Legacy and the Queen by Annie Matthew, created by Kobe Bryant
FANTASY / TENNIS
Not only is this book beautifully executed with a fuzzy cover, full-color illustrations, and lovely border details, but the uniquely imagined story is also beautifully written and 100% enchanting. Legacy lives at an orphanage with her father and the other orphans but she longs to compete in tennis. When she gets the chance, she leaves to try out for the country’s elite tennis academy. Once she’s there, Legacy’s country background makes her an outcast but that also helps her discover two true friends, her inner magical power, and the dangerous truth of what’s actually going on at the Academy. I loved this unexpected but delightful combination of tennis and fantasy and can’t wait until the next book!
Curse of the Night Witch by Alex Aster
Tor wishes for a different gift and ends up with a curse instead prompting he and two friends to leave their homes to search for the evil Night Witch to break it. Along the way, the friends encounter new lands, people, and dangerous monsters. Interspersed through the story are myths from their culture that may be actually give them a map to find the Night Witch. I love the myths, the adventure, and the very surprising ending.
The Girl Who Speaks Bear by Sophie Anderson
FANTASY / RUSSIAN MYTHOLOGY
When Yanka’s legs turn into hair bear legs and paws, she leaves her foster mother’s home in the village to find answers in the forest. Her quest for answers leads her to a wolf she met as a baby bear, a Yaga girl and mom and thier house on chicken legs, her grandmother, the Bear Tsarina, and eventually, a dangerous task to kill a dragon and save the wish tree so that Yanka can ask for her friend Sasha’s life to be spared.. It’s a Russian-folktale-infused story with themes of family, belonging, identify, selflessness, and the power of stories that transports readers on an epic hero’s journey.
The Way to Rio Luna by Zoraida Cordova
Danny’s latest foster home is not good, even worse without his beloved sister who’s been missing for two years. Danny mostly still believes in magic and his sister’s promise to be waiting for him in the land of Rio Luna. On a field trip to the New York Public Library, he sees magical arrows pointing him to the original Rio Luna book of fairy tales. With the help of a new friend, Glory and Glory’s aunt, they all set off on an epic adventure to follow the magical signs that only Danny can see– to find Rio Luna and hopefully, Danny’s sister. Mysteries, magic, magical creatures, monsters, stories, and betrayal, this heart-stopping fantasy adventure will keep you up all night reading.
The Gryphon’s Lair (A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying) by Kelley Armstrong
An absolutely wonderful adventure that I enjoyed even more than the first book!! I love how the monster hunter teaches kindness and empathy towards all creatures, even monsters, and that friendship leads to achieving your goals. This story is about the dangerous journey to return a baby gryphon into the wild— and it’s epic.
The Ruby Princess Runs Away by Jahnna N. Malcom
Enchanter’s Child by Angie Sage
The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant
YA ages 13+
Finn and the Intergalactic Lunchbox by Michael Buckley
A kooky but entertaining adventure involving good and bad aliens, a secret weapon to defeat the bug bad guys, and a malfunctioning robot. A secret weapon to defeat the bug bad guys gets stuck in a lunch box and partially attached to Finn. The robot wants to bring it back to the Resistance but he’ll have to take Finn with him. Wormholes, betrayal, and a fight to save the Earth will appeal to adventurous kids who love science fiction.
Dragon Vs. Unicorns: Kate the Chemist by Dr. Kate Biberdorf with Hillary Homzie
Exciting from the first page (a fire breathing science experiment!!), this awesome new STEM chapter book series is hard to put down. There’s lots happening in Kate’s busy life every day but no matter if she’s dealing with science, the school play, or friends, she’s a determined problem solver. When she tries to figure out who is sabotaging the school musical, it’s going to take all her skills to find the culprit.
Connect the Dots by Keith Calabrese
The Amelia Six by Kristin L. Gray
The Unadoptables by Hana Tooke
This started out a little slow but once it got going, the story hooked me! 5 older orphans escape an adoption from an unscrupulous ship captain and use clues to find Milou’s long-lost parents. When they arrive at the location, there are no adults there so the kids make a puppet dad to trick the neighbors. To earn money for their illegal adoption, they plan a big puppet show. Meanwhile, the ship captain is searching for them — and won’t give up easily. An enthralling adventure with heroic, problem-solving kids!
