The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander; illustrated by Kadir NelsonWhat it is: a celebration of the African American artists, athletes, leaders, and survivors -- some famous and some unknown -- who’ve changed America, written by the author of The Crossover.
What’s inside: soul-stirring poetry that begs to be read out loud, plus bold artwork that demands a second look.
Don’t miss: the final pages, which contain fast facts about the people and events shown in the book.
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 inspire you to bake some pies of your own.
The Last Last-Day-of-Summer by Lamar Giles; illustrated by Dapo AdeolaStarring: skillful sleuths Otto and Sheed, the Legendary Alston Boys of Logan County, Virginia.
What happens: extraordinary events are nothing new in Logan County, but even adventurers like the Alston Boys have their hands full when their town is frozen in time and troubled by inter-dimensional invaders.
Try this next: Sarah Cannon’s Oddity, another zany fantasy set in an unusual town and starring a brave African American kid.
Caterpillar Summer by Gillian McDunnWelcome to: Gingerbread Island, North Carolina, where protective 11-year-old Cat and her brother Chicken are visiting the grandparents they’ve only just met.
What happens: Since their dad died, Cat has taken care of Chicken while their mom works. But with their grandparents around to help, Cat's responsibilities shift, making her reconsider how she fits into her family.
Try this next: Teresa E. Harris’ The Perfect Place, which also follows siblings who spend a life-changing summer with an older relative.
Pilu of the Woods by Mai K. NguyenWhat it’s about: Tree spirit Pilu and human Willow each have their own reasons for feeling sad, angry, and frustrated with their families. When they meet in the woods one day, they strike up a friendship that leads to an unexpectedly dangerous journey.
Read it for: a sweet, serious graphic novel about tough emotions, told through imaginative art.
Out-of-This World Nonfiction
Welcome to Mars: Making a Home on the Red Planet by Buzz Aldrin with Marianne J. DysonWhat it is: an invitation to join the crew of a mission to Mars.
What’s inside: fascinating facts about space, science, and the Red Planet, including details about what it would take for humans to build a city on Mars.
About the authors: Marianne J. Dyson is a former NASA flight controller, and former astronaut Buzz Aldrin was the second person to walk on the moon.
Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian FlocaWhat it is: a dramatic, up-close look at the historic Apollo 11 mission to the moon, tracing each step from liftoff to moon landing to returning home.
Why you might like it: large, super-detailed illustrations let you discover not only the facts of the mission, but also the thrilling sense of adventure.
Try this next: If you’re curious about the other Apollo missions, check out Jeffrey Kluger’s To the Moon! Or Suzanne Slade’s Daring Dozen.
The Space Adventurer's Guide: Your Passport to the Coolest Things to See and Do... by Peter McMahon; illustrated by Josh Holinaty Welcome to: space, the vacation destination of the future! Though it sounds like science fiction, space tourism might be possible in your lifetime.
Suggested activities include: visiting Jupiter’s moons, staying on the International Space Station, swimming in an anti-gravity pool, and windsurfing on Saturn’s moon Titan.
Why you might like it: the magazine-style blend of photos, cartoons, and science facts is perfect for browsing.
Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream by Tanya Lee StoneWhat it’s about: In 1961, 13 brave female pilots became the first American women to train as astronauts, even though they were barred from the official NASA program.
What’s inside: tons of photos featuring the real people, places, and things described in the book.
Who it’s for: older kids interested in the “almosts” of history, as well as the famous firsts.
To Burp or Not to Burp: A Guide to Your Body in Space by Dr. Dave Williams and Loredana; illustrated by Theo KrynauwWhat it’s about: In space, everything from burping to picking your nose to using the toilet can be a challenge. Why? Find out in this funny and fact-filled book about what happens to the human body in microgravity.
For fans of: creative problem-solving and gross science.
Author alert: As a doctor and a former astronaut, Dave Williams knows his stuff -- some of the photos in the book are from his own trips to space!
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 8-11!