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John Patrick Green (First Second)

Zoo animals Hippopotamus and Red Panda attempt to find their true callings in this romp of a graphic novel that sees the friends trying out careers as construction workers, hair stylists, and chefs. The results of their efforts are decidedly mixed, but Green cleverly builds to an unexpected and rewarding ending for both animals.


Sea Change

Frank Viva (Toon Books)

Viva moves from picture books into fiction with this illustrated novel about a boy's summer visit to a Nova Scotia fishing village. With its striking graphic design, moody tone, and coastal Canadian setting, it's a book that feels a bit like a middle grade counterpart to Jillian and Mariko Tamaki's This One Summer.


Some Kind of Happiness

Claire Legrand (Simon & Schuster)

As 11-year-old Finley spends a summer with relatives she barely knows, Legrand delivers a deeply sensitive story that balances tough real-life situations like longstanding resentments, parental breakups, and depression with the power of storytelling and the building of connections that provide real, needed support.


We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler

Russell Freedman (Clarion)

Readers who love nonfiction and are interested in seeing how young people can make a difference should be riveted by Freedman's account of the clandestine efforts of siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl and others to oppose Hitler. While the consequences were deadly for these young activists, Freeman makes evident the value of their brave actions.


When Friendship Followed Me Home

Paul Griffin (Dial)

In a bighearted story set in Coney Island, Griffin showcases the determination of a 12-year-old boy named Ben, who may be out of the foster care system but whose challenges aren't over. Griffin's portraits of Ben's friendships with a local librarian, her daughter, and a rescued dog bring light to the difficulties Ben faces.


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