Wink by Rob HarrellWhat it’s about: Thanks to a rare form of eye cancer, Ross is stuck with a permanent wink, an eye-shading cowboy hat, a lot of anger, and no hope of blending in during 7th grade.
About the author: A cancer survivor himself, author Rob Harrell brings both honesty and humor to this comics-illustrated book.
For fans of: Cece Bell’s El Deafo -- like Cece, Ross imagines a superhero alter-ego to help him through the frustrating ups and downs of friendship.
Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica KimWhat it’s about: Shy 11-year-old Yumi Chung dreams of making people laugh, not just making good grades like her parents expect. When a mix-up lands Yumi in a comedy camp with her favorite YouTube comedian, she seizes the opportunity, even though it means lying to her new friends.
Try this next: Erin Yun’s Pippa Park Raises Her Game, another funny yet moving story starring a Korean American girl whose efforts to fit in spin way out of control.
Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare LeZotteThe setting: 1805, on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, where 11-year-old Mary is one of many deaf islanders.
What happens: While still grappling with her brother’s recent death, Mary meets a scientist who claims he wants to study the island’s unique form of sign language, but whose real purpose is much more sinister.
Read it for: a captivating and unfiltered view of American history, as well as a brave, clever deaf heroine written by a deaf author.
Can You See Me? by Libby Scott and Rebecca WestcottWhat it’s about: Starting 6th grade at a new school, Tally wants to be “normal,” so she doesn’t tell anyone she’s autistic. But as she faces bullies and grows apart from her best friend, Tally wonders if she should just be herself.
About the authors: Like Tally, author Libby Scott is an autistic middle schooler; author Rebecca Westcott is a neurotypical teacher.
Try this next: Sarah Kapit’s Get A Grip, Vivy Cohen, another authentic story about a likeable autistic girl diving into new experiences.
Trouble at Table 5: The Candy Caper by Tom WatsonWhat it’s about: As soon as 3rd-grader Molly sees the jar of Skittles on the principal’s desk, she knows she just has to count them. Luckily, her best friends Rosa and Simon are ready to join her in a clever, hilarious plan to nab the jar.
Don’t miss: the handy progress bars at the end of every short, fast-paced chapter.
Series alert: The Candy Caper kicks off the Trouble at Table 5 series, which continues in Busted by Breakfast.
The Tiny Hero of Ferny Creek Library by Linda Bailey; illustrated by Victoria JamiesonStarring: dreamy, book-loving Eddie, a bright green bug who lives with his family inside the walls of Ferny Creek Elementary School.
What happens: When his Aunt Min fails to return from a trip to the school library, Eddie ventures out into the hazardous halls to find her.
Who it’s for: With drawings by illustrator Victoria Jamieson and a "Bugliography" of books to try, this whimsical fantasy will appeal to library lovers of all ages.
Klawde: Evil Alien Warlord Cat by Johnny Marciano; illustrated by Robb MommaertsIntroducing: Lord High Emperor Wyss-Kuzz, a feline warlord who’s been exiled from the planet Lyttyrboks and sent to Earth, where he’s adopted by Raj, a lonely human who gives him a new name: Klawde.
Why you might like it: High-energy cartoon art and Klawde’s over-the-top thirst for vengeance will keep you laughing all the way through this offbeat science fiction story.
Series alert: Klawde’s scheming continues in Enemies and The Spacedog Cometh.
Hamstersaurus Rex by Tom O'Donnell; illustrated by Tim MillerWhat it’s about: Sixth-grade misfit Sam is quick to bond with Hamstersaurus Rex, protecting the classroom pet from bully Kiefer “Beefer” Vanderkoff. But after the Hammie eats a protein powder called Dinoblast Powerpacker, he transforms into a super-strong mutant capable of defending himself and Sam – as long as Sam can keep Hammie’s powers a secret.
Why you might like it: This series opener is bursting with zany humor and hilarious misunderstandings.
For fans of: Mo O’Hara’s My Big Fat Zombie Goldfish series.
Wedgie & Gizmo by Suzanne Selfors; illustrated by Barbara FisingerFeaturing: new stepsiblings Jasmine and Jackson, and their pets, evil genius guinea pig Gizmo and cape-wearing corgi Wedgie.
Opposites attract? Gizmo wants take over the world, while Wedgie just wants to make friends with "the Furry Potato." The two of them take turns telling the story of how they learn to get along in this goofy, giggle-worthy chapter book, the 1st in a series.
Toaff's Way by Cynthia Voigt; illustrated by Sydney HansonWhat it is: a year in the life of Toaff, a curious gray squirrel who’s separated from his family in a storm, forcing him to search for a new home on his own.
Why you might like it: Toaff is full of questions, and the answers he finds add fascinating facts to this illustrated animal fantasy.
You might also like: Lynne Rae Perkins’ Nuts to You, another sweet story starring a brave young squirrel seeking a safe home.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 8-11!