Explore exciting worlds through the pages of books and discover new words along the way
The Bee's Bookshelf is the official book club of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Check out the books we've selected in past months and the resources we created for each book.
By michael mann
Kidnapped and forced to shovel coal underground, in a half-bombed power station, 12-year-old Luke Smith-Sharma keeps his head down and hopes he can earn his freedom from the evil Tabitha Margate. Then one day he discovers he can see things that others can’t. Ghostly things. A ghostly girl named Alma, who can bend the shape of clouds to her will and rides them through the night sky.
With Alma’s help, Luke discovers his own innate powers and uncovers the terrible truth of why Tabatha is kidnapping children and forcing them to shovel coal. Desperate to escape, Luke teams up with Alma, his best friend Ravi, and new girl Jess. Can Luke and his friends get away before they each become victims to a cruel and sinister scheme?
momentous events in the life of a cactus
By Dusti Bowling
High School. Two words that struck fear into the heart of every armless middle schooler I knew. Which was me. And like two people online.
Just as Aven starts to feel comfortable in Stagecoach Pass, with her friends and schoolmates accustomed to her lack of “armage,” everything changes once again. She’s about to begin high school . . . with 3,000 new kids to stare at her. And no matter how much Aven tries to play it cool, nothing prepares her for the reality. In a year filled with confusion, humiliation, and just maybe love, can Aven manage to stay true to herself?
Turtles of the midnight moon
By Maria Jose Fitzgerald
Twelve-year-old Barana lives in a coastal village in Honduras, where she spends every spare minute visiting the sea turtles that nest on the beach.
Abby is feeling adrift in sixth grade, trying to figure out who she is and where she belongs after her best friend moved away from New Jersey.
When Abby’s papi plans a work trip to Honduras, she is finally given the opportunity to see his homeland—with Barana as her tour guide. But Barana has other plans: someone has been poaching turtle eggs, and she’s determined to catch them!
Before long, Abby and Barana are both consumed by the mystery, chasing down suspects, gathering clues, and staking out the beach in the dead of night. . . . Will they find a way to stop the poachers before it’s too late?
it's not bragging if it's true
By zaila avant-garde
After Zaila Avant-garde became the first African American student to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee in 2021, she turned into an overnight sensation. People wanted to know who she was and how she’d achieved so much while so young.
In this nonfiction book, Zaila shares the personal anecdotes that have shaped her life and extends advice to readers on living authentically. While Zaila is an exceptional and inspiring young woman, she has fears and anxieties just like everyone else; what makes her remarkable is the way she chooses to move through the obstacles in front of her.
Zaila shares about her family, her accomplishments, her experience of being homeschooled, and much more in order to motivate and uplift kids with dreams of any size.
the Verdigris Pawn
By Alysa Wishingrad
The heir to the Land should be strong. Fierce. Ruthless. At least, that’s what Beau’s father has been telling him his whole life, since Beau is the exact opposite of what the heir should be. With little control over his future, Beau is kept locked away, just another pawn in his father’s quest for ultimate power.
That is, until Beau meets a girl who shows him the secrets his father has kept hidden. For the first time, Beau begins to question everything he’s ever been told and sets off in search of a rebel who might hold the key to setting things right.
By katie van heidrich
In the early 2000s, thirteen-year-old Katie Van Heidrich has moved more times that she can count, for as long as she can remember. There were the slow moves where you see the whole thing coming. There were the fast ones where you grab what you can in seconds. When Katie and her family come back from an out-of-town funeral, they discover their landlord has unceremoniously evicted them, forcing them to pack lightly and move quickly.
They make their way to an Extended Stay America Motel, with Katie’s mother promising it’s temporary. Within the four walls of their new home, Katie and her siblings, Josh and Haley, try to live a normal life.
Lyrical and forthcoming, Katie navigates the complexities that come with living in-between: in between homes, parents, and childhood and young adulthood, all while remaining hopeful for the future.
temple alley summer
by sachiko kashiwaba (translated by avery fischer udagawa)
Kazu knows something odd is going on when he sees a girl in a white kimono sneak out of his house in the middle of the night―was he dreaming? Did he see a ghost? Things get even stranger when he shows up to school the next day to see the very same figure sitting in his classroom. No one else thinks it’s weird, and, even though Kazu doesn’t remember ever seeing her before, they all seem convinced that the ghost-girl Akari has been their friend for years!
When Kazu’s summer project to learn about Kimyo Temple draws the meddling attention of his mysterious neighbor Ms. Minakami and his secretive new classmate Akari, Kazu soon learns that not everything is as it seems in his hometown...
Winner of the 2022 Mildred L. Batchelder Award, Temple Alley Summer is a ghost story, a depiction of a most unusual friendship, and a beautiful meditation on time.
By adam borba
Charming and funny, Parker Kelbrook can wriggle out of anything he doesn’t want to do. So when he’s forced to take a job at the local pool — a threat to his beach-filled summer plans — he comes up with the perfect prank to get himself fired.
Once Parker’s father catches wind of his latest scheme, he decides enough is enough, and Parker is sent halfway across the country to work on a farm alongside other kids who aren't his biggest fans. As Parker learns to roll up his sleeves and keep his head down, strange things start happening. And after he awakens one morning to find a seventeen-hundred-pound dairy cow on the roof of a barn, he suspects that something magical and mysterious is growing in the farm’s fields.
A whimsical story about a boy’s discovery that mistakes and miracles can have serious consequences.
escape from mr. lemoncello's library
By chris grabenstein
When Kyle learns that the world’s most famous game maker, Luigi Lemoncello, has designed the town’s new library and is having an invitation-only lock-in on opening night, he’s determined to be there! But the tricky part isn’t getting into the library — it’s getting OUT. Because when morning comes, the doors stay locked. Kyle and the other kids must solve every clue and figure out every secret puzzle to find the hidden escape route!
By kiersten white
Meet the Sinister-Winterbottoms: brave Theo, her timid twin, Alexander, and their older sister, Wil. They’re stuck for the summer with their Aunt Saffronia, who doesn’t know how often children need to eat and can’t use a smartphone, and whose feet never quite seem to touch the floor when she glides — er — walks.
When Aunt Saffronia suggests a week pass to the Fathoms of Fun Waterpark, they hastily agree. But the park is even stranger than Aunt Saffronia. The waterslides look like gray gargoyle tongues. The employees wear creepy black dresses and deliver ominous messages. An impossible figure is at the top of the slide tower, people are disappearing, and suspicious goo is seeping into the wave pool.
Something mysterious is happening at Fathoms of Fun, and it’s up to the twins to get to the bottom of it. The mystery, that is. NOT the wave pool. Definitely NOT the wave pool. But are Theo and Alexander out of their depth?
THE SEVENTH MOST IMPORTANT THING
By SHELLEY PEARSALL
Arthur T. Owens grabbed a brick and hurled it at the trash picker. Arthur had his reasons, and the brick hit the Junk Man in the arm, not the head. But none of that matters to the judge — he is ready to send Arthur to juvie forever. Amazingly, it’s the Junk Man himself who offers an alternative: 120 hours of community service . . . working for him.
Arthur is given a rickety shopping cart and a list of the Seven Most Important Things: glass bottles, foil, cardboard, pieces of wood, lightbulbs, coffee cans, and mirrors. He can’t believe it — is he really supposed to rummage through people’s trash? But it isn’t long before Arthur realizes there’s more to the Junk Man than meets the eye, and the “trash” he’s collecting is being transformed into something more precious than anyone could imagine. . .
By Johnnie Christmas
Bree can’t wait for her first day at her new middle school, Enith Brigitha, home to the Mighty Manatees — until she’s stuck with the only elective that fits her schedule, the dreaded Swim 101. The thought of swimming makes Bree more than a little queasy, yet she’s forced to dive headfirst into one of her greatest fears. Lucky for her, Etta, an elderly occupant of her apartment building and former swim team captain, is willing to help.
With Etta’s training and a lot of hard work, Bree suddenly finds her swim-crazed community counting on her to turn the school’s failing team around. But that’s easier said than done, especially when their rival, the prestigious Holyoke Prep, has everything they need to leave the Mighty Manatees in their wake.
Can Bree defy the odds and guide her team to a state championship, or have the Manatees swum their last lap — for good?
J.R. Silver writes her world
By melissa dassori
Sixth grade is off to a difficult start for Josephine Rose Silver. Her best friend, Violet, returns from camp with a new best friend; her parents refuse to grant her more independence; and her homeroom teacher, Ms. Kline, is full of secrets.
When Ms. Kline unveils a collection of old Gothamite magazines and tells her students to build their writing skills by crafting short stories inspired by the iconic covers, J.R. discovers a peculiar power: The stories she writes come true.
With a pinch of magic, mystery, art history, and language arts woven into a journey of growth and self-confidence, this promising debut is a heartfelt and satisfying tribute to the power of words.
ARU SHAH AND THE END OF TIME
By ROSHANI CHOKSHI
Selected by 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee Champion Harini Logan!
Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she’ll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip.
One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru’s doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don’t believe her claim that the museum’s Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again. But lighting the lamp has dire consequences.
She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it’s up to Aru to save them. The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?
The three princes of serendip
By rodaan al galidi
The twenty fables and folktales in this illustrated storybook have taken a long journey. Many have roots that stretch across Europe, Asia, and Africa, but when award-winning writer and gatherer of tales Rodaan Al Galidi learned them in his homeland of Iraq, it was as Arabic folktales. When he migrated to the Netherlands, he shaped twenty of those tales into his debut book for children, which was translated to English by Laura Watkinson.
Filled with wisdom about love and acceptance, and warnings against folly, these elegantly translated stories — many unknown in the United States — of donkeys and roosters, kings, sheikhs, and paupers are exquisitely illustrated by cut-paper artist Geertje Aalders. Beautifully packaged, The Three Princes of Serendip is a rich and varied introduction to the world of Middle Eastern folklore.
By pete hautman
“Hatred combined with lies and secrets can break the world.” Grandpa Zach used to say that before he died, but Stuey never really knew what he meant. It was kind of like how he used to talk about quantum physics or how he used to say ghosts haunted their overgrown golf course. But then one day, after Stuey and his best friend, Elly Rose, spend countless afternoons in the deadfall in the middle of the woods, something totally unbelievable happens. As Stuey and Elly Rose struggle to come to grips with their lives after that reality-splitting moment, all the things Grandpa Zach used to say start to make a lot more sense.
This is a book about memory and loss and the destructive nature of secrets, but also about the way friendship, truth, and perseverance have the ability to knit a torn-apart world back together.
Winner of the 2019 Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best Juvenile Mystery!
The skylarks' war
By hilary mckay
Clarry Penrose finds the good in everyone. Even in her father, who isn't fond of children, and especially girls. He doesn't worry about her education, because he knows she won't need it. It's the early twentieth century, and the only thing girls are expected to do is behave.
But Clarry longs for a life of her own. She wants to dive off cliffs and go swimming with her brother Peter and cousin Rupert. And more than anything, she wants an education. When war breaks out, Clarry is shocked to find that Rupert has enlisted.
