6-7s Building Study: Progressive Education

Jay's 2019 Winter Reading List for Lower School Students

Jay's 2019 Winter Reading List for Lower School Students

Friday, December 13, 2019

Pokko and the Drum by Matthew Forsythe - Pokko's parents give her a drum—biggest mistake ever—and she makes a thoroughgoing racket.Her father suggests taking her drum outside. "But don't make too much noise. We're just a little frog family that lives in a mushroom, and we don't like drawing attention to ourselves." Pokko sets off quietly into the too-quiet forest. She taps her drum "just to keep herself company." When a banjo-playing raccoon follows her, she plays louder. A trumpet-playing rabbit's next, then a wolf, ostensibly there for the music. In a plot twist evocative of Jon Klassen, the wolf eats the rabbit, earning Pokko's stern rebuke: "No more eating band members or you're out of the band." Soon, many animals—some making music, others enjoying it—are following Pokko. When her father calls her to dinner, he hears faint music, growing louder. The crowds sweep in, carrying off Pokko's parents. (Comically, her mother's still engrossed in the book she's been reading throughout.) Her father thinks he spies Pokko down in front. "And you know what?…I think she's pretty good!" Pokko's a self-possessed marvel, brave enough to walk alone, face down a wolf, and lead a band. Forsythe's smudgily glowing paintings alternate Rousseau-esque forest forms with cozy interiors; stripes and harlequin diamonds decorate clothing.Celebrating both community and individuality, this droll, funny offering will tickle kids and adults alike. (PB, ages 4-7)

Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o - From Academy Award–winning actress Lupita Nyong’o comes a powerful, moving picture book about colorism, self-esteem, and learning that true beauty comes from within.Sulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything. In this stunning debut picture book, actress Lupita Nyong’o creates a whimsical and heartwarming story to inspire children to see their own unique beauty. (PB, ages 4-8)

Max Attacks by Kathi Appelt - Max is a cat who attacks. His primary target is the fishbowl, but he will attack most anything. Max is drawn toward the fish, tantalizing and very smug in their glass bowl, but a glimpse of something green and scaly on the screen door suddenly compels him elsewhere. On and on it goes. A typical day for any house cat takes a competitive and adventurous turn from Max's perspective as he pounces, attacks, and keeps a silly running tally such as, "Socks, None. Max, Ninety-One." The narrative is written in swinging, rhyming, catty prose with accompanying bright and often zoomed-in illustrations. Some parts of the text are color coordinated ("Max" appears in blue throughout) but this isn't exactly consistent, although it does coordinate nicely with the illustrations. The large images and silly text make this an excellent choice for a pet-themed storytime. (PB, ages 4-7)

Across the Bay by Carlos Aponte - This enchanting picture book takes readers on a journey to the heart of Puerto Rico set in Old San Juan. Carlitos lives in a happy home with his mother, his abuela, and Coco the cat. Life in his hometown is cozy as can be, but the call of the capital city pulls Carlitos across the bay in search of his father. Jolly piragüeros, mischievous cats, and costumed musicians color this tale of love, family, and the true meaning of home. Vividly striking in color, the illustrations along with the use of strong black lines give a captivating look at life in the place that they call home. (PB, ages 4-7)

Sign Off by Stephen Savage - The term "sign off" means ending a radio conversation, among other things. In this case, the title is taken quite literally and in the most imaginative way. It is not enough for Savage to depict everyday signs, ones that children will instantly recognize, but he conjures up a story where the characters come off of each of the signs. What do they do when they leap off the signs? And why? This is essentially a wordless picture book, apart from the lettering on the signs, so even the youngest of children can participate by drawing on what they know about signs. The story takes place over the course of a night and the inky colors and the night sky signal that to readers. All of the iconic sign characters come together at the end for a very specific purpose, having to do with the transition to dawn. This is brilliantly illustrated throughout and includes endpapers that let the children know that the story begins at night, but as the sky lightens and the characters finish their work, the last endpaper features the sunrise. The geometric shapes and lack of words might suggest this title is for the littlest of children (and it is) but the story and all the clues it contains makes it a winner for the higher end of this range. (PB, ages 4-6)

Go, Girls, Go! By Frances Gilbert - Girl power meets things that go in this colorful early picture book. Girls with diverse skin colors, hair colors, and hair textures drive, conduct, steer, speed, rev, fly, build, load, dump, and rocket in vehicles of many different types....A hit for girls who identify strongly with girlhood and love things that go. (PB, ages 4-6)

Red House, Tree House, Little Bitty Brown Mouse by Jane Godwin - A bit Each Peach Pear Plum, a bit Go, Dog, Go!, this read-aloud joy is deceptively simple yet packed with delights for the very young--a preschool standout deserving of modern-classic status. A little mouse makes her way around the world, and invites preschoolers along as she sets out: Red house / Blue house / Green house / Tree house! / See the tiny mouse in her little brown house? Seamless, simple, and inspiring, the rhyming story abounds in concepts for the very young, with a particular focus on colors, and a delightful search-and-find element on every spread--the intrepid mouse herself! (PB, ages 3-5)

