Thirteen Witches: The Memory Thief by Jodi Lynn AndersonStarring: twelve-year-old Rosie, who's just gained the ability to see magic, and her absent-minded, unloving mother.
What happens: Realizing that her mother's memory has been cursed by one of 13 evil witches, Rosie (along with her best friend Germ and some ghostly assistance) decides to fight for her mom -- and herself.
Who it's for: With swift pacing, imaginative magic, and a captivating storytelling style, The Memory Thief is a good bet for fans of Kelly Barnhill's The Girl Who Drank the Moon.
Amina's Song by Hena KhanWhat it's about: At the start of 7th grade, talented songwriter Amina is wondering where she belongs. While visiting Pakistan, she sometimes felt "not Pakistani enough," but now that she's back in Wisconsin, her friends don't understand her love for Pakistan. How is she supposed to be herself when she's always stuck in-between?
Series alert: This hopeful and heartfelt story is a sequel to Amina's Voice, but you can enjoy it on its own.
You might also like: Sherri Winston's The Sweetest Sound.
Flood City by Daniel José OlderWelcome to: Flood City, humanity's last stronghold on a drowned Earth.
What happens: With war brewing between Flood City's Star Guard and the spaceship-dwelling Chemical Barons, an unexpected alliance between City musician Max and renegade Baron Ato might be the only thing preventing the city's destruction.
Why you might like it: This science fiction standalone boasts a pulse-pounding plot and a future setting packed with memorable characters, mutant hybrid animals, and divided loyalties.
Spin With Me by Ami PolonskyFeaturing: Essie, a cisgender girl who's annoyed when her dad's temporary job forces her to attend a new school for one semester, and Ollie, a nonbinary classmate who's searching for confidence beyond their role as an LGBTQIA advocate.
What happens: Knowing they have only a limited time together, Ollie and Essie navigate their crushes on each other and deal with their differing views on labels and identity.
How it's told: by both Ollie and Essie, with the point of view shifting halfway through the book.
Amber and Clay by Laura Amy SchlitzWhat it is: a poetic historical fantasy set in ancient Greece, starring two central characters -- enslaved artist Rhaskos and wealthy, rebellious Melisto -- whose fates don't intersect until one of them dies.
How it's told: through several diverse voices (both human and godly), as well as through richly detailed illustrations of archaeological artifacts.
Who it's for: mythology-obsessed readers, as well as those who love an up-close glimpse of life in a different time.
Scar Island by Dan GemeinhartThe setting: Slabhenge Reformatory for Troubled Boys, an eerie, ramshackle island prison.
What happens: Twelve-year-old Jonathan has only just arrived at Slabhenge when a lightning strike kills all of the cruel adults, leaving the juvenile offenders to a wild, unsupervised lifestyle...until a storm threatens the island and a ruthless new leader rises.
Read it for: a suspenseful, high-stakes survival story.
The Explorers: The Door in the Alley by Adrienne KressIntroducing: Sebastian, a cautious science geek who takes a wrong turn and winds up trespassing in the mysterious Explorers Society.
What happens: A puzzle box from the Society leads Sebastian to an orphan named Evie, a pig wearing a teeny hat, and a group of explorers known as the Filipendulous Five
Series alert: If you like the quirky humor and clever, Lemony Snicket-style narration in this series opener, don't miss the next book, The Reckless Rescue.
The Skeleton Tree by Iain LawrenceWhat it's about: After a sailing trip ends in shipwreck, 12-year-old Chris finds himself stranded on a remote Alaskan coast with Frank, an older boy he barely knows and doesn't trust.
Why you might like it: Chris and Frank are both layered characters, and the strained bond between them provides just as much tension and drama as their struggle for survival amid the frigid weather and hungry animals of the Alaskan wilderness.
The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid by Colin Meloy; illustrated by Carson EllisWhat it's about: While living in 1961 France, lonely American Charlie is thrilled to be accepted into a crew of pickpockets -- and shocked to discover that the stakes of his new hobby are higher than he could have imagined.
Why you might like it: Growing suspense, colorful slang, and funny asides from the narrator will keep you hooked throughout this highly unusual heist adventure.
The Explorer by Katherine RundellThe disaster: Following a tragic plane crash, Fred, Con, Lila, and Max are stranded in Brazil's Amazon rainforest.
The survivors: Combining their skills and following an ancient map, the kids journey downriver and gain firsthand experience of nature's challenges (dodging piranhas, eating grubs) and wonders (pink dolphins, baby sloths).
Try this next: Ben Mikaelson's Jungle of Bones, another survival adventure with a vivid jungle setting.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 10-13!
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