The Tiny Hero of Ferny Creek Library by Linda Bailey; illustrated by Victoria JamiesonAnimal Fantasy. Dreamy, book-loving Eddie is bright green bug who lives with his family inside the walls of Ferny Creek Elementary School. Eddie usually sticks close to home, but when his Aunt Min fails to return from a trip to the school library, Eddie ventures out into the hazardous halls to find her. Just as the two bugs are reunited, they uncover a scheme to turn the beloved library into a testing center. Can one little bug save an entire library? With drawings by award-winning illustrator Victoria Jamieson and a "Bugliography" of classic books to try, this whimsical animal fantasy will appeal to library lovers both young and old.
Pennybaker School is Headed for Disaster by Jennifer BrownFiction. At the Pennybaker Hill Academy for the Uniquely Gifted, Thomas' skillful magic tricks don't exactly stand out. Among classmates who juggle chainsaws, talk to hedgehogs, or play the didgeridoo, new kid Thomas has a tough time proving himself (though being an expert spitball-shooter helps). Just as he's starting to fit in, Thomas is accused of stealing a much-loved statue from the school, and nobody except his "capital-‘W' weird" neighbor Chip will help him hunt down the real thief. Similar to Stuart Gibbs' books, this series opener combines mystery and off-the-wall humor to create an uproariously funny read.
Superstar by Mandy DavisFiction. The school cafeteria is LOUD. After years of being homeschooled, fifth-grader Lester is upset by the noise, crowds, and bullies at his new public school, not to mention the kids and teachers who just don't seem to get him. However, the school has a science fair, and like his astronaut father (who died five years ago), Lester adores science. Can winning the fair help him find his place at Quarry Elementary? And will putting a name -- "autism spectrum disorder" -- to the way he experiences things make them any easier? Find out in this honest look at the ups and downs of school for a kid on the spectrum.
The Song from Somewhere Else by A.F. Harrold; illustrated by Levi PinfoldFantasy. Frank Patel doesn't really want to make friends with her strange, smelly classmate Nick. But when Nick helps her escape the cruel neighborhood bullies and offers to let her hide at his house, she's not about to turn him down. It's at Nick's house that Frank first hears the beautiful, haunting music -- music that leads her to discover an unearthly secret that threatens Nick's family, and maybe even the whole world. Dark end eerie illustrations enhance the creepiness of this fantasy, making a perfect pick for fans of Neil Gaiman.
Spirit Hunters by Ellen OhParanormal Fiction. Twelve-year-old Harper only has hazy memories about the events that led her family to move to Washington, D.C., but she can't push away the uneasy feeling she gets from their new house. Her neighbor, Dayo, says that the place is haunted, a claim that gets easier to believe as Harper's little brother begins acting out in alarming ways. Soon it becomes clear that in order to fight for her family's future, Harper will have to face up to the past. Filled with shivery tension and disturbing ghost encounters, Spirit Hunters will captivate anyone looking for a real scare.
Oddly Normal by Otis FramptonGraphic Novel Fantasy. For half-witch, half-human Oddly, it only takes one careless wish to turn life upside-down. After her birthday-candle wish for her embarrassing parents to disappear actually comes true, ten-year-old Oddly is whisked away by her aunt to live in the magical realm of Fignation. Now, besides worrying about her parents, Oddly has to get used to a new house and a new school…oh, and the fact that she's living alongside zombies, vampires, and robots! Cartoon illustrations capture Oddly's fish-out-of-water struggles in this charming 1st book in the Oddly Normal series.
Genuine Sweet by Faith HarkeyLow Fantasy. With a name like Genuine Sweet, you'd think she'd have a life to match, but things aren't easy for this small-town Georgia girl. Her family is poorer than ever since her hard-drinking dad lost his job, and even though Genuine has the gift of "fetching" wishes, the wishes can only be used for other people. Trying to make the best of it, she devotes herself to helping others, yet she can't help wondering: would it be so bad to fetch just one wish for herself? Readers who like Ingrid Law's Savvy but want a grittier look at magic and family bonds will love Genuine Sweet.
Dreamer, Wisher, Liar by Charise Mericle HarperLow Fantasy. The mysterious jar is labeled "wishes," and it might be the only thing that can transform Ashley's terrible summer. It's bad enough that she has to babysit for annoyingly perky 7-year-old Claire -- how is Ash also supposed to deal with her best friend Lucy moving away? It's not like she can easily make new friends, since she has face blindness and can't recognize people. Finding the jar of wishes provides a welcome distraction, especially after Ash realizes that the wishes can transport her back in time. The past and the present collide in this "amusing, heartfelt" (Kirkus Reviews) story about friendship and change.
The Seventh Wish by Kate MessnerFiction. It's not every ice-fishing expedition that yields a wish-granting fish, and 12-year-old Charlie isn't going pass up the chance to make some changes in her life. She could use a new Irish dancing dress, for instance, and she'd like Roberto Sullivan to notice her. Yet while Charlie's fish-wishes do come true, the results are often complicated. And when her sister Abby returns from college with a painful problem, Charlie is afraid that wishing won't be enough. Authentic and just a little bit magical, The Seventh Wish is destined to "zing straight to the hearts of readers" (Kirkus Reviews), especially those who enjoyed Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm's Sunny Side Up.
Wishing Day by Lauren MyracleFiction. They say that in Willow Hill, on the third night of the third month after her 13th birthday, a girl gets to make three wishes on a special willow tree. Yet when Natasha's wishing day arrives, she visits the tree reluctantly. Natasha isn't sure she believes in magic, but she's got plenty of wishes: She wishes to be noticed by her large, messy family. She wishes for her first kiss. And most of all, she wishes for her mother, who's been missing for years. Like Wendy Mass' Willow Falls series, this trilogy-starter is a warm, realistic story with gentle hints of fantasy.
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