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Contemporary Realistic Fiction: 2005-2015


Contemporary Realistic Fiction for Grades K-8 in the EMC


Asterisk (*) indicates subject category list


Abeele, Veronique van den. Still My Grandma. 2007
A young girl describes her special relationship with her grandmother, both before and after Grandma contracts Alzheimer's Disease.
EMC-Picture Books

*Grandmothers, Alzheimer’s Disease


Adoff, Jaime. Jimi and Me. 2005
After his father's tragic death, twelve-year-old Keith James moves from Brooklyn to a small midwestern town where his mixed race heritage is not accepted, but he finds comfort in the music of Jimi Hendrix and the friendship of a white classmate.

*Jimi Hendrix, Racially Mixed People, African Americans, Grief, Fathers and Sons


Alexie, Sherman. Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. 2007
Budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Indian is the school mascot.

*Spokane Indians, Indians of North America-Washington (state), Indian Reservations, Race Relations, Diaries


Almond, David. My Name is Mina. 2011
Creative, intelligent, nine-year-old
Mina keeps a journal in her own disorderly way that reveals how her mind is growing into something extraordinary, especially after she begins homeschooling under the direction of her widowed mother.

*Eccentrics and Eccentricities, Home Schooling, Mothers and Daughters, Single-Parent Families, Family Life-England, England


Almond, David. Savage. 2008
A boy tells about a story he wrote when dealing with his father's death about a savage kid living in a ruined chapel in the woods--and the tale about the savage kid coming to life in the real world.

*Feral Children


Anderson, Laurie Halse. Twisted. 2007
After finally getting noticed by someone other than school bullies and his ever-angry father, seventeen-year-old Tyler enjoys his tough new reputation and the attentions of a popular girl, but when life starts to go bad again, he must choose between transforming himself or giving in to his destructive thoughts.

*Family Problems, Interpersonal Relations, High Schools, Schools, Coming of Age, Ohio

Brenna, Beverley.  The White Bicycle. 2012
Taylor Jane Simon, an eighteen-year-old girl with Asperger's Syndrome, travels to France, as she struggles to become independent of her controlling mother and meets a new mentor. 


Brisson, Pat. I Remember Miss Perry. 2006
When his teacher, Miss Perry, is killed in a car accident, Stevie and his elementary school classmates take turns sharing memories of her, especially her fondest wish for each day. 
EMC-PIcture Books

*Teachers, Death, Grief, Schools


Brown, Susan Taylor. Hugging the Rock. 2006
Through a series of poems, Rachel expresses her feelings about her parents' divorce, living without her mother and her changing attitude towards her father.

*Mothers and Daughters, Children of Divorced Parents, Divorce, Fathers and Daughters, Novels in Verse


Caletti, Deb. The Nature of Jade. 2007
Seattle high school senior Jade's life is defined by her anxiety disorder and dysfunctional family, until she spies a mysterious boy with a baby who seems to share her fascination with the elephants at a nearby zoo.

*Coming of Age, Elephants, Zoos, Family Problems, Anxiety, Seattle (Wash.)


Cameron, Peter. Someday This Pain Will Be Useful. 2007
Eighteen-year-old James living in New York City with his older sister and divorced mother struggles to find a direction for his life.

*Conduct of Life, Interpersonal Relations, Self-Perception, New York (NY)


Carey, Mike. Re-Gifters. 2007
"Meet Jen Dik Seong -- or "Dixie" as she's known to her friends. She's living on the ragged edge of LA's Koreatown, and her only outlet is the ancient martial art of hapkido. In fact, she's on the verge of winning a championship -- until she falls for fellow hapkido fan/California surfer boy Adam and gets thrown spectacularly off her game. As she struggles to win the tournament -- not to mention Adam's affections -- Dixie learns that in love and in gift-giving, what goes around comes around"--Cover, P. [4].

*Comic Books-Strips-Etc., Korean Americans-Comic Books-Strips-Etc., California-Comic Books-Strips-Etc.


Carmichael, Clay. Wild Things. 2009
Stubborn, self-reliant, eleven-year-old Zoe, recently orphaned, moves to the country to live with her prickly half-uncle, a famous doctor and sculptor, and together they learn about trust and the strength of family.

*Family Life, Self-Reliance, Trust, Orphans, Uncles, Sculptors, Cats, Human-Animal Relationships


Christopher, Lucy. Flyaway. 2011
While her father is in the hospital, thirteen-year-old Isla befriends Harry, the first boy to understand her love of the outdoors, and as Harry's health fails, Isla tries to help both him and the lone swan they see, struggling to fly, on the lake outside Harry's window.

*Sick, Hospitals, Swans, Wildlife Rescue, Family Life, Fathers and Daughters


Cochran, Bill. The Forever Dog. 2007
Mike and his dog Corky plan to be best friends forever, so when Corky becomes sick and dies, Mike is angry about the broken promise.
EMC-Picture Books

*Dogs, Death, Promises


Coffelt, Nancy. Fred Stays with Me. 2007
A child describes how she lives sometimes with her mother and sometimes with her father, but her dog is her constant companion.
EMC-Picture Books

*Dogs, Divorce, Parenting-Part time


Cottrell Boyce, Frank. The Unforgotten Coat. 2011

When two Mongolian brothers inexplicably appear one morning in her sixth grade class, Julie, who lives in a town near Liverpool, England, named Bootle, becomes their new friend and "Good Guide," navigating them through soccer, school uniforms, and British slang.


*Mongols-England, Refugees, Emigration and Immigration, Bootle (Sefton, England), England


Creech, Sharon. Replay. 2005
While preparing for a role in the school play, twelve-year-old Leo finds an autobiography that his father wrote as a teenager and ponders the ways people change as they grow up.


