Lou is used to small spaces. She shares a room with her mother in her grandmother's house in San Francisco. It's even more cramped when her extended family comes to visit. She loves them all, but longs for a space of her own. She's obsessed with tiny houses and has spent many hours researching their clever designs. When her mother gets a job offer in Washington state, Lou is convinced that if she can build her tiny house, it will convince her mother to stay. Will she be able to rally her friends to the cause? Or will she have to leave everyone she loves behind?
This is a charming story full of heart and endearing characters. Lou has a great community of friends and family.
Erica's Picks The House that Lou Built by Mae Respicio
Years ago, Abdi’s older brother was kidnapped by the jihadi group Al Shabaab , brainwashed, and turned into a child soldier. Now the rest of his family is kidnapped by the supposed good guys. They beat Abdi and threaten his family unless he agrees to go undercover in Al Shabaab and report back to them. If Al Shabaab discovers he’s a spy, he’ll be tortured until he longs for death. But if he refuses, his whole family will be killed.
This fast-paced story will keep you on the edge of your seat and immerse you in a different world. The book alternates between Abdi’s time after escaping Al Shabaab and flashbacks to his time with them. It keeps you guessing as you try to piece together the pieces of what happened in the past.
Erica's Picks Let's Go Swimming On Doomsday by Natalie C. Anderson 8th Grade Tags:
Norris can’t believe it when his mother says they’re moving to Texas. Norris is a black French-Canadian who hates the heat and loves hockey. When he first gets to Texas, it seems like all the stereotypes he’s seen about Americans on TV are true. There’s the mean cheerleaders, the aggressive jocks, and overly cheerful but ultimately useless guidance counselor. Norris describes it all with biting humor in his notebook. It’s an outlet that keeps him sane in the ridiculous heat. But when Texas surprises him and he starts to build a nice life for himself, it’s his notebook that might be his undoing.
Norris’s voice is hilarious and I enjoyed seeing life through his eyes. If you want a classic American high school story, this Canadian will deliver!
Erica's Pick 7th & 8th Grade The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe Tags: Character Driven, Contemporary Fiction, Friendship, Humor, People of Color, School Stories
Sawyer’s mother grew up as a Southern belle in a world of white gloves and canapes. When she got pregnant with Sawyer, she fell from grace hard and fast. Sawyer grew up in a dingy apartment, eating take out from the bar where her mom works. At first when her estranged grandmother stops by with an offer to pay for her college in exchange for living with her in her mansion and going through the debutante season, it seems too good to be true. But Sawyer soon discovers the dark secrets lurking behind the pretty dresses and realizes she was safer at home on the wrong side of the tracks.
As Sawyer explores the world of debutantes and tries to finally solve the mystery of who her father is, she uncovers the dark underbelly of high society. She’s not sure who to believe and neither is the reader as this twisted plot unfurls.
Erica's Picks 8th Grade Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes Tags: Contemporary Fiction, Fast-Paced, Mystery
Life is not easy for Mason Buttle. He's the biggest kid in his grade, has overactive sweat glands, and severe dyslexia. On top of all that, his best and only friend died a year ago in an accident and everyone blames him. When he makes a new best friend, it happens again. His new best friend disappears and everyone fears the worst. How can Mason clear his name and find his friend?
This is a heart-warming story with a unique protagonist. Mason is so earnest and kind it's impossible not to root for him.
Erica's Picks The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor
Grade 5 - 7 Tags: Character Driven, Contemporary Fiction, Family Life, Friendship, Mystery, School Stories
There’s a story behind how Dead Man’s Mine got its name. As you may guess, it’s not a pretty one. Which is why Rossi, Gus, Jessie and Matthew do not tell their parents before they go into the cave. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but it could be a deadly mistake when a rock slide leaves them trapped inside.
This is a fantastic adventure story about survival, gold, and dirt bikes. Dead Man’s Mine is dark and full of dangers. But this book shines with life.
Erica's Picks 24 Hours in Nowhere by Dusti Bowling
4th - 7th grade Tags: Adventure, Fast-Paced, People of Color, Survival
"There is an Arabic proverb that says: She makes you feel like a loaf of freshly baked bread It is said about the nicest kindest people The type of people who help you rise." This story in verse is about Jude, a young Syrian who has fled her country with her pregnant mother. Suddenly she finds herself labeled “Middle-Eastern” and struggles to fit in yet keep her identity. Can a girl who wears hijab star in the school play? You will love Jude’s voice as she tells her story with grace and heart.
Tessa's Picks, 5-7th grade, Character driven, Contemporary fiction, Global perspectives, Issues fiction, Novels in verse
Don’t miss this one. So funny, clever, feminist, Australian! Harriet, beautiful, perfect, rule-follower would never be friends with Will, activist, outspoken, artist, trouble-maker. Surprising they get together to address the sexual harassment, homophobia, and elitism in their private school. Knowing their pranks would get them kicked out, they create Amelia to take the blame. Will their acts make a difference? Their scheming lets them see each other in a different light. Could they become friends or more than friends?
Overly cautious Avery and fearless Brett have never met when they discover they have something in common. Their single gay dads have met and fallen in love. Marriage is on the horizon so they send the girls (who are from opposite coasts) to the same summer camp to meet. They are NOT thrilled. Surprisingly they become great friends. But the rest of the plans are falling apart. Now the problem is making sure the dads stay committed. Told in letters and emails this is a heartwarming and funny story about family and sisterhood.
Tessa's Picks, Character driven, Contemporary fiction, Friendship, LGBTQ
(This is a book for mature readers as it addresses issues of homophobia, child abuse, hate crimes, Islamophobia and sexual abuse). Rukhsana loves the laws of physics and plans to become an engineer. In a few months she will be attending Caltech on a scholarship. With her girlfriend Ariana. Only her parents who are conservative Muslims living in the Bengali community of Seattle would probably disown her if they found out about her relationship. When she and Ariana are caught kissing by her mother, events spiral into a terrifying path. Falsely told that her grandmother in Bangladesh is gravely ill, Rukhsana and parents catch the next plane. The truth is soon apparent that they are there to force her into an arranged marriage. Her parents are convinced that their lives would be over if the truth about her sexuality came out. Rukhsana learns some secrets of her own mother’s past when her grandmother gifts her the diary of her early life, marriage and motherhood. Gathering strength from her grandmother who encourages her to fight for her freedom of choice, she also gains sympathy for her mother's dark childhood. Cousins and other family members are allies and memorable characters adding to the cultural experience of a large Bengali family One of the proposed marriage partners turns out to be gay and the two form a friendship and eventually a plan to help them both escape back to the states. Rukhsana must find the courage to fight for her love and her freedom and hopefully keep the culture and family she loves.
Tessa's picks, 8th summer 2019, Character driven, Contemporary fiction, Family life, Global perspectives, Issues fiction, People of color.