A Mighty Girl's top picks of girl-empowering books for middle grade readers!
One of the great joys of summer for avid young readers is the opportunity to explore books all on their own! Tweens are ready for intriguing, original, and complex stories, which means that middle grade readers can find titles perfect for them in every genre. And with new titles coming out all the time — many of them starring Mighty Girl characters — there is an ever-growing selection of books to choose from!
Whether your tween is looking for an imaginative fantasy novel or a suspenseful mystery, a hilarious romp or a thrilling story of adventure, the empowering titles in our new blog post will keep her flipping through pages all summer long! Both classic novels and new releases are included, so you can encourage your tween to read a book you remember fondly from your own childhood, or help her discover a new favorite. With a wide range of diverse, courageous, and determined Mighty Girls at the center of the story, your young reader is sure to find a character she loves.
Books starring mighty Girls for tweens
Flory is a night fairy, no taller than an acorn, with a beautiful set of wings like a luna moth... until she loses them in an encounter with a bat. Unable to fly home, Flory suddenly finds herself having to learn how to survive among the daylight creatures in the Giantess' garden! The world may be very big and dangerous, but Flory is fierce and determined, and more than ready to tell others like Skuggle, her new squirrel friend, what to do. Not all of the garden's residents, however, are willing to bend to her demands. Through Flory's personal growth, this magical story offers an important lesson in how skills like compassion, diplomacy, and quick thinking are valuable complements to one's bravery in reaching your goals.
For years, Anna and her little brother Caleb have lived without a mother, with Anna telling Caleb stories about a time when both their parents were around and sang every day. Then, one day, their widowed father puts an ad in the paper, seeking a wife and Sarah Elisabeth Wheaton, of Maine, writes back. After exchanging letters, Sarah decides to come for a month to meet the family, writing, "I will come by train. I will wear a yellow bonnet. I am plain and tall, and Tell them I sing." Now Anna and Caleb are full of anticipation. What will Sarah be like? And will she like them enough to stay? This Newbery Medal–winning book explores grief and love, and ends with a sweet celebration of a new family.
Clementine is having an absolutely terrible week. It starts on Monday, with a trip to the principal's office for helping cut her friend Margaret's hair, and by Saturday, Margaret, her mother, and Clementine's own mother are all mad at her. Clementine's "spectacularful" ideas aren't appreciated by the people around her, and she's starting to wonder if her precocious brain is really worth the trouble! Fortunately, thanks to a resilient and optimistic attitude, Clementine is able to turn things around and figure out a way to make things right. With delicious language and an irrepressible, good-hearted main character, this is sure to be a hit. For more Clementine, there is also A Box of Clementines, a box set containing the first three books in the series.
There's never been anyone like Gooney Bird Greene at Watertower Elementary School. What other new kid comes to school wearing pajamas and cowboy boots one day and a polka-dot t-shirt and tutu on another? She is the star of story time and keeps her teacher and classmates on the edge of their seats with her "absolutely true" stories. But what about her classmates? Maybe they have interesting stories to share too.... This laugh-out-loud book will teach young readers the elements of storytelling — and encourage them to come up with stories of their own! Fans of Gooney Bird can check out the second book in the series, Gooney Bird Greene and the Room Mother.
The energetic Ramona Quimby has been a favorite for generations! Whether she's inviting her entire class to her house for a party (without telling anyone), struggling with a teacher who doesn't appreciate her boundless energy and unique perspective, or worrying about what will happen to her family when big changes are in the offing, Ramona's experiences are both hilarious and relatable to many children. This box set collects all of the Ramona books so that kids can read along as she grows.
Avani is struggling to find a place to fit in after moving to a new town. Everyone in school thinks she's weird, especially the girls in her Flower Scouts troop. Is it so weird to think scouting should be about fun and adventure, not about makeovers and boys, boys, boys? Then Avani is accidentally abducted by Mabel, an alien from across the galaxy. It turns out that Mabel is a Star Scout, and collecting alien specimens is just one of the activities on her troop’s list. If Avani can make it through the Star Scouts’ Camp Andromeda — and manage to prevent her dad from realizing she’s left the planet — she’ll prove that humans can hold their own in the Star Scouts and finally find a place to belong. Kids will devour this fun sci-fi graphic novel full of teamwork, inventiveness, and laughs.
Smart, sensitive Matilda is stuck with a family that doesn’t appreciate her — and a headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, who’s determined to break the will of every child in her school. Fortunately, her teacher, Miss Honey, sees her tremendous potential. But when it turns out that Miss Honey is just as beaten down by Miss Trunchbull as her students, Matilda will have to make use of some unexpected abilities to see justice done. Even if she can free Miss Honey, though, will Matilda ever find a family who will cherish her and all of her talents? Like all Roald Dahl's books, this beloved classic is full of broad, funny characters, and kids will delight in the adventure, heart, and humor of Matilda's story.
After Mary Lennox is orphaned by a cholera epidemic, she goes to live on her uncle's Yorkshire estate. Lonely and sad, she's left alone to explore, eventually meeting the high-spirited Dickon and her sickly and imperious cousin Colin. Then she discovers the greatest treasure of all: a locked, walled garden, overgrown and desperately in need of tending. And as she, Dickon, and Colin start caring for the garden, a remarkable thing happens: Mary and Colin start to bloom too. This classic novel, full of beauty and emotion, is sure to inspire your Mighty Girl as it has inspired generations of others.
Eight-year-old orphan Sophie's life takes a surprising turn for the better when a giant swipes her out of her bed in London and takes her to Giantland! The BFG, or Big Friendly Giant, is definitely both friendly and giant to Sophie, but it turns out that he's not so big compared to some of his more ferocious relations. In fact, Sophie and the BFG will have to work together to bring beautiful dreams to all the other boys and girls, make an alliance with the Queen, and finally trap the evil giants for good! This beloved book — which has recently been adapted into a film version — is just as entrancing for readers today as it was when it was published decades ago.
Roz the robot opens her eyes for the first time to find herself alone on a remote island, full of nothing but wilderness. There's no time to wonder how she got there — or why she's exists — before she's already facing danger. A fierce storm and a vicious bear attack convince Roz that the best way to make it is to adapt, observe, and learn from the island's animals. Slowly, the animals adapt to Roz too, and before long, the island is feeling like home. But can Roz really live a wild, free life — even when her creators finally come looking for her? Author / illustrator Peter Brown tells an exciting and touching story about nature, technology, and what it means to belong.
Amina has always preferred to stay in the background, hanging out with her friend, Soojin. But with the start of middle school, things are changing fast. Soojin is hanging out with one of the "cool" girls, and is even talking about picking an "American" name; and Amina's uncle believes that her love of music is un-Islamic. Just as Amina starts wrestling with that, her mosque is vandalized, leaving her heartbroken. She's never spoken out before, but when she finds the courage and support she needs to make her voice heard, maybe she can bring her whole community together. This book celebrates the complexity and joys to be found in multicultural communities, as well as the power of one person's voice to change those around her.
There's talk in town about the new sixth-grade teacher at Shady Creek. Mrs. Smyre is like no other teacher anyone has ever seen around these parts: it's 1969, and she's the first African American teacher at the local all-white school. For 12-year-old Sarah Beth, there are so many unanswered questions. What is all this talk about Freedom Riders and school integration? Why can't she and Ruby become best friends? And who says school isn't for anybody who wants to learn — or teach? In addition to providing plenty of fodder for conversation about civil rights history and the power of a dedicated teacher, this book also sends a message about how change that initially seems scary or unsettling can actually provide unexpected opportunities.
Ronia is the celebrated daughter of Matt, leader of a ferocious band of robbers, but she’s happiest alone, exploring the deep forest. There, she meets Birk, the son of Matt’s greatest rival, Borka, and the two become unexpected friends. But when new hostilities break out between two bands, Ronia is faced with conflicting loyalties when her father wants to use Birk as a hostage to force his rival’s surrender. Can Ronia and Birk find a way to reconcile the two robber barons, or will they have to choose between friendship and family? This book by Astrid Lindgren, author of Pippi Longstocking, is full of adventure and suspense.
