Louder Than Hunger by John Schu (Candlewick, 2024) is a novel-in-verse about a boy overcoming an eating disorder within the walls of a mental health clinic. Sometimes the novel-in-verse format is a forced one for a story. For this book, it is an essential and masterfully done format. Because of the novel-in-verse narration, the reader

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Across So Many Seas by Ruth Behar (Nancy Paulsen Books, February 2024) is an epic historical fiction middle grade novel about Sephardic Jews, jumping from Inquisition Spain in 1492 to Turkey, Cuba, and Miami in more recent years. With narration transitioning among four young girls during these times, the novel highlighted music as a way

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The Out of Jerusalem series by H.B. Moore (Covenant Communications, 2003-2006) retells the story of Lehi, Nephi, and their families as they leave Jerusalem and head for the promised land, giving the characters in the early parts of The Book of Mormon distinct personalities. Although there were many aspects I enjoyed as a part of

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One Big Open Sky by Lesa Kline-Ransom (March 2024, Holiday House) is a free verse historical fiction novel about Black covered wagon pioneers in 1879. It features a young Black girl and her family, told from her perspective and that of her mother and another young woman. They journey from a sharecropping atmosphere in Mississippi

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Matthew is a seventh-grader now required to finish his school year online, isolated from his friends, due to the COVID pandemic. Nothing could be worse than having to help his 100-year-old great-grandmother (GG) sort her belongings. But it is through his isolation with GG that Matthew learns the secrets of her life and just how

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Doug Swieteck, a fourteen-year-old transplant to the small town of Marysville, learns to cope with his life as he adjusts to new situations during the 1968-1969 school year in Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt (Clarion Books, 2011). Even as he faces the struggles of moving to a new middle school, Doug must still

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The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2007) is a powerful young adult novel that shares the pivotal 1967-1968 school year from the perspective of seventh-grader Holling Hoodhood. In The Wednesday Wars, his fellow students go to their religious schools (Catholic school or the Jewish synagogue) on Wednesday afternoons. As the lone

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Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace (HarperCollins, 1940) is a sweet chapter book about five-year-old friends who are across-the-street neighbors. The girls are so inseparable that they are called by a single name: Betsy-Tacy. Betsy is a creative girl who tells stories and Tacy is a shy and quiet girl who nurtures Betsy’s imagination. In many

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It is quite rare to see a disease like cystic fibrosis depicted in an historical fiction novel, let alone historical fiction that takes place during the middle ages! In Breath (Atheneum, November 2003), creative storyteller Donna Jo Napoli retells the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin with a twelve-year-old boy that has cystic fibrosis

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The children’s novel The Great Quest by Charles Boardman Hawes (Atlantic Monthly Press, 1921) has a nice beginning, with an adventurous tone similar to that in Treasure Island. But for the modern reader, that wholesome, adventurous spirit becomes much more sinister about a quarter of the way through the book, with a tone that feels

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