*Conduct of Life, Family Life, Fathers and Sons, Theater, Schools


DiCamillo, Kate.  Bink & Gollie, Two for One.  2012
"The state fair is in town, and now Bink and Gollie-utter opposites and best friends extraordinaire-must use teamwork and their gray matter while navigating its many wonders. Will the energetic Bink win the world's largest donut in the Whack-a-Duck game? Will the artistic Gollie wow the crowd in the talent show? As the undaunted duo steps into the mysterious tent of fortune-teller Madame Prunely, one prediction is crystal clear: this unlikely pair will always be the closest of pals"--

DiPucchio, Kelly.  Crafty Chloe. 2012
Chloe is very good at sewing and crafts and when her best friend's birthday approaches, she not only creates a fabulous gift, she also saves the day for a classmate who had been unkind to her. 
EMC-Picture Books


Donnelly, Jennifer. Revolution. 2010
An angry, grieving seventeen-year-old musician facing expulsion from her prestigious Brooklyn private school travels to Paris to complete a school assignment and uncovers a diary written during the French revolution by a young actress attempting to help a tortured, imprisoned little boy--Louis Charles, the lost king of France. 

*Louis XVII of France-1785-1795, Grief, Emotional Problems, Family Problems, Musicians, Diaries, Paris (France), France, France-History-Revolution-1789-1799


Dorros, Arthur.  Papa and Me.  2008
A bilingual boy and his father, who only speaks Spanish, spend a day together.
EMC-Picture Books


Dowell, Frances O’ Roark. Chicken Boy. 2005
Since the death of his mother, Tobin's family life and school life have been in disarray, but after he starts raising chickens with his seventh-grade classmate, Henry, everything starts to fall into place.

*Self-Esteem, Family Problems, Grandmothers, Friendship, Chickens, Schools


Draper, Sharon. November Blues. 2007
A teenaged boy's death in a hazing accident has lasting effects on his pregnant girlfriend and his guilt-ridden cousin, who gives up a promising music career to play football during his senior year in high school. 

*Pregnancy, High Schools, Schools, African Americans


Edwards, Michelle. Stinky Stern Forever. 2005
Pa Lia and her classmates share memories of Stinky Stern, the second-grade bully. 
EMC-Picture Books

*Bullies, Death, Schools


Elliott, Zetta. Bird. 2008
Bird, an artistic young African American boy, expresses himself through drawing as he struggles to understand his older brother's drug addiction and death, while a family friend, Uncle Son, provides guidance and understanding. 

*Novels in Verse, Death, Drug Abuse, Drawing, Family Life, African Americans


Ellis, Deborah. I am a Taxi. 2006
Living with his family in a prison in Bolivia due to his parents' convictions for drug trafficking, twelve-year-old Diego does his best to live a normal life, but when his mother receives additional fines, Diego risks everything to earn quick money.

*Coca Industry-Bolivia, Jungles-Bolivia, Bolivia


Felin, M. Sindy. Touching Snow. 2007
After her stepfather is arrested for child abuse, thirteen-year-old Karina's home life improves but while the severity of her older sister's injuries and the urging of her younger sister, their uncle, and a friend tempt her to testify against him, her mother and other well-meaning adults persuade her to claim responsibility.

*Child Abuse, Family Problems, Haitian Americans, Stepfathers, New York (state)


Flores-Galbis, Enrique. 90 Miles to Havana. 2010

When unrest hits the streets of Havana, Cuba, Julian's parents must make the heartbreaking decision to send him and his two brothers away to Miami via the Pedro Pan operation. But when the boys get to Miami, they are thrust into a world where bullies seem to run rampant and it's not always clear how best to protect themselves.


*Refugees, Brothers, Cuba


Frank, E.R. Wrecked. 2005

After a car accident seriously injures her best friend and kills her brother's girlfriend, sixteen-year-old Anna tries to cope with her guilt and grief, while learning some truths about her family and herself.


*Traffic Accidents, Death, Grief, Guilt, Brothers and Sisters, Self-Acceptance, Family Problems


French Terrel S. Operation Redwood. 2009

In northern California, Julian Carter-Li and his friends old and new fight to save a grove of redwoods from an investment company that plans to cut them down.


*Environmental Protection, Redwoods, Trees, Friendship, Grandmothers, California-Northern


Frost, Helen. Hidden. 2011
When fourteen-year-olds Wren and Darra meet at a Michigan summer camp, both are overwhelmed by memories from six years earlier when Darra's father stole a car, unaware that Wren was hiding in the back.

*Interpersonal Relations, Camps, Memory, Kidnapping, Secrets, Friendship, Michigan


Garden, Nancy. Endgame. 2006
Fifteen-year-old Gray Wilton, bullied at school and ridiculed by an unfeeling father for preferring drums to hunting, goes on a shooting rampage at his high school.

*Bullies, High Schools, Schools, Family Problems


Gerdner, Linda. Grandfather’s Story Cloth. 2008

Ten-year-old Chersheng helps his beloved grandfather cope with his failing memory, brought on by Alzheimer's disease, by showing him the story quilt Grandfather made after fleeing his homeland, Laos, during wartime.

EMC-Picture Books

*Grandfathers, Alzheimer’s Disease, Memory, Quilts, Laotian Americans, Family Life, Hmong Language Materials-Bilingual, Hmong Language-Children’s Books


Giles, Gail. What Happened to Cass McBride? 2006
After his younger brother commits suicide, Kyle Kirby decides to exact revenge on the person he holds responsible.

*Revenge, Suicide, Crime, Family Problems


Going, K.L. Saint Iggy. 2006
Iggy Corso, who lives in city public housing, is caught physically and spiritually between good and bad when he is kicked out of high school, goes searching for his missing mother, and causes his friends to get involved with the same dangerous drug dealer who deals to his parents.

