Dorothy Canfield Fisher Award

Unfriended

When thirteen-year-old Truly is invited to sit at the Popular Table by a former best friend, she willingly goes, leaving behind her good friend Hazel. She is surprised at how nice the popular kids are, and how mean Hazel has become. Before she knows what’s happening, Truly finds herself caught in a web of lies and misunderstandings, made all the worse by the relentlessly public social media world. Told from the point-of-view of six eighth-grade boys and girls, the story unfolds with complexity and no easy answers, revealing the insecurities that each person feels, regardless of popularity status.
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The One Safe Place

Devin lives on a farm with his grandfather.
When his grandfather dies, Devin travels to the mysterious city to look for help. He finds a run-down world of extreme poverty and extreme wealth. The rich people control the water in this hot, dry world. Devin befriends a girl named Kit who shows him how to survive on the streets.
There is rumored to be an orphanage at the edge of the city where children can be safe. Kit and Devin go in search of comfort but find a nightmare. Rich people pay to “borrow” their bodies and memories to relive their childhoods. And children like Kit, with unhappy childhoods, disappear mysteriously. How can they get out?
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The Meaning of Maggie

Maggie Mayfield is turning eleven and looks forward to becoming President of the United States. When her Dad loses feeling in his legs and becomes confined to a wheelchair, he quits his job, turning Maggie’s mother into the family breadwinner. In the months that follow, as the family dynamics change, Maggie becomes more and more aware of her father’s condition and its prognosis, first through comments from her teenage sisters and later through her own science project. Though she is often overwhelmed– both by being left out of family discussions and by her growing knowledge that her father will never be cured– she faces everything with determination, humor, and hope.
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Seven Stories Up

Twelve-year-old Annie is thrilled to finally have the chance to meet her estranged grandmother. When Annie and her mother arrive at her grandmother’s estate, however, Annie is devastated to learn that her grandmother is a bitter and mean old woman. When Annie wakes up the next
morning in her grandmother’s house, she is surprised to discover that she is not alone; there is another girl in the room with her. She soon realizes that she has traveled back in time to 1937, and that the strange girl is Molly, her grandmother at twelve years of age. Due to illness, Molly has been kept up in her bedroom for much of her life and has been deprived of many life experiences. But with a little push from Annie, Molly is exposed to a whole new world. The girls set off on several adventures throughout the city of Baltimore, developing a friendship that has a profound effect on both of their futures.
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The Port Chicago 50

On July 17, 1944, in the midst of World War II, there was a major explosion at Port Chicago in California. Over 300 servicemen were killed and countless more were injured. It was in this port that hundreds of black servicemen were ordered, day after day, to load ammunition onto ships despite the fact that they were never trained how to properly handle such dangerous cargo. The men handling this cargo knew it was only a matter of time before an accident occurred. This deadly accident triggered a series of events that no one anticipated. On August 9, 1944, the servicemen of Port Chicago were ordered to resume loading ammunition. Joe Small, one of the black servicemen, simply would not continue to load ammunition. He was scared of what might happen and he believed the black servicemen were being singled out for this dangerous job. Others followed Joe’s lead and would not load ammunition. This group was charged with mutiny and faced a death sentence if found guilty. The Port Chicago 50 provides a riveting account of the events leading up to and following the explosion and sheds light on this little known tragedy and the trial that ensued. He reveals the layers of racism and prejudice facing black Americans in the armed forces and in daily life in the United States. This is a compelling read about a little known, but very significant event in United States history.
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No Summit Out of Sight

On May 22, 2010, at the age of thirteen, American teenager Jordan Romero became the youngest person to climb to the summit of Mount Everest. At fifteen, he became the youngest person to reach the summits of the tallest mountains on each of the seven continents. In this energizing memoir for young adults, Jordan, now seventeen, recounts his experience, which started as a spark of an idea at the age of nine and, many years of training and hard work later, turned into a dream come true. (Simon & Schuster)
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No Summit Out of Sight

On May 22, 2010, at the age of thirteen, American teenager Jordan Romero became the youngest person to climb to the summit of Mount Everest. At fifteen, he became the youngest person to reach the summits of the tallest mountains on each of the seven continents. In this energizing memoir for young adults, Jordan, now seventeen, recounts his experience, which started as a spark of an idea at the age of nine and, many years of training and hard work later, turned into a dream come true. (Simon & Schuster)
51 Comments »

