by Michelle Houts
Grade 3 & up

Christmas is not turning out as Bettina expect. It is the first Christmas with out her beloved grandfather. While her father’s trip on Christmas day was planned, her mother’s was not. In all of the hustle and confusion, no one left a bowl of rice pudding out for the Nisse (a Danish gnome type creature). Klakke is young, as nisse go, and is truly upset about being forgotten. After working some mischief in the barn, his curiosity gets the better of him. One thing leads to another and he ends up taking Pia, Bettina’s one-year-old sister. Bettina must use all of her resources and everything she knows of nisse lore to figure out a way to get her sister back before her parents get home. This appears to take place in rural, present day Denmark since there are flashlights and telephones. A good Christmas time story for grades 3-6.

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Disappearance at Hangman’s Bluff

Disappearance at Hangman's BluffDisappearance at Hangman’s Bluff
by J.E. Thompson
Grades 5 & up

In this sequel to The Girl from Felony Bay, Abbey and Bee have another mystery on their hands. When they witness someone stealing their neighbor’s pregnant Boykin Spaniel, they feel they must find her before the impending tropical storm hits the island. One clue leads to another as they uncover a murder and links to a string of robberies. Includes interesting information about slave graveyards as well. Recommended for grades 5-8.

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Because They Marched: The People’s Campaign for Voting Rights That Changed America

Because They Marched: The People's Campaign for Voting Rights That Changed AmericaBecause They Marched: The People’s Campaign for Voting Rights That Changed America
by Russell Freedman
Grades 5 & up

A look at the historic march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama in 1965, including the events that led up to it and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that was passed in large part due to the violence that surrounded it. Includes an epilogue about the Supreme Court’s 2013 decision taking away some of the power of that act. Illustrated with powerful black and white photographs throughout. Recommended for grades 5 and up.

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Annika Riz, Math Whiz

Annika Riz, Math WhizAnnika Riz, Math Whiz
by Claudia Mills
Grades 1 & up

This second book in the Franklin School Friends series features third grader Annika who loves math. Her two best friends love reading and running respectively, which Annika doesn’t mind, but they hate math. Annika wishes that her friends would at least appreciate the importance of math, even if they don’t love it like she does. Through a series of misadventures surrounding the school carnival and involving cookie baking and lemonade making, Annika is finally able to show her friends the everyday importance of understanding math. It had me at “girl who loves math.” Recommended for grades 1-3, whether they love math or not.

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Miles Taylor & the Golden Cape: Attack of the Alien Horde and Rise of the Robot Army

Attack of the Alien HordeAttack of the Alien Horde
by Robert Venditti
Grades 4 & up

Miles Taylor is an ordinary kid going through a difficult transition. His mom left and he and his dad have moved to a smaller apartment. This move also forces him to switch to a different middle school, where he has caught the attention of the school bully. But everything changes when he inherits the golden cape of Gilded, the seemingly invincible superhero who has been protecting Atlanta for 50 years. Now the power and responsibility rest on Miles’s shoulders (both literally and figuratively). Can Miles figure out how to work the cape in time to save the Earth from an alien attack? Luckily, his new friend Henry is obsessed with Gilded. With Henry’s help, he just might be able to do this. A clever and well-written look at the ins and outs of becoming a superhero. Fun comic strip panels show Gilded’s adventures whenever Miles dons the cape. Highly recommended for grades 4 & up.

Rise of the Robot ArmyRise of the Robot Army
by Robert Venditti
Grades 4 & up

Miles Taylor has spent a wonderful summer as Gilded, the superhero who saves Atlanta from catastrophe and disaster. It is very hard to return to being an ordinary middle school student. He realizes on the very first day of eighth grade that he doesn’t want to go back to being a nobody. But the cape doesn’t work for selfish reasons, so he has to expanded his field of trouble to look for. When both his father and his best friend (and partner in crime fighting) Henry call him on this new behavior, he runs off. He ends up landing himself and Henry in the worst situation possible — in the clutches of someone who wants to end Gilded forever. This second novel in the Miles Taylor and the Golden Cape series is just as good as the first one, exploring a different side of being a superhero. Readers will definitely want to start at the beginning. Recommended for grades 4 & up.

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A Less than Perfect Peace

A Less than Perfect PeaceA Less than Perfect Peace
by Jacqueline Levering Sullivan
Grades 5 & up

In this sequel to Annie’s War, Annie Howard and her family have moved to Tacoma, Washington. It is the winter of 1950, and her father is back home after losing his eyesight in World War II. He and her Uncle Billy (also home from the war) are trying to start up their carpentry business, while her mother is pursuing her own dream of owning her own hair salon. When Annie becomes friends with two Dutch refugees, her plate is piled high with almost more than she can handle. This touching story reminds us that even though a war is over, it never really ends. Recommended for grades 5 & up.

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A Hitch at the Fairmont

A Hitch at the FairmontA Hitch at the Fairmont
by Jim Averbeck
Grades 5 & up

When eleven-year-old Jack Fair’s mother dies suddenly, he is taken right from her funeral to the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco to live with his nasty Aunt Edith. Life with her is miserable, but when she mysteriously disappears he feels he must find her, since he has no other relatives. Luckily, famed director Alfred Hitchcock is staying right next door, and Jack convinces him to help in the search. This is an interesting romp through San Francisco in the 1950s and a clever mystery to solve. Many of the Hitchcock references will be lost on young readers, unfortunately. Recommended for grades 5-8.

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How I Discovered Poetry

How I Discovered PoetryHow I Discovered Poetry
by Marilyn Nelson
Grades 4 & up

Acclaimed poet Marilyn Nelson looks back at the 1950s, a pivotal decade in her own life as well as that of the rest of the country, through a series of unrhymed sonnets. These follow her life story from the age of 4 to 14, as her father, one of the first African American career officers in the Air Force is transferred to a variety of different bases. The poems give a vivid look at life for a young girl growing up then, both as an African American and a daughter of an often transferred officer. The poems are powerful and moving, and can stand alone as well as make a cohesive story together. Recommended for grades 4 & up.

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Freedom Summer: The 1964 Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi

Freedom Summer: The 1964 Struggle for Civil Rights in MississippiFreedom Summer: The 1964 Struggle for Civil Rights in Mississippi
by Susan Goldman Rubin
Grades 5 & up

The summer of 1964 was dubbed “Freedom Summer” by the Council of Federated Organizations, a conglomerate of several major civil rights organizations who chose that summer to focus on voter registration in Mississippi. Starting with a vivid description of the disappearance of Mickey Schwermer, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney, this book follows many of the other volunteers and activists through the rest of the summer as they tried help African Americans in Mississippi to register to vote. Their struggle was difficult and the dangers were very real. This moving account of that summer is not for the faint of heart, but an important part of history not to forget. Highly recommended for grades 5 and up.

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Fleabrain Loves Franny

Fleabrain Loves FrannyFleabrain Loves Franny
by Joanne Rocklin
Grades 4 & up

Pittsburgh. 1952. Jonas Salk is working hard at inventing a vaccine for Polio, but for Franny it is too late. She has contracted the dreaded polio virus. She is luckier than some, and is able to breath on her own, without the help of an iron lung. But she is confined to a wheelchair, having lost the use of her legs. An avid reader, she falls in love with the newly published Charlotte’s Web. Imagine her surprise to find her own talking insect, an flea named Fleabrain, with the ability to write her notes and speak to her. Since her other friends have deserted her for fear of catching Polio, Fleabrain is her only friend. He takes her on all sorts of adventures while she works hard to regain the use of her legs. A story about the many forms of friendship and believing in oneself. Recommended for grades 4-6.

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