Grades 6, 7, and 8

 

Birthday Gift Books

Fiction Selections:

 

Black Boy Joy edited by Kwame Mbalia (Delacorte Press, $16.99) From seventeen acclaimed Black male and nonbinary authors comes a vibrant collection of stories, comics, and poems about the power of joy and the wonders of Black boyhood.

 

Black Brother, Black Brother written by Jewell Parker Rhodes (Little, Brown and Company, $16.99) Donte is one of the few black boys at Middlefield Prep. Most of the students don't look like him and don't like him either. Most everyone makes it clear they wish he were more like his ligher-skinned brother.  When he is bullied and framed by the captain of the fencing team he is suspended unjustly from school. Donte Ellison studies fencing with a former champion, hoping to put the racist fencing team captain in his place.

 

The Guggenheim Mystery written by Robin Stevens (Alfred A. Knopf, $16.99) While visiting their cousin Salim in New York City, Ted and Kat investigate the theft of a famous painting from the Guggenheim Museum for which Salim's mother is the prime suspect. Ultimately, it's up to Ted, whose brain works in its own unique way, to find the key to the mystery. A sequel to The London Eye Mystery written by Siobhan Dowd.

 

Hazel Bly and the Deep Blue Sea written by Ashley Herring Blake (Little, Brown and Company, $16.99) For two years, twelve-year-old Hazel has coped with her Mum's accidental death by overprotecting her sister and Mama, but when Mama reconnects with her first love, roles begin to shift.

 

Out Of Left Field written by Ellen Klages (Viking, $16.99) In 1957, inspired by what she is learning about civil rights and armed with knowledge of female ball players, ten-year-old Katy Gordon fights to be allowed to play Little League baseball. The book includes brief, illustrated biographies of female baseball players, historical note, glossary, and recommended reading.

 

Pony written by R.J. Palacio (Alfred A. Knopf, $17.99) Twelve-year-old Silas is awoken in the dead of night by three menacing horsemen who take his father away. Silas is left shaken, scared, and alone, except for the presence of his companion, Mittenwool...who happens to be a ghost. When a pony shows up at his door, Silas makes the courageous decision to leave his home and embark on a perilous journey to find his father. Along the way, he will face his fears to unlock the secrets of his past and explore the unfathomable mysteries of the world around him. R. J. Palacio spins a harrowing yet distinctly beautiful coming-of-age story about the power of love and the ties that bind us across distance and time. With the poignant depth of War Horse and the singular voice of True Grit, this is one of those rare books poised to become an instant classic for readers of all ages.

 

Red, White, and Whole written by Rajani LaRocca (Quill Tree Books, $16.99) Reha feels torn between two worlds: school, where she's the only Indian American student, and home, with her family's traditions and holidays. But Reha's parents don't understand why she's conflicted--they only notice when Reha doesn't meet their strict expectations. Reha feels disconnected from her mother, or Amma, although their names are linked--Reha means "star" and Punam means "moon"--but they are a universe apart. Then Reha finds out that her Amma is sick. Really sick. Reha, who dreams of becoming a doctor even though she can't stomach the sight of blood, is determined to make her Amma well again. She'll be the perfect daughter, if it means saving her Amma's life.

 

The Rose Legacy written by Jessica Day George (Bloomsbury Books, $16.99) Orphaned Anthea Cross hopes to finally find a home with her long-lost uncle, but she soon learns that not only does he secretly breed forbidden horses, but that she can communicate with them.

 

Starfish written by Lisa Fipps (Nancy Paulsen Books, $17.99) Bullied and shamed her whole life for being fat, twelve-year-old Ellie finally gains the confidence to stand up for herself, with the help of some wonderful new allies.

 

Village of Scoundrels: Based on A True Story of Courage During WWII written by Margi Preus (Amulet Books, $16.99) In the 1940s, remote Les Lauzes, France, houses Jews, unregistered foreigners, forgers, and others who take great risks to shelter refugees and smuggle them to safety in Switzerland.

 

The Way Back written by Gavriel Savit (Alfred A. Knopf, $18.99) A historical fantasy that follows Eastern European teens Yehuda and Bluma on a journey through the Far Country, the Jewish land of the dead. For the people of Tupik, a tiny village in Eastern Europe, demons are everywhere: dancing on the rooftops in the darkness of midnight, congregating in the trees, even reaching out to try and steal away the living. The demons have a land of their own: a Far Country, governed by demonic lords and ladies. When the Angel of Death comes strolling through the little shtetl of Tupik one night, Yehuda Leib and Blume will be sent spinning off on a journey through the Far Country. There they will make pacts with ancient demons, declare war on Death himself, and maybe-- just maybe-- find a way to make it back alive.