Stormy: A Story About Finding a Forever Home by Guojing - In this heartwarming, wordless picture book that's perfect for dog lovers, a woman visits a park and discovers a pup hiding under a bench--scruffy, scared, and alone. With gentle coaxing, the woman tries to befriend the animal, but the dog is too scared to let her near. Day after day, the woman tries--and day after day, the dog runs away. With perseverance and patience--and help from an enticing tennis ball--a tentative friendship begins. But it's not until a raging storm forces the two together that a joyous and satisfying friendship takes hold. Guojing poignantly explores how trust doesn't always come easily, but how, over time, and with kindness and determination, forever love can grow. (PB, ages 4-7)

How Do You Dance? By Thyra Heder - There are so many ways to dance! You can jiggle or wiggle or stomp. You can bop or bounce or go completely nuts. You can dance at the market or the bus stop, with your fingers or your face. You can dance because you’re happy or even because you’re sad.  But, what’s the best way to dance?  Exactly how you want to! In How Do You Dance?, author-illustrator Thyra Heder explores dance in all of its creativity, humor, and—most of all—joy, in a picture-book celebration of personal expression that will inspire young and old readers alike to get up and get moving. (PB, ages 4-6)

The Balcony by Melissa Castrillon - The girl who stars in this nearly wordless tale by Castrillón (If I Had a Little Dream) has rosy cheeks and short dark hair and lives blissfully in the countryside. Castrillón’s lush spreads of her house and its surroundings recall early modern woodcuts and traditional folk art. Movement is everywhere: curtains sway, smoke curls. Then the girl’s parents tell her that her mother has gotten a new job and they must move to the city (“Goodbye,” hand-lettered text reads). Their new brick walk-up has a balcony, and from it the girl stares forlornly at the hills where she used to play. But she’s brought a pot with her, in which she plants seeds (“Hope,” the letters read). A large plant soon springs forth, growing by leaps and bounds, and slowly, the girl transforms her balcony into a wild garden. Tendrils and flowers reach the balcony below; neighbors rejoice. She spots a child with dark skin and curly hair across the way, and their families become friends. Castrillón offers riotous sprouting life through soft forms, stylized shapes, and bright colors. “Bloom where you’re planted,” the adage goes, and that’s just what this girl does. (PB, ages 4-7)

What Riley Wore by Elana K. Arnold - Gender-creative Riley knows just what to wear for every occasion during a busy week with family and friends in this sweet and timely picture book from Elana K. Arnold and Linda Davick. Riley wears whatever clothes feel right each day. On Monday, Riley feels shy and wears a bunny costume to school. On Tuesday, a scary trip to the dentist calls for a superhero cape. For a trip out with Otto and Oma, a ball gown is the perfect outfit. This charming picture book is a gem. (PB, ages 4-7)

Hum and Swish by Matt Myers - Sporting a blue-and-white bathing suit and wind-tossed hair, a young girl hovers near the ocean's edge. She collects interesting objects in her pail, constructs with rocks and sand, and fashions fanciful figures out of shells and seaweed. "Jamie hums. The waves swish," and time seems to stop, as the child immerses herself in her activities and imagination. When passersby repeatedly ask her what she is making, she responds, "I don't know," seeming to prefer the company of the sea, which "tells stories" but "doesn't ask questions." Finally, a woman arrives, carrying an easel and art supplies. When Jamie asks her what she is making, the newcomer answers, "I don't know yet." They work side by side in silent camaraderie until both finish their projects, and the two works of art, each unique and amazing, are finally revealed. Created with acrylic and oil paint, the full- and double-page illustrations depict a rock-strewn beach embraced by stacked cliffs in muted pastel hues and topped with lush evergreens. The sea shimmers with layer upon layer of deep blues, olive greens, and wave-crashing whites. Jamie's facial expressions convey her total absorption in her activities, and it's fun to watch the way she inventively incorporates different objects, both natural and found, into her endeavor. (PB, ages 4-7)

Lawrence in the Fall by Matthew Farina - When Lawrence the fox cub finds out that he needs to bring in a collection for show-and-tell in school, he is devastated, as he doesn't have anything to share. With the help of his papa, Lawrence visits the forest in search of something special. After a failed attempt to gather stones and getting separated from his dad in the rain, Lawrence comes across a tree shedding its leaves. Inspired by its magnificently colored foliage, the little fox finds his collection and, with some help from his papa, gathers an assortment of leaves for his class presentation. Once he shares his discovery in school, the entire class wants to gather leaves as well. Salati's cartoonish digitally colored pencil illustrations portray anthropomorphized animals (though only grown-up animals are depicted clothed). His spreads wonderfully capture the bond between Lawrence and his dad, the majesty of the autumnal forest, and the charming array of fallen leaves. (PB, ages 4-7)

