You are here

Best & Brightest Chapter Books of 2019

Description

This Best & Brightest list was created by Denver Public Library librarians to celebrate our favorite recently published children's chapter books. Enjoy!

Looking for more Best & Brightest books?

The Library Of Ever
Alexander, Zeno, author.
2nd-5th grade. Fantasy. Lenora slips away from an inattentive nanny in the public library and soon finds herself in quite a different library, a fantastic place where librarians navigate by blimp and pneumatic tubes. Given the job of Fourth Assistant Apprentice Librarian, this previously bored, overprivileged child assists penguins, robots, ants and a spacefaring tardigrade with pluck and research skills. But customers aren’t the only thing she has to worry about: Mysterious, ill-intentioned men in black bowler hats prowl the halls. Can she and Malachi, the ten-foot-tall Chief Answerer, protect the light of knowledge against this dark force? Fast-paced and filled with fascinating details and well-developed characters, this adventurous tale will leave readers eagerly anticipating future titles in The Library of Ever series. Reminiscent of The Phantom Tollbooth, Alexander’s slim, whimsical novel is perfect for lovers of books and libraries.
The Line Tender
Allen, Kate, 1977- author.
4th-7th grade. Realistic Fiction. A great white shark is caught in a fishing net in her seaside town, reigniting the grief Lucy felt after the death of her mother five years before. Sharks were her marine-biologist mother’s area of expertise, and when tragedy strikes again, Lucy sets out to finish her mother’s work. Swept along on her adventure are her depressed father, a grieving neighbor, a lost-soul fisherman and her mother’s memory-challenged mentor. A quiet, contemplative novel with lyrical prose, this novel looks at love, loss and different ways of grieving. Short chapters and life-like pencil drawings of sharks break up the heaviness of the topic, and small bites of humor add levity. Vivid descriptions, visceral emotions and tender, brokenhearted characters take the reader on an emotional journey that is heartfelt and hopeful.
Orange For The Sunsets
Athaide, Tina, author.
4th-7th grade. Historical Fiction. It’s 1972, and the Ugandan president, Idi Amin, announces that all Asians have 90 days to leave the country. Caught in the crosshairs of this horrific expulsion are best friends Asha, daughter of an affluent Indian family, and Yesofu, the son of their African servants. Confused but hopeful, Yesofu wants to believe governmental change means a better education and job prospects for Africans. Meanwhile, Asha, struggling with her conscience, hides her family’s passports to prevent them from leaving her beloved country. What happens when loyalties to friends, family, culture, race and country all conflict? What if those conflicting loyalties lead to separation, harm, kidnapping or even murder? Athaide’s substantial back matter draws upon extensive research, as well as her own experiences of leaving Uganda as a child. This tragic story of friendship incorporates both Swahili and Hindi into the dual narration to shine a light on a lesser-known but important event in recent history.
The Mighty Heart Of Sunny St. James
Blake, Ashley Herring, author.
4th-6th grade. Realistic Fiction. Twelve-year-old Sunny, having just received a heart transplant, embarks on a summertime quest to find a new BFF and kiss a boy, but nothing goes as planned. Instead, her birth mother comes back into her life, and she finds she doesn't want to kiss a boy, she wants to kiss her new BFF. Sunny’s lyrical first person narration and sincere free verse poetry, simple enough to be believably written by a tween, capture the stormy angst and joy of tweenage-dom. Sensory-rich language contributes to the Floridian setting and brings frequent flashbacks to life. Resilient yet sensitive, Sunny shows the adults in her life that she can handle the truth, even if it hurts. Blake is known for her ability to write insightful, authentic stories about LGBTQ characters. Here, she creates an unforgettable protagonist and nuanced, intersectional characters that drive this heartfelt story to a satisfying yet realistic conclusion.
The Long Ride
Budhos, Marina Tamar, author.
4th-7th grade. Realistic Fiction. Jamila and her best friends are part of the first three mixed-race families to move into their Queens neighborhood. Their seventh-grade plans are dashed when the school board decides to experiment by integrating their mostly white school with a predominantly black and LatinX school that is nearly an hour away by bus. Experiencing her first boyfriend, the evolution of friendships and the realities of being mixed race in the United States, Jamila rides out seventh grade with tenacity and heart. Honest yet lyrical, this coming of age story explores the contradictions of adolescence and what it means to be caught between races, cultures and generations. Marina Budhos vividly conjures the 1970s setting with precise details, from fashionable orange construction boots to the ever-present Vietnam War. Back matter discusses the history of school integration and the sad fact that “we have yet to meet the challenge of integrating our schools, along with our cities and towns.”