*Conduct of Life, Drug Abuse, Family Problems, Poor


Gourlay, Candy. Tall Story. 2011
Sixteen-year-old Bernardo, who is eight feet
tall and suffers from a condition called Gigantism, leaves the Philippines to live with his mother's family in London, much to the delight of his thirteen-year-old half sister Andi, a passionate basketball player.

*Giants, Size, Basketball, Culture Conflict, Brothers and Sisters, London (England), England, Philippines


Green, John. Abundance of Katherines. 2006
Having been recently dumped for the nineteenth time by a girl named Katherine, recent high school graduate and former child prodigy Colin sets off on a road trip with his best friend to try to find some new direction in life while also trying to create a mathematical formula to explain his relationships.

*Interpersonal Relations, Self-Perception, Mathematics

Green, John.  Fault in Our Stars. 2012
Sixteen-year-old Hazel, a stage IV thyroid cancer patient, has accepted her terminal diagnosis until a chance meeting with a boy at cancer support group forces her to reexamine her perspective on love, loss, and life.


Green, John. Looking for Alaska. 2005
Sixteen-year-old Miles' first year at Culver Creek Preparatory School in Alabama includes good friends and great pranks, but is defined by the search for answers about life and death after a fatal car crash.

*Interpersonal Relations, Boarding Schools, Schools, Death


Griffin, Paul. The Orange Houses. 2009
Tamika, a fifteen-year-old hearing-impaired girl, Jimmi, an eighteen-year-old veteran who stopped taking his antipsychotic medication, and sixteen-year-old Fatima, an illegal immigrant from Africa, meet and connect in their Bronx, New York, neighborhood, with devastating results.

*Interpersonal Relations, Hearing Impaired, People with Disabilities, Veterans, Mental Illness, Illegal Aliens, Africans-United States, Bronx (New York, NY)


Grimes, Nikki. Dark Sons. 2005
Alternating poems compare and contrast the conflicted feelings of Ishmael, son of the Biblical patriarch Abraham, and Sam, a teenager in New York City, as they try to come to terms with being abandoned by their fathers and with the love they feel for their younger stepbrothers.

*Fathers and Sons, Stepbrothers, Ishmael (biblical figure), African Americans, Self-Perception, Bible-History of Biblical Events, New York (NY)


Grimes, Nikki. Planet Middle School. 2011
A series of poems describes all the baffling changes at home and at
school in twelve-year-old Joylin's transition from tomboy basketball player to not-quite-girly girl.

*Novels in Verse, Coming of Age, Basketball, Friendship, Middle Schools, Schools, Family Life


Grimes, Nikki. Road to Paris. 2006
Inconsolable at being separated from her older brother, eight-year-old Paris is apprehensive about her new foster family but just as she learns to trust them, she faces a life-changing decision.

*Foster Home Care, African Americans, Brothers and Sisters


Han, Jenny. Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream. 2011
Korean American fourth-grader
Clara Lee longs to be Little Miss Apple Pie, and when her luck seems suddenly to change for the better, she overcomes her fear of public speaking and enters the competition.

*Luck, Schools, Family Life, Korean Americans


Han, Jenny. Shug. 2006
A twelve-year-old girl learns about friendship, first loves, and self-worth in a small town in the South.

*Friendship, Self-Esteem

Hartnett, Sonya.  Sadie and Ratz.  2012
Hannah and her hands, named Sadie and Ratz, regularly get into trouble, especially when younger brother Baby Boy is around.

Hautman, Pete. Invisible. 2005
Doug and Andy are unlikely best friends--one a loner obsessed by his model trains, the other a popular student involved in football and theater--who grew up together and share a bond that nothing can sever.

*Best Friends, Friendship, Railroads-Model, Models and Modelmaking, Schools, Mental Illness


Henkes, Kevin. Bird Lake Moon. 2008
Twelve-year-old Mitch and his mother are spending the summer with his grandparents at Bird Lake after his parents separate, and ten-year-old Spencer and his family have returned to the lake where Spencer's little brother drowned long ago, and as the boys become friends and spend time together, each of them begins to heal.


*Divorce, Grief, Lakes, Friendship, Family Life-Wisconsin, Wisconsin


Henkes, Kevin. Junonia. 2011
The week of her tenth birthday, Alice and her parents go to Sanibel Island, Florida, just as they do every year, but this time some of the people who are always there are missing and some new people have come, which unsettles Alice, who wants things to be exactly the same as they always are.  EMC-Fiction

*Shells, Seashore, Change, Sanibel Island (Fla.)


Heo, Yumi.  Ten Days and Nine Nights: An Adoption Story. 2009
A young girl eagerly awaits the arrival of her newly-adopted sister from Korea, while her whole family prepares.
EMC-Picture Books

Hest, Amy.  Charley's First Night.  2012
A book about friendship, new beginnings and that indescribable measure of love that we call a dog. 
EMC-Picture Books


Hest, Amy. Remembering Mrs. Rossi. 2007

Although she loves her father, their home in New York City, and third-grade teacher Miss Meadows, Annie misses her mother who died recently. Eight-year-old Annie lives in a sunny apartment in Manhattan with her father, Professor Rossi. Life would be pretty good if only Annie didn't so achingly miss her mother. When Mrs. Rossi died suddenly, she left not only Annie but also a class full of students - who pour out their hearts in a scrapbook Annie will treasure forever. With tenderness and humor, Amy Hest reveals the struggles of a father and daughter as they forge a new life together.


*Death, Parent and Child, New York (NY)


Howe, James. Addie on the Inside. 2011
Outspoken thirteen-year-old
Addie Carle learns about love, loss, and staying true to herself as she navigates seventh grade, enjoys a visit from her grandmother, fights with her boyfriend, and endures gossip and meanness from her former best friend.

*Novels in Verse, Identity, Self-Acceptance, Grandmothers, Schools, Interpersonal Relations



Johnson, Harriet McBryde. Accidents of Nature. 2006
Having always prided herself on blending in with "normal" people despite her cerebral palsy, seventeen-year-old Jean begins to question her role in the world while attending a summer camp for children with disabilities.


*People with Disabilities, Camps, Cerebral Palsy, North Carolina-History-20th Century


Jones, Traci L. Silhouetted by the Blue. 2011
After the death of her mother in an automobile accident, seventh-grader Serena, who has gotten the lead in her middle school play, is left to handle the day-to-day challenges of caring for herself and her younger brother when their father cannot pull himself out of his depression.

*Family Problems, Depression-Mental, Grief, Theater, Middle Schools, Schools, African Americans


Kephart, Beth. Undercover. 2007High school sophomore Elisa is used to observing while going unnoticed except when classmates ask her to write love notes for them, but a teacher's recognition of her talent, a "client's" desire for her friendship, a love of ice skating, and her parent's marital problems draw her out of herself.

*Love-Letters, Poetry, Letters, High School, Schools, Family Problems, Ice Skating

Khan, Rukhsana.  Big Red Lolipop.  2010
Having to take her younger sister along the first time she is invited to a birthday party spoils Rubina's fun, and later when that sister is asked to a party and baby sister wants to come, Rubina must decide whether to help.
EMC-Picture Books

King, A.S. Please Ignore Vera Dietz. 2010

When her best friend, whom she secretly loves, betrays her and then dies under mysterious circumstances, high school senior Vera Dietz struggles with secrets that could help clear his name.

*Best Friends, Friendship, Secrets, Death


Kinney, Jeff. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg Heffley’s Journal. 2007Greg records his sixth grade experiences in a middle school where he and his best friend, Rowley, undersized weaklings amid boys who need to shave twice daily, hope just to survive, but when Rowley grows more popular, Greg must take drastic measures to save their friendship.

*Middle Schools, Friendship, Diaries, Humorous Stories


Kinney, Jeff. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Last Straw. 2009
Middle-schooler Greg Heffley nimbly sidesteps his father's attempts to change Greg's wimpy ways until his father threatens to send him to military school.

*Middle Schools, Schools, Family Life, Diaries, Humorous Stories


Knowles, Jo.  See You at Harry's.  2012
Twelve-year-old Fern feels invisible in her family, where grumpy eighteen-year-old Sarah is working at the family restaurant, fourteen-year-old Holden is struggling with school bullies and his emerging homosexuality, and adorable, three-year-old Charlie is always the center of attention, and when tragedy strikes, the fragile bond holding the family together is stretched almost to the breaking point. 


Konigsberg, Bill.  Openly Straight.  2013
Tired of being known as "the gay kid", Rafe Goldberg decides to assume a new persona when he comes east and enters an elite Massachusetts prep school--but trying to deny his identity has both complications and unexpected consequences.

Laird, Elizabeth. A Little Piece of Ground. 2006
During the Israeli occupation of Ramallah in the West Bank of Palestine, twelve-year-old Karim and his friends create a secret place for themselves where they can momentarily forget the horrors of war.

*Arab-Israeli Conflict, West Bank


Leavitt, Martine.  My Book of Life by Angel. 2012
"16-year-old Angel struggles to free herself from the trap of prostitution in which she is caught."

Ludwig, Trudy. Just Kidding. 2005
With help from his father, older brother, and teacher, D.J. learns how to handle a classmate who claims that his mean-spirited "teasing" is just a joke.
EMC-Picture Books

*Bullies, Teasing, Self-Confidence, Interpersonal Relations, Schools


Lyga, Barry. Boy Toy. 2007
After five years of fighting his way past flickers of memory about the teacher who molested him and the incident that brought the crime to light, eighteen-year-old Josh gets help in coping with his molester’s release from prison when he finally tells his best friends the whole truth.


*Sexual Abuse Victims, Emotional Problems, Baseball, Psychotherapy, Memory, High School, Schools


Massey, David.  Torn.  2013
Only eighteen when she is sent to Afghanistan, British army medic Elinor Nielson is continually at odds with her hardnosed bunkmate, Heidi Larson, but connects with a mysterious Afghan girl and local children, as well as an American lieutenant.


Matthies, Janna. The Goodbye Cancer Garden. 2011
When a mother is diagnosed with breast cancer, she and her family plant a garden and watch it grow through the seasons as she undergoes treatments and gets better.
EMC-Picture Books

*Cancer, Gardening, Gardens, Family Life


McCall, Guadalupe Garcia. Under the Mesquite. 2011
Throughout her high school years, as her mother battles cancer, Lupita takes on more responsibility for her house and seven younger siblings, while finding refuge in acting and writing poetry. Includes glossary of Spanish terms.

*Coming of Age, Responsibility, Family Life, Cancer, Mexican Americans-Texas, Texas


McCormick, Patricia. Sold. 2006
Thirteen-year-old Lakshmi leaves her poor mountain home in Nepal thinking that she is to work in the city as a maid only to find that she has been sold into the sex slave trade in India and that there is no hope of escape.

*Human Trafficking, Prostitution, Slavery, Novels in Verse, Nepal, India


McKay, Hilary.  Lulu and the Duck in the Park.  2012
A young girl who loves animals brings an abandoned duck egg to school, even though her teacher has banned her from bringing animals to school ever again.

McNamara, Margaret.  How Many Seeds in a Pumpkin? 2007
Charlie, the smallest child in his first grade class, is amazed to discover that of the three pumpkins his teacher brings to school, the tiniest one has the most seeds.
EMC-Picture Books

Medina, Meg.  Tia Isa Wants a Car. 2011
Tia Isa and her niece try to save enough money to buy a car to take the whole family to the beach.
EMC-Picture Books

Monninger, Joseph. Baby. 2007
Fifteen-year-old Baby’s last chance at foster care is with the Potters, and while she likes them and enjoys learning to race their sled dogs, she feels she should go back on the streets with her boyfriend if she cannot find the mother who has deserted her again.

*Teenage Girls, Foster Parents, Children of Alcoholics, Sled Dogs, Sled Dog Racing, Dogs, Street Life, New Hampshire


Moriarty, Jaclyn. Murder of Bindy Mackenzie. 2006
Class brain Bindy Mackenzie has alienated her entire high school but when she realizes someone is trying to kill her, she has to make friends in order to get help.

*Interpersonal Relations, High Schools, Schools, Australia


Moundlic, Charlotte. The Scar. 2011
When his mother dies, a little boy is angry at his loss but does everything he can to hold onto the memory of her scent, her voice, and the special things she did for him, even as he tries to help his father and grandmother cope.
EMC-Picture Books

*Death, Grief, Mothers


Na, An. Wait for Me. 2006
As her senior year in high school approaches, Mina yearns to find her own path in life but working at the family business, taking care of her little sister, and dealing with her mother's impossible expectations are as stifling as the southern California heat, until she falls in love with a man who offers a way out.

*Self-Actualization, Mothers and Daughters, Sisters, Korean Americans, Hearing Impaired, California


Neri, Greg. Chess Rumble. 2007
Branded a troublemaker due to his anger over everything from being bullied to his sister's death a year before, Marcus begins to control himself and cope with his problems at home and at his inner-city school when an unlikely mentor teaches him to play chess.

*Chess, Behavior, Family Problems, Schools, Inner Cities


Nicholls, Sally. Ways to Live Forever. 2008

Eleven-year-old Sam McQueen, who has leukemia, writes a book during the last three months of his life, in which he tells about what he would like to accomplish, how he feels, and things that have happened to him.


*Leukemia, Authorship, Family Life, Death


O’Connor, Barbara. How to Steal a Dog. 2007

Living in the family car in their small North Carolina town after their father leaves them virtually penniless, Georgina, desperate to improve their situation and unwilling to accept her overworked mother's calls for patience, persuades her younger brother to help her in an elaborate scheme to get money by stealing a dog and then claiming the reward that the owners are bound to offer.


*Homeless Persons, Family Problems, Conduct of Life, Interpersonal Relations, Brothers and Sisters, Dogs, North Carolina


Pearson, Mary E. A Room on Lorelei Street. 2005To escape a miserable existence taking care of her alcoholic mother, seventeen-year-old Zoe rents a room from an eccentric woman, but her earnings as a waitress after school are minimal and she must go to extremes to cover expenses.

*Freedom, Family Problems, Interpersonal Relations, Alcoholism, Lodging Houses, Texas


Peet, Mal. Tamar. 2007
In England in 1995, fifteen-year-old Tamar, grief-stricken by the puzzling death of her beloved grandfather, slowly begins to uncover the secrets of his life in the Dutch resistance during the last year of the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, and the climactic events that forever cast a shadow on his life and that of his family. 

*Grandfathers, Guilt, World War 1939-1945-Underground Movements-Netherlands, Netherlands-History-German Occupation 1940-1945, England


Pennypacker, Sara.  Summer of the Gypsy Moths. 2012
A foster child named Angel and twelve-year-old Stella, who are living with Stella's great-aunt Louise at the Linger Longer Cottage Colony on Cape Cod, secretly assume responsibility for the vacation rentals when Louise unexpectedly dies and the girls are afraid of being returned to the foster care system.


Perez, Amada Irma.  Nana's Big Surprise.  2007
Amada and her family build a chicken coop, hoping that her grandmother, visiting from Mexico, will enjoy raising the chickens and be distracted from her grief at Grandfather's death.
EMC-Picture Books

Perkins, Mitali. Bamboo People. 2010
Two Burmese boys, one a Karenni refugee and the other the son of an imprisoned Burmese doctor, meet in the jungle and in order to survive they must learn to trust each other.


*Survival, Burma


Perkins, Mitali. Rickshaw Girl. 2007
In her Bangladesh village, ten-year-old Naimi excels at painting designs called alpanas, but to help her impoverished family financially she would have to be a boy--or disguise herself as one.

*Painting, Sex Role, Rickshaws, Family Life-Bangladesh, Bangladesh


Peters, Julie Anne. Between Mom and Jo. 2006
Fourteen-year-old Nick has a three-legged dog named Lucky 2, some pet fish, and two mothers, whose relationship complicates his entire life as they face prejudice, work problems, alcoholism, cancer, and finally separation.

*Mothers and Sons, Lesbians, Family Problems, Prejudices


Philbrick, W.R. The Young Man and the Sea. 2004After his mother's death, twelve-year-old Skiff Beaman decides that it is up to him to earn money to take care of himself and his father, so he undertakes a dangerous trip alone out on the ocean off the coast of Maine to try to catch a huge bluefin tuna.

*Fathers and Sons, Grief, Fishing

Pitcher, Annabel.  My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece.  2012
With his family still grieving over his sister's death in a terrorist bombing seven years earlier, twelve-year-old Jamie is far more interested in his cat, Roger, his birthday Spiderman T-shirt, and keeping his new Muslim friend Sunya a secret from his father.


Polacco, Patricia.  In Our Mother's House.  2009
Three young children experience the joys and challenges of being raised by two mothers.
EMC-Picture Books


Qamar, Amjed. Beneath My Mother’s Feet. 2008
When her father is injured, fourteen-year-old Nazia is pulled away from school, her friends, and her preparations for an arranged marriage, to help her mother clean houses in a wealthy part of Karachi, Pakistan, where she finally rebels against the destiny that is planned for her.

