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I’ll Be There

I’ll Be There

By Holly Goldberg Sloan

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Teen Life: Family, Personal Development: Friendship, Guidance/Health: Abuse

Grades: 7-17

Emily Bell believes in destiny. To her, being forced to sing a solo in the church choir–despite her average voice–is fate: because it’s while she’s singing that she first sees Sam. At first sight, they are connected.

Sam Border wishes he could escape, but there’s nowhere for him to run. He and his little brother, Riddle, have spent their entire lives constantly uprooted by their unstable father. That is, until Sam sees Emily. That’s when everything changes.
As Sam and Riddle are welcomed into the Bells’ lives, they witness the warmth and protection of a family for the first time. But when tragedy strikes, they’re left fighting for survival in the desolate wilderness, and wondering if they’ll ever find a place where they can belong. Beautifully written and emotionally profound, I’ll Be There is a gripping story that explores the complexities of teenage passions, friendships, and loyalties.


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* “Illustrates how we are all connected in big and small, positive and negative ways….[This] riveting story will keep readers interested and guessing until the end.” –School Library Journal, starred review

* “[A] life-affirming exploration of the subtleties of love, compassion, and relationships. . . . Like the song it was named for, this book is hard to get out of your head.” –The Horn Book, starred review

* “Sloan builds characters rich with depth and realism…. A terrific read, quick to capture the audience, this book will make readers sing the melody in their hearts.” –VOYA, starred review

“[Sloan] has fashioned a cast of memorable characters with compelling stories and relationships.” –Kirkus Reviews

“Sam and Riddle are wonderfully appealing characters that readers will root for….A highly suspenseful read with a dynamic, cinematic quality that keeps the pages turning to the satisfying conclusion.” –Booklist

“Sloan delivers a cinematic, psychologically nuanced first novel…[and] excels at crafting memorable characters and relationships.” –Publishers Weekly

“With a light, deft touch, Sloan shows the folly of superficial judgments, the difficulties of true empathy and how love and brotherhood can save us. You’ll be humming this book’s song for days.”



By Jerry Spinelli

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Family Life: Grandparents and Extended Family, Family Life: Parents/Siblings/Babies, Personal Development: Loss, Personal Development: Friendship

Grades: 3 – 7

Eggs is a quirky and moving novel about two very complicated, damaged children. David has recently lost his mother to a freak accident, his salesman father is constantly on the road, and he is letting his anger out on his grandmother. Primrose lives with her unstable, childlike, fortuneteller mother, and the only evidence of the father she never knew is a framed picture. Despite their age difference (David is 9, Primrose is 13), they forge a tight yet tumultuous friendship, eventually helping each other deal with what is missing in their lives.


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A Scholastic Instructor Best New Summer Book

2007 National Parenting Publications Awards Honor

“Spinelli deftly handles themes of friendship, family, loss, and resilience in a story that will long linger in the hearts of readers. Elegant and memorable.”–Kirkus (starred review)

“The Newbery Award-winning Spinelli has crafted his tale in simple, vivid prose. Once again, it’s his original, compelling characters that set him so far above most authors writing for this age group…’A’ –Entertainment Weekly

“A touching tale.”–KLIATT

”A lyrical study of grief and hope.” –The Bulletin

“Readers will find some of the scenes between David and Primrose vivid and memorable.” –Booklist

Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream

claraClara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream

By Jenny Han

Genre: Juvenile Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Family Life: Grandparents and Extended Family, Personal Development: Character Development

Grades: 3 – 7


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Clara Lee knows exactly what she likes: her best friends, her grandpa, kimchi, candy necklaces, and her dream of becoming the next Little Miss Apple Pie.


Clara Lee knows exactly what she doesn’t like: when her little sister is being annoying, her mom’s fish soup, bad dreams (but Grandpa says they mean good luck), and speaking in front of lots of people (but she’ll have to do it for the pageant).


After a bad dream, will Clara Lee’s luck change for the better? Can she overcome her fear of speaking in public and win Little Miss Apple Pie?



“Han’s well-crafted first novel captures the aching hurt of exclusion in middle school, and the acute pain of vicious teasing. Shug’s direct, honest narration reveals a wholly believable, endearing, hot-tempered young woman who faces painful truths and survives”— Booklist


“Han’s heartfelt first novel persuasively expresses the woes of Annemarie ‘Shug’ Wilcox during her first year of junior high.”— Publishers Weekly


“This new author bears watching”— School Library Journal

My Teacher Is A Monster

My Teacher Is a MonsterMy Teacher Is a Monster. (No, I Am Not.)

