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 Cool Reads for Cool Kids: Books for fifth and sixth graders




Creech, Sharon
Love That Dog
A boy who thinks poetry is just for girls changes his opinion, thanks to a special teacher and a classroom visit from Walter Dean Myers.


Frazier, Sundee T.
Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything in It
Brendan Buckley, whose mother is White and his father is African American, is a scientist. Why hasn’t he ever met his grandfather, who is also a scientist?


Grimes, Nikki
The Road to Paris
Eight-year-old Paris is separated from her adored older brother when they are placed in different foster homes.


MacLaughlan, Patricia
Edward's Eyes
Eleven-year-old Jake appreciates everyone in his close-knit family but he has a special closeness with Edward, his little brother. It is the love of this family that helps him through a tragic accident.


McKay, Hilary.
Saffy's Angel
After learning she was adopted, Saffy's relationship with her eccentric, artistic family is strained, until they help her go back to Italy, to where she was born, to find a memento from her past.


Patron, Susan
Higher Power of Lucky
Hard Pan, California (population 43) is not your usual town, but ten-year-old Lucky loves her desert home where she pursues her search for her "Higher Power."


Paulson, Gary
Lawn Boy
Things get out of hand for a twelve-year old boy when a neighbor convinces him to expand his summer lawn mowing business.


Smith, Hope Anita
The Way a Door Closes
Written in verse, this is the story of an African American family that struggles to survive in the face of Daddy’s loss of his job.


Tolan, Stephanie
Charley (Charlotte) has to exercise to strengthen the leg that was injured in a recent car accident, as well as to try to come to terms with the death of her mother two years earlier.


Woodson, Jacqueline
The new kid in Frannie's 6th grade class, nick named "Jesus Boy" because of his appearance and calm demeanor, challenges her to reevaluate many of her long held beliefs and to find a new peace with her family situation. 





Applegate, Katherine
Home of the Brave
Kek has many adjustments to make when he comes to America after escaping from the horrible war in Sudan where his father and brother have died. Was his mother able to escape too?


The Seer of Shadows
A ghost story set in New York City in the year 1872 that involves the new-fangled art of photography and the spirit of revenge!


Birney, Betty
The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs
Eben is bored in his rural town of Sassafras Springs, and really wants to travel. His father makes a deal with him: if he can find seven Wonders right here in town, his father will buy him a ticket to Colorado.


Carbone, Elisa Lynn
Blood on the River: James Town 1607
Travelling to the New World as a page to Captain John Smith in 1606, twelve-year-old orphan Samual Collier settles into the new colony of James Town, where he must quickly learn to distinguish between friend and foe.


Curtis, Christopher
Elijah of Buxton
Elijah, the first child born in Buxton, Canada, which is a haven for escaping slaves, goes to find the preacher who has stolen the money that a man was saving to buy his family's freedom. 


Dowell, Frances O’Roark
Shooting the Moon
When Army brat Jamie Dexter’s older brother joins the Army and goes to Vietnam, Jamie is happy and proud. When her brother starts sending film of the pictures he has taken and asks her to develop it, she learns a lot about war … and about herself.


Holm, Jennifer L.
Penny from Heaven
No one will tell Penny how her father died years ago when she was a baby, but she has remained close to her Italian-American relatives.


Mitchell, Elizabeth
Journey to the Bottomless Pit: the Story of Stephen Bishop and Mammoth Cave
Reads like a biography. Stephen Bishop was a slave whose job was to explore and guide people through Mammoth Cave.


Park, Linda Sue
Keeping Score
Maggie is not a traitor to the Dodgers, even though she befriends Jim, a die-hard Dodgers fan, who teaches her how to score a baseball game before he goes off to serve in the Korean War.


Porter, Tracey
Billy Creekmore
Billy is relieved when a mysterious uncle comes to take him away from the horrible Guardian Angels Home for Boys where he’s been living.


