Update and Enhance Your Library

Cultivated by our school librarians, enjoy these book recommendations to find new favorites and new ways to upgrade and enhance your personal collection.  Discover something for every child ranging from Pre-K through Grade 12.  Purchase on Amazon Smile to support our school.

Lower School Recommendations

not quite narwhalNot Quite Narwhal (Grades Pre-K and up)
Jessie Sima
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Kelp was born under the sea in a clamshell. He feels he is different from the other narwhals; he can’t swim as quickly, and he is less than enthusiastic about their squid dinners. One day he gets swept away by a current and sees a figure like himself! Pursuing the phantom, Kelp must swim for hours and learn to walk on land which is no easy feat. He eventually finds the unicorns (or land narwhals as he calls them). Kelp loves learning and tasting new things, but will he go back to his narwhal home?  Not Quite Narwhal is a fantastic book for any age about acceptance, being yourself, and understanding differences can be good.

pink lionPink Lion (Grades Pre-K – 1)
Jane Porter
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Arnold is a pink lion who happily grows up thinking he’s a flamingo. When a gang of lions comes by they insist that Arnold is a lion and should come with them. The pink lion isn’t a big fan of licking himself clean, hunting, or roaring. But when he tries to go back to his flamingo family, things aren’t as they seem.  A nice book about adoption, acceptance and families.

marta-2f3emddMarta! Big & Small (Grades Pre-K-1)
Jen Arena
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Marta is a clever girl who lives in a jungle and knows Spanish. She teaches the reader descriptive words as well as animal names throughout the book. Marta shows the reader how she’s slow compared to a horse, but fast when matched with a turtle. When a snake arrives on the scene, will Marta be as tasty as she looks? She is ingeniosa and escapes with a smile.  This fun little book incorporates Spanish & English, opposites, similarities, comparisons and animals.

rolling-thunder-rpqxmh-1bshdxjRolling Thunder (Grades K-2)
Kate Messner
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A fresh look at Memorial Day through the eyes of a boy who accompanies his biker grandpa on the Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally in Washington DC. Grandpa rides for those he was with in Vietnam, and the youth rides for his Uncle who is currently enlisted and deployed. After camping out, the pair ride to the Lincoln Memorial and Vietnam Veterans Wall Memorial. The concepts of POWs, MIAs, and death is brought up, but not explained in depth. The poetic verse and pastel pictures provide a powerful, yet appropriate message for young and old alike.

waterprincess-12izdweThe Water Princess (Grades K-3)
Susan Verde
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This gorgeous picture book is based on the childhood experience of fashion model and activist Georgie Badiel. A princess, named Gie Gie, has a magnificent kingdom and wonderful powers. But the one thing she wishes for, to make the water come closer, Gie Gie cannot do. Every day she and her mother walk miles to get water, “dusty, earth-colored liquid.” Gie Gie dances with her mother on the journey there and plays with her friends while her mother waits in line for their turn. When they arrive home, mother boils water for them to drink. Gie Gie cleans their clothes, and the dinner is fixed. The next morning the journey for water is to be repeated again. This book is a gentle, positive way to introduce the struggle some societies have over water. It is also based on a true story and has pictures in the back of Georgie Badiel and how she raised money for a well in a school situated in an area with no water. A great introductory read for a service project and to help students be aware of what some children struggle with.

day i became a birdThe Day I Became a Bird (Grades 1 and up)
Ingrid and Guridi Chabbert
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In this sweet and unusual book, a boy falls in love with a girl for the first time. She however, only has eyes for the birds. The boy decides instead of passively waiting, to do something that will definitely catch her attention.  Whether in class or on the soccer field, he wholeheartedly makes a transformation into a large bird. Will it be enough?

dyamonde daniel seriesThe Dyamonde Daniel Series (Grades 1-3)
Nikki Grimes
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Dyamonde Daniel is a spunky, outgoing girl whose classmates go through a variety of difficulties. The topics feel genuine (being new in school, someone who lives in a homeless shelter, a classmate who loses everything in a house fire) to the story and are great discussion topics with students.

