This book drew me in from page one. I'll be the first to admit that I'm a sucker for books with magic but this book is so much more. This book creates a complete world that I want to live in and explore, full of fun friendships and magical mysteries. If you like stories about overcoming challenges, hysterical accidents, and danger you will love this book! -Eric
There's magic when a grandfather/granddaughter bond is fused. There's joy in witnessing its bouncy development. Even if you're Lemonade Liberty Witt. Even if your grandfather is 'Charlie,' and he's part of your abrupt, unwanted, new life. Lem covers her broken heart with perfected eye-rolls, but her curiosity about (of all things) Bigfoot's possible existence, and the boy who's appointed himself CEO of the Bigfoot Detective Agency in the little town that uses the mythic creature's potential existence as its claim to fame gets the best of her. Savage's writing urges anticipation and voracious consumption. Her pure gift with metaphor and simile make her young characters' feelings nearly tangible. I was sorry when Lem's adventure was over. -Jennifer
I have been a fan of Shannon Hale since her very first book but this might just be my favorite. Her frank and sometimes heartbreaking accounting of her childhood cut me to the quick on more than one occasion. I empathized with her, cheered with her, and loved every moment I spent reading this wonderful book. It is definitely a must-read for everyone. -Faith
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NIGHTLIGHTS is a visually stunning story about fear and imagination. Alvarez's whimsical and sometimes eerie illustrations tell the story of Sandy, and of the strange girl Morpie who takes perhaps too much interest in Sandy's art. An entirely enchanting all-ages comic. -Amy
This is a funny and sad book written in a journal format. Reading it, I immediately felt like the main character, Felix, was was writing all of his thoughts down just for me. Felix's journey is difficult, unusual (how could it not be, being fused with a fourth dimensional alien?), and relatable all at the same time. I truly loved the way Felix chronicles his journey with his unique and quirky sense of humor. Though this book has science fiction element,s it is really a tale of self-discovery and the difficulties of finding your place in the world. -Eric
If you like books where it's not obvious at the outset what the story is about, where the hum of discovery keeps you turning pages, you'll enjoy this middle grade. Set in a New York City apartment building, you get to know (and quickly care for) a large cast of characters, with shy newcomer Kid at the center. When the different threads begin to intersect, the reader will realize that we all may have more in common then you'd think. This is good writing: quick-paced, like a lengthy short story. Fleming quietly, subtly shows readers the payoff of facing one's fears. And the passages from the goat's point of view are sure to bring a grin to your face. -Emmy
Told in the multimedia format popularized by author/illustrator Brian Selznick, THORNHILL is the parallel and intersecting story about two lonely young girls and the lengths that they will go to make a friend who understands them. This novel is haunting and grapples with sophisticated topics in an engrossing way. The illustrations are mesmerizing and the prose beautifully captures both the emotions and trauma of life. This book is recommended for a more mature reader who is ready to tackle a tale with deep resonance and lasting impact. -Kaitlyn
Dusti Bowling's charming middle grade novel is packed with diverse characters, mystery and humor. Aven is a spitfire of a character. Her spunky personality and can-do attitude is reminiscent of Anne Shirley -- one of the greatest literary heroines from my own childhood. She reminds us that it doesn't matter who you are or what your challenges are in life, if you try your best and believe in yourself, you can accomplish anything. -Brandi
Banning books! What nonsense is that? All it takes is one unhappy parent for a book to be banned in a whole school, and in Amy Anne’s school dozens of books are getting banned, including her favorite, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. That’s when she decides to put together the B.B.L.L. (Banned Books Locker Library) for other students to access the books, for what’s more exciting to read than a book you’re told not to? Amy Anne and her friends learn the importance of speaking up for what you believe in, and the power of the first amendment, free speech. All of the books mentioned in here are real, and have been challenged and banned in real life for a variety of reasons mentioned in the book. I recommend this empowering story to readers of any age! -Leah
THE APPRENTICE WITCH -- the tale of an almost-witch who has to cut it in an undesired town before she can be granted her silver star, the sign of a fully-certified witch! This story is a bit less intense than Harry Potter but doesn't skimp on challenging vocabulary and good life lessons. This is one I'll share with my own two fourth graders. It's a fantasy that feels almost real, like it might just be possible . . . Arianwyn, the apprentice witch, could be any one of us trying to grow into the people we want to be. Besides a satisfying story, Nicol creates space for the reader to consider confidence, patience and grace. A good read!! -Julie
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Lorenzo is a 12-year-old guitar-strumming, gentle soul. He lives on the family's failing peach farm and his dad died in the war just a week before he was born. Along with having a best friend who's more like a sister and a grandpa who's more like a friend, he bonds with and works to preserve a piglet runt -- Marty -- who quickly demonstrates he's smarter than most dogs. Author Paul Griffin keeps 'Renzo's actions and spoken words true to a shy, present-day preteen. It's the simple nuggets of wisdom and compassion in narrator Lorenzo's unspoken observations that made me close my eyes and smile so often. Along with laboring to save Marty, he managed to rescue and strengthen some of his own faith in others. -Jennifer
A cursed child, Morrigan Crow is destined to die on her 11th birthday. So it seems like a stoke of luck when a ginger-haired stranger whisks her away to an alternate realm, to compete for membership in the mysterious, magical Wundrous Society. But why won't her patron explain WHY he saved Morrigan, or what talent she possesses that sets Wundrous candidates apart from all others? This story is reminiscent of Harry Potter in the best way -- a mix of adventure, fantasy and mystery set in a fully-realized, fantastically imaginative world that constantly surprises and delights. You'll be so transported, you won't notice how quickly the pages fly by. -Emmy
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The title of this book is so clever and unique that I had to investigate further, and it did not disappoint! The protagonist's journey through grief and healing is funny, witty, and profound. I can't think of a better way for a young science lover to discover the cosmos than by following this wild ride. -Rachel
If you are drawn in by the eerie delight of the classic Brother's Grimm Fairy Tales you will love this book! The nefarious adults in young Henrietta's life do everything in their power to thwart her efforts to help her family heal from insurmountable tragedy. Even with the deck stacked against her, she meets unexpected and mysterious allies to help her along her treacherous path. Henrietta's integrity and grit in the face of adversity is truly inspiring. -Rachel
PASHMINA is a beautiful and heartwarming graphic novel. I loved the story and learned some Indian terms in the process. The story follows Priyanka Das, a young Indian-American girl who loves comics and lives with her single mother. Even though she has a loving extended family, she yearns to learn more about her parents before they came to America -- a subject her mother won’t discuss. One day Priyanka stumbles across a suitcase containing a pashmina. When she wears it she is transported back to India. Thus begins her journey of self-discovery. The scenes are in black and white but switch to color when Priyanka wears the pashmina. This story made me think of my own family's secrets and how my life would be richer if we could love more and judge less. PASHMINA transported me to India! Enough said. -Loretta
This book was phenomenal. I love that I bought this book for myself to read a year earlier -- not realizing that it took place near the holidays anyway. It was a sentimental, daring, and overall non-cliché winter read. I recommend it for those of us who look for books that contain a little bit of magic, as well as a full cast of well developed characters that make you want to go out and find these people in real life. -Ryan
There are some books that you pull off the shelf, and the only way to describe the feeling you get while reading them is- magical. I fully believe this book contains a magic that comes out through the beautifully constructed sentences and whimsical illustrations. Never before have I been inspired to be the owner of a library that carries no books, or found myself wanting to know more about the characteristics of woodland mushrooms. If you feel the need to get lost in a book, I strongly suggest this one. -Ryan