Here are our staff's recommendations for children and teens. There's something for every age group. Some of our most recent picks are listed below.
You can ask us for suggestions at any time. To email us directly, contact us at email@example.com .
Simple text and lively illustrations highlight the message that a new brother is a treasure - a lifelong friend ready for all the help and togetherness a big brother can give. A wonderful alternative to all of the "babies are a bother" books so common for siblings. Ages 2+. - Cindy
Keeping secrets and feeling guilty about those secrets can be an emotional roller coaster. Nora blackmailed her cousin Riley into riding the wooden coaster at Coney Island and now Riley is in ICU after suffering a stroke the experience induced. Without unnecessary drama, the once close relationship between these cousins is threatened as Riley struggles to recover and Nora bears the burden of blame. An honest look at friendship in the midst of tragedy for readers 10+. - Cindy
I adored Lauren Wolk's Newbery Honor title, Wolf Hollow, and thought it would be very difficult for her to write another story with the same depth of character and emotion. Amazingly, this author has met and surpassed this challenge with Beyond the Bright Sea. Twelve year old Crow loves Osh, the independent island man who rescued her from a rickety skiff when she was hours old, but she now yearns to know the truth of her birth parents. Is she a child of Penikese Island and the lepers who had been confined to this windswept bit of land, a connection that the people of Cuttyhunk Island adhere to, causing them to avoid contact with her? With the help of Osh and Ms. Maggie, Crow is determined to fill in the blanks of her beginnings. How can she know who she is unless she knows from whom she came? Set in 1925 on the Elizabeth Islands off Massachusetts, Beyond the Bright Sea is an exposition of family and personal identity that you will not soon forget. If you read only one middle grade novel this year, this literary gem must be your choice. Ages 10+. - Cindy
Completely original, heartwrenching, heartwarming, and thought-provoking. Thirteen-year-old Todd, and his dog, Manchee, leave their hometown to travel across the new planet settled by humans only one generation ago. Along the way, their interactions with others lead to questions of morality, humanity, compassion, hope, and love, causing Todd to make some goosegump-producing decisions about life and death throughout the trilogy. Ages 13+. - Broche
Tony DiTerlizzi, of Spiderwick Chronicles fame, pays homage to his favorite children’s classic, A Wind in the Willows, with this gentle story about a rabbit who befriends a dragon, despite the town's fear of the dragon (dragons eat rabbits, right?). A book about friendship, Kenny must use all of his wits to keep his best friends – who both have Kenny’s best interests at heart – from a duel against each other. - Broche
In Sangui City, Kenya, Tiny Girl lives alone in an abandoned building and steals to survive, part of a gang of thieves led by the ruthless Mr. Omoko and his minions, Bug Eye and Ketchup. After months of planning, Tiny is about to pull off the most important theft of her life--a daring burglary and computer hack that will prove her mother was murdered five years ago by her wealthy, powerful boss, Mr. Greyhill. But the break-in is interrupted by Greyhill's son, Michael, Tiny's former best friend, and soon she is drawn back into her mother's dangerous and painful past in Congo, the country they fled when Tiny was a child.I loved both the characters and the plot of this novel. It's a sobering look at a country torn apart by violence, a story of a teenager learning who she truly is, and most of all, a fast-paced, entertaining thriller that kept me guessing till the very end. I can't wait to see what this new author comes up with next. - Ashley
After Rebel of the Sands, I eagerly awaited the sequel. Traitor to the Throne exceeded expectations. The imaginative melding of Old West and Middle East still provides a fascinating backdrop for more danger, political factions, and shocking surprises. The not-entirely-human Amani is a blast (literally) as her sharp-shooter skills are called on as much as her wits. Nothing is as you think, except you can always count on Amani. Ages 12+. - Rosemary
Sally Jones is the kind of friend we all need - loyal, resourceful, determined, and able to keep her mouth shut! Of course, she is also a gorilla and the narrator of this classic adventure. With an old world charm and fabulous black and white illustrations, The Murderer's Ape is one of the most unique tales I have ever read. Whether living in Lisbon with the poor but talented Ana Molina, making musical instruments in the workshop of Signor Fidardo, or playing chess with an Indian majaraja , Sally Jones will never give up her quest to free the unjustly imprisoned boat captain and her best friend, Chief. The story of an extraordinary creature that you soon forget is not human, this book is sure to become a favorite! It's already one of mine. Ages 10+. - Cindy
This short but very powerful tale by master storyteller Michael Morpugo is disturbing and yet intriguing. Could a compassionate, brave and highly decorated soldier who made decisions based on always doing what was right have been in any way responsible for the future atrocities of Adolf Hitler? I particularly loved the way that this story is told - an older passenger telling it to a fearful young boy stranded in a train in a dark tunnel. Captivating historical fiction for ages 10+. - Cindy