Maybe He Just Likes You
Dee, Barbara, author.
5th-8th grade. Realistic Fiction. It all starts with a fuzzy green sweater. For a group of basketball players, touching the sweater means good luck. For Mila, it brings a lot of unwelcome attention and uncomfortable physical contact. Since her dad doesn’t pay his child support, her family can’t afford new clothes. As her body is changing, the green sweater is the only thing she feels comfortable wearing. Then, she finds support in the last place she expected, and Mila learns that speaking her truth and listening to the truths of others can be a powerful antidote to the isolation she feels. This intense, angst-filled read delves into the complex and confusing emotions around sexual harassment and feelings of not being heard with compassion and insight that will resonate with readers. A demanding, vulnerable journey, Mila’s story about finding her own voice is ultimately one of empowerment.
A Slip Of A Girl
Giff, Patricia Reilly, author.
5th-8th grade. Historical Fiction, Novel in Verse. Even though Anna is just a “slip of a girl,” she is not about to submit to the unfair dictates of the village’s English landlord. During the Irish Land War of 1881, Anna’s family is starving and, like many of their neighbors, has little hope of relief from outrageous rents and failing crops. Her mother succumbs to starvation, her father is jailed and Anna must find a way to get herself and her developmentally delayed sister, Nuala, across the country to a distant relative. Throughout their journey, Anna and Nuala discover previously unknown strengths and abilities and prove that sometimes the most unlikely members of a community can make significant contributions. This novel in free verse, loosely based on the life of the author’s grandmother, is filled with evocative imagery. Back matter, including archival photos, support the historical facts and provide additional context.
Cape
Hannigan, Kate, author.
3rd-7th grade. Fantasy, Historical Fiction. Superheroes have been missing from Philadelphia for years, but for girls like Josie, their influence is still active. While her dad is off fighting the Nazis, Josie works at a diner and cares for her younger brothers so her mom can build ships and support the family. Unable to follow her dreams of using her code-breaking skills to help the war effort, Josie turns elsewhere. She and her new friends Akiko and Mae discover powers of their own and use them to not only fight bullies and spies but sexism and racism as well. Josie is Irish-born, Akiko’s family is in a Japanese internment camp and Mae is brown-skinned. Action-packed and highly compelling, this book combines history and fantasy along with some graphic novel paneled sequences. The first in The League of Secret Heroes series, this novel will appeal to tween readers who cut their teeth on The Princess in Black.
Lalani Of The Distant Sea
Kelly, Erin Entrada, author.
4th-7th grade. Magical Realism. Newbery Award-winning author Kelly creates an otherworldly tale inspired by Filipino folklore. On the island of Sanlagita, villagers have very little. Lalani and her close friends Hetsbi and Veyda live without their fathers, who were lost to the treacherous sea when they sailed to find Isa, an island of magical good fortune. When life becomes more difficult, Lalani and her friends realize they cannot depend on adults or fate to save their community. As this immersive story unfolds, the trio gain strength and confidence. Short chapters propel the narrative as perspective shifts among the children and a host of fascinating creatures of the land, air and sea. Sensory-rich language evocative of oral storytelling creates lyrical, poetic narration. Elegant, flowing grayscale borders and spot illustrations introduce characters and motifs. With universal themes and modern-day parallels, readers will be captivated by this scary yet hopeful story.
The Year We Fell From Space
King, A. S. (Amy Sarig), 1970- author.
3rd-6th grade. Realistic Fiction. Just when she needs it most, Liberty Johansen finds a meteorite in the woods by her house. Her parents are divorcing, her father is struggling with depression and skipping visits, and she’s been “excommunicated” from the sixth-grade class. Liberty has always been driven to change the way people look at the stars. Lately, though, she can’t find patterns in them like she used to, as she grapples with anger, sadness and confusion while worrying about her own mental health. Liberty’s internal monologue is represented by conversations with the meteorite, which voices her better self. This literary, character-driven novel will resonate with readers who have experienced difficult family times. The meteorite adds a welcome touch of the fantastic to an otherwise realistic tale with richly drawn child and adult characters who are flawed but often sympathetic.
