Weird Little Robots by Carolyn Crimi; illustrated by Corinna LuykenStarring: birdhouse-builder Lark and robot-maker Penny Rose, who become best friends and promise to protect their shared secret: Penny Rose’s robots are alive.
What happens: Penny Rose gets a long-awaited invitation to the Secret Science Society, but if she wants to join, she’ll have to reveal her robots and ruin her friendship with Lark.
Who it’s for: makers, tinkerers, and scientists, as well as readers looking for smart, spunky characters.
Pavi Sharma's Guide to Going Home by Bridget FarrWhat it’s about: Longtime foster kid Pavi Sharma is an expert on foster care survival, and for a fee of Hot Cheetos, she teaches other kids what she knows. When she finds out that five-year-old Meridee is about to be placed with a terrible foster family, Pavi knows she has to act fast -- and that means recruiting a team of helpers.
Read it for: a realistic, fast-paced story filled with memorable characters.
Malamander by Thomas TaylorWelcome to: the resort town of Eerie-on-Sea, where determined Violet Parma enlists orphaned Herbie Lemon in the search for her long-missing parents, causing both kids to tangle with local monster-hunters on the trail of the legendary Malamander.
Read it for: clever clues, close calls, and a colorful cast of characters, not to mention a misty, mysterious setting.
Series alert: If you’re hooked by this seaside escapade, you’re in luck -- it’s the 1st in a series.
Stargazing by Jen WangWhat it’s about: Although they’re from the same Chinese American community, well-behaved Christine doesn’t have much in common with hot-tempered, artsy Moon. Yet when the girls become neighbors, they soon find themselves sharing secrets and K-pop videos -- until jealousy and upsetting news threaten their newfound friendship.
Art alert: warm colors and expressive illustrations add energy to this honest, heartfelt graphic novel.
For fans of: Shannon Hale and Raina Telgemeier.
The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street by Lindsay CurrieWhat it’s about: After witnessing a series of weird and unsettling things, seventh-grader Tessa becomes convinced that her family’s new home is haunted, leading her and her friends to dig into the house’s hair-raising history.
What’s inside: cold patches, unseen footsteps, a color-changing painting, and a crying ventriloquist dummy.
Reviewers say: this spooky mystery is a "perfect flashlight read" (Booklist).
Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye by Tania Del Rio; illustrated by Will Staehle What it’s about: In order to save his family’s creaky, crumbling hotel from his witchy aunt, 12-year-old Warren joins an unusual group of guests in the search for the All-Seeing Eye, a magical treasure rumored to be hidden within the hotel.
Who it’s for: With its gothic illustrations, puzzling mysteries, and slightly sinister humor, this series starter is perfect for fans of Lemony Snicket, Pseudonymous Bosch, and Brian Selznick.
The Girl in the Locked Room by Mary Downing HahnWhat it's about: Jules has lived in lots of old mansions (her dad restores them), but Oak Hill gives her an uneasy feeling -- and that's before she sees an eerie shadow through the window of a locked upstairs room.
Read it for: a nameless ghost, a centuries-old murder, and a page-turning mystery.
For fans of: paranormal stories that are eerie but not leave-the-lights-on scary.
Nooks & Crannies by Jessica LawsonWhat it’s about: Aspiring detective Tabitha Crum is one of six children who've been invited to the creepy mansion of Countess Camilla DeMoss, who believes one of them might be her lost grandchild. As if that weren’t curious enough, a mysterious death occurs in the house just as a sudden snowstorm traps everyone inside.
Why you might like it: Set in 1907, Nooks & Crannies has the satisfying feel of an old-fashioned whodunit.
You might also like: Kate Milford's Greenglass House, a more modern tale of snowbound intrigue.
The Secret of Goldenrod by Jane O'ReillyWhat it’s about: When Trina and her dad move to New Royal, Iowa, to renovate an abandoned Victorian mansion called Goldenrod, Trina starts to believe the town gossip about the house being haunted -- especially after she discovers Augustine, a talking porcelain doll who might be the key to Goldenrod’s hidden history.
Why you might like it: the combination of ghostly mystery with Trina’s realistic worries about fitting in makes The Secret of Goldenrod a fascinating read.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 8-11!
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