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© Jordan B. Nielsen, 2012

The Magician’s Elephant

By Kate DiCamillo

Recommended for: Both boys and girls, ages 10 and up for discussion of death and a rather gloomy atmosphere.

One word summary: Somber.

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Same Sun Here

By Silas House & Neela Vaswani

Recommended for: Both boys and girls ages 10 and Up for discussion of racism, troubled family life and general maturity of themes. The narrative is split between a male and female character making it relatable to either gender.

One Word Summary: Ebullient.

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New Classics

One Crazy Summer

By Rita Williams-Garcia

Recommended for: Primarily girls, aged 10 and Up for some illusions to historical violence and racism and complicated family dynamics. The story is narrated by a girl, and features mainly women, but there is nothing that would particularly alienate boys.

One Word Summary: Vibrant.

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The Tiger Rising

By Kate DiCamillo

Recommended for: EVERYONE aged 10 and Up, both boys and girls. There are some adult themes, and mild, but poignant violence, which will probably be more affecting to those over twenty than the younger set, who might not feel its full force.

One Word Summary: Radiant.

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Bud, Not Buddy

By Christopher Paul Curtis

Recommended for: Boys and Girls, ages twelve and up, but this book will probably soon be assigned in classrooms all across the country along with ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ and ‘Number the Stars’, where it rightfully belongs, so if you’re entering middle school, you  may want to wait. 

One Word Summary: Timeless

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The Great Cake Mystery

By Alexander McCall Smith

Recommended for: Ages 7 to 10 for independent reading, or 5 and up as a read aloud. There is a message about the dangers of false accusations, but the light tone makes it suitable for younger children. Though the main character is female the book is gender neutral and the detective plot can easily be enjoyed by both boys and girls.

One Word Summary: Precious.

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The Fantastic Secret of Owen Jester

By Barbara O’Connor

Recommended for: Boys and Girls, ages 7 to 10. The story features a male protagonist and the sort of rambunctious summer fun that will likely be particularly relatable for boys, but a strong female character and a lack of gross-out jokes will keep girls from being alienated…unless, you know, they like that kind of thing.

One Word Summary: Buoyant.

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The Rusty Key

The Peculiar

By Stefan Bachmann

Recommended for: Recommended for: Both boys and girls, ages 10 and up if they’re particularly strong readers, but more generally, 12 and up for moderate violence against children and overall complexity of plot.

One Word Summary: Cinematic.

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The Fault in Our Stars

By John Green

Recommended for: Boys and girls, ages 13 and up.

One Word Summary: Luminous.

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By R.J. Palacio

Recommended for: Ages 9 and Up for emotionally mature subject matter. A broad range of characters and general relatability should make this book appealing to both boys and girls.

One Word Summary: Flawless.

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