By Peter Brown

Genre: Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Personal Development

Grades: Pre-K – 3

A young boy named Bobby has the worst teacher. She’s loud, she yells, and if you throw paper airplanes, she won’t allow you to enjoy recess. She is a monster! Luckily, Bobby can go to his favorite spot in the park on weekends to play. Until one day… he finds his teacher there! Over the course of one day, Bobby learns that monsters are not always what they seem.


Each page is filled with “monstrous” details that will have kids reading the story again and again. Peter Brown takes a universal and timeless theme, and adds his own humorous spin to create another winner of a picture book.



★”This playful, eye-catching story goes a long way to humanize both teachers and students.” –Booklist


★”Brown, imagining Ms. Kirby from a child’s perspective, handles her transformation smoothly, prompting readers to revisit earlier pages. Comic traces of monstrosity linger in Ms Kirby (she still goes green at classroom clowning) yet Brown makes it clear that teachers are people too-even the “mean” ones.” –Publishers Weekly


★“Here’s hoping readers who are similarly challenged in the behavior department will get both messages: Teachers are people, and they give back what they get.” –Kirkus


Freaks & Revelations

Freaks & RevelationsFreaks & Revelations

By Davida Wills Hurwin

Genre: Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Teen Life: Prejudice; Relationships; Sexuality

Grades: 10 & Up


This raw, moving novel follows two teenagers-one, a Mohawk-wearing 17-year-old violent misfit; the other, a gay 13-year-old cast out by his family, hustling on the streets and trying to survive. Acclaimed author Davida Wills Hurwin creates a riveting narrative told in alternating perspectives of their lives before and after the violent hate crime that changed both their futures. This tragic but ultimately inspirational journey of two polarized teens, their violent first meeting, and their peaceful reunion years later is an unforgettable story of survival and forgiveness.


This story is inspired by the real lives of Matthew Boger and Timothy Zaal, who have shared their story on The Oprah Winfrey Show and NPR.


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Stonewall Book Award Finalist

Strawberry Hill

Strawberry HillStrawberry Hill

By Mary Ann Hoberman

Genre: Historical Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Social Studies: History; Personal Development: Friendship; Family Life: School

Grades: 3 – 7

When 10-year-old Allie learns that her family will be moving from a two-family home to their very own house, she’s hesitant until she finds out they will be living on a street with the magical name of Strawberry Hill. That changes everything! But strawberries aren’t the only things Allie will have to look for in her new neighborhood. As Allie struggles to find a new “best friend” and adjust to all of the changes she faces, she takes readers on her journey to make Strawberry Hill feel like home.

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A New York Times Editor’s Choice


★ “Highly evocative… With story lines that are simple but never simplistic and perfectly crafted chapters in which the ordinary has the opportunity to become special.” – Booklist


“[Hoberman] knows how to bring detail and language into just the right balance…to pull you into the story.” – The New York Times


“Rich details bring the period to life…This is a gentle story with the sensibility of a novel written in an earlier time.” – SLJ


“Allie’s plight will be utterly relatable to contemporary readers and the resolution is both satisfying and realistic.” – Publishers Weekly




By Sara Zarr & Tara Altebrando

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Curriculum Subject: Family Life; Personal Development: Friendship


The countdown to college has begun.


When Elizabeth receives her freshman roommate assignment at the beginning of the summer, she shoots off an email to introduce herself and coordinate the basics: TV, microwave, minifridge. Elizabeth can’t wait to escape her New Jersey beach town and start over in California.


But Elizabeth’s note is a surprise to her roommate Lauren, who had requested a single and was counting on a little peace and quiet after a lifetime in the bosom of a VERY large family.


Over the course of the last summer before college a relationship begins that will change their lives.


Praise for Roomies


“The authors give the story big doses of humor, sensitivity, and sweetness.” –Publishers Weekly, starred review


“A resonant story perfect for any teenager going to college – or simply struggling to make peace with herself and her world.”  –The Bulletin, starred review


The Prince of Venice Beach

The Prince of Venice Beach

By Blake Nelson

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Curriculum Subjects: Adventure: Mysteries, Personal Development: Responsibility, Teen Life: Personal Development

Grade: 6 & up


Robert “‘Cali” Callahan is a teen runaway, living on the streets of Venice Beach, California. He’s got a pretty sweet life: a treehouse to sleep in, a gang of surf bros, a regular basketball game…even a girl who’s maybe-sorta interested in him.
What he doesn’t have is a plan.


All that changes when a local cop refers Cali to a private investigator who is lookingfor a missing teenager.


After all, Cali knows everyone in Venice. But the streets are filled with people who don’t want to be found, and when he’s hired to find the beautiful Reese Abernathy, who would do anything to stay hidden, Cali must decide where his loyalties truly lie.