I Love My Colorful Nails by Alicia Acosta - This is a story inspired by true events. Ben is a little boy, and he likes painting his nails. There’s no big reason to it, he just loves all the amazing colors on the tips of his fingers. Until one day, some of his schoolmates start laughing at him because of it. He suddenly feels sad, helpless, and doesn’t want to paint his nails anymore. Even when his father starts painting his nails to support Ben, the helplessness doesn’t go away. Why can’t boys paint their nails? A tale to understand that a kid’s joy has no boundaries. A simple story about a small revolution. (PB, ages 4-8)

The Farmer by Ximo Abadia - In the town, everyone is sleeping. But not Paul. Paul mows. Paul rakes. Paul sows. Paul draws water. And soon Paul has beautiful plants and flowers growing all around him. But one day, the water dries up. The sun beats down. Paul despairs. But thanks to his animal friends, and a bit of rain, help is on the way . . .Filled with vivid illustrations of Paul's hard work, the brilliant blooms that begin to grow, and the scorching sun that threatens to ruin his crops, The Farmer is a gentle story emphasizing the importance of perseverance-- and the value of good friends. (PB, ages 4-7)

Your First Day of Circus School by Tara Lazar - Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages! It's the most amazing day on earth: the first day of school! It can be a daunting prospect, but don't worry - your big brother can show you the ropes. Join a nervous boy and his enthusiastic older brother as they navigate the highs and lows of a first day at school . . . except this school is a big top, and the teacher is named Miss Stupendous, and the cafeteria can be a zoo, literally! It turns out, school isn't so scary when you can let off steam during recess (on a steam train) and walk on stilts to all of your classes. With a bit of help from family and some new friends, you'll make it to the top of the class in no time! This charming take on school readiness will delight new school-goers and take a bit of the fear out of those first-day jitters. (PB, ages 4-7)

Bear Came Along by Richard T. Morris - The dramatic cover, featuring a large hand-lettered title and a close-up of an alarmed-looking bear, sets the stage for a spirited adventure. Venturing out of his cave, a curious bear climbs out on a tree that breaks off and falls into a river. Starting what becomes a natural "log flume" ride, Bear initially moves slowly, picking up Froggy and the Turtles, then a string of various animals. Each creature gains specific knowledge through the quest. Bear doesn't know he was on an adventure until he finds Froggy. Froggy doesn't realize she has friends, until the Turtles join them, etc. Watercolor, ink, and gouache illustrations are well-designed to expand the text, using each animal's expressions and body language to convey their individual roles. Front and back end pages both act as maps of the river, but also provide an introduction and an epilogue to the tale. A dramatic spread, positioned from the animals' point of view, shows them on the edge of a precipice about to take the plunge. A page turn shifts to a facing view and all the creatures' wide-eyed expressions. One more turn pulls the focus out to long range, showcasing the river, the drop, and the animals perched precariously. As they fall, however, their expressions are mostly cheerful, then exuberant, ending with "Oh, what a ride!" (PB, ages 4-7)

Albert’s Very Unordinary Birthday by Daniel Gray-Barnett -  This fun and fresh intergenerational romp, filled with wonder, imagination and a magical spirit. The quirky retro-style illustrations are full of energy and contain loads of delightfully odd details that add humor and playfulness to the story. With a modern-day grandma who is exciting and full of life --- her grandson's kindred spirit --- this book offers a new twist on celebrating the special role a grandparent can play within a family. A perfect read-aloud, the story of Albert's adventures with the irresistible Grandma Z is sure to captivate all children and make any day extraordinary! (PB, ages 4-7)

Truman by Jean Reidy - After his best friend Sarah leaves for her first day of school, a tortoise named Truman goes on an adventure across the living room and learns to be brave in this thoughtful and heartwarming twist on a first experience story. Truman the tortoise lives with his Sarah, high above the taxis and the trash trucks and the number eleven bus, which travels south. He never worries about the world below…until one day, when Sarah straps on a big backpack and does something Truman has never seen before. She boards the bus! Truman waits for her to return. He waits. And waits. And waits. And when he can wait no longer, he knows what he must do. Even if it seems…impossible! (PB Ages 4-7)

Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard - With buoyant, heartfelt illustrations that show the diversity in Native America, the book tells the story of a post-colonial food, a shared tradition across the North American continent. Through this topic that includes the diversity of so many Native peoples in a single story, Maillard (Mekusukey Seminole) promotes unity and familiarity among nations. Fry bread is much more than food, as this book amply demonstrates. (PB, ages 5-7)

