Tween Picks May 2016
Best Books for Tweens May 2016 Picks


There are a bunch of great tween books out this month.  I’ve been eagerly awaiting the releases of Lily and Dunkin, We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement that Defied Adolf Hitler, and Bubonic Panic: When Plague Invaded America.  We Will Not Be Silent and Bubonic Panic are both non-fiction, which feels a little odd to add to a list this close to summer.  Summer should be all about the page-turning mysteries and realistic, but idealistic summer holidays with a hint of romance type books.  And yet, because both of these non-fiction books received outstanding reviews and are based on interesting topics, they seemed especially worthy of sharing.

In Lily and Dunkin, Tim is a transgendered person who doesn’t feel like a boy, and prefers the name Lily.  Lily has already come out to her family, but is struggling with coming out to the public.  Norbert, who Lily nicknames Dunkin (after his favorite doughnut shop), struggles with bipolar disorder.  This sensitively told story is one of finding strength and acceptance in friendship.

I’m really interested in We Will Not Be Silent – a story about Hans Scholl and his sister Sophie, who belonged to Hitler youth as children.  They later founded a non-violent movement called the White Rose, which created and distributed pamphlets denouncing the actions of Hitler and the Nazis.  The deeds of the two young people were considered treasonous and Hans and Sophie were ultimately executed for their involvement in the White Rose.  Still, the organization lived on.  Their story is a powerful statement about standing up for what you believe.

As for Bubonic Panic, the subject of the bubonic plague always seems fascinating in a gruesome way.  Reviewers say that the story is arranged like a thriller, but employs exhaustive research for historical accuracy.  The author also takes care to enlighten readers about the prejudice towards Asian immigrants in early 1900’s America, which stalled efforts to curtail the U.S. outbreak of the deadly disease.

**This post was mentioned on Literacy Musing Mondays.

 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. 

Lily and Dunkin Book Cover
Lily and Dunkin
by Donna Gephart
published May 3, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Booklist

"Gephart has written a story that will speak not just to one specific community, but to humanity as a whole."--VOYA

For readers who enjoyed Wonder and Counting by 7's, award-winning