Fish in a Tree

Written by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

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Ally is smart enough to fool teacher after teacher in school after school. They see her as a troublemaker because it is easier for her to cause trouble then be seen as stupid. One day Mr. Daniels, a new teacher, starts teaching her, and he won’t let her escape work anymore. He discovers the secret that she has kept from so many. Letters don’t hold still for her. Ally’s secret of being dumb is finally going to come out, but through it all, she might finally realize that great minds don’t think alike.

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Stella by Starlight

Written by Sharon M. Draper

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Stella lives with her parents and her little brother, Jojo, in a segregated North Carolina town in the early 1930’s. Her home is filled with love and, other than struggling to write, she is happy with her life of chores and school. One night everything changes as Stella and Jojo see a burning cross surrounded by KKK members across the pond from their house. Her family and neighborhood are no longer safe when her father tries to register to vote, but love and community prove to be a stronger force than hate. This story is a beautiful tribute to Sharon Draper’s grandmother who had the courage to keep writing by starlight after she was forced to stop going to school to help on her family farm.

Bink & Gollie

By Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee

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Bink and Gollie look very different and think differently, too, but they are the best of friends. In this book, they rollerskate into a colorful sock adventure, set off on an expedition, and find a home for an aquatic friend. I highly recommend this series for any K-3rd grader who enjoyed Elephant and Piggie or Frog and Toad books.

The Thing About Jellyfish

By Ali Benjamin

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Suzy’s life is turned upside down when her former best friend, Franny, drowns in the ocean while on a family vacation. They had been best friends since they met in swim class (5 years old), and they never thought that anything could change that. However, as they entered middle school Franny changed and Suzy didn’t, and they drifted apart. Franny became part of the popular crowd and became embarrassed by Suzy’s quirky behavior. Franny’s sudden death leaves Suzy regretting her last treatment of Franny and searching to make sense of a good swimmer drowning. She dives into the study of the Irukandji jellyfish, sure that this was the true villain in this story.

Underland

By Chanda Hahn

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Kira Lier begins this book living on the streets and fighting to survive, but she has no idea the greater danger that is beneath her cardboard box home. She is abducted and brought into the Underland where monsters and Greek gods still dwell getting their entertainment through a new form of gladiator games. This book is the first part of Kira’s fight for freedom. In this underground prison, how can she survive and who can she trust?

I would recommend this YA book for a reader that enjoyed the Percy Jackson series.

Serafina’s Promise

By Ann E. Burg

Serafina dreams of going to school like her friend, Nadia, but never ending chores and the need to help her Maman makes it feel impossible. After meeting Dr. Antoinette Solaine, Serafina promises her friend Julie-Marie that she is going find a way to go to school and become a doctor. After a major earthquake, Serafina’s whole life is turned upside down, but she has not let go of her dream to be a doctor and change her world.

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Each Kindness

By Jacqueline Woodson

Chloe will not talk to or include the new girl, Maya. Maya doesn’t wear new clothes or look like Chloe’s friends. One day, the teacher talks to the class about how important each act of kindness is and how it has a ripple effect into people’s lives. Chloe wants to make things right, but she never has her chance. This is a beautiful story that reminds us all that each action we take or don’t take affects those around us.

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