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“Nelson’s spare style and nuanced portrayal of street kids is strongly reminiscent of the classic work of S.E. Hinton. The gritty beach setting, compelling cast of sensitively drawn secondary characters and spot-on dialogue elevate the story beyond that of a typical genre mystery.” —Kirkus


“Readers will anxiously follow Robert’s adolescent journey of growth in this coming-of-age novel filled with exhilarating chases and heart pounding moments.” –SLJ
“Nelson vividly captures the energy of the beach community, both in his depiction of the physical setting and his creation of the eclectic cast of characters that populates it. ” —The Horn Book



Sure Signs of Crazy

Sure Signs of Crazy by Karen Harrington

Sure Signs of Crazy

By: Karen Harrington

Genre: Middle Grade Realistic Fiction

Curriculum Subjects: Family Life: Parents/Siblings/Babies, Personal Development: Self-Discovery, Guidance/Health: Death

Grade: 3 – 7

AR: 9.0

F&P: Z

You’ve never met anyone exactly like twelve-year-old Sarah Nelson. While most of her friends obsess over Harry Potter, she spends her time writing letters to Atticus Finch. She collects trouble words in her diary. Her best friend is a plant. And she’s never known her mother, who left when Sarah was two.


Since then, Sarah and her dad have moved from one small Texas town to another, and not one has felt like home.


Everything changes when Sarah launches an investigation into her family’s Big Secret. She makes unexpected new friends and has her first real crush, and instead of a “typical boring Sarah Nelson summer,” this one might just turn out to be extraordinary.


Praise for Sure Signs of Crazy


“Sarah Nelson lives between a terrible tragedy in the past and a terrible fear about what might happen in the future. In that uncertainty, Sarah faces her life squarely, with a heroism that makes us cheer for humanity’s courage, wit, and guts. She faces a divided friendship, the death of a neighbor, the loss of her first love, the near loss of her father, and, most poignantly, the knowledge that her lost mother will never be found–and yet hers is a compelling journey that takes us into that most fragile place: Hope. You will be glad you journeyed there with her.” –Gary D. Schmidt, Newbery Honor author of The Wednesday Wars and Okay for Now

 “Don’t think this will be a hard sell to readers…for Harrington has created a protagonist who is, in her own way, as clear-eyed, tough-minded, and inspiring as any dystopian hero.” –Booklist

 “Sarah is an introspective protagonist whose narrative, interspersed with letters and word definitions, keeps readers absorbed…Secondary characters add interest and texture to this compelling novel.” –School Library Journal

 “Readers intrigued by the premise of this moving story will sympathize with the plucky protagonist and rejoice in the way her summer works out.” –Kirkus

 “[A] beautifully written story…This is the kind of book that stays with you.” –Library Media Connection

The Mostly True Story of Jack

The Mostly True Story of Jack by Kelly Barnhill The Mostly True Story of Jack

By: Kelly Barnhill

Genre: Fantasy

Curriculum Subjects: Folk Tales/Fairy Tales/Classics: Magic; Character Development: Friendship

Grade: 3 – 7


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When Jack is sent to Hazelwood, Iowa, to live with his strange aunt and uncle, he expects a summer of boredom. Little does he know that the people of Hazelwood have been waiting for him for quite a long time.


When he arrives, three astonishing things happen: First, he makes friends — not imaginary friends but actual friends. Second, he is beaten up by the town bully; the bullies at home always ignored him. Third, the richest man in town begins to plot Jack’s imminent, and hopefully painful, demise. It’s up to Jack to figure out why suddenly everyone cares so much about him. Back home he was practically, well, invisible.


The Mostly True Story of Jack is an eerie tale of magic, friendship, and sacrifice. It’s about things broken and things put back together. Above all, it’s about finding a place to belong.




★ “Truly splendid…the ultimate page-turner.” –Kirkus


★ “Suspense builds steadily, with twists and surprises woven throughout, and friendship emerges as a powerful theme….Barnhill explores the struggle between good and evil and the power of love and sacrifice, creating a provocative and highly original mystery.” –Publishers Weekly


★ “Wonderful in the best possible way: filled with wonders and magic, yes, but magic that is ancient, numinous, and tied to the natural world…Barnhill’s first novel for children is a marvel of both plotting and characterization, and it provides a foundation for the omnipresent magic that elevates this title to the first rank of contemporary children’s literature.” –Booklist


★ “A compelling story with genuine characters and a deliciously creepy atmosphere. The suspense builds from the very first page…This delightful story will captivate readers with its blend of magic, mystery, and adventure.” -VOYA