 

Wild Blues written by Beth Kephart (Atheneum Books, $17.99) Thirteen-year-old Lizzie relates, through a victim statement, her harrowing journey through the Adirondacks seeking her disabled friend, Matias, who was kidnapped by escaped convicts.

 

 

Non-Fiction Selections:

 

Almost American Girl written and illustrated by Robin Ha (Balzer + Bray, $22.99) A powerful and moving teen graphic novel memoir about immigration, belonging, and how arts can save a life--perfect for fans of American Born Chinese and Hey, Kiddo. For as long as she can remember, it's been Robin and her mom against the world. Growing up as the only child of a single mother in Seoul, Korea, wasn't always easy, but it has bonded them fiercely together. So when a vacation to visit friends in Huntsville, Alabama, unexpectedly becomes a permanent relocation--following her mother's announcement that she's getting married--Robin is devastated. Overnight, her life changes. She is dropped into a new school where she doesn't understand the language and struggles to keep up. She is completely cut off from her friends in Seoul and has no access to her beloved comics. At home, she doesn't fit in with her new stepfamily, and worst of all, she is furious with the one person she is closest to--her mother. Then one day Robin's mother enrolls her in a local comic drawing class, which opens the window to a future Robin could never have imagined.

 

Before They Were Artists: Famous Illustrators As Kids written and illustrated by Elizabeth Haidle (Etch/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99) Stylish illustrations paired with small vignettes and anecdotes from the artists' early lives helps illuminate the hard work, triumphs, failures, and inspiration that helped forge their successful careers. This book brings to life the childhood experiences of several beloved artists and illustrators such as Wanda Gág, Maurice Sendak, and Jerry Pinkney.

 

Chance: Escape From The Holocaust written and illustrated by Uri Shulevitz (Farrar Straus Giroux, $19.99)  From a picture book master this is the telling of a harrowing, heartrending, illustrated account of the author's childhood escape from the terrors of war. It starts in September 1939, as German bombs started falling on Warsaw. The author recounts the lucky breaks and setbacks that happened to him and his parents along the way.

 

Earth Squad: 50 People Who Are Saving the Planet written by Alexandra Zissu, illustrated by Nhung Lê (Running Press, $17.99) 50 people who are saving the planet---Meet the Earth Squad: Will Allen, Anohni, Yann Arthus-Bertrand, Inka Saara Arttijeff, David Attenborough, Precious Brady-Davis, Erin Brockovich, Vicki Buck, Rachel Carson, Yvon Chouinard, Opha Pauline Dube, Lamya Essemlali, Christiana Figueres, Eileen Fisher, Eunice Newton Foote, Wan Gang, Al Gore, James Hansen, Vanessa Hauc, Hilda Heine, Chai Jing, Alexandra Koroleva, Winona LaDuke, Dr. Phil Landrigan, Annie Leonard, Wangari Maathai, Xiuhtezcatl Martinez, Gina McCarthy, William McDonough, Bill McKibben, Angela Merkel, Charles Moore, Margaret "Mardy" Murie, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Gabriel Orozco, Carlo Petrini, Mark Ruffalo, Pete Seeger, Peggy Shepard, Vandana Shiva, Marina Silva, Sandra Steingraber, David Suzuki, Greta Thunberg, Sarah Toumi, The Trimates, Alexandria Villaseñor, Alice Waters, Charles Windsor, Ken Yeang.

 

Lifting As We Climb written by Evette Dionne (Viking, $19.99) For African American women, the fight for the right to vote was only one battle. An eye-opening book that tells the important, overlooked story of black women as a force in the suffrage movement--when fellow suffragists did not accept them as equal partners in the struggle.

 

The Outdoor Scientist: The Wonder of Observing the Natural World written by Temple Grandin (Philomel Books, $18.99) Dr. Temple Grandin introduces young readers to geologists, astrophysicists, oceanographers, and many other scientists through a series of projects to understand the world around them. 

 

Votes for Women! American Suffragists and the Battle for the Ballot written by Winifred Conkling (Algonquin, $19.95) On August 18, 1920 American women won the right to vote when the 19th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified.