Due to an early arrival of the flu season at my house, the September lists are a bit late. But better late than not at all!
The biggest season for publishing is the fall. There are so many good books coming out in September that I have decided to make two lists. Here are some of my favorite easy and fiction books that are coming out this month, and I’ll cover nonfiction tomorrow:
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL – PICTURE BOOKS
As an Oak Tree Grows by G. Brian Karas. 9780399252334. Gr K-3.
Follow the life of an oak tree from the time a young boy plants an acorn nearly 200 years ago. Great for science and history, this book shows how despite the changes in the surrounding area (communication, transportation, growth of communities), the tree lives on—until a fierce storm knocks it down. The tree is cut into pieces, leaving only a stump…and a new seedling.
Draw! by Raul Colon. 9781442494923. Gr PK-3.
In this wordless book, a boy stuck in bed lets his imagination run as he draws. Having just read about Africa, he first draws a picture of an elephant, and the adventure takes off from there. An exciting story with lovely artwork ends the next day when the boy shares his drawings with his class.
Fall Leaves by Loretta Holland (illus. by Elly Mackay). 9780544106642. Gr PK-3.
This book is an ode to autumn, my favorite month. In each spread, one page is a delightful piece of art, while the text on the other page includes a descriptive paragraph and two words in large font. At least one of these two words is either “fall” or “leaves.” So you have “Fall arrives” and also “Rain falls”; you will find “Fall leaves” and “Leaves fall” as well as “Leaves twist,” “Flowers leave”, and “Leaves leave.” This book will be useful for both language arts and sciences classes.
Flora and the Penguin by Molly Idle. 9781452128917. Gr PK-2.
Friendships are tricky, especially when friends have different interests. Flora and the penguin are enjoying a skate together when penguin dives below the ice to chase some fish. Annoyed, Flora turns a cold shoulder on penguin when he tries to offer her a snack. The flaps in this wordless book, as in Idle’s Flora and the Flamingo, add to the graceful artwork, telling a sweet story of two friends reconnecting after a tiff.
Telephone by Mac Barnett (illus. by Jen Corace). 9781452110233. Gr K-2.
A message is sent down the telephone line for a boy to come home for dinner, but it grows more confusing and elaborate in this hilarious version of the telephone game.
ELEMENTARY SCHOOL – CHAPTER BOOKS
Hook’s Revenge by Heidi Schulz. 9781423198673. Gr. 4-7.
Jocelyn Hook, daughter of the infamous Captain Hook, has her father’s daring, but her grandfather forces her to attend a finishing school for young ladies. When she receives a letter from her father, she sets off to avenge his death by killing the bloodthirsty crocodile. But commanding a pirate ship is not as glamorous as she imagined.
Leroy Ninker Saddles Up by Kate DiCamillo (illus. by Chris Van Dusem). 9780763663391. Gr 1-3. (Pub date 8/26/2014)
Leroy has a hat, a lasso, and cowboy boots, but he lacks a horse…and then he meets Maybelline. They become great friends until Leroy forgets one of the rules of caring for Maybelline—and she disappears. Can he find her? Maybe some old acquaintances from DiCamillo’s Mercy Watson series can help.
Life on Mars by Jennifer Brown. 9781619632523. Gr 3-6.
Arty loves to gaze at the nighttime sky and hopes one day to find life on other planets. But when his parents move the family to Las Vegas—the “City of Lights”—his dreams are put on hold indefinitely. While his parents look for a house, Arty has to stay with the grouchy neighbor. He soon finds out that this grouch is actually a former astronaut, whose life dream is to prove that there is life on Mars.
Nest by Esther Ehrlich. 9780385386074. Gr 4-6.
Chirp’s mother, a dancer, is sent to a mental hospital for depression after she finds out that she has MS. Chirp is lost in the new family dynamics, until a friendship with a troubled neighbor boy helps her work through her feelings.
Space Case (Moon Base Alpha, Book 1) by Stuart Gibbs. 9781442494862. Gr 4-6.
Dashiell and his family are some of the first humans to live on the moon—exciting, eh? Not really. Kids are confined to the tiny base, and it’s boring! That is, until the head scientist, on the verge of a new discovery, is found dead, and no one but Dash thinks that foul play is involved.
The Witch’s Boy by Kelly Barnhill. 9781616203511. Gr 4-7.
When Ned and his twin fall into a dangerous river and only Ned survives, the villagers think that the wrong boy is living. But when the Bandit King tries to steal the land’s magic, Ned tries to protect his community. “The wrong boy will save your life and you will save his,” are the last words Aine’s mother said to her. Can Aine, daughter of the Bandit King, and Ned prevent war between the two kingdoms?
