Need suggestions for beach reading or books to bring to summer camp? We’ve hand-picked some new favorites, all published 2012–2013, that are ideal for the season. Download a free PDF perfect for sharing with teachers, parents, and of course, kids. Grade levels are only suggestions; the individual child is the real criterion.
Picture Books (Fiction and Nonfiction)
Suggested grade level listed with each entry
It’s Our Garden: From Seeds to Harvest in a School Garden written by George Ancona; photos by the author (Candlewick)
Full-color photographs and no-nonsense prose (perfect for new readers) chronicle a year in the life of an elementary school garden; students compost soil, water plants, raise butterflies, and sample edible delights. Grade level: K–3. 48 pages.
Alfie Is Not Afraid by Patricia Carlin (Disney-Hyperion)
Dog Alfie’s young owner claims Alfie isn’t afraid of anything, which makes him a perfect camping companion. Readers can clearly see that the pup is the opposite of unafraid. The loyal friendship between boy and dog is apparent on every amusing page. Grade level: PS. 32 pages.
Island: A Story of the Galápagos by Jason Chin (Porter/Roaring Brook)
Witness the six-million-year evolution of the Galápagos, from “birth” through “childhood” to “old age” and beyond. Gorgeous illustrations include sweeping double-page spreads and panels arranged to show dynamic changes. Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.
Shiver Me Timbers! Pirate Poems & Paintings written by Douglas Florian; illus. by Robert Neubecker (Beach Lane/Simon)
Using typical pirate-speak, each poem explores a familiar aspect of pirate lore and takes it to a new level of rhythm and rhyme. Final lines are calculated to evoke a chuckle, and digitally colored India-ink illustrations play well with the light verse. Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.
Traction Man and the Beach Odyssey by Mini Grey (Knopf)
Action-figure hero Traction Man and his sidekick Scrubbing Brush inhabit the fanciful world-within-a-world of a child’s creative play. Here they head to the beach for a day of scuba diving, picnic security duty, and…makeovers? Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.
Water in the Park: A Book About Water & the Times of the Day written by Emily Jenkins; illus. by Stephanie Graegin (Schwartz & Wade/Random)
Readers are treated to a busy day in the life of a New York City neighborhood park. Hour by hour, babies, big kids, grown-ups, and animals come and go, all seeking relief from the heat in the park’s sprinklers, pond, and puddles. Grade level: K–3. 40 pages.
This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen (Candlewick)
In this 2013 Caldecott Award winner, a guilty-looking little fish has taken a tiny bowler hat from the head of a large sleeping fish. He explains why he won’t be caught, but every claim he makes is belied by the darkly humorous pictures. Grade level: K–3. 40 pages.
Peep and Ducky by David Martin (Candlewick)
Two bird pals meet in the park for an idyllic play date. Peep and Ducky romp in a mud puddle, have snacks, take a pee break (side by side on their port-a-potties), fight over a bucket until it breaks, apologize, and dig in the sand. Grade level: PS. 32 pages.
Take Me Out to the Yakyu by Aaron Meshon (Atheneum)
A lucky boy gets to attend ball games in both the U.S. and in Japan (yakyu is Japanese for baseball). Spreads showcase differences between the two locales, setting up a quiet rhythm that’s thrillingly interrupted when both teams’ hitters get a home run. Grade level: PS, K–3. 40 pages.
H.O.R.S.E.: A Game of Basketball and Imagination by Christopher Myers (Egmont)
Two boys alternate describing the wildly impossible trick basketball shots they’ll make — from the tops of buildings, after circumnavigating the globe, and from outer space. Gouache painting and cut-paper collages encourage the imagination to take flight. Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.
The Best Bike Ride Ever written by James Proimos; illus. by Johanna Wright (Dial)
While her parents are still delivering their safety warnings, Bonnie rides off on her new bike, climbing over bridges and mountains and visiting the Grand Canyon. In a neat twist, the homey landscapes show that the whole adventure takes place in Bonnie’s backyard. Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.
