The Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure and The Case of the Weird Blue Chicken: The Next Misadventure

The Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure (Chicken Squad, #1)The Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure
by Doreen Cronin
Grades 1 & up

Those four crazy chicks from Doreen Cronin’s The Trouble with Chickens are back, but this time they are the ones solving the mysteries. When a squirrel comes running into the chicken coop, scared out of his mind, the chicks help him figure out what the big scary thing in the barnyard is. Includes a discussion of shapes and colors. This funny new series is aimed at slightly younger readers. Recommended for grades 1-3.

The Case of the Weird Blue Chicken: The Next Misadventure (Chicken Squad Adventure, #2)The Case of the Weird Blue Chicken: The Next Misadventure
by Doreen Cronin
Grades 1 & up

This second Chicken Squad mystery has Dirt, Sugar, Poppy, and Sweetie helping a blue jay (otherwise known as a weird blue chicken) find her stolen house. They manage to solve the mystery and save the day in their usual creative way. It is sure to provide laughs among the early readers. Recommended for grades 1-3. You do not have to have the read the first book in the series.

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The Astounding Broccoli Boy

The Astounding Broccoli BoyThe Astounding Broccoli Boy
by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Grades 4 & up

Rory is the smallest kid in his class, constantly picked on by the others, especially Tommy-Lee. His teachers and classmates blame Rory for the mishaps, refusing to see what is being done to him. When Rory suddenly turns bright green while on a class trip, he is first blamed for it and then whisked away to a hospital isolation ward. He finds none other than Tommy-Lee in the ward and also green. While the doctor tries to figure out what is going, the two of them sneak out at night. They have decided that the green color gives them super powers. Their adventures across London are hilarious, as they accidentally bring more chaos to an already stricken city. This witty adventure story is highly recommended for grades 4 & up.

ARC provided by publisher.

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Totally Joe and Also Known as Elvis

Totally Joe (The Misfits, #2)Totally Joe
by James Howe
Grades 5 & up

If you haven’t already read The Misfits, I recommend that you do so before reading Totally Joe. It’s not completely necessary, but it is helpful. I am grateful for this book, as a school librarian, because there are plenty of boys like Joe who need books that tell their stories. He is clever, funny, strong, and brave. Totally Joe is his odyssey of discovery during 7th grade, not of who he is because that he clearly knows, but of the place he finds in his world with the others in it. It is about friendship and that mine field we call middle school. It is about love and loss and most of all being true to yourself. Highly recommended to 5th grade and up.

Also Known as Elvis (The Misfits, #4)Also Known as Elvis
by James Howe
Grades 5 & up

In this final companion to The Misfits, we get to hear Skeezie’s story. The summer between 7th and 8th grade is a hard one for him. The rest of the Gang of Five (Joe, Bobby, & Addie) are heading out on vacation, while he is stuck at home taking care of his sisters. His mother works two jobs, and things have gotten bad enough that she asks him to find work over the summer. There are not many jobs that a 13 year can get, so Skeezie is really lucky to get a part-time job working at the Candy Kitchen with HellomynameisSteffi. He is muddling along, trying to make the best of it, when his dad shows up for the first time since leaving them two years before. Now everything is all mixed up, and Skeezie doesn’t know what to do. This is an excellent story, even if you haven’t read the other three. Fans of the first three will enjoy the final wrap at the end. Recommended for grades 5 & up.

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Ship of Dolls and Dolls Of Hope

Ship of DollsShip of Dolls
by Shirley Parenteau
Grades 4 & up

Lexie’s mother sings in nightclubs, and since her new husband feels that being with parents who sleep all day and are out all night is no life for a child, Lexie has been sent to live with her grandparents in Portland, Oregon. She is having a hard time adjusting. Her class is raising money to send a doll to Japan as part of the Friendship Doll exchange of 1926. (American children sent more than 12,000 dolls to Japan to promote friendship between the two countries.) Only one letter can be sent with the doll, and when Sophie learns that the winner gets to go to San Francisco to see the dolls off, she knows she has to win. Sophie makes a lot of mistakes, but she always means well. She takes a bigger look at what it means to be a friend as well as what it means to be a parent. An engaging story for grades 4-6.

