Dragons in a Bag by Zetta ElliottIntroducing: nine-year-old Jax, who's not happy about spending a day with Ma, the grouchy old lady who raised his mom.
What happens: Ma turns out to be a witch, and soon Jax is joining her on a quest to transport three baby dragons from modern Brooklyn into the magical realm. Does he have what it takes to be a witch's apprentice?
Series alert: Jax's fast-paced fantasy adventure continues -- dragons and all -- in 2019's The Dragon Thief.
The Dreamway by Lisa PapademetriouWhat it's about: Stella's suspicions that something strange is happening to her twin brother Cole are confirmed when a talking mouse arrives in Stella's bedroom to take her to the dream world, where Cole's spirit is being held captive.
Read it for: true-to-life characters and an unusual, imaginative fantasy setting.
For fans of: Tahereh Mafi's Furthermore or Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth.
Henry & Eva and the Castle on the Cliff by Andrea PortesWhat it's about: Mourning the loss of their parents in a boating accident, siblings Eva and Henry are sent to live with their "jerk-face" uncle in his clifftop home. There, the ghosts of Henry and Eva's ancestors appear to warn them that their parents' deaths were not accidental, spurring the siblings to search for the killer themselves.
Who it's for: readers who like clever characters and mysteries that are spooky but not scary.
Angel and Bavar by Amy WilsonFeaturing: Bavar, a seven-foot-tall, sharp-toothed monster-fighter magically disguised as a typical boy; and Angel, a grieving girl who can see through Bavar's disguise.
Why you might like it: Angel and Bavar take turns narrating this touching yet creepy tale, allowing you to understand both sides of their unlikely friendship, as well as their shared mission to rid the world of monsters for good.
Love Like Sky by Leslie C. YoungbloodWhat it's about: Ever since their parents got divorced, Georgie and her little sister Peaches have been close, but now that their mom is remarried, Georgie longs to get closer to her teenage stepsister, Tangie...even though Tangie doesn't want anything to do with her.
Why you might like it: It's easy to relate to Georgie's excitement and confusion as she gets used to her newly "blended-up" family in this honest, heartwarming story.
Focus on: Nannies & Babysitters
Mr. Gedrick and Me by Patrick CarmanWhat it's about: Ever since the death of their stay-at-home dad, Stanley and his family have been having a tough time. They decide to hire someone to help around the house, but they get much more than they bargained for in Mr. Gedrick, their colorfully dressed -- and possibly magical -- new nanny.
Why you might like it: Before you can say "supercalifragilistic," you'll be won over by Mr. Gedrick's Mary Poppins-style charm.
Marge in Charge by Isla FisherWhat it's about: She's tiny, rainbow-haired, claims to be a duchess, and serves chocolate soup for dinner: Marge is definitely not your typical babysitter. How are siblings Jake and Jemima supposed to finish their mom's to-do list with Marge causing mayhem everywhere she goes?
Series alert: This fast-moving, mischievous 1st book in the Marge in Charge series (by actress and author Isla Fisher) is followed by Marge in Charge and the Stolen Treasure.
Absolutely Almost by Lisa GraffStarring: ten-year-old Albie, who feels like he's not talented or smart enough to measure up to his family's expectations.
What happens: Kicked out of private school because he can't keep up in math and reading, Albie faces bullies at his new public school, but finds friendship with fellow outsider Betsy and free-spirited babysitter, Calista.
Is it for you? If you liked R.J. Palacio's Wonder or Jerry Spinelli's Loser, you'll enjoy this glimpse into the life of another caring but unpopular kid.
Mrs. Noodlekugel by Daniel Manus Pinkwater; illustrated by Adam StowerWhat it's about: Sweet old Mrs. Noodlekugel, who lives in a cozy cottage with her talking, piano-playing cat and some unusually helpful mice, isn't just Nick and Martine's new neighbor -- she's also their new babysitter.
Is it for you? Short, offbeat, and 1st in a trilogy, Mrs. Noodlekugel might be a good fit if you're new to chapter books.
Nanny X by Madelyn RosenbergWhat it's about: With her mirrored shades and diaper bag full of spy gadgets, Nanny X is more than a nanny -- she's also a special agent for NAP (Nanny Action Patrol), and her new charges, Ali and Jake, are swept up in her latest case.
Don't miss: the sequel, Nanny X Returns.
For fans of: the goofy gizmos, offbeat humor, and eccentric heroine in Jarrett J. Krosoczka's Lunch Lady series.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 8-11!
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