Everyone Can Learn to Ride a Bicycle by Chris Raschka (Schwartz & Wade/Random)
A young girl’s perseverance allows her to triumph over her two-wheeled vehicle. A grandfatherly figure’s encouragement makes up the second-person text; loose watercolors bespeak protection, urging, assistance, and commiseration (after a fall). Grade level: PS, K–3. 32 pages.
Picture a Tree by Barbara Reid (Whitman)
“There is more than one way to picture a tree.” A series of vibrant Plasticine compositions focus readers’ attention on the shapes, colors, and textures of trees; parallel to these tree portraits are interlinked human stories. Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.
Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems written by Marilyn Singer; illus. by Josée Masse (Dial)
Poems offer two points of view on traditional fairy tales, reversing the lines of one poem to create another. Thus the Little Mermaid’s dilemma: “For love / give up your voice. / Don’t / think twice” advises the first verse, while the second warns, “Think twice! / Don’t / give up your voice / for love.” Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.
The Dark written by Lemony Snicket; illus. by Jon Klassen (Little, Brown)
Laszlo lives with the dark in a big house. When the comforting glow of his bedroom nightlight goes out, the dark comes to talk with Laszlo. Though the mood is ominous as the dark lures Laszlo into the basement, the resolution is bright and funny. Grade level: PS, K–3. 40 pages.
Phoebe and Digger by Tricia Springstubb (Candlewick)
Young Phoebe scores a toy truck (yay!) at the same time she acquires a baby sister (boo!). When her harried mother finally takes Phoebe and the (not-always-adorable) little baby to the park, Phoebe and Digger have a blast. Grade level: PS, K–3. 32 pages.
A Home for Bird by Philip C. Stead (Porter/Roaring Brook)
A little wooden bird is thrown from the back of a moving truck. This bird soon meets a toad named Vernon, who seems to know that Bird is lost (even though he doesn’t speak) — and helps him find his way home as the story comes full circle. Grade level: K–3. 32 pages.
That Is NOT a Good Idea! by Mo Willems (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins)
Smarmy Mr. Fox asks an innocent-seeming goose to accompany him on a walk. As the fox lures the goose into his lair and closer to his cook pot, a chorus of goslings warns, “That is NOT a good idea!” The unexpected denouement comes with a flourish. Grade level: PS. 48 pages.
Early Readers and Younger Fiction
Suggested grade level listed with each entry
The No. One Car Spotter and the Firebird written by Atinuke; illus. by Warwick Johnson Cadwell (Kane Miller)
Car-spotting champion Oluwalase Babatunde Benson is also number one at solving problems. And there are all kinds of problems to be solved in and around his African village, as described in four accessible chapters. Grade level: 1–3. 96 pages.
Ivy + Bean Make the Rules by Annie Barrows; illus. by Sophie Blackall (Chronicle)
Bean’s older sister is headed off to Girl Power 4-Ever Camp at the local park. Seven-year-old Bean is only old enough to attend Puppet Camp (as if!), so she and Ivy decide to start their own. Grade level: 1–3. 127 pages.
Monkey & Robot by Peter Catalanotto (Jackson/Atheneum)
Big-toothed, excitable Monkey and tie-wearing, sensible Robot are housemates and best friends. Four illustrated short chapters relate their tales of misunderstanding, cooperation, and friendship. Grade level: K–2. 56 pages.
Benjamin Bear in “Bright Ideas!” by Philippe Coudray; trans. from the French by Leigh Stein; illus. by the author (Toon/Candlewick)
Benjamin Bear addresses challenges both philosophical and physical in twenty-seven one-page comic-strip dramas. New readers will be served by the balance of story between speech bubbles and illustrations. Grade level: K–2. 32 pages.
