without it? Anyone who has been daunted by a new experience, or struggled to put on a good face, will relate to Lily. Whimsical art brings Lily, her father, and her new classmates to life, with text that begs to be read aloud. Perfect for Father's Day, back to school, and even Halloween--Lily and her grinning cat mask are sure to make you smile back. (PB – Ages 4-7)

A Small Thing…but Big by Tony Johnston - What could be a more carefree experience than a trip to the park with one's mother? After exploring, however, Lizzie finds herself face-to-face with a dog—and she freezes. The gentleman at the other end of the leash "timidly" responds to some of her nervous questions and then encourages her to pat Cecile. This "small thing, but big [step]" gradually leads to other brave acts, from holding the leash to walking the dog by herself. Johnston's poetic dialogue is perfectly paced to indicate the paradoxical desire and discomfort experienced by both main characters, as well as their giddy joy upon reaching out ("'She is quite adoring being with you,' the old man said shyly."). Lizzie notes: "How springingly she walks," imitating the dog's movements. By the story's conclusion, the introverted man and child are "aglow." Hooper's relief printmaking and digital designs employ a summery palette with blocks of color, object groupings, and wrought iron grillwork to create depth against spacious white backgrounds. (PB – ages 4-7)

Pandora by Victoria Turnbull - Pandora lives alone, in a world of broken things. She makes herself a handsome home, but no one ever comes to visit. Then one day something falls from the sky . . . a bird with a broken wing. Little by little, Pandora helps the bird grow stronger. Little by little, the bird helps Pandora feel less lonely. The bird begins to fly again, and always comes back—bringing seeds and flowers and other small gifts. But then one day, it flies away and doesn't return. Pandora is heartbroken. Until things begin to grow . . . Here is a stunningly illustrated celebration of connection and renewal. (PB – 5-8)

Super Rabbit Boy Powers Up (Press Start Book 2) by Thomas Flintham - Meanie King Viking is tired of always losing to hero Super Rabbit Boy. So he's gone to the Secret Lands to search for the legendary Super Power Up, which has powers even Super Rabbit Boy won't be able to defeat. But Super Rabbit Boy is determined to stop King Viking. Can he navigate through the Secret Lands, locate the hidden dungeon, defeat the mini bosses, and claim the legendary Super Power Up before King Viking does it first? With danger everywhere, this may be the most difficult quest yet for Super Rabbit Boy. (ER – 5-8)

Dragons Love Tacos 2 – The Sequel by Adam Rubin - News alert! It has just been discovered that there are NO MORE TACOS left anywhere in the world. This is a huge problem because, as you know, dragons love tacos. If only there was a way for the dragons to travel back in time, to before tacos went extinct. Then they could grab lots of tacos and bring them back! It’s the perfect plan, as long as there’s no spicy salsa. You remember what happened last time . . .The award-winning creators of Robo-Sauce and Secret Pizza Party return with a gut-bustingly hilarious companion to the bestselling phenomenon Dragons Love Tacos. (PB – 5-9)

Today by Julie Morstad - The simplest moment has the potential to become extraordinary in this beautiful book by Julie Morstad. From getting dressed, to having breakfast, to choosing ways to go, Today has a little something to delight everyone. (PB – 6-10)

Mr. Zinger’s Hat by Cary Fagan - Every child needs a Mr. Zinger—and his hat!—in his or her life. A contemplative, self-contained writer who wears a big black hat on his thought-gathering walks, Mr. Zinger nevertheless has time for Leo when the child’s ball misfires and sends the hat sailing. Recovering from the encounter, the kind man engages the child by asking what kind of story the retrieved hat holds. Collaborating on the tale, Mr. Zinger helps Leo use his imagination to create the story-within-a-story about a prince and a ball—both of which seem awfully familiar. Petricic’s illustrations change from loose, soft watercolors to sharply defined cartoon drawings when the two enter the realm of their shared fiction. When the dreamy washes resume, Mr. Zinger continues along his walk, while Leo pays forward the storytelling hat trick to a new playmate, this time with his own baseball cap. This book oh-so-softly brings across a sweet, multigenerational message about sharing the power of imagination. (PB – 5-10)

