Stuffed by Liz BraswellWhat it’s about: Have you ever felt like your favorite toys could protect you from darkness and monsters? That’s how it feels for bullied 11-year-old Clark -- only in his case, it’s true.
What happens: Clark and his new friend, a handmade sock toy named Foon, must rescue Clark’s dad from the sinister shadow monster that stalks him.
Don’t miss: the chapters told from Foon’s unique point of view, as well as the patterns for making your own stuffed toys.
Allies by Alan GratzThe date: June 6, 1944, also known as D-Day, when one of the most important battles of World War II was fought.
The characters: young Americans Dee and Sid, both fighting on the front lines; French-Algerian Resistance spy Samira; Canadian paratrooper James; African American medic Henry; and many others who help to turn the tide of the war.
For fans of: serious, dramatic war stories like Projekt 1065 and Grenade, also by popular author Alan Gratz.
Gross as a Snot Otter: Discovering the World's Most Disgusting Animals by Jess Keating; illustrated by David DeGrandWhat it is: a round-up of 17 amazingly icky animals, complete with photos, cartoons, and facts.
Did you know: that marabou storks poop on their legs to cool down? Or that herring communicate by passing gas? Or that Siberian chipmunks rub their fur with snakeskins to ward off predators? It’s all true!
Series alert: This is the 3rd book in the World of Weird Animals series -- for something less yucky, try Pink Is for Blobfish or Cute as an Axolotl.
Voyage of the Frostheart by Jamie LittlerWhat it’s about: After being banished from his home for revealing his dangerous song-weaving powers, young Ash joins up with the misfit crew of the Frostheart for a journey of discovery across the snowy, monster-riddled tundra.
Read it for: a fascinating cast of characters, such as grouchy yeti Nobu, peg-legged walrus Captain Nuk, and archeomek scholar Shaard.
Art alert: Detailed graphic novel-style artwork gives you a glimpse of Ash’s frozen fantasy world.
Naked Mole Rat Saves the World by Karen RiversWhat it’s about: Twelve-year-old kit (spelled with a small k, for “keep it together”) and her best friend Clem are both hiding secrets: Clem hasn’t told anyone the real reason she fell during a performance with her acrobat family, and kit isn’t sure how to explain that stress transforms her into a small, wrinkly naked mole rat.
Is it for you? If you enjoy the offbeat combination of fantasy and reality, don’t miss this serious story told with a light touch.
Zoey and Sassafras: Dragons and Marshmallows by Asia Citro; illustrated by Marion LindsayIntroducing: smart, curious Zoey and her cat Sassafras, who’ve just discovered that Zoey can see magical animals, just like her scientist mom can.
What happens: While her mom is away, Zoey has to use her own science know-how to help a sick baby dragon.
Why you might like it: Short chapters, cute artwork, and a can-do attitude make this series starter a winning choice.
Meet Yasmin! by Saadia Faruqi; illustrated by Hatem AlyWhat it’s about: Pakistani American second-grader Yasmin uses her imagination in all kinds of ways: she maps her neighborhood, joins in painting and building projects at school, and finds inspiration in her mom’s colorful kameez.
Read it for: energetic art, zippy chapters, and a chance for those who don’t speak Urdu to learn some new words.
Try this next: Jules Jacqueline’s My Family Adventure, another chapter book about an adventurous, easy-to-like girl and her family.
Megabat by Anna Humphrey; illustrated by Kass ReichWhat it's about: After moving into his new attic bedroom, Daniel Misumi discovers an unexpected roommate: Megabat, a talking fruit bat who just wants to go home to Borneo.
Why you might like it: It's hard not to smile at Megabat's unusual way of speaking (smooshfruit, anyone?) and love of Star Wars (he's even got a bendy-straw lightsaber).
Series alert: This illustrated story of cross-species friendship is the 1st in a series.
Sam Wu Is Not Afraid of Ghosts by Katie and Kevin Tsang; illustrated by Nathan ReedWhat it’s about: After an embarrassing pants-wetting incident earns him the nickname Scaredy-Cat Sam, Sam Wu decides to prove his bravery by adopting a pet snake (no, he doesn’t need to hold it) and hunting the ghost that haunts his closet.
Series alert: This is the 1st book in a funny, eye-catching series, followed by Sam Wu Is Not Afraid of Sharks and Sam Wu Is Not Afraid of the Dark.
You might also like: Lenore Look’s Alvin Ho series.
Mia Mayhem Is a Superhero! by Kara West; illustrated by Leeza HernandezStarring: eight-year-old Mia Macarooney, a "total disaster machine" who’s thrilled to learn that she’s not clumsy, she’s a superhero!
What happens: Mia’s parents are super too, and they help her through an awkward start at PITS (Program for In Training Superheroes).
For fans of: the easy-to-read style and page-turning action in Shannon and Dean Hale’s Princess in Black series.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 8-11!