Bink & Gollie: Best Friends Forever by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee; illus. by Tony Fucile (Candlewick)
Three personality-filled stories star odd couple Bink and Gollie. The pals explore Gollie’s “royal” family tree, try a mail-order Stretch-o-Matic kit for diminutive Bink, and attempt to amass a record-breaking collection. Grade level: 1–3. 82 pages.
Dodsworth in Tokyo by Tim Egan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Affable duo Dodsworth and the duck visit Tokyo on their fifth outing. As usual, the irrepressible duck’s behavior leads to mayhem. Droll, understated watercolors illustrate the pair’s tour of popular Japanese tourist attractions. Grade level: K–2. 48 pages.
Bramble & Maggie: Give and Take by Jessie Haas; illus. by Alison Friend (Candlewick)
Now that Maggie’s new horse, Bramble, has settled in, everyone has some adjusting to do. While Bramble’s arrival brings plenty of trouble, it also comes with many benefits only discovered through experiment and compromise. Grade level: 1–3. 52 pages.
A Pet Named Sneaker [Beginner Books] by Joan Heilbroner; illus. by Pascal Lemaitre (Random)
Sneaker, a pet shop snake, really wants a home; he suffers considerable rejection until a boy named Pete chooses him. Sneaker is not only good for playing games like “I Am a Necktie” and “I Am Handcuffs” but is also incredibly smart and heroic. Grade level: K–2. 48 pages.
Penny and Her Marble by Kevin Henkes (Greenwillow)
In Penny’s third outing, she spies a marble on a neighbor’s lawn and takes it — even though she knows she shouldn’t. That night, Penny has bad dreams about the imagined consequences of this furtive act but is unwilling to confess to her parents; she finds her own resolution. Grade level: K–2. 48 pages.
Hiccup! [Balloon Toons] by Mike Herrod (Blue Apple)
Nerves combined with a huge, hasty breakfast give rabbit Jamie a case of hiccups that jeopardizes his role in the school play. His friend Jenna solicits (increasingly wild) advice for remedies; just before the curtain goes up she realizes she can cure Jamie herself. Grade level: K–2. 40 pages.
Lulu and the Dog from the Sea by Hilary McKay; illus. by Priscilla Lamont (Whitman)
Animal-lover Lulu and her family go on holiday by the sea. Lulu, knowing full well her parents’ rules about pets (“The more the merrier! As long as Lulu cleans up after them!”), systematically goes about winning a stray dog’s trust. Grade level: 1–3. 108 pages.
Dinosaurs in Space [Balloon Toons] by Pranas T. Naujokaitis; illus. by the author; color by Amy Rumbarger (Blue Apple)
What if dinosaurs went galactic instead of dying out? Three humorous short stories in comic form explore life in the Dinosaur Galaxy, from warring planets of carnivores and herbivores to alien (human) sightings to the dangers of black holes. Grade level: K–2. 40 pages.
Like Bug Juice on a Burger by Julie Sternberg; illus. by Matthew Cordell (Amulet/Abrams)
Eleanor wants to like Camp Wallumwahpuck, but is homesick and anxious. Just as Eleanor has sent a coded letter to her parents saying she wants to come home, she begins to find activities she enjoys. Grade level: 1–3. 172 pages.
Intermediate Fiction and Nonfiction
Suggested grade level for all entries: 4–6
The One and Only Ivan written by Katherine Applegate; illus. by Patricia Castelao (Harper /HarperCollins)
In this 2013 Newbery Award winner, Ivan is a gorilla who lives in a circus mall. When a new baby elephant arrives, Ivan taps into his creative side to help them both escape captivity. 307 pages.
Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard by Annette LeBlanc Cate (Candlewick)
In this delightful introduction to birdwatching, author/illustrator Cate and birds (all portrayed in cartoonlike illustrations with speech balloons) poke fun at themselves and one another while teaching the basics of bird identification: color, shapes, behaviors, songs, habitat, range, and migration. 64 pages.