All The Impossible Things
Lackey, Lindsay, author.
3rd-8th grade. Magical Realism. Red has been bouncing from foster home to foster home all around Colorado since her Gamma died from cancer and her mom went to prison. Red tries to keep her emotions inside, but when they come out, the wind picks up--from little eddies to full-scale storms. Her next placement is with Celine and Jackson Groove, an interracial couple who own a petting zoo. All Red wants is to survive until she’s back with her mom. Just as Red begins to settle in and trust those around her, her mom comes back, Celine is diagnosed with cancer and the storms start to rise. Magical realism mixes with realistic fiction as Lackey tackles weighty topics, including loved ones fighting cancer and a parent struggling with drug addiction. Red’s journey to understand and come to terms with her emotions and needs will appeal to readers who have felt unsure of their identity and place in the world.
Pie In The Sky
Lai, Remy, author, artist.
3rd-6th grade. Realistic Fiction. Jingwen feels like he’s on Mars and can’t communicate with the aliens. Well, not exactly--his family just moved to Australia from an unspecified Asian country, and he doesn’t know English. Though they’re forbidden from using the kitchen, Jingwen convinces his younger brother to help him secretly bake all the special cakes in their recently deceased father’s cookbook. Baking provides Jingwen a path through grief, a way to communicate and ultimately a place to call home. The comic-like duotone illustrations illuminate the feelings of sorrow, joy and disorientation that Jingwen feels as he learns to navigate his new life. The illustrations paired with blocks of text will appeal to graphic novel fans, as well as readers who like visual support in their chapter books. Lai draws on her own experience immigrating to Australia from Singapore. She creates a story that will appeal to readers who have struggled to fit in and stay connected with new and old places and cultures.
Dragon Pearl
Lee, Yoon Ha, 1979- author.
3rd-8th grade. Adventure, Science Fiction. Thirteen-year-old Min doesn’t have a lot going for her: Her home planet is impoverished and barely habitable, and magical fox spirits like her family are reviled. When her beloved older brother disappears from the Space Force, suspected of trying to steal the mighty, legendary Dragon Pearl, Min is determined to use all her fox magic to find out the truth. Sneaking aboard her brother’s ship in the guise of another cadet, she takes orders from the tiger spirit captain and investigates between duty shifts. In this tale, based on Korean mythology, Min finds herself consorting with ghosts and pirates and sneaking shrimp crackers with a goblin and a dragon. Soon, she will learn how far some people will go to control the Pearl and its power to remake or destroy worlds. Rich with detailed worldbuilding, this title from the Rick Riordan Presents imprint will please fans of hard sci-fi who like a dash of humor and fantasy in their adventures.
Over The Moon
Lloyd, Natalie, author.
3rd-7th grade. Fantasy. Twelve-year-old Mallie dreams of flying horses known as starbirds that once brought starlight and happiness in their wake. In Coaltop, however, the starbirds have all gone, replaced by an insidious, malignant Dust that has invaded the town. Villagers rely on working in the mines, trapped in a vicious cycle of corporate oppression, greed and poverty. Fiercely committed to keeping her younger brother safe from the mines, Mallie decides to do whatever it takes to lift her family out of poverty. Her choice has dangerous, life-changing consequences. Lloyd brings her signature wordplay to Mallie’s resilient, intelligent voice, but with a layer of shadowy grit, as befits the polluted, poverty-stricken setting. Poem-like, atmospheric moments highlighting Mallie’s experiences weave seamlessly into the narrative. Mallie’s journey will encourage readers to question societal norms and avoid fear-based decisions. The combination of flying horses and an ability-diverse protagonist--Mallie was born without one arm from the elbow down--further elevate this story of perseverance, bravery and justice.
For Black Girls Like Me
Lockington, Mariama, author.
4th-7th grade. Realistic Fiction. For Keda, puzzled looks and rude questions are part of being a black girl adopted into a white family. When her family moves from Baltimore to New Mexico, she leaves behind her best friend, who is also a black adoptee in a white family. She is leaving behind someone who understands her experience in a way the rest of her family does not, and life in New Mexico is so different. Her dad is often absent, her mom starts behaving erratically, and her sister is busy with her new life. Worse, a girl at her school makes racist comments and gets away with it, causing Keda’s mom to pull her and her sister out for homeschooling. Lockington handles racism, mental illness and the attempted suicide of a parent with honest sensitivity. Drawing on her personal experience as a black child adopted into a white family, the author has given Keda a voice filled with questions about identity and belonging.
