A Box of Bones by Marina CohenStarring: 12-year-old Kallie, who leans on logic and predictability in the aftermath of her mother's death.
What happens: Kallie's reassuring routine is disrupted when she's given a set of enchanted bone dice which connect her to the world of apprentice bone carver Liah, whose story seems tangled up with Kallie's.
You might also like: Karen Foxlee's Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy, another fantasy with a skeptical heroine and a fairy-tale feel.
The Pepper Party Picks the Perfect Pet by Jay CooperIntroducing: the unruly Pepper clan: Ricky, Beta, Maria, Scoochy, Megs, and Annie, plus Mom, Dad, and Meemaw.
Why you might like it: The laughs begin when Annie suggests getting a family pet, and they keep on coming as the Peppers go through a supremely silly series of attempted animal adoptions. (Turning the tarantula loose seems like a good idea...)
Series alert: This zany comedy is only the beginning -- there are already three more Pepper Party books in the works.
The Last Chance Hotel by Nicki ThorntonWhat it's about: After Seth Seppi, aspiring chef and kitchen boy at the Last Chance Hotel, is falsely accused of murdering a visiting magician, he needs all the help he can get -- magical and otherwise -- to prove his innocence.
Read it for: deadly desserts, off-the-wall characters (both human and feline), a fascinating fantasy world, and a gripping murder mystery.
Stone River Crossing by Tim TingleThe setting: Mississippi, 1808, when the Bok Chitto River is bordered by a Choctaw Nation town on one side, and a slave-owning plantation on the other.
What happens: When Martha Tom, a Choctaw girl, shows a secret river crossing to Lil Mo, an enslaved boy, it marks the beginning of a life-changing friendship, as well as an otherworldly adventure.
Did you know? This moving yet funny story from Choctaw author Tim Tingle is based on real events.
All the Greys on Greene Street by Laura TuckerWhat it’s about: Twelve-year-old Ollie’s artist mom won’t get out of bed, and her art restorer dad has disappeared, leaving behind a secret note and a puzzling mystery involving a wooden statue.
Why you might like it: sharp details and delicate sketch art will make you feel like you’re right there with Ollie and her friends as they search for answers in 1980s New York City.
Try this next: Laura Marx Fitzgerald’s Under the Egg, another bittersweet art mystery set in NYC.
Evil Emperor Penguin by Laura Ellen AndersonIntroducing: supervillain Evil Emperor Penguin and his minions, Number 8 the octopus and Eugene the fuzzy yeti.
What happens: Although Evil Emperor Penguin’s dreams of world domination are often thwarted by his own bumbling, he gets really upset when Eugene goes to work for his nemesis, the mustached Evil Cat.
Why fans of Dog Man might like it: Similar to Dog Man’s archenemy Petey the Cat, Evil Emperor Penguin is more silly than scary.
Sparks! by Ian Boothby and Nina MatsumotoWhat it’s about: Talented cats August and Charlie join forces inside a mechanical dog suit to protect the Earth from the cute but cutthroat alien baby, Princess.
Why fans of Dog Man might like it: If the potty humor in Dog Man makes you laugh, you don’t want to miss this graphic novel told from the point of view of a super-smart litterbox.
You might also like: the clever scientist felines in Drew Brockington’s CatStronauts series.
Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Go to School by Julie Falatko; illustrated by Colin JackThe problem: Loyal dogs Sassy and Waldo aren’t allowed to follow their human, Stewart, to school.
The solution: With the help of a handy disguise, the dogs go undercover at Stewart’s school as new student Salty Woofadogington. Because no one would ever suspect a squirrel-obsessed kid in a trench coat…right?
Why fans of Dog Man might like it: Though Sassy and Waldo aren’t quite as heroic as Dog Man, their cartoon-illustrated antics will still leave you howling with laughter.
Gordon: Bark to the Future! by Ashley SpiresWhat it’s about: With all the other agents of P.U.R.S.T. (Pets of the Universe Ready for Space Travel) in danger, space dog Gordon travels through time to save his friends and stop an alien invasion.
Why fans of Dog Man might like it: Similar to Dog Man, Gordon features a likeable canine hero plus goofy, energetic art.
Series alert: You can jump right into this 2nd book in the P.U.R.S.T. Adventures, though new fans might want to try the 1st, Fluffy Strikes Back, or the Binky Adventures (starring Gordon’s space cat friend).
Stick Dog by Tom Watson; illustrated by Ethan LongStarring: Stick Dog, a lovable stray whose quest to steal delicious hamburgers from a family picnic is held up by the not-so-smart shenanigans of his doggy friends Karen, Stripes, Mutt, and Poo-Poo.
Why fans of Dog Man might like it: Stick Dog combines the stick-figure art style of Wimpy Kid with the animal characters and off-the-rails humor of Dog Man.
Series alert: This is the 1st of 7 books in the easy-to-read Stick Dog series.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 8-11!
Somerset County Library System of New Jersey1 Vogt Drive
P.O. Box 6700
Bridgewater, New Jersey 08807