If Sharks Disappeared by Lily Williams - A healthy ocean is home to many different kinds of animals. They can be big, like a whale, tiny, like a shrimp, and even scary, like a shark. Even though sharks can be scary, we need them to keep the oceans healthy. Unfortunately, due to overfishing, many shark species are in danger of extinction, and that can cause big problems in the oceans and even on land. What would happen if this continued and sharks disappeared completely? Artist Lily Williams explores how the disappearance would affect other animals across the whole planet in this clever book about the importance of keeping sharks, and our oceans, healthy. (PB – 5-10)

Meet the Bobs and TweetsMeet the Bobs and Tweets by Pepper Springfield - Out of seven Bobs, six are slobs, and out of seven Tweets, six are neat. A deceptive realtor has both families believing they are moving into a neighborhood of like-minded people. But when the Bobs run their jet ski through the community pool while the Tweets practice their laps, lifeguard Mark intervenes and divides the pool in half with a rope: the left side for slobs and the right side for neats. The seventh member of each family, Tidy Dean Bob and Sloppy Lou Tweet, become friends as they discuss their differences. Rhyming text may entertain and provide syntactic cues for some newly independent readers, though the rhymes often seem contrived. Lively, full-color, full-page illustrations provide and extend many details of the text. Though the design is colorful and appealing, the story is ultimately forgettable.  (CB – 5-9)

North Woods Girl by Aimee Bissonette - "When Grandma tucks her pants into her oversized boots and grabs her walking stick, I run to catch up," reports a young girl charmed by her visits to Grandma's north woods home. Their walks take them through the seasons, to a pond with a downed tree just right for sitting, to a garden lush with tomatoes ready for canning, through a snowy nighttime woods where the only sounds are the squeak of boots on snow and the hooting of a distant owl. Whatever the month, there are plenty of woodland critters to observe: squirrels or rabbits or deer, geese or goldeneyes or mergansers. The forest of North Woods Girl is an active, populated place, brought to life by Claudia McGehee's colorful scratchboard artistry. Time with Grandma teaches about quiet observation, generous sharing of resources, the beauty of the forest and pond at any hour. Grandma is the quintessential north woods girl, breathing deep the piney scents, relishing the chirping activity of her animal neighbors. Small wonder that her admiring granddaughter is inspired to follow in her footsteps. With a tale as understated as Grandma herself, Aimée Bissonette shares a message of appreciating the treasures of our natural surroundings. (PB – 6-10)

Robot and Rabbit and Ribbit by Cece Bell - Rabbit is excited. He is going to surprise his good friend Robot at home. DING DONG! When Robot opens the door, he is surprised. He wasn’t expecting Rabbit. In fact, he is already engrossed in a game of checkers with another friend, Ribbit. Now Rabbit is the one who is surprised, and a bit jealous. While Robot thinks everything Ribbit says is humorous, all Rabbit hears is "ribbit." And Ribbit eats flies with her popcorn. Gross! When Rabbit and Ribbit get mad because they both want to be Cowboy Jack Rabbit, Robot’s Emotion Decoder overheats, leaving him out of commission. Can Rabbit and Ribbit find a way to work together to revive their friend? New readers will find plenty to chuckle over as Robot’s two friends become friends themselves. (ER – 5-8)

Dog Man Unleashed by Dav Pilkey - Dog Man, the newest hero from the creator of Captain Underpants, is still learning a few tricks of the trade. Petey the cat is out of the bag, and his criminal curiosity is taking the city by storm. Something fishy is going on! Can Dog Man unleash justice on this ruffian in time to save the city, or will Petey get away with the purr-fect crime? (GN – 6-10)

