Sent to their grandparents in Virginia for a month, Brooklynites Genie and Ernie scoop poop, pick peas, learn about guns and bravery, and unpack some family secrets including the answer to Genie's question: why would a blind man carry a gun? (10-14. K. Isaacs)
Dani spends her first summer break on an island with her best friend Ella, where their play is so wonderful she almost forgets her worries about her injured father, until he comes to visit with a new girlfriend. Fourth in a stellar series of chapter books perfectly capturing childhood emotions and translated from the Swedish. (Up to 7? K. Isaacs)
Uncertain how to describe her own family to her classmates, a girl is reassured by their various answers to the teacher's question, and shares a moving statement by her foster mother. Qin Leng's scribbly ink sketches, digitally painted, reveal personalities and feelings through body language. This is pointed but perfectly paced -- likely to be welcomed in themed reading units as well as story times in many libraries. KIsaacs (up to 7)
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.