Where the Watermelons Grow by Cindy BaldwinWhat it's about: With her daddy working to save the failing family farm, it's up to 12-year-old Della to care for her baby sister and help her mama, who's acting strange and hearing voices again. Can some of the local Bee Lady's magic honey cure Mama's illness and keep the family from falling apart?
Why you might like it: By the end of this serious, heartfelt book, you'll feel like you really know Della and her family and friends.
Willa of the Wood by Robert BeattyWhat it is: a magical adventure set in the world of author Robert Beatty's Serafina series.
Starring: Willa, a young Faeran who lives with her clan in the Great Smoky Mountains and steals from the homesteads of the day-folk.
What happens: When Willa actually meets one of the day-folk, she learns some shocking truths about them, as well as about her own people, their Cherokee neighbors, and the enemies they share.
The Jamie Drake Equation by Christopher EdgeWhat it's about: While his astronaut dad is on the International Space Station searching for extraterrestrial life, British sixth-grader Jamie accidentally makes contact with an alien being and discovers that his dad could be in danger.
Read it for: a brave, believable main character, plus a thrilling blend of real-world science and out-of-this-world science fiction.
Takedown by Laura ShovanWhat it's about: Wrestling team partners Mikayla and Lev have different goals -- Lev wants to make it to the state tournament, while Mikayla wants to prove herself, especially to her dad -- yet somehow they strike up an unexpected friendship.
Who it's for: sports fans, as well as readers who like quirky, down-to-earth friendship stories.
Mr. Wolf's Class by Aron Nels SteinkeWhat it's about: new teacher Mr. Wolf's first day with the fourth-graders of Hazelwood Elementary.
Featuring: Margot, a rabbit who's new at school; Aziza, a duck who gets annoyed during math; Sampson, a frog who's really really got to go; and Penny, a pig who falls asleep in an unusual spot
Is it for you? If you like realistic stories starring animal characters, don't miss this funny, easy-to-read graphic novel, the 1st in the Mr. Wolf's Class series.
A Whole New Ballgame by Phil Bildner; illustrated by Tim ProbertStarring: Best friends Rip and Red, labeled by their classmates as "the black kid who plays basketball" and "the kid on the autism spectrum."
What happens: Rip and Red have trouble adjusting to Mr. Acevdeo, their offbeat new teacher and basketball coach, but as the year goes on, they start to think that change might be okay after all.
Series alert: This is the 1st in the high-energy, cartoon-illustrated Rip and Red series, followed by Rookie of the Year.
The Losers Club by Andrew ClementsIntroducing: the Losers Club, created and named by sixth-grader Alex so that he can sit alone and read during his after-school program. Alex doesn't mind sharing his reading time with club co-founder Nina (who, okay, he kind of likes), but he's frustrated when other people join -- people like his former best friend who's now a total jerk.
Who it's for: Equal parts amusing and hopeful, The Losers Club will satisfy fans of author Andrew Clements' popular school stories.
Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamilloWhat it's about: Longing to become 1975's Little Miss Central Florida Tire so that her absent father will notice her, ten-year-old Raymie enters a baton-twirling class, only to find that her classmates, fierce Beverly and dreamy Louisiana, both have their own motives to win.
Is it for you? This deep, quiet story is perfect for readers who love eccentric characters and big ideas.
Look for: the sequel, Louisiana's Way Home, in October 2018.
Lost in the Sun by Lisa GraffWhat it's about: It began when Trent hit a hockey puck that accidentally killed his teammate, Jared. Since then, Trent panics if he tries to play sports. He fights with his family, draws disturbing pictures, and lashes out against his classmates…which makes it even more confusing when Fallon, the weird girl with the scarred face, decides to be his friend.
Who it's for: Older readers looking for intense stories with authentically complicated characters.
Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly HuntStarring: Ally, who's gone to seven schools in seven years without anyone guessing her secret. Her talents for math, art, and troublemaking help her hide the fact that whenever she tries to read, the letters look scrambled. Could a new teacher and a new way of learning prove that Ally is smarter than she thinks?
Is it for you? If you love Lisa Graff's Absolutely Almost and you want another honest, feel-good school story, you should definitely try this award-winning book.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 8-11!
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