She Persisted by Chelsea Clinton - Throughout American history, there have always been women who have spoken out for what's right, even when they have to fight to be heard. In early 2017, Senator Elizabeth Warren's refusal to be silenced in the Senate inspired a spontaneous celebration of women who persevered in the face of adversity. In this book, Chelsea Clinton celebrates thirteen American women who helped shape our country through their tenacity, sometimes through speaking out, sometimes by staying seated, sometimes by captivating an audience. They all certainly persisted. She Persisted is for everyone who has ever wanted to speak up but has been told to quiet down, for everyone who has ever tried to reach for the stars but was told to sit down, and for everyone who has ever been made to feel unworthy or unimportant or small. With vivid, compelling art by Alexandra Boiger, this book shows readers that no matter what obstacles may be in their paths, they shouldn't give up on their dreams. Persistence is power. This book features: Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Clara Lemlich, Nellie Bly, Virginia Apgar, Maria Tallchief, Claudette Colvin, Ruby Bridges, Margaret Chase Smith, Sally Ride, Florence Griffith Joyner, Oprah Winfrey, Sonia Sotomayor--and one special cameo. (PB – 4-10)

This Is How We Do It: One Day in the Lives of Seven Kids from around the World by Matt Lamothe - Follow the real lives of seven kids from Italy, Japan, Iran, India, Peru, Uganda, and Russia for a single day! In Japan Kei plays Freeze Tag, while in Uganda Daphine likes to jump rope. But while the way they play may differ, the shared rhythm of their days—and this one world we all share—unites them. This genuine exchange provides a window into traditions that may be different from our own as well as a mirror reflecting our common experiences. Inspired by his own travels, Matt Lamothe transports readers across the globe and back with this luminous and thoughtful picture book. (PB – 5-10)

Socks by Beverly Cleary - Newbery Medal-winning author Beverly Cleary charms readers with yet another lovable character—Socks, a jealous cat who must learn to share his owners with their new baby. Socks is one happy cat. He lives the good life with his affectionate owners, Mr. and Mrs. Bricker. Ever since the day they saved him from a life spent in a mailbox drop slot, Socks has been the center of their world. And he always has everything he needs—tasty kitty treats and all the lap room he could want! But when a new baby arrives, suddenly the Brickers have less and less time for Socks. Little Charles William is the one getting all the attention. Socks feels left out—and to show it, he starts getting into all sorts of trouble! What will it take to make Socks realize just how much the Brickers care about him? (CB – 5-9)

A Trio of Tolerable Tales by Margaret Atwood - Wordplay and outrageous adventures rule the day in these three humorous stories from Margaret Atwood, with illustrations by Dušan Petricic. Now published together in a chapter book for the first time! In Rude Ramsay and the Roaring Radishes, Ramsay runs away from his revolting relatives and makes a new friend with more refined tastes. The second tale, Bashful Bob and Doleful Dorinda, features Bob, who was raised by dogs, and Dorinda, who does housework for relatives who don’t like her. It is only when they become friends that they realize they can change their lives for the better. And finally, to get her parents back, Wenda and her woodchuck companion have to outsmart Widow Wallop in Wandering Wenda and Widow Wallop’s Wunderground Washery. Young readers will become lifelong fans of Margaret Atwood’s work and the kind of wordplay that makes these tales such rich fare, whether they are read aloud or enjoyed independently. These compelling stories of resourceful children are a lively introduction to alliteration. (PB – 6-10)

A Topps League Book: Book 1: Jinxed by Kurtis Scaletta - It’s Chad’s first spring as a batboy, and the Pine City Porcupines are hot—until they come up against the league-leading Heron Lake Humdingers. Now Chad’s got a whole lineup of problems: his favorite player, shortstop Mike Stammer, thinks he’s jinxed; Dylan, the other batboy, doesn’t even like baseball; there’s a goofy new porcupine mascot on the field; plus, Chad has to fill in as batboy for the Herons. It’s a good thing there’s something in the cards—his baseball cards, that is—that can help Chad sort it all out. (CB 7 – 10)

Princess Cora and the Crocodile by Laura Amy Schlitz - Princess Cora is sick of boring lessons. She’s sick of running in circles around the dungeon gym. She’s sick, sick, sick of taking three baths a day. And her parents won’t let her have a dog. But when she writes to her fairy godmother for help, she doesn’t expect that help to come in the form of a crocodile—a crocodile who does not behave properly. With perfectly paced dry comedy, children’s book luminaries Laura Amy Schlitz and Brian Floca send Princess Cora on a delightful outdoor adventure — climbing trees! getting dirty! having fun! — while her alter ego wreaks utter havoc inside the castle, obliging one pair of royal helicopter parents to reconsider their ways. (CB – 5-9)