The Great Unexpected by Sharon Creech (Cotler/HarperCollins)
When strange boy Finn drops out of a tree in Blackbird Tree, USA, Naomi falls immediately under his spell. Meanwhile, in Ireland, an old woman and her companion talk of murder and revenge. To say the two plots converge is an understatement, as connections, coincidences, and boys named Finn pile up. 226 pages.
Chickadee by Louise Erdrich (Harper/HarperCollins) [Birchbark House]
Eight-year-old Chickadee’s abduction from the Ojibwe camp in the deep woods initiates a string of gripping adventures for the boy and a change to his family’s way of life. The 2013 Scott O’Dell Award winner. 196 pages.
The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle written by Christopher Healy; illus. by Todd Harris (Walden Pond/HarperCollins)
A new adventure beckons the League of Princes (The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom): Briar Rose blackmails them into setting off with her, Cinderella, Snow White, and Rapunzel to steal a mystical object from the Bandit King. Grade level: 4–6. 477 pages.
Unusual Creatures: A Mostly Accurate Account of Some of Earth’s Strangest Animals by Michael Hearst; illus. by Arjen Noordeman, Christie Wright, and Jelmer Noordeman (Chronicle)
Field guide–like pages, sidebars, and diagrams of physiological features give this volume all the trappings of a conventional science text. But Hearst playfully tweaks the style in these profiles of fifty fascinating animals, adding humorous quizzes, witty asides, and even verse. 109 pages.
Never Say Die by Will Hobbs (Harper/HarperCollins)
Nick and his adult half-brother Ryan travel by bush plane, raft, and foot through isolated Ivvakik National Park, where they face heavy weather, savage river waters, treacherous trails, and a polar bear-grizzly hybrid. 212 pages.
One Year in Coal Harbor by Polly Horvath (Schwartz & Wade/Random)
Primrose Squarp (Everything on a Waffle) has her previously-lost-at-sea parents back home, but the residents of Coal Harbor continue to need her varied, unusual talents. Primrose is an unforgettable character, with optimism, smarts, and a hint of reflective melancholy. 216 pages.
P.K. Pinkerton and the Petrified Man [Western Mysteries] by Caroline Lawrence; illus. by Richard Lawrence (Putnam)
Twelve-year-old P.K. Pinkerton (The Case of the Deadly Desperados) opens a detective agency in untamed Virginia City, Nevada Territory. His first client is frightened former slave Martha, who witnessed her employer’s murder and fears for her own life. P.K. knows how to spin a yarn. 310 pages.
Starry River of the Sky by Grace Lin (Little, Brown)
The moon is missing, but no one besides runaway Rendi notices. This handsomely illustrated companion novel to the 2010 Newbery Honor Book Where the Mountain Meets the Moon intersperses stories that neatly circle around one another. A gratifying celebration of the significance of storytelling. 296 pages.
Ten Good and Bad Things About My Life (So Far) by Ann M. Martin (Feiwel)
Fifth-grader Pearl writes an essay about her summer vacation: Dad loses his job, Pearl and big-sis Lexie head to camp, the family embarks on a “staycation,” and the sisters earn their own money. Martin cuts her characters’ sweetness with a good dose of sass. 265 pages.
The Encyclopedia of Me by Karen Rivers (Levine/Scholastic)
Tink chronicles her twelve-going-on-thirteen summer in encyclopedia form. It’s an amusing yet emotional journey: her brother is autistic, resulting in family tension; she and BFF Freddie grow apart; and the new neighbor boy complicates everything. 252 pages.
Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz (Candlewick)
Lizzie Rose and Parsefall, two Victorian waifs living under the guardianship of crook/magician/puppeteer Grisini, cross paths with cosseted Clara. This meeting results in a kidnapping, the magical imprisonment of Clara in puppet form, and encounters with aging witch Cassandra. A 2013 Newbery Honor Book. 384 pages.
