Frizzy by Claribel A. Ortega; illustrated by Rose BousamraStarring: Dominican American middle schooler Marlene, who's tired of spending Sundays at the salon so that her curls can be painfully straightened into her family's idea of "good hair."
What happens: Marlene's defense of her natural hair lands her in trouble at first, but also leads her to connect with her cool Tia Ruby...and her own confidence.
Art alert: Warm pastel artwork brings Marlene's world to life in this sweet, authentic graphic novel. (Ages 8-12.)
Mihi Ever After by Tae Keller; illustrated by Geraldine RodriguezWelcome to: the Rainbow Forest, the magical land that Mihi and her friends discover through their school librarian's fridge. There, Mihi can finally live out her princess dreams -- unless maybe they're not the happy ending she's been looking for?
Why you might like it: The Rainbow Forest's talking animals and familiar fairy tale characters are sure to grab fantasy fans, while Mihi's journey -- the 1st in a series -- will appeal to readers who love not-so-typical princess stories. (Ages 8-12.)
The Greatest in the World by Ben ClantonWhat it's about: To figure out who is "the greatest," mutant potato brothers Rot and Snot take on a series of challenges, judged by their little sister Tot.
Why you might like it: Part chapter book and part graphic novel (some of the art is made using real potatoes!), this offbeat, silly story is fun to look at and fun to read.
Series alert: This is the 1st in a series from popular Narhwal and Jelly author Ben Clanton. (Ages 7-9.)
Freestyle by Gale GalliganLast dance: Eighth-grader and just-okay student Cory has one final competition with his dance crew, the Eight Btiz, before they head off the different high schools.
New moves: The crew isn't as strong as it used to be, and neither are Cory's grades. Enter Sunna, Cory's peer tutor and new friend whose incredible yo-yo skills spark fresh creativity.
For fans of: realistically messy friendship stories and the energetic cartoons of creator Gale Galligan's Baby-Sitter's Club graphic novels. (Ages 8-13.)
Show Us Who You Are by Elle McNicollStarring: autistic wannabe-journalist Cora, who's grieving for her mom and frustrated by classmates who don't understand her.
What happens: Cora meets Adrien, who has ADHD and who makes her feel like she can just be herself. But Adrien's dad's company makes "digital immortality" technology, and Cora suspects it might be as sinister as it is groundbreaking.
Why you might like it: This own voices science fiction story will make you think about life, death, and what makes us who we are. (Ages 9-13.)
Bhai for Now by Maleeha SiddiquiWhat it's about: two long-lost identical twins -- hockey player Ashar and interior design fan Shaheer -- who meet on the first day of eighth grade and hatch a daring plan to switch places.
Why you might like it: This funny, fast-paced slice of life uses the familiar Parent Trap set-up to explore how two very different brothers find a new understanding of themselves and their complicated family. (Ages 8-13.)
Just Harriet by Elana K. Arnold; illustrated by Dung HoStarring: third-grader Harriet, who sometimes tells lies and gets what her mom calls "out of hand."
What happens: Harriet and her cat Matzo Ball are sent to Marble Island for the summer to stay with her grandma, Nanu. Harriet isn't too happy to be there, but things get a lot more interesting after she finds an old-fashioned key that might lead to a mystery.
For fans of: perfectly imperfect chapter book heroines like Clementine and Ramona Quimby. (Ages 7-10.)
Sydney & Taylor Explore the Whole Wide World by Jacqueline Davies; illustrated by Deborah HockingWhat it's about: Fast friends and burrow-mates Sydney (a skunk) and Taylor (a hedgehog), who decide to explore the world beyond their cozy home and see what it's like to be "wild and fearless and free."
You might also like: the equally devoted animal duo in Laurent Castillo's Our Friend Hedgehog.
Series alert: Go on another adventure with these besties in the sequel, Sydney & Taylor Take a Flying Leap. (Ages 6-9.)
Harry Versus the First 100 Days of School by Emily Jenkins; illustrated by Pete OswaldWhat it's about: Worried first-grader Harry starts school feeling nervous about everything. But during the first 100 days, Harry learns that he's up to the challenges of new friends, strict teachers, scary classroom guinea pigs, and the tricky silent "e".
How it's told: in short, easy-to-read sentences and chapters.
Try this next: Kevin Henkes The Year of Billy Miller, another feel-good story about a school year that you can read by yourself or out loud with someone older. (Ages 5-9.)
The Astronomically Grand Plan by Rie Neal; illustrated by Talitha ShipmanIntroducing: third-grade science fan Astrid, who wants to become the first astronaut with hearing aids.
Step one... is joining the Shooting Stars, an after-school club for kids who love space. The only problem is that Astrid's best friend Hallie prefers art to math and science, and Astrid doesn't get along with her club teammate Veejay.
Series alert: With creativity and teamwork, Astrid continues chasing her space dreams in The Unlucky Launch and Hydroponic Hijinks. (Ages 7-10.)
Catastrophe by Sherri Winston; illustrated by Gladys JoseStarring: young sleuth Walia (you can call her Wednesday), who has juvenile arthritis, and Woof, her trusty service dog and fellow detective.
What happens: When their opera-singing neighbor can't find her beloved cat, Wednesday and Woof take the case.
Why you might like it: Both the words and the art in this fast, funny mystery give you clues so that you can follow the twists and turns as Wednesday and Woof sniff out the truth. (Ages 6-9.)
Contact your librarian for more great books!