Primary Virginia Readers’ Choice Titles for 2019-2020

This Is a Ball by Beck and Matt Stanton, Little, Brown, 2017, 978-0-316-43437-9

Not only is this concept book funny but it keeps children laughing as they get a little frustrated with the author. This interactive book allows children to work together to "talk" with the author and try to make things right.

The Boo Boos That Changed the World by Barry Wittenstein, Charlesbridge, 2018, 978-1-58089-745-7

This story tells how one of our favorite items came to be: the Band Aid. Created by an accident at home, Earle Dickson needed something to cope with a wound. It turns out this everyday staple has quite a fascinating story.

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall, Candlewick, 2017, 978-0-7636-7838-8

Jabari is prepared for the diving board – at least he thinks he is. But when the time comes and his feet are at the edge of the diving board, it looks a whole lot scarier than it did from down below. Will Jabari jump?

When’s My Birthday? by Julie Fogliano, Roaring Brook, 2017, 978-1-62672-293-4

When you are a little person, there is nothing more exciting than your birthday. This beautifully illustrated book filled with birthday candles and cakes helps gets the party started!

Sing, Don’t Cry by Angela Dominguez, Henry Holt, 2017, 978-1-62779-839-6

A loving Abuelo brings along his guitar and memories on visits to his grandchildren. He sings with his grandchildren in the face of good and bad times, showing them that loss can open the door for new opportunities.

What If… by Samantha Berger, Little, Brown, 2018, 978-0-316-39096-5

A young girl thinks about all the ways she can create—from pencil and paper drawings to stories in her mind.

Little Penguin and the Lollipop by Tadgh Bentley, Balzer & Bray, 2017, 978-0-06-256078-0

Children cannot help but interact with this hilarious book that enlists them to help make his friend, Kenneth, feel better.

Alfie: (The Turtle that Disappeared) by Thyra Heder, Abrams, 2017, 978-1-41972-529-6

On Nia’s sixth birthday she receives Alfie the turtle. The two share their perspectives of their new and growing friendship in this delightful story.

Can I be Your Dog? by Troy Cummings, Random House, 2018, 978-0-399-55452-0

A homeless dog seeks a new home by writing letters to people in his neighborhood sharing all the ways he will make their home better. Will he find the perfect home?

Give Me Back My Book! by Travis Foster, Chronicle, 2017, 978-1-45216-040-5

Bloo and Redd love a particular book but when the issue of who owns it is raised, the two friends fight for the book to be theirs. When a bookworm steals it, the friends decide to write their own book to get it back.  These two LOVE reading!

Elementary Virginia Readers’ Choice Titles for 2019-2020

Lemons by Melissa Savage, Crown Books, 2017, 978-1-52470013-3 

Lemonade Witt is very upset that she has to leave San Francisco to live with her grandfather after her mother dies.  Life seems very strange, especially her neighbor Tobin. He has started a Bigfoot detective agency and is trying to capture Bigfoot on camera.  Will Lem find Bigfoot and a home? 

Shadows at Jamestown by Steven K. Smith, MyBoys3Press, 2017, 9781947881006

Sam, Derek, and Caitlin are invited to participate in a summer camp at Jamestown where they will participate in an authentic archaeological dig.  While learning about Jamestown, they also discover that some valuable artifacts are disappearing from the museum.  The three accept the challenge to trace the cause of the missing objects. 

Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers, Illustrated by Shawn Harris, Chronicle Books, 2017,  978-1452162812

This beautifully designed book about the history of the Statue of Liberty is filled with interesting trivia and humor.  Accessible information is blended with a poetic discussion of Lady Liberty’s right foot and the many immigrants she has welcomed. 

The Losers Club by Andrew Clements, Random House, 2017, 978-0-399-55755-2

Alec is constantly getting in trouble for reading his own books when he is supposed to be paying attention in class.  When Alec goes to his afterschool program he just wants to be left alone to read.  Unfortunately, reading alone is not an option so Alec decides to form a club.  How do you start a club you don’t want other people to join?  By giving it just the right name… the Losers Club.