Tristan Strong Punches A Hole In The Sky
Mbalia, Kwame, author.
4th-8th grade. Fantasy. This title from the Rick Riordan Presents imprint churns with snake-like chains, ships made of bones, warring gods and an epic journey. Mbalia based the tale on African-American and West African legends. Grieving the death of his best friend, Eddie, Tristan is packed off to spend the summer with his grandparents. After a mysterious doll steals the only thing Tristan has left of Eddie--a journal filled with stories --Tristan chases after her and accidentally tears a hole in the sky of Midpass. The tear unleashes a force that threatens to destroy Midpass and Earth. The first person narration brings to life Tristan’s struggles to move past his grief, guilt and feelings of inadequacy to ultimately find his voice and tell his stories. Filled with legendary characters like Ananasi, Brer Rabbit, High John and Gum Baby, this #ownvoices book will appeal to readers familiar with those tales, as well as readers looking for a new legend-based adventure.
Crash! Bang! Boo!
McGee, Joe, 1972- author.
1st-3rd grade. Fantasy, Humor. Who will come to the rescue when you need help? The Junior Monster Scouts, Vampyra, Franky and Wolfy, are the children of Dracula, Frankenstein and Wolf Man, but they’re not as scary as you’d think. The scouts are always looking for ways to help and earn Monster Scout badges like the Teamwork or Gadget Merit Badges. Black and white pictures depict some of the funnier moments and reinforce the story’s action. This series also has a supportive repetition of words and concepts to help readers build their proficiency and confidence. Each book features two storylines in alternating chapters, one following the Junior Monster Scouts and one following the evil Baron Von Grump and his attempts to keep the village quiet and boring. The intentional format of the Junior Monster Scouts series will help readers prepare for more complex storylines and build their confidence and prediction skills.
The Monster Squad
McGee, Joe, 1972- author.
1st-3rd grade. Fantasy, Humor. Who will come to the rescue when you need help? The Junior Monster Scouts, Vampyra, Franky and Wolfy, are the children of Dracula, Frankenstein and Wolf Man, but they’re not as scary as you’d think. The scouts are always looking for ways to help and earn Monster Scout badges like the Teamwork or Gadget Merit Badges. Black and white pictures depict some of the funnier moments and reinforce the story’s action. This series also has a supportive repetition of words and concepts to help readers build their proficiency and confidence. Each book features two storylines in alternating chapters, one following the Junior Monster Scouts and one following the evil Baron Von Grump and his attempts to keep the village quiet and boring. The intentional format of the Junior Monster Scouts series will help readers prepare for more complex storylines and build their confidence and prediction skills.
Nixie Ness, Cooking Star
Mills, Claudia, author.
2nd-3rd grade. Realistic Fiction. Nixie Ness doesn’t like change, and change is coming for this third-grader. With her mom going back to work and Nixie joining an after-school program, Nixie no longer gets to spend every afternoon with her best friend, Grace. The only good thing is that the program is doing a session on one of Nixie’s favorite things--cooking! Along with learning new recipes, Nixie also comes up with a series of plans to win back her best friend. Written by a Colorado author, this transitional book is an excellent choice for developing readers who enjoy elaborate plans and who are learning to navigate changing friendships. In the black and white illustrations, Nixie presents as white and has a diverse friend group. Future titles in the After-School Superstars series will follow different characters introduced in this first book, and Nixie’s favorite recipe is included in the back for additional exploration.
Dear Sweet Pea
Murphy, Julie, 1985- author.
5th-7th grade. Realistic Fiction. Thirteen-year-old Sweet Pea DiMarco’s parents just got a divorce. Life is so different now that her parents live in separate, yet identical houses on the same street. Her mom is dating, and her now openly gay dad is receiving mysterious mail. Sweet Pea is also juggling friendships with current best friend Oscar Rivera and former-best-friend-turned-nemesis-but-maybe-friend-again Kiera Bryant. Top all that off with a giant secret: She’s started writing clandestine responses to letters addressed to Miss Flora Mae I’s newspaper advice column. Before she knows it, Sweet Pea finds herself in over her head and tangled in a heap of good intentions and bad outcomes. Murphy has created a confident, flawed, self-identified white and fat protagonist who is supported by her diverse family and community. Sweet Pea is a whimsical narrator, and her unique voice brings levity and melodrama to the ridiculous awkwardness of adolescence in a small Texas town.
