"My name is Liv (Not Olivia)... I'm not technically a girl.I'm Transgender. Which is a bit like being a transformer. Only not quite as cool because I probably won't get to save the world one day." Liv knows he was always meant to be a boy and his new school's dress code won't even let him wear pants. He puts on the skirt of his new uniform and tears blur his vision. Angry tears at how unfair it is and how wrong he feels. Supported by his two moms, Liv tries various methods of protest (wearing pants under the skirt, organizing a petition) but nothing can budge the powers that be until he meets some new friends who embrace his cause. This is a book about identity, acceptance and celebrating who you are. Funny and empowering, this book will have you cheering for the pants project.
Tessa's Picks, 4th grade, 5th grade, Character driven, Issues Fiction, Friendship, School Stories, LGBTQ
Saba never imagined as her apartment went up in flames that it would be the beginning of a grand mystery that would change her life for the better. Her school community rallies around her, led by two new kids who seem eager to make their mark. Saba's family moves into a luxurious apartment and an auction is organized to raise money for them. When the donation of a weird piece of art found in an alley turns out to be a valuable work by a famous artist, tensions rise. Who should keep the money: Saba's family? The kids who found the art? The school? And just who set the fire in the first place? Read a series of notes, articles, and testimonies, put together the clues, and find out for yourself!
I loved the format of this book! I find it especially effective in mystery narratives where not all the characters can be trusted and you have to be on a sharp lookout for red herrings. A major subplot of the book involves outsider art, an area that I found fascinating. The final conclusion was perfect and a completely satisfying ending to a compelling mystery.
The Art of Secrets by James Klise
Erica's Picks 6th - 8th Tags: Art, Contemporary Fiction, Mystery, People of Color, School Stories
Twelve-year-old Apple Yengko moved from the Philippines to a small town in Louisiana when she was four, but she still doesn't feel like she fits in. She wishes her mother would cook normal meals while her mother thinks she's become too American. Things go from bad to worse when she ends up on the school's Dog Log. Even the few friends she has start to turn on her, afraid her Dog Log status will contaminate them. But just when she thinks she's lost everything she gains something new: she discovers a talent at the guitar that just might be enough to turn things around.
This book is a sweet story about friendship and finding your place in the world. Apple's struggles with bullying will ring true with many students and open the eyes and the hearts of others. The new friends that she makes are characters worth rooting for even as they struggle and make mistakes. Apple's passion for the guitar adds more appeal. A thoughtful, heart-warming tale.
Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly
Erica's Picks 4th - 7th Tags: Character driven, Contemporary fiction, Family life, Friendship, People of Color, School Stories
Twins Josh and Jordan were raised with a ball in their hands by their father, a retired professional basketball player. On court they dominate and make an unbeatable team. Off court, things aren't going as well. When an off-court argument leads to an on-court lash out Josh gets kicked off the team. Then, just when everything in his life seems to be coming apart at the seams, things take a turn for the worse.
I absolutely adored this novel even if it did rip my heart out and dribble it around for a while. The game descriptions, the language of the poetry, the family relationships at play--this book has so much to offer!I'd give it to fans of basketball or poetry or just those looking for a good story with a strong emotional impact.
Erica's Picks 5th - 8th Grade Tags: Character Driven, Contemporary Fiction, Family Life, Novels in Verse, People of Color, School Stories, Sports, Tear Jerker
Have you ever seen a dragon attack up close? Felt the heat from their flame on your skin and smelled the sulfur in the air? Most people run for cover as soon as one is spotted. It takes a special type of person to run toward one. You need bravery, training, agility, skill, and a touch of madness. But slayers aren't the only ones crazy enough to seek out a dragon. Their trusty bards are always close behind. Everyone in Trondheim has great hopes for Owen, the youngest in a long line of dragonslayers. But before he can fulfill his destiny, he and his bard must face a more fearsome foe: his algebra test.
