Forever Home by Jenna AyoubWhat it's about: Tired of moving every couple of years with her military parents, Willow is determined to make a home in historic Hadleigh House -- even though it's already occupied by a slew of stubborn spirits.
Why you might like it: Well-versed in horror movies, Willow is a fearless and funny heroine, and her upbeat attitude is echoed in this graphic novel's lively, animation-style illustrations.
The Sea-Ringed World: Sacred Stories of the Americas by María García Esperón; illustrated by Amanda Mijangos; translated by David BowlesWhat it is: a poetic, dramatic, and fascinating book of traditional tales from Native cultures and nations across North and South America.
What's inside: a Maya story about playing ball in the underworld; a Hopi tale starring Spider Grandmother; an Alutiiq warning for careless hunters; a Nahua two-spirit story; plus many more.
Why you might like it: Eye-catching illustrations and extra-short stories make this book just right for stop-and-start readers, as well as those obsessed with myths and legends.
Houdini and Me by Dan GutmanStarring: 21st-century New York City kid Harry Mancini, an expert on 20th-century illusionist and escape artist Harry Houdini.
What happens: When Harry begins getting magical texts from Houdini's ghost, he's amazed and thrilled… until Houdini suggests an alarming feat: swapping bodies and time periods with Harry.
Author alert: If you love author Dan Gutman's series (such as My Weird School and The Genius Files), don't miss this witty, fast-paced fantasy.
Allergic by Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee NutterWhat it's about: Feeling overlooked in her family and lonely at her new school, Maggie longs for a puppy to keep her company. When a trip to the animal shelter causes a major allergic reaction, however, Maggie realizes that finding the perfect animal friend will be more complicated than she expected.
Why you might like it: If you deal with allergies of your own or you've ever felt confused about your family and friends, you might relate to Maggie's experiences in this colorful, slice-of-life graphic novel.
Simon B. Rhymin' by Dwayne ReedWhat it's about: In his head, Chicago 5th-grader Simon Barnes is a world-famous rapper. In real life, though, he's the short, shy kid in the background. Can a chance to help out a neighbor be the push Simon needs to share his rhymes out loud?
Read it for: realistic characters (author Dwayne Reed is a 4th grade teacher), an upbeat vibe, and plenty of rap breaks to keep the pages turning.
Granted by John David AndersonWelcome to: the Haven, where fairy Ophelia Delphinium Fidgets has just gotten her first assignment to fulfill a human's wish.
What happens: Traveling in the human world is tough for tiny Ophelia, but she finds friendship with homeless dog Sam. As she gets closer to her goal, however, she can't stop wondering: who decides which wishes are important, and why?
Try this next: For further feel-good fantasies focused on wishes, try Faith Harkey's Genuine Sweet or Lauren Myracle's Wishing Day.
The Magic in Changing Your Stars by Leah HendersonThe setup: After messing up his audition for the school musical, 11-year-old dancer and rapper Ailey confides in his Grampa, who confesses his own childhood regret and offers a magical gift: a pair of tap shoes that transport Ailey to Grampa's youth in 1939 Harlem.
The question: Can changing Grampa's past help Ailey change his own future?
You might also like: Rita Williams-Garcia's Clayton Byrd Goes Underground, another moving story about a kid finding himself through his grandfather's legacy.
Inkling by Kenneth OppelWhat it's about: Grieving the loss of his mom and stuck with a school project he can't finish, Ethan Rylance is struggling. Luckily, help arrives in the form of Inkling, a living inkblot who can read, write, draw, and (most importantly) listen.
Why you might like it: With true-to-life characters, off-kilter humor (Inkling talks like whatever he's read recently), and interesting ideas about creativity and friendship, Inkling is a quirky and memorable read.
Orphan Island by Laurel SnyderThe rules: Each year, a boat delivers a new youngest child to the magical island of orphans. Then the boat takes away the Elder, so that there are always nine kids remaining.
The rulebreaker: When it's Jinny's turn to be the Elder, she refuses to leave, upsetting the island's peaceful balance.
Why you might like it: This unusual, mysterious fantasy will make you ask questions about the way things are done on the island, as well as in the real world.
Cattywampus by Ash Van OtterlooWhat it's about: Doing magic is forbidden in Howler's Hollow, North Carolina. But that doesn't stop Delpha McGill from seeking a spell to fix her family's money problems, or stop Katybird Hearn from proving that her family's magic abilities haven't skipped her because she's intersex.
What happens: Delpha and Katy clash over a hex, accidentally re-awakening an old family feud -- and waking their zombie ancestors.
For fans of: Molly Knox Ostertag's The Witch Boy, Kat Leyh's Snapdragon, and other stories about witchy family history and unexpected friendship.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 8-11!
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