10-year-old Drita is a Muslim Albanian refugee, struggling with the transition from war-torn Kosovo to Brooklyn, New York; she doesn’t speak any English, and her mother is falling into depression. Maxie is an African-American girl who still wrestles with grief after her mother died in an accident, and as one of the “cool kids,” she doesn’t want anything to do with this strange new girl. But when their teacher assigns a project to Maxie, interviewing Drita about her life in Albania and her move to the US, the two girls slowly develop a friendship as they discover unexpected connections between their lives. This unique novel alternates between both girls’ perspectives, creating a poignant and powerful tale of friendship that bridges cultural divides.
Amanda is incredibly excited for her eleventh birthday — until everything goes wrong, including a fight with her best friend, Leo, who has always shared her birthday before this year. She's glad when the day is over... but wakes up to discover that she's starting it all over again. The only other person aware of the time loop is Leo, and soon the pair have patched their friendship and start exploring the possibilities of unlimited do-overs. It turns out that seemingly small decisions have big and often unforeseen consequences — but can they find the one that gets them out of the loop and back to real life? Kids will love seeing Amanda discover her own power as she realizes that what she does really does make a difference. Fans can return to author Wendy Mass' unique world in the second book in the series, Finally.
Everyone in Emma's family is special, and they all learned what their extraordinary destiny would be through a dream. Emma's been waiting for her dream since her mother died, after promising her she would do whatever it takes to make fulfill it. But when Emma's dream finally does come, it directs her to find a legendary treasure which is hidden in her town's cemetery. It's been missing for centuries and is rumored to be protected by a singing ghost, so the task seems impossible — but how can Emma let down generations of her ancestors and break such an important promise to her own mother? Full of lyrical writing and quirky humor, this book by the author of the best-selling A Snicker of Magic is sure to delight young readers!
Anna is growing up in Berlin, and thinks of herself as a German like everyone else she knows. Hitler’s face on posters around the city doesn’t mean anything to her — until one night her father disappears. Her mother explains that he had to leave, and soon, they will join him. Escaping Nazi Germany means a life as a refugee, leaving everything Anna knows behind, but at first it just seems like an adventure. Soon, though, Anna realizes the move is permanent, complete with new languages to learn, financial struggles, and a new realization: the most important thing of all is that their family is together. Kids will empathize with Anna's confusion as this book provides a gentle introduction to World War II and Holocaust history.
Nim has spent her whole life on a solitary island with her scientist father; her best friends are a sea lion and an iguana. She knows what it takes to live alone, and never minds when her father has to be away for a few days for his research... until the day his boat is disabled and Nim loses contact. Her only human friend now is reclusive author Alex Rover, who reached out to her father via e-mail while researching for a new novel. But when a tropical storm — and an invasion of tourists — threaten the island and Nim, it will take all her friends to help her out of trouble! This fun survival adventure story has also been adapted into a feature film, as well as a film sequel Return to Nim's Island, both for ages 7 and up.
Miri is the only non-twin in a family of five kids, and there are times she feels downright out of place. Then, she discovers a surprising property of her bedroom in the family's new home, an old farmhouse: somehow, she manages to transport herself back to 1935, where she meets Molly, a girl her own age who desperately needs to escape her abusive life. The two become fast friends, but when Miri accidentally goes back to her own time — without Molly — she has to figure out how to get back to Molly and maybe even end up with the sister she's always wanted. This fast-paced and magical story is sure to delight young readers who have wondered what secrets might lurk in their own home. Fans of this story can follow Miri and Molly in the sequel, Magic in the Mix.
When Laura Ingalls and her family set out in a covered wagon for new lands to settle in Kansas, they're determined to find the perfect place to call home. Laura and her older sister Mary must be determined and brave along their journey, and then, when they finally settle, there is much work for them to do — but there are still plenty of opportunities for fun and exploration in the rolling hills nearby! Just as they are really starting to feel at home, the Ingalls family finds themselves in the middle of an unexpected conflict. Even if they have to leave their little prairie house behind, though, they know they will always have the most important thing: each other. Fans may want to consider the complete box set of this series so they can read it start to finish! For more resources about this beloved author, visit our Laura Ingalls Collection.
Midnight Gulch used to be a place where people could sing up a thunderstorm or dance up sunflowers; thanks to a curse, though, magic like that is a thing of the past. Felicity is familiar with the effects of such curses, since her mother has been cursed with a wandering heart, leaving her unable to settle anywhere. And she knows about magic: Felicity is a “word collector” and sees words shimmering everywhere. But then, Midnight Gulch produces words she's never seen before: words like “home” and “friend.” Perhaps Felicity can heal her mother's heart and bring back Midnight Gulch's magic... A charming story full of heart, this fantasy novel is pure delight.
12-year-old Rose is autistic and has a particular obsession with homophones — so when her father brings her home a dog, she names him Rain, a word with three homophones (rein, reign) that makes him extra special. When a storm causes flooding and Rain goes missing, she is determined to find her beloved dog, but when Rose discovers that Rain may belong to someone else, she faces a seemingly insurmountable challenge: breaking out of her routine and comfort zone to find Rain's owners, and maybe even giving back her beloved friend. Rose's authentic voice in this book captures her struggles with a life full of rules that are critical to her but unimportant or incomprehensible to those around her.
Everyone in 11-year-old Cady's world has a Talent, a semi-magical ability. In Cady's case, she has a gift for making cakes: just by looking at someone, she knows exactly what they'd like. It seems like a mundane (if delicious) ability, but it will lead Cady on an unexpected journey, out of the orphanage where kindly Miss Mallory has been struggling to find a family for her, to a lost-luggage emporium, a family of children searching for their own Talents, and a mysterious Talent Thief. And maybe, to truth about how Cady became an orphan — and even to a long-lost parent. Fans of this magical world can return to it in A Clatter of Jars.
This Newbery Award-winning novel tells the story of 12-year-old Claudia, who decides to run away from home — and brings her little brother Jamie along for the ride. She chooses the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City as their new home and they quickly settle into living secretly in the museum. But when a new exhibit arrives — a marble angel statue that might just be a real Michaelangelo — the children fall into the middle of a mystery that takes them on another grand adventure: finding the previous owner of the statue, Mrs. Frankweiler herself, in hopes of proving it! This classic, suspenseful read with an urban adventure story has been a favorite for generations.
Minli lives in the valley of the Fruitless Mountain, where she and her parents struggle to survive. At night, her father tells her miraculous tales about the Jade Dragon and the Old Man in the Moon, who holds everyone's destiny, but her mother is too busy worrying to enjoy the stories. So one day, Minli decides that she will find the Old Man in the Moon and change her family's fortune. Along the way, she befriends a talking fish, a flightless dragon, and more amazing creatures... but when she reaches the Old Man, she will have to decide whether asking for riches for herself and her family is the best use of a chance to change fate. Inspired by Chinese folktales and full of vibrant illustrations, this unique story teaches an important lesson about greed and happiness. Fans of this book can check out the companion, When The Sea Turned To Silver.
When Reena's family moves to Maine, she's expecting beaches, blueberries, and lobster — not being "volunteered" to work for Mrs. Falala on a farm with animals like Paulie the Pig, Edna the snake, China the cat, and a very stubborn cow named Zora. Even more unexpectedly, Reena discovers a surprising bond with the ornery but somehow lovable cow — and learns more about Mrs. Falala, which in turn affects her family in ways she'd never predicted. Told in a combination of prose and free verse poems, this book celebrates the power of being open to new experiences and the bonds we can form with the most unexpected people (and creatures.)
