Middle Bear

Susanna Isern’s melodic picture book tale uses repetition throughout and offers an upbeat and positive message to middle children everywhere. It’s a subject that is not often addressed in this format. With its hero’s quest theme, the story has the feel of a modern-day fairy tale. Manon Gauthier’s spare artwork and understated palette perfectly capture the poignancy of the bear cub’s emotional journey. Though the book focuses on the role of middle children, it really celebrates every child’s efforts toward self-discovery, as they seek out their own special place in the world. It also offers a wonderful opportunity to highlight the character education subject of perseverance or a lesson on empathy.

The Bear Who Wasn’t There

Bear’s search for himself doesn’t matter so much as the charm of Lavie’s storytelling voice as he narrates it . . . Erlbruch gives the bear big, puzzled-looking eyes and a lovable grin. He lives in a forest made of ornate trees seemingly lifted from vintage engravings, whose delicate lines play off Bear’s dumpy figure. Bear’s encounters with various characters—the Turtle Taxi, the Penultimate Penguin—feature gentle wordplay and Lewis Carroll–like paradoxes . . . Everything is new to Bear, and his discoveries will delight readers.

Being Henry David

Seventeen-year-old “Hank” has found himself at Penn Station in New York City with no memory of anything—who he is, where he came from, why he’s running away. His only possession is a worn copy of Walden by Henry David Thoreau. And so he becomes Henry David—or “Hank”—and takes first to the streets, and then to the only destination he can think of—Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts.

Cal Armistead’s remarkable debut novel is about a teen in search of himself. Hank begins to piece together recollections from his past. The only way Hank can discover his present is to face up to the realities of his grievous memories. He must come to terms with the tragedy of his past, to stop running, and to find his way home.

The Voice Inside My Head

Seventeen-year-old Luke’s older sister, Pat, has always been his moral compass, like a voice inside his head, every time he has a decision to make. So when Pat disappears on a tiny island off the coast of Honduras and the authorities claim she’s drowned – despite the fact that they can’t produce a body – Luke heads to Honduras to find her because he knows something the authorities don’t. From the moment of her disappearance, Pat’s voice has become real, guiding him to Utila, where she had accepted a summer internship to study whale sharks. Once there, he meets several characters who describe his sister as a very different girl from the one knows. Does someone have a motive for wanting her dead? Determined to get to the bottom of Pat’s disappearance, Luke risks everything, including his own life, to find the answer.

Kaytek the Wizard

Kaytek, a mischievous schoolboy, is surprised to discover that he is able to perform magic spells and change reality. He begins to lead a double life as a powerful wizard in the dress of an ordinary boy. Kaytek has great fun using magic to cause strange incidents in his school and neighborhood, but soon his increasing powers cause major chaos around the city of Warsaw. Disillusioned, he leaves the country and wanders the world searching for the meaning of his unique abilities and their consequences.

Digby Differs

Digby has always felt a little different from everyone else. For some reason he’s just never felt like he belonged. He longs for a place that felt like home, and one day his yearning sends him on a journey of discovery that takes him to a place where the air is different, and there’s a rushing sound quite unlike anything he’s ever heard before. At last, he finds a place where ”feeling different” feels just right.

The Midwife’s Apprentice

The girl known only as Brat has no family, no home, and no future until she meets Jane the Midwife and becomes her apprentice. As she helps the sharp-tempered Jane deliver babies, Brat–who renames herself Alyce–gains knowledge, confidence, and the courage to want something from life: “A full belly, a contented heart, and a place in this world.” Medieval village life makes a lively backdrop for the funny, poignant story of how Alyce gets what she wants. A concluding note discusses midwifery past and present. A Newbery Medal book.

Wanderlove

Bria, an aspiring artist just graduated from high school, takes off for Central America’s La Ruta Maya, rediscovering her talents and finding love.

After the Snow

Fifteen-year-old Willo Blake, born after the 2059 snows that ushered in a new ice age, encounters outlaws, halfmen, and an abandoned girl as he journeys in search of his family, who mysteriously disappeared from the freezing mountain that was their home.