The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly BarnhillFantasy. The Proctectorate claims that babies have to be sacrificed every year to satisfy the evil forest witch. The villagers obey, never realizing that the witch, Xan, is actually a kind soul who rescues the abandoned infants. After Xan accidentally "enmagicks" one of the babies by feeding her moonlight, she decides raise the child (now named Luna) herself, with some help from a sage swamp monster and a tiny, talkative dragon. As Luna's 13th birthday approaches and her magic grows, you'll begin to see that her story is just one of many threads in this imaginative and carefully crafted page-turner.
Sticks & Stones by Abby CooperFiction. For 6th-grader Elyse, it's not just difficult to ignore what other people say about her, it's impossible. She's got cognadjivisibilitis, which means that anything said about her literally appears on her skin. Whether it's soothing praise or itchy insults, Elyse can't hide from others' opinions -- and those opinions have gotten a lot meaner since her best friend and kinda-boyfriend both ditched her. Feeling alone and embarrassed, Elyse is surprised when she starts receiving mysterious notes offering to help her. Could enough encouragement change her on the outside as well on the inside? Find out in this offbeat, hopeful, and (mostly) realistic story.
The Imagination Box by Martyn FordScience Fiction/Fantasy. An astonishing invention turns summer vacation into a dangerous quest for bored, lonely Tim. Professor Eisenstone's new nano-assembler can create anything you can imagine, and with nothing else to do, Tim has developed a powerful imagination. He helps the professor get the machine working by imagining all sorts of magical things (including Phil, a witty and well-mannered "finger monkey"). But the device can also turn fears into reality, and when it goes missing along with Eisenstone, Tim has to find both before his nightmares start coming true. Whether you love mystery, fantasy, adventure, or all three, you should definitely check out The Imagination Box.
The Thing About Leftovers by C.C. PayneFiction. Twelve-year-old Fizzy aims for perfection, both in her cooking and her life. Her cooking skills are pretty impressive, but her life is still messier than she'd like: since her parents' divorce, she's had to deal with a new town, a new school, new stepparents, and now a new half-sibling on the way. Tired of holding back her feelings about being overlooked, Fizzy decides to earn her parents' attention by entering (and hopefully winning) the Southern Living Cook-Off. Foodies who relish this honest and amusing book about a recipe-loving Southern girl may also appreciate Kat Yeh's The Truth About Twinkie Pie.
The Dumbest Idea Ever! by Jimmy GownleyGraphic Memoir. How do you go from being a regular middle schooler to a published graphic novelist? For Jimmy Gownley (creator of the Amelia Rules! series), it began with a bout of chicken pox. Smart, popular, and athletic, Jimmy suddenly found himself sidelined by illness. However, as his grades and social life took a nose dive, his creativity flourished, and by the age of 15, Jimmy had self-published his first comic book. Without shying away from the bumps in the road, this cartoon-illustrated memoir manages to be both funny and inspiring -- a perfect fit for fans of Raina Telgemeier.
Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx by Sonia ManzanoMemoir. If you grew up watching Sesame Street, you already know Sonia Manzano, who played the character of Maria for decades. In this "lyrical and unflinching" (Kirkus Reviews) memoir, you get a glimpse of the person behind the character: her turbulent childhood of poverty and abuse, her cramped yet lively neighborhood in the Bronx, and her dedication to following her dreams of becoming an actress. Older readers who enjoy this gritty yet heartfelt read -- and those looking for another story about a Puerto Rican teen in 1960s NYC -- should also be sure to pick up Manzano's award-winning novel, The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano.
Popular: A Memoir: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van WagenenMemoir. In 2012, when she first discovered a 1951 book called Betty Cornell's Teen-Age Popularity Guide, eighth grader Maya Van Wagenen had nothing to lose. Already in the "Social Outcast" group at her Texas middle school, Maya committed herself to following the book's advice, no matter how weird or old-fashioned it seemed. The results were mixed -- the tips for talking to everyone in the cafeteria worked lot better than the girdle did -- but simply by trying something different, Maya found a confidence she didn't know she had. Optimistic middle school misfits will find both humor and understanding in this funny, matter-of-fact memoir.
I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World by Malala Yousafzai with Patricia McCormickMemoir. When the gunman boarded the bus, he had only one question: "Who is Malala?" Targeted by the Taliban for her outspoken support of education for girls in her native Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai survived her injuries from the shooting that day. In I Am Malala, she invites you to share her experiences, both ordinary (she gets mad at her brothers and loves her best friend) and extraordinary (in 2014, she became the youngest person to win a Nobel Peace Prize). Aspiring activists, as well as anyone looking for an inspiring true story, won't want to miss this powerful memoir.
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