Rebound by Kwame AlexanderWhat it's about: It's the summer of 1988, and 12-year-old Charlie Bell is grieving the sudden death of his dad while visiting with his tough-love grandparents and getting schooled on the basketball court by his cousin Roxie.
Why you might like it: Comics-style illustrations and page-turning poetry give Rebound all the joyful intensity of a well-played pick-up game.
Series alert: You don't need to have read The Crossover to enjoy this prequel.
They Lost Their Heads! What Happened to Washington's Teeth, Einstein's Brain... by Carlyn BecciaWhat it is: a snarky, cheerfully creepy collection of true stories about the body parts of historical figures.
Did you know? One of Elvis Presley's warts is now considered memorabilia; Thomas Edison's last breath was saved in a vial and given to Henry Ford; and pieces of Galileo, Albert Einstein, and Mata Hari were stolen after their deaths.
Try this next: Georgia Bragg's How They Croaked, for further outlandish facts about the famous dead.
Hurricane Child by Kheryn CallenderStarring: Caroline, an unlucky 12-year-old who's abandoned by her mother, bullied at school, and stalked by the spirit of a woman in black.
What happens: Caroline finds her first friend (and first crush) in new classmate Kalinda, who joins Caroline's search for answers about her mother, as well as the truth about the spirit who stalks her.
Read it for: memorable characters and a vivid, magic-tinged Virgin Islands setting.
Peasprout Chen: Future Legend of Skate and Sword by Henry LienWhat it's about: When Peasprout Chen and her brother move from rural Shin to the city of Pearl in order to study wu liu (a blend of figure skating and martial arts), they have high hopes -- all of which might be dashed after Peasprout is accused of vandalism.
Is it for you? If you love complex fantasy worlds and breathless action, don't miss this series opener.
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker RhodesWhat it's about: One minute, 12-year-old Jerome is messing around with his friend's toy gun; the next, he's been shot by a white police officer, and he joins the ghosts of Emmett Till and other black boys who lost their lives to racist violence -- and who now spend their afterlives seeking justice and healing.
Why you should read it: Painful, poetic, and powerful, Ghost Boys is sure to spark emotions and start conversations.
Pieces of Why by K.L. GoingWhat it's about: While growing up in a poor New Orleans neighborhood, Tia dreams of using her extraordinary singing voice to change the world, but that dream -- and her ability to sing -- is shattered after a tragedy reveals the truth about why her dad is in prison.
Read it for: a sympathetic character facing a tough situation.
Try this next: Sherri Winston's The Sweetest Sound, another story about a troubled, talented singer.
I Am Drums by Mike GrossoStarring: Sam (not Samantha), a sixth-grader with drumbeats in her soul.
What happens: Since her parents don't understand her drumming ambitions (and can't afford a drum kit anyway), Sam starts a secret lawn-mowing business and begins paying for drum lessons on the sly.
You might also like: Celia C. Pérez's The First Rule of Punk, which also stars a middle school musician who defies her family to pursue her passion.
Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada KellyWhat it's about: As the only Filipina in her small-town Louisiana school, Apple is no stranger to bullying, but after she's ranked third-ugliest in class, even her friends abandon her. Now, music is her only comfort, and if she had a guitar of her own, she could play the Beatles songs she loves so much.
Who it's for: Anyone who's ever felt like an outsider will root for Apple as she wades through cruelty and embarrassment in search of her true gifts.
Hiding Out at the Pancake Palace by Nan MarinoStarring: 11-year-old Elvis Ruby, who blows his chance at superstardom when he freezes during a reality TV singing competition.
What happens: Fleeing to his aunt's pancake restaurant in New Jersey's Pinelands, Elvis goes incognito as an ordinary kid. But awkward loner Cecilia sees through his disguise and convinces him to help her search for the mysterious song that haunts the Pinelands.
Who it's for: readers who enjoy distinctive settings and funny, believably imperfect characters.
Legends, Icons, & Rebels: Music That Changed the World by Robbie RobertsonWhat it is: 27 mini-biographies of boundary-busting musicians from the 1920s through the 1960s.
What's inside: tributes to musical game-changers such as Chuck Berry, Aretha Franklin, Johnny Cash, and James Brown, plus a lovingly crafted playlist of their iconic songs.
Is it for you? Whether you're just browsing or looking for a deep dive, the eye-catching graphics and intriguing profiles in Legends, Icons & Rebels are hard to resist.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 10-13!
Somerset County Library System of New Jersey1 Vogt Drive
P.O. Box 6700
Bridgewater, New Jersey 08807