The Categorical Universe of Candice Phee by Barry Jonsberg. 9781452133515. Gr 5-8.
Candice’s assignment is to write a 26-paragraph essay about her life, with each paragraph starting with a different letter. Since her life cannot be narrowed down that far, she decides to write a book instead with a chapters for each letter.
The Iron Trial (Magisterium, Book 1) by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare. 9780545522250. Gr 5-8.
Lonely and disabled, Callum knows he has an ability for magic, but he believes his father’s warnings about the danger that will come if he tries to use it. So when he is selected to be trained at the Magisterium, he does everything he can to resist learning and tries to fail his lessons. But then he finds out why his father really hates magic and the Magisterium, and that his father is afraid of who Callum might be.
The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza (Joey Pigza, Book 5) by Jack Gantos. 9780374300838. Gr 5-8.
In the fifth and final volume of this series, Joey’s father has run off and his mother checks herself into the hospital for postpartum depression, leaving Joey to care for his baby brother. And since his mother forgot where she put Joey’s ADHD patches, Joey must deal his situation and his family without his medicine.
The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry. 9781596439566. Gr 6-8.
The girls at St. Ethelreda’s School for Girls have a problem—their severe headmistress and her churlish brother have died of poison! Well, the girls are glad to be rid of them, but they don’t want to be sent home. So they bury the bodies and try to convince the neighbors and the police that nothing is wrong in this very funny Victorian mystery.
Unfriended by Rachel Vail. 9780670013074. Gr 6-9.
Truly is grateful to be invited to sit at the Popular Table, even though it means leaving her best friend Hazel alone. She is sure Hazel will understand. But being part of the elite is not what she expected, and Hazel does NOT understand. The bitterness and altercations that follow play out on social media, making this a great book for discussion.
100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith. 9781442444959. Gr 10-12.
Finn is an oddball—his mother was killed by a dead horse falling off a bridge. His author father featured Finn (using his real name) in a popular science fiction novel. He lives in the shadow of his charismatic best friend. He has epilepsy. But new girl Julia thinks he is charming, and Finn for once sees himself in a positive light—until Julia moves back to her old home.
Belzhar by Meg Wolitzer. 9780525423058. Gr 9-12.
Jam can’t get over the loss of Reeve, a British exchange student, so her parents send her to a boarding school for fragile teens with psychological issues. In her Special Topics in English class, they study Sylvia Plath, and their teacher gives them journals to write about their assignments. But Jam notices that when she writes in her journal, she finds a world in which she and Reeve are together again. How can she face a future without him?
Kiss of Broken Glass by Madeleine Kuderick. 9780062306562. Gr 9-12.
After she is found cutting herself in the school bathroom, Kenna is put under mandatory psychiatric watch. She meets others with similar problems and tries to deal with her addiction—and the triggers that led to her self-mutilation. This novel in verse is realistic and would be good for a discussion starter.
Monstrous Affections : An Anthology of Beastly Tales edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant. 9780763664732. Gr 9-12.
This anthology of 15 stories covers the light and not-so-light themes of love and…monsters. Characters range from creatures that are popular in contemporary literature to those that are lesser-known or totally new—creatures which aren’t always the bad guys of the story. Reviewers have called the stories hilarious and haunting, and SLJ says, “these tales will linger in readers’ brains, in their closets, under their beds, and in the shadows.” I couldn’t say it any better.
The Twyning by Terrence Blacker. 9780763669027. Gr 7-10.
Efren, an orphaned ratling, lives underground in a kingdom going through great changes as the peaceful old king removes himself from power and a younger, more warlike group begins to take over. Aboveground, Dogboy, also an orphan, tries to support himself and his friend by working for the local ratcatcher and for a scientist intent on exterminating every rat. The lives and homes of both orphans are doomed unless they can find a way to understand each other and work together.
Zac and Mia by A.J. Betts. 9780544331648. Gr 9-12.
Zac, who believes in “science, statistics, and antibiotics,” is in the hospital recovering from a bone-marrow transplant for his leukemia, when Mia, angry about her osteosarcoma, moves into the room next door. At first communicating by tapping on their wall, they move on to FaceBook and finally meet. Cancer friendships have been done before, but this one (written by an author who has worked in a children’s hospital) is well worth adding to your collection.
Many more good fiction and easy titles are published this month. To view lists of upcoming single titles and series additions, check out this page.