Now that Daylight Saving Time is gone, and darkness sets in much earlier, what better time than now to settle into some outstanding books in the warm comfort of your home? Here are some of the best new books geared for ages nine and up (unless otherwise indicated). But chances are, you’ll enjoy them also and most books would be great to read out loud to your family. Some of these books are so good that chances are excellent for them to be Newbery contenders.
A Night Divided, by Jennifer A. Nielsen, takes place during the fall of 1961 in Berlin, Germany when East and West became divided. This historical fiction showcases the bravery and hope East Germans faced as families, who were suddenly cut off from loved ones, dealt with these extreme difficulties. Young Gerta has just woken up to find a high barbed-wire fence that will keep her father and brother from coming back to the eastern part of the city. They just left the day before for the western part of Berlin to look for work. Now they can’t come back. The drama that plays out reflects the many hardships that families and relatives of families faced once the wall went up. This page-turner won’t leave your memory for quite some time.
Chasing Secrets, by Gennifer Choldenko, is another historical fiction but this book is based on the plague that hit San Francisco in 1900. This plague frightened most of the city because many people were dying and the reasons for the plague were largely unknown. Thirteen-year-old Lizzie is about to get to the bottom of this horrific plague and figure out what is causing it. The complexity of this mystery, and the wonderful way it’s written, makes this book a complete winner!
Courage & Defiance, by Deborah Hopkinson, is an exhilarating non-fiction account of the brave men and women who helped save Jewish families living in Denmark during World War II. The accounts of these brave deeds are daring and amazing. There are photos, maps and illustrations found throughout. There is also tragedy found near the back of the book about the Jewish prison camps and for this reason this book is better suited for ages eleven and up.
Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel, by Megan Morrison, is nothing like the traditional fairytale. This Rapunzel is actually happy up in her tower. It’s only when a boy by the name of Jack comes up to her high window seeking help for his injured fairy that she eventually descends to the ground where she becomes “grounded”. And this is when her great high adventures begin.
Shadows of Sherwood, by Kekla Magoon, grabs you immediately when young Robyn comes into her house to find that her parents have suddenly disappeared. And now she realizes she must leave her home before she also is kidnapped. When she joins a band of kids she never knew before, she enlists them to help her locate her parents. This is the first book in a planned series.
Echo, by Pam Muniz Ryan, takes place over several hundred years and begins with a young boy becoming lost in the woods. When he is rescued by three sisters who have been cursed by a witch, he helps carry their spirits out through a harmonica. Now hundreds of years later, this harmonica helps three children living in completely different circumstances and eventually guides them toward happiness. Through much hard work and persistence, these three overcome great adversity and bring their talents of music to success. This story is full of hope and encouragement to follow your talents – but to work hard along the way.
Nightbird, by Alice Hoffman, is a magical tale about Twig, a sweet girl who has a secret in her small town. She is hiding her brother from everyone. No one knows she even has a brother. She’s hiding him because he has huge black wings and he can only leave their home late at night to fly in the sky. But trouble begins one night when someone sees him. Twig eventually learns the importance of family and relationships.
Adventures With Waffles, by Maria Parr, was originally written in Norwegian but the book was so popular it was translated into English. Once you begin reading the many fun, and funny, experiences the two friends have, you begin to get an idea of life in Norway. But there is a theme running throughout the storyline: Norwegians like their waffles. It’s always interesting for youngsters to learn about other countries and realize that kids are the same everywhere.
Has Anyone Seen Jessica Jenkins?, by Liz Kessler, begins when Jessica is in class when her friend, Izzy, notices something very odd happening to Jessica – her arm has disappeared. Then if that wasn’t strange enough, all of Jessica begins to turn invisible. That evening Jessica and Izzy try to discover how she accomplished this incredible feat and if she could do it again. When she figures out the way she can completely disappear, an underlying reason soon becomes evident. Here’s an adventure sure to keep you reading late into the night.
Firefly Hollow, by Alison McGhee, and illustrated with color sporadically by Christopher Denise, finds Firefly wanting to leave the Hollow because she has always wanted to touch the moon. Cricket wants to leave because he has always wanted to play baseball. But when they do leave the safety of the Hollow, they end up meeting someone they had only heard about. This someone is a giant to them. But he’s actually a boy who also has big dreams. This sweet tale is about friendship and support and working toward achieving your dreams.