Saturday by Oge Mora - In this warm and tender story by the Caldecott Honor-winning creator of Thank You, Omu!, join a mother and daughter on an up-and-down journey that reminds them of what's best about Saturdays: precious time together. Today would be special. Today would be splendid. It was Saturday! But sometimes, the best plans don't work out exactly the way you expect....In this heartfelt and universal story, a mother and daughter look forward to their special Saturday routine together every single week. But this Saturday, one thing after another goes wrong--ruining storytime, salon time, picnic time, and the puppet show they'd been looking forward to going to all week. Mom is nearing a meltdown...until her loving daughter reminds her that being together is the most important thing of all. Author-artist Oge Mora's highly anticipated follow up to Caldecott Honor Thank You, Omu! features the same magnificently radiant artwork and celebration of sharing so beloved in her debut picture book. (PB, ages 5-9)

A Fox Found a Box by Ged Adamson - When his radio breaks, a little fox finds that the forest is filled with its own rhythm and music--drip drops and chirp chirps--in this picture book that gently introduces the concept of mindfulness. A little fox is digging for food when--OUCH! What is that?--the fox finds a box! When the fox brings the box home to his animal friends--and turns a funny-looking knob--the box starts to sing, and music fills the forest. Everyone agrees that it feels nice. Day and night, they listen to the box's songs, until, one day, it goes quiet. No matter what they try, they just can't get the box to sing again. The animals stop swishing their tails and flapping their wings.... But, in the silence, the fox hears the drip-drop rhythm of melting icicles and the thump thump of a beaver's tail and comes to realize music is everywhere. The noises of the forest and the animals build into a symphony, until, eventually, everyone joins together in a joyous dance party. (PB, ages 5-8)

The Not-So-Great Outdoors by Madeline Kloepper - A reluctant camper discovers that the (not-so) great outdoors can be just as exciting as screens and skyscrapers in this playful picture book celebration of the pleasures of unplugging and embracing nature. What's so great about the "great outdoors"? A grumpy urban kid begrudgingly accompanies her family on a summer camping trip, missing all the sublime sights right under her nose as she longs for the lights and stimulation of the city. But as she explores forests, lakes and mountains, and encounters bears, beavers and caribou, she slowly comes to realize that the simpler things are just as sparkly, that the sky is its own majestic light show, and the symphony is all around. The Not-So Great Outdoors is a humorous and richly imagined reminder of the beauty and magic that can be found away from the city and our screens. (PB, ages 5-9)

Look, It’s Raining by Mathieu Pierloot - It's Sunday, and Camille, having finished her school work, is feeling a little bored. Her parents are busy with their own projects, so she puts on her raincoat and goes outside to play. Suddenly she hears thunder roar, and shivers with excitement. She sticks out her tongue to catch raindrops. They taste like clouds. She notices a group of red ants zigzagging along a trail and asks "Where are you going?" The ants reply, "We're going to a show." Camille embarks on an adventure to discover what the show is about and the astounding beauty to be found by closely observing her surroundings. (PB, ages 5-8)

Maiden and Princess by Daniel Haack - A multiracial cast stars in this tale of a kingdom in search of a princess for its prince. A warrior maiden who fights alongside and is friends with the prince reluctantly attends the matchmaker ball with encouragement from her mother that she may find her perfect match, "the one," among the guests. She does indeed find the love of her life, not in the prince but in his sister, the princess. The vibrant, colorful costumes, makeup, and hairstyles of the characters as well as the opulent castle ballrooms effectively set a royal stage for the love story. The maiden's omnipresent ruby-red pet dragon adds a bit of fantastical whimsy to the otherwise earnest love story. (PB, ages 5-9)

Moth by Isabel Thomas - Thomas and Illustrator, Daniel Egnéus, show how adaptation and natural selection work in the evolutionary process in order to change a species. In Great Britain, when industry heavily relied on coal, environmental factors affected the survival rates of the peppered moth, because predators could now see what was once camouflaged. The text and illustrations are clear and move at a steady pace with a summary in the back matter, which solidifies the content. Despite the lack of source material, the value of this text is high. Children will understand how the environment can change an animal's survival rate and the passing of its genetic information. Moths as a subject do not usually garner high circulation rates, but if this book is placed in a display, the cover will attract attention. The illustrations throughout are mixed media, but the cover literally shines: silvery moths against a night sky is an attention grabber. (PB nonfiction, ages 5-9)

Cece Loves Science and Adventure by Kimberly Derting - Cece loves being an Adventure Girl almost as much as she loves science, which is why she can’t wait for her troop’s camping trip. Nature is full of science for Cece to explore! Along with her friends, her mom, and her dog, Einstein, Cece learns how to pitch a tent, set up a campsite, and document landmarks on the trail. Then thunder booms in the distance! Working together, the girls use meteorology and math to determine the location of the storm; engineering to build a shelter; and technology and math to calculate the length of the trek back to the campsite. After all that teamwork, Cece’s mom gives them an Adventure Girl surprise! (PB, ages 5-9)

