Grades 3, 4, and 5


Birthday Gift Books

Fiction Selections:

The following titles are novels or sophisticated picture books that span a wide range of reading abilities with content that should be of interest to the readers in these grades.


Amari and the Night Brothers written by B.B. Alston (Balzer + Bray, $17.99) Thirteen-year-old Amari, a poor Black girl from the projects, gets an invitation from her missing brother to join the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs and join in the fight against an evil magician.


Bat and the End of Everything written by Elana K. Arnold (Walden Pond Press, $16.99) Bat grows anxious as his third-grade year comes to an end and the time to release his pet skunk, Thor, out into the wild approaches.


The Comeback written by E.L.Shen (Farrar Straus Giroux, $16.99) Twelve-year-old Maxine Chen dreams of being a figure skating champion, but a remarkably talented new girl at the arena and a racist classmate at school test her resolve


Dear Sweet Pea written by Julie Murphy (Balzer + Bray, $16.99) Thirteen-year-old Patricia, widely known as Sweet Pea, navigates her parents' unconventional divorce and finds herself in the unlikely role of her town's advice columnist.


Fly On the Wall written by Remy Lai (Henry Holt and Company, $16.99) Though Henry Khoo is twelve years old, he's still treated like a baby. He's forbidden from going anywhere without his sister/chaperone/bodyguard. And he definitely CAN'T take a journey halfway around the world all by himself! But that's exactly his plan. After his family's annual trip to visit his father in Singapore is canceled, Henry decides he doesn't want to be cooped up at home with his overprotective family and BFF turned NRFF (Not Really Friend Forever). Plus, he's hiding a your-life-is-over-if-you're-caught secret: He's the creator of an anonymous gossip cartoon, and he's on the verge of getting caught. Determined to prove his independence and avoid punishment for his crimes, Henry embarks on the greatest adventure everrr... hoping it won't turn into the greatest disaster ever.


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.


Here in the Real World written by Sara Pennypacker (Balzer + Bray, $17.99) Immersing himself in a fantasy world of knights and chivalry, introverted Ware is sent to a summer camp designed around social interactions and begins building a castle-like private space while clashing with a fellow misfit.


How To Win A Slime War written by Mae Respicio (Wendy Lamb Books, $16.99) After moving to Sacramento with his Dad to take over his grandparent's Filipino market, sixth-grader Alex seeks popularity by selling homemade slime at school, while his father insists he join a soccer team. He ends up in slime competition with another student. It will be a sticky race to the finish to see who ends up on top. The author explores the fun and hard work of being an entrepreneur while navigating family and expectations and dicovering what it means to win.


Jada Sly, Artist and Spy written by Sherri Winston (Little, Brown and Company, $16.99) Jada Sly, artist and spy with a flair for all things French, is on a mission to find her missing mom, who she believes was also a spy.


Lola Benko, Treasure Hunter written by Beth McMullen (Aladdin, $17.99) Sent to a private school after multiple brushes with the law, twelve-year-old Lola Benko recruits classmates to help find her archaeologist father, who disappeared while seeking a powerful mythical stone.


Maybe Maybe Marisol Rainey written and illustrated by Erin Entrada Kelly (Greenwillow Books, $16.99) Marisol, who has a big imagination and likes to name inanimate objects, has a tree in her backyard named Peppina...but she's way too scared to climb it. Will Marisol find the courage to climb Peppina? Maybe.


Pax Journey Home written by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Jon Klassen (Balzer & Bray, $17.99) It has been a year since newly orphaned Peter and his pet fox Pax, now a protective father, have seen each other, but their paths cross again when Pax's kit falls desperately ill forcing him to turn to the one human he knows he can trust.


Skunk and Badger written by Amy Timberlake, illustrated by Jon Klassen (Algonquin Young Readers, $18.95) The last thing Badger wants is a roommate, and certainly not Skunk, but since the house does not belong to him he does not have a choice; and soon everything in Badger's quiet and ordered life studying rocks is turned upside down (and where on earth did all the chickens come from)--but after he drives Skunk and his chickens away, Badger starts to miss his roommate and sets out to find him and make amends.


A Soft Place to Land written by Janae Marks (Katherine Tegen Books, $16.99) Twelve-year old Joy dreams of writing music for the movies, but first she has to survive her family's move into a small apartment when her father loses his job.


Some Places More Than Others written by Renée Watson (Bloomsbury Children's Books, $16.99) Amara visits her father's family in Harlem for her twelfth birthday, hoping to better understand her family and herself, but New York City is not what she expected.


The Unteachables written by Gordon Korman (Balzer & Bray, $17.99) Told in alternating voices, the teacher and students in room 117 find their lives changed over the course of a school year.


Walking With Miss Millie written by Tamara Bundy (Nancy Paulsen Books, $16.99) After moving with her mother and deaf brother to Grandma's small Georgia town in the 1960s, Alice copes with feelings of isolation by befriending the elderly black woman who lives next door.


Willodeen written by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Charles Santoso (Feiwel and Friends, $16.99) When the annual migration of hummingbears, a source of local pride and income, dwindles and no one knows why, Willodeen, armed with a magical birthday gift, speaks up for the animals she loves and vows to uncover this mystery.


Non-Fiction Selections:


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.