Confessions from the Principal’s Kid by Robin Mellom, HMH Books for Young Readers, 2017, 978-0-544-81379-3 

Fifth grader Allie West feels like she doesn’t belong in her school community--after all, who wants to be friends with the principal’s kid?  After a misunderstanding, Allie is thought of as a “snitch.”  Now her only friends are the other “Afters” who are also the children of school employees.  Can Allie figure out who she is and what she stands for, outside of being the principal’s kid? 

Pablo and Birdy by Alison McGhee, Atheneum Books, 2017, 978-1-48147-026-4   

 A young boy and his parrot washed up on a small island ten years ago.  The local islanders took them in and raised the boy, Pablo, as their own.  As his tenth birthday approaches, Pablo is desperate to find out why he was abandoned. 

They Didn’t Teach This in Worm School by Simone Lia, Candlewick Press, 2016, 978-0-7636-9536-1

Marcus is a worm.  Laurence is a bird who looks like a pigeon, but he thinks he is a flamingo.  After Laurence nearly eats Marcus, they come to a deal.  Marcus will navigate Laurence to Africa, although Marcus doesn’t know where Africa is or how to read a map. 

Adventures of Henry Whiskers by Gigi Priebe, Aladdin, 2017, 978-1-48146-575-5

Henry lives with his mouse family in a Windsor Castle special exhibit--a mouse-sized replica of the Queen’s house.  Henry’s sister goes missing at the same time the exhibit is closed for repairs.  Henry and his cousin race to find and rescue her before she is discovered by the humans. 

Dazzle Ships: World War I and the Art of Confusion by Chris Barton, Scholastic Press, 2017, 978-151241010143 

During WW I, the British and US painted over 4000 supply ships in fantastic patterns.  The goal was to confuse German submarines targeting the supply ships. 

Front Desk by Kelly Yang, Arthur Levine Books, 2018, 978-1-33815-779-6 

Mia is a Chinese immigrant and a fifth grader.  She helps her parents work as managers of a small motel in California as the front desk clerk.  In her work and at school she encounters discrimination.  Mia has a fascination with words and is determined to be a writer.  She uses her talents to help herself and others to overcome obstacles.  This story is based on the author’s experiences. 

Middle School Virginia Readers’ Choice Titles for 2019-2020

Refugee by Alan Gratz, Scholastic Press, 2017, 978-0-545-88083-1

Three stories of children from different times driven by the same desires to find freedom and safety set out for new lands.

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling, Sterling Children's Books, 2017, 978-1-45492345-9

Aven was born without any arms but has figured out how to use her feet for almost everything. When people ask her about the missing arms, she usually makes up an entertaining fib such as she lost her arms in an alligator wrestling match.  Aven and her family move across the country when her parents take a job running a slightly failing western theme park in Arizona.  Being the new kid at school is no fun, especially when you have no arms.  She begins to make new friends with two other students who have their own set of problems.  While adjusting to a new life, Aven finds herself in the middle of a mystery surrounding the theme park.

Restart by Gordon Korman, Scholastic Press, 2017, 978-1-33805377-7

Chase, captain of the school football team and well-known bully of the school, falls off the roof and has a case of amnesia.  When he returns to school, he does not remember the actions that earned his reputation in the school or understand why so many students fear and hate him.  Having to change many of his school routines due to his accident, he soon learns the impact his previous behavior had on the students of the school and tries to repair the damage he has done.

Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess by Shari Green, Pajama Press, 2017, 978-1-77278-033-8

Macy is deaf but that's not what really defines her - it's just a part of who she is.  What she's really worried about is a fight with her best friend, her mother remarrying, and surprisingly connecting with her elderly neighbor over books.

Two Truths and a Lie: It's Alive! by Ammi-Joan Paquette, Walden Pond Press, 2017, 978-0-06-241879-1

Two out of every three of these unbelievable stories about the world we live in are true, but one is a lie.  Like the popular game, readers have to sort fact from fiction to determine the truth.