River by Elisha Cooper - Caldecott Honor winner Elisha Cooper invites readers to grab their oars and board a canoe down a river exploration filled with adventure and beauty. In Cooper's flowing prose and stunning watercolor scenes, readers can follow a traveler's trek down the Hudson River as she and her canoe explore the wildlife, flora and fauna, and urban landscape at the river's edge. Through perilous weather and river rushes, the canoe and her captain survive and maneuver their way down the river back home. River is an outstanding introduction to seeing the world through the eyes of a young explorer, Maps and information about the Hudson River and famous landmarks are included in the back of the book. (PB nonfiction, ages 6-9)

Grandpa’s Top Threes by Wendy Meddour - A young boy’s original game coaxes a grieving grandpa to reconnect with the world in a touching intergenerational story of love and resilience. Henry loves talking with Grandpa, but Grandpa has stopped listening. Mom says to just give him time. But Henry wants to talk to Grandpa now. So Henry tries his favorite game: Top Threes. And something amazing happens: Grandpa starts talking again. Out of a tale of favorite sandwiches and zoo animals, outings and trains, emerges a moving story about love, loss, and the wonder of grannies and grandpas. (PB, ages 6-9)

The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander - The Newbery Award-winning author of THE CROSSOVER pens an ode to black American triumph and tribulation, with art from a two-time Caldecott Honoree. Originally performed for ESPN's The Undefeated, this poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world's greatest heroes. The text is also peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others, offering deeper insights into the accomplishments of the past, while bringing stark attention to the endurance and spirit of those surviving and thriving in the present. Robust back matter at the end provides valuable historical context and additional detail for those wishing to learn more. (PB, ages 5-12)

Rabbit & Bear: Rabbit’s Bad Habits - Book 1 by Julian Gough - When Bear wakes up early from her hibernation, she decides to build a snowman. Her grumpy neighbor, Rabbit, decides to build an even better one. Rabbit & Bear: Rabbit’s Bad Habits is full of laugh-out-loud moments and chronicles the forming of an unlikely friendship. With illustrations throughout, this book is perfect for middle grade readers and is sure to become a fan favorite on any kid’s bookshelf.  (ER, ages 5-8)

Penny and Her Sled by Kevin Henkes - Caldecott Medalist Kevin Henkes’s award-winning and bestselling mouse, Penny, stars in an irresistible story about anticipation, disappointment, and a brand-new sled. Told in five short chapters, Penny and Her Sled is perfect for reading alone, reading aloud, and sharing together. When Penny, a sweet and curious mouse, gets a new sled, she can’t wait to use it. But there’s one big problem—there’s no snow! Patiently, Penny waits and watches for the snow to appear. She puts on her scarf and hat. She sleeps with her mittens. Maybe if she’s ready, the snow will finally come. But day after day, the snow does not arrive. Finally, Penny decides she will use her sled for other things—it’s too wonderful not to! With a little imagination, the sled becomes a bridge for her glass animals to cross. It becomes a bed for her doll, Rose. It becomes a magic carpet that takes Penny and Rose on adventures all around the world. And as Penny waits for a snowfall that may never appear, she learns all about the power of patience, imagination, play . . . and spring! Told in five short chapters, and with an emphasis on family and patience, Penny and Her Sled is the perfect choice for emerging readers and for family sharing. (ER, ages 4-8)

Frank and Bean by Jamie Michalak - When the introspective Frank meets the gregarious Bean, can they find a way to make beautiful music together? Dry wit and hilarious illustrations introduce a new unlikely pair. Frank likes peace and quiet. He likes his tent, his pencil, and writing in his secret notebook. Bean likes noise. He likes his bus, his trumpet — toot, toot! — and making music. Loud music. But Bean is missing something: he does not have words. What will happen if Frank shares his words with Bean? With a laugh-out-loud narrative by Jamie Michalak, author of the Joe and Sparky series, and Bob Kolar’s bright, graphic, comical illustrations, this fresh and funny story will go down easy for beginning readers and young listeners alike. (ER, ages 4-8)

Anna Banana and the Chocolate Explosion by Dominique Roques - Anna Banana is at it again! The lovable tyrant from Sleep Tight, Anna Banana! is up to no good, and so are all of her beloved stuffed animals. In this adorable sequel to the 2014 picture book, Anna Banana and her stuffed pals set out to make a chocolate cake...and end up making a big, big, big mess. With all the charm and whimsy that won reader's hearts in the first book of the series, Anna Banana and the Chocolate Explosion will give Anna Banana's fans more of what they love...and win over new readers. (GN, ages 5-8)

Jada Jones: Dancing Queen by Kelly Starling Lyons - When the student council decides to host a dance as their next fundraiser, Jada feels nervous and queasy. She's excited to give back, but she can't dance! Still, she's determined to help the cause and show she cares. She practices her moves, gets help from friends, and even does research at the library to prepare--but will it be enough to help her create change in her community? (ER, ages 5-8)