“Who Could That Be at This Hour?” [All the Wrong Questions] by Lemony Snicket; illus. by Seth (Little, Brown)
Young Lemony Snicket, a detective apprentice in the Sam Spade mode, investigates the theft of a black wooden statue. In a style both deadpan and nutty, Snicket demonstrates his gift for metaphor, and illustrations by cartoonist Seth are a perfect match. 261 pages.
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage (Dial)
The center of rural Tupelo Landing is a café owned by the Colonel, who rescued and adopted Mo when she washed up during a hurricane as a baby. All is well — until a stranger comes to town. Humor sweetens the mix in this leisurely plotted mystery. A 2013 Newbery Honor Book. 314 pages.
P.S. Be Eleven by Rita Williams-Garcia (Amistad/HarperCollins)
In this sequel to One Crazy Summer, eleven-year-old Delphine navigates changes in her family dynamics (her father’s new “lady friend,” her uncle’s return from Vietnam, her brand-new relationship with her previously absent mother) in late-nineteen-sixties Bed-Stuy, New York. 276 pages.
Middle School Fiction and Nonfiction
Suggested grade level for all entries: 6–8
The Raft by S. A. Bodeen (Feiwel)
When the small plane carrying fifteen-year-old Robie goes down over open ocean, she seems doomed. The pilot is dead, the co-pilot is unconscious, and no one knows she was on the flight. A good old-fashioned survival adventure story. 240 pages.
Etiquette & Espionage [Finishing School] by Gail Carriger (Little, Brown)
In a parallel Victorian England, Sophronia is recruited by Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy, where she learns “the fine arts of death, diversion, and the modern weaponries” from a faculty boasting a werewolf and a vampire. 307 pages.
Obsidian Mirror by Catherine Fisher (Dial)
Jack Wilde discovers that his father disappeared while experimenting with a Victorian time machine made of an obsidian mirror. A ghost, a girl from the future, the fairy queen, and Jack’s own guardian all want to use the mirror for their own purposes. 376 pages.
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman (Random)
The royal court of Goredd celebrates a forty-year (uneasy) peace with dragonkind, but events take a dark turn when Prince Rufus is found murdered. Seraphina tries to unmask the killer, while concealing her own relationship with dragons. 476 pages.
Prodigy: A Legend Novel by Marie Lu (Putnam)
Day (the Republic’s most wanted criminal) and June (its erstwhile prodigy) join forces with rebels to assassinate the new Elector Primo and topple his regime. But the Elector is determined to implement change — and June finds herself falling for him. 374 pages.
The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano (Scholastic)
In the summer of 1969, Evelyn’s charismatic but opinionated grandmother arrives from Puerto Rico and gets involved with a radical Puerto Rican Nationalist group working to empower the residents of Spanish Harlem. Evelyn, experiencing a cultural and political awakening, joins a protest herself. 215 pages.
Scarlet [Lunar Chronicles] by Marissa Meyer (Feiwel)
In this engrossing sci-fi adaptation of “Little Red Riding Hood,” a mysterious streetfighter named Wolf offers to help Scarlet find her missing grandmother. Cyborg Cinder and Thorne (Cinder), who’ve escaped from prison on a mission to stop the evil Lunar Queen, join them. 455 pages.
Colin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz (Razorbill/Penguin)
After a gun goes off in the cafeteria, Colin is convinced the cops suspect the wrong guy. He’s determined to find out who really brought the gun to school; having Asperger’s proves both help and hindrance to the young detective. 226 pages.
A Corner of White by Jacqueline Moriarty (Levine/Scholastic)
From the Kingdom of Cello on the other side of a “crack” in our reality, Elliot begins corresponding with Madeleine. While Elliot has learned about Madeleine’s world in school, she thinks Cello is an imaginary land he’s invented. An unusual fantasy with a strong dose of humor. 376 pages.