Although she was born there, Margie doesn't consider herself Mexican — and she's devoted years of work to ensuring her classmates don't see her that way, either. Then her cousin Lupe moves from Mexico, hoping to see her father, who went north to find work, and to Margie's horror, Lupe is assigned to her class. Now Lupe's frilly clothes and struggles with English are challenging Margie's carefully crafted identity, especially when she's told to translate the teacher's lessons despite not speaking much Spanish. Slowly, though, both Lupe and Margie discover how to create new selves that acknowledge both Mexican heritage and American home. This beautiful novel, which was also published in a Spanish edition, Nacer bailando, tackles important issues about bullying, cultural identity, and family.
Igraine’s great-grandfather was a brave knight, and she wants to be one too — but life at the family castle is so predictable, and the rest of her family only cares about magical arts, not swordplay. Until, that is, the nephew of a nearby baroness shows up, eager to capture the castle and her parents’ singing spell books! And just as the siege begins, Igraine’s parents botch a spell, turning them both into pigs. If Igraine is going to save the the castle, she'll need help from a Giant, a Sorrowful Knight, a talking cat... and even her brother. Whimsical, humorous, and full of adventure, this story is sure to please readers both old and young.
After being orphaned by the influenza epidemic in British East Africa in 1919, Rachel has few options. When she goes to her neighbors for help, the nefarious and conniving couple traps her in a plot: they have been disowned by their wealthy father, and had planned to send their daughter, Valerie, to entice him into reinstating them in his will. With Valerie also dead from influenza, they plan to get Rachel to replace her. Once in England, Rachel and the ill man develop a surprisingly close bond — close enough that Rachel fears that revealing the ruse will damage his health. But it turns out that the old man is not so easily fooled, and the ending of the story will leave readers cheering. Full of vivid descriptions of both England and what is now Kenya, this historical fiction novel is a rich coming-of-age adventure.
Imagine a world where a young Ada Lovelace (of computer programming fame) became best friends with Mary Godwin (the future Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein) and formed their own detective agency! That's what happens in this entertaining series that combines mystery with STEM subjects. When a heirloom is stolen — and someone falsely confesses to the crime — it's up to the astute but socially awkward Ada and the daring and romantic Mary to put their analytical talents to solving the mystery. Fans of the first volume will want to seek out the second, The Case of the Girl in Grey and the recently released third volume, The Case of the Counterfeit Criminals.
Every Beaumont knows that when they turn 13, they develop a savvy, a magical power — and with brothers who create electricity and hurricanes, Mibs is hoping for something amazing. But one day before her birthday, Poppa is in a terrible accident, and now all she wants is a savvy that will save him. Confident that her coming savvy will address the situation, she sneaks onto a salesman's bus — followed by her sibling and the preacher's kids — with plans to get to the hospital. But when the bus is going the wrong way, and Mibs' savvy doesn't turn out to be what she expected, she'll have to figure out what to do about the mess she's made. Fans of this volume can follow the adventures of the Beaumont family in Scumble and Switch.
Alice's Aunt Polly was the Pie Queen of Ipswitch, and when she dies, her recipe for her world-famous pie crust is surely lost forever. Or is it? In her will, Polly actually leaves the recipe to her surly, overweight cat Lardo — and leaves Lardo to Alice. Now everyone in town is wondering how you leave a pie recipe to a cat, and with the next big pie contest approaching fast, competitive drive is running wild. Alice and her friend Charlie are going to have to puzzle out what Polly was up to, whether the recipe actually exists... and perhaps most difficult of all, what is going to make her happy. This funny and sweet story celebrates family and friends, and even includes a handful of pie recipes for your kids to try!
Upon her christening, the fairies gift Princess Amy with Wit, Charm, Health, Courage... and Ordinariness. Unlike her exquisite sisters, Amy's appearance is plain, and she's far more interested in adventures than in marrying a prince. So when her parents try to marry her off, Amy decides to run away, and her gift of being ordinary allows her to blend in perfectly as a kitchen maid in the neighboring kingdom's palace. There, she makes a new friend — but Perry, a "man of all work", has a secret as remarkable as her own. In fact, they may just be the perfect pair. This charming story, with its reminder that looks are unimportant without substance behind them, also captures the power of choosing your own path in life.
In the wacky Villa Villekulla lives a very extraordinary girl! Pippi Longstocking, the strongest girl in the world, lives alone with her monkey Mr. Nilsson, and her arrival is going to turn Tommy and Annika’s life upside down. Full of incredible hijinks, daring deeds, and expectation-defying adventures, any child would want to follow Pippi just to see what happens next! Fans of Pippi should also check out The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking, which collects the three full-length Pippi books into one volume. You can also find more Pippi books, films, and toys in our Pippi Longstocking Collection.
10-year-old Sugar knows that slavery is over, but her family still works on the fields at River Road Plantation for long hours every day — which doesn't feel like being free. Neither does having to hide her friendship with Billy, the plantation owner's son. When Chinese workers are brought in to help harvest the sugar cane, most of Sugar's neighbors feel threatened, but she's fascinated and eager to learn more about their culture — and to share information about plantation life with them. In fact, Sugar's unexpected friendships might be able to bring the whole community together. This historical fiction novel explores the challenges communities faced after the Emancipation, as well as the bigotry and misunderstanding that new cultures have often found in their pursuit of the American dream.
Princess Celie loves living in Castle Glower, and she especially loves Tuesdays, the day that a new room, turret, or wing magically appears! No one can guess what the castle will do next, and Celie is the only one who ever takes the time to map the new additions. And, when King and Queen Glower are ambushed and foreign interlopers appear to try to claim the kingdom, Celie's intimate knowledge of the castle will be key to protecting herself, her family, and her people. Celie's unique friendship with the magical castle provides fodder for all sorts of fun adventures in this charming story! You can continue Celie's adventures in Wednesdays in the Tower, Thursdays with the Crown, Fridays with the Wizards, and Saturdays at Sea.
10-year-old Mandy is an orphan who wants a place to call her own more than anything in the world. So when she climbs over the orphanage wall and finds an abandoned cottage, Mandy realizes that she’s found the perfect place. Through the year, Mandy works to make the cottage hers, “borrowing” things she needs from the orphanage. But when Mandy gets sick at the cottage on a stormy night, she’ll learn that there are friends to be found in the most unexpected places! This charming novel by beloved actress Julie Andrews is sure to delight any child who’s dreamed of creating her very own secret space. Mandy’s hard work and big imagination are touching and inspiring, and kids will cheer when this Mighty Girl gets her happy ending.
Ten-year-old Poppy has the powers of a witch — gifts that are tremendously valued, even coveted, in her world! But Poppy also has a knack for baking, and what she'd really like is a career as a baker. Despite her protests, her parents push her to follow in the footsteps of her great-aunt, a famous witch, but when they go so far as to take the oven out of their house, Poppy discovers that there's a dark side to magic... one that can come out all too easily when you're angry. Fortunately, good friends and good food can turn things around! This spirited story — which comes complete with recipes you can try at home — features a likeable character whose frustration will feel familiar to many tweens. Fans of this volume can read the sequel featuring Poppy's daughter, The Courage of Cat Campbell, and the companion, The Marvelous Magic of Miss Mabel.
Emily's literary idol, Garrison Griswold, lives in San Francisco — something that makes her move to the city a lot more exciting! He's the creator of Book Scavenger, a game where books are hidden in cities around the country. But when she arrives, Emily learns that Griswold has been attacked and no one knows anything about the epic new game he was just about to launch. When Emily and her friend James discover a strange book, they find themselves rushing from clue to clue, trying to find the secret — before whoever attacked Griswold comes after them too. This fun adventure, sprinkled with mysteries and ciphers, is sure to appeal to mystery fans. Don't forget to check out the conclusion of the story in the newly released The Unbreakable Code.
Princess Tilda dreams of running away from her princess responsibilities: between her love of books and being "cursed" with a crippled foot, she doesn't see herself ruling a kingdom. But when her cousin Ivo usurps her kingdom and holds her hostage, Tilda finds herself on a new path. Alongside her handmaiden and a failed squire, they set off on a quest to find and slay dragons — one which will challenge everything Tilda knows about her own capabilities and how she feels about her role as a leader. This engaging fantasy celebrates a Mighty Girl who loves books and swords at the same time.
Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends forever, but things start to change when Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the leader of the elementary school's popular clique known as The Group. To be in The Group, you have to do everything Jen says — even if that means bullying others. Shannon will need to decide whether being part of The Group is worth it... and figure out how to stand up for herself if it's not. Young Shannon’s day dreams hint at her future as a bestselling author, while LeUyen Pham's appealing illustrations still underscore how alienated Shannon feels with The Group and how comfortable she feels with other friends. This graphic novel memoir from beloved author Shannon Hale about navigating the challenges of friendship and discovering what it means to be a real friend will resonate with many young readers.
Opal comes home from her local Winn-Dixie supermarket with something entirely unexpected — a stray dog! Soon she and the dog are best friends, and she’s named him after the place where they met. Winn-Dixie’s goofy, warm attitude become the conversation starter Opal needs to meet a wide variety of unexpected characters in her new town... and even prompts her sad, introverted father to open up about why Opal’s mother left the family. This Newbery Honor book, which was also adapted into a live-action film, is a lovely story of friendship, acceptance, and love.
11-year-old Ellie is nervous about the first year in middle school — navigating new and old friendships and all the changes of a new school are feeling pretty daunting. And things only get stranger when an odd, cranky boy at her school turns out to be her Grandpa Melvin, who's dreamed of finding the secret to immortality. Having a grandfather her own age gives Ellie the chance to learn more about his passion for science — but the more she learns, the more she wonders if science can go too far. Maybe Ellie has a few lessons to teach Melvin too. This lighthearted, funny book is sure to be a hit with science-loving kids.
The Penderwick sisters are spending the summer on a sprawling estate, full of interesting places to explore. And as the girls meander through the gardens and nose through the attics, they also meet a fascinating new companion: Jeffrey, the son of the estate’s owner, Mrs. Tifton. Who better to accompany them on their adventures? Mrs. Tifton doesn't approve, and Jeffrey's on the verge of being sent to a military school. Will the sisters' adventures save their new friend from such a terrible fate, or just get him deeper into hot water? It will be a summer of full of trouble, laughter, mischief, and confusion — definitely one that no one on the estate will ever forget! Fans of the Penderwicks will also love this paperback box set featuring the four books in the series.
Tuesday's mother, Serendipity, is a famous author — and now she's missing. So Tuesday and her dog Baxterr set out to find her, and discover the mysterious, unpredictable place that stories come from. In order to rescue her mother — and get to The End — Tuesday will have to make new friends, learn to sail a magical boat, defeat a dangerous pirate, learn the truth about her definitely-not-ordinary dog, and get in touch with her creative side to find the power in storytelling. This magical adventure plays with narrative structure and the creative process, all while communicating a message about the power of finding your own voice. Serendipity's story continues in the sequel, A Week Without Tuesday.
Gladys Gatsby adores gourmet food — something her fast food-loving parents don’t appreciate. So she's been cooking fancy dishes for herself in secret since the age of seven... until she accidentally sets fire to the kitchen and finds herself banned from cooking altogether. But then a major newspaper contacts her, thinking she's an adult foodie, asking her to write a review of one of the best restaurants in New York City! If Gladys wants to get her dream job, she'll have to engage in some clever maneuvering — and draw on the help of both her friends and the snobbiest girl in school. This clever and funny book about a girl with a passion for fine food will delight young readers. Gladys' story continues in The Stars of Summer and Stars So Sweet.
At birth, Ella was given the "gift" of obedience by a foolish fairy; as a result, she cannot refuse any order given to her, no matter what it is — or who gives it to her. Ella's stepmother and stepsisters are more than happy to take advantage of her curse, but Ella is not content to accept her fate. Instead, she sets out to find a way to reverse the curse and spell... and find her own happiness. This Newbery Honor book plays with many aspects of the traditional Cinderella story, but at its heart is an independent, determined heroine who ultimate frees herself.
Ana Rosa is a budding writer — but in the authoritarian Dominican Republic, there is no such thing as freedom of expression. She spends her days scribbling on napkins, paper bags, and shop paper, and dreams of having a notebook of her own, and the only support her mother feels safe offering is, "there always has to be a first person to do something." Then, the government announces that they will be bulldozing Ana Rosa's village to build hotels for tourists, and Ana Rosa's brother, Guario, is appointed the village's spokesperson. Ana Rosa's poems don't have the power to stop the government's crackdown, but perhaps they can help her process her grief and tell her loved ones' story to the world. This powerful story about oppression, creativity, and the drive to seek justice will get kids thinking about the freedoms they likely take for granted.
Princesses Meryl and Addie are as different as they could be: Meryl is brave and adventurous, dreaming of fighting dragons and saving the kingdom, while Addie is shy and fearful and just wants to stay safe inside the castle. When the Gray Death plague strikes, though, and Meryl is fatally ill, Addie has to overcome her fear and attempt to fulfill an ancient prophecy, not just to save her sister, but the whole kingdom. Setting off alone with a selection of magical items to help her on her way, Addie will find the courage to defeat spectres, ogres, and even a dragon! Fans of this book will want to check out the new prequel, The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre.
Every night, little lights appear in Sandy's bedroom — lights that she transforms into companions to play with until she falls asleep. The next day, she's always captivated trying to draw her nighttime friends. One day, a girl with purple hair arrives at her school, and to Sandy's surprise, Morfie seems to know all about Sandy's lights. But when it turns out that Morfie intends to enter Sandy's night world and take it over, Sandy will have to muster all of her confidence and determination to fight off the invader. Exquisitely illustrated, this thoughtful graphic novel will prompt discussions about creativity, insecurity, and gaining control of your fears.
For years, 11-year-old Charlie Reese has collected ways to make wishes, from blowing off an eyelash to eating the pointed tip of a slice of pie last. She wishes for luck, to fit in, and for her mother to get off the couch and care for her rather so she doesn't have to go live with an aunt and uncle she doesn't even know. But while living with Aunt Bertha and Uncle Gus, Charlie stumbles across a stray dog she names Wishbone and a neighbor boy named Howard, both of whom threaten to break through her tough exterior. And when Wishbone goes missing, Charlie might find that there's a difference between what you wish for and what you actually want. This complex story about the true meaning of family will resonate with readers long after they're done.
12-year-old Sophie knows little beyond the four walls of her father's bookshop, where she repairs old books and dreams of escaping the confines of her dull life. But when a strange boy, Peter Nimble, and his talking cat/horse companion show up with a rare and mysterious book, she finds herself pulled into a real-life adventure beyond anything she has ever read! Soon Sophie is on an adventure to find four magical tomes that can help Peter solve a riddle and save the world. This companion to Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes introduces an intriguing Mighty Girl character to Jonathan Auxier's fascinating world of magic and mystery.
10-year-old Ada has never left her family's one-bedroom apartment; her abusive mother considers her clubbed foot a humiliation and has kept her from public view her entire life. But when Ada’s little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the dangers of World War II, Ada takes the greatest risk of her life and sneaks out to join him. Susan Smith, the recluse who’s forced to take the siblings in, doesn’t know anything about children — especially girls who flinch at every mistake. But as the pair grow closer, perhaps Ada has finally found someone that she can trust to love her just as she is. This touching 2015 Newbery Honor novel with an engaging main character is part adventure, part search for identity.
Last summer, Quinnen was a star pitcher, with her whole family there to cheer her on — including her big sister Haley. But this summer, everything is different: Haley has died, Quinnen's family is still reeling, and baseball seems like the least important thing in the world. But when Quinnen's family is picked to host one of the players for the Bandits, the local minor-league baseball team, it might just be the glimmer of hope the whole family needs — and the push that gets Quinnen back up on the pitcher's mound. Told in chapters that alternate between the previous summer and the current one, this poignant and heartfelt novel explores grief, resiliency, and the difficulty of forgiving yourself.
