Award Books

2020-2021 Gateway Readers Nominees

The Gateway Readers Award is for authors of books chosen by high school students in Missouri. The purpose of this award is to promote literature, literacy and reading in Missouri students in grades nine through twelve. Each year, students vote for their favorite book from a list of nominated titles. (http://www.gatewayaward.com/)

 

The Book Of Essie
Book Author: 
Meghan MacLean Weir

A debut novel of family, fame, and religion that tells the emotionally stirring, wildly captivating story of the seventeen-year-old daughter of an evangelical preacher, star of the family's hit reality show, and the secret pregnancy that threatens to blow their entire world apart.  (Goodreads)

 

Dread Nation
Book Author: 
Justina Ireland

Jane McKeene was born two days before the dead began to walk the battlefields of Gettysburg and Chancellorsville—derailing the War Between the States and changing America forever. In this new nation, safety for all depends on the work of a few, and laws like the Native and Negro Reeducation Act require certain children attend combat schools to learn to put down the dead. But there are also opportunities—and Jane is studying to become an Attendant, trained in both weaponry and etiquette to protect the well-to-do. It’s a chance for a better life for Negro girls like Jane. After all, not even being the daughter of a wealthy white Southern woman could save her from society’s expectations.  (Goodreads)

 

Little White Lies
Book Author: 
Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Eighteen-year-old auto mechanic Sawyer Taft did not expect her estranged grandmother to show up at her apartment door and offer her a six-figure contract to participate in debutante season. And she definitely never imagined she would accept. But when she realizes that immersing herself in her grandmother's "society" might mean discovering the answer to the biggest mystery of her life-her father's identity-she signs on the dotted line and braces herself for a year of makeovers, big dresses, bigger egos, and a whole lot of bless your heart. The one thing she doesn't expect to find is friendship, but as she's drawn into a group of debutantes with scandalous, dangerous secrets of their own, Sawyer quickly discovers that her family isn't the only mainstay of high society with skeletons in their closet. There are people in her grandmother's glittering world who are not what they appear, and no one wants Sawyer poking her nose into the past. As she navigates the twisted relationships between her new friends and their powerful parents, Sawyer's search for the truth about her own origins is just the beginning. (Goodreads)

 

Hey, Kiddo
Book Author: 
Jarrett Krosoczka

In kindergarten, Jarrett Krosoczka's teacher asks him to draw his family, with a mommy and a daddy. But Jarrett's family is much more complicated than that. His mom is an addict, in and out of rehab, and in and out of Jarrett's life. His father is a mystery -- Jarrett doesn't know where to find him, or even what his name is. Jarrett lives with his grandparents -- two very loud, very loving, very opinionated people who had thought they were through with raising children until Jarrett came along. (Goodreads)

 

The Poet X
Book Author: 
Elizabeth Acevedo

A young girl in Harlem discovers slam poetry as a way to understand her mother’s religion and her own relationship to the world. Debut novel of renowned slam poet Elizabeth Acevedo. 

 

Xiomara Batista feels unheard and unable to hide in her Harlem neighborhood. Ever since her body grew into curves, she has learned to let her fists and her fierceness do the talking.  (Goodreads)

 

After The Shot Drops
Book Author: 
Randy Ribay

Bunny and Nasir have been best friends forever, but when Bunny accepts an athletic scholarship across town, Nasir feels betrayed. While Bunny tries to fit in with his new, privileged peers, Nasir spends more time with his cousin, Wallace, who is being evicted. Nasir can't help but wonder why the neighborhood is falling over itself to help Bunny when Wallace is in trouble.

 

When Wallace makes a bet against Bunny, Nasir is faced with an impossible decision—maybe a dangerous one.

Told from alternating perspectives, After the Shot Drops is a heart-pounding story about the responsibilities of great talent and the importance of compassion.  (Goodreads)

 

Neanderthal Opens The Door To The Universe
Book Author: 
Preston Norton

Cliff Hubbard is a huge loser. Literally. His nickname at Happy Valley High School is Neanderthal because he's so enormous — 6'6" and 250 pounds to be exact. He has no one at school and life in his trailer park home has gone from bad to worse ever since his older brother's suicide.

 

There's no one Cliff hates more than the nauseatingly cool quarterback, Aaron Zimmerman. Then Aaron returns to school after a near-death experience with a bizarre claim: while he was unconscious he saw God, who gave him a list of things to do to make Happy Valley High suck less. And God said there's only one person who can help: Neanderthal.

 

To his own surprise, Cliff says he's in. As he and Aaron make their way through the List, which involves a vindictive English teacher, a mysterious computer hacker, a decidedly unchristian cult of Jesus Teens, the local drug dealers, and the meanest bully at HVHS — Cliff feels like he's part of something for the first time since losing his brother. But fixing a broken school isn't as simple as it seems, and just when Cliff thinks they've completed the List, he realizes their mission hits closer to home than he ever imagined. (Goodreads)

 

Monday's Not Coming
Book Author: 
Tiffany Jackson

Monday Charles is missing, and only Claudia seems to notice. Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable—more sisters than friends. So when Monday doesn’t turn up for the first day of school, Claudia’s worried. When she doesn’t show for the second day, or second week, Claudia knows that something is wrong. Monday wouldn’t just leave her to endure tests and bullies alone. Not after last year’s rumors and not with her grades on the line. Now Claudia needs her best—and only—friend more than ever. But Monday’s mother refuses to give Claudia a straight answer, and Monday’s sister April is even less help.