Lost in the Pacific, 1942: Not a Drop to Drink by Tod Olson, Scholastic, 2016, 978-0-545-92808-3

Based on true events, this story details the mission charged with taking WWI Air Hero Eddie Rickenbacker to Canton Island.  As the plane nears the island, it runs out of fuel and crash lands in the Pacific.  The story continues to describe the crews’ harrowing time at sea.

Watchdog by Will McIntosh, Delacorte Press, 2017, 978-1-52471384-3

In his first novel for young adults, this Virginia author sets the story in a futuristic dystopian Chicago.  Vick, who suffers from asthma, and his younger sister, Tara, an electronics savant, struggle to survive in a dark world.  They spend their days scouring through junk yards looking for electronic parts they can sell for food.  When Tara creates a robotic dog that draws the attention of the underworld, things take a turn for the worse.  Family, loyalty, and friendship are deeply embedded in this story which will appeal to both boys and girls. Who will triumph: good or evil?

Amina's Voice by Hena Khan, Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2017, 978-1-48149206-5

Amina is in 6th grade and a Pakistani-American who has a beautiful singing voice but won't sing in front of people.  Her best friend is Korean and becoming a U.S. citizen.  While Amina deals with friendship and family issues, there is a tragic event in her town that brings people together.

The Red Bandanna: Young Reader's Adaptation by Tom Rinaldi, Viking Books for Young Readers, 2017, 978-0-425-28762-0

Never expecting to be a hero, Welles Crowther is in the South Tower in New York City on September 11, 2001.  Realizing the danger of the situation, Welles, wearing his red bandanna, leads people to safety and returns to save even more.

Braced by Alyson Gerber, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2017, 978-0-545-90214-4

Rachel has scoliosis.  Right before 7th grade begins and she's made the starting line-up on the soccer team, she finds out she has to wear a brace to correct her scoliosis.  She has two best friends and a crush on a boy, so she has to navigate 7th grade while having to wear the brace.

High School Virginia Readers’ Choice Titles for 2019-2020

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham, Little, Brown and Co., 2017, 978-0-316-38493-3

"Some bodies won't stay buried.  Some stories need to be told."  Is the past really history or are there innumerable invisible threads that tie the past and present together?  In a well-written novel, Jennifer Latham addresses that question.  Rowan Chase, an affluent biracial teen living in present day Tulsa, Oklahoma, lives a comfortable, safe life until a body is discovered on her parent’s property and she becomes obsessed with finding out the identity of the victim.  Will, a 17-year-old biracial teen living in Tulsa during the 1920s, remains relatively unscathed by racism until he commits an angry and thoughtless act, which quickly escalates into an event from which there is no turning back.  Rowan and Will’s stories unfold through alternating chapters in which the topics of race, privilege, and violence in America are explored.  Both teens are driven to do the right thing.  Both must maneuver within the confines of powerful social forces, the Ku Klux Klan in Will’s time, police assumptions and political pressure in Rowan’s time.  Events from these two eras intersect and the final result is a surprising resolution to the original mystery that started it all.

One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus, Delacorte Press, 2017, 978-1-52471468-0

A typical high school and five students assigned to in-school restriction is the setting for One of Us is Lying.  One of the students, Simon, is the author of a school-based gossip app, and the other four have been Simon’s targets.  Somehow Simon was able to use innuendo and fact to make the students of Bayview High School fearful.  When Simon is found dead in the in-school room, the other four students are suspected in his death.  They all had motive and opportunity.  Or did they?  This is a “who-done-it” with many twists and turns as old liaisons break and new ones are formed between members of the student body as the investigation winds its way to the truth. 

Spill Zone by Scott Westerfeld, First Second, 2017, 978-1-59643-936-8

Three years ago, the Spill transformed Poughkeepsie from a sleepy NY town to a living nightmare, a quarantined zone where the laws of physics no longer apply, mutated creatures roam, and human “meatpuppets” lurk with empty, glowing eyes.  Armed only with a camera, outlaw artist Addison sneaks past the National Guard perimeter at night, looking for answers about the mysterious disaster and photographing the strange phenomena there, which she then sells to wealthy collectors.  What was the Spill?  What happened to her parents?  And why won’t Addison’s little sister, Alexa, a survivor of the tragedy, talk about what she witnessed that night?  When a rich buyer offers Addison a million-dollar payday for a dangerous job inside the Zone, she must decide whether the risk is worth the reward.  Creepy sci-fi at its finest, The Spill Zone is an eerie graphic novel you won’t be able to put down.