Under The Broken Sky
Nagai, Mariko, author.
5th-7th grade. Historical Fiction, Novel in Verse. In 1945, 12-year-old Natsu and her little sister’s lives change dramatically when the Soviet Union declares war on Japan, invading Japanese-ruled Manchuria in northeastern China. Having lost their mother to childbirth and father to the war, the children escape by foot over treacherous terrain. But even when they arrive in the city of Harbin, they struggle to meet their basic needs, especially once their gruff Auntie succumbs to illness. Stunning, short, free verse poems move at a swift pace, creating succinct, manageable portrayals of displacement, starvation, death and other horrors of war. Nagai, a Japanese-born author, includes back matter detailing extensive research, including oral interviews with individuals who were separated, often permanently, from their families during the invasion. She writes that even today, the refugee experience continues in many countries: “They have left everything they knew and loved to reach a place of safety. Nobody chooses to be a refugee.”
Planet Earth Is Blue
Panteleakos, Nicole, author.
3rd-7th grade. Historical Fiction. It’s 1986, and 12-year-old Nova loves everything about outer space, just like her big sister Bridget. But Bridget has disappeared, and Nova is placed with yet another foster family. Nova is autistic and has difficulty communicating verbally, leading adults to assume she’s not smart. In flashbacks, Nova recalls life with her biological mother and many foster families past. As she struggles to adjust at home and school, she’s counting down to the launch of the space shuttle Challenger, when her sister has promised to return. But what happens when every sure thing in the world is upended? Nova’s letters to Bridget, interspersed with third-person narration, provide a window into Nova’s thoughts and feelings. Panteleakos self-identifies as having Asperger’s, as well as experience teaching children with limited speech communication. The back matter is especially strong and includes information on the evolution of research and terminology around Autism Spectrum Disorder and improvements in assistive technology.
Max & The Midknights
Peirce, Lincoln, author, illustrator.
3rd-6th grade. Historical Fiction, Humor. The fourteenth century is not working out great for Max. Besides the lack of indoor plumbing, she’s stuck as the apprentice to Uncle Budrick, the wandering troubadour, and everyone thinks she’s a boy. But when they enter the kingdom of Byjovia and find an evil king has taken over, things get even worse. With the help of Mumblin the magician, can Max and her misfit band of not-quite-knights rescue Budrick from the king and earn the right to choose their own futures? Can they survive dragons, giant rats, evil sorceresses and Mumblin’s unfortunate flatulence? Resistance to tyranny and rigid gender roles share the page with goofy humor in this gleefully anachronistic fantasy from the creator of the Big Nate series. Plentiful wordplay challenges readers, while comics-style illustrations on every page add support and kid appeal.
A Good Kind Of Trouble
Ramée, Lisa Moore, author.
5th-7th grade. Realistic Fiction. Twelve-year-old Shayla has always been a people pleaser and a good student who follows the rules until seventh grade catches her off guard. Her “United Nations” friend group begins splintering, she joins the track team even though she’s always considered herself un-athletic, and either the wrong boy likes her, or she likes the wrong boy. Meanwhile, Shayla finds herself drawn to the Black Lives Matter movement that has engaged her sister. When school rules conflict with her conscience for the first time, which side will she pick? Shayla’s growing sense of social justice is as compelling as her shifting friendships. With complex, richly drawn child and adult characters, this novel will appeal to readers who enjoy stories of middle school friendships and crushes as well as those looking for a more serious read.
Nikki On The Line
Roberts, Barbara Carroll, author.
5th-8th grade. Realistic Fiction. Nikki loves basketball, so she’s ecstatic when she and her best friend, Adria, make a well-respected club team. Things don’t go quite as Nikki expects, though. She is no longer a point guard, she has to watch her annoying brother after school every day instead of practicing, Adria goes to extra practices with one of the other players and her mom doesn’t understand Nikki’s obsession with basketball. In addition, a candid conversation with her science teacher about a family tree project leads Nikki to explore genetics and ask her mother questions about her biological sperm donor father. Nikki’s first person narration illustrates the dedication and drive needed to excel in a competitive sport. While the conflicts are mostly internal, Nikki makes choices that create positive external change. This is an exciting, heartfelt read for sports fans as well as readers who love passionate characters willing to go the extra mile to achieve their dreams
The Runaways
Stark, Ulf, 1944-2017, author.