 

lou lou and pea

Lou Lou & Pea and the Mural Mystery (Grades 2-5)
Jill Diamond,‎ Lesley Vamos
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Throughout this beautifully illustrated mystery two best friends need to use their gardening and art skills to bring about justice. Smatterings of Spanish (with a lovely glossary in the back), a close-knit neighborhood including beautiful murals, and a Día de los Muertos celebration bring this multicultural story to life. Great for readers who grew out of Ivy & Bean and love a little mystery.

 

sybil ludingtonSybil Ludington: Revolutionary War Rider  (Grades 3-6)
E. F. Abbott
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Sybil Ludington is part of a spy family during the Revolutionary War. Her father, in charge of a unit of militiamen, needed help with the war effort.  When someone is needed to gather her father’s men to fight, sixteen-year-old Sybil braves numerous dangers to sound the alarm. A very interesting book about a period in time not many know about. There are historical photographs and pictures throughout the book.

goodstory-2i326zw-vmuxk0This Would Make a Good Story Someday (Grades 4-8)
Dana Alison Levy
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Sara is going into Middle School after the summer and has detailed plans to spend time with her friends and improve herself. But surprise, Mimi (one of Sara’s moms) has won a month long train trip! Mimi is going to write about the trip and their family, college age Laurel, her boyfriend Root, Sara, their other mom, and Li, the little sister. Sara does not want any part of it but is dragged along anyway. To make matters worse, the other prize winner and his family are going to be traveling companions with them.

 

Middle and Upper School Recommendations

optimists-rjnhm3-2jhlnbiOptimists Die First (Grades 7 and up)
Susan Nielsen
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Petula is scared of everything and spends her days thinking of the myriad ways in which people can be killed. Before the accident that killed her little sister, Petula was an average adolescent girl with a passion for crafting.  Petula, however, has never stopped blaming herself for what happened, and she has cut herself off from everything that reminds her of that time, including crafting, and her best friend. When Petula meets Jacob, a new boy with a prosthetic arm, a warm and open demeanor, and a tragic past of his own, her life slowly starts to knit back together. Jacob, however, is keeping a huge secret, and when Petula inevitably finds out, it completely alters the way she views him.  Nielsen does a wonderful job getting into Petula’s psyche; the way her grief and guilt manifests will hit home to a lot of people.  Petula is constantly hounded by that little voice going “If only…,” a voice that beleaguers everyone at some point in their lives.  While the heavy emphasis on crafting may turn some people off, at its heart, it is a story about two lost, grieving souls finding each other, and finding joy.

namestheygaveus-1f0jotw-1ds4003The Names They Gave Us (Grades 7 and up)
Emery Lord
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This is a book about the power to shift your perceptions, and the lasting impact it can have on your life.  Lucy is secure in her faith; her father is a pastor, and Lucy genuinely enjoys going to church each week, and she especially looks forward to being a counselor at Bible camp each summer.  However, after learning that her mother’s cancer has returned, Lucy’s faith is completely shaken.  Her parents convince her to try a new camp this summer, Daybreak, a camp for “troubled” kids, where her mom believes she’ll find solace and kinship. Lucy is skeptical, and after her rocky start, she’s sure she’ll never fit in, or be any help to anybody. Thankfully for Lucy, her fellow counselors are welcoming and forgiving; Lucy finds that the more open she is with them, the more open they are with her. These diverse teens challenge everything she thought she knew and believed; it’s a pleasure to watch Lucy’s transformation as she explores what it means to be a true friend. When Lucy discovers something shocking about her mom’s past, connected to Daybreak, it will test her literal new found faith, and her new relationships. Every teenager should read this book to learn about what compassion looks like, and what allyship looks like, as Lucy expresses and embodies both.

