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Books for Kids (Ages 9-12)


Hold Fast

By Blue Balliett

(Juvenile Fiction; ages 9-12 years)

When her father disappears on his way home from his job at the Chicago Public Library, Early Pearl and her mom and brother find themselves plunged into a world of danger and despair.  Forced to live in a city shelter after their apartment is broken into and destroyed, Early is determined to find out what happened to her dad AND to find a home for her family.  A satisfying blend of puzzle, poetry, and word play, this is a smart mystery with heart.  Recommended for readers in grades 4 through 6 who like mysteries and realistic fiction. (Formats: Print; Book-on-CD)




Flora & Ulysses: the Illuminated Adventures

By Kate DiCamillo; illus. K.G. Campbell

(Juvenile Fiction; ages 10 and up)

(Winner of the 2014 Newbery Medal.) Holy unanticipated occurrences! It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is the just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry -- and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart. A laugh-out-loud story filled with eccentric, endearing characters. (Formats: Print; eBook; Book-on-CD)




Reaching for Sun

By Tracie Vaughn Zimmer

(Juvenile Fiction; ages 8-12 years)

Seventh-grader Josie has cerebral palsy and understands that this will always set her apart from other children.  But that doesn’t dampen her longing for acceptance.  Her grandmother offers unconditional love and so does Josie’s busy mother who isn’t around much.  But finally, Josie finds a friend!  Someone who is like herself – different in his own way.  As the book’s narrator, Josie makes many references to the outdoors, gardening, and growing plants as she draws parallels between her life and nature.  The book is written in free verse poems.  Reluctant readers will be drawn to the sparse text, but older readers will be captivated by the beautiful imagery.  (Format: Print)






Parrots Over Puerto Rico

By Susan L. Roth and Cindy Trumbore

(Juvenile non-fiction; ages 8-12 years)

This is the true story of the parrots that live on Puerto Rico.  Once numbering in the hundreds of thousands, by the 1970’s there were fewer than 25 parrots living on the island.  Not only a chronology of the parrots’ history, this is also the story of conversation efforts to save the magnificent, colorful birds.  The design and illustrations (which are collages) of this book are also excellent.  Interestingly, this book is in a vertical format, meaning you turn the book and lift the pages from bottom to top ( instead of the usual right to left).  This book won the Sibert Medal for most distinguished informational book for children.  (Format: Print)





Strawberry Girl

By Lois Lenski

(Juvenile Fiction; ages 8-12 years)

This is a realistic story about life in the Florida backwoods in the 1940’s when times were changing. Birdie Boyer lives with her family on a small farm where they intend to plant a strawberry crop as their main source of income. But they must battle their uncouth neighbors who let their children and their animals run wild, and don’t put any stock in “book learning.” A regional story, written in dialect, the novel gives a peek at how very different life was in Florida prior to its development. The author also contributed the illustrations, which add depth and detail to the story. Lenski, an Ohio author, received the Newbery medal in 1946 for her distinguished contribution to American literature for children. (Formats: Print; Book-on-CD; e-Book) 




Good Brother, Bad Brother: The Story of Edwin Booth and John Wilkes Booth

By James Cross Giblin

(Juvenile Non-Fiction; ages 10 -14 years)

Edwin Booth and his younger brother John Wilkes Booth were among America’s finest actors; having inherited their father’s commanding stage presence.  The Booth brothers were also very different, with Edwin voting for Abraham Lincoln and John an advocate of the Confederacy.  The author draws on first-hand accounts of family members, friends, and colleagues to create vivid images of Edwin Booth and his brother John Wilkes, best known today as the man who shot Abraham Lincoln.  He traces the events leading up to the assassination and describes the effects of John Wilkes’ infamous deed on Booth, his family, and his country. (Format: Print) 




What Happened on Fox Street

By Tricia Springstubb

(Juvenile Fiction; ages 8-12 years)

Mo Wren enjoys her life on Fox Street with her dad and younger sister.  She loves the familiarity of the people and the stable routines.  Fox Street has everything, and this summer is even better because Mo’s best friend is returning to stay for several weeks.  The most important thing missing from Fox Street is Mo’s mother.  After that loss, it’s more important than ever to Mo that nothing further be changed on Fox Street.  But there’s something unsettling in the wind, and this may be a more challenging summer than Mo can imagine.  (Formats: Print; Book-on-CD)




A Dog Called Homeless

By Sarah Lean

(Juvenile Fiction; ages 8-12)

Fifth-grader Cally Louise Fisher stops talking, partly because her father and brother never speak of her mother who died a year earlier, but visions of her mother, friendships with a homeless man and a disabled boy, and a huge dog ensure that she still communicates.  (Format: Print)




The Mark of Athena

By Rick Riordan

(Juvenile Fiction; ages 9-13years)

In the third action-packed adventure of the “Heroes of Olympus” series, Greek and Roman demigods must unite and travel to the Doors of Death in order to defeat Gaea and her giants. The Prophecy of Seven has begun, but the group is missing one member. Who will join Percy, Hazel, Frank, Jason, Piper and Leo and help to decipher the mysterious prophecy?(Format: Print; Book-on-CD; Playaway)




Three Times Lucky

By Sheila Turnage

(Juvenile Fiction)

Washed ashore as a baby in tiny Tupelo Landing, North Carolina, Mo LoBeau, now eleven, and her best friend Dale turn detective when the amnesiac Colonel, owner of a café and co-parent of Mo with his cook, Miss Lana, seems implicated in a murder.  (Formats: Print; Book-on-CD)




The One and Only Ivan

By Katherine Applegate; illus. Patricia Castelao

(Juvenile Fiction; ages 8-12 years)

Ivan is a gorilla who lives at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall.  Since he remembers little about his jungle home, he is resigned to life in a cage until the arrival of a baby elephant makes him realize that he and the other animals deserve a better life.  The touching and funny first-person narration will have you cheering for the one and only Ivan! (Formats: Print; Book-on-CD)




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