It was a long journey from England to the New World for Alis' family, but they believe they will find a better life on new shores. However, the settlers have found themselves at odds with the local Roanoke tribe, and tensions are rising. In the midst of the conflict, Alis meets and, despite the long odds, befriends a Roanoke girl named Kimi, and the pair becomes as close as sisters. But when the fragile peace between the groups starts to fall apart, Alis will face difficult choices. Inspired by the story of the Lost Colony of Roanoke, this novel in verse tells the story from both girls' perspectives, with their voices coming together as their friendship grows. It's a unique work of historical fiction that will give you plenty to discuss after it's done.
Manami's Japanese American family finds their lives turned upside down: it's 1942, and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour means they're being sent to an internment camp. Worst of all, Yujiin, her and her grandfather's beloved dog, isn't allowed to come. When Manami decides to try to smuggle Yujiin with them, she gets caught — and she has to abandon him halfway between their old home and the camp. Grief- and guilt-stricken, she becomes mute. She tries to cling to the hope that Yujiin will find a way to them, but if Manami is going to find peace — and her voice — she'll have to find a way to say goodbye to everything her family had to leave behind. This heartrending novel about a dark period of American history will help young readers put a human face to the stories from their textbooks.
Little people have some big adventures in Mary Norton's classic series The Borrowers! Pod, Homily, and their daughter Arriety are miniature people who "borrow" what they need from the giant "human beans" who live around them — everything from matchboxes for dressers to postage stamps for artwork. But after Pod is spotted by a human boy, the Borrowers' lives change forever. These charming stories have been favorites for many, and were even adapted into the Studio Ghibli film The Secret World of Arrietty. This beautiful volume collects all of the Borrowers books and stories, perfect for both old and new fans. To check out just the first volume, see The Borrowers.
For Derby's dad Garland, a life homeschooling while the family meanders the highways means freedom and family fun — but for Derby, it means loneliness, especially since she's still wrestling with the disappearance of her mother. Summers are her favorite time of year, when they settle in Ridge Creek, Virginia and sell burgers and fries out of Garland's Grill near the minor-league baseball stadium. But this summer, things are different: her relationship with her best friend, Marcus, and her nemesis, Betsy, are changing, and her beloved neighbor June is grieving the loss of her husband. One thing is certain: the summer will reveal both surprises and secrets... and it might just be the key to finding "home" for Derby. This charming story with an unforgettable main character celebrates the many ways we find our home and family.
Sylvia Mendez didn't want to be the center of a legal battle; she just wanted to go to school. Aki Munemitsu just wanted to stay on her family farm; instead, she's been relocated to a Japanese internment camp. It's 1943, and racism is changing the lives of both girls: Sylvia is being denied admission to a "white" school because she is Hispanic American, and Aki is being declared a potential traitor after Pearl Harbor because her family is Japanese. Their lives were tied together by coincidence: Sylvia's family rented the home that Aki was forced to leave behind. Through extensive interviews with both women, author Winifred Conkling has created a unique story about two Mighty Girls who faced their own struggles with racial discrimination. Younger kids can learn Sylvia's story in the picture book Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation for ages 6 to 9.
A nameless, motherless Southern girl is resigned to a life being literally and figuratively beaten down by her father and brothers... until her life is changed forever by a runaway slave named Zenobia. After helping to shelter her, the girl — who Zenobia names Lark because she is able to mimic its song — decides to run away with her. They're being chased by both slave catchers and Lark's family, and danger lurks everywhere, even once they join up with Brightwell, another runaway slave, and follow Underground Railroad signs to a safehouse. And when the safehouse is raided and Zenobia and Brightwell are captured, Lark will set out on her own to rescue them. Full of vivid descriptions of antebellum Virginia and written in a rural mid-19th century dialect, this book will transport young readers into Lark's world.
In 1920s Chicago, Isabel is already unique as the only girl selling copies of the Tribune on the street corner. But she's got bigger dreams: in fact, Isabel wants to be a news reporter, just like her idol, Maude Collier. So at first she's thrilled when she stumbles across Collier at a real-live murder scene... until the police accuse an innocent friend. Now, instead of devoting her time to the news, Isabel has to turn her investigative skills to solving the mystery of the real killer! With short, cliffhanger chapters and an atmosphere crackling with guns, gangsters, and 1920s glamour, this is a middle-grade mystery she'll find hard to put down!
Zomorod Yousefzadeh is the new kid — again. Her family's most recent home is California's Newport Beach, where she's going to start fresh; she's even picked a perfect new, and very American, name, Cindy. But in the late 1970s, with Iran making headlines in the U.S. with protests, revolution, and finally the taking of American hostages, even mood rings and puka shell necklaces can't protect Cindy from anti-Iran sentiments that are way too close to home. The first middle grade novel by the author of the best-selling adult memoir Funny in Farsi, this story shows middle grade leaders what it's like to bridge the gap between beloved traditions and new customs.
To escape her parents' arguments — and later the difficult emotions she feels about their separation and her move to a new school — Gabby has retreated into daydreams. In the new worlds of her imagination, anything can happen, and it can all be wonderful. But when her daydreams start intruding on her schoolwork, she thinks she'll have to give up the joys of playing with words in her head. Fortunately, a teacher at her new school knows just how to direct Gabby: her vivid imagination and her love of words are the perfect ingredients for a successful author. This powerful novel in verse celebrates how an intuitive teacher can set a student on a new path and encourages kids to see how creative outlets can help them grow.
11-year-old Calpurnia is curious why the yellow grasshoppers in her yard are so much bigger than the green grasshoppers. But it's Texas in 1899, and girls are supposed to devote their time to proper activities like needlework, not tromping through the grasses studying bugs. Still, Calpurnia recruits her grandfather, an avid naturalist, to help her figure out the mystery. As the pair grows closer, Calpurnia dreams of becoming a scientist, even as it becomes more obvious how difficult that will be for a girl of her time. Fans of Calpurnia can read the continuation of her story in The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate. You can also check out Skunked! for age 6 to 9, which is the first volume of the new early chapter book series, Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet.
Catrina's family is moving to Bahia de la Luna, where the coastal air will help Maya's cystic fibrosis symptoms. Cat misses her friends and resents being forced to move, but she loves her sister and is terrified of Maya getting sick. So when their neighbor tells them that Bahia de la Luna is home to ghosts — spirits of ancestors who watch over them — Cat wants nothing to do with them... and is horrified to discover that Maya seems fascinated by the ghosts. As the Day of the Dead approaches, and Cat meets the ghosts face to face, she'll learn more about the Mexican side of her heritage — and learn to set her fears aside, for both Maya's sake and her own. This original graphic novel by the author / illustrator of best-selling graphic novels Smile, Sisters, and Drama is sure to delight your Raina Telgemeier fan!
Everyone agrees that Deza Malone is the smartest girl in her class in Gary, Indiana, so she's surely meant for great things. But if she and her family are going to make it through the Great Depression, her father has to leave to find work — after all, if there were jobs to be had, they'd go to the white men, not a black man like him. Soon, Deza, her mother, and her brother, Jimmie, set off too, ending up in a Hooverville outside Flint, Michigan where they hope to find a livelihood, Deza's father, and a place to call home. This story of hardship, loss, and devotion is full of painful historical detail, from Deza's rotting teeth to the teacher who won't give black children grades higher than a C, but what rings throughout is a story of kindness, love, and determination.
Charlie's needs always seem to come in last in her family — like right now, when she's struggling to save money for an outfit for her next Irish dancing competition. Then, while ice fishing one day, she comes across a big surprise: a fish who promises to grant her wishes. It seems like a great solution, but Charlie soon discovers that wishes are never quite granted the way she'd hoped. And when she faces the huge problem of her older sister's addiction, Charlie realizes that some things are too important for wishes: some things require hard work, sacrifice, and love. The magical twist to this story provides a gentle opportunity to talk about very real challenges that many tweens and teens face, making it an excellent conversation starter.