CatStronauts: Mission Moon by Drew Brockington - When the world is thrust into darkness due to a global energy shortage, the Worlds Best Scientist comes up with a bold plan to set up a solar power plant on the moon. But someone has to go up there to set it up, and that adventure falls to the CatStronauts, the best space cats on the planet! Meet the fearless commander Major Meowser, brave-but-hungry pilot Waffles, genius technician and inventor Blanket, and quick thinking science officer Pom Pom on their most important mission yet! In this graphic novel, debut author and illustrator Drew Brockington breathes life into a world populated entirely by cats, brimming with jokes, charm, science, and enough big boxes and tuna sandwiches for everyone! (GN – 7-10)

The 65-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths - New York Times bestselling author Andy Griffiths invites readers to come hang out with him and his friend Terry in their 65-Story Treehouse-the fifth book in the illustrated chapter book series filled with Andy and Terry's signature slapstick humor! Andy and Terry live in a 65-Story Treehouse. (It used to be 52 stories, but they keep expanding.) It has a pet-grooming salon, a birthday room where it's always your birthday (even when it's not), a room full of exploding eyeballs, a lollipop shop, a quicksand pit, an ant farm, and a time machine...which is going to be really, really useful now, since Terry messed up (again) and the treehouse just FAILED it's safety inspection. Join Andy and Terry on a whirlwind trip through time as they try to stop the treehouse from being demolished! (CB – 7-10)

The Doorman’s Repose by Chris Raschka - Some of us look up at those craggy, mysterious apartment buildings found n the posher parts of New York City and wonder what goes on inside. The Doorman’s Repose collects ten stories about 777 Garden Avenue, one of the craggiest. The first story recounts the travails of the new doorman, who excels at all his tasks except perhaps the most important one—talking baseball. Others tell of a long-forgotten room, a cupid-like elevator, and the unlikely romance of a cerebral psychologist and a jazz musician, both of whom are mice. Because the animals talk and the machinery has feelings, these are children’s stories. Otherwise they are for anyone intrigued by what happens when many people, strangers or kin, live together under one roof. (CB – 8-10)

Frindle by Andrew Clements - Is Nick Allen a troublemaker? He really just likes to liven things up at school -- and he's always had plenty of great ideas. When Nick learns some interesting information about how words are created, suddenly he's got the inspiration for his best plan ever...the frindle. Who says a pen has to be called a pen? Why not call it a frindle? Things begin innocently enough as Nick gets his friends to use the new word. Then other people in town start saying frindle. Soon the school is in an uproar, and Nick has become a local hero. His teacher wants Nick to put an end to all this nonsense, but the funny thing is frindle doesn't belong to Nick anymore. The new word is spreading across the country, and there's nothing Nick can do to stop it. (CB – 8-10)

5 Worlds Book 1: The Sand Warrior by Mark Siegel - The Five Worlds are on the brink of extinction unless five ancient and mysterious beacons are lit. When war erupts, three unlikely heroes will discover there’s more to themselves—and more to their worlds—than meets the eye. . . . The clumsiest student at the Sand Dancer Academy, Oona Lee is a fighter with a destiny bigger than she could ever imagine. A boy from the poorest slums, An Tzu has a surprising gift and a knack for getting out of sticky situations. Star athlete Jax Amboy is beloved by an entire galaxy, but what good is that when he has no real friends? When these three kids are forced to team up on an epic quest, it will take not one, not two, but 5 WORLDS to contain all the magic and adventure! (GN – 8-10)

Lily Quench and the Dragon of Ashby by Natalie Prior - As a family of dragon slayers, the Quenches of Ashby have always been burning successes...until the evil Black Count invades, and the family's fortunes go into a downward spiral.  Then a dragon unexpectedly arrives and Lily, the last of the Quenches, is called upon to fight it.  Soon she finds herself on a desperate, magical quest to save Ashby from destruction-and restore the lost heir to his throne. (CB – 8-10)

