The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson

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This fast-paced caper à la Ocean’s Eleven sports a super savvy cast diverse in race, age, and interests.

Recommended grade level: 6-8

Pages: 240 (for ISBN 9780545525527)

Genre(s) and keywords: adventure, heist, diverse, African-American protagonist

Tone/Style: slick, humorous

Pace: fast

Topics: class elections, cons, lost friends

Themes: trust, forgiveness, honesty, friendship

Summary: Jackson Greene has reformed. No, really he has. He became famous for the Shakedown at Shimmering Hills, and everyone still talks about the Blitz at the Fitz…. But after the disaster of the Mid-Day PDA, he swore off scheming and conning for good. Continue reading

Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur (2009)

loveA touching story of grief and forgiveness.

Recommended grade level: 4-7

Pages: 262 (for ISBN 9780385737746)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic, reluctant readers

Tone/Style: hurt, hopeful

Pace: moderate

Topics: death of family members, parental abandonment, parent/child relationships, moving, grandmothers, new friends

Themes: grief, feeling unwanted, disappointment, choices, forgiveness

Summary: A beautifully written and deeply moving middle-grade novel with characters to cherish and a story that deals with tragedy and loss in a fresh way. Continue reading

One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (2012)

one foThis story about a witty, sarcastic girl who struggles to open herself to love in a foster home is a favorite with upper elementary and middle school readers.

Recommended grade level: 5-8

Pages: 224 (for ISBN 9780399256158)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic, reluctant readers

Tone/Style: snarky, longing

Pace: moderate to fast

Topics: foster care, domestic abuse, relationships with foster families

Themes: betrayal by a family member, finding familial love, loss, belonging, forgiveness

Summary: In the wake of heart-breaking betrayal, Carley Connors is thrust into foster care and left on the steps of the Murphys, a happy, bustling family. Continue reading

Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories by R.J. Palacio (2015)

augThree novellas from the point of view of three different characters offer new insight into the world of Palacio’s 2012 bestseller Wonder.

Recommended grade level: 3-6

Pages: 303 (for ISBN 9781101934852)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction, novella

Tone/Style: thoughtful

Pace: leisurely to moderate

Topics: The Julian Chapter: bullying, feuds, parent-school relations, World War II.

Pluto: divorce, accidents, memories, childhood friendships, outer space, dogs

Shingaling: dance, cliques

Themes: The Julian Chapter: reasons for meanness, redemption, forgiveness

Pluto: difficult friendships, long-distance friendships relationships with parents, guilt

Shingaling: reasons for kindness, going outside of friend groups, self-discovery

Summary: Over 2 million people have read the #1 New York Times bestseller Wonder and have fallen in love with Auggie Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face. Readers have also been treated to three stories offering a special look at Auggie’s world through new points of view. Continue reading

Where You’ll Find Me by Natasha Friend (2016)

whereAnna discovers some surprising things about herself and her loved ones as she struggles to come to terms with her mother’s suicide attempt in this painfully honest depiction of life with a bipolar parent.

Recommended grade level: 6-9

Pages: 272 (for ISBN 9780374302306)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction, Kylie’s favorites

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