3rd-6th grade. Realistic Fiction. Translated from Swedish and set in the present day, this realistic book about intergenerational love is both poignant and humorous. Gottfried Junior takes his cranky, loud grandfather on an illicit adventure for a final visit to his house in the Stockholm Archipelago. Together, they honor the memory of Gottfried Junior’s beloved grandmother and prepare for Grandpa’s passing. Gottfried Junior's narration is filled with culturally-specific details. He paints Grandpa as a loveable curmudgeon with a salty mouth, although the actual swear words are never specified. Whether it is the last jar of lingonberry jam or the burning of Grandpa’s fancy clothes, symbolic details lift up the extraordinary and point to characters’ desires and longings. Mixed media illustrations bring to mind a child's art. Intense colors and crayon-like texture depict exaggerated bodies and faces within simple compositions, putting the focus on emotions rather than realism. The poetic, spare writing style packs each of the short chapters with emotional exploration.
Lizzie Flying Solo
Steveson, Nanci Turner, author.
3rd-8th grade. Realistic Fiction. Lizzie has already lost friends since her father was arrested for embezzlement, and now she and her mom have lost their home too. After Lizzie and her mom move into a transitional housing shelter, Lizzie finds solace in watching horseback riding lessons at a nearby barn. When Fire, a frightened new horse, is brought to the stables, Lizzie is determined to find a way to own him. Horse lovers and readers experiencing similar upheaval will be drawn into this first person narrative. Drawing on her own experiences dealing with housing instability, the author brings to life Lizzie’s hopes, dreams and fears as she searches for “a new normal.” Lizzie is a self-aware character who deals with the betrayals of her father with poise and grace. Readers will appreciate Lizzie’s interactions with horses, as well as her search for a place in a world where all the rules have changed.
Some Places More Than Others
Watson, Renée, author.
4th-6th grade. Realistic Fiction. For her twelfth birthday, Amara has talked her parents into letting her join her father on a business trip to New York. There, she will finally be able to meet her father’s relatives, including her grandfather, aunt and cousins. Moreover, she will be able to complete an ambitious sightseeing list that ranges from Times Square to the Apollo. But her dad is busy with work, her older cousins are impatient with her desire to sightsee like a tourist, and her father and grandfather haven’t spoken in 12 years and show no signs of starting now. Meanwhile, back home, her mom is getting ready to have another baby after twelve years and so many disappointments that Amara is afraid to hope. This quiet, character-driven, #ownvoices novel is short in length but rich with detail, from New York’s black history to Amara’s love for Nikes. Watson’s exploration of the connection between cultural heritage and place is authentic, specific and comforting.
Mia Mayhem Breaks Down Walls
West, Kara, author.
1st-3rd grade. Fantasy. Where Mia goes, chaos follows. She might kick a soccer ball and break the goalpost in half, or flood the hallway trying to drink from a water fountain. So she is surprised to find out that she’s not just a super clutz, she’s a superhero! And so are her parents! Soon she’s learning to fly, move with super speed and lift heavy objects--all while standing up to a bully and making and cleaning up a lot of mistakes. Young readers who keep knocking over the living room lamp will sympathize with Mia’s accidents and her struggles to learn control. Both Mia’s family and the superhero school principal are depicted as Black with a range of skin tones; one of her classmates is ability-diverse. Simple black and white illustrations, appearing on every page, add both humor and emotion to these transitional novels. Mia Mayhem is a superhero series with kid-pleasing themes and excellent support for new readers.
Mia Mayhem Is A Superhero!
West, Kara, author.
1st-3rd grade. Fantasy. Where Mia goes, chaos follows. She might kick a soccer ball and break the goalpost in half, or flood the hallway trying to drink from a water fountain. So she is surprised to find out that she’s not just a super clutz, she’s a superhero! And so are her parents! Soon she’s learning to fly, move with super speed and lift heavy objects--all while standing up to a bully and making and cleaning up a lot of mistakes. Young readers who keep knocking over the living room lamp will sympathize with Mia’s accidents and her struggles to learn control. Both Mia’s family and the superhero school principal are depicted as Black with a range of skin tones; one of her classmates is ability-diverse. Simple black and white illustrations, appearing on every page, add both humor and emotion to these transitional novels. Mia Mayhem is a superhero series with kid-pleasing themes and excellent support for new readers.
