Skinny white Dess has been in and out of foster care and group homes most of her life. Then she is moved to a new foster home with the affluent African-American Carter family who have been fostering Dess’s bi-racial younger brother. The Carter’s rule is to practice kindness. Dess’s rule is to remain unattached. A simmering war develops between Dess and her new foster sister, Hope Carter. The intricacies of race, family, belonging and values are woven together in this warmly told story. For the upper end of 10-14. Lisa Cosgrove-Davies
Rural Alaska in 1970 isn't the most uplifting place to spend your teenage years. Ruth hides a secret she can't keep for much longer, and even a cold stroke of luck may not be enough to save Dora. Alyce dreams of dancing somewhere other than on the familiar decks of her family's fishing boat, while Hank, headed for safety, stumbles into serious danger. These four teenagers, voiced quietly and alternatingly by an array of convincing narrators, find their lives interwoven as each abandons the familiar in search of secure passage into adulthood. ~ Kit Ballenger
Benny Barrows is having a difficult time in fourth grade. His best friend moved to Florida. Benny can’t seem to conquer spelling or the multiplication tables. He’s no good at sports. His autistic older brother can be a challenge. Worst of all, his family is barely coping with his father’s recent aneurysm, which Benny’s mom insists was NOT Benny’s fault. Benny tries to apply his mom’s advice that “when bad things happen, you should think about someone else’s problems and try to help them.” But does anyone have bigger problems than Benny? Luckily, Benny has a kind heart and a loving family, and they help him navigate the challenges of his unlucky year. Although Benny is nine, this book would work for 9-12 year olds. (7-10) Lisa Cosgrove-Davies
Mai must accompany her grandmother to Viet Nam in search of information about the grandfather who disappeared in the Vietnam War. Alternately poignant and funny, we follow Mai as she discovers the beauty of Viet Nam and rediscovers the power found in her grandmother’s stories. Lam embodies Mai maturing personality, grandmother’s lyrical stories, and expertly weaves Vietnamese and English languages.
Sydney's golden-boy brother has a serious run-in with the law, which fractures the family's dynamic. She finds respite with her new friend Layla and her family in this thoughtful novel from a perennial favorite.
A young Chinese child is guided by a deer, transported through clouds to the Arctic and into the belly of a whale before returning home in this wordless adventure in soft pencil drawings and graphic panels.
Twins Josh and and JB inherited their basketball skills from their dad, who played professionally before his health forced him off the court. Poems ranging from free verse to hip-hop rhymes by turns propel the plot and moderate the cadence of the storytelling in this tale of love, basketball, music, and family.
After a year of bad luck, Summer hopes her fortune will change, but a family emergency requires her parents’ presence in Japan. Summer learns to make her own luck by helping her strict grandparents work a grueling Midwestern wheat harvest.
Twelve-year-old Willow Chance’s genius makes life harder after her adoptive parents die in a car accident. Her observer/outsider status allows for humor, solace, and surprise as she finds both friends and strangers who care about her and each other.