Jack and the GeniusesJack and the Geniuses by Bill Nye - New York Times bestselling authors Bill Nye the Science Guy and Gregory Mone take middle-grade readers on a scientific adventure in the launch of an exciting new chapter book series, Jack and the Geniuses. The perfect combination to engage and entertain readers, the series features real-world science along with action and a mystery that will leave kids guessing until the end, making these books ideal for STEM education. In the series opener, Jack and the Geniuses: At The Bottom of The World, readers meet Jack and his foster siblings, Ava and Matt, who are orphans. But they’re not your typical kind of orphans—they’re geniuses. Well, Ava and Matt are, which sometimes makes life difficult for 1twelve-year-old Jack. Ava speaks multiple languages and builds robots for fun, and Matt is into astronomy and a whiz at math. As for Jack, it’s hard to stand out when he’s surrounded by geniuses all the time. When the kids try to spy on Dr. Hank Witherspoon, one of the world’s leading scientists, they end up working for him in his incredible laboratory. Soon, Hank and the kids travel to Antarctica for a prestigious science competition, but they find that all is not as it seems: A fellow scientist has gone missing, and so has any trace of her research. Could someone be trying to use her findings to win the contest? It’s up to Jack, Ava, and Matt to find the missing scientist and discover who’s behind it all—before it’s too late. Integrating real science facts with humor and suspense, and featuring an ensemble cast of loveable boy and girl characters, this uniquely engaging series is an irresistible chemical reaction for middle-grade readers. With easy-to-read language presented in a fun, motivating, and accessible way, this series opener is a great book for both inquisitive kids and reluctant readers. The book also includes information about the science discussed and used to solve the mystery, as well as a cool science project about density that kids can do at home or in the classroom. (CB – 8-10)

Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder – A completely one-of-a-kind novel about nine children who live on a mysterious island. On the island, everything is perfect. The sun rises in a sky filled with dancing shapes; the wind, water, and trees shelter and protect those who live there; when the nine children go to sleep in their cabins, it is with full stomachs and joy in their hearts. And only one thing ever changes: on that day, each year, when a boat appears from the mist upon the ocean carrying one young child to join them—and taking the eldest one away, never to be seen again. Today’s Changing is no different. The boat arrives, taking away Jinny’s best friend, Deen, replacing him with a new little girl named Ess, and leaving Jinny as the new Elder. Jinny knows her responsibility now—to teach Ess everything she needs to know about the island, to keep things as they’ve always been. But will she be ready for the inevitable day when the boat will come back—and take her away forever from the only home she’s known? (CB – 8-12)

Olga and the Smelly Thing from Nowhere by Elise Gravel - Meet Olga, the amazing child scientist who LOVES animals (because they are super-cute)! Olga and the Smelly Thing from Nowhere is jam-packed with fun: vibrant illustrations, word bubbles, quirky humor, olgamus facts, and plenty of excitement for readers who love making discoveries and meeting new friends. Olga is a charming combination of independent, curious, and smart—making her the coolest girl scientist around—perfect for fans of Dork Diaries and Captain Underpants. When Olga crosses paths with a weird creature and becomes the first kid to discover the species olgamus ridiculus, she is ecstatic! What does an olgamus eat? How does it poop? Why does its burp sound like the word rubber? With her trusty observation notebook and the help of a librarian, a shopkeeper, and some friends, Olga sets out to do science—learning the facts about her smelly, almost-furry pal and searching for him when he goes missing. The scientific method is the best way to discover anything! (CB – 8-11)

Rooting for Rafael Rosales by Kurtis Scaletta - Rafael has dreams. Every chance he gets he plays in the street games trying to build his skills, get noticed by scouts, and—someday—play Major League Baseball. Maya has worries. The bees are dying all over the world, and the company her father works for is responsible, making products that harm the environment. Follow Rafael and Maya in a story that shifts back and forth in time and place, from Rafael’s neighborhood in the Dominican Republic to present-day Minnesota, where Maya and her sister are following Rafael’s first year in the minor leagues. In their own ways, Maya and Rafael search for hope, face difficult choices, and learn a secret—the same secret—that forever changes how they see the world. (CB 8 – 12)