*Family Life, Household Employees, Self-Actualization (psychology), Sex Role, Poverty, Pakistan


Rapp, Adam. Punkzilla. 2009“Punkzilla” is on a mission to see his older brother “P”, before “P” dies of cancer. Still buzzing from his last hit of meth, he embarks on a days-long trip from Portland, Ore. to Memphis, Tenn., writing letters to his family and friends. Along the way, he sees a sketchier side of America and worries if he will make it to see his brother in time.

*Runaways, Drug Abuse, Brothers, Runaway Teenage Boys, Cancer Patients, Bus Travel, Thieves, Domestic Fiction, Oregon, Portland (Or), Tennessee, Memphis (Tenn.)


Raschka, Christopher. The Purple Balloon. 2007
Easy-to-read text reveals that dying is hard work, for the old and especially the young, and how good it is that so many people help when a person dies, from medical staff to clergy and friends to family members.
EMC-Picture Books

*Death, Terminally Ill


Reedy, Trent. Words in the Dust. 2011
Zulaikha, a thirteen-year-old girl in Afghanistan, faces a series of frightening but exhilarating changes in her life as she defies her father and secretly meets with an old woman who teaches her to read, her older sister gets married, and American troops offer her surgery to fix her disfiguring cleft lip.

*Family Life-Afghanistan, Cleft Lip, Sex Role, Literacy, Afghanistan


Reinhardt, Dana. How to Build a House. 2008
Seventeen-year-old Harper Evans hopes to escape the effects of her father's divorce on her family and friendships by volunteering her summer to build a house in a small Tennessee town devastated by a tornado.

*Interpersonal Relations, Divorce, Stepfamilies, Voluntarism, Tennessee


Rocco, John.  Blackout. 2011
When a busy family's activities come to a halt because of a blackout, they find they enjoy spending time together and not being too busy for once.
EMC-Picture Books


Rocklin, Joanne.  The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook. 2012
As ten-year-old Oona and her younger brother conspire to break their sick cat Zook out of the veterinary clinic, Oona tells the story of Zook's previous lives.

Russell, Ching Yeung. Tofu Quilt. 2009
Growing up in 1960s Hong Kong, a young girl dreams of becoming a writer in spite of conventional limits placed on her by society and family.

*Authorship, Novels in Verse, Sex Role, Hong Kong (China)-History-20th Century


Ryan, Amy Kathleen. Zen and Xander Undone. 2010
Two teenaged sisters try to come to terms with the death of their mother in very different ways.

*Sisters, Grief, Death, Family Problems, Interpersonal Relations


Sacher, Louis. Small Steps. 2006
Three years after being released from Camp Green Lake, Armpit is trying hard to keep his life on track, but when his old pal X-Ray shows up with a tempting plan to make some easy money scalping concert tickets, Armpit reluctantly goes along.

*Juvenile Delinquents, Cerebral Palsy, People with Disabilities, Singers, Interpersonal Relations, African Americans


Saenz, Bejamin.  Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe. 2012
Fifteen-year-old Ari Mendoza is an angry loner with a brother in prison, but when he meets Dante and they become friends, Ari starts to ask questions about himself, his parents, and his family that he has never asked before. 

Schimel, Lawrence.  Let's Go See Papa.  2010
A girl whose father emigrated in search of work writes in her diary about how much she misses him and how happy she is when she learns that the family will be reunited.
EMC-Picture Books


Scott, Elizabeth. Living Dead Girl. 2008"Once upon a time, I was a little girl who disappeared. Once upon a time, my name was not Alice. Once upon a time, I didn't know how lucky I was. When Alice was ten, Ray took her away from her family, her friends: her life. She learned to give up all power, to endure all pain. She waited for the nightmare to be over. Now Alice is fifteen and Ray still has her, but he speaks more and more of her death. He does not know it is what she longs for. She does not know he has something more terrifying than death in mind for her. This is Alice's story. It is one you have never heard, and one you will never, ever forget"--Book flap.

*Kidnapping, Abduction


Shea, Pegi Deitz. The Carpet Boy’s Gift. 2006
Yearning for freedom and schooling for himself and the other children who toil in a carpet factory in Pakistan to repay loans from the factory owner to their parents, Nadeem is inspired by a former carpet boy named Iqbal to lead the way.
EMC-Picture Books

*Masih Iqbal 1982-1995, Child Labor, Rug and Carpet Industry-Pakistan, Child Abuse, Pakistan


Schmatz, Pat. Bluefish. 2011
Everything changes for thirteen-year-old Travis, a new student who is trying to hide a learning disability, when he meets a remarkable teacher and a sassy classmate with her own secrets.

*Learning Disabilities, Secrets, Teachers, Middle Schools, Schools


Schmidt, Gary D. Okay For Now. 2011
As a fourteen-year-old who just moved to a new town, with no friends, an abusive father, and a louse for an older brother, Doug Swieteck has all the stats stacked against him until he finds an ally in Lil Spicer--a fiery young lady. Together, they find a safe haven in the local library, inspiration in learning about the plates of John James Audubon's birds, and a hilarious adventure on a Broadway stage.

*Family Life-New York(state)-New York, Family Problems, Schools, Junior High Schools, Friendship, Theater-New York(state)-New York, Coming of Age, Broadway(New York, NY)


Schmidt, Gary D. Trouble. 2008
Fourteen-year-old Henry, wishing to honor his brother Franklin's dying wish, sets out to hike Maine's Mount Katahdin with his best friend and dog. But fate adds another companion--the Cambodian refugee accused of fatally injuring Franklin--and reveals troubles that predate the accident.