 

As Claudia digs deeper into her friend’s disappearance, she discovers that no one seems to remember the last time they saw Monday. How can a teenage girl just vanish without anyone noticing that she’s gone?  (Goodreads)

 

The Cruel Prince
Book Author: 
Holly Black

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

 

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

 

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.  (Goodreads)

 

Dry
Book Author: 
Neal Shusterman and Jarrod Shusterman

When the California drought escalates to catastrophic proportions, one teen is forced to make life and death decisions for her family in this harrowing story of survival,

 

The drought—or the Tap-Out, as everyone calls it—has been going on for a while now. Everyone’s lives have become an endless list of don’ts: don’t water the lawn, don’t fill up your pool, don’t take long showers.

 

Until the taps run dry.

 

Suddenly, Alyssa’s quiet suburban street spirals into a warzone of desperation; neighbors and families turned against each other on the hunt for water. And when her parents don’t return and her life—and the life of her brother—is threatened, Alyssa has to make impossible choices if she’s going to survive.  (Goodreads)

 

A Heart in a Body in the World
Book Author: 
Deb Caletti

When everything has been taken from you, what else is there to do but run?

 

So that’s what Annabelle does—she runs from Seattle to Washington, DC, through mountain passes and suburban landscapes, from long lonely roads to college towns. She’s not ready to think about the why yet, just the how—muscles burning, heart pumping, feet pounding the earth. But no matter how hard she tries, she can’t outrun the tragedy from the past year, or the person—The Taker—that haunts her.

 

Followed by Grandpa Ed in his RV and backed by her brother and two friends (her self-appointed publicity team), Annabelle becomes a reluctant activist as people connect her journey to the trauma from her past. Her cross-country run gains media attention and she is cheered on as she crosses state borders, and is even thrown a block party and given gifts. The support would be nice, if Annabelle could escape the guilt and the shame from what happened back home. They say it isn’t her fault, but she can’t feel the truth of that.

 

Through welcome and unwelcome distractions, she just keeps running, to the destination that awaits her. There, she’ll finally face what lies behind her—the miles and love and loss…and what is to come.  (Goodreads)

 

Someone I Used to Know
Book Author: 
Patty Blount

It’s been two years since the night that changed Ashley’s life. Two years since she was raped by her brother’s teammate. And a year since she sat in a court and watched as he was given a slap-on-the-wrist sentence. But the years have done nothing to stop the pain or lessen the crippling panic attacks that make her feel like she’s living a half-life.

 

It’s been two years of hell for Derek. His family is totally messed up and he and his sister are barely speaking. He knows she partially blames him for what happened, and totally blames him for how he handled the aftermath. Now at college, he has to come to terms with what happened, and the rape culture that he was inadvertently a part of that destroyed his sister’s life.

 

When it all comes to a head at Thanksgiving, Derek and Ashley have to decide if their relationship is able to be saved. And if their family can ever be whole again.  (Goodreads)

 

Camp Valor
Book Author: 
Scott McEwen and Hof Williams

When Wyatt gets framed for a friend’s crime, he thinks his life is over. But then a mysterious stranger visits him in jail with an unusual proposal: spend three months in a secret government camp and have a ten-year prison sentence wiped clean.

 

Wyatt agrees, and finds himself in a world beyond his wildest dreams, with teenagers like him flying drones, defusing bombs, and jumping out of helicopters. This is no ordinary camp. Camp Valor is a secret training ground for teenage government agents, filled with juvenile offenders—badasses who don’t play by the rules—who desperately need a second chance. If they can prove themselves over their three month stay and survive Hell Week, they will enter the ranks of the most esteemed soldiers in the United States military.

 

But some enemies of the United States have gotten wind of Camp Valor, and they will do everything in their power to find out its secrets. Suddenly Wyatt and his friends have to put their training into practice, and find the bravery to protect their country.  (Goodreads)

 

The Unfortunates
Book Author: 
Kim Liggett

When seventeen-year-old senator's son Grant Tavish is involved in a fatal accident, all he wants to do is face the consequences of what he's done, but the consequences never come, even if headlines of "affluenza" do. The truth soon becomes clear: Due to his father's connections, not only will Grant not be held accountable for his actions, he's going to get away with murder.

 

When a long Tavish tradition approaches, a cave excursion on the Appalachian trail, Grant seizes the opportunity to take justice into his own hands by staging an accident and never coming back. But before he has a chance to enact his plans, the cave system collapses, trapping him miles beneath the surface with four other teens from much less fortunate circumstances. As they struggle to survive, they share their innermost secrets and fears, and just when it seems they might be on track to finding a way out, they realize there's something else down there.

 

And it's hunting them.  (Goodreads)

 

Flight Season
Book Author: 
Marie Marquart

Back when they were still strangers, TJ Carvalho witnessed the only moment in Vivi Flannigan’s life when she lost control entirely. Now, TJ can’t seem to erase that moment from his mind, no matter how hard he tries. Vivi doesn’t remember any of it, but she’s determined to leave it far behind. And she will.

 

But when Vivi returns home from her first year away at college, her big plans and TJ’s ambition to become a nurse land them both on the heart ward of a university hospital, facing them with a long and painful summer together – three months of glorified babysitting for Ángel, the problem patient on the hall. Sure, Ángel may be suffering from a life-threatening heart infection, but that doesn’t make him any less of a pain.