Nuts to You

Several members of the squirrel community witnessed that evil hawk snatch Jed up into his talons, but only TsTs saw him fall. While the rest of the squirrels mourn his loss, Chai and TsTs set off along the buzzpaths to save their friend. They venture into unknown territories, facing predators and allies along the way. They meet new squirrel communities and show us their incredible sense of ingenuity and ability to problem-solve. What is that ear-splitting rumbling, grinding, winding and cracking they hear that is slowly taking the forest apart, piece by piece? This novel will make us think differently about the little gray, brown and red rascals we see in our yards every day.
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The Boundless

Twelve year old Will Everett longs for excitement. Easier said than done for this shy and retiring boy who’s an artist, not an adventurer. He’s nothing like his strong father, who works on the first transcontinental Canadian railroad. After the ceremony to commemorate the maiden voyage of the magical train the Boundless, Will is thrust into adventure when he is caught in a deadly avalanche and later witnesses a murder. Will’s courage will be tested against gun-wielding villains, the Canadian wilderness, and a Sasquatch while he rides on the Boundless, all 18 miles of it. Will joins forces with Maren, a strong-willed tightrope walker who is traveling with the circus, and together they risk their lives to save the Boundless from disaster. Come aboard the most magnificent train ever built and be prepared to be thrilled!
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The Turtle of Oman

Aref lives in the small, Middle Eastern country of Oman with his parents, but the family will be moving to Michigan for three years so his parents can complete their doctoral studies. Aref doesn’t want to leave his beloved home, friends and most of all his grandfather, Siddi.

The Turtle of Oman takes place during the week before Aref must leave. Aref avoids packing and is more of a nuisance to his mother, so she sends him off to spend time with Siddi. The pair embark on series of seemingly magical adventures. They wander through the local market, watch sea turtles on the beach, travel through the desert to spend the night at a special camp where they meet and interact with a falconer. The story closes with Aref finally finishing his packing and coming to terms with his departure. With its soft tone and slow pace, this novel celebrates a child’s connection with his home and the little things that make a place a home.

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Greenglass House

Twelve-year-old Milo is ready to spend a cozy holiday season snuggled up with his mother and father. Much to his dismay, his family inn begins receiving an unexpected number of guests,each more secretive than the next. Why are they all arriving at the Greenglass House? And what secrets are they hiding? Even the impending blizzard doesn’t slow the rush of incredible characters to the inn’s doorstep. With the help of his newfound friend Meddy, Milo concocts a plan to unravel the visitors’ shadowy pasts and their connection to the Greenglass House.

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Rain Reign

Fifth grader Rose Howard is obsessed with homophones, rules and prime numbers. She lives alone with her father, who spends most of his time working at the local garage or hanging out at The Luck of the Irish bar. One rainy night he comes home with a dog for Rose. He never brings Rose anything, so she is thrilled. She names the dog Rain (Rein, Reign– a special homonym trio!) and he becomes Rose’s companion and best friend. When a really bad hurricane hits their small town, Rain goes missing. Now, Rose must find her dog, even if it means leaving her routines and safe places. During her search for Rain, one that lasts for weeks, Rose discovers an uncomfortable truth– Rain’s original owners are also looking for him.
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Running Out of Night

Girl lives with her brothers and her bad-tempered Pa, on the small farm that was her grandfather’s in Virginia in 1858. Since the death of her grandfather, the only person that showed her tenderness, Girl has become housekeeper and servant to the remaining menfolk–tending the garden, cooking, cleaning, and staying clear of their casual abuse as best she can. Still, Girl hasn’t given in. She is sustained by memories of her grandpa and all he taught her about wild and garden plants, stars, and animals, plus daily conversations with the mother she only knows from her grandpa’s stories. When a runaway slave girl named Zenobia shows up seeking refuge, Girl (later named Lark by Zenobia) decides to flee from her own horrible home life with Zenobia. Their dangerous escape brings them up against copperhead snakes, evil slave catchers and Lark’s own Pa and brothers who are chasing her down. Lark and Zenobia are joined by another runaway slave named Brightwell as they make their way to a Quaker safe house, where Lark believes Zenobia and her friends will be helped to freedom.
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The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher

It’s a new school year for the four Fletcher boys and each of them is excited for very different reasons. The ever-energetic six-year-old Frog is off to kindergarten with his imaginary friend Flare (a cheetah). Eli is trying a new school “for exceptional academically focused students who are seeking a superlative intellectual experience”,  leaving the other ten-year-old in the family, Jax, to move on to Upper El on his own. All Jax cares about is living up to the image of his older brother Sam, who is at the absolute top of the food chain. Sam is stressed about sixth grade, as grades are now starting to really matter. His main interest is soccer and making the elite team, but soon a new interest will become a part of his life, something he feels the need to hide from everyone.
While the four adopted boys do not look alike, this heart-warming story about love and individuality reminds us all what it means to be part of a caring family, with all the bumps and blips that families go through.
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The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher

Becky Thatcher is a whippersnapper who has plenty of time to get up to scads of mischief. Her daddy, Judge Sawyer, is a busy and important man and her mama is stBECKYill mourning the loss of their son, Becky’s older brother Jon. This leaves Becky with little supervision and ample opportunity to put her wild imagination into action. Her adventures lead her into some potentially dangerous territory as she decides to investigate the Pritchard Brothers herself, two outlaws suspected of train robbery, bank robbery and possible murder. Becky also manages to convince her new friend Amy Lawrence to join her in accepting a bet from Joe Harper and Sid Sawyer– a bet to steal from the Widow Douglas during Saturday’s full moon. Becky’s fearlessness and knack for telling whoppers makes for great stories as we join her for these daring escapades.
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The Art of Secrets

When Saba Khan’s apartment burns in a mysterious fire everyone formulates an opinion. Is it a hate crime? Did her family concoct the fire themselves? Saba’s father even worries that her younger, pyromaniac brother is to blame. But things take an unexpected turn for the better when Kendra and Kevin Spoon decide to organize a fundraiser for the Khan family; that is, until the Spoons discover an odd piece of art in a back alley and learn that it is worth a mighty sum. Told in multiple narratives, The Art of Secrets explores the greed, jealousy, and suspicion that cloud its characters’ points of view as they vie for a hunk of the newfound artwork’s reward and lose sight of Saba’s struggle.
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Ice Dogs

Fourteen-year-old Vicky Secord’s dad taught her everything she knows about sled dogs and survival in the remote area of Alaska where she lives. But since his death a year ago, she feels lost without his guidance, and distant from her mother. Even worse, she feels she might have been able to save him if she had been with him the day of his accident. One day she heads outwith her dogsled team without telling anyone and the routine outing takes a perilous turn– she comes upon a snow mobile twisted around a tree, and she has to use everything her dad taught he rto save the life of its only occupant, Chris, a “citified” boy who Vicky decides has no right to be out in the woods at all. Vicky and Chris’s relationship evolves when they face hunger, hypothermia, wild animals, and icy waters as a four-hour trek becomes a harrowing six-day battle for survival.
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The Mark of the Dragonfly

Part fantasy, part steampunk, The Mark of the Dragonfly plunges readers into a vivid dystopian world where Piper survives by salvaging artifacts left behind by meteor storms. Piper has a gift for machinery; she refurbishes old items, scraps of metal and gears that others could not imagine reconfiguring into new life. However, she dreams of escaping the harsh lifestyle of Scrap Town#16. When Piper discovers an unconscious girl in the wreckage of a traveler’s caravan, she heroically decides to rescue her and deliver her safely home. But returning Anna to her family proves to be a complicated feat. How will Piper return Anna home if Anna has no memory to guide them? And who is the strange man stalking their every move?
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The Fourteenth Goldfish