Requiem [Delirium Trilogy] by Lauren Oliver (Harper/HarperCollins)
Lena is part of the resistance — those who escaped the cure for amor deliria nervosa (love). Meanwhile, her best friend Hana prepares to wed the soon-to-be-mayor. Fighting between the resistance and the regulators escalates to the brink of war. 391 pages.
Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Diane Fossey, and Biruté Galdikas by Jim Ottaviani; illus. by Maris Wicks (First Second/Roaring Brook)
A graphic-novel format admirably propels this lightly fictionalized group biography of “Leakey’s Angels”: three female primatologists who all trained under anthropologist Louis Leakey before embarking on their own work around the world. The tone is lively but respectful. 140 pages.
Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men Who Changed America by Andrea Davis Pinkney; illus. by Brian Pinkney (Jump at the Sun/Disney)
Ten profiles of African American males, from Benjamin Banneker to Barack Obama, tell a story of triumph spanning American history. Each comprehensive profile includes a poem and a watercolor portrait. The 2013 Coretta Scott King Author Award winner. 243 pages.
Dodger by Terry Pratchett (Harper/HarperCollins)
In early-Victorian London, street urchin Dodger rescues a young woman. This sets in motion Pratchett’s rewardingly complex story line, with a cast ranging from Queen Victoria to Dickens himself. Dodger is a wonderful guide through this tale of espionage, romance, and heroism. 360 pages.
Orleans by Sherri L. Smith (Putnam)
In the future necropolis of Orleans, battered by seven hurricanes, sixteen-year-old orphan Fen becomes the caregiver for an infant. Her one hope is to safely transport the child from Orleans to freedom with the help of an idealistic scientist. 331 pages.
High School Fiction and Nonfiction
Suggested grade level for all entries: 9 and up
The Infects by Sean Beaudoin (Candlewick)
After seventeen-year-old Nick accidentally-on-purpose causes a major meat-factory contamination, he’s sentenced to a juvie camp — and then finds himself confronted with a full-blown zombie outbreak. This blackly comedic tale takes zombie lore to new territory. 374 pages.
The Diviners by Libba Bray (Little, Brown)
In this lavish supernatural thriller set amidst the grit and gaiety of 1920s New York, wisecracking diviner Evie must use her special connection to the spirit world to solve a macabre series of occult murders. 584 pages.
Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo (Knopf)
Fifteen-year-old Amelia is smitten with her coworker Chris (twenty-one). Chris’s journal entries reveal that he’s attracted to her, too. Like Amelia, readers will fall for Chris — and ultimately appreciate that he’s decent enough to realize dating her would be wrong. 245 pages.
Homeland by Cory Doctorow (Tor Teen)
Three years after the events of Little Brother, hacker Marcus drops out of Berkeley, struggles to find a job, and attends Burning Man. There he runs into former nemesis Masha, who entrusts him with hundreds of thousands of files documenting government corruption. 396 pages.
Pinned by Sharon Flake (Scholastic)
Ninth-grader Autumn is great at wrestling and cooking, but not reading. Her classmate, Adonis, who was born without legs, manages the school wrestling team, and Autumn unabashedly loves him despite his prickly superiority. Their distinctive alternating voices enhance the story’s complexity. 231 pages.
Daylight Saving by Edward Hogan (Candlewick)
In this sort-of ghost story, Daniel is unenthusiastic about vacationing with his lovelorn father at tacky Leisure World. A mysterious girl named Lexi provides a distraction and also puzzles Daniel: her watch ticks backwards and her skin shows wounds that worsen by the day. 216 pages.
A Certain October by Angela Johnson (Simon)
Scotty is an average high school junior; then she’s in a train accident that leaves her autistic younger brother Keone in a coma and her classmate Kris dead. The events unfold in bits and pieces as Scotty comes to terms with what happened. 161 pages.