Red Cloud: A Lakota Story of War and Surrender by S.D. Nelson - A leader among the Lakota during the 1860s, Chief Red Cloud deeply opposed white expansion into Native American territory. He rejected treaties from the U.S. government and instead united the warriors of the Lakota and nearby tribes, becoming the only Native American to win a war against the U.S. Army. Despite his military successes, Red Cloud recognized that continued conflict would only bring destruction to his people. He made the controversial decision to make an agreement with the U.S. government, and moved his people to a reservation. The effects of his decision—as well as the conflicts that arose from those who rejected the agreement and continued fighting against white expansion, such as Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull—shaped much of the history of Native American relations with the U.S. in years to come. Featuring archival images and S. D. Nelson’s stunning illustrations, Red Cloud offers an authentic Native American perspective on one of the most pivotal eras of American history. (NF – 9-12)

Real Friends by Shannon Hale - Newbery Honor author Shannon Hale and New York Times bestselling illustrator LeUyen Pham join forces in this graphic memoir about how hard it is to find your real friends―and why it's worth the journey. When best friends are not forever. . .Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends ever since they were little. But one day, Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the most popular girl in class and the leader of a circle of friends called The Group. Everyone in The Group wants to be Jen's #1, and some girls would do anything to stay on top . . . even if it means bullying others. Now every day is like a roller coaster for Shannon. Will she and Adrienne stay friends? Can she stand up for herself? And is she in The Group―or out? (GN – 8 – 12)

Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia - From beloved Newbery Honor winner and three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner Rita Williams-Garcia comes a powerful and heartfelt novel about loss, family, and love that will appeal to fans of Jason Reynolds and Kwame Alexander. Clayton feels most alive when he’s with his grandfather, Cool Papa Byrd, and the band of Bluesmen—he can’t wait to join them, just as soon as he has a blues song of his own. But then the unthinkable happens. Cool Papa Byrd dies, and Clayton’s mother forbids Clayton from playing the blues. And Clayton knows that’s no way to live. Armed with his grandfather’s brown porkpie hat and his harmonica, he runs away from home in search of the Bluesmen, hoping he can join them on the road. But on the journey that takes him through the New York City subways and to Washington Square Park, Clayton learns some things that surprise him. (CB – 8-12)

Gods of Manhattan: Book 1 by Scott Mebus - Thirteen-year-old New Yorker Rory Hennessy can see things no one else can. When a magician's trick opens his eyes to Mannahatta, Rory finds an amazing spirit city coexisting alongside modern-day Manhattan. A place where Indian sachems, warrior cockroaches, and papier-mache‚ children live, ruled by the immortal Gods of Manhattan - including Babe Ruth, Alexander Hamilton, and Peter Stuyvesant. But Rory's power to see Mannahatta brings danger, and he is pursued by enemies, chasing history and trying to free those who have been enslaved. And when he is given the chance to right Mannahatta's greatest wrong, seeing Mannahatta may not be a gift after all. (CB 8-12)

The Harlem Charade by Natasha Tarpley - WATCHER. SHADOW. FUGITIVE. Harlem is home to all kinds of kids. Jin sees life passing her by from the window of her family's bodega. Alex wants to help the needy one shelter at a time, but can't tell anyone who she really is. Elvin's living on Harlem's cold, lonely streets, surviving on his own after his grandfather was mysteriously attacked. When these three strangers join forces to find out what happened to Elvin's grandfather, their digging leads them to an enigmatic artist whose missing masterpieces are worth a fortune-one that might save the neighborhood from development by an ambitious politician who wants to turn it into Harlem World, a ludicrous historic theme park. But if they don't find the paintings soon, nothing in their beloved neighborhood will ever be the same . . .In this remarkable tale of daring and danger, debut novelist Natasha Tarpley explores the way a community defines itself, the power of art to show truth, and what it really means to be home. (CB 8-12)