The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater, Farrar Straus Giroux, 2018, 978-0-374-30323-5

Two teens, one bus, one lighter, and a decision that can’t be undone.  In this true story about a sixteen-year-old who set an agender teen on fire on a city bus in California, one split-second decision changes two lives and two communities forever.  The book provides testimony about both teens before the incident, details and accounts of the crime, and the road to healing for both families.  Interviews, Tumblr excerpts, letters, and statistics provide a full picture of the consequences of actions. 

In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan, Big Mouth House, 2017, 978-1-61873-120-3

A laugh-out-loud adventure filled with unexpected twists, romances, and epic battles.  Elliott discovers that he is one of the few people who can enter the Borderlands, a land filled with magical creatures and new possibilities.  How will Elliott the pacifist deal with the bloody fighting and conflict of this new realm?  With sarcasm, humor, and his own style of course! 

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, Atheneum, 2017, 978-1-48143825-4

It should be a quick trip on the elevator, but 15-year-old Will finds that it is a “Long Way Down” from his apartment on the 8th floor to the lobby.  This story, told in verse, requires him to answer a simple question.  Will he follow the 3 Rules: Don’t cry, don’t snitch, always get revenge?  Or, will he make a different decision?  In real time, his descent only lasts 67 seconds.  But somehow, on each floor, someone from his past walks through the doors until Will is hemmed in and surrounded by the ghosts of his past.  As their stories unfold, Will gets a glimpse of what really happened in each man’s quest for revenge and payback as well as what drove their actions and the resulting repercussions.  Will wonders if he really has a choice, and if so, what it will be.

Paper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield, Carolrhoda Lab, 2017, 978-1-51248241-6

June's life is full of secrets--she lives in a home where she suffers from daily abuse of her stepmother and sister, abuse her dad doesn't even know about.  She goes to a school where she's picked on, targeted, and treated as an outcast.  June lives in her world without others knowing her struggles, a world where it seems that there is no light; that is, until she meets Blister.  Blister shows June another way of life, one filled with paper butterflies and laughter.  And in a world where there seems to be so little worth fighting for, doesn't June deserve it?  Paper Butterflies is a heartbreaking tale of survival against the darkness and how love can bring us into the light. 

The Lines We Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah, Scholastic, 2017, 978-1-33811866-7

Michael and Mina are two students from different sides of the picket line.  Michael, or rather, Michael's parents, represent Aussie Values, an Australian anti-immigrant group that hopes to decrease the supports provided to refugees in Australia.  Mina and her parents are Muslim refugees from Afghanistan, hoping to rebuild their lives and safely grieve the losses they suffered.  When put to the test, what will Michael and Mina stand for?

Loving vs. Virginia: A Documentary Novel of the Landmark Civil Rights Case by Patricia Hruby Powell, Chronicle, 2017, 978-1-45212590-9

In Caroline County, Virginia, in 1955, two teenagers fell in love.  Their story, the story of courage and determination while facing immense odds, turned into a landmark civil rights supreme court case.  Told in verse, this book tells the true story of Mildred and Richard Loving and the battle they fought against discrimination, a battle that they ultimately won as the supreme court legalized marriage between races. 

Warcross by Marie Lu, G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2017, 978-0-399-54796-6

Tattooed, rainbow-haired Emika Chen is a bounty hunter living in major debt.  When her attempt to hack into the opening game of the International Warcross Championships doesn't go as planned, she is immediately thrust into the spotlight.  Not only is she capturing the attention of Warcross players worldwide, but the creator of the games himself - Hideo Tanaka.  Will his promise of fortune be enough to convince her to enter this dangerous virtual tournament and the consequences that lurk there?