 

As it turns out, though, Ángel Solís has a thing or two to teach them about all those big plans, and the incredible moments when love gets in their way.  (Goodreads)

 

2020-2021 Show Me Readers Award Nominees

The purpose of the Show Me Readers Award is to promote literature, literacy, and reading in Missouri elementary schools for grades one through three and to promote recognition of authors and illustrators of books that are favorites of Missouri children in these grades. (https://maslonline.org/show-me-award/)

A Place For Pluto
Book Author: 
Stef Wade
Book Illustrator: 
Melanie Demmer

Pluto got the shock of his life when he was kicked out of the famous nine. His planet status was stripped away, leaving him lost and confused. Poor Pluto! On his quest to find a place where he belongs, he talks to comets, asteroids, and meteoroids. He doesn't fit it anywhere! But when Pluto is about to give up, he runs into a dwarf planet and finally finds his place in the solar system. This feel-good picture book combines a popular science topic with character education themes of self discovery, acceptance, and friendship. It has bonus material in the back matter to support curriculum. (Goodreads)

We Don't Eat Our Classmates
Book Author: 
Ryan T. Higgins
Book Illustrator: 
Ryan T. Higgins

Penelope the dinosaur starts school, but it’s hard to make friends when her classmates are so delicious!

It’s the first day of school for Penelope Rex, and she can’t wait to meet her classmates. But it’s hard to make human friends when they’re so darn delicious! That is, until Penelope gets a taste of her own medicine and finds she may not be at the top of the food chain after all... Readers will gobble up this hilarious new story from award-winning author-illustrator Ryan T. Higgins. (Goodreads)

DOLL-E 1.0
Book Author: 
Shanda McCloskey
Book Illustrator: 
Shanda McCloskey

A STEM-friendly tale of a girl and the doll she upgrades to be her new friend, for fans of The Most Magnificent Thing and Rosie Revere, Engineer.

Charlotte's world is fully charged! With her dog at her side, she's always tinkering, coding, clicking, and downloading. She's got a knack for anything technological--especially gadgets that her parents don't know how to fix! Then, she receives a new toy that is quite a puzzle: a doll! What's she supposed to do with that? Once she discovers the doll's hidden battery pack, things start to get interesting...while her faithful canine sidekick wonders if he'll be overshadowed by the new and improved Doll-E 1.0! With a little ingenuity and an open mind, everyone can be friends in this endearing, modern tribute to the creative spirit of play. (Goodreads)

Friends Stick Together
Book Author: 
Hannah E. Harrison
Book Illustrator: 
Hannah E. Harrison

A touching and timeless story about finding friendship in unlikely places from the award-winning creator of Extraordinary Jane

Rupert is a rhinoceros of refined sensibilities. Levi, the new tickbird in class, is not. He burps the alphabet, tells corny jokes, and does really embarrassing air guitar solos. Worse, he lands right on Rupert and is determined to be Rupert's symbiotic best pal! Rupert wants him gone. But when Levi finally does bug off, Rupert finds the peace and quiet a little boring. It turns out, Rupert could really use a friend like Levi.

This sweet and moving friendship story shares an important message of acceptance for every reader--whether they're a Rupert or a Levi. (Goodreads)

Max Explains Everything: Grocery Store Expert
Book Author: 
Stacy McAnulty
Book Illustrator: 
Deborah Hooking

Max's hilarious guide to the grocery store turns an everyday errand into an adventure.

Max knows everything about trips to the grocery store because his parents make him go All. The. Time. Even when they run out of little things . . . like toilet paper. So he's pretty much an expert. Whether it's choosing the right breakfast cereal or surviving the obstacle course that is the produce section, Max is here to help. Having trouble talking mom into finally getting that puppy she promised? Picking up a bag of dog food might just be the push she needs! And always remember to keep your eyes on the prize--the checkout lane is your last chance to grab the real essentials. Candy! Full of humor and "helpful" tips, Max Explains Everything: Grocery Store Expert is the first in a delightful new picture book series starring kid-expert Max! (Goodreads)

Natsumi!
Book Author: 
Susan Lendroth
Book Illustrator: 
Priscilla Burris

Natsumi is small but full of big exuberance, and puts her girl-power to good use when she discovers a Japanese tradition as energetic as she is.

When Natsumi's family practices for their town's Japanese arts festival, Natsumi tries everything. But her stirring is way too vigorous for the tea ceremony, her dancing is just too imaginative, and flower arranging doesn't go any better. Can she find just the right way to put her exuberance to good use?

This heartwarming tale about being true to yourself is perfect for readers who march to their own beat. (Goodreads)

The Epic Adventures of Huggie & Stick
Book Author: 
Drew Daywalt
Book Illustrator: 
David Spencer

When super cheerful Stick and grumpy stuffed bunny Huggie get thrown from a backpack, the adventure is on! Together this odd couple survives encounters with sea-faring pirates, raging rhinos in Africa, sword-wielding royalty in Europe, stick-eating panda bears in Asia, sharks in Australia, hungry penguins in Antarctica, and piranhas in South America--all before finally making it home to North America. A fantastically funny read-aloud about two unlikely friends and their epic journey around the world. (Goodreads)

Giraffe Problems
Book Author: 
Jory John
Book Illustrator: 
Lane Smith

Penguins aren't the only animals with problems. . . . A second hilarious collaboration from picture-book superstars Lane Smith and Jory John!

Can you guess what's making this giraffe self-conscious? Could it be . . . HIS ENORMOUS NECK Yes, it's exactly that--how on earth did you figure it out?