Mia Mayhem Learns To Fly!
West, Kara, author.
1st-3rd grade. Fantasy. Where Mia goes, chaos follows. She might kick a soccer ball and break the goalpost in half, or flood the hallway trying to drink from a water fountain. So she is surprised to find out that she’s not just a super clutz, she’s a superhero! And so are her parents! Soon she’s learning to fly, move with super speed and lift heavy objects--all while standing up to a bully and making and cleaning up a lot of mistakes. Young readers who keep knocking over the living room lamp will sympathize with Mia’s accidents and her struggles to learn control. Both Mia’s family and the superhero school principal are depicted as Black with a range of skin tones; one of her classmates is ability-diverse. Simple black and white illustrations, appearing on every page, add both humor and emotion to these transitional novels. Mia Mayhem is a superhero series with kid-pleasing themes and excellent support for new readers.
Mia Mayhem Stops Time!
West, Kara, author.
1st-3rd grade. Fantasy. Where Mia goes, chaos follows. She might kick a soccer ball and break the goalpost in half, or flood the hallway trying to drink from a water fountain. So she is surprised to find out that she’s not just a super clutz, she’s a superhero! And so are her parents! Soon she’s learning to fly, move with super speed and lift heavy objects--all while standing up to a bully and making and cleaning up a lot of mistakes. Young readers who keep knocking over the living room lamp will sympathize with Mia’s accidents and her struggles to learn control. Both Mia’s family and the superhero school principal are depicted as Black with a range of skin tones; one of her classmates is ability-diverse. Simple black and white illustrations, appearing on every page, add both humor and emotion to these transitional novels. Mia Mayhem is a superhero series with kid-pleasing themes and excellent support for new readers.
Mia Mayhem Vs. The Super Bully
West, Kara, author.
1st-3rd grade. Fantasy. Where Mia goes, chaos follows. She might kick a soccer ball and break the goalpost in half, or flood the hallway trying to drink from a water fountain. So she is surprised to find out that she’s not just a super clutz, she’s a superhero! And so are her parents! Soon she’s learning to fly, move with super speed and lift heavy objects--all while standing up to a bully and making and cleaning up a lot of mistakes. Young readers who keep knocking over the living room lamp will sympathize with Mia’s accidents and her struggles to learn control. Both Mia’s family and the superhero school principal are depicted as Black with a range of skin tones; one of her classmates is ability-diverse. Simple black and white illustrations, appearing on every page, add both humor and emotion to these transitional novels. Mia Mayhem is a superhero series with kid-pleasing themes and excellent support for new readers.
Archimancy
White, J. A., author
4th-6th grade. Scary/Horror. Cordelia Liu didn’t want to leave her friends in California and start over in New Hampshire at a middle school housed in a creepy Victorian mansion. The teachers are weird, the classrooms are numbered out of order and on top of that, she’s increasingly sure the place is haunted. But when she and her new friends start working on setting the ghosts free, they soon realize that some sinister force wants the spirits to stay trapped. Cordelia’s unhappiness about the move and her struggle to make new friends will be relatable to many readers. Meanwhile, the ghost hunting offers some spine-tinglingly scary surprises. The author’s detailed worldbuilding will make readers almost believe in and fully care about the school’s invisible residents. A diverse cast of characters with complex motivations adds emotional resonance to this ghostly tale. This is the first in the thrilling Shadow School series.
Genesis Begins Again
Williams, Alicia, 1970- author.
5th-8th grade. Realistic Fiction. Genesis arrives home from school to find her family has been evicted again, and all of their belongings are displayed on the front lawn. She already feels like enough of an outsider. Her family is poor, her father is addicted to alcohol and gambling, and the intergenerational shade bias she experiences within her Black family makes her long for lighter colored skin. Her quest for outer beauty takes some disturbing and dangerous turns, speaking to readers who have felt the pull of society’s unrealistic standards. Though the themes of bullying, self-harm and emotional abuse strike a serious tone, Genesis also finds hope and value in a most unexpected place. The conversational, first person narration and realistic dialogue ring true and give this #ownvoices debut broad appeal. Genesis’s voice and story will stick with readers long after the book is closed.