Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan AuxierWhat it's about: As a chimney sweep in Victorian London, orphan Nan Sparrow is used to loneliness and grimy, dangerous work. Then one day she's rescued from an accident by a strange creature -- a golem -- who becomes her loyal companion.
Why you might like it: Blending fantasy, history, and Jewish folktales, Sweep has something for lots of different readers.
Try this next: Katherine Rundell's Rooftoppers, another historical tale offering a kid's rooftop view of a famous city.
Mac B., Kid Spy: Mac Undercover by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Mike LoweryWhat it is: the story of how regular kid (and future author) Mac Barnett became a secret agent in the 1980s. It's all true, too! Or so he says…
What happens: The Queen of England asks young Mac to find her stolen Coronation Spoon, leading him to a corgi sidekick, an international search, and some extremely silly spycraft.
Don't miss: a drawing of the Queen wearing unicorn jammies, one of the many laugh-till-you-snort cartoon illustrations in this series-starting chapter book.
The Darkdeep by Ally Condie and Brendan ReichsWhat it's about: There are rumors that a Beast lives in Still Cove, Washington, but when middle school friends Nico, Tyler, Emma, and Opal wind up in the cove by accident, what they discover is more amazing than any rumor -- and it could be far deadlier.
Series alert: If you can't get enough of The Darkdeep's eerie, imaginative thrills, you're in luck – there's a sequel on the way.
Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg MedinaStarring: Merci Suárez, who's having a rough year: her friendships are all confusing now that she's in 6th grade, her family duties don't leave her enough time for the soccer team, and her grandpa, Lolo, is acting weird.
Why you might like it: Whether or not you relate to Merci's big family -- who can be as annoying as they are awesome -- it's hard to resist her honest, funny outlook.
Dactyl Hill Squad by Daniel José OlderIn a world... where dinosaurs never went extinct, domesticated dinos are commonplace for Magdalys Roca, an orphan living in Civil War-era New York City.
What happens: After her fellow orphans are kidnapped by a shady magistrate, Magdalys and her friends plan a pterodactyl-mounted rescue mission.
Why you might like it: high-flying action, an inclusive cast of characters, and did we mention the DINOSAURS?
The Jumbies by Tracey BaptisteWhat it's about: Growing up in Trinidad, Corinne has heard the stories about the evil, shape-shifting jumbies that dwell in the forest, but that doesn't stop her from going into the forest on All Hallows Eve -- or from worrying that something followed her out.
Who it's for: Readers who prefer fantasy with hints of horror will welcome the creepiness in this unusual, absorbing twist on a Caribbean folk tale.
Don't miss: the sequel, Rise of the Jumbies.
Oddity by Sarah CannonWelcome to: Oddity, New Mexico, where aliens, zombie rabbits, scary puppets, and carnivorous dumpsters are all totally normal. What isn't normal is the disappearance of Ada Roundtree's twin sister, Pearl.
Why you might like it: You can follow along with determined Ada and her diverse friends as they search for Pearl in this delightfully weird mashup of horror and humor.
The Peculiar Night of the Blue Heart by Lauren DeStefanoFeaturing: good girl Marybeth and "wild boy" Lionel, foster kids and best friends who must unravel a sinister mystery after Marybeth is possessed by an otherworldly blue creature.
Read it for: spine-tingling scares, deep characters, a powerful friendship, and tough topics handled in a sensitive way.
You might also like: A Curious Tale of the In-Between, another spooky tale by author Lauren DeStefano.
Mothman's Curse by Christine Hayes; illustrated by James K. HindleWhat it's about: At an estate sale, Josie Fletcher and her brothers discover a gold moth pin that unleashes the winged, red-eyed Mothman, a local legend who appears just before deadly disasters. Can the three siblings stop the vengeful spirit before it claims more lives?
Is it for you? If you're looking for a good scare, don't miss the combination of well-drawn characters and chilling suspense in this "ectoplasmic extravaganza" (Kirkus Reviews).
Spirit Hunters by Ellen OhWhat it's about: Twelve-year-old Harper can't push away the uneasy feeling she gets from her family's new house. Their 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.
Who it's for: Filled with shivery tension and disturbing ghost encounters, Spirit Hunters will captivate anyone looking for a real fright.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 8-11!
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