Ryan, Pam Munoz
Riding Freedom
This fictionalized biography describes the life of Charley (Charlotte) Parkhurst, who spent her life masquerading as a man in order to pursue her dream of driving stagecoaches.


Selznick, Brian
The Invention of Hugo Cabret
When twelve-year old Hugo, an orphan living and repairing clocks within the walls of a Paris train station in 1931, meets a mysterious toy seller and his goddaughter, his undercover life and his biggest secret are jeopardized.


White, Ruth
Way Down Deep
It is the summer of 1944, and a red-headed toddler mysteriously appears on the courthouse steps of the tiny hamlet of Way Down Deep, West Virginia. The town takes her in and raises her, but years later she begins to discover the secrets of her past.


Woods, Brenda
Red Rose Box
Ten-year-old Leah lives in a small town in Louisiana in 1953, and wants to travel to escape poverty. When the red rose box comes in the mail, perhaps her dreams will be realized – but at what price?


Yep, Laurence
When the Circus Came to Town
Ursula’s has a wild imagination, but when she contracts smallpox and is horribly scarred, she wants to hide in her room forever. The family’s Chinese cook brings a circus to the town to help bring her out of her shell.



True Stories


Blumberg, Ruth
Shipwrecked: the True Adventures of a Japanese Boy
The biographical tale of Manjiro Nakahama, the first Japanese person to come to the United States, and his transformation from a fourteen-year-old castaway to world traveler and honored samurai.


Calabro, Marion
The Perilous Journey of the Donner Party
A realistic and moving account of the ill-fated pioneer journey of the Donner party, as seen through the eyes of twelve-year-old Virginia Reed.


Deem, James
Bodies from the Ice: Melting Glaciers and the Recovery of the Past 
As glaciers melt, they retreat, leaving behind the remains (sometimes mummified remains) of humans who died while climbing mountains.


Fleischman, Sid
Escape!: The Story of the Great Houdini
The fascinating and funny biography of Houdini, the magician who could escape from anything.


Freedman, Russell
Who Was First?: Discovering the Americas
First person accounts, colorful legends and solid historical research are skillfully woven into a riveting argument that Christopher Columbus was not the first to discover the Americas.


Halibegovich, Nadja
My Childhood Under Fire: a Sarajevo Diary
Through her journal entries, twelve-year old Nadja describes the hurt, pain and despair she experiences living in a war zone.


Hansen, Joyce
Freedom Roads: Searching for the Underground Railroad
Using historical documents, oral history and the latest in forensic science, the authors show how facts and inferences can create a clearer picture of the highly secret movement that was the Underground Railroad.


Montgomery, Sy
Tarantula Scientist
Vivid photographs illustrate the life cycle of tarantulas and also the daily activities of the scientist who studies them.


Murphy, Jim
Blizzard!: The Storm that Changed America
The true story of the incredibly fierce snowstorm of March 12, 1888 and its devastating effect on New York City.


Thimmesh, Catherine
Team Moon: How 400,000 people landed Apollo 11 on the Moon
An exciting account of all the things that had to happen for the first moon landing on July 20, 1969.


Walker, Sally M.
Secrets of a Civil War Submarine: Solving the Mysteries of the H.L. Hunley
During the Civil War, Horace Hunley decided to create a submarine that would sneak up on enemy ships and blow them up. It succeeded in blowing up the USS Housatonic but never returned to port.





Debon, Nicholas
Strongest Man in the World: Louis Cyr
A picture book biography that explores the fascinating life and career of Louis Cyr, a legendary weightlifter and record-breaker!


Frampton, Otis
Oddly Normal
Oddly Normal, a half witch with green hair and pointy ears is miserable. When an accidental wish on her tenth birthday goes awry, her parents disappear and she finds herself living with her great-aunt in Figmation.


