Jillian is a shy fifth grader put to the test when her teacher suggests she join the Mind Bender quiz competition in her school. Her class is also learning about chick development and incubating a few too! As Jillian works to improve her mindset and use her voice, she also has to deal with the grief of losing her grandmother, her mom’s lupus flares, and helping out a friend dealing with his own family challenges. Will Jillian get it right?
The Aquanaut is Dan Santat’s latest graphic novel. Sophia has been hanging out in Aqualand, the marine theme park her late father and uncle started. Her uncle is doing his best to finish Sophia’s late father’s marine project and Sophia seems to have little or no zest for school work. Imagine her shock when a diving suit controlled by sea creatures appears in Aqualand.
Maddy Gaines is an anxious girl still coping with the grief of her father’s death — and also adjusting to her new stepfather. Home conditions are good: her mother is patient and reassuring, and she and her stepdad go on regular outings together by themselves. One day, Maddy sees on the news that a boy named Billy Holcomb has gone missing. Then several weeks after, she runs into another boy who looks a lot like Billy, except his hair is different and he’s taller than Billy was, and oh — his name is Eric.
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.
Where the Rhythm Takes You is Sarah Dass’s debut YA novel. Seventeen-year-old Reyna is working at her family’s hotel, The Plumeria — as she has since her mother’s death two years before. Everyone around her seems to be moving forward with their lives. Her best friend, Olivia is going to art school in England, her first love Aiden moved away to the US where he has become a Grammy-winning singer/songwriter. Even her father seems ready to move on. But Reyna is stuck, and now Aiden is back on a surprise trip to Tobago — where Reyna lives — to celebrate his birthday.
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.
Georgia’s father was a renowned fine artist in New York before he died from cancer while only in his fifties. It’s been two years since he died, and her mom seems to be absorbed in managing his estate and trying to keep the family afloat financially. Georgia is still deeply grieving and dealing with several complicated feelings about her father, the world’s view of him, and her friendship with her oldest and best friend, Theo, who was also close to her dad.