When he is declared missing, Clarry must take a momentous step into the wide world. From quiet English towns to the battlefields of France, The Skylarks' War paints a panoramic portrait of a turbulent era.
With its realistic depictions of trench warfare, we think this book is most suitable for ages 12 and up.
By RUKHSANNA GUIDROZ
Samira thinks of her life as before and after: before the burning and violence in her village in Burma, when she and her best friend would play in the fields, and after, when her family was forced to flee. There’s before the uncertain journey to Bangladesh by river, and after, when the river swallowed her nana and nani whole. And now, months after rebuilding a life in Bangladesh with her mama, baba, and brother, there’s before Samira saw the Bengali surfer girls of Cox’s Bazar, and after, when she decides she’ll become one.
Samira Surfs is a tender novel in verse about a young Rohingya girl’s journey from isolation and persecution to sisterhood, and from fear to power.
By gIANNI rODARI
Every night, at nine o’clock, wherever he is, Mr. Bianchi, an accountant who often travels for work, calls his daughter and tells her a bedtime story.
Set in the 20th-century era of pay phones, each story has to be told in the time that a single coin will buy. One night, it’s the story of a carousel so beloved by children that an old man finally sneaks on to understand why, and as he sails above the world, he does. The next night, it’s a land filled with butter men, roads paved with chocolate, or a young shrimp who has the courage to defy expectations and do things differently.
Gorgeously illustrated by Italian artist Valerio Vidali, these stories entertain with wit, surprise, and imagination.
Maybe he just likes you
By barbara dee
For seventh grader Mila, it starts with some boys giving her an unwanted hug on the school blacktop during a surprise birthday celebration.
The next day, it’s another hug. A smirk. Comments. It all feels … weird. According to her friend Zara, Mila is being immature and overreacting. Doesn’t she know what flirting looks like?
But it keeps happening, despite Mila’s protests. On the bus, in the halls. Even during band practice — the one time Mila can always escape to her happy “blue-sky” feeling. It seems like the boys are EVERYWHERE. And their behavior doesn’t feel like flirting — so what is it?
Mila starts to gain confidence when she enrolls in karate class. But her friends still don’t understand why Mila is making such a big deal about the boys’ attention. When Mila is finally pushed too far, she realizes she can’t battle this on her own, and she finds help in some unexpected places.
OUT OF MY HEART
By SHARON m. DRAPER
Melody faces her fears to follow her passion in this stunning sequel to the acclaimed, New York Times bestselling middle grade novel Out of My Mind.
Melody, the huge-hearted heroine of Out of My Mind, is a year older and a year braver. And now with her Medi-talker, she feels nothing's out of her reach, not even summer camp. There have to be camps for differently-abled kids like her, and she's going to sleuth one out. A place where she can trek through a forest, fly on a zip line, and even ride on a horse! A place where maybe she really can finally make a real friend, make her own decisions, and even do things on her own — the dream!
By the light of flickering campfires and the power of thunderstorms, through the terror of unexpected creatures in cabins and the first sparkle of a crush, Melody's about to discover how brave and strong she really is.
By JUSTINA IRELAND
Ophelia Harrison used to live in a small house in the Georgia countryside. But that was before the night in November 1922, and the cruel act that took her home and her father from her. Which was the same night that Ophie learned she can see ghosts.
Now Ophie and her mother are living in Pittsburgh with relatives they barely know. In the hopes of earning enough money to get their own place, Mama has gotten Ophie a job as a maid in the same old manor house where she works.
Daffodil Manor, like the wealthy Caruthers family who owns it, is haunted by memories and prejudices of the past — and, as Ophie discovers, ghosts as well. Ghosts who have their own loves and hatreds and desires, ghosts who have wronged others and ghosts who have themselves been wronged. And as Ophie forms a friendship with one spirit whose life ended suddenly and unjustly, she wonders if she might be able to help — even as she comes to realize that Daffodil Manor may hold more secrets than she bargained for.
The Beatryce Prophecy
By Kate DiCamillo
In a time of war, a mysterious child appears at the monastery of the Order of the Chronicles of Sorrowing. Gentle Brother Edik finds the girl, Beatryce, curled in a stall, wracked with fever, coated in dirt and blood, and holding fast to the ear of Answelica the goat. As the monk nurses Beatryce to health, he uncovers her dangerous secret, one that imperils them all — for the king of the land seeks just such a girl, and Brother Edik, who penned the prophecy himself, knows why.
And so it is that a girl with a head full of stories — powerful tales-within-the-tale of queens and kings, mermaids and wolves — ventures into a dark wood in search of the castle of one who wishes her dead. But Beatryce knows that, should she lose her way, those who love her — a wild-eyed monk, a man who had once been king, a boy with a terrible sword, and a goat with a head as hard as stone — will never give up searching for her, and to know this is to know everything.
The life of frederick douglass,
a monumental american man
By tonya bolden
From award-winning author Tonya Bolden comes the fascinating story of one of America’s most influential African-American voices.
Teacher. Self-emancipator. Orator. Author. Man. There is much more to the story of Frederick Douglass than his time spent in slavery and his famous autobiography. This is the story of a great and mighty abolitionist and orator, but also of a newspaper man, women's rights activist, statesman, diplomat, public servant, and lover of travel, music, and books.
The Missing: The true story of my family in world war ii
BY michael rosen
“They were there at the beginning of the war, but they were gone by the end. I suppose they died in the camps.”
That’s all young Michael Rosen, born in England just after the end of the Second World War, was told about the six great-aunts and great-uncles who had been living in Poland or France at the beginning of that war. This wasn’t enough for him. So, as an adult, he started to search.
