Backlash by Sarah Darer Littman (2015) IL: YA Lexile: 770 When Christian, a boy she knows only through Facebook, posts a lot of nasty comments on her page, fifteen-year-old Lara tries to kill herself--but that is only the beginning of the backlash for her sister, Sydney; her former friend Bree; and her classmates.
The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands (2015) IL: 5-8 RL: 4.6 Lexile: 630 In 1665 London, fourteen-year-old Christopher Rowe, apprentice to an apothecary, and his best friend Tom try to uncover the truth behind a mysterious cult, following a trail of puzzles, codes, pranks, and danger toward an unearthly secret with the power to tear the world apart.
Booked by Kwame Alexander (2016) IL: 5.8 RL: 3.9 Lexile: 660 Twelve-year-old Nick loves soccer and hates books, but soon learns the power of words as he wrestles with problems at home, stands up to a bully, and tries to impress the girl of his dreams.
Frogkisser! by Garth Nix (2017) IL: YA Lexile: 840 Princess Anya has a big problem: Duke Rikard, her step-stepfather is an evil wizard who wants to rule the kingdom and has a habit of changing people into frogs, and her older sister Morven, the heir, is a wimp--so with the help of the librarian Gotfried (who turns into an owl when he is upset), and the Royal Dogs, she must find a way to defeat Rikard, save her sister, and maybe even turn Prince Denholm back into a human being.
Ghost by Jason Reynolds (2016) IL: 5-8 RL: 4.6 Lexile: 7300 Ghost, a naturally talented runner and troublemaker, is recruited for an elite middle school track team. He must stay on track, literally and figuratively, to reach his full potential.
Left Out by Tim Green (2016) IL: 5-8 RL: 6.3 Lexile: 800 All Landon Dorch has ever wanted is to be like everyone else. His deafness and the way he talks have been obstacles all his life. But now he finally sees his chance to fit in. Bigger and taller than any other seventh grader in his new school, Landon plans to use his size to his advantage and join the school's football team. But the same speech problems and the cochlear implants that help him hear continue to haunt him. Just when it looks like Landon will be left out of football for good, an unlikely friend comes along. But in the end only Landon can fight his way off the bench and through a crowded field of bullies bent on seeing him forever left out.
Mayday by Karen Harrington (2016) IL: 3-6 RL: 4.0 Twelve-year-old Wayne Kovok loses his uncle to war and his voice to a plane crash in the same year and must learn to speak up as he navigates relationships with his father, grandfather, and new friend, Denny Rosenblatt.
Ms. Bixby's Last Day by John David Anderson (2016) IL: 3-6 RL: 5.2 Lexile: 800 Idea used with permission from Judy Freeman. If you don't have the opportunity to read the entire book aloud to a class, and this would be a downright shame as it's memorable in the way as R. J. Palacio's Wonder, then for heaven's sake, read aloud the first chapter where the voice of the first narrator, Topher , make an indelible impression. Discussion Points: 1. Ms. Bixby is that one-of-a-kind teacher you remember your entire life. Who was one of yours? 2. For good writer's workshop ideas, start with one of Ms. Bixby's writing prompts that she put on the board on page 44 and 45. Have them come up with interesting topics of their own. 3. How does that Friday adventure change their relationships with each other? With their families? What has each one gained from knowing Ms. Bixby? 4. Has reading this book changed anything about the way you think, feel, or live your life.? There are more discussion questions in the 2016 Winner's Handbook. These ideas and more can be found in The 2018 Winner’s Handbook: A Closer Look Judy Freeman’s Top-Rated Children’s Books of 2018, available only from Bound to Stay Bound, www.btsb.com.
A Night Divided by Jennifer A. Nielsen (2015) IL: 3-6 RL: 4.7 Lexile 810 When the Berlin Wall went up, Gerta, her mother, and her brother Fritz were trapped on the eastern side where they were living, while her father, and her other brother Dominic were in the West--four years later, now twelve, Gerta sees her father on a viewing platform on the western side and realizes he wants her to risk her life trying to tunnel to freedom.
Randoms by David Liss (2015) IL: 5-8 RL: 6.0 Lexile 840 A twelve-year-old boy is chosen to join a four-person applicant team to work towards membership in the Confederation of United Planets, and stumbles across conspiracies resembling science fiction he's been a fan of his entire life.