Bella’s Recipe for Success is about a girl who can’t seem to figure out what she’s good at. Her brother plays piano excellently and her sister is a brilliant gymnast, but Bella can’t do either of those things well. She decides, though, that she’s going to bake, but it turns out baking isn’t that easy and her first recipe is a bust. But just before she gives up, her abuela steps in to teach her and Bella learns that learning new things — and becoming good at them — takes time and effort.
Jubilee and her Nan are always moving, on the search for their perfect place, and this time Jubilee has her heart set on Hope Springs, Texas. The small town is where her crafting heroine Arletta Paisely is from, and Jubilee is sure that if it’s good enough for Arletta, Hope Springs will immediately feel like home for them, too — because she’s honestly tired of moving and saying (or not saying) goodbyes.
Today’s pick is Kate DiCamillo’s Louisiana’s Way Home, a bestselling book about a girl who is forced to leave town — and leave behind her two best friends — with her grandmother. Louisiana also has the voice of an angel and it quickly becomes apparent that her grandmother can barely care for her. Eventually, she has to make her way home. I recommend 7 books for fans of Louisiana’s Way Home.
Fourth-grader Trixy’s gran died in a car accident (Trixy was in the back seat and survived) and since then things at home have not been the same. Her parents don’t want to talk about Gran and her mom isn’t eating well and is exercising a bit too much. Trixy’s only solace is her gran’s stories. However, only Trixy seems to believe Gran’s stories about her childhood and she promised Gran that she would keep some of the stories to herself. But when Trixy NEEDS to write stories to pass fourth grade, the only stories she can think to write are Gran’s.
Magic Pointdexter is her family’s “ugly duckling.” Her father is an ex-NBA player, her sister a famous cheerleader, and her late grandmother was also a ceiling-shattering cheerleader. Magic is awkward, chubbier than your typical cheerleader, and loves sweets more than anything else. But she’s decided: she’s going to cheer camp to try her hand out at becoming a Honeybee. Her best friend and child star Capricorn is coming with her (mostly for moral support — Cappie is an athletic, talented dancer). But once they arrive at camp and get sorted into teams by ability, Magic and Cappie’s friendship starts to show cracks.
Rule of Threes is Marcy Campbell’s debut middle grade novel. Maggie and her two BFFs share a love for design and decorating. They’ve entered a school contest to redecorate a section of the school. Maggie’s life at home is also fairly stable — until one visit changes everything. All of a sudden, there’s a new stepbrother named Tony who is moving in with Maggie and her parents. On top of that, one of her best friends is withdrawing because Maggie refuses to call her by her preferred name, Rakell (not Rachel as she’s previously gone by).
The Shape of Thunder follows two former best friends Quinn and Cora whose lives have been altered by a tragic event. Quinn’s brother Parker killed Cora’s sister in a school shooting. Understandably, this created a rift between both girls, even though they still deeply care for each other and have been friends since kindergarten. As they approach the first anniversary of the shooting, Quinn thinks she’s found a way to undo what happened and reaches out to Cora to work with her.
Kitty Wentworth is grappling with the grief of losing her mother to lung cancer (even though she never smoked). Her older sister Imogen seems to be coping better and her dad just seems a bit lost. Thankfully, they have their grandmother and a baking enthusiast neighbor Ms. Allison to keep their moods up and care for them. Ms. Allison is also gearing up to start filming The Great British Bake-Off as a contestant. But Kitty’s world shifts when her father gets a work opportunity in New York and wants her and Imogen to move.
Nai Nai is making her favorite dumplings for Lili. Lili walks readers through each step, until the final one when Nai Nai realizes that she’s run out of cabbage! She sends Lili up to the 6th floor to see if the Polish grandma (Babcia) has any cabbage. This is where the story gets even more interesting.
It turns out that Babcia does have cabbage, but she’s also missing an ingredient for the pierogies she’s making. Lili’s one errand becomes several as she shuttles between a Jamaican grandma (Granma), a Pakistani grandma (Teta), an Italian grandma (Nonna), and a Latina grandma (Abuela) — all in Nai Nai’s building picking up and dropping off ingredients. Will Nai Nai finally make her dumplings?
Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry is Joya Goffney’s debut YA novel. It follows list-making high-schooler Quinn whose journal full of *very* private lists and confession is stolen. The thief then blackmails her into completing the items on one of her lists, one of which is telling her parents that she did not actually get into Columbia, the university she already told them she was accepted into. Quinn is convinced that her blackmailer is Carter Bennett, the last person to have had her journal. But when a page of her journal is posted on Instagram, Quinn is desperate enough to join forces with Carter to find the blackmailer.
All You Knead Is Love follows 12-year-old Alba whose mother forces her to move from NYC to Barcelona, Spain where her grandmother lives. Alba is gender non-conforming, which means that she doesn’t like the typical “girly” dresses or frilly tops her parents often want her to wear. She’s happiest in her jeans and t-shirts. Alba’s father is physically abusive, especially towards her mother, and generally treats Alba with disregard.
Bindu’s Bindis are her favorite accessories — and she has a lot of them! Her Nani (grandmother) sends her a new pack every week and Bindu loves changing them to match her mood, outfits, or the occasion. Bindu loves her culture and the heritage the bindis represent, but most of all, they make her feel connected to her Nani. But when Nani comes to visit and the family is confronted with xenophobic protests outside the airport, Bindu wants to hide her bindis and the parts of her culture that make her feel “other.”