*Traffic Accidents, Death-Juvenile, Dogs-Juvenile, Families-Massachusetts-Juvenile, Cambodian Americans-Juvenile, Prejudices-Juvenile, Refugees-Juvenile, Massachusetts- Juvenile, Mount Katahdin (Me)-Juvenile


Senzai, N.H. Shooting Kabul. 2010
Escaping from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan in the summer of 2001, eleven-year-old Fadi and his family immigrate to the San Francisco Bay Area, where Fadi schemes to return to the Pakistani refugee camp where his little sister was accidentally left behind.

*Afghan Americans-California-San Francisco Bay Area, Afghan Americans, Refugees, Emigration and Immigration, San Francisco Bay Area (Calif.)


Shang, Wendy Wan-Long. The Great Wall of Lucy Wu. 2011
Eleven-year-old aspiring basketball star and interior designer
Lucy Wu is excited about finally having her own bedroom, until she learns that her great-aunt is coming to visit and Lucy will have to share a room with her for several months, shattering her plans for a perfect sixth-grade year.

*Individuality, Family Life, Chinese Americans, Great Aunts, Schools


Staples, Suzanne Fisher. Under the Persimmon Tree. 2005
During the 2001 Afghan War, the lives of Najmal, a young refugee from Kunduz, Afghanistan, and Nusrat, an American-Muslim teacher who is awaiting her husband’s return from Mazar-i-Sharif, intersect at a school in Peshawar, Pakistan.

*Afghan War 2001, Refugees, Afghanistan-History-2001, Peshawar(Pakistan)-History-20th Century


Sullivan, Tara.  Golden Boy. 2013
"A Tanzanian albino boy finds himself the ultimate outsider, hunted because of the color of his skin"--


Suma, Nova Ren. Dani Noir. 2009
Imaginative thirteen-year-old Dani feels trapped in her small mountain town with only film noir at the local art theater and her depressed mother for company, but while trying to solve a real mystery she learns much about herself and life.

*Motion Pictures, Mothers and Daughters, Divorce, Remarriage, Conduct of Life, Mystery and Detective Stories


Tamaki, Mariko. Skim. 2008
"Skim" (Kimberly Keiko Cameron) is a not-slim would-be Wiccan goth who goes to a private girls' school. When her classmate Katie is dumped by her boyfriend, who then kills himself, the entire school goes into mourning overdrive. The popular clique stars a club to boost school spirit, but Skim sinks into an ever-deepening depression.

*Goth Culture (subculture), Girls’ Schools, Suicide


Telgemeier, Raina.  Drama.  2012
Callie rides an emotional roller coaster while serving on the stage crew for a middle school production of Moon over Mississippi as various relationships start and end, and others never quite get going.

Telgemeier, Raina. Smile. 2010
From sixth grade through tenth, Raina copes with a variety of dental problems that affect her appearance and how she feels about herself.

*Youth-Dental Care, Girls-Dental Care, Self-Esteem in Adolescence, Beauty-Personal, Graphic Novels, Dental Care-Cartoons and Comics, Self-Esteem-Cartoons and Comics, Beauty-Personal-Cartoons and Comics, Cartoons and Comics


Tinkham, Kelly. Hair for Mama. 2007

When Marcus's mother has chemotherapy for her cancer and loses her hair, he tries to find new hair for her to make her well again.

EMC-Picture Book

*Cancer, Hair, Mothers and Sons, Photographs, African Americans


Tutu, Desmond.  Desmond and the Very Mean Word:  a Story of Forgiveness.  2013

While riding his new bicycle Desmond is hurt by the mean word yelled at him by a group of boys, but he soon learns that hurting back will not make him feel any better.
EMC-Picture Books

Urban, Linda. Hound Dog True. 2011
Mattie, a shy fifth-grader, wants to hide out at her new school by acting as apprentice to her Uncle Potluck, the custodian, but her plan falls apart when she summons the courage to speak about what matters most and finds a
true friend.
*Bashfulness, Friendship, Janitors, Family Life, Schools, Moving-Household


Vail, Rachel.  Flabbersmashed about You. 2012
When Katie's best friend Jennifer plays with Roy at recess instead of with her, Katie is surprised and angry.

Vejjajiva, Jane. The Happiness of Kati. 2006
With the impending death of her mother, Kati, a young Thai girl, completes the puzzle of her past and discovers the reason that her mother gave her up as a baby. Nine-year-old Kati has always lived with her grandparents in the house by the river. Every day she goes to school, brings offerings to the monks, and plays with Tong, the abbot's nephew. She is happy enough, but something -- someone -- is missing. Kati has not seen her mother for nearly five years, and no one will tell her where she is, until the day she receives some shocking news from Grandmother: Her mother is very ill with Lou Gehrig's disease and has suffered from it for many years. Would Kati like to go see her? And so Kati travels to the house by the sea to spend the last weeks of her mother's life with her. There she learns the reason why her mother gave her up and also finds that she has a meet the father she's never known. A singular story of love, hope, and renewal, set against the lushly exotic background of Thailand, The Happiness of Kati is a profoundly touching novel that reminds us of how very brave, and very wise, children can be.


Venkatraman, Padman.  A Time to Dance. 2014.
In India, a girl who excels at Bharatanatyam dance refuses to give up after losing a leg in an accident.


Volponi, Paul. Rooftop. 2006
Still reeling from seeing police shoot his unarmed cousin to death on the roof of a New York City housing project, seventeen-year-old Clay is dragged into the whirlwind of political manipulation that follows.

*Death, Race Relations, African Americans, Drug Abuse, Rehabilitation, Family Life-New York(State)-New York, New York(NY)


Watkins, Steve. Down Sand Mountain. 2008
In a small Florida mining town in 1966, twelve-year-old Dewey faces one worst-day-ever after another, but comes to know that the issues he faces about bullies, girls, race, and identity are part of the adult world, as well.