Billie Simms may only be 13, but she is already determined to see an end to segregation in her hometown of Anniston, Alabama — even if few people agree with her. When she hears that the Freedom Riders will pass through Anniston, Billie hopes that the town will see the justice in their cause; instead, they show the depths of their racism and prejudice. With the buses about to move on, Billie has to decide what to do: stay safe at home, or join the cause she believes in so passionately. In addition to the presentation of historical events, this novel explores Billie's developing awareness of her own internalized racism, which provides an intriguing starting point for discussion about racial issues of today.
Omakayas may be an Ojibwa girl living in the 1800s, but many of her problems will sound familiar to young readers — like dealing with a pesky brother and desperately wanting the approval of her beloved mother and older sister. Over a year, Omakayas and her family will move to their summer lodgings, harvest wild rice, prepare for a difficult winter, and face the horrors and grief that a smallpox epidemic brings. Along the way, Omakayas will learn more about how she came to be adopted as a toddler — and why her beloved neighbor Old Tallow is alone. Louise Erdich, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwa, researched the daily life of Ojibwa villages in depth to write this historically accurate and deeply moving series. Fans of this book can check out the sequels The Game of Silence and The Porcupine Year.
Fans of Ann M. Martin’s long-running series will love these full color graphic novel editions, adapted by best-selling author / illustrator Raina Telegemeier! When Kristy has the idea to create a club of baby-sitters to get more baby-sitting jobs, she enlists her two friends Mary Anne and Claudia, and later new friends Stacey and Dawn. No new business goes smoothly, but with friendship to see them through, the baby-sitters will create something extra-special! Telgemeier’s dynamic illustrations bring Martin’s characters to life brilliantly. This set includes the first four full-color graphic novel adaptations: Kristy's Great Idea, The Truth About Stacey, Mary Anne Saves The Day, and Claudia and Mean Janine.
It's hard going through school as Naomi Soledad León Outlaw — between her long name and the hand-made clothes, she's never been one of the popular kids. But her grandmother is a loving guardian for her and her brother, whose physical deformities make him stand out, and tries her best to teach them both about their Mexican heritage. When Naomi's mother finally shows back up after seven years, with a scary boyfriend in tow, it soon becomes obvious that her motivations are more about profit and convenience than about reconnecting with her children. Fortunately, Gram and their Mexican neighbors work together so that Naomi can finally have the security she desperately needs. Touching and inspiring, this book asks important questions about what it really means to be family.
Ten-year-old Zoe has dreams of piano perfection, and all she needs is lessons and an elegant piano to practice on. But when her father goes to the music store, he comes home with a wheezy organ instead! That's just the latest in a series of frustrations and confusion, including Mom constantly working, Dad's fears of leaving the house, and the odd classmate who follows her home from school so that he can bake with her dad. But when her teacher recognizes Zoe's musical talent and recommends her for the Perfectone Perform-O-Rama organ competition, it's the start of a big realization: life can be perfect, even with quirks, surprises, and a family that's a little off-kilter. Simultaneously funny and wise, kids will love the fast-paced chapters full of Zoe's tongue-in-cheek observations.
When the Berlin Wall went up, it split Gerta's family in two: her father and middle brother, who had gone west to look for work, are on one side; Gerta, her mother, and her other brother are on the other, under Soviet control. Now Gerta is growing up with East German soldiers pointing guns at their own citizens to keep them from looking over the wall. Then, on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform, performing a strange dance, and receives a mysterious drawing. Her conclusion? Her father wants them to tunnel under the wall and reunite the family. But do they dare the consequences in search of freedom? This intriguing historical novel, with its unique setting, will give kids a new perspective on the importance of remembering history.
Tiffany Aching is a dutiful (if grudging) big sister and a talented cheesemaker — but what she really wants is to be a witch. She might need some witch magic fast, though, when the Queen of Faerie steals her little brother away! With a piece of string, a borrowed toad, a cast-iron pan, and the Nac Mac Feegle, a clan of six-inch-tall Pictsies, Tiffany will have to dare going into fairyland itself if she’s going to make things right again. With a complex plot full of metaphors about growing up — and plenty of humor along the way — you’ll be eager to follow Tiffany on future adventures! Tiffany’s story continues in A Hat Full Of Sky, Wintersmith, I Shall Wear Midnight, and Terry Pratchett's final Discworld novel, The Shepherd's Crown.
Gratuity "Tip" Tucci has a tough assignment for school: writing about "The True Meaning of Smekday." For Tip, it brings back memories of her mother being abducted by aliens and the invasion of the Boov, who renamed the Earth "Smekland" after their captain and forcibly relocated all the humans to Florida. But it also reminds her of an unlikely friendship with a rogue Boov mechanic, a hovercar called Slushious, and a cross-country trip to rescue her mother and (hopefully) rescue her planet from yet another invasion. This funny and genre-bending novel which became the inspiration for the animated movie Home is full of newspaper clippings, "photos," and other fun details for you to discover together.
Creel's aunt is desperate to tie her family to royalty, so she dumps Creel in front of the local dragon in hopes that she'll be rescued by the local prince! Instead, Creel rejects the haughty prince and befriends the dragon, who gifts her a pair of slippers which only seem to be ordinary. As she sets off to forge her own path using her talent for embroidery, little does Creel know that these far-from-ordinary slippers could save the kingdom or destroy it. With its spirited and independent-minded heroine, this charming story, full of vivid descriptions of everything from Creel's "fancywork" to the rough streets of the King's Seat, will delight middle grade readers. Creel's story continues in Dragon Flight and Dragon Spear.
10-year-old Hà has lived her whole life in Saigon, and she loves everything about the city — the bustling markets, its unique traditions, and her very own papaya tree. But when the Vietnam War reaches the capital, Hà and her family are forced to flee. They make their way by boat to a tent city in Guam, then to Florida, and finally, to a new home in Alabama. To Hà, this new land is all wrong: her neighbors are cold, the food is dull, and even the landscape feels alien. Even still, thanks to the strength of her family and help from a teacher with a very unexpected connection to the country where she was born, Hà begins to find her own place in this new world. This National Book Award-winning novel is written in free verse. Fans of this story will enjoy the 2015 companion novel, Listen, Slowly.
When their small mining village is deemed to be the location of the future princess, Miri and the other teenaged girls are sent to an academy set up by the king’s ministers, where they will learn how to be “proper” princesses before the prince comes to choose one of them as his wife. At first, Miri only has to face the strict, condescending academy mistress and the bitter competition among the girls hoping to be chosen, but when bandits find the academy, determined to kidnap the future princess, Miri has to rally the girls to work together and use her newly discovered power to communicate silently to save herself and all her classmates. Miri’s story also continues in the sequels, Princess Academy: Palace of Stone and Princess Academy: The Forgotten Sisters.
Thirteen-year-old Shida's name means "problem" in Swahili, and sometimes she feels like that's apt: her father is dead, people say her depressed mother is a witch, and everyone in her Tanzanian village of Litongo believes girls should marry and bear children. What Shida really wants is to be a nurse, so when the elders decide to move their people to another village, she's excited at the possibility of starting over — and going to school. But calamity still seems to follow her, and the boys in her class are hostile at the idea of an educated girl. Fortunately, with the help of her grandfather, Babu, Shida is able to convince people that their new home is full of opportunity — and that an educated girl has incredible value. Author Katie Quirk spent two years in Tanzania before writing this book, allowing her to create an absorbing depiction of Sukuma culture and an inspiring, determined heroine.
Brother and sister Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert were planning to take in an orphan boy to help on the family farm; they’re not expecting spirited, flame-haired Anne to show up instead. But Matthew is quickly charmed by Anne’s unique personality and vivid imagination — even if those same qualities often get her in no end of trouble. It may be that this unexpected girl will be the best thing to ever happen to their family! Anne Shirley is a deeply beloved character, and adults who loved reading her adventures will enjoy getting to introduce her to a new generation. Fans of Anne can also check out this box set featuring all the Anne novels, as well as the other products in our Anne of Green Gables Collection.
