Attack of the Stuff by Jim BentonWhat it’s about: Life can get noisy when man-made objects can talk to you. That’s why Bill Waddler is running away to the forest -- he’s tired of dealing with never-ending insults and complaints from his alarm clock, his hat, his blanket, and even his toilet. (Especially his toilet.)
Series alert: If you liked author Jim Benton’s Dear Dumb Diary or Catwad series, you won’t want to miss the high-energy cartoon art and wonderfully weird ideas in this graphic novel.
What We Found in the Corn Maze and How It Saved a Dragon by Henry ClarkStarring: Modesty, Cal, and Drew, three kids who find a binder of surprisingly boring magic spells and wind up tangled in a quest to stop an environmental disaster in a parallel world that runs on dragon magic.
What’s inside: silly slapstick, witty wordplay, a portal in a refrigerator, a villain with a 3D printer, and a green librarian named Preface.
Why you might like it: Imaginative fantasy and clever humor will keep you turning the pages of this unusual read.
Layla and the Bots: Happy Paws by Vicky Fang; illustrated by Christine NishiyamaWhat it’s about: Layla and her robot friends Beep, Bop, and Boop aren’t just rock stars -- they’re also inventors. So when they find out that their concert at the amusement park is cancelled because everyone in town prefers the dog park, Layla and the band start brainstorming.
Who it’s for: This series-starter is for anyone who likes easy-to-read chapter books filled with colorful art, cool inventions, and characters you’ll want to read about again and again.
Stepping Stones by Lucy KnisleyWhat it’s about: As if it wasn’t bad enough that Jen and her mom moved from the city to Peapod Farm (where Jen is stuck with a whole mess of new chores), Jen also has to put up with her mom’s insensitive boyfriend and his too-perfect daughter Andy.
Don’t miss: the scribbly pages from Jen’s notebook, where she pours out her feelings as they change.
For fans of: the realistic graphic novels of Victoria Jamieson, Svetlana Chmakova, and Vera Brosgol.
Focus on: Cooking and Baking
Summer of a Thousand Pies by Margaret DillowayWhat it’s about: Twelve-year-old Cady is surprised to find that her next foster home will be with Shell, the aunt she never knew she had. Baking at Aunt Shell’s pie shop and meeting her small-town neighbors makes Cady feel like she’s home for the first time...which also makes her worry that it’s too good to last.
Why you might like it: Cady’s fight for a place to belong is honest and moving, and her recipes might tempt you to bake your own pies.
The Doughnut Fix by Jessie JanowitzWhat it’s about: Feeling lost after his family moves from New York City to teeny-tiny Petersville, talented baker Tristan decides to hunt down the recipe for the town’s legendary, “life-changing” chocolate cream doughnuts and open his own doughnut stand.
Featuring: recipes and a business plan, in case Tristan inspires you to make and sell some delicious creations of your own.
Series alert: This quirky and relatable story is the 1st in a series, followed by The Doughnut King.
Pie in the Sky by Remy LaiWhat it’s about: After the loss of his father, 12-year-old Jingwen immigrates to Australia with his family. Though his brother has no trouble fitting in, Jingwen feels like an alien. The only thing that makes him feel better is baking the cakes he dreamed up with his dad -- an activity he has to hide from his strict mother.
Read it for: an easy-to-read blend of words and crisp cartoon art (think Raina Telgemeier or Gene Luen Yang).
Midsummer's Mayhem by Rajani LaRoccaWhat it’s about: Determined to prove herself to her highly accomplished family, aspiring chef Mimi enters a kids’ baking contest. With help from Vik, a mysterious boy she meets in the forest, Mimi begins experimenting with unusual ingredients, leading to unexpected and outrageous results.
You might also like: Anna Meriano’s A Dash of Trouble, another fantasy featuring a big family, a small town, some out-of-control magic, and plenty of mouth-watering baked goods.
Nixie Ness, Cooking Star by Claudia Mills; illustrated by Grace ZongWhat it’s about: Can you be best friends with more than one person? Third-grader Nixie didn’t think so, but now that she’s bonding with the kids in after-school cooking camp while her BFF Grace hangs out with classmate Elyse, she isn’t so sure.
For fans of: Karen English’s Carver Chronicles or Annie Barrows’ Ivy + Bean books.
Series alert: For more about Nixie and her friends, pick up Vera Vance: Comics Star, the next book in the After-School Superstars series.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 8-11!