Edward the giraffe can't understand why his neck is as long and bendy and, well, ridiculous as it is. No other animal has a neck this absurd. He's tried disguising it, dressing it up, strategically hiding it behind bushes--honestly, anything you can think of, he's tried. Just when Edward has exhausted his neck-hiding options and is about to throw in the towel, a turtle swoops in (well, ambles in, very slowly) and helps him understand that his neck has a purpose, and looks excellent in a bow tie. (Goodreads)

Love, Z
Book Author: 
Jessie Sima
Book Illustrator: 
Jessie Sima

When a small robot named Z discovers a message in a bottle signed “Love, Beatrice,” they decide to find out what “love” means. Unable to get an answer from the other robots, they leave to embark on an adventure that will lead them to Beatrice—and back home again, where love was hiding all along. (Goodreads)

The Remember Balloons
Book Author: 
Jessie Oliveros
Book Illustrator: 
Dana Wulfekotte

James’s Grandpa has the best balloons because he has the best memories. He has balloons showing Dad when he was young and Grandma when they were married. Grandpa has balloons about camping and Aunt Nelle’s poor cow. Grandpa also has a silver balloon filled with the memory of a fishing trip he and James took together.

But when Grandpa’s balloons begin to float away, James is heartbroken. No matter how hard he runs, James can’t catch them. One day, Grandpa lets go of the silver balloon—and he doesn’t even notice!

Grandpa no longer has balloons of his own. But James has many more than before. It’s up to him to share those balloons, one by one. (Goodreads)

2020-2021 Truman Readers Nominees

The Truman Readers Award encourages students in the early teen years to express their unique voice through exploring new literary genres, communicating with their peers about young adult literature, and honoring authors writing for young teens. Books should interest early teens in grades six through eight. (https://masl.site-ym.com/default.aspx?page=truman_award)

Skyward
Book Author: 
Brandon Sanderson

Defeated, crushed, and driven almost to extinction, the remnants of the human race are trapped on a planet that is constantly attacked by mysterious alien starfighters. Spensa, a teenage girl living among them, longs to be a pilot. When she discovers the wreckage of an ancient ship, she realizes this dream might be possible—assuming she can repair the ship, navigate flight school, and (perhaps most importantly) persuade the strange machine to help her. Because this ship, uniquely, appears to have a soul. (Goodreads)

Deep Water
Book Author: 
Watt Key

A middle grade survival story about a scuba dive gone wrong and two enemies who must unite to survive.

It's the most important rule of scuba diving: If you don't feel right, don't go down.

So after her father falls ill, twelve-year-old Julie Sims must take over and lead two of his clients on a dive miles off the coast of Alabama while her father stays behind in the boat. When the clients, a reckless boy Julie's age and his equally foolhardy father, disregard Julie's instructions during the dive, she quickly realizes she's in over her head.

And once she surfaces, things only get worse: One of the clients is in serious condition, and their dive boat has vanished--along with Julie's father, the only person who knows their whereabouts. It's only a matter of time before they die of hypothermia, unless they become shark bait first. Though Julie may not like her clients, it's up to her to save them all. (Goodreads)

Mascot
Book Author: 
Antony John

Noah Savino has been stuck in a wheelchair for months. He hates the way people treat him like he’s helpless now. He’s sick of going to physical therapy, where he isn’t making any progress. He’s tired of not having control over his own body. And he misses playing baseball—but not as much as he misses his dad, who died in the car accident that paralyzed Noah.

Noah is scared he’ll never feel like his old self again. He doesn’t want people to think of him as different for the rest of his life. With the help of family and friends, he’ll have to throw off the mask he’s been hiding behind and face the fears that have kept him on the sidelines if he ever wants to move forward. (Goodsreads)

Nightbooks
Book Author: 
J.A. White

A boy is imprisoned by a witch and must tell her a new scary story each night to stay alive. This thrilling contemporary fantasy from J. A. White, the acclaimed author of the Thickety series, brings to life the magic and craft of storytelling.

Alex’s original hair-raising tales are the only thing keeping the witch Natacha happy, but soon he’ll run out of pages to read from and be trapped forever. He’s loved scary stories his whole life, and he knows most don’t have a happily ever after. Now that Alex is trapped in a true terrifying tale, he’s desperate for a different ending—and a way out of this twisted place.

This modern spin on the Scheherazade story is perfect for fans of Coraline and A Tale Dark and Grimm. With interwoven tips on writing with suspense, adding in plot twists, hooks, interior logic, and dealing with writer’s block, this is the ideal book for budding writers and all readers of delightfully just-dark-enough tales. (Goodreads)

Ghost Boys
Book Author: 
Jewell Parker Rhodes

Twelve-year-old Jerome is shot by a police officer who mistakes his toy gun for a real threat. As a ghost, he observes the devastation that’s been unleashed on his family and community in the wake of what they see as an unjust and brutal killing.

Soon Jerome meets another ghost: Emmett Till, a boy from a very different time but similar circumstances. Emmett helps Jerome process what has happened, on a journey towards recognizing how historical racism may have led to the events that ended his life. Jerome also meets Sarah, the daughter of the police officer, who grapples with her father’s actions.

Once again Jewell Parker Rhodes deftly weaves historical and socio-political layers into a gripping and poignant story about how children and families face the complexities of today’s world, and how one boy grows to understand American blackness in the aftermath of his own death. (Goodreads)

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl
Book Author: 
Stacy McAnulty

Lucy Callahan was struck by lightning. She doesn't remember it, but it changed her life forever. The zap gave her genius-level math skills, and ever since, Lucy has been homeschooled. Now, at 12 years old, she's technically ready for college. She just has to pass 1 more test — middle school!

