Vanessa’s Fashion Face-Off (Confidentially Yours) by Jo Whittemore;HarperCollins
Perfect for fans of The Cupcake Diaries and The Babysitters Club, this new series is about four best friends who are confidentially yours when writing their middle school newspaper’s advice column.
Vanessa Jackson has style to spare and an amazing ability to rock any look. She’s always had a flair for fashion, and dreams of being a designer one day. She’s loving middle school, and being on the newspaper staff with her two best friends is a blast. Vanessa knows her fashion advice is always on point for the group’s popular advice column.
But then she meets her new neighbor, Katie Kestler. Katie is cute, super-stylish, and just moved from glamorous LA. When Katie ends up attending the same middle school, suddenly it seems like Katie’s everywhere, and not in a good way. But when an advice-off competition threatens Vanessa’s spot on the column, she’s determined to take Katie down. (ages 8-12)
American Ace by Marilyn Nelson; Dial Books
Connor’s grandmother leaves his dad a letter when she dies, and the letter’s confession shakes their tight-knit Italian-American family: The man who raised Dad is not his birth father.
But the only clues to this birth father’s identity are a class ring and a pair of pilot’s wings. And so Connor takes it upon himself to investigate—a pursuit that becomes even more pressing when Dad is hospitalized after a stroke. What Connor discovers will lead him and his father to a new, richer understanding of race, identity, and each other.
Cleo Edison Oliver, Playground Millionaire by Sundee T. Frasier; Arthur A. Levine
Cleopatra Edison Oliver has always been an entrepreneur, just like her inspiration, successful businesswoman Fortune A. Davies. So when Cleo’s fifth-grade teacher assigns her class a “Passion Project,” Cleo comes up with her best business idea yet: the finest “tooth-pulling” company in town. With the help of her best friend Caylee, a Nerf gun, her dad’s tablet, and her patented Persuasion Power, Cleo’s Quick and Painless Tooth Removal Service starts to take off.
But even the best made plans, by the best CEOs, go awry sometimes. A minor barfing incident during a tooth-pulling operation causes Cleo to lose customers. Caylee, initially enthusiastic about the business, grows distant as Cleo neglects their friendship in lieu of getting more customers. And when a mean classmate makes fun of Cleo for being adopted, everything comes crashing down. Will she be able to rescue her business, salvage her friendship with Caylee, and discover that her true home has been here all along? (ages 8-12)
To Catch a Cheat by Varian Johnson; Scholastic
When a video frames Jackson Greene and his friends for a crime they didn’t commit, Gang Greene battles the blackmailers in this sequel to the acclaimed The Great Greene Heist.
Jackson Greene is riding high. He is officially retired from conning, so Principal Kelsey is (mostly) off his back. His friends have great new projects of their own. And he’s been hanging out a lot with Gaby de la Cruz, so he thinks maybe, just maybe, they’ll soon have their first kiss.
Then Jackson receives a link to a faked security video that seems to show him and the rest of Gang Greene flooding the school gym. The jerks behind the video threaten to pass it to the principal — unless Jackson steals an advance copy of the school’s toughest exam.
So Gang Greene reunites for their biggest job yet. To get the test adn clear their names, they’ll have to outrun the school’s security cameras, outwit a nosy member of the Honor Board, and outmaneuver the blackmailers while setting a trap for them in turn. And as they execute another exciting caper full of twists and turns, they’ll prove that sometimes it takes a thief to catch a cheat. (ages 8-12)
The Memory of Light by Francisco X. Stork; Scholastic
When Vicky Cruz wakes up in the Lakeview Hospital Mental Disorders ward, she knows one thing: After her suicide attempt, she shouldn’t be alive. But then she meets Mona, the live wire; Gabriel, the saint; E.M., always angry; and Dr. Desai, a quiet force. With stories and honesty, kindness and hard work, they push her to reconsider her life before Lakeview, and offer her an acceptance she’s never had.
But Vicky’s newfound peace is as fragile as the roses that grow around the hospital. And when a crisis forces the group to split up, sending Vick back to the life that drove her to suicide, she must try to find her own courage and strength. She may not have them. She doesn’t know.
Inspired in part by the author’s own experience with depression, The Memory of Light is the rare young adult novel that focuses not on the events leading up to a suicide attempt, but the recovery from one — about living when life doesn’t seem worth it, and how we go on anyway. (12 and up)