In a unique mix of memoir, history, and poetry, scholar and children’s literature luminary Michael Rosen explores his family history, digging up more details than he ever thought he would and sharing them with readers so that now, a lifetime after the Nazis tried to make the world forget the Rosen family and the rest of Europe’s Jews, his readers can do something essential: remember.
The MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE OF AIDAN s. (aS TOLD TO HIS BROTHER)
BY david levithan
Aidan disappeared for six days. Six agonizing days of searches and police and questions and constant vigils. Then, just as suddenly as he vanished, Aidan reappears. Where has he been? The story he tells is simply . . . impossible. But it's the story Aidan is sticking to.
His brother, Lucas, wants to believe him. But Lucas is aware of what other people, including their parents, are saying: that Aidan is making it all up to disguise the fact that he ran away.
When the kids in school hear Aidan's story, they taunt him. But still Aidan clings to his story. And as he becomes more of an outcast, Lucas becomes more and more concerned. Being on Aidan's side would mean believing in the impossible. But how can you believe in the impossible when everything and everybody is telling you not to?
Roll with it
BY Jamie sumner
Ellie has big dreams. She might be eating Stouffer’s for dinner, but one day she’s going to be a professional baker. If she’s not writing fan letters to her favorite celebrity chefs, she’s practicing recipes on her family.
But when Ellie and her mom move so they can help take care of her ailing grandpa, Ellie has to start all over again in a new town at a new school. Except she’s not just the new kid—she’s the new kid in the wheelchair who lives in the trailer park on the wrong side of town.
It all feels like one challenge too many, until Ellie starts to make her first-ever friends. Now she just has to convince her mom that this town might just be the best thing that ever happened to them!
When You Trap A Tiger
BY TAE KELLER
When Lily and her family move in with her sick grandmother, a magical tiger straight out of her halmoni’s Korean folktales arrives, prompting Lily to unravel a secret family history.
Long, long ago, Halmoni stole something from the tigers. Now, the tigers want it back. And when one of those tigers approaches Lily with a deal — return what Halmoni stole in exchange for Halmoni's health — Lily is tempted to accept.
But deals with tigers are never what they seem! With the help of her sister and her new friend Ricky, Lily must find her voice … and the courage to face a tiger.
BY AMY NATHAN
In 1997, Keith Plessy was working in a big New Orleans hotel when he happened to meet Rosa Parks. He knelt down, kissed her hand, and thanked her for all she had done. Parks responded, "Get up, boy. Your name is Plessy. You have work to do."
At the time, Keith was just beginning to learn about his ancestor, Homer Plessy, who was involved in the famous Supreme Court decision, Plessy v. Ferguson, that made racial segregation legal in America. Meanwhile
Phoebe Ferguson was learning about her ancestor, John Howard Ferguson, the judge who had first ruled on that case. Phoebe and Keith both grew up in New Orleans around the same time, but in very different worlds. As adults, though, their shared history brought them together — and eventually made them friends. Today, the foundation they created strives to keep this history alive, particularly for young people.
Together tells their story. It also relates the history of the ways in which America has been racially segregated, and the inspiring efforts to move us into a more unified future.
BY thomas taylor
It’s winter in the town of Eerie-on-Sea, where the mist is thick and the salt spray is rattling the windows of the Grand Nautilus Hotel. Inside, young Herbert Lemon, Lost and Founder for the hotel, has an unexpected visitor. It seems that Violet Parma, a fearless girl around his age, lost her parents at the hotel when she was a baby, and she’s sure that the nervous Herbert is the only person who can help her find them. The trouble is, Violet is being pursued at that moment by a strange hook-handed man. And the town legend of the Malamander — a part-fish, part-human monster whose egg is said to make dreams come true — is rearing its scaly head. As various townspeople, some good-hearted, some nefarious, reveal themselves to be monster hunters on the sly, can Herbert and Violet elude them and discover what happened to Violet’s kin? This lighthearted, fantastical mystery kicks off a trilogy of fantasies set in the seaside town.
FEBRUARY 2021AMINA'S VOICeby hena khan
Amina would rather hang out with best friend, Soojin, than be in the spotlight. Except now that she’s in middle school everything feels different. Soojin is suddenly hanging out with Emily, one of the “cool” girls in the class, and even talking about changing her name to something more “American.” While Amina grapples with the changes in her life, she is devastated when her local mosque is vandalized.
Amina’s Voice brings to life the joys and challenges of a young Pakistani-American and highlights the many ways in which one girl’s voice can help bring a diverse community together to love and support each other.
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BY Kenneth oppel
The invasion begins with rain. Rain that carries seeds. Seeds that sprout — overnight, everywhere. These new plants take over crop fields, twine up houses, and burrow below streets. Then, they bloom — releasing toxic pollen ... and they're starting to feed.
Is there a way to stop them? Three kids on a remote island seem immune to the toxic plants. Anaya, Petra, Seth. They each have strange allergies — and yet not to these plants. What's their secret? Can they somehow be the key to beating back this invasion? They'd better figure it out fast, because it's starting to rain again...
charlie & frog
BY Karen Kane
Charlie has been dumped with his TV-obsessed grandparents for the summer. Lonely and curious, Charlie heads into the village of Castle-on-the-Hudson, where a frightened old woman gives him a desperate message in sign language. When she suddenly disappears, Charlie is determined to find answers.
Frog, who is Deaf, would rather be solving crimes than working at the Flying Hands Café. When Charlie walks into the café looking for help, Frog jumps at the chance to tackle a real-life case.
Together, Charlie and Frog set out to decipher a series of clues and uncover the truth behind the missing woman's mysterious message.