Eva Nine was raised in an underground sanctuary by the robotic Muthr, but when her home is destroyed, the 12-year-old returns to the surface to search for other humans — who she knows must exist because of a strange piece of cardboard depicting a girl, an adult, a robot, and the letters "WondLa." But not all humans will be friends, and soon Eva finds herself making tough choices on her journey to a place she can call home. This unique story includes Augmented Reality maps so readers can follow Eva's journey in 3D. Fans of Eva can follow the rest of her story in A Hero for WondLa and The Battle for WondLa. The trilogy is also now available in a box set.
When 12-year-old Karana tries to rescue her brother from being left behind on her tribe’s old island, she ends up stranded on the island herself, alone and desperate to survive. Feeding herself, building shelter, and making clothes are one thing; managing the loneliness of total isolation is even more difficult. But despite the trials Karana faces, she discovers courage — and peace — in her imposed self-reliance. This Newbery Medal-winning tale of survival is based on the real story of Juana Maria, a Nicoleno woman who was the last surviving member of her tribe and lived alone on San Nicolas Island from 1835 to 1853.
Sixteen people — including one extremely smart 13-year-old girl, Turtle — are offered the opportunity to live in an exclusive condo. Shortly after, they discover that they are also invited to the reading of Sam Westing’s will, where two million dollars rest on finding Westing’s murderer before the other potential heirs! Suspicions, lies, and alliances flurry through the group as Westing gets to play one last game. The fascinating cast of characters and fast pace make this a title that's hard to put down, and its complex, layered mystery story will have readers guessing to the end.
People in town think Meg is a loose cannon, her brother Charles Wallace is dumb, and her father ran off and left their scientist mother — but Meg doesn’t believe a word of any of it. So when an unexpected stranger appears in their kitchen and tells Meg about a tesseract — the “wrinkle in time” which her father was researching for the government — Meg decides to set off through space and time to find him. Her adventures with Charles Wallace and neighbor Calvin will require all of their strengths to accomplish! A Wrinkle in Time is the first of a quintet of science fiction classics, which are also available in a box set. Fans of the book can also check out the graphic novel adaptation by Hope Larson.
Delphine may only be eleven, but she's used to caring for her sisters, Vonetta and Fern, since her mother left seven years ago for California. But the summer of 1968 is going to be different: their father is sending all three girls to visit Cecile in Oakland. They're expecting family trips to Disneyland to meet Tinkerbell; instead, Cecile sends them to youth programs at a Black Panther center and tells them to stay out as long as they can while she writes her poetry. They may not be getting the maternal experience they expected, but over one crazy summer, they'll learn a lot about their family, their country, and themselves. Fans of this book can continue the sisters' story in P.S. Be Eleven and Gone Crazy In Alabama.
For hundreds of years, a small group of Elders have ruled the Protectorate by terrorizing its citizens with stories of a witch who will destroy the community if a baby is not left in the forest for her once a year. A witch does live in the forest — but she is a kind and gentle witch named Xan, who rescues the abandoned babies. One year, however, she accidentally feeds a rescued baby moonlight instead of starlight. The moonlight fills the child with powerful magic, and for her safety, Xan decides to raise this special child, Luna, as her own. As Luna approaches her 13th birthday, her magic begins to grow in new and unpredictable ways. With her coming of age, Luna will face new challenges to protect the people she loves and bring renewed hope to the lives of those around her.
It's 1924, and there's a new organization placing pressure on this small Vermont town: the Ku Klux Klan. At first, the Klan's "all-American" mindset seems to fit the Prohibition-era conscience of the community — and if important men like Constable Parcelle Johnson and retailer Harvey Pettibone are joining, then surely it can't be so bad. But when someone shoots at a 6-year-old Jewish girl and her father in broad daylight, the town is faced with the true bigotry and hate that the Klan represents. Now they have to figure out who would commit such a horrible crime — and whether or not they can purge the Klan's influence from their community. Told in free verse in 11 different voices, this intriguing story is part mystery and part social commentary.
In desperate and dangerous times, people must do whatever they can to protect those at risk. Lois Lowry’s Newbery Medal-winning book tells the remarkable true story of how the Danish Resistance moved nearly seven thousand Jewish people — almost the entire Jewish population of Denmark — across the sea to safety in Sweden. Through the eyes of fictional 10-year-old Annemarie, whose family conceals her Jewish best friend, Ellen, this incredible moment of courage and conviction is given a personal quality for tween readers. Younger readers can learn about this inspiring moment of resistance and defiance in The Whispering Town for ages 6 to 9.
Catherine just wants a normal life, but that seems impossible with her autistic brother, David. The family's whole life revolves around David, and Catherine has spent years trying to teach him rules so that he won't embarrass her — everything from "a peach is not a funny-looking apple" to "keep your pants on in public." But when Catherine becomes friends with Jason, a nonverbal paraplegic who uses a book of images to communicate, she's suddenly confronted with the truth: "normal" is hard to define, and rules are less important than acceptance and love. Catherine is an appealing character whose struggles between love for her brother and frustration with having to defer to his needs ring true.
In Eatonville, Florida, Carrie and Zora are best friends... but Zora's tall tales get her into big trouble when her story of a shape-shifting gator man intersects with real-life events — including a murder — in their community. As anger and suspicion begin to brew, Carrie and Zora eavesdrop on adults and look for clues, hoping to help their community find love, justice, and pride in themselves and their neighbors. Told in a series of chapter-long vignettes, this fictionalization of Zora Neale Hurston's childhood is the first book by an author other than Hurston ever endorsed by the Zora Neale Hurston Trust.
The woods of Briery Swamp fit May Bird like a fuzzy mitten, and keep her safe from the taunts of children at school who don't understand her. But one day, when she falls in the lake, she emerges into an unexpected new world — one that's far from warm and fuzzy. The Ever After is full of ghosts — including kindly ghosts like Pumpkin, who has watched May Bird since she was a child, but also nightmarish and bizarre creatures that have been haunting her for years. And if she doesn't get out fast, horrifyingly evil Bo Cleevil will turn her into nothing. This offbeat fantasy, the first of a trilogy is scary, fanciful, and truly suspenseful. Fans of this story can find the whole series in The May Bird Trilogy box set.
Crow grew up in an isolated village in the Elizabeth Islands of Massachusetts, but other than Osh, the man who raised her, and Miss Maggie, their neighbor, the villagers treat her with suspicion. She was found adrift in a boat when she was only a few hours old — and everyone knows the only place she could have come from is the nearby island of Penikese, a leper colony. Crow has always been curious about her history, but when a mysterious fire appears across the water, her curiosity becomes overwhelming. So she, Osh, and Miss Maggie set off on a journey that includes adventure, danger, a story about hidden gold, and an important question: what does it mean to be a family? This evocative and heart-wrenching story stars a truly determined heroine.
Raymie has a plan: she'll win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, her father will see her picture in the paper, and he'll forget all about the dental hygienist he ran away with and come home. Winning the competition requires new skills, including dealing with her fellow competitors — like Louisiana Elefante, who has a show business background but faints constantly, and Beverly Tapinski, who's determined to sabotage the whole thing. But as the competition approaches, the three girls develop an unexpected bond based on loneliness, grief, and a series of adventures in which each girl gets a chance to come to the rescue.
It's 1958, and twelve-year-old Marlee struggles at school, friendless and shy to the point of silence outside of her own family... until she meets Liz, the new girl at school. Fearless and determined, Liz knows just what to say to quiet the resident mean girl and to encourage Marlee to find her voice. Then, one day, Liz is gone — and rumor has it that she was only passing as white. But Marlee decides that she doesn't care: Liz is her best friend, and Marlee will do anything — even face the danger that comes with standing up against segregation — to have her friend back by her side. Heartfelt and touching, this book highlights just how arbitrary divisions based on race and skin color truly are.