Lucy's grandma insists: Go to middle school for 1 year. Make 1 friend. Join 1 activity. And read 1 book (that's not a math textbook!). Lucy's not sure what a girl who does calculus homework for fun can possibly learn in 7th grade. She has everything she needs at home, where nobody can make fun of her rigid routines or her superpowered brain. The equation of Lucy's life has already been solved. Unless there's been a miscalculation?

A celebration of friendship, Stacy McAnulty's smart and thoughtful middle-grade debut reminds us all to get out of our comfort zones and embrace what makes us different. (Goodreads)

Fire & Heist
Book Author: 
Sarah Beth Durst

In Sky Hawkins's family, leading your first heist is a major milestone--even more so than learning to talk, walk, or do long division. It's a chance to gain power and acceptance within your family, and within society. But stealing your first treasure can be complicated, especially when you're a wyvern--a human capable of turning into a dragon.

Embarking on a life of crime is never easy, and Sky discovers secrets about her mother, who recently went missing, the real reason her boyfriend broke up with her, and a valuable jewel that could restore her family's wealth and rank in their community.

With a handpicked crew by her side, Sky knows she has everything she needs to complete her first heist, and get her boyfriend and mother back in the process. But then she uncovers a dark truth about were-dragon society--a truth more valuable and dangerous than gold or jewels could ever be. (Goodreads)

Not If I Save You First
Book Author: 
Alley Carter

Bestselling author Ally Carter returns with an exciting stand-alone novel, about a girl stranded in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness with the boy who wronged her . . . as an assassin moves in.

Maddie and Logan were torn apart by a kidnapping attempt when they were young. They were only kids -- Logan's dad was POTUS and Maddie's father was the Secret Service agent meant to guard him. The kidnappers were stopped -- but Maddie was whisked off to Alaska with her father, for satety. Maddie and Logan had been inseparable . . . but then she never heard from him again.

Now it's a few years later. Maggie's a teenager, used to living a solitary life with her father. It's quiet -- until Logan is sent to join them. After all this time without word, Maddie has nothing to say to him -- until their outpost is attacked, and Logan is taken. They won't be out of the woods until they're . . . out of the woods, and Maddie's managed to thwart the foes and reconcile with Logan. (Goodreads)

City of Ghosts
Book Author: 
Victoria Schwab

Cassidy Blake's parents are The Inspecters, a (somewhat inept) ghost-hunting team. But Cass herself can REALLY see ghosts. In fact, her best friend, Jacob, just happens to be one.

When The Inspecters head to ultra-haunted Edinburgh, Scotland, for their new TV show, Cass—and Jacob—come along. In Scotland, Cass is surrounded by ghosts, not all of them friendly. Then she meets Lara, a girl who can also see the dead. But Lara tells Cassidy that as an In-betweener, their job is to send ghosts permanently beyond the Veil. Cass isn't sure about her new mission, but she does know the sinister Red Raven haunting the city doesn't belong in her world. Cassidy's powers will draw her into an epic fight that stretches through the worlds of the living and the dead, in order to save herself. (Goodreads)

Impostors
Book Author: 
Scott Westerfeld

Frey and Rafi are inseparable . . . but very few people have ever seen them together. This is because Frey is Rafi’s double, raised in the shadows of their rich father’s fortress. While Rafi has been taught to charm, Frey has been taught to kill. Frey only exists to protect her sister. There is no other part of her life. Frey has never been out in the world on her own – until her father sends her in Rafi’s place to act as collateral for a dangerous deal. Everyone thinks she’s her sister – but Col, the son of a rival leader, is starting to get close enough to tell the difference. As the stakes grow higher and higher, Frey must decide whether she can trust him – or anyone in her life. (Goodreads)

Lifeboat 12
Book Author: 
Susan Hood

This novel in verse based on true events tells the story of a boy’s harrowing experience on a lifeboat after surviving a torpedo attack during World War II.

With Nazis bombing London every night, it’s time for thirteen-year-old Ken to escape. He suspects his stepmother is glad to see him go, but his dad says he’s one of the lucky ones—one of ninety boys and girls to ship out aboard the SS City of Benares to safety in Canada.

Life aboard the luxury ship is grand—nine-course meals, new friends, and a life far from the bombs, rations, and his stepmum’s glare. And after five days at sea, the ship’s officers announce that they’re out of danger.

They’re wrong. Late that night, an explosion hurls Ken from his bunk. They’ve been hit. Torpedoed! The Benares is sinking fast. Terrified, Ken scrambles aboard Lifeboat 12 with five other boys. Will they get away? Will they survive?

Based on true events and real people, Lifeboat 12 is about believing in one another, knowing that only by banding together will we have any chance to survive. (Goodreads)

The Benefits of Being an Octopus
Book Author: 
Ann Braden

Some people can do their homework. Some people get to have crushes on boys. Some people have other things they’ve got to do.

Seventh-grader Zoey has her hands full as she takes care of her much younger siblings after school every day while her mom works her shift at the pizza parlor. Not that her mom seems to appreciate it. At least there’s Lenny, her mom’s boyfriend—they all get to live in his nice, clean trailer.

At school, Zoey tries to stay under the radar. Her only friend Fuchsia has her own issues, and since they're in an entirely different world than the rich kids, it’s best if no one notices them.

Zoey thinks how much easier everything would be if she were an octopus: eight arms to do eight things at once. Incredible camouflage ability and steady, unblinking vision. Powerful protective defenses.

Unfortunately, she’s not totally invisible, and one of her teachers forces her to join the debate club. Even though Zoey resists participating, debate ultimately leads her to see things in a new way: her mom’s relationship with Lenny, Fuchsia’s situation, and her own place in this town of people who think they’re better than her. Can Zoey find the courage to speak up, even if it means risking the most stable home she’s ever had?