Dory Fantasmagory: Tiny Tough by Abby Hanlon - The fifth adventure in the enormously popular Dory Fantasmagory series takes on the tried-and-true theme of childhood friendships, and turns it on its head, Dory-style. When her big sister Violet has friend trouble at school, Dory tries to come to her rescue. But, of course, Dory's active imagination takes over, and Dory's suddenly sure that Violet's problem involves pirates--and Violet's lost friendship bracelet is hidden treasure. When Dory sets sail to recover the treasure, she has to navigate rocky waters without her imaginary friend Mary, who has gone off on vacation with an exciting new friend of her own. There's a ton of treasure in Dory's fifth adventure as Dory mixes in pirates, pals (real and make-believe), and her own imagination into one wild and wet free-for-all. (ECB, ages 5-8)

Desmond Cole, Ghost Patrol: The Sleepwalking Snowman by A.J. Low - It’s Desmond and Andres versus a sneaky snowman in the seventh book of the Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol series! There’s snow in the air and a sneaky snowman on the loose! When one of the local kids builds the perfect snowman, it comes to life…and not in a Frosty, sing-song kind of way. Now it’s up to Desmond and Andres to chill this overgrown snowball out before the whole town gets frozen. With easy-to-read language and illustrations on almost every page, the Desmond Cole Ghost Patrol chapter books are perfect for emerging readers. (ECB, ages 6-8)

The Pencil by Susan Avingaq - Susan and her sister, Rebecca, love watching their mother write letters to people in other camps. Their mother has one precious pencil, and she keeps it safe in her box for special things. One afternoon, their mother leaves the iglu to help a neighbour, and Susan, Rebecca, and their brother Peter are left with their father. They play all their regular games but are soon out of things to do―until their father brings out the pencil! As Susan draws and draws, the pencil grows shorter and shorter. What will their mother think when she comes home? Based on author Susan Avingaq’s childhood memories of growing up in an iglu, this charming story introduces young readers to the idea of using things wisely. (PB, ages 6-9)

A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech that Inspired a Nation by Barry Wittenstein - Martin Luther King, Jr. was once asked if the hardest part of preaching was knowing where to begin. No, he said. The hardest part is knowing where to end. "It's terrible to be circling up there without a place to land." Finding this place to land was what Martin Luther King, Jr. struggled with, alongside advisors and fellow speech writers, in the Willard Hotel the night before the March on Washington, where he gave his historic "I Have a Dream" speech. But those famous words were never intended to be heard on that day, not even written down for that day, not even once. Barry Wittenstein teams up with legendary illustrator Jerry Pinkney to tell the story of how, against all odds, Martin found his place to land. (PB, ages 7-10)

Zanzibar by Catharina Valckx - When Achille LeBlab, a reporter/lizard who works at the local newspaper stops by Zanzibar's house looking for an incredible story, the crow questions if there is anything that makes him truly special. He makes fantastic omelets, but that just isn't incredible enough for Achille. Then Zanzibar has an idea: he will go to the desert and lift a camel with just a single wing. Along the way, Zanzibar makes some new friends and realizes that the fame of being in the newspaper may not be as important as he once thought. Valckx's story, which is translated from French, is a tale about finding oneself while trying to achieve goals. Two-tone orange and black illustrations throughout are reminiscent of those found in Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows or Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad' books. (CB, ages 7-10)

Ben Braver and the Incredible Exploding Kid by Marcus Emerson - The Super Life of Ben Braver: The Incredible Exploding Kid is jam-packed with art and comic strips. It's another wacky adventure from Marcus Emerson, the author behind the hit Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja series. Even though Ben Braver saved Kepler Academy from total destruction last year, he knows he still doesn't fit in at his secret middle school for kids with special abilities. Ben's been hiding his lack of super skills, but it's getting harder as his classmates' powers are getting stronger. Will Ben be able to power up before his enemies at school take him down? And will he risk everything to become the ultimate superhero? (CB, ages 7-10)

Cassandra Steps Out: Book 1 (Cassandra, Animal Psychic series) by Isabelle Bottier - Cassandra has a gift. Animals can show her what they're thinking. And she's done keeping her talent a secret. In the first volume of the Cassandra: Animal Psychic series, Cassandra sets out to help pets and their people. The trouble is, other parts of Cassandra's life are changing too. Her mom has a boyfriend she really likes, but his daughter can't stand Cassandra. And Cassandra's best friend is about to leave town. Not even her trusty dog Miss Dolly can make things feel okay. When Cassandra gets on the trail of a lost cat, will she be able to help its owners? Or will her first case be a flop? (GN, ages 7-10

AstroNuts Mission One: The Plant Planet by Jon Sciescka - A laugh-out-loud tale packed with science, adventure, and a whole lot of fun: AstroWolf, LaserShark, SmartHawk, and StinkBug are animals that have been hybridized to find other planets for humans to live on once we've ruined Earth. So off they rocket to the Plant Planet! Will that planet support human life? Or do Plant Planet's inhabitants have a more sinister plan? AstroNuts Mission One is a can't-put-it-down page-turner for reluctant readers and fans ready to blast past Wimpy Kid. (CB, ages 7-10)