BY pam muÑoz ryan
Maximiliano Córdoba loves stories, especially the legend Buelo tells him about a mythical gatekeeper who can guide brave travelers who are true of heart on a journey into tomorrow.
If Max could see tomorrow, he would know if he’d make Santa Maria’s celebrated fútbol team, and whether he’d ever meet his mother, who disappeared when he was a baby. He longs to know more about her, but Papa won’t talk. So when Max uncovers a buried family secret — involving an underground network of guardians who lead people fleeing a neighboring country to safety — he decides to seek answers on his own.
With a treasured compass, a mysterious stone rubbing, and Buelo’s legend as his only guides, he sets out on a dangerous quest to discover if he is true of heart and what the future holds.
Merci Suárez Changes Gears
BY Meg Medina
Merci Suárez knew that sixth grade would be different, but she had no idea just how different. For starters, she’s not exactly like the other kids at Seaward Pines because she and her older brother, Roli, are scholarship students. At home, Merci’s most trusted ally, Lolo, has been acting strangely and no one in her family will tell her anything about what’s going on with her grandfather.
In a coming of age story that features family, friends, frenemies – and ripped off eyebrows – we look at the confusion and constant change that define middle school and the steadfast connection that defines family.
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the bookshop girl
By sylvia bishop
The Joneses have just won the Great Montgomery Book Emporium in a contest, and it’s every booklover’s dream! The pull of a lever calls forth a room full of marvelous wonders ― from the Room of Woodland Tales with its squirrels and mice, to the rocket ship in the Room of Space Adventures and the aquarium ceiling in the Room of Ocean Tales.
But there is more to the Emporium than its thousands of books in extravagant displays. In fact, the previous owner is hiding something that could destroy absolutely everything for the Joneses.
Property Jones has a whopper of a secret too ― and it might just be the key to saving her family and their bookshop from the clutches of a nasty villain.
A Wish in the dark
by christina soontornvat
All light in Chattana is created by one man — the Governor, who appeared after the Great Fire to bring peace and order to the city. For Pong, who was born in Namwon Prison, the magical lights represent freedom, and he dreams of the day he will be able to walk under them. But when he escapes, he realizes that the world outside is no fairer than the one behind bars. The wealthy dine and dance under bright orb light, while the poor toil away in darkness. And Pong’s prison tattoo marks him as a fugitive who can never be truly free.
Nok, the prison warden’s perfect daughter, is bent on tracking Pong down and restoring her family’s good name. But as she hunts him through the alleys and canals of Chattana, she uncovers secrets that make her question the truths she has always held dear.
A GOOD KIND OF TROUBLE
BY LISA MOORE RAMÉE
Twelve-year-old Shayla is allergic to trouble. All she wants to do is to follow the rules. (Oh, and she’d also like to make it through seventh grade with her best friendships intact, learn to run track, and have a cute boy see past her giant forehead.)
But in junior high, it’s like all the rules have changed. Now she’s suddenly questioning who her best friends are and some people at school are saying she’s not black enough. Wait, what?
Shay’s sister, Hana, is involved in Black Lives Matter, but Shay doesn't think that's for her. After experiencing a powerful protest, though, Shay decides some rules are worth breaking. She starts wearing an armband to school in support of the Black Lives movement. Soon everyone is taking sides. And she is given an ultimatum.
Shay is scared to do the wrong thing (and even more scared to do the right thing), but if she doesn't face her fear, she'll be forever tripping over the next hurdle. Now that’s trouble, for real.
Over Sea, Under Stone
By susan cooper
On holiday in Cornwall, the three Drew children discover an ancient map in the attic of the house that they are staying in. They know immediately that it is special. It is even more than that — the key to finding a grail, a source of power to fight the forces of evil. And in searching for it themselves, the Drews put their very lives in peril.
This book is the first volume of Susan Cooper's brilliant and absorbing fantasy series, The Dark Is Rising.
by Jerry Craft
Seventh grader Jordan Banks loves nothing more than drawing cartoons about his life. But instead of sending him to the art school of his dreams, his parents enroll him in a prestigious private school known for its academics, where Jordan is one of the few kids of color in his entire grade.
As he makes the daily trip from his Washington Heights apartment to the upscale Riverdale Academy Day School, Jordan soon finds himself torn between two worlds — and not really fitting into either one. Can Jordan learn to navigate his new school culture while keeping his neighborhood friends and staying true to himself?
New Kid is the first graphic novel to ever win the Newbery Medal!
by LOIS SEPAHBAN
It's 1942 after the attack on Pearl Harbor, and 10-year-old Manami and her family must leave their home by the sea and join other Japanese Americans at a prison camp in the desert. Manami is sad to go, but even worse is that she must leave her dog, Yujiin, behind. Once she has arrived at the camp, Manami begins writing letters to Yujiin and releasing them to the wind, clinging to the hope that somehow Yujiin will find his way to the camp and make her family whole again.
Paper Wishes is a heartrending piece of historical fiction set during World War II about love, longing and a girl who finally finds her voice.
Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood
By Nathan Hale
In 1914, the world’s biggest countries (and some of its smallest, too) were gearing up for a massive fight. Land, history, geography — each country came to war for different reasons and with different resources. But most ended up the same: sending their young men to fight for their lives in the mud, on the sea, and in the air, in a conflict that would eventually claim more than 9 million lives.
Nathan Hale’s Hazardous Tales are graphic novels that tell the thrilling, shocking, and TRUE stories of American history.
the best at it
by maulik Pancholy
Rahul Kapoor is heading into seventh grade in a small town in Indiana. The start of middle school is making him feel increasingly anxious, so his favorite person in the whole world, his grandfather, Bhai, gives him some well-meaning advice: Find one thing you’re really good at and become the BEST at it.