This moving debut novel explores the cultural divides around class and the gun debate through the eyes of one girl, living on the edges of society, trying to find her way forward. (Goodreads)

2020-2021 Mark Twain Readers Nominees

The Mark Twain Readers Award is a children’s book award which is selected annually by Missouri students in grades four through six. The purpose of this award is to provide children of Missouri with a recommended reading list of literature that will enrich their lives. (https://maslonline.org/mark-twain-award)

 

Front Desk
Book Author: 
Kelly Yang

Mia Tang has a lot of secrets.

 

Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, ten-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests.

 

Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they've been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed.

 

Number 3: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language?

 

It will take all of Mia's courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, escape Mr. Yao, and go for her dreams?  (Goodreads)

 

Blended
Book Author: 
Sharon M. Draper

"You’re so exotic!” “You look so unusual.” “But what are you really?”

 

Eleven-year-old Isabella is used to these kinds of comments - her father is black, her mother is white - but that doesn't mean she likes them. And now that her parents are divorced (and getting along WORSE than ever), Isabella feels more like a push-me-pull-me toy.

 

One week she’s Isabella with her dad, his girlfriend Anastasia, and her son Darren living in a fancy house where they are one of the only black families in the neighborhood. The next week she’s Izzy with her mom and her boyfriend John-Mark in a small, not-so-fancy house that she loves.

 

Being split between Mom and Dad is more than switching houses, switching nicknames, switching backpacks: it’s also about switching identities. If you’re only seen as half of this and half of that, how can you ever feel whole?   (Goodreads)

 

The Unforgettable Guinevere St. Clair
Book Author: 
Amy Makechnie

A ten-year-old girl is determined to find her missing neighbor, but the answers lead her to places and people she never expected—and maybe even one she’s been running away from—in this gorgeous debut novel that’s perfect for fans of The Thing About Jellyfish.

 

Guinevere St. Clair is going to be a lawyer. She was the fastest girl in New York City. She knows everything there is to know about the brain. And now that she’s living in Crow, Iowa, she wants to ride into her first day of school on a cow named Willowdale Princess Deon Dawn.

 

But Gwyn isn’t in Crow, Iowa, just for royal cows. Her family has moved there, where her parents grew up, in the hopes of jogging her mother Vienna’s memory. Vienna has been suffering from memory loss since Gwyn was four. She can no longer remember anything past the age of thirteen, not even that she has two young daughters. Gwyn’s father is obsessed with finding out everything he can to help his wife, but Gwyn’s focused on problems that seem a little more within her reach. Like proving that the very strange Gaysie Cutter who lives next door is behind the disappearance of her only friend, Wilbur Truesdale.

 

Gwyn is sure she can crack the case, but when she does she finds that not all of her investigations lead her to the places she would have expected. In fact they might just lead her to learn about the mother she’s been doing her best to forget.  (Goodreads)

 

The Night Diary
Book Author: 
Veera Hiranandani

It's 1947, and India, newly independent of British rule, has been separated into two countries: Pakistan and India. The divide has created much tension between Hindus and Muslims, and hundreds of thousands are killed crossing borders.

 

Half-Muslim, half-Hindu twelve-year-old Nisha doesn't know where she belongs, or what her country is anymore. When Papa decides it's too dangerous to stay in what is now Pakistan, Nisha and her family become refugees and embark first by train but later on foot to reach her new home. The journey is long, difficult, and dangerous, and after losing her mother as a baby, Nisha can't imagine losing her homeland, too. But even if her country has been ripped apart, Nisha still believes in the possibility of putting herself back together.  (Goodreads)

 

Captain Superlative!
Book Author: 
J. S. Puller

"Have no fear, citizens! Captain Superlative is here to make all troubles disappear!"

 

Red mask, blue wig, silver swimsuit, rubber gloves, torn tights, high top sneakers and . . . a cape? Who would run through the halls of Deerwood Park Middle School dressed like this? And why?

 

Janey-quick to stay in the shadows-can't resist the urge to uncover the truth behind the mask. The answer pulls invisible Janey into the spotlight and leads her to an unexpected friendship with a superhero like no other. Fearless even in the face of school bully extraordinaire, Dagmar Hagen, no good deed is too small for the incomparable Captain Superlative and her new sidekick, Janey.

 

But superheroes hold secrets and Captain Superlative is no exception. When Janey unearths what's truly at stake, she's forced to face her own dark secrets and discover what it truly means to be a hero . . . and a friend.  (Goodreads)

 

24 Hours in Nowhere
Book Author: 
Dusti Bowling

When you come from Nowhere, can you ever really make it anywhere? Author Dusti Bowling (Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus) returns to the desert to create a gripping story about friendship, hope, and finding the power we all have within ourselves.​
 
Welcome to Nowhere, Arizona, the least livable town in the United States. For Gus, a bright 13-year-old with dreams of getting out and going to college, life there is made even worse by Bo Taylor, Nowhere’s biggest, baddest bully. When Bo tries to force Gus to eat a dangerously spiny cactus, Rossi Scott, one of the best racers in Nowhere, comes to his rescue—but in return she has to give Bo her prized dirt bike. Determined to buy it back, Gus agrees to go searching for gold in Dead Frenchman Mine, joined by his old friends Jessie Navarro and Matthew Dufort, and Rossi herself. As they hunt for treasure, narrowly surviving everything from cave-ins to mountain lions, they bond over shared stories of how hard life in Nowhere is—and they realize this adventure just may be their way out.  (Goodreads)

Amal Unbound
Book Author: 
Aisha Saeed

The compelling story of a girl’s fight to regain her life and dreams after being forced into indentured servitude.

