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Staff Favorites 2021: Chapter Books

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This list was created by Denver Public Library staff to celebrate our favorite recently published chapter books. Enjoy!

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Ancestor Approved : Intertribal Stories For Kids
"Edited by award-winning and bestselling author Cynthia Leitich Smith, this collection of intersecting stories by both new and veteran Native writers bursts with hope, joy, resilience, the strength of community, and Native pride."--Publisher's description.
Amari And The Night Brothers
Alston, B. B., author.
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.
Too Small Tola
Atinuke, author.
Presents three tales of an endearing and enduring character, Tola, who lives in an apartment in the busy city of Lagos, Nigeria, with her sister, brother and grandmommy.
Obie Is Man Enough
Bailar, Schuyler, author.
"A coming-of-age story about transgender tween Obie, who didn't think being himself would cause such a splash"-- Provided by publisher.
Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero
Baptist, Kelly J., author.
"Isaiah is now the big man of the house. But it's a lot harder than his dad made it look. His little sister, Charlie, asks too many questions, and Mama's gone totally silent. Good thing Isaiah can count on his best friend, Sneaky, who always has a scheme for getting around the rules. Plus, his classmate Angel has a few good ideas of her own--once she stops hassling Isaiah. And when things get really tough, there's Daddy's journal, filled with stories about the amazing Isaiah Dunn, a superhero who gets his powers from beans and rice. Isaiah wishes his dad's tales were real. He could use those powers right about now!"-- Provided by publisher.
The Swag Is In The Socks
Baptist, Kelly J., author.
Twelve-year-old Xavier Moon gets the courage to step out of the shadows when his great-uncle gives him some outlandish socks and some even stranger requests.
Mr. Summerling's Secret Code
Butler, Dori Hillestad, author.
"Join Marly, Isla, and Sai, three code-cracking kids on the hunt for an old neighbor's hidden treasure"--Provided by publisher.
Beasts And Beauty : Dangerous Tales
Chainani, Soman, author.
"Twelve tales, twelve dangerous tales of mystery, magic, and rebellious hearts. Each twists like a spindle to reveal truths full of warning and triumph, truths that free hearts long kept tame, truths that explore life ... and death."-- From publisher's description.
J.d. And The Great Barber Battle
Dillard, J., author.
"Eight-year-old J.D. turns a tragic home haircut into a thriving barber business in this hilarious new illustrated chapter book series."--Publisher's description.
Barefoot Dreams Of Petra Luna
Dobbs, Alda P., author.
"Based on a true story, the tale of one girl's perilous journey to cross the U.S. border and lead her family to safety during the Mexican Revolution"-- Provided by publisher.
Starfish
Fipps, Lisa, author.
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.
Taking Up Space
Gerber, Alyson, author.
Twelve-year-old Sarah is used to being the star on her basketball team, playing with her best friends, but suddenly she finds that her body is changing and she doesn't understand why she can't keep up on the court. Plus she doesn't understand why her mother has gotten so weird about food, binging on candy while forgetting about dinner, and she really doesn't understand why she told Benny, her crush, about her mother. But when Benny offers to teach her how to cook and suggests she partners with him in a cooking competition, she starts to find a way to stand up for herself and change her life for the better.
Many Points Of Me
Gertler, Caroline, author.
"When Georgia finds a secret sketch her late father--a famed artist--left behind, the discovery leads her down a path that may reshape everything holding her family and friends together"--Provided by publisher.
Samira Surfs
Guidroz, Rukhsanna, author.
"A middle grade novel-in-verse about Samira, an eleven-year-old Rohingya refugee living in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, who finds strength and sisterhood in a local surf club for girls"--Publisher marketing.
The Lion Of Mars
Holm, Jennifer L., author.
"Bell has spent his whole life - all eleven years of it - on Mars. But he's still just a regular kid - he loves cats, any kind of cake, and is curious about the secrets the adults in the US colony are keeping. Like, why don't have contact with anyone on the other Mars colonies? Why are they so isolated? When a virus breaks out and the grown-ups all fall ill, Bell and the other children are the only ones who can help. It's up to Bell - a regular kid in a very different world - to uncover the truth and save his family ... and possibly unite an entire planet."--|cPublisher's description.
Ophie's Ghosts
Ireland, Justina, author.