Eleven-year-old Ellie is going about her everyday middle school life when her mother is called to pick up her scientist grandfather from the police station. Instead of coming home with her 76-year-old grandfather Melvin, Ellie’s mom returns with a thirteen-year-old boy with the same curmudgeonly attitude as Melvin. We soon learn that Melvin has discovered a way to reverse the aging process and was able to return his body to that of his teenage self. However, his mind and memories of his entire life are still present. He dresses in his favorite polyester pants and tie and still lectures Ellie’s mom about everything from her longtime boyfriend to when to put out the trash. Melvin attends school with Ellie and begins to scheme ways to get back into his lab to resume work on his experiment. As Ellie and Melvin spend more time together, he teaches her about famous scientists like Salk, Galileo, Oppenheimer, Curie, Pasteur, Newton and Einstein. Ellie becomes interested in the sciences, but begins to question whether the work and their contributions to the world are always for the best. Ultimately, she comes to believe that the best of science is the belief and search for what may be possible.
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Hope Is a Ferris Wheel

Ten-year-old Star Mackie is the new kid in town. She lives in a trailer park with her mom and her older sister Winter, and she is having difficulty fitting in with the other kids at school. She is constantly being made fun of for living in a trailer park and for having a blue layered haircut that many of her classmates insist is a mullet. In an effort to make friends, Star decides to form the Emily Dickinson Club, a group dedicated to discussing the poems of Emily Dickinson. The club brings together an unlikely group of kids who, despite their differences, have a lasting effect on one another. As Star works to improve life at school, she must also face some hard truths about her family and deal with difficulties at home. Through it all, Star must cling to her sense of hope.
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Gabriel Finley and the Raven’s Riddle

gabrielGeorge Hagen sets the tone for his exciting middle grade fantasy novel with the dedication, the first of many riddles you will have the pleasure of solving throughout the book. Gabriel loves riddles, as did his father before him and, as it turns out, so do ravens! On his twelfth birthday, with the astounding information from his father’s diary racing through his head and the special key his dad left for him for this very day, Gabriel begins to realize that the time has come for him to search for his father, missing now for three years. After rescuing a baby raven Gabriel begins this new phase of his young life–one in which he can paravolate with the bird and will begin a huge adventure. With a mismatched set of new friends at his side, Gabriel leaves his Brooklyn brownstone for Aviopolis, an underground world where he hopes to find his father and his uncle Corax, who has become more monster than man. “You’ll always see me first in a running race, third in a marathon, fourth in a tear, but never in a dash! Who am I?”
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Absolutely Almost

Fifth-grader Albie has always been an “almost.” In
kindergarten, he was almost ready to use markers. In the first grade, he was almost big enough to walk his dog. In second grade, he almost moved up to the red reading group. And in the third grade, his poem was almost chosen to be put up on the bulletin board for Parents’ Night. For once, Albie wants to be something more. Due to learning difficulties, Albie fails out of his private school and enters public school where he continues to struggle both academically and socially. Misunderstood by his parents who think he simply isn’t trying hard enough, Albie is also bullied at school. His luck begins to change when Calista, his new babysitter,enters his life. Calista is a creative and kindhearted artist who sees the very best in Albie. With the help and support of Calista and a few others, Albie begins to recognize his own strengths and to understand that he is absolutely much more than an “almost.”
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There Will Be Bears

When Tyson’s best friend, Bright, decides he would rather hang out with the cool kids, Tyson knows that he still has his grandfather for companionship. They are planning an elk hunting trip together and Tyson is psyched. When his grandfather is sent to a nursing home and his parents cancel the big hunting trip, it is almost more than Tyson can handle. So in defiance of Mom and Dad’s strict orders, and despite reports of a scary, stalking, man-eating grizzly named Sandy, the two sneak off to the Grand Tetons. Will his grandfather be able to handle the trip? Will Tyson get his elk and be the talk of his middle school? Or will Sandy make a ferocious appearance and destroy everything?
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Under the Egg

Theo Tenpenney can’t stop thinking about the last words her grandfather, Jack, uttered to her before dying: “It’s under the egg…there’s a letter…and a treasure.” Theo can’t get these words out of her head, but she also can’t figure them out. She’s desperate for a hidden treasure. She’s trying to survive on the $463 Jack left in a mason jar. Her mother is present, but preoccupied by her obsessive work on math theorems. Jack was Theo’s caretaker and now she’s left to fend for herself. Theo discovers her first clue when she accidentally spills alcohol on a painting that hung above the mantle. This reveals another, much older, and potentially valuable painting. Where did this painting come from and why did Jack keep it hidden? Is this the treasure Jack referred to? Theo embarks on a quest to discover the origins of this painting. Along the way she learns about her grandfather’s secret past.
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The Badger Knight