Life is quiet and ordinary in Amal’s Pakistani village, but she had no complaints, and besides, she’s busy pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher one day. Her dreams are temporarily dashed when–as the eldest daughter–she must stay home from school to take care of her siblings. Amal is upset, but she doesn’t lose hope and finds ways to continue learning. Then the unimaginable happens–after an accidental run-in with the son of her village’s corrupt landlord, Amal must work as his family’s servant to pay off her own family’s debt.

Life at the opulent Khan estate is full of heartbreak and struggle for Amal–especially when she inadvertently makes an enemy of a girl named Nabila. Most troubling, though, is Amal’s growing awareness of the Khans’ nefarious dealings. When it becomes clear just how far they will go to protect their interests, Amal realizes she will have to find a way to work with others if they are ever to exact change in a cruel status quo, and if Amal is ever to achieve her dreams. (Goodreads)

Squint
Book Author: 
Chad Morris and Shelly Brown

My name is Flint, but everyone in middle school calls me Squint because I’m losing my vision. I used to play football, but not anymore. I haven’t had a friend in a long time. Thankfully, real friends can see the real you, even when you can’t clearly see.

Flint loves to draw. In fact, he’s furiously trying to finish his comic book so he can be the youngest winner of the “Find a Comic Star” contest. He’s also rushing to finish because he has keratoconus—an eye disease that could eventually make him blind.

McKell is the new girl at school and immediately hangs with the popular kids. Except McKell’s not a fan of the way her friends treat this boy named Squint. He seems nice and really talented. He draws awesome pictures of superheroes. McKell wants to get to know him, but is it worth the risk? What if her friends catch her hanging with the kid who squints all the time?

McKell has a hidden talent of her own but doesn’t share it for fear of being judged. Her terminally ill brother, Danny, challenges McKell to share her love of poetry and songwriting. Flint seems like someone she could trust. Someone who would never laugh at her. Someone who is as good and brave as the superhero in Flint’s comic book named Squint.

Squint is the inspiring story of two new friends dealing with their own challenges, who learn to trust each other, believe in themselves, and begin to truly see what matters most. (Goodreads)

The Ambrose Deception
Book Author: 
Emily Ecton

Melissa is a nobody. Wilf is a slacker. Bondi is a show-off. At least that's what their middle school teachers think. To everyone's surprise, they are the three students chosen to compete for a ten thousand-dollar scholarship, solving clues that lead them to various locations around Chicago. At first the three contestants work independently, but it doesn't take long before each begins to wonder whether the competition is a sham. It's only by secretly joining forces and using their unique talents that the trio is able to uncover the truth behind the Ambrose Deception--a truth that involves a lot more than just a scholarship.

With a narrative style as varied and intriguing as the mystery itself, this adventure involving clever clues, plenty of perks, and abhorrent adults is pure wish fulfillment. (Goodreads)

The Doughnut Fix
Book Author: 
Jesse Janowitz

Tristan isn't Gifted or Talented like his sister Jeanine, and he's always been okay with that because he can make a perfect chocolate chip cookie and he lives in the greatest city in the world. But his life takes a turn for the worse when his parents decide to move to middle-of-nowhere Petersville―a town with one street and no restaurants. It's like suddenly they're supposed to be this other family, one that can survive without bagels and movie theaters.

His suspicions about his new town are confirmed when he's tricked into believing the local general store has life-changing chocolate cream doughnuts, when in fact the owner hasn't made them in years. And so begins the only thing that could make life in Petersville worth living: getting the recipe, making the doughnuts, and bringing them back to the town through his very own doughnut stand. But Tristan will soon discover that when starting a business, it helps to be both Gifted and Talented, and it's possible he's bitten off more than he can chew...  (Goodreads)

The Science of Breakable Things
Book Author: 
Tae Keller

How do you grow a miracle?
For the record, this is not the question Mr. Neely is looking for when he says everyone in class must answer an important question using the scientific method. But Natalie's botanist mother is suffering from depression, so this is The Question that's important to Natalie. When Mr. Neely suggests that she enter an egg drop competition, Natalie has hope.

Eggs are breakable. Hope is not.
Natalie has a secret plan for the prize money. She's going to fly her mother to see the Cobalt Blue Orchids--flowers that survive against impossible odds. The magical flowers are sure to inspire her mother to love life again. Because when parents are breakable, it's up to kids to save them, right? (Goodreads)

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle
Book Author: 
Amy Makechnie

Mason Buttle is the biggest, sweatiest kid in his grade, and everyone knows he can barely read or write. Mason’s learning disabilities are compounded by grief. Fifteen months ago, Mason’s best friend, Benny Kilmartin, turned up dead in the Buttle family’s orchard. An investigation drags on, and Mason, honest as the day is long, can’t understand why Lieutenant Baird won’t believe the story Mason has told about that day.

Both Mason and his new friend, tiny Calvin Chumsky, are relentlessly bullied by the other boys in their neighborhood, so they create an underground club space for themselves. When Calvin goes missing, Mason finds himself in trouble again. He’s desperate to figure out what happened to Calvin, and eventually, Benny.

But will anyone believe him? (Goodreads)

2020 Missouri Building Block Award Nominees

The Missouri Building Block Picture Book Award, sponsored and selected by the Youth Services Community of Interest (YSCI), is presented annually to the author and illustrator of the picture book voted most popular by preschool children in Missouri’s public libraries and is designed to encourage reading aloud to children from birth through kindergarten age.Tthe award was first given in 1996. Parents and other caregivers are encouraged to read aloud to children from a list of ten titles selected annually by a group of Missouri children’s librarians.