Eclipse Chaser: Science in the Moon’s Shadow by Ilima Lewis - On August 21, 2017, much of America stood still and looked up as a wide swath of the country experienced totality—a full solar eclipse. Even in areas outside the path of totality, people watched in awe as the moon cast its shadow on the sun. For most, this was simply a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Not so for Shadia Habbal, who travels the world in search of solar eclipses in order to study the sun’s corona. Solar wind and storms originating in the corona can have big effects on our planet. They can disrupt technology, expose aircraft to radiation, and even influence global climate change. In the months leading up to the 2017 eclipse, Shadia assembles a team of scientists to set up camp with her in Mitchell, Oregon. Years earlier, a long, expensive trip to Indonesia to study an eclipse failed when the skies remained too cloudy to see it. Shadia is determined to have the 2017 eclipse be a success. Will the computers fail? Will smoke from nearby fires change direction? Will the cloudy skies clear in time? Readers will be on the edge of their seats as they count down the months, days, hours, and finally minutes until totality. (Nonfiction, ages 7-12)

The Runaways by Ulf Stark - This soon-to-be classic tale is an intergenerational adventure filled with warmth and humor from one of the world's great writers for children. Grandpa hates being in hospital. He thinks only of the place he was happiest―the island where he used to live. He wants to go back, but they won't let him out of the hospital. So Gottfried Junior, his namesake, helps Grandpa make a plan to run away. They think of everything. Their deception is so complete that when Gottfried Junior finally decides to tell the truth, no one believes him. (CB, ages 7-10)

Sam Wu is Not Afraid of the Dark by Katie and Kevin Tsang - He’s faced ghosts, sharks, and now the DARK! This third book in the humorous series takes Sam Wu on a brand-new adventure: camping. Is he prepared for the scariest thing he may ever encounter? Sam Wu is NOT afraid of the dark—but proving how brave you are is hard work. Especially when Sam’s about to face his greatest challenge yet: a camping trip in the woods with his best friend, Bernard, Bernard’s dad, and Sam’s annoying cousin from Hong Kong. That means confronting all kinds of terrifying things, like grizzly bears, vampire bats, werewolves, aliens, and most horrible of all . . . Ralph ZInkerman, the worst person in the WHOLE UNIVERSE! But when something strange starts haunting the woods, can Sam and his crew band together to become Masters of the Dark? And could they even have FUN? (CB, ages 7-10)

The Marvelous Magic of Miss Mabel by Natasha Lowe - The morning Nora Ratcliff finds a baby in the flowerpot on her front steps her life changes forever. She had always wanted a child, but after her husband passed away, Nora never thought it would be possible. She decides to name her miracle flowerpot child Mabel, and as Mabel grew up, she showed a distinct talent for magic. When Mabel is accepted to the prestigious witch school, Ruthersfield Academy, she excels at the curriculum, especially magic, but is constantly in trouble for experimenting and inventing her own potions. One day she is asked to write a paper on the origin of her magical roots and discovers the truth about her birth after a mean classmate blurts out what everyone seems to know—except Mabel. Mabel is shocked but the revelation does explain a lot. In an act of rebellion, Mabel changes her name to Magnolia and sets out to learn why she was left in the flowerpot and who her birth family might be. Will Mabel find the answers she’s looking for—or will she discover that families are people who love and look out for each other—and that’s most important of all. (CB, ages 8-12

Stargazing by Jen Wang - Moon is everything Christine isn't. She’s confident, impulsive, artistic . . . and though they both grew up in the same Chinese-American suburb, Moon is somehow unlike anyone Christine has ever known. But after Moon moves in next door, these unlikely friends are soon best friends, sharing their favorite music videos and painting their toenails when Christine's strict parents aren't around. Moon even tells Christine her deepest secret: that she has visions, sometimes, of celestial beings who speak to her from the stars. Who reassure her that earth isn't where she really belongs. Moon's visions have an all-too-earthly root, however, and soon Christine's best friend is in the hospital, fighting for her life. Can Christine be the friend Moon needs, now, when the sky is falling? Jen Wang draws on her childhood to paint a deeply personal yet wholly relatable friendship story that’s at turns joyful, heart-wrenching, and full of hope. (GN, ages 8-12)

Tito the Bonecrusher by Melissa Thomson - Oliver "Spaghetti-O" Jones's dad is about to be jailed for a crime he didn't commit, and Oliver believes the only way to save him is with the help of his favorite lucha-libre wrestler turned action star, Tito the Bonecrusher. Together with his best friend, Brianna (a.k.a. "Brain"), and their new ally Paul "Popcorn" Robards, Oliver devises a madcap plan to spring his dad from a Florida correctional facility. Heartwarming and hilarious, this book looks at what it takes to be a hero . . . and what happens when you realize that saving the day might not always be possible. (CB, ages 7-11)