In Northern England, 1346, war is being waged badgeragainst neighboring Scotland, and young men are leaving for battle. Adrian is nearly thirteen, but you wouldn’t know it if you looked at him. Asthmatic, small for his age, and albino, most people in his village see him as being sent from the devil–or at the very least useless. Even his father, a bowyer, doesn’t think Adrianis strong enough to be a bowyer’s apprentice. But when the Scots invade England, Adrian sees an opportunity to prove his worth. He follows his best friend Hugh into battle, bow on his back. But war is not as glorious as he thought it would be and chasing down the enemy is not as black and white as he imagines.
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The Madman of Piney Woods

Forty years after Elijah of Buxton, two boys unravel the mystery of Piney Woods. Benji is a black boy who wants to be a reporter and gets an internship at a newspaper. Red is an Irish boy who wants to be a scientist and lives with his angry grandmother. Piney Woods separates the two boys, but they both know the stories of the madman. The boys become friends and together they learn about racism, war, family, and compassion.
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The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place

It’s Victorian England and seven girls at a finishing school are having dinner with their nasty  headmistress and her brother. Suddenly, the adults drop dead and the girls have to decide what to  do. Neither wanting to go home  nor to get into trouble, the girls decide to bury the bodies in the garden. They impersonate their late headmistress while trying to solve the mystery of her death.  Eventually it all falls apart in a darkly hilarious turn of events.

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El Deafo

Cece Bell lost her hearing from a bout of meningitis when she was four years old. In this memoir, told and illustrated as a graphic novel, Cece relates how her family tried to help hercope with this loss. She attempts to learn lip reading until she is outfitted with a Phonic Ear in the first grade. The best thing about wearing the Phonic Ear is that it equips her with secret super powers becausesuddenly, she can hear her teacher not just when she’s in the classroom, but in the teacher’s lounge, the hallway, and even the bathroom. When Cece’s family moves and she has to start a new school, her loneliness and need for friendships are complicated the self-consciousness she feels wearing her clunky Phonic Ear. Will the superpowers it brings help her with what she wants more than anything else, a true friend?
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The Night Gardener

After the disappearance of their parents, fourteen-year-old Molly and her younger brother Kip are left to take care of themselves. They flee from their native Ireland during the Great Potato Famine and arrive in England, where they find themselves penniless and homeless. Desperate to find jobs and a place to live, Molly and Kip seek employment as servants at the Windsor house despite the many warnings that the local townspeople give them. Upon entering the estate, they immediately sense that something isn’t quite right. The house is eerie and dark, a creepy twisted old tree grows alongside the house, and the Windsor family is strange and unnaturally pale. Soon Molly and Kip discover that the estate is haunted by the Night Gardener, a spirit who grants wishes but also feeds off the souls of those who inhabit the house. Together, Molly and Kip must overcome the powers the spirit holds over them and come to accept the truths of their past.
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The Crossover

Twelve-year-old twin brothers Josh and Jordan (JB) Bell are kings on the basketball court. As their winning season unfolds, things begin to change. JB becomes more interested in a girl than in the big game, and their father’s health deteriorates. Josh, who narrates the story, has a hard
time coping with the changes around him. He wants to win it all and is dismayed by the distractions. Written in dynamic verse infused with hip-hop and jazz rhythms, this fast and furious middle grade novel bounces with energy and bursts with heart.
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I Kill the Mockingbird

When Lucy, Elena, and Michael receive their summer reading list, they are excited to see To Kill a Mockingbird included. But not everyone in their class shares the same enthusiasm. So they hatch a plot to get the entire town talking about the well-known Harper Lee classic. They plan controversial ways to get people to read the book, including re-shelving copies of the book in bookstores so that people think they are missing and starting a website committed to “destroying the mockingbird.” Their efforts are successful when all of the hullabaloo starts to direct more people to the book. But soon, their exploits start to spin out of control and they unwittingly start a mini revolution in the name of books. (Macmillan)
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