eliza-1wtt7fg-1sxs4jmEliza and Her Monsters (Grades 7 and up)
Francesca Zappia
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Fans of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl who have been looking for a follow-up, look no further!  Eliza has a huge secret; she is the author and creator of the webcomic Monstrous Sea.  Since she is only known as LadyConstellation online nobody knows her true identity.  While she is an internet superstar, her offline life is less than ideal. Eliza feels beleaguered and misunderstood by her classmates, and her parents, who are baffled by her ties to her “fake” internet friends, and her desire to spend all of her time on her phone or computer. Then hulking, football player-looking Wallace comes into her life.  Wallace, who inexplicably and shockingly is a huge fan of Monstrous Sea, writes his own stellar fanfic too; a more unlikely pair you won’t find.  The slow build up of their friendship is well done; there is some skeptical orbiting, followed by cautious interaction, and eventually, full-fledged trust.  However, when Eliza’s secret is exposed her entire world comes crashing spectacularly down around her. Even if you’re not into webcomics or fandom, Eliza is a relatable character; her love of her digital community, her desire to spend all of her time with her friends, and her mixed feelings for her parents and siblings are all things that teens will identify with.

strangerdreamer-1zt2k1s-19edkowStrange the Dreamer (Grades 7 and up)
Laini Taylor
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A city with no name. A boy with no past.  A girl with no future.  Though it sounds bleak, Laini Taylor’s newest novel, Strange the Dreamer, is a magical, imaginative, heartbreaking story that will leave readers on the edge of their seats.  Lazlo Strange is an orphan, and a dreamer, with little memory of his childhood, save for the day that the name of the city was taken from him, and replaced with the name “Weep.” Consumed with a desire to know more, Lazlo, through an accident of fate, becomes a librarian, and garners all he can about the enigmatic city, including its language. When an entourage from Weep arrives, looking for people to come help solve a mysterious problem, Lazlo jumps at the chance. Meanwhile, in Weep, Sarai, a blue-skinned demi-goddess, is stuck; she and her three companions are trying to navigate an increasingly grim future by using their gifts, bestowed upon them by their god and goddess parents. Sarai is a dream walker, but uses her abilities to bestow nightmares on the people of Weep, punishing them nightly for their treachery.  When Sarai enters Lazlo’s dream, it unleashes an unexpected and intense series of events that will forever change the lives of the dreamers, and all of those around them. Highly recommended to all fantasy lovers.

wild beautyWild Beauty (Grades 8 and up)
Anna-Marie McLemore
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Wild Beauty is a story about a family of women who have the ability – a compulsion, really – to grow flowers simply by reaching into the soil and willing them into existence.  As with all good stories, however, it is much more complex. Up until about a century ago, the Nomeolvides women had been persecuted, hunted, shunned, or killed because of their gifts. When they are offered sanctuary at La Pradera on the estate of the wealthy Briar family, they take it gratefully. It comes with a price, of course: the Nomeolvides women can never leave; if they try to escape, or outrun their destiny, they will die. La Pradera also takes their lovers; if a Nomeolvides woman loves someone too hard, they disappear. This is a story of love, betrayal, heartbreak, jealousy, but above all, family, and the lengths one will go to to protect those she loves.

languageofthorns-24zbqdw-2nj7bk2The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic (Grades 8 and up)
Leigh Bardugo
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Leigh Bardugo reimagines classic tales in her newest collection of stories, The Language of Thorns: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic. Every story here is a gem, but there are two standouts.  “Amaya and the Thorn Wood” is a spin on the Minotaur myth, with a hint of “Beauty and the Beast.” It is a story of two outcasts, both of whom are ostracized because of their looks, and both of whom are second-fiddle to their more attractive, more talented siblings. Through a shared love of stories, they redefine the idea of a “happy ending.” “The Witch of Duva,” a take on “Hansel and Gretel,” challenges the tropes of the evil stepmother, and the child-snatching witch, and explores the ways in which women mistrust each other; it is richly told, and Bardugo once again utilizes repetition to great effect. A common thread throughout the book is the complexity and diversity of women; each tale forces the reader to confront their own preconceived notions of how women should behave. Give this to lovers of fairy tales, self-proclaimed feminists, and anyone who needs a wake-up call about a woman’s place in society.

