Drum Roll, Please by Lisa Jenn BigelowStarring: 13-year-old Melly, who sheds her shyness when playing the drums.
What happens: A trip to rock-and-roll camp turns into an emotional rollercoaster after Melly's parents announce their upcoming divorce, her friend Olivia ditches her, and she starts crushing on guitarist Adeline.
Try this next: For another inspiring read about a middle school girl who finds confidence amid confusion and change, try Victoria Jamieson's Roller Girl or Barbara Dee's Star-Crossed.
Dreaming Dangerous by Lauren DeStefanoWelcome to: the Brassmere Academy for the Extraordinary, a secluded, unusual school where friends Plum, Vien, Gwendle, and Artem share synchronized dreams filled with adventure and monsters to slay.
What happens: As their dreams begin turning into nightmares, Artem vanishes with an ominous warning: "They're coming for us."
For fans of: author Lauren DeStefano's A Curious Tale of the In-Between and other dark, eerie tales of friendship and long-held secrets.
Amal Unbound by Aisha SaeedWhat it's about: Quiet Pakistani schoolgirl Amal has plans to become a teacher, but those plans are shattered when the crooked village landlord forces her to work off her family's debt as a servant in his luxurious home. Can Amal find a way to beat an unfair system that's designed to keep her down?
Why you might like it: You'll be drawn to Amal's spirit and strength as she holds onto hope and fights for her future.
Fadeaway by Maura Ellen StokesWhat it's about: Sam's been expecting to start 9th grade alongside her best friend and basketball teammate, Reagan. But after Reagan's heart gives out during a pick-up game, Sam has to face high school grief-stricken and alone.
Why you might like it: On-the-court action and a hint of the supernatural help to balance this bittersweet story of loss, recovery, and enduring friendship.
The Memory of Forgotten Things by Kat ZhangStarring: seventh-grader Sophia, who has a picture-perfect memory of the cake her mom baked for her tenth birthday...despite the fact that her mom died when she was six.
What happens: It turns out that Sophia isn't the only one with impossible memories, and together with new friends, she searches for a way to turn those memories into reality.
You might also like: Christopher Edge's The Many Worlds of Albie Bright, another thought-provoking book that asks: could life be better in an alternate universe?
Focus on: Science Fiction
Fuzzy by Tom Angleberger and Paul DellingerFeaturing: Fuzzy, the first robot student at Vanguard Middle School; Max, the free-thinking classmate who becomes Fuzzy's guide; and Vice Principal Barbara, the controlling supercomputer who's out to get them both.
Reviewers say: "a day-after-tomorrow cautionary tale of friendship with a fuzzy, robotic heart" (Kirkus Reviews).
About the author: You might recognize co-author Tom Angleberger's name -- and his smart, offbeat sense of humor -- from the popular Origami Yoda series.
The Fog Diver by Joel RossWhat it's about: In a future where a deadly Fog covers the Earth, forcing humans to live on mountaintops and airships, 13-year-old "tetherboy" Chess and his fellow air raft scavengers are racing to find a cure for their guardian's fogsickness.
Is it for you? Bursting with futuristic action and hilarious misunderstandings about modern pop culture, The Fog Diver will be irresistible to science fiction fans.
Series alert: Don't miss the sequel, The Lost Compass.
Boy X by Dan SmithWhat it's about: When Ash wakes up in an unfamiliar island laboratory, he's full of questions: How did he get there? Why does he suddenly have superhuman abilities? And can he make it out alive when the only escape route leads through a jungle full of booby traps and bizarre creatures?
Read it for: weird science, a twisty plot, and pulse-pounding suspense.
Try this next: Kate Messner's Wake Up Missing, another tense survival thriller about escaping from a remote medical facility.
Space Dumplins by Craig ThompsonWhat it's about: A flood of space-whale diarrhea might sound funny, but in Violet's sector of the galaxy, it's a highly toxic threat. When Violet's dad goes missing during the disaster, the determined girl and her friends decide to go and find him...and maybe save the solar system, too.
Why you might like it: Even more attention-grabbing than Violet's urgent interstellar quest is the book's artwork, which is energetic and hyper-detailed.
Time Traveling with a Hamster by Ross WelfordStarring: Albert Einstein Hawking Chaudhury, whose 12th birthday gifts include a pet hamster, a letter from his deceased father, and a mission to find his dad's time machine and use it to prevent the accident that led to his dad's death. No pressure, right?
Why you might like it: Packed with uproarious mishaps and big ideas, Time Traveling with a Hamster will make you think while keeping you on the edge of your seat.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 10-13!
Downers Grove Public Library
1050 Curtiss St.
Downers Grove, Illinois 60515