Those four little words sear themselves into Rahul’s brain. While he’s not quite sure what that special thing is, he is convinced that once he finds it, bullies like Brent Mason will stop torturing him at school. And he won’t be worried about staring too long at his classmate Justin Emery. With his best friend, Chelsea, by his side, Rahul is ready to crush this challenge.... But what if he discovers he isn’t the best at anything?
by Jen Wang
Moon is everything Christine isn't. She’s confident, impulsive, artistic . . . and though they both grew up in the same Chinese-American suburb, Moon is somehow unlike anyone Christine has ever known.
But after Moon moves in next door, these unlikely friends are soon best friends. Moon even tells Christine her deepest secret: that she has visions, sometimes, of celestial beings who speak to her from the stars. Who reassure her that earth isn't where she really belongs.
Moon's visions have an all-too-earthly root, however, and soon Christine's best friend is in the hospital, fighting for her life. Can Christine be the friend Moon needs, now, when the sky is falling?
by Aisha Saeed
Life is quiet and ordinary in Amal's Pakistani village, but she has no complaints, and besides, she's busy pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher one day. Then the unimaginable happens—after an accidental run-in with the son of her village's corrupt landlord, Amal must work as the landlord's servant to pay off her own family's debt.
Amal's life at the Khan estate is full of heartbreak and struggle, and there are enemies at every turn. Through it all she must find a way to maintain hope and courage in order to fight against the status quo and achieve her dreams.
by Dave Eggers
When Gran and his family move to Carousel, he has no idea that the town is built atop a secret. Little does he suspect, as he walks his sister to school or casually eats a banana, that mysterious forces lurk mere inches beneath his feet, tearing up the earth like mini-hurricanes and causing the town to slowly sink.
When Gran's friend, the difficult-to-impress Catalina Catalan, presses a silver handle into a hillside and opens a doorway to underground, he knows they are in for a wild adventure.
The Night Diary
by Veera Hiranandani
It's 1947, and India, newly independent of British rule, has been separated into two countries: Pakistan and India. Half-Muslim, half-Hindu twelve-year-old Nisha doesn't know where she belongs, or what her country is anymore. When Papa decides it's too dangerous to stay in what is now Pakistan, Nisha and her family become refugees and embark first by train but later on foot to reach her new home.
Told through Nisha's letters to her mother, The Night Diary is a heartfelt story of one girl's search for home, for her own identity...and for a hopeful future.
by Kelly Yang
Mia Tang has a lot of secrets. Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, ten-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests. Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they've been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed. Number 3: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language?
The Season of Styx Malone
by Kekla Magoon
Caleb Franklin and his big brother Bobby Gene are excited to have adventures in the woods behind their house. But Caleb dreams of venturing beyond their ordinary small town.
Then Caleb and Bobby Gene meet their new neighbor Styx Malone. Styx is sixteen and oozes cool. He promises the brothers that together, the three of them can pull off the Great Escalator Trade — exchanging one small thing for something better until they achieve their wildest dreams. But as the trades get bigger, the brothers soon find themselves in over their heads. Styx has secrets...secrets so big they could ruin everything.
Louisiana's Way Home
by Kate DiCamillo
When Louisiana Elefante’s granny wakes her up in the middle of the night to tell her that the day of reckoning has arrived and they have to leave home immediately, Louisiana isn’t overly worried. After all, Granny has many middle-of-the-night ideas. But this time, things are different.
This time, Granny intends for them never to return. Separated from her best friends, Raymie and Beverly, Louisiana struggles to oppose the winds of fate (and Granny) and find a way home.
Bronze and Sunflower
by Cao Wenxuan
After tragedy strikes, a young girl named Sunflower is taken in by the poorest family in her village, a family with a son named Bronze. Before Sunflower joined his family, Bronze was an only child, and hasn’t spoken a word since he was traumatized by a terrible fire. Bronze and Sunflower become inseparable, understanding each other as only the closest friends can.
Translated from Mandarin, Bronze and Sunfloweris a timeless story of the trials of poverty and the power of love and loyalty to overcome hardship.
See You Later, Gladiator
by Jon Scieszka
The Time Warp Trio is a series of books featuring the adventures of Joe, Sam and Fred as they are transported to different historical periods by a magic book.
In See You Later, Gladiator, the trio of friends find themselves in Rome in the first century A.D. They fight to survive gladiator school, make friends with a slave hoping to win his citizenship, run into the emperor and are part of the entertainment at the opening of the Colosseum!
City of Ghosts
by Victoria Scwab
Ever since the accident, Cass can see ghosts. She can pull back the Veil that separates the living from the dead . . . and enter the world of spirits. It’s not fun, but she’s managing with the help of her best friend, Jacob — who happens to be a ghost.
When her ghost-hunter parents take her to Edinburgh, one of the most haunted cities in the world, she encounters graveyards, castles and secret passageways teeming with restless phantoms. And when Cass meets a girl who shares her “gift,” she realizes how much she still has to learn about the Veil — and herself. And she’ll have to learn fast. The city of ghosts is more dangerous than she ever imagined.
by Kip Wilson
Disillusioned by the propaganda of Nazi Germany, Sophie Scholl, her brother, and his fellow soldiers formed the White Rose, a group that wrote and distributed anonymous letters criticizing the Nazi regime and calling for action from their fellow German citizens. The following year, Sophie and her brother were arrested for treason and interrogated for information about their collaborators. This debut novel recounts the lives of Sophie and her friends and highlights their brave stand against fascism in Nazi Germany.