Classified: The Secret Career of Mary Golda Ross, Cherokee Aerospace Engineer written by Traci Sorell, illustrated by Natasha Donovan (Millbrook Press, $19.99) Mary Golda Ross worked on many classified projects as a twentieth-century aerospace engineer and much of what she did remains a secret to this day. Her work was of tremendous importance to the US space program and she broke barriers as a Cherokee woman in a male-dominated field. Discover the story of how a math-loving girl from northeast Oklahoma blazed a trail for herself and others. Find out how her passion for math and the Cherokee values she was raised with shaped her life and work


Crossings: Extraordinary Structures for Extraordinary Animals written by Katy S. Duffield, illustrated by Mike Orodán (Beach Lane Books, $18.99) How did the elephant cross the road? In Kenya, there is an elephant underpass. How did the red crab cross the road? In Australia they use a special bridge that leads to the Indian Ocean. All over the world people help animals by building special places where animals can pass over, under, across and through the roadways that people have built. A non-fiction exploration of animal crossings built by animal lovers around the world to help animals cross over, under, around, and through human construction.


Cubs in the Tub: The True Story of the Bronx Zoo's First Woman Zookeeper written by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Julie Downing (Neal Porter Books, $18.99) A picture book biography about Helen Martini. Readers are told the story of Helen Martini's care for lion and tiger cubs, and her emergence as the Bronx Zoo's first woman zookeeper.


Hello, Neighbor!: The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers written and illustrated by Matthew Cordell (Neal Porter Books, $18.99) A picture book biography about Mister Rogers. How was Mister Rogers' Neighborhood created, and who was the man that started it all? This moving and informative picture book explores the history of this acclaimed television show and its inspiring creator. Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was groundbreaking in its own quiet, generous way. It introduced art, professions, food and even highlighted difficult subjects, like losing a loved one and divorce. This information was delivered both by live performers, like Fred Rogers himself and through a lively cast of puppets who lived in the land of make believe. Backmatter includes a short biography of Fred Rogers as well as exclusively published archival photos provided by Fred Rogers Productions, and an essay from the author. This is the perfect picture book for all who appreciate the power and beauty of Fred's mission. Thoroughly illustrated with lively and captivating drawings, by Caldecott-winning author and illustrator Matthew Cordell, Hello, Neighbor! captures the spirit of the beloved television show.


Honeybee: The Busy Life of Apis Mellifera written by Candace Fleming, illustrated by Eric Rohmann (Neal Porter Books, $18.99) Describes the life cycle of the hard-working honeybee. Follow along as she cleans the hive, tends to larvae and the queen, builds wax comb, and guards the hive from invaders before embarking on her first flight to search for nectar.


Lost Cities written and illustrated by Giles Laroche (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $17.99) Who lived in our world's ancient places? How did they survive? Travel back to the lost cities of Babylon, Karnak, Herculaneum, Mesa Verde, Angkor Wat, Great Zimbabwe, Easter Island (or Rapa Nui), Tenochtitlan, Machu Picchu, Fatehpur Sikri, Jamestown, Caughnawaga, and Akrotiri. See why these civilizations were lost--and how they were found!


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.


Plant, Cook, Eat!: A Children's Cookbook written by Joe Archer and Caroline Craig (Charlesbridge, $18.99) For beginners and green-thumbed foodies, this unusually all-inclusive garden-to-kitchen cookbook is part lesson in gardening and part collection of healthy, delicious, kid-friendly recipes.


The Power of Her Pen written by Lesa Cline-ransome, illustrated by John Parra (Simon & Schuster, $17.99)  A picture book biography about Ethel L. Payne. She always had an ear for stories. Seeking truth, justice, and equality, Ethel followed stories from her school newspaper in Chicago to Japan during World War II. It even led her to the White House briefing room, where she broke barriers as one of the first black journalists. Ethel wasn't afraid to ask the tough questions of presidents, elected officials, or any one else in charge, earning her the title "First Lady of the Black Press." Fearless and determined, Ethel L. Payne shined a light on the darkest moments in history, and her ear for stories sought answers to the questions that mattered most in the fight for civil rights.


Pretty Tricky: The Sneaky Way Plants Survive written by Etta Kaner, illustrated by Ashley Barron (Owlkids Books, $19.95) Ever thought of plants as sneaky or tricky? Probably not. But after reading this book, you might think differently. Readers are introduced to variety of plants from around the world that use trickery to survive and thrive. From the shape-changing Boquila vine that avoids the threat of being eaten by blending in with its host plant; to the pungent (to humans) Carrion flower that uses a rotten meat smell to lure the flies that play an important role in its pollination; to the large Nepenthes rajah, a pitcher plant that fools tree shrews into using it as a toilet as a way of acquiring the much-needed nutrients from their waste, Pretty Tricky is a fascinating guide to some of the most interesting, unusual, and often sneaky plants. Clearly written in easy-to-absorb short blocks of text (any scientific language is defined within the text), the book is organized into three main sections that cover the many amazing adaptations plants use to defend themselves, to reproduce, and to acquire food. Each spread includes a fact bubble that identifies where the focus plants grow in the world. End matter includes additional explanations about how plants make seeds and how plants make food. An index is also included. Ashley Barron's gorgeous, detailed, and dimensional illustrations give every spread a dynamic feel, often as though the illustrations themselves are growing right out of the pages of the book.


A Ride To Remember: A Civil Rights Story written by Sharon Langley and Amy Nathan, illustrated by Floyd Cooper (Abrams Books for Young Readers, $18.99) When Sharon Langley was born, amusement parks were segregated, and African American families were not allowed in. This picture book tells how a community came together--both black and white--to make a change. In the summer of 1963, because of demonstrations and public protests the Gwynn Oak Amusement Park in Maryland became desegregated and opened to all for the first time. Sharon and her parents were the first African American family to walk into the park, and Sharon was the first African American child to ride the merry-go-round. This was on the same day of Martin Luther King Jr.'s March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. Sharon's ride to remember demonstrated the possibilities of King's dream ... The carrousel, fully functional, now resides on the National Mall, near the Air and Space Museum. 


Your Place in the Universe written and illustrated by Jason Chin(Neal Porter Books, $18.99) A non-fiction introduction to the massive scale of the known universe.