An American boy and a grief-stricken German girl struggle to make their way through a web of lies enveloping the secretive, spy-filled city of East Berlin in 1989. Why have Jonah's parents brought him to this dangerous place and what is the truth about the death of Claudia's parents? Unable to trust what they are being told by parents or a grandmother, this determined duo wades through the ever-present fog of fear and isolation, secure only in their friendship as they struggle to get the answers they need. A superbly written piece of historical fiction, Cloud and Wallfish is a work of authentic emotion whose characters become so much a part of you that you cannot leave their world until the truth is known. Ages 10+ . - Cindy
Taking her place alongside veteran authors such as Beverly Cleary and Kate DiCamillo as creators of memorable heroines, debut author Kate Beasley gives us Gertie Reece Foy, a spunky 5th grade girl next door, whose young voice is as honest and genuine as hand-cranked ice cream on a Sunday afternoon. While her outside is resilient and confident, Gertie's inside longs for the acceptance of a mother who moved out long ago. As the child of a broken marriage myself, I identified with Gertie's belief that if she could “just be good enough”, her absent parent would see the error of her ways and fill the hole in this 10 year-old's heart. The often humorous situations where Gertie's efforts to “be the best 5th grader in the universe” swirl alongside the sincerity of her longing to create a classic in the making. For ages 8+. - Cindy
Award-winning author Nicola Yoon steals our hearts, once again, with this poetic and timely love story. When the Universe brings Natasha and Daniel together in the crowded streets of New York City, forces beyond their control have them set on different paths. With just twelve hours before Natasha's family is deported to Jamaica, these teens must fight for a future with each other, defying all odds and putting faith in destiny and love over logic.
In The Sun is Also a Star, Yoon beautifully combines lyric and logic, not only in the words that she chooses, but in the characters that she creates. I can't put into words how much I loved this book. My copy is already well-loved, with many highlighted passages and notes in the margins! - Nancy M
The goal of writing an amazing story which deftly combines adventure, political intrigue, family tensions, multi-faceted characters, and a fantasy-based mystery is a daunting task, but one to which A.J. Hartley has risen to the challenge with Steeplejack. I was particularly drawn to the main character, 17 year old Anglet Sutonga. She is a young woman with both the physical prowess and mental acuity to survive in a stark land of competing tribes and cultures and a heart and conscience that drive her to do what is right, no matter the consequences. This book, a multi-cultural gem of fantasy and adventure, is perfect for fans of Marie Lu's Legend trilogy and Paola Bacigalupi's Shipbreaker. Ages 12+. - Cindy (Signed copies available)
Like paintings with shadowy figures in darkened corners, the lives of four of our nation's first presidents cannot be fully understood without opening the pages of Kenneth Davis's In the Shadow of Liberty. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Andrew Jackson were founding fathers who risked their lives for the principles of freedom and liberty, while denying these rights to the slaves they owned, bought, and sold their entire lives. Davis's exhaustive research and objective narrative reveal men whose lofty ideals were easier to legislate than to apply to their personal lives. The stories of five black slaves whose lives were entwined with these men and their families on a very intimate level are revealed in the context of a society in which the economic value of each could not be denied. Davis highlights the ironic juxtaposition of these bastions of liberty and their enslaved companions with a clarity that made me consider how very difficult it can be to truly live out the values we claim to cherish. A key title in understanding the humanity of these famous Americans for ages 10+. - Cindy
A World Without You by Beth Revis introduces us to Bo, a teenage boy at Berkshire Academy for Children with Exceptional Needs, struggling to cope with powers (in his case, time travel) beyond his control. This YA novel begins, making us believe we have just fallen into a sci-fi story. But, we slowly realize that Bo's reality is skewed... or is it? Beth Revis paints a world that leaves even the reader wondering what's real and what isn't. Her unique perspective on mental illness blends the genres of sci-fi and realism, leaving the reader wanting to constantly learn more about the characters and their perspectives on life. - Chelsea
We usually think of “all men are created equal” when considering the start of our country. Ashes, which completes Anderson's Seeds of America trilogy set during the Revolutionary War, reminds us jarringly that this was not the case. Through the trilogy, we experience the hardships, hypocrisies, and always-cherished bonds of friendship from the perspective of Isabel, an escaped slave. Anderson always writes compelling, complicated characters for whom we care deeply. Ashes brings deep satisfaction to the trilogy. Ages 9+. - Rosemary