Discovering her ability to see ghosts when a cruel act ends her father's life and forces her to move in with relatives in 1920s Pittsburgh, young Ophelia forges a helpful bond with a spirit whose own life ended suddenly and unjustly.
That Thing About Bollywood
Kelkar, Supriya, 1980- author.
Middle-schooler Sonali cannot bring herself to share her feelings, but when she wakes up one day and begins to involuntarily burst into Bollywood song and dance routines that showcase her emotions, she realizes she has to find her voice and share her feelings.
Red, White, And Whole
LaRocca, Rajani, author.
"A heartbreakingly hopeful #ownvoices novel in verse about an Indian American girl whose life is turned upside down when her mother is diagnosed with leukemia."--Provided by publisher.
The Mysterious Disappearance Of Aidan S. (as Told To His Brother)
Levithan, David, author.
"Aidan disappeared for six days. Six agonizing days of searches and police and questions and constant vigils. Then, just as suddenly as he vanished, Aidan reappears. Where has he been? The story he tells is simply...impossible. But it's the story Aidan is sticking to. His brother, Lucas, wants to believe him. But Lucas is aware of what other people, including their parents, are saying: that Aidan is making it all up to disguise the fact that he ran away. When the kids in school hear Aidan's story, they taunt him. But still Aidan clings to his story. And as he becomes more of an outcast, Lucas becomes more and more concerned. Being on Aidan's side would mean believing in the impossible. But how can you believe in the impossible when everything and everybody is telling you not to?"--Amazon.
Clues To The Universe
Li, Christina, author.
"The only thing Rosalind Ling Geraghty loves more than watching NASA launches with her dad is building rockets with him. When he dies unexpectedly, all Ro has left of him is an unfinished model rocket they had been working on together. Benjamin Burns doesn't like science, but he can't get enough of Spacebound, a popular comic book series. When he finds a sketch that suggests that his dad created the comics, he's thrilled. Too bad his dad walked out years ago, and Benji has no way to contact him. Though Ro and Benji were only supposed to be science class partners, the pair become unlikely friends: Benji helps Ro finish her rocket, and Ro figures out a way to reunite Benji and his dad. But Benji hesitates, which infuriates Ro. Doesn't he realize how much Ro wishes she could be in his place? As the two face bullying, grief, and their own differences, Benji and Ro must try to piece together clues to some of the biggest questions in the universe."-- Publisher's marketing.
Too Bright To See
Lukoff, Kyle, author.
It's the summer before middle school and eleven-year-old Bug's best friend Moira has decided the two of them need to use the next few months to prepare. For Moira, this means figuring out the right clothes to wear, learning how to put on makeup, and deciding which boys are cuter in their yearbook photos than in real life. But none of this is all that appealing to Bug, who doesn't particularly want to spend more time trying to understand how to be a girl. Besides, there's something more important to worry about: a ghost is haunting Bug's eerie old house in rural Vermont...and maybe haunting Bug in particular. As Bug begins to untangle the mystery of who this ghost is and what they're trying to say, an altogether different truth comes to light--Bug is transgender.
Last Gate Of The Emperor
Mbalia, Kwame, author.
"Yared Heywat lives an isolated life in Addis Prime -- a hardscrabble city with rundown tech, lots of rules, and not much to do. His worrywart Uncle Moti and bionic lioness Besa are his only family... and his only friends. Often in trouble for his thrill-seeking antics and smart mouth, those same qualities make Yared a star player of the underground augmented reality game, The Hunt for Kaleb's Obelisk. But when a change in the game rules prompts Yared to log in with his real name, it triggers an attack that rocks the city. In the chaos, Uncle Moti disappears. Suddenly, all the stories Yared's uncle told him as a young boy are coming to life, of kingdoms in the sky and city-razing monsters. And somehow Yared is at the center of them. Together with Besa and the Ibis -- a game rival turned reluctant ally -- Yared must search for his uncle... and answers to his place in a forgotten, galaxy-spanning war."-- Publisher's description.
Paola Santiago And The Forest Of Nightmares
Mejia, Tehlor Kay, author.
Months after confronting the legendary La Llorona, Paola starts dreaming again, this time about fantasmas that are stalking her and someone who might be even more dangerous--her estranged father.
Flood City
Older, Daniel José, author.
Flood City is the only habitable place left on the drowned Earth, but it is also a battleground between the Star Guard who have controlled the city for decades and the Chemical Barons in their spaceships who once ruled the planet, want it back, and are now preparing to destroy it; the future will depend on Max, his sister Yala of Flood City, and Ato, a young Chemical Baron who just wants to keep his twin brother alive and not hurt anyone--and somehow these natural enemies will have to work together to save Earth.
