Grades 4 to 6 July 2016 Picks
Best Books for 4th Grade, 5th Grade, 6th Grade July Picks


This is my first year keeping tabs on so many of the newly published children’s books and I’ve been sort of surprised by the peaks and valleys of book releases.  There were a ton of really outstanding books published around April.  There is a whole wave of great books set to come out in September.  This cycle probably has a lot to do with book sales that occur in anticipation of summer reading, then pre-Christmas book sales around September and October.  It seems like July’s a bit sparse as new book releases go.  There are a handful of goodies just out this month.  This month I also included a few books that I’ve been meaning to mention for a while now.

First, Dara Palmer’s Major Drama has received a lot of praise from critics and readers.  It’s about a 5th grade girl who believes she’s a great actress.  She practices making expressive faces with a friend during recess and daydreams about dramatic scenes that she’ll play in.  She’s about to discover, however, that she’s no good at acting.  Between this, and her identity issues around being a Cambodian girl adopted by white parents, she has a lot to come to terms with.  Due to the character’s flair for the dramatic, this book will surely strike a chord with many young readers.

The second Serafina book is out!!  The first in this series, Serafina and the Black Cloak was a huge hit with readers.   The sequel, Serafina and the Twisted Staff looks AWESOME!  Packed with mystery, adventure, and taking place in a fantastical world, this book is sure to delight readers.  The series is just two books long, so if your fourth to sixth grader hasn’t read the first, she or he can start there, and cruise through to the next book.

One of the books that I’m eager to read, but one that I’ve been sort of sitting on, waiting for readers to grab ahold of, is The Turn of the Tide.  I’m not sure why, but that moment never seemed to come.  It seems the book has been kind of missed by readers.  The Turn of the Tide received outstanding reviews from professional book critics, deals with an interesting topic, and does so in a rich and heartfelt manner.  When the tsunami strikes in Japan, Kai does the opposite of what he’s supposed to do, he runs.  On the other side of the world, Kai’s cousin Jet in Astoria, Oregon sets out to sail off the coast.  Jet always checks the tides, but this time, she doesn’t.  For both Kai and Jet, there are dire consequences for their actions.  The two are united for a summer, and through their friendship, are able to discover new hope.

Another book that I’ve had in my pocket, so to speak, is Pugs of the Frozen North.  I kept seeing the book placed as a beginning reader book.  Looking at the Lexile level (which is one method of quantifying the level of difficulty of the text); it just doesn’t fit as an early reader.  Still, the book got great reviews from critics and from readers, so I really wanted to share it.  If you have a kiddo on the younger end of this age group, or a child that’s just in the mood for a fun adventure story, try Pugs of the Frozen North.  It’s full of action, fantastical creatures, and silliness, balanced with rich, heartfelt storytelling.

 Seeing stars?  Professional book reviewers only award a star to exceptional books.  More than one star means experts from multiple organizations felt the book was outstanding. 

Dara Palmer's Major Drama Book Cover
Dara Palmer's Major Drama
by Emma Shevah
published July 5, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publisher's Weekly

"'The lead role of Maria in The Sound of Music goes to ..."
I could practically hear her say "Dara Palmer." This was going to be my big break! But what really came out of my teacher's mouth was "Ella Moss-Daniels."
My heart went huuuuggggggghhhhht.

Dara Palmer longs for stardom-but when she...READ MORE

Serafina and the Twisted Staff Book Cover
Serafina and the Twisted Staff (Serafina Book 2)
by Robert Beatty
published July 12, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Kirkus Reviews  

Serafina's defeat of the Man in the Black Cloak has brought her out of the shadows and into the daylight realm of her home, Biltmore Estate. Every night she visits her mother in the forest, eager to learn the ways of the catamount. But Serafina finds herself caught between her...READ MORE

This is Not a Werewolf Story Book Cover
This Is Not a Werewolf Story
by Sandra Evans
published July 26, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Booklist

A fresh, heartwarming, and fascinating debut that two-time Newbery Honor winner Gary Schmidt calls “a journey that every reader needs to go on.”

This is the story of Raul, a boy of few words, fewer friends, and almost no family. He is a loner—but he isn’t lonely. All week...READ MORE

The Distance to Home Book Cover
The Distance to Home
by Jenn Bishop
published June 28, 2016

For fans of Lynda Mullaly Hunt and Rita Williams-Garcia, Jenn Bishop's heartwarming debut is a celebration of sisterhood and summertime, and of finding the courage to get back in the game.
Last summer, Quinnen was the star pitcher of her baseball team, the Panthers. They were headed for the...READ MORE

Mutt's Promise
by Julie Salamon
illustrated by Jill Weber
published March 8, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Kirkus Reviews  

Fans of The Incredible Journey and Old Yeller will love this endearing, page-turning dog adventure story
Luna is a farm puppy who loves to dance, and has only known a happy, serene life surrounded by her mother, Mutt, and her siblings, and cared for by Gilberto, the son of farm workers. But now...READ MORE

The Turn of the Tide Book Cover
The Turn of the Tide
by Rosanne Parry
published January 12, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist

From acclaimed author Rosanne Parry comes an exciting and tender friendship story about two cousins looking for their destiny.
On a beautiful day in June, the ground broke open.
In Japan, you’re always prepared for an earthquake. That’s why Kai knows just what to do when the first...READ MORE

Kabungo Book Cover
by Rolli
illustrated by Milan Pavlovic
published April 12, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Kirkus Reviews

Ten-year-old Beverly is an ordinary girl with an extraordinary best friend. Her name is Kabungo, and she lives in a cave on Main Street. No one knows where she comes from or who she really is, but life is never dull when Kabungo is around.

Beverly tries to teach...READ MORE

Pugs of the Frozen North Book Cover
Pugs of the Frozen North (A Not-So-Impossible Tale)
by Philip Reeve
illustrated by Sarah Mcintyre
published January 26, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews

With a little luck and a pack of pugs, anything is paws-ible!
When True Winter comes, it’s time for the Great Northern Race! The best sled teams in the world must reach a mysterious man called the Snowfather. He will grant one wish to the winners. Young racers Sika...READ MORE

Somewhere Among
Somewhere Among
by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu
illustrated by Sonia Chaghatzbanian
published April 26, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Kirkus Reviews

A beautiful and haunting debut novel in verse about an American-Japanese girl struggling with the loneliness of being caught between two worlds when the tragedy of 9/11 strikes an ocean away.

Eleven-year-old Ema has always been of two worlds—her father’s Japanese heritage and her mother’s life in America. She’s...READ MORE

Rookie of the Year Book Cover
Rookie of the Year (Rip and Red)
by Phil Bildner
illustrated by Tim Probert
published July 12, 2016

Just when they think they've got the hang of things, Rip and Red find that fifth grade continues to challenge them in head-spinning ways. Tiki, a new girl whose Egyptian dad is an animal-rights activist, has just joined their class. She's charismatic, funny―and she's got game! Rip has his world...READ MORE

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Hello there!

Hi!  I'm Sarah.  I'm a former librarian and mother of two -- a teen daughter and a preschooler son.  We love to play outdoors... and read.  :)

This site is all about discovering great books to share with kids and teens. ...Read more

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