Tornado Brain by Cat Patrick
Trowbridge Road by Marcella Pixley
Heartbreakingly sad, this is a beautiful story of misfit friends set in the 1980s. Both are lost and emotionally abandoned children who become friends when Ziggy’s abandoned at his grandmother’s house the neighborhood. June Bug’s mom suffers from severe mental disorders including fear of germs ever since June Bug’s dad died of AIDS. She doesn’t get out of bed, she doesn’t cook, and she’s obsessive about cleanliness. June Bug is starving because there’s no food in the house but she doesn’t want to tell anyone, even her uncle. Luckily, Ziggy’s Nana Jean notices and offers June Bug love, food, and safety. deeply connected to these survivor kids. The friends’s imaginary world helps them deal with the neighborhood bullies and family troubles. It’s a complex story with friendship, love, and redemption despite the pain of abandonment and the effects of mental illness.
The Startup Squad by Brian Weisfeld and Nicole C. Kear
Resa’s class gets put into groups for a lemonade stand competition and Resa gets paired with her best friend, Didi, and a new girl named Amelia. Unfortunately, Resa demands to be in charge of everything and their communication problems affect how their team is doing in the competition. Even though their team don’t win, the girls, especially Resa, learn the importance of teamwork and listening to all ideas. It’s a great book for showing kids about entrepreneurship and communication.
Katerina Ballerina by Tiler Peck and Kyle Harris, illustrated by Sumiti Collina
Stepping Stones by Lucy Knisley
GRAPHIC NOVEL / SLICE OF LIFE / DIVORCE
After her parents’ divorce, Jen moves to a farm with her mom and her mom’s boyfriend whose kids visit on the weekends. It’s a huge transition — she doesn’t love how bossy and whiney her stepsisters are and how annoying her mom’s boyfriend is. But she loves the chicks she takes care of and the farmer’s market. Well, she loves it until her math skills aren’t good enough to be helpful. This story gently shows the ups and downs of living with a new family in a new place.
The One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Patricia Castelao
ANIMAL / FRIENDSHIP
Santiago’s Road Home by Alexandra Diaz
REALISTIC / IMMIGRATION
Santiago is thrown out of his cruel tia’s home in rural Mexico with nowhere to go except back to an even worse grandmother. But, Santiago unexpectedly meets a kind woman and her daughter who let him join with on their journey to el Norte. Santiago is a keen survivor and helps them find a trustworthy coyote but their group is attacked and must find the route without their coyote’s help. The heat and lack of water almost kill them, he and his adopted little sister are rescued half dead and taken to an internment camp where they’re separated. He learns that his sister is reunited with her mom but without papers or any way to prove he’s related to them, he’s confined for endless, hopeless days with guards who treat him like a criminal. He learns to read until the school funding is cut. Will Santiago get a happy ending? This book is amazing — unflinchingly honest about the situation of illegal immigrants with a heroic main characters who you’ll love.
The Next Great Jane by K.L. Going
Wow, the pacing just clips along in this interesting small town story filled with science and a passion for writing. Likable Jane lives with her scientist father in a small Maine town and wants to be a writer like Jane Austin. But when her self-centered, actress mom swoops into town asking for custody, Jane gets worried that her life will change for the worse. Meanwhile, a famous writer moves to town with her kids, one of whom becomes Jane’s science partner. It’s a complicated, warm-hearted, and wonderful slice of life story that you’ll won’t want to end.
Orphan Eleven by Gennifer Choldenko
Lucy runs away from the orphanage with three other kids. They’re helped by other former orphans, one who works for the circus and tries to find the kids a place with the circus. But it’s hard for Lucy to find an apprenticeship because she won’t talk. She loves the elephants and hopes she can work with them — but she’ll need to find her voice. In a horrifying series of memories, we learn that Lucy was one of many orphans used in cruel experiments to create a stutter in someone who didn’t previously stutter. She’ll find her inner strength to overcome the past in this atmospheric, circus-life story with a happy ending.
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Could You Survive The Ice Age? by Blake Hoena
CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE
31 choices and 14 endings make this interactive choose your own adventure a full exploration of the Ice Age! A great choose-your-own adventure with a very cool setting in history. Also read: Could You Survive the Cretaceous Period?
Rebel Spy by Veronica Rossi
YA ages 13+
Frannie escapes from her cruel stepfather in the Bahamas and in a shipwreck opportunity, assumes the identity of a high society lady named Emmeline Coates. It takes careful observation to learn how to be a true lady but she’s successful, living safely in New York where she decides to use her wealth and position to help spy for the Patriots against the Loyalists. Action, suspense, and history — this is a wonderfully imagined adventure based on the life of a real rebel spy during the Revolutionary War.