A Long Walk To Water : Based On A True Story
Park, Linda Sue.
When the Sudanese civil war reaches his village in 1985, eleven-year-old Salva becomes separated from his family and must walk with other Dinka tribe members through southern Sudan, Ethiopia, and Kenya in search of safe haven. Based on the life of Salva Dut, who, after emigrating to America in 1996, began a project to dig water wells in Sudan.
Spin With Me
Polonsky, Ami, author.
Told in two voices, seventh-graders Essie, in North Carolina for just one semester, and Ollie, a non-binary, "gender weird" classmate, develop a gentle romance while Essie ponders her label.
Jo Jo Makoons : The Used-to-be Best Friend
Quigley, Dawn, author.
Jo Jo Makoons Azure is a spirited seven-year-old who moves through the world a little differently than anyone else on her Ojibwe reservation. It always seems like her mom, her kokum (grandma), and her teacher have a lot to learn--about how good Jo Jo is at cleaning up, what makes a good rhyme, and what it means to be friendly. Even though Jo Jo loves her #1 best friend Mimi (who is a cat), she's worried that she needs to figure out how to make more friends. Because Fern, her best friend at school, may not want to be friends anymore...
Hide And Don't Seek : And Other Very Scary Stories
Rissi, Anica Mrose, author.
"A contemporary collection of original short stories by Anica Mrose Rissi that is sure to elicit chills, laughs, and screams, even from the most devoted fans of Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark! A game of hide-and-seek goes on far too long... A look-alike doll makes itself right at home... A school talent-show act leaves the audience aghast... And a summer at camp takes a turn for the braaaains..."-- Provided by publisher.
Root Magic
Royce, Eden, author.
"It's 1963, and things are changing for Jezebel Turner. Her beloved grandmother has just passed away. The local police deputy won't stop harassing her family. With school integration arriving in South Carolina, Jez and her twin brother, Jay, are about to begin the school year with a bunch of new kids. But the biggest change comes when Jez and Jay turn eleven-- and their uncle, Doc, tells them he's going to train them in rootwork. Jez and Jay have always been fascinated by the African American folk magic that has been the legacy of their family for generations--especially the curious potions and powders Doc and Gran would make for the people on their island. But Jez soon finds out that her family's true power goes far beyond small charms and elixirs...and not a moment too soon. Because when evil both natural and supernatural comes to show itself in town, it's going to take every bit of the magic she has inside her to see her through"-- Provided by publisher.
The Chance To Fly
Stroker, Ali, 1987- author.
After moving across the country, thirteen-year-old Natalie auditions for her new school's play and overcomes her fears and insecurities about performing in a wheelchair.
Egg Marks The Spot
Timberlake, Amy, author.
"Roommates Skunk and Badger head out on a rock-finding expedition that becomes much more dangerous than they ever expected"-- Provided by publisher.
The Troubled Girls Of Dragomir Academy
Ursu, Anne, author.
Marya Lupu's parents has always believed that her older brother Luka is destined to be a sorcerer and make the family's fortune, so when the day he is tested turns into a disaster, and the Guild declares that he has no magical talent, they find it easier to blame Marya for upsetting the test than admit the truth, and she is sent to the Dragomir Academy, a school for wayward girls--but a school where she finds friendship and ultimately discovers her own talents.
Erik Vs. Everything
Uss, Christina, author.
"Each member of Erik Sheepflattener's modern-day Viking-heritage family has a motto to live by. Erik is developing a motto he can truly believe in : AVOID STUFF. But when he and his older sister Brunhilde spend the summer with their rough-and-tumble cousins in Minnesota, axe-wielding Bru gets the idea to name and conquer all of Erik's fears." --from the publisher
Lotería
Valenti, Karla, author.
In Oaxaca City, Mexico, ancient friends Life and Death discuss free will while engaged in a game of chance, with eleven-year-old Clara as the protagonist of their theories and a pawn in their game, moving inevitably towards her ultimate fate. Includes author's notes and reader's guide.
Ways To Grow Love
Watson, Renée, author.
In the summer before fifth grade, Ryan Hart continues to grow through changes and challenges, such as waiting for a new baby sister to be born, a summer camp trip, and more.

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