1. Smile and Sisters: The Box Set
Two graphic reads are always better than one. Smile is based on author/illustrator Raina Telgemeier’s own experiences with the horrors of dental headgear and all of the social drama it inspires, while Sisters follows the her fraught relationship with her younger sister. Anyone who is currently imperiled by puberty (or who managed to survive it) will find kinship in Telgemeier’s stories.
Smile and Sisters, by Raina Telgemeier, goraina.com
2. The Mysterious Benedict Society
Four children respond to an ad asking, “ARE YOU A GIFTED CHILD LOOKING FOR SPECIAL OPPORTUNITIES?” What follows is a little bit science fiction, a little bit mystery, a little bit whimsy, and a whole lot of fun.
The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart, hachettebookgroup.com/features/mysteriousbenedictsociety
According to Auggie Pullman, one of eight narrators in this novel of interwoven perspectives, “I feel ordinary inside. But I know ordinary kids don’t make other ordinary kids run away screaming in playgrounds.” Auggie was born with facial deformities that present him with unique challenges—but they’re challenges that any child who has ever felt ostracized or judged can relate to.
Wonder, by R.J. Palacio, rjpalacio.com
4. Amelia’s Notebooks
This series follows dreamer and doodler Amelia from a move to a new house and a new school in the fifth grade through middle school, complete with a variety of survival guides for BFFs, boys, and babysitting.
Amelia’s Notebooks, by Marissa Moss, marissamoss.com/books.php?series=amelia
Actor Jason Segel teams up with children’s author Kirsten Miller to bring Charlie Laird—a typical kid hating on his stepmother and his younger brother—and his fears to life. Literally. Utterly charming and surprisingly deep, Nightmares! challenges young readers to think about what it is they’re really afraid of (hint, it’s not clowns or spiders) and the value of facing those fears.
Nightmares!, by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller, randomhouse.com/book/235393/nightmares-by-jason-segel-and-kirsten-miller