by Varian Johnson
Candice and her mom have moved back to Lambert, South Carolina to live in her dead grandmother’s house for a month while their house is being remodeled. Life is unsettled with her parent’s divorce and the temporary move doesn’t help things. While Candice is looking in her grandmother’s attic, she comes across a letter on which her grandmother has written: Find the path. Solve the puzzle. Inside the folded letter addressed to her grandmother that describes an injustice done decades ago to an African American woman and mentions a fortune that belongs to the person who solves the puzzles. Can Candice and her new friend Brandon solve what her grandmother couldn’t?
The mystery gets you hooked into the story, however, the book has another story to tell that includes racial prejudice, segregation, and violence from the 1950’s. A good book to share with your tween so you can discuss scenes they might find disturbing. Grades 5 and up.
by Pat Zietlow Miller
A lovely story of a young child wanting to make a friend feel better. While trying to find the way to make the friend feel better the child realizes many ways to show kindness and how those acts of kindness flow into their world.
by Angela Dominguez
Stella is such a sweetheart, I could read a million more stories about her. Shy, earnest Stella has speech problems from mixing up Spanish and English and faces a school year without her best friends at her side. When she finds out a new student is joining her class, she imagines a girl like herself who loves to draw and maybe even speaks Spanish that she could befriend. But horror of horrors, the new student is… a BOY! Even worse, he settles in immediately with the cool kids and Stella’s hopes crumble. But with her supportive family, best friend, and kind 3rd grade teacher to back her up, Stella learns to stand up for herself and finds her voice, making a few new friends along the way.
by Katie O’Neill
In this graphic novel, Lana moves back to her hometown to clean up after a storm, rediscovers her love of the ocean, and finds a mysterious sea creature called and Aquicorn. The illustrations in this book made me so happy – the characters and the magical sea creatures are adorable! The compelling family dynamics and overall message of the importance of conversation here was nice too. Great read!
by Junot Diaz
Lola left the Dominican Republic when she was a baby and has no memory of her life there. Her teacher, knowing many of her students come from far away places, gives the assignment to draw a picture of their first home. Lola is sad since she doesn’t have her own memories however throughout the story she talks to friends, family, and neighbors about the home she left behind, what made it so magical, and why her current community is equally as special. Darling, bright illustrations bring Lola and her island to life. Wonderful read for elementary age.