Even Annabelle's small Pennsylvania town has been touched by the two world wars that ravaged the world, but day to day life there has been quiet until the day a new student, Betty Glengarry, comes to her school. Betty is cruel and delights in bullying the vulnerable people around her — including reclusive World War I veteran Toby. Annabelle knows that Toby is kind, but the other people in town see nothing but his odd behavior. As Betty agitates the town against Toby, Annabelle will have to find the courage to be a voice of justice... even if she's standing alone. This poignant novel's questions about right and wrong and what marks the dark parts of history leave on all of us are sure to generate plenty of discussion.
10-year-old Lyddie’s family farm is deep in debt, so her parents are forced to hire her and her brother out as servants to pay it. Lyddie wants her family to be together again, so when she hears about the money a girl can make in the textile mills, it seems like the perfect solution. The working conditions are horrible, but she needs money too much to sign the workers’ petitions, even when her friends start getting sick. Instead, she escapes from her hardships with her new joy — reading. And when she learns that she can never return home, her love of books and learning may provide a new dream: an education. Kids will be astonished to learn about the history of working children and how the labor rights movement fought for people just like them.
Princess Cimorene has no interest in being a proper princess, so instead of waiting to be kidnapped by a dragon, she runs away and makes a bargain with one — and not just any dragon, but Kazul, one of the most powerful and dangerous dragons! Soon, to the great confusion of the princes who come to rescue her, she sends them all packing and settles into her new life among the dragons. Fortunately for Kazul, Cimorene also manages to help unearth the wizards’ plot against the dragons in time to stop it... for now. Fantasy fans will love reading about how Cimorene finds life, love, and family, all on her own terms. Readers can also check out the Enchanted Forest Chronicles box set, which includes all four books in the series.
12-year-old Anita de la Torre has always felt free in her home of the Dominican Republic. Her parents manage to protect her from the truth of what the Trujillo regime is like, so Anita is still more concerned with her crush on the American boy next door than the question of whether his maid is spying on her family. But as Anita starts to understand the real meaning to the adults' whispers — a plot to assassinate El Jefe, the dictator — the tension starts to rise. Are the risks worth the brutal reprisals the family will suffer if they are discovered? And can Anita and her family finally find a place where they are free? Author Julia Alvarez draws on stories from her cousins and friends who lived through the 1960s in the Dominican Republic to create this suspenseful but ultimately hopeful story.
Willow is an eccentric genius of a child, but her accepting adoptive parents have always given her space to be whoever she is — even when she's talking about rare skin conditions or focusing on multiples of seven. In fact, her parents are pretty well the only people she engages with at all. But when they are killed in a car crash, Willow's life is turned upside down. She begins to fear that her only choice will be life in a group home, where her idiosyncrasies and brilliance will be considered disadvantages, not traits to be admired and understood. However, when her sort-of-friend Mai's mother takes Willow in, she begins to see a possibility of connecting to more people in the world. Complex and appealing characters make this book a unique testament to the power of very different people to come together as a family.
Melody's classmates and teachers dismiss her as mentally challenged, because her cerebral palsy leaves her unable to walk or speak. But the truth is that Melody's mind is remarkable: deeply intelligent and with a photographic memory, she's capable of much more than anyone expects. And while she's been repeating the same preschool-level ABCs year after year, she's also been planning exactly what she'll say whenever she figures out how to communicate. Then her parents get a computer — one which has a special keyboard that will allow Melody to talk. Melody has found her voice; are people ready to hear what she has to say? Complex and thought-provoking, this novel will open middle readers' eyes to the misconceptions about people with disabilities.
Sophie is the eldest of three daughters, and believes she is destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking the spell lies in the Wizard Howl's ever-moving castle in the hills. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the seemingly heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there's far more to Howl — and herself — than first meets the eye. Diana Wynne-Jones' magical book, which inspired the Academy Award nominated Studio Ghibli film, is inventive and full of wonder. Fans of this book should also check out the sequel, House of Many Ways.
Ally is clever — she knows that, if she's enough of a disruption in class, no one will figure out just how little she can read. But how can she be smart if she can't even read the simplest things? But her newest teacher, Mr. Daniels, seems to see past her brash, troublemaking exterior, and even puts a name to her reading problems: dyslexia. Lynda Mullaly Hunt provides a compassionate look at life with a learning disability, with an ending that's realistic: Ally's happy ending will involve small changes and a lot of hard work! Most importantly, she reminds the reader that great minds don't always think alike.
It’s taken all the love and determination that 9-year-old Cassie’s family has to protect her from the awareness of racism and violence in the 1930s Deep South. But when night riders start threatening African-Americans in her community, the truth can’t be hidden any longer. Cassie will have to harden her heart, but in the process, she’ll gain new perspective on her father’s deep attachment to the precious land they own. Set in Depression-Era Mississippi, this stunning novel that shows prejudice and violence through the eyes of an innocent will bring a new perspective to young readers, but it's primarily a story of one family's pride, integrity, and love for one another.
Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and had an ordinary life until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September meets a Green Wind who invites her on an adventure to Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. With the help of new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday, September is the only one who can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods. But will September be able to return home, or will she find herself bound to Fairyland forever? Catherynne M. Valente's unique and original Fairyland books, featuring illustrations by Ana Juan, have the same timeless quality as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz. To see all five volumes from the series, visit our Fairyland Collection.
Timothy McGrother is actually Lily, and she feels trapped in a body that looks like a boy; Norbert Dorfman is new in town, struggling to maintain a normal life even though he's gone off his medication for bipolar disorder in order to play on the middle school basketball team. When the two of them meet, for the first time, each has someone who is ready to take them just as they are. Alternating first-person chapters tell the story of how Norbert becomes Dunkin and Timothy becomes Lily, thanks to the support of a new friendship. With plot elements addressing both mental health and transgender issues, this book provides plenty of fodder for discussion, as well as the reminder that a good friend can give you the courage to be yourself.
Aerin is the king of Damar’s only child; she should be his heir, but because her mother was a witchwoman from the North, Damarians don’t trust her. Ultimately, in order to save her people, Aerin must embrace her destiny by confronting the Black Dragon and an evil sorcerer who has stolen Damar's source of strength, the Hero's Crown. This Newbery Award-winning novel features a complex and daring main character and an intriguing fantasy world. Fans of this book can also check out the sequel, The Blue Sword.
This compelling and unusual coming-of-age story is told from the perspective of enslaved 13 year-old Isabel, living in New York City at the time of the Revolutionary War. Her previous owner had promised her and her sister their release upon his death, and instead, they've found themselves in the hands of a malicious New York City couple. Their new home, though, brings Isabel into contact with Curzon, a slave with ties to the Patriots who asks Isabel to help him spy on her owners for details about the British invasion plans. Isabel is hesitant at first, but when the unthinkable happens to her sister, Isabel realizes that freedom is worth the risk. Winner of the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction and a National Book Award Finalist, "Chains" is historical fiction at its finest. This powerful work of historical fiction is first in a trilogy; you can find the whole set in The Seeds of America box set.
Esperanza grew up in privilege in Mexico, but when her father is killed by bandits shortly before her thirteenth birthday, she and her mother flee to America. In Depression-era California, no one cares about the elegant life Esperanza remembers: she’s just a farm worker, good for nothing but hard labor. But as Esperanza struggles with poverty, racism, and grief, a multiethnic spirit of labor organization is blossoming around her. Hope is coming both for Esperanza and for the workers around her struggling to get by. This Pura Belpre Award-winning novel is both heartfelt and thought-provoking.
Additional Recommended Resources
- For more Mighty Girl titles to share with tween readers, visit our collection of the Top Read Aloud Books Starring Mighty Girls.
- For girl-empowering titles for younger children to read independently, check out our blog post Ignite a Lifelong Love of Reading: 50 Mighty Girl Books for New Readers.
- For books starring Mighty Girls who love books and reading, visit our blog post Celebrating a Love of Reading: 25 Mighty Girl Stories About Books, Libraries, and Literacy.