*Family Life-Florida, Schools, Self-Actualization (psychology), Race Relations, Bullies, Florida-History-20th Century


Werlin, Nancy. Rules of Survival. 2006
Seventeen-year-old Matthew recounts his attempts, starting at a young age, to free himself and his sisters from the grip of their emotionally and physically abusive mother.

*Child Abuse, Brothers and Sister, Emotional Problems


Whitney, Kim Ablon. See You Down the Road. 2004Sixteen-year-old Bridget, member of an Irish Traveller community in the United States, questions the traditions of her family's nomadic and criminal way of life and begins to wonder if she wants to continue living it.

*Irish Travellers (nomadic people), Irish Americans, Family Life, Individuality, Sex Role, Conduct of Life


Wild, Margaret. Harry and Hopper. 2011
One day when
Harry comes home from school, his faithful companion Hopper isn't there to greet him, in a touching story about the process of healing after losing a beloved pet.
EMC-Picture Books

*Grief, Death, Dogs, Friendship, Family Life


Wiles, Deborah. Each Little Bird that Sings. 2006
Comfort Snowberger is well acquainted with death since her family runs the funeral parlor in their small southern town, but even so the ten-year-old is unprepared for the series of heart-wrenching events that begins on the first day of Easter vacation with the sudden death of her beloved great-uncle Edisto.


*Funeral Homes, Death, Grief, Family Life-Southern States, Southern States


Williams, Mary. Brothers in Hope: the Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan. 2005
Eight-year-old Garang, orphaned by a civil war in Sudan, finds the inner strength to help lead other boys as they trek hundreds of miles seeking safety in Ethiopia, then Kenya, and finally in the United States.

*Refugees, Self-Actualization (psychology), Orphans, War, Sudan


Williams, Michael. Now is the Time for Running. 2011
When soldiers attack a small village in Zimbabwe, Deo goes on the run with Innocent, his older, mentally disabled brother, carrying little but a leather soccer ball filled with money, and after facing prejudice, poverty, and tragedy, it is in soccer that Deo finds renewed hope.

*Refugees, Brothers, People with Disabilities, Survival, Homeless Persons, Soccer, Blacks-Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe


Wilson, Jacqueline. The Illustrated Mum. 2005
Ten-year-old Dolphin is determined to stay with her family, no matter what, but when her sister goes to live with her newly-discovered father, sending their mother further into manic-depression, Dolphin's life takes a turn for the better.

*Mothers and Daughters, Manic-Depressive Illness, Sisters, Single-Parent Families, Tattooing, England


Wolitzer, Meg. The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman. 2011
Duncan Dorfman, April Blunt, and Nate Saviano meet at the Youth Scrabble Tournament where, although each has a different reason for attending and for needing to win, they realize that something more important is at stake than the grand prize.

*Interpersonal Relations, Individuality, Ability, Scrabble (game), Contests


Woodson, Jacqueline. Beneath a Meth Moon. 2012"A young girl uses crystal meth to escape the pain of losing her mother and grandmother in Hurricane Katrina, and then struggles to get over her addiction"

*Methamphetamine, Drug Abuse, Grief, Runaways, Hurricane Katrina 2005, Iowa, Pass Christian(Miss)


Woodson, Jacqueline.  Each Kindness. 2012
When Ms. Albert teaches a lesson on kindness, Chloe realizes that she and her friends have been wrong in making fun of new student Maya's shabby clothes and refusing to play with her.
EMC-Picture Books

Woodson, Jacqueline. Feathers. 2007When a new, white student nicknamed "The Jesus Boy" joins her sixth grade class in the winter of 1971, Frannie's growing friendship with him makes her start to see some things in a new light.

*Race Relations, African Americans, Schools, Deaf, Family Life, Religion


Yu, Li-Qiong.  A New Year's Reunion. 2007
Little Maomao's father works in faraway places and comes home just once a year, for Chinese New Year. At first Maomao barely recognizes him, but before long the family is happily making sticky rice balls, listening to firecrackers, and watching the dragon dance in the streets below. Papa gets a haircut, makes repairs to the house, and hides a lucky coin for Maomao to find. Which she does! But all too soon it is time for Papa to go away again.
EMC-Picture Books

Zarr, Sara. How to Save a Life. 2011Told from their own viewpoints, seventeen-year-old Jill, in grief over the loss of her father, and Mandy, nearly nineteen, are thrown together when Jill's mother agrees to adopt Mandy's unborn child but nothing turns out as they had anticipated.

*Interpersonal Relations, Adoption, Mothers and Daughters, Pregnancy, Grief, Family Life-Colorado, Denver (Colo.)


Zarr, Sara. Sweethearts. 2008
After losing her soul mate, Cameron, when they were nine, Jennifer, now seventeen, transformed herself from the unpopular fat girl into the beautiful and popular Jenna, but Cameron’s unexpected return dredges up memories that cause both social and emotional turmoil.

*Love, Popularity, Schools, Family Problems, Weight Control, Self-Esteem, Psychological Abuse, Utah


Zimmer, Tracie Vaughn. Reaching for Sun. 2007Josie, who lives with her mother and grandmother and has cerebral palsy, befriends a boy who moves into one of the rich houses behind her old farmhouse.

*Cerebral Palsy, People With Disabilities, Friendship, Grandmothers, Single-Parent Families


Zusak, Markus. I Am the Messenger. 2005

After capturing a bank robber, nineteen-year-old cab driver Ed Kennedy begins receiving mysterious messages that direct him to addresses where people need help, and he begins getting over his lifelong feeling of worthlessness.


*Self-Esteem, Heroes, Taxicab Drivers



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