This story is a cross between an epic dragon-slaying fantasy novel and a regular school story about a new student in town. There's plenty of action as well as great bits about Owen's family (he is raised by his aunt who is a famous retired dragon slayer and her wife who is a blacksmith) and his budding friendship with the story's narrator (who has musical talent and becomes his bard/tutor.) An all around great novel! Erica's Picks 6th - 8th grade Tags: Adventure, Family Life, Fantasy, Friendship, LGBTQ, School Stories
“Everybody is smart in different ways.But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid.”
Ally has managed to hide the fact that she can’t read by creating disruptive distractions.You feel her anguish at being a smart girl whom classmates have labeled “dumb” and “loser”.A new teacher sees the clever artist and math whiz in her and finds a way to turn her secret toward a path to overcoming her dyslexia.With the help of two quirky sidekicks, the trio of outsiders turn impossible into possible. This heartwarming novel from the author of One For The Murphys, will have you laughing and cheering for its courageous heroine and her inspiring teacher.
Grayson lives with his aunt and uncle, having become orphaned when he was in preschool.For years he would look in the mirror and see himself as the girl he longs to be, a princess twirling in front of her castle.As a sixth grader Grayson is well aware of the ridicule he would face if his secret that he is in the wrong gender’s body were to come out.Hiding his true self has made Grayson isolated and unhappyat school where is called “loser” and “freak.” New friends and trying out for and landing the female lead in the school play open the path to Grayson’s transition.Grayson is an engaging character who will have you cheering for "him" to become "her". This is a touching book about identity, friendship, and the human spirit.Don’t miss it.
As E.E. Cumming’s says “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”
Tags: Tessa's picks, LGBTQ, Contemporary fiction, 4th Grade, 5th grade, 6th grade, School stories, Family life.
Albie has always been an 'almost'. No matter how hard he tries his work is only ever almost good enough. So he wasn't surprised when he found out that he was only almost good enough for his private school and he had to leave it for a public one. That means no more school with his best friend, one in a set of two triplets whose family is now starring in their own reality TV show. But Albie is starting to make new friends at his new school and they have a special math club there that is way better than sitting through regular math class. Perhaps this new school year will be better after all. Or perhaps it will just turn out to be another 'almost.'
I love how heartfelt this novel is without ever becoming saccharine (unless you count all the doughnut references.) The book is full of great characters, memorable small moments, and valuable life lessons. If you're looking for a realistic school story, this is an excellent choice.
Erica's picks 3rd - 5th grade Tags: Character Driven, Contemporary Fiction, Family Life, Friendship, School Stories
Have you ever had gum stuck in your hair? How did you get it out? Gabby's mother uses peanut butter to do the trick, and warns Gabby to stop her constant chewing. But Gabby can't resist. She blows a giant bubble that touches the telephone wires and zaps her. This turns her into the gumazing gum girl! At first Gabby just wants to get out of the sticky situation, but she soon realizes that being gum girl has its advantages. Will Gabby save the day or will her bubble burst?
This quick read is packed full of laughs and classic superhero tropes. The illustrations are in black, white, and bubblegum-pink and show off gum girl's special powers and crime-fighting action scenes. An excellent early chapter book for fans of superheroes and humor.
The Gumazing Gum Girl! by Rhode Montijo
Erica's Picks 1st - 3rd Grade Tags: Fantasy, Humor, People of Color, School Stories
What would you do if everyone you've ever had a crush on got a letter pouring out all your feelings for them? That is exactly what happens to Lara Jean. Every time she had a crush on a boy and she wanted to get over it she would sit down and write a letter. She'd pour her heart into it because no one else would ever see it. Or so she thought. Then one day her special hat box that held her letters is taken to the Goodwill by her father. Someone puts them in the mailbox, and suddenly a guy she had a crush on years ago comes up to her in PE asking her about a strange letter he just received. It gets worse. One of the guys she had a crush on is now her older sister's boyfriend.
I'm sure there are more mortifying situations than having to come face to face with everyone you've had a crush on, but I am hard-pressed to think of one. The romance this creates is certainly unconventional and always entertaining. What really sets this apart though is the interactions between the sisters. I'd give this to anyone looking for a realistic school story with a touch of romance.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Erica's Picks 6th - 8th Grade Tags: Character Driven, Contemporary Fiction, Family LIfe, People of Color, Romance, School Stories