the upside of unrequitedThe Upside of Unrequited.  (Grades 8 and up)
Becky Albertalli
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Becky Albertalli’s sophomore effort, The Upside of Unrequited, is just as delightful, irreverent, and charming as her first novel, Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. Molly believes she’s just an average girl, especially when she compares herself to her beautiful, shining star of a twin sister, Cassie. Despite Cassie’s insistence that anybody would be lucky to have her, Molly staunchly refuses to put herself out there, despite her 26 crushes over the years; the idea of rejection is just too unpalatable, and since she’s a self-described “fat girl”, way too likely.  Readers will cheer Molly on as she finds her courage, and figures out what she’s really looking for. Molly is the perfect blend of teenage cynicism, angst, self-doubt, and naivety, and she will resonate with anyone who has ever had a crush or felt the crushing weight of rejection.

logic-udtn4h-15drajuThe Inexplicable Logic of My Life (Grades 9 and up)
Benjamin Alire Saenz
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Sal never thought of himself as an angry kid.  And yet, here he is, getting into fight after fight for no real reason and hating himself because of it; Sal can’t help but wonder if he’s more like his biological father than he thought. As in Aristotle, parents and adults play a major role throughout the book.  Both Sal and his best friend, Samantha, are molded by their parents. Even though Sal has been raised by a steady, kind hearted, loving adoptive father, Vicente, a man who fully embraces the idea of turning the other cheek, he fears that, ultimately, his character will be shaped by the temperamental, unstable father he never knew. The matriarchs, Sal’s terminally ill grandmother, his deceased mother, and Samantha’s mother, also get a starring role here. This novel highlights in ways no other YA book in recent memory has just how powerful and pivotal adult-child relationships are and addresses head on the age old question of nature vs. nurture. Another powerhouse of a novel from Saenz. The platonic friendship between Sal and Samantha is a also refreshing change from the best-friend-to-boyfriend/girlfriend trope in many contemporary YA books.

hateugive-1vsz1gf-10tjbqeThe Hate U Give (Grades 9 and up)
Angie Thomas
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Starr Carter is leading a double-life.  There’s the Starr Carter who attends an exclusive private school with mostly white students, has a long-term boyfriend, who is also white, and who faces daily microaggressions.  Then there’s the Starr Carter who lives in a poor neighborhood overrun by gang violence, who has a father who used to be a gang member, and who is best friends (or is she?) with Khalil.  Starr thinks she has a handle on navigating these two worlds until the night she witnesses Khalil’s murder at the hands of a police officers.  Angie Thomas has written a provocative, moving, and often times enraging book that feels incredibly current, given the multiple deaths of unarmed black men in the last few years, and the resultant simmering anger across the nation.  Starr is a heroine of our time; her indecision, her fear, and her rage, are realistic; never do we, the reader, forget that she is just a sixteen year-old girl who has a monumental weight on her shoulders. Her support network, her family, her boyfriend, her friends, are extremely well-drawn; there are no caricatures here.  From feeling like an outsider wherever she is, to embracing, and melding, both selves into a confident young woman who finds her voice, Starr’s evolution is glorious to behold.  Her character is one that everyone can see themselves in – the impulse to hide parts of yourself in order to just get through the day is universal. While this is not an easy book to read, it will hopefully inspire empathy in those who do read it; an extremely worthwhile book for allies and advocates alike.

when dimple met rishiWhen Dimple Met Rishi (Grades 9 – 12)
Sandhya Menon
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Dimple Shah and Rishi Patel could not be more different.  Dimple is an independent young woman, passionate about coding, who feels confined by her parents’ expectations – specifically her mother’s, who seems bent on making Dimple into the perfect wife.  Rishi is a rule follower to his core; he wants nothing more to please his parents, even if that means setting aside his own dreams.  Rishi is thrilled with the idea of an arranged marriage with Dimple, something that he’s known about, and daydreamed about, for a long time.  Dimple, on the other hand, has no idea that there is any arrangement with Rishi, and anyway, marriage is the last thing on her mind.  So when the two of them meet for the first time at Insomnia Con, a summer coding program, it goes hilariously awry.  Sandhya Menon has written a delightful, smart, funny romantic comedy, starring two protagonists who think they know exactly what they want out of their lives, but after some unexpected revelations, realize maybe there’s more out there for both of them.  The way Menon depicts microaggressions, and the different ways that Rishi and Dimple deal with them – Dimple clams up, and Rishi confronts it head-on – is both realistic and poignant.