Dolls Of HopeDolls Of Hope
by Shirley Parenteau
Grades 4 & up

In this companion book to Ship of Dolls, the Friendship Dolls have now arrived in Japan and girls from schools all over Japan are going to a welcoming ceremony in Tokyo. One of those girls is Tamura Chiyo, who recently left her small family farm to attend a boarding school nearby. Her older sister is engaged to a wealthy farmer, and he sends her to the school to learn the proper way to behave. While there are some of the familiar themes of “poor girl at a boarding school being picked on by the queen bee,” they are mixed in with traditional Japanese culture as well as changes occurring within Japan in the late 1920s. Chiyo must make some hard choices regarding family, friends, loyalty, and following her heart. This is a fascinating look at Japan before the start of World War II, as well as a reminder that girls everywhere have more in common than not. Recommended to grades 4 & up.

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The Badger Knight

The Badger KnightThe Badger Knight
by Kathryn Erskine
Grades 4 & up

It is 1346, and the English towns on the border are anticipating a war with Scotland to start imminently. Adrian, the albino son of the village bowyer, wants nothing more than to prove himself as an expert archer. But he is only 12, and a small 12 at that. When his best friend Hugh follows the soldiers, Adrian follows Hugh. Along the way, his many adventures cause him to question things he had believed to be true. He finds friendship in unexpected places, and sees the world around with new eyes. Recommended for grades 4-8.

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Middle-School Cool

Middle-School CoolMiddle-School Cool
by Maiya Williams
Grades 4 & up

When Dr. Kaboom arrives in the quiet town of Horsemouth, New Hampshire, no one is quite sure what to make of him and his outlandish Kaboom Academy, the new and different experimental middle school. Intent on making learning fun again for the students, Kaboom Academy has some of the most irregular teachers and coursework. The 10 7th graders in the Journalism 1A, lead by Mr. Mister, take it upon themselves to explore the school and solve the mysteries around them. A fun and intriguing read, for fans of other middle school themed books, as well the Mysterious Benedict Society. Recommended for gradesĀ 4 & up.

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A Nearer Moon

A Nearer MoonA Nearer Moon
by Melanie Crowder
Grades 3 & up

Luna will do anything to save her sister from the curse of the wasting disease. In a village that used to be by a river but is now built on stilts above a swamp, Luna lives with her mother, grandmother, and her younger sister, Willow. When Willow accidentally swallows some of the swamp water she immediately falls ill. This disease has been seen before. The person wastes away, dying three weeks to the day of contamination. Luna breaks all of her mother’s rules, trying everything she can to save her sister. In alternating chapters we also learn the story of the young Sprite who caused the change in the river. A fantasy full of hope and redemption. Recommended for grades 3-6.

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Sorry You’re Lost

Sorry You're LostSorry You’re Lost
by Matt Blackstone
Grade 6 & up

Denny’s world fell apart when his mother died. His father has completely checked out. Denny sees school as a stage — he hides his hurt by being the biggest class clown, even when he knows he shouldn’t, even when he doesn’t want to. The seventh grade dance is coming up, and his best friend Manny talks him into selling candy bars at school to earn enough money to make a real splash at the dance. Denny throws himself into the candy sales, focussing on nothing else. It’s only a matter of time though, until his self-destructive behavior starts to get the better of him. How much lower will he have to go before he hits rock bottom? A painful but important book to read, full of love, loss, and finally redemption. Recommended for grades 6-8.

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The Question of Miracles

The Question of MiraclesThe Question of Miracles
by Elana K. Arnold
Grades 4 & up

Three months after her best friend dies, Iris’s mom gets a new job and the whole family moves to Corvallis, Oregon. Instead of being the oldest grade in her Seal Beach, California elementary school, Iris is now the youngest in her Corvallis middle school. Plus, it is constantly raining. As Iris slowly and unwilling settles into her new life routine, several questions plague her. Is there a such thing as a miracle? If so, why do some people get miracles and others don’t? Most importantly, why Sarah and why not her? As she searches for answers, Iris begins to put a new life together in Oregon. This emotionally moving book asks the questions that many of us struggle with. Although there are no easy answers, children will be glad to see they are not alone in their questioning of the world around them. Recommended for grades 4 & up.

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Mouseheart (Mouseheart #1)Mouseheart
by Lisa Fiedler
Grades 4 & up

Hopper and his siblings Pinky and Pup are growing up in a comfortable life in a pet shop, until the day they find out they are being raised as “feeder” mice — in other words, snake food. In a daring escape, the three siblings are separated, and we stick with Hopper as he discovers an underground kingdom of rats who have an uneasy alliance with feral cats. Taken in by Prince Zucker, they are accosted by a group of rebel rats and mice, who believe that Hopper may be the “Chosen One.” This is a classic battle between good and evil, and Hopper learns that what seems right isn’t always. Recommended for grades 4-8.

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