The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnultyStarring: twelve-year-old Lucy, who has genius-level math skills (a side effect of surviving a lightning strike) and obsessive-compulsive habits (a side effect of living with a "supercomputer brain")
What happens: Lucy's grandma won't let her apply to college unless she abandons her predictable homeschooling and completes one year of public middle school. Yikes.
Who it's for: proud math geeks, as well as anyone looking for a unique character facing typical problems.
Breakout by Kate MessnerWhat it is: a scrapbook-style collection of letters, texts, articles, poems, and comics created by the people of Wolf Creek, New York, during the manhunt for two escaped inmates from the nearby prison.
Why you might like it: Focusing on three different seventh-graders, this attention-grabbing book offers multiple points of view into a story about friendship, race, justice, and injustice.
The Inventors at No. 8 by A.M. MorgenWhat it's about: Though he's convinced of his own bad luck, young orphan George joins his inventor neighbor, Ada, as well as new friend Oscar and baby orangutan Ruthie, on a daring treasure hunt across 1800s Europe.
Read it for: fantastic flying machines, close calls with criminals, and touches of humor.
Try this next: Jordan Stratford's Wollenstonecraft Detective Agency series offers further imagined adventures for real-life tech pioneer Ada Byron Lovelace.
Rosetown by Cynthia RylantWelcome to: Rosetown, Indiana, 1972, where bookish Flora Smallwood is starting fourth grade with her old friend Nessy and her new friend Yury, all while getting used to her dog's recent death and her parents' recent separation.
Is it for you? If you like cozy slice-of-life stories that let you really get to know a character, Rosetown might be right for you.
Bob by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead; illustrated by Nicholas GannonStarring: ten-year-old American Livy, who's visiting her Gran in Australia for the first time in years; and Bob, the small, green creature in a chicken suit who's been waiting for Livy's return.
What happens: Despite Livy's confusion about what Bob is and how she forgot him, the two friends soon resume their search for clues about Bob's true home.
About the authors: Superstar authors Rebecca Stead and Wendy Mass join forces for the first time in this quirky, heartfelt fantasy.
The Bad Guys by Aaron BlabeyWhat it's about: Sure, he seems shady, but Mr. Wolf isn't a big, bad monster. To prove it, he and his reluctant pals Mr. Shark, Mr. Snake, and Mr. Piranha, are founding a Good Guys Club to do heroic deeds. If only the other animals weren't too scared to appreciate their help…
Why you might like it: Part graphic novel, part early chapter book, this series opener is bursting with energy and laugh-yourself-silly slapstick.
Hazy Bloom and the Tomorrow Power by Jennifer Hamburg; illustrated by Jenn HarneyWhat happens: It begins with a prickly feeling and an image of flying green peas. It takes Hazel "Hazy" Bloom a while to figure out that it's a vision of the near future, that it's the first of many, and that it's difficult to decode without causing more disasters than she prevents.
Series alert: This goofy, fast-paced read is the 1st in a series, followed by Hazy Bloom and the Pet Project.
Waylon! One Awesome Thing by Sara Pennypacker; illustrated by Marla FrazeeWhat it's about: Science-loving fourth grader Waylon doesn't want to be an "Other," but he doesn't want to be a "Shark-Puncher," either. Unfortunately, those are the only two choices given by Arlo, the popular kid who's dividing Waylon's class into rival teams. Can Waylon use his humor, heart, and know-how to bring people together?
For fans of: Kevin Henkes, Beverly Clearly, and the Clementine series -- fans will be excited to spot Clementine in Waylon's class.
Weekends with Max and His Dad by Linda Urban; illustrated by Katie KathIntroducing: Max, whose parents just got divorced, prompting him to worry that spending weekends at his dad's new apartment will feel weird.
What happens: Instead of weird, weekends are busy! They shop for furniture, Max helps Dad with his ukulele act, and Dad helps Max turn pizza boxes into a porcupine habitat.
Series alert: After reading this illustrated series-starter, you'll look forward to spending more weekends with this funny, caring duo.
My Life in Pictures by Deborah ZemkeWhat it is: the sketchbook of Beatrice Holmes Garcia, who takes her frustration about her best friend moving away and a mean new kid moving in and pours it into her creative cartoon drawings.
Series alert: If you like this 1st Bea Garcia book, don't miss the 2nd, The Curse of Einstein's Pencil.
You might also like: Angela Dominguez's Stella Diaz Has Something to Say, another book about a relatable girl who's separated from her best friend.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 8-11!
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