Hale, Shannon
Rapunzel’s Revenge
Who knew that Rapunzel spent most of the time that she was locked in the tower practicing using her long tresses as lassos. When she escapes from her prison, she works to remove her evil foster mother from power.


Sfar, Joann
Little Vampire books
Little Vampire lives in an old mansion with his vampire mother, ghost dog, and some stray monsters and makes a human friend.


Wood, Don
Into the Volcano
Brothers Duffy and Sumo go to visit their aunt, whom they have never met before. They get trapped inside an erupting volcano while being chased.


Just for fun


Barrows, Annie
Magic Half
When Miri's family, which consists of herself and two sets of twins, moves to a new house, she travels back in time to 1935, where she meets her twin.


Blue, Balliet
Calder Game
When Calder Pillay and his father travel to a remote English village they become involved in a complex mystery revolving around a famous Alexander Calder sculpture.


Broach, Elise
After Marvin, a beetle, makes a miniature drawing as a gift for eleven-year-old James, the two new friends work together to help recover stolen art from the Metropolitian Museum of Art.


Feldman, Jody
Gollywhopper Games
Twelve-year-old Gil Goodson has prepared for a year to compete with thousands of other children in the Golly Toy and Game Company's ultimate competition. Will it be enough to help him win the games and a fresh start for his family?


Forester, Victoria
The Girl Who Could Fly
When people learn that Piper McCloud can fly, beautiful Dr. Hellion offers to take her to a school where she can hone her skills. But things are not always what they seem to be.


Haddix, Margaret
When Jonah and his friend Chip begin receiving strange anonymous letters, they discover that they are part of a horrifying mystery involving time travel and a dangerous effort to repair the fabric of time.


Law, Ingrid
When members of the Beaumont family turn thirteen, their savvy, or special, magical power shows itself. Mibs hopes that her savvy will be a strong one.



Different Worlds


Alexander, Lloyd.
The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio
Carlo finds a map to the infamous Golden Road and along with a band of misfits tries to find his fortune.


Appelt, Kathi
The Underneath
When hateful Gar-Face unsuccessfully tries to drown kitten Puck, he is separated from his twin sister as well as his foster father, a dog named Ranger. Puck must find them again to unchain Ranger from the house of his cruel owner.  


Bosch, Pseudonymous
The Name of this Book is Secret
Two eleven-year-old misfits try to solve the mystery of a dead magician and stop the evil Dr. L and Ms. Mauvais, who are searching for the secrets of immortality.


Collins, Suzanne
Gregor the Overlander
When eleven-year-old Gregor follows his little sister down an air vent from his apartment house laundry room, he finds himself in an underland world populated by men, bats, rats, cockroches and spiders on the brink of war.


Hulme, John
The Glitch in Sleep
Twelve-year-old Becker Drane is a fixer and must fix a huge problem in the world so that people will be able to sleep. If he can’t do it in time, the earth will be destroyed.


Lowry, Lois.
While learning to bestow dreams, a young dream giver tries to save an eight-year-old boy from the effects of his abusive past as well as the nightmares inflicted on him by the Sinisteeds.


Sage, Angie
In this action-packed fantasy, ten-year-old Jenna discovers she is a "queenling" and, along with the Extra-Ordinary Wizard and Boy 412, finds herself in a battle against necromancer DomDaniel and the forces of Dark Magyk. 


Sanderson, Brandon
Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians
Adventure begins for Alcatraz, a veteran of the foster care system, when he receives a mysterious package in the mail for his birthday and a visit from his long-lost grandfather.


Wilkinson, Carole
Dragon Keeper
The last remaining dragon belonging to the ancient Chinese Emperor is Long Danzi who is able to escape from his cruel keeper by coaxing Ping, a slave-orphan girl to assist him in his flight. This adventure leads her to discover her true destiny.


This list was compiled by Children's Librarians from Monroe County: Johanna Buran, Alexandra DiMatteo, Cathy Henderson, Ruth Otto, Anne Strang, and Kathy Wolf