Children may begin voting between September and January each year at the library. Let your child's voice be heard by reading all ten titles and then by voting for your child's favorite.

Dandy
Book Author: 
Ame Dyckman
Book Illustrator: 
Charles Santoso

From popular author Ame Dyckman and rising star Charles Santoso comes the laugh-out-loud story of a father desperate to destroy the dandelion marring his perfectly manicured lawn, and his daughter's fierce attempts to save it.

When Daddy spots a solitary weed in his lawn, he's appalled (along with all of his neighborhood friends). But his daughter Sweetie has fallen in love with the beautiful flower, even going so far as to name it Charlotte. Racing against time and the mockery of his friends, Daddy has to find a way to get rid of the errant dandelion without breaking his little girl's heart. (Goodreads)

Duck!
Book Author: 
Meg McKinlay
Book Illustrator: 
Nathaniel Eckstrom

A delightfully duckish tale of farmyard disaster.

It’s a quiet day on the farm until Duck arrives. When he starts calling out “DUCK!”, the other animals think he’s just being rude. “You can’t just run around yelling out your name!” they grumble.

But what if that’s not what Duck means at all? Perhaps ignoring him could have unexpected consequences …

This hilarious picture book begs reading aloud and active participation. (Goodreads)

Everybody Says Meow
Book Author: 
Constance Lombardo
Book Illustrator: 
Constance Lombardo

Everybody Says Meow! Or do they? Fans of Sandra Boynton and of Jules Feiffer’s classic Bark, George will meow, bark, and ribbit when they hear this hilarious picture book about a waggish group of adorable animals that just cannot follow one simple instruction.

“Welcome to that magical time when everybody says, ‘Meow!’ Ready?”

Well, not quite. There’s also a “Woof.” And a “Ribbit.”

A few words and a minimal background can make for plenty of mischief—especially when your characters are adorable, delightfully silly, and probably NOT LISTENING!

Fun, cumulative, and playful, Everybody Says Meow is perfect for preschoolers and toddlers just learning how to read. (Goodreads)

Fear the Bunny
Book Author: 
Richard T. Morris
Book Illustrator: 
Priscilla Burris

Bunnies, bunnies, burning bright
In the forests of the night—

Wait, bunnies?! Yes, bunnies.

Tigers may be the most feared animal in some forests, but in this one, they fear the bunny. One hapless tiger finds this idea preposterous—what are they going to do? Nibble on his tail? Bop him on the head? Cute him to death? Fear the bunny—HA! Make no mistake, though: Richard Morris’ reimagining of William Blake’s famous poem turns the tables, and teaches one testy tiger a little rabbit-respect! (Goodreads)

I Can Only Draw Worms
Book Author: 
Will Mabbitt
Book Illustrator: 
Will Mabbitt

This book is about worms. I can only draw worms.

You might think worms are boring - but you'd be wrong. These worms have INCREDIBLE adventures!

I can't draw those bits, though, so you'll have to imagine them. (Goodreads)

Octopants
Book Author: 
Suzy Senior
Book Illustrator: 
Claire Powell

Embarrassed to discover that he has no pants to wear, a young octopus visits several oceanic stores and is unable to find what he needs before swimming into the Under-Sea Emporium, where he searches for something that is just right for him. (Goodreads)

Piranhas Don't Eat Bananas
Book Author: 
Aaron Blabey
Book Illustrator: 
Aaron Blabey

‘Hey there guys. Would you like a banana?’
‘What’s wrong with you, Brian? You’re a piranha.’

Brian loves bananas. Trouble is, Brian’s a piranha. And his friends aren’t happy about his fondness for fruit... (Goodreads)

Pokko and the Drum
Book Author: 
Matthew Forsythe
Book Illustrator: 
Matthew Forsythe

The biggest mistake Pokko’s parents ever made was giving her the drum. When Pokko takes the drum deep into the forest it is so quiet, so very quiet that Pokko decides to play. And before she knows it she is joined by a band of animals —first the raccoon, then the rabbit, then the wolf—and soon the entire forest is following her. Will Pokko hear her father’s voice when he calls her home? Pokko and the Drum is a story about art, persistence, and a family of frogs living in a mushroom. (Goodreads)

Shake the Tree!
Book Author: 
Chiara Vignocchi and Paolo Chiarinotti
Book Illustrator: 
Silvia Borando

There's a whole lot of shaking going on -- and a funny final twist -- as a series of hungry animals seek shelter in an obliging tree.

Mouse spots a nut high up in a tree. "Mmm," she says. "I'm going to gobble that up!" So she shakes the tree a little to the right, and she shakes the tree a little to the left. But it isn't the nut that falls from the tree, it's Fox, who thinks that Mouse looks pretty tasty! Soon a warthog and then a bear come along with similar ideas. Little readers will enjoy the just-made-it escapes (and be happy to get in on the shaking action), only to laugh out loud when their expectations are foiled at the end. (Goodreads)

What Does an Anteater Eat?
Book Author: 
Ross Collins

Anteater is hungry, but he has completely forgotten what anteaters eat. Baffled and with his tummy rumbling, he consults the other animals. But Sloth is too busy, Toucan is clueless, and Crocodile has his own mouth full. Maybe the ants will know - and maybe the answer isn't quite as obvious as you may think! A delightfully silly tale that little ones will return to again and again. (Goodreads)