We think this book is most suitable for ages 13 and up.
Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky
by Kwame Mbalia
Seventh grader Tristan Strong feels anything but strong ever since he failed to save his best friend when they were in a bus accident together. All he has left of Eddie is the journal his friend wrote stories in. Tristan is dreading the month he's going to spend on his grandparents' farm in Alabama, where he's being sent to heal from the tragedy. But on his first night there, a sticky creature shows up in his bedroom and steals Eddie's notebook. Tristan chases after it--is that a doll?--and a tug-of-war ensues between them underneath a Bottle Tree.
In a last attempt to wrestle the journal out of the creature's hands, Tristan punches the tree, accidentally ripping open a chasm into the MidPass, a volatile place with a burning sea, haunted bone ships, and iron monsters that are hunting the inhabitants of this world. Tristan finds himself in the middle of a battle that has left black American folk heroes John Henry and Brer Rabbit exhausted. In order to get back home, Tristan and these new allies will need to entice the god Anansi, the Weaver, to come out of hiding and seal the hole in the sky. But bartering with the trickster Anansi always comes at a price. Can Tristan save this world before he loses more of the things he loves?
by Jessica Townsend
Morrigan Crow is cursed. Born on Eventide (the unluckiest day of the year), she's blamed for all local misfortunes—and, worst of all, she's doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday.
But as Morrigan awaits her fate, a strange and remarkable man named Jupiter North appears. Chased by black-smoke hounds and hunters, he whisks her to a secret, magical city called Nevermoor, where Morrigan must compete to win entrance into the esteemed Wundrous Society by competing in a series of increasingly difficult trials.
• Nevermoor spelling list
• Discussion group on Goodreads
• An interview with the author, Jessica Townsend
• Pinterest board with ideas for a magic-themed book club meeting
• 2018 Bee's Bookshelf Reading Challenge video
The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices of the Titanic
by Allan Wolf
An ancient iceberg glides south, anticipating its fateful encounter...
From Margaret ("the unsinkable Molly") Brown to the captain who went down with his ship; from the lookout and wireless men to a young boy in search of dragons and a gambler in search of marks, poet Allan Wolf offers a breathtaking, intimate glimpse at the lives behind the tragedy of the Titanic, told with clear-eyed compassion and astounding emotional power.
• The Watch That Ends the Night spelling list
• Discussion group in Goodreads
• Video message from the author, Allan Wolf
• Video message from the Bee team
• Pinterest board with ideas for a Titanic-themed book club meeting
A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel
adapted and illustrated by Hope Larsen
It was a dark and stormy night. Meg Murry, her younger brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger...
So begin the adventures of Meg, Charles Wallace and their friend Calvin O'Keefe as they journey through time and space in search of Meg's father. Experience Madeleine L'Engle's beloved story as told through Hope Larson's moving illustrations.
Save Me a Seat
by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan
Joe and Ravi might be from very different places, but they're both stuck in the same place: SCHOOL.
Joe's lived in the same town all his life, and was doing just fine until his best friends moved away and left him on his own. Ravi's family just moved to America from India, and he's finding it pretty hard to figure out where he fits in. Joe and Ravi don't think they have anything in common—but soon find out they have a common enemy and a common mission: to take control of their lives over the course of a single crazy week.
by Jackson Pearce
Everyone in twelve-year-old Hale's family is a spy. They all work for the Sub Rosa Society, an elite organization that's so top-secret that new agents aren't recruited, they're born. His parents may be the ultimate spy team at SRS, but Hale isn't like them, and he struggles to pass the physical test that will allow him to be a field agent.
But when both his mother and father go missing on a secret mission, it's up to Hale to step up and save the day. With a hilarious and charismatic cast of characters, The Doublecross will have you furiously flipping pages (stealthily, of course) until the very end.
by Leland Melvin
When the former Detroit Lion’s football career was cut short by an injury, Leland Melvin didn’t waste time mourning his broken dream. Instead, he found a new one—something that was completely out of this world.
In this inspiring memoir, you will get to learn about Leland's remarkable life story, from being drafted by the Detroit Lions to bravely orbiting our planet in the International Space Station to writing songs with will.i.am, working with Serena Williams, and starring in top-rated television shows like The Dog Whisperer, Top Chef and Child Genius.
by Katherine Applegate
Trees can't tell jokes, but they can certainly tell stories. . .
Red is an oak tree who is many rings old. Red is the neighborhood "wishtree"―people write their wishes on pieces of cloth and tie them to Red's branches. Along with a crow named Bongo and other animals who seek refuge in Red's hollows, this wishtree watches over the neighborhood. You might say Red has seen it all. . .
As Brave As You
by Jason Reynolds
Genie’s summer is full of surprises. The first is that he and his big brother, Ernie, are leaving Brooklyn for the very first time to spend the summer with their grandparents all the way in Virginia—in the country! The second surprise comes when Genie figures out that their grandfather is blind. Genie thinks Grandpop must be the bravest guy he’s ever known, but he starts to notice that his grandfather never leaves the house—as in never.
Over the course of the summer, Genie begins to realize that bravery means something different to everyone, and that being brave doesn't mean you can't be afraid.
• As Brave As You Spelling List
• Discussion group in Goodreads
• Video message from national finalist and Bookshelfer, Paul Hamrick
• Pinterest board with ideas for a summer fun-themed book club meeting
The Incredible Magic of Being
by Kathryn Erskine
Julian lives large, and his eternal optimism allows him to see infinite possibilities wherever he looks. But despite his optimism, he is anxious about his stressed family falling apart. If he can make his family focus on the magic in the universe, surely they'll appreciate life again.
