Benjamin Epstein loves “sweeping,” or applying to sweepstakes. He’s especially excited about the competition to write a new slogan for Royal-T Bathroom Tissue. Winning the contest would provide enough money for Benjamin and his mother to avoid eviction from their small Philadelphia apartment without giving up on the Grand Plan his father designed before dying of lung cancer: Benjamin’s mother will finish her accounting degree, get a good job, and she and Benjamin will have a better life.
If you are—or ever were—a kid who couldn’t wait for school to start in September, get ready to meet Magnolia Jane Mayfield. It’s 1988, and Maggie’s starting sixth grade. She’s thrilled to have a lunch table all to herself, because she can spread out her books better that way.
No one can ever have too many picture books about smart girls who love science—or too many stories about big, loyal dogs. Still, a book with these elements needs other features to stand out, and Maggi and Milo delivers.
Ava Lavender was born with a pair of wings. Her twin brother, Henry, rarely speaks and hates to be touched. In the rainy Seattle spring of 1944, these two siblings become the newest members of a family already known for its mysterious powers: Their grandmother can smell feelings and bake them into bread; their great-aunt once turned herself into a canary to attract the attention of her ornithologist beau; and their murdered great-uncle haunts his family in the hopes of delivering an important message.
Forbidden love among teenagers has been a hot topic since long before Romeo first met Juliet at a party in fair Verona. The latest YA entry in this genre has Kestrel, daughter of a conquering Valorian general, falling for Arin, a native Herrani slave. Romance and politics quickly intersect as the Herrani stage a violent attempt to take back their land, and loyalties are tested when Kestrel, Arin and their various allies must choose between love, power, security and family.
It’s 1917, and 16-year-old Russian noble Natalya feels confident of her future: She’ll become tsarina when she marries Romanov heir Alexei and live a life filled with glittering parties and beautiful gowns. Her plans seem especially secure when Alexei shows her a Fabergé egg that’s been infused with magical healing powers by royal advisor Grigori Rasputin.
Midnight Gulch, Tennessee, used to be a magical town where people caught stars in jars, called up thunderstorms with songs and even turned invisible at will. But ever since a pair of musical brothers dueled and then went their separate ways, a curse has lingered over the townsfolk, leaving them with only a tiny snicker of their previous power.
Maple loves her name. It’s a perfect fit for her friendship with her favorite tree. Maple sings and sways for her tree and watches its leaves dance for her in return. As Maple grows and experiences all four seasons, so does her tree. In the fall, she gives the tree a jacket to ward off the autumn chill, and in the winter she introduces it to a snowman friend . . . even if the friendship doesn’t last beyond the spring thaw.
When we first meet Vasya Kandinsky in The Noisy Paint Box, he is dutifully studying math and history like “a proper Russian boy.” But when his aunt gives him a box of paints, the book’s color scheme shifts from dull blues and grays to bright reds and yellows. As a boy and later as a young man, Vasya can hear colors in a way that will later become known as synesthesia. Unlike his contemporaries, he’s not interested in painting houses or flowers or people; he wants to create works of art that aren’t supposed to be anything.
When your mom is the president of the United States, you’d think your life would be perfect. But, as eighth grader Audrey Rhodes is discovering, living at “1600” (as she calls her new home) isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Having friends over becomes an issue of national security, a Secret Service agent follows her everywhere and class trips are out of the question.