No Matter the Distance by Cindy BaldwinWhat it's about: Sixth-grader Penny, who has cystic fibrosis, discovers three upsetting things over spring break: Her best friend is moving away; the dolphin who visits her backyard creek is sick; and she isn't feeling too great herself.
How it's told: in loose, easy-to-read poems from Penny's school writing assignment.
Why you might like it: Written by an author who also has cystic fibrosis, Penny's story is an honest look at living with chronic illness without being defined by it. (Ages 8-12.)
Simon Sort of Says by Erin BowWhat it's about: To avoid the painful, unwanted attention that comes with being the only survivor of a school shooting two years ago, Simon moves with his family to a National Quiet Zone, where internet isn't allowed.
Read it for: lots of heartfelt humor as Simon finds new friendships that help him recover, as well as unexpected ways to pass the time offline, such as dodging attack peacocks and trying to trick astronomers searching for extraterrestrial life. (Ages 9-13.)
Evergreen by Matthew CordellWhat it's about: Evergreen the squirrel is scared of almost everything. But when her mom tells her to bring a special soup to her sick Granny Oak, Evergreen gathers all her courage for a surprise-filled trip through the forest.
Is it for you? If you're brand new to chapter books, the six short chapters in Evergreen might be just right. There are also plenty of pictures packed with fun details to help you follow the story. (Ages 6-9.)
Izzy at the End of the World by K.A. ReynoldsWhat it's about: When aliens invade Earth, Izzy's entire family disappears in the first wave. Now, armed with a baseball bat and accompanied by her beloved dog and a questionable new ally, Izzy must battle giant, tentacled aliens as she searches for her loved ones.
Why you might like it: Izzy, who's autistic and already dealing with anxiety and grief, brings determination and humor to her journey through the apocalypse, and you'll be rooting for her all the way. (Ages 8-13.)
Juniper Harvey and the Vanishing Kingdom by Nina VarelaDream girl? Juniper "June" Harvey keeps having nightmares about a girl turning into a statue. Then, one morning, that very girl appears in her room.
What happens: The girl, Galatea, is a princess from a mythical realm that's slowly disappearing, and she needs June's help to save it.
For fans of: Rick Riordan's books and other funny, exciting fantasies where ancient myths collide with modern life. (Ages 8-12.)
Finally Seen by Kelly YangThen: Five years ago, Lina's parents and little sister moved from Beijing to Los Angeles, leaving Lina with her grandmother.
Now: Lina joins her family in America, but it's not the dream life she expected. Her family is poor, she misses her grandma, and kids at school are mean about her English.
Why you might like it: This moving, realistic story about finding friendship and confidence in a new place might be relatable, especially if you've immigrated or moved like Lina. (Ages 8-12.)
Obie is Man Enough by Schuyler BailarWhat it's about: Thirteen-year-old Obie Chang may have been abandoned by his friends and kicked off the swim team for being trans, but he won't give up on his Junior Olympic dream.
Is it for you? Although Obie faces a lot of cruelty and bullying, he also finds self-confidence with support from his family, girlfriend, and new teammates.
About the author: Author and swimmer Schuyler Bailar was the first transgender college athlete to compete on a Division I men's team. (Ages 10-13.)
Partly Cloudy by Tanita S. DavisWhat it's about: After a tough and scary year for her family, 7th-grader Madalyn moves in with her eccentric great uncle for a fresh start at a new school. But how are things supposed to feel better when Madalyn's the only Black kid in her class, and wildfires are threatening the neighborhood?
Who it's for: readers who like feel-good fiction that doesn't ignore the messy difficulties of real life. (Ages 9-13.)
Nightingale by Deva FaganWhat it's about: In the kingdom of Gallant, 12-year-old orphaned thief Lark prefers the freedom of being a loner. But after a magical sword chooses her to be the next Nightingale, legendary hero of Gallant's workers, she discovers that friendship can be powerful.
Read it for: a diverse cast of characters and a thrilling story that blends fantasy, science fiction, and epic action. (Ages 8-12.)
The Legend of Auntie Po by Shing Yin KhorWelcome to: a remote California lumber camp in 1882, where expert pie-maker and storyteller Mei works with her dad in the camp kitchen.
What happens: While facing growing feelings for her best friend and growing danger after the Chinese Exclusion Act, Mei finds comfort in spinning tall tales about giant Auntie Po and her blue buffalo, Pei Pei.
Why you might like it: This historical graphic novel shows you a moving slice of life through unusual watercolor illustrations. (Ages 10-13.)
Dead Wednesday by Jerry SpinelliThe assignment: After being given black t-shirts and the names of local teens who died recklessly, the 8th-graders at Robbie "Worm" Tarnauer's school are ignored for a day as a reminder to live cautiously.
The twist: Shy Worm's been looking forward to being invisible, but instead receives some very unexpected attention from the chatty ghost of Becca, the girl whose name he's been assigned.
You might also like: Kelly Jones' Sauerkraut, another quirky, thoughtful ghost story. (Ages 10-13.)
Lotería by Karla Arenas Valenti; illustrated by Dana SanmarWhat it's about: When Life and Death play a game of chance, each turn of a card presents a new challenge for their unknowing target, a brave 11-year-old artist named Clara.
Why you might like it: From Clara's home in Oaxaca City, Mexico, to a risky quest in the mythical Kingdom of Las Pozas, this captivating adventure will keep you turning pages to see whether fate or choice will rule Clara's destiny. (Ages 8-12.)
Contact your librarian for more great books!