Roll with It by Jamie Sumner - Ellie’s a girl who tells it like it is. That surprises some people, who see a kid in a wheelchair and think she’s going to be all sunshine and cuddles. The thing is, Ellie has big dreams: She might be eating Stouffer’s for dinner, but one day she’s going to be a professional baker. If she’s not writing fan letters to her favorite celebrity chefs, she’s practicing recipes on her well-meaning, if overworked, mother. But when Ellie and her mom move so they can help take care of her ailing grandpa, Ellie has to start all over again in a new town at a new school. Except she’s not just the new kid—she’s the new kid in the wheelchair who lives in the trailer park on the wrong side of town. It all feels like one challenge too many, until Ellie starts to make her first-ever friends. Now she just has to convince her mom that this town might just be the best thing that ever happened to them! (CB, ages 9-12)

Cog by Kevin van Eekhout  - Wall-E meets The Wild Robot in this middle grade instant classic about five robots on a mission to rescue their inventor from the corporation that controls them all. Cog looks like a normal twelve-year-old boy. But his name is short for “cognitive development,” and he was built to learn. But after an accident leaves him damaged, Cog wakes up in an unknown lab—and Gina, the scientist who created and cared for him, is nowhere to be found. Surrounded by scientists who want to study him and remove his brain, Cog recruits four robot accomplices for a mission to find her. Cog, ADA, Proto, Trashbot, and Car’s journey will likely involve much cognitive development in the form of mistakes, but Cog is willing to risk everything to find his way back to Gina. (CB, ages 9-12)

Midsummer’s Mayhem by Rajani LaRocca - Eleven-year-old Mimi Mackson comes from a big Indian American family: Dad's a renowned food writer, Mom's a successful businesswoman, and her three older siblings all have their own respective accomplishments. It's easy to feel invisible in such an impressive family, but Mimi's dream of proving she's not the least-talented member of her family seems possible when she discovers a contest at the new bakery in town. Plus, it'll start her on the path to becoming a celebrity chef like her culinary idol, Puffy Fay. But when Mimi's dad returns from a business trip, he's mysteriously lost his highly honed sense of taste. Without his help, Mimi will never be able to bake something impressive enough to propel her to gastronomic fame. Drawn into the woods behind her house by a strangely familiar song, Mimi meets Vik, a boy who brings her to parts of the forest she's never seen. Who knew there were banyan trees and wild boars in Massachusetts? Together they discover exotic ingredients and bake them into delectable and enchanting treats. (CB, ages 9-12)

Just South of Home by Karen Strong - Twelve-year-old Sarah is finally in charge. At last, she can spend her summer months reading her favorite science books and bossing around her younger brother, Ellis, instead of being worked to the bone by their overly strict grandmother, Mrs. Greene. But when their cousin, Janie arrives for a visit, Sarah’s plans are completely squashed. Janie has a knack for getting into trouble and asks Sarah to take her to Creek Church: a landmark of their small town that she heard was haunted. It’s also off-limits. Janie’s sticky fingers lead Sarah, Ellis, and his best friend, Jasper, to uncover a deep-seated part of the town’s past. With a bit of luck, this foursome will heal the place they call home and the people within it they call family. (CB, ages 9-12)

Gregor the Overlander series (Books 1-5) by Suzanne Collins - When Gregor follows his little sister through a grate in the laundry room of their New York apartment building, he hurtles into the dark Underland beneath the city. There, a conflict is brewing between the humans and the giant creatures that live below. Gregor must find his place in the frightening prophecies he encounters, the strength to protect his family, and the courage to stand up against an army of giant rats. Chock full of sword-fighting, flying bats, family bonding, and finding oneself, this series of books will pump up the adrenaline from start to finish. (CB, ages 8-12)

Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds - BFFs T.J. and Jasmine find their yearslong friendship getting them through parental separation, illness, and foster care. A group of four, all children of cancer survivors, has been brought together by a school counselor. A female skateboarder is the target of a bully—to the relief of his usual victim. A teen with the signs of OCD meets a street musician who changes her outlook. Two ardent gamers are caught up in the confusion of sexual questioning, and there’s an odd couple of friends whose difference in size is no barrier to their bond. A teen with a fear of dogs devises an elaborate plan to get past his neighbor’s new pet, and the class clown tries to find a way to make her overworked mother laugh. Three boys work to make their friend presentable enough to tell a classmate that he likes her. An accident sustained by the school crossing guard causes her son significant anxiety. There are connections among some of the stories: places, people, incidents. However, each story has its own center, and readers learn a great deal about each character in just a few lines. Reynolds’ gift for capturing the voices and humanity of urban teens is on full display. (CB, ages 9-12)