The Friday Society by Adrienne Kress (Dial)
In this Edwardian romp, budding scientist Cora, magician’s assistant Nellie, and Japanese transplant Michiko meet after stumbling across a body. The whodunit mystery deepens as the story goes on, and the teens kick some butt using their complementary strengths. 440 pages.
Dark Triumph [His Fair Assassin] by Robin LaFevers (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Sybella is a convent-trained assassin serving St. Mortain, Death himself. When she is ordered to free a warrior known as “the Beast” from her own abusive father’s dungeon, Sybella’s understanding of love and death begins to change. 386 pages.
The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan (Knopf)
A bitter, ostracized seal-kin girl magically calls up beautiful selkie women to entice the men of Rollrock Island. As the sons of selkie women and human men mature, their mothers’ longing for the sea spurs the boys to heroic and loving acts. 309 pages.
Team Human by Justine Larbalestier and Sarah Rees Brennan (HarperTeen)
In this vampire story with a twist, Mel investigates the suspicious disappearance of her best friend’s father. Retaining the essential elements — romance, suspense, and danger — the book is also stamped with the protagonist’s distinct brand of sarcastic humor. 348 pages.
Every Day by David Leviathan (Knopf)
Gender-neutral protagonist “A” wakes up in a different sixteen-year-old’s body every morning. Before meeting Rhiannon, A tried not to disrupt his/her host-bodies’ lives — but now, everything has changed. 325 pages.
Game by Barry Lyga (Little, Brown)
As the son of a notorious serial killer, Jasper is uniquely qualified to assist the NYPD homicide department with a new murder case. When his girlfriend Connie follows him to New York, unbeknownst to Jazz, both teens are sucked into the killer’s “game.” 520 pages.
Yaqui Delgado Wants to Kick Your Ass by Meg Medina (Candlewick)
At her new Queens high school, Piddy (short for Piedad) Sanchez gets word that someone she doesn’t even know has it in for her. As the bullying intensifies, so do Piddy’s fear and lack of self-worth. Is it easier to give up, or should she fight back? 261 pages.
Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell (St. Martin’s Griffin)
Eleanor is the new girl in town, an ostracized, bullied “big girl”; Park is a skinny half-Korean townie who tries to stay out of the spotlight. Their slowly evolving but intense relationship is authentic in its awkwardness — and life-changing for them both. 328 pages.
Endangered by Eliot Schrefer (Scholastic)
In this survival story, Sophie grows attached to a baby bonobo named Otto on a visit to her mother’s animal sanctuary in the Congo. When the political situation destabilizes dangerously, Sophie refuses to leave Otto behind and flees into the sanctuary’s thirty-acre bonobo enclosure. 264 pages.
Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin (Flash Point/Roaring Brook)
While comprehensive in its synthesis of the political, historical, and scientific aspects of the creation of the first nuclear weapon, this account focuses on an extremely alluring angle: the spies. Sheinkin maintains the pace of a thriller without betraying history or skipping over the science. A 2013 Newbery Honor Book. 266 pages.
Days of Blood & Starlight by Laini Taylor (Little, Brown)
In the renewed war between chimaera and seraphim, human Karou (Daughter of Smoke & Bone), a resurrectionist, repopulates the chimaera, while her star-crossed lover Akiva reluctantly takes a lead role in the seraphim army. Surprises and acts of personal sacrifice ratchet up the suspense. 517 pages.
Mojo by Tim Tharp (Knopf)
While hiding out (in a dumpster) from bullies, wannabe-investigative-journalist Dylan stumbles across the body of a classmate. Dylan — along with his best friend Audrey and the girl they are both crushing on — sees a connection to the disappearance of a rich girl. 289 pages.
The Other Normals by Ned Vizzini (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins)
Fifteen-year-old loner and gamer Perry has been sentenced to forced socialization at Camp Washiska Lake. In a fantastical turn, he discovers that the world of his favorite role-playing game is based on the reality of another universe, the World of the Other Normals. 389 pages.