An avid student of science, Julian understands that there is much about the universe that we don't yet know. Who is to say what's possible and what's not? See life as Julian does—through his beloved telescope—and open yourself up to the magic that is all around us.
Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus
by Dusti Bowling
Aven Green loves to tell people that she lost her arms in an alligator wrestling match, or a wildfire in Tanzania, but the truth is she was born without them. And when her parents take a job running Stagecoach Pass, a rundown western theme park in Arizona, Aven moves with them across the country knowing that she’ll have to answer the question over and over again.
Her new life takes an unexpected turn when she bonds with Connor, a classmate who also feels isolated because of his own disability, and they discover a room at Stagecoach Pass that holds bigger secrets than Aven ever could have imagined.
• Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus Spelling List
• Discussion group in Goodreads
• Video message from the author, Dusti Bowling
• Pinterest board with ideas for a Western-themed book club meeting
The Language of Spells
by Garret Weyr
Grisha is a dragon in a world that's forgotten how to see him. Maggie is an unusual child who thinks she's perfectly ordinary. They're an unlikely duo—but magic, like friendship, is funny. And magic has chosen Grisha and Maggie to solve the darkest mystery in Vienna. Decades ago, when World War II broke out, someone decided that there were too many dragons for all of them to be free.
As they investigate, Grisha and Maggie ask the questions everyone's forgotten: Where have the missing dragons gone? And is there a way to save them?
School Ship Tobermory
by Alexander McCall Smith
Ben and Fee MacTavish are twins who’ve been home schooled on a submarine. Now they’re heading to the School Ship Tobermory. This is no ordinary school—it’s a sailing ship where kids from around the world train to be sailors and learn about all things nautical.
When a film crew arrives on a nearby ship, the Albatross, Ben is one of the lucky kids chosen as a movie extra. But after a day’s filming, his suspicions are aroused. Are the director and crew really shooting a film? Or are they protecting a secret on the lower decks of the Albatross?
by Heidi Schulz
Jocelyn’s father is the infamous Captain Hook, and she wants nothing more than to follow in his footsteps to become one of the most feared pirates in the world. Unfortunately for Jocelyn, she lives with her grandfather, who has other ideas about how young ladies should behave. Jocelyn is sent to Miss Eliza Crumb-Biddlecomb’s Finishing School for Young Ladies, where everything is frilly and pink and altogether terrible.
Jocelyn is looking for an adventure, any adventure, to sweep her away from school, so when a mysterious letter from her father arrives in the beak of a talking crow, she doesn’t hesitate to set off to Neverland on a quest. Jocelyn encounters cannibals, ticking crocodiles, untrained pirates, pesky fairies, and a certain lost boy who always shows up uninvited.
Fortunately, The Milk
by Neil Gaiman
Have you ever wished that a story could just have it all? Vampires, aliens, dinosaurs, pirates, and a jungle tribe? Fortunately, The Milk by Neil Gaiman includes all those and more. What starts as an ordinary tale about a father going out to buy some milk for his children’s cereal quickly dissolves into a wild adventure through time and space. We promise that as things grow odder and odder with every page turn, you’ll want to see this book through to the end in one sitting. Grab yourself a glass of milk (and maybe some cookies) and find a cozy spot—adventure awaits!
• Fortunately, The Milk spelling list
• Fortunately, The Milk word activity
• Discussion group on Goodreads
• Video message from the Bee team
• Pinterest board with ideas for an intergalactic book club meeting
By Patricia Forde
Which words mean the most to you? Letta is the only apprentice to the Wordsmith in a post-apocalyptic society called Ark, the last safe place on Earth. To ensure the survival of the human race, the rulers of Ark have limited the English language to a list of 500 words. It is Letta and the Wordsmith’s job to ensure the safekeeping of The List and to distribute words to Ark’s citizens. One day, the Wordsmith mysteriously disappears and the leaders of Ark ask Letta to shorten List to fewer and fewer words. Letta is suddenly faced with an impossible choice: sit idly by and watch language disappear altogether, or trust in a group of dangerous strangers who may be able to help her find freedom.
The List is an action-packed story that explores questions such as why do words matter, and would you risk everything for something you believe in?
• The List word game and rules
• Discussion group on Goodreads
• Video message from the author, Patricia Forde
• Video message from the Bee team
• My List Words video
• Pinterest board with ideas for a word-themed book club meeting
The Secret Keepers
by Trenton Lee Stewart
Can you keep a secret? Reuben's life isn't picture-perfect, but he's happy living with his mom and exploring the streets of New Umbra every day, honing his spy skills and observing the habits of his neighbors. One day, Reuben stumbles upon an antique watch and a secret bigger than he ever could have imagined. Now he is on a dangerous adventure—full of curious characters, treacherous traps, and hairsbreadth escapes—as he races to solve the mystery before it is too late.
Join Reuben and his companions, Penny, Jack, and Mrs. Genevieve, as they attempt to outwit a sly villain called The Smoke and save their city from a terrible fate.
• The Secret Keepers spelling list
• The Secret Keepers word activity
• Discussion group on Goodreads
• Video message from national finalist and Bookshelfer Cal Alexander, Jr.
• Pinterest board with ideas for a spy-themed book club meeting
The Magician's Elephant
By Kate DiCamillo
Believe the unbelievable. Peter is an orphan who desperately clings to the hope that his sister might still be alive, and that he might be able to find her. He dares to ask a fortuneteller the impossible, and she tells him to follow the elephant. Thus unfolds an adventure through the city of Baltese, connecting characters from all backgrounds and histories on an epic quest to uncover the secrets of their hearts and to find where it is they each belong.