I’m featuring my first reading roundup: five new novels for readers in grades 5-7. I have four realistic fiction stories and one fantasy. Three of the books feature boy main characters, and two feature a girl. All five books are fabulous reads! So if you or a child you know needs a good summer read, then look no further!
Finally…a book about an underachiever! So many children’s novels feature characters that seem to be accomplished at everything. But not Albie. Here’s how Albie, who is starting fifth grade in a new school, introduces himself: “My whole life, I’ve always been an almost” (p. 38). He always almost achieves his goals. A rule-bending nanny helps him to realize that his true superpower is kindness. An empathetic math teacher helps him to understand that you can’t get where you’re going “without knowing where you’ve been” (p. 286). Finally, loyal friends help him to learn that being cool isn’t as important as being yourself. I loved Albie, and I loved reading this book! Lisa Graff is a talented writer; this book has garnered tons of starred reviews from book reviewers.
I read this book today, in one setting, and just swallowed it whole! Like Albie, Gabby is starting a new school, but she’s beginning seventh grade. Her brother is in the hospital waiting for surgery to remove cancer. Her mom is so consumed with her brother’s illness that Gabby feels invisible. Enter Aria, a brand-new guardian angel whose assignment is to help Gabby find her voice. The friendship between the two girls is really special. I loved watching the various ways Aria found to help Gabby. The next book in the series, Second Chances, is due out in late August.
Twelve-year old Ana, named after her parents’ favorite snake, the anaconda, also needs to find her voice. She is painfully shy, which is a real challenge in her family. Her grandpa makes world-famous documentaries, and her parents are so committed to their work at the zoo that they move their family to live there! Ana’s best friend has moved across the world, and a group of mean girls at school makes her life miserable. The book is really funny, and I found myself rooting for Ana as she finds the confidence to speak in front of an audience.
This book, first published in Great Britain, is a unique fantasy adventure. In the future, all animals (except pests like cockroaches) are thought to be extinct. But one twelve-year old boy finds out otherwise when he is chosen by a great stag to help save the last of the wild animals. Kester discovers that he can speak to animals, and he embarks on a dangerous quest to fight an all-powerful corporation. Along the way, Kester meets a feisty girl, a proud wolf cub, and a host of endearing animals. This book is a unique blend of both quiet and suspenseful scenes. I can’t wait until the next book in the series, The Dark Wild, gets published in the U.S.
Eleven-year old Maggie is a precocious girl: She can’t wait to vote, attend college, and become the first woman U.S. president. Her family is wacky and weird, and I fell in love with every single member, as well as their family dynamics. Dad’s arms and legs have mysteriously fallen asleep, so he has to quit his job. Mom goes to work and is constantly exhausted and distracted. Maggie drives her two older sisters absolutely crazy. This book is both funny and poignant; it’s based on the author’s own childhood experiences. Sovern infuses humor and warmth into the serious subject of parental disease.