February 25, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

On the Radar: Top Picks from the Editors at Junior Library Guild: New Books for Back- to-School

Book cover: girl's legs on a limb with 3 chickensLabor Day marks the official close of summer and for most people, the start of the new school year. It’s time to put away bathing suits and flip-flops and put on school uniforms. It’s time for packed lunches, catching up with old friends, and making new ones. It’s also an opportunity for kids to keep their eyes open to the possibilities of new friendships. A new friend could be a girl who needs some extra attention, only she’s so quiet no one notices her. Or it could be a girl who gets plenty of attention—one with a heart is so big, she acts first and thinks later.

The start of a new school year is the perfect moment for taking chances—trying out for cheerleading, going against the crowd, or learning how to get along with your new teachers. This fall’s releases are all that and more. Read these school stories and keep them close to your newly sharpened bouquet of pencils.

AIRGOOD, Ellen. Prairie Evers. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Bks. 2012. ISBN 9780399256912. JLG Level: A: Intermediate Readers (Grades 3-5)

Prairie Evers has been homeschooled by her Grammy her whole life. After a move to New York, a new farm to run, and a class to teach, Prairie finds herself going to public school for the very first time. She just knows it will just be awful saying, “I’ve read enough to know. The teachers’ll be mean and the kids’ll be worse and I won’t have any friends and they’ll all make fun of me.” What Prairie doesn’t know is that between the chickens and another new girl named Ivy, school won’t quite be what she anticipates. Prairie and Ivy (and Grammy, for that matter) will enter your heart and fill it up. For upper middle grades, this may be just what you need for a lesson-leading read aloud. After all, “crying don’t change the oil.”

Readers may also like The Trouble with May Amelia by Jennifer L. Holm or Kindred Souls by Patricia MacLachlan.

illustrated book cover of several middle schoolersBAKER, Kim. Pickle: The (Formerly) Anonymous Prank Club of Fountain Point Middle School. illus. by Tim Probert. Roaring Brook Pr. 2012. ISBN 9781596437654. JLG Level: CE: City Elementary (Grades 2-6)

It seemed like a once in a lifetime opportunity— take the ball-pit balls and sneak them into the sixth grade classroom. The result was that an unlikely group of students form The League of Pickle Makers as a cover for a secret prank club at Fountain Point Middle School. What follows are the hilarious attempts to keep a very strict principal from discovering their true identity while trying to take credit for the practical jokes. The club makes lots of fouls, but no real harm is done. Kids will love the pranks and adults will be glad that remorse and consequences still occur in fiction for middleschoolers.

Kids may also enjoy How Lamar’s Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy by Crystal Allen or Crush by Gary Paulsen.

Book cover of apple with teacher's appleHOLM, Jennifer L. Eighth Grade is Making Me Sick. illus. by Elicia Castaldi.Random. 2012. ISBN 9780375968518. JLG Level: GM: Graphic Novels Middle (Grades 5-8)

Ginny Davis is full of hopes and dreams when school begins. Her Big To-Do List includes trying out for cheerleading, teaching her grandpa how to email, and having a cool Halloween costume for once. Told in notes, poems, lists, and comics, readers will experience surprises along the way: a brother who steals a credit card, a mother who has a premature baby, and a step-dad who gets laid off at Christmas. To top it all off, Ginny begins to lose weight and eating makes her sick. Nothing is quite what she planned, but the teen survives the trials with a little bit of hope and lots of laughs along the way. The illustrations and text will glue kids to the pages for much longer than a cursory glance.

Readers may also like Freshman: Tales of 9th Grade Obsessions, Revelations, and Other Nonsense by Corrine Mucha and Zebrafish by Peter H. Reynolds.

Illus. cover of African American girl holding a chickenMCKAY, Hilary. Lulu and the Duck in the Park. illus. by Priscilla Lamont. Albert Whitman. 2012. ISBN 9780807548080. JLG Level: I+: Independent Readers (Grades 2-4)

Lulu loves animals. In fact, she is known for loving animals. Her teacher, Mrs. Holiday, is quite the opposite. When Lulu offers to bring a companion for the class guinea pig, Mrs. Holiday threatens to trade him for the Class Two stick bug if she brings one more animal into class. Problems arise when Lulu rescues a duck egg and sneaks it into school. This independent reader has plenty of laughter for both girls and boys.

Young readers may also like Magical Monty by Johanna Hurwitz and EllRay Jakes is a Rock Star by Sally Warner.

Book cover: Girl standing in a meadow in front of a pondWOODSON, Jacqueline. Each Kindness. illus. by E. B. Lewis. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Bks. 2012. ISBN 9780399246524. JLG Level: E: Easy Reading (Grades 1-3)

“‘This is what kindness does’, Ms. Albert said. ‘Each little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world.’” What the children don’t know is that sometimes you miss your chance at kindness. The students in Chloe’s class learn a hard lesson the year that Maya comes to their school. Every day Maya tries to fit in—to share in a game or to do things friends do. Every day Chloe and her classmates whisper behind her back, refuse to play with her and make fun of how she dresses. The day of the lesson in kindness, Maya is absent. Can her classmates make it up to her? Share this book with every grade level you teach. Each little thing we do goes out—the good and the bad. It’s a lesson we all can learn.

Readers may also like Clever Jack Takes the Cake by Candace Fleming and You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You: Very Short Fables to Read Together by Mary Ann Hoberman.

Junior Library Guild is a collection development service that helps school and public libraries acquire the best new children’s and young adult books. Season after season, year after year, Junior Library Guild book selections go on to win awards, collect starred or favorable reviews, and earn industry honors. Visit us at www.JuniorLibraryGuild.com.











Extra Helping header

This article was featured in our free Extra Helping enewsletter.
Subscribe today to have more articles like this delivered to you twice a week.

Deborah B. Ford About Deborah B. Ford

Deborah is the Director of Library Outreach for Junior Library Guild. She is an award-winning teacher librarian with almost 30 years of experience as a classroom teacher and librarian in K–12 schools.

Diversity and Cultural Competency Training: Collections & RA

Do you want to ensure that your library’s collections are diverse, equitable, inclusive, and well-read?

Do you want to become a more culturally literate librarian and a more effective advocate for your community?

We've developed a foundational online course—with live sessions on February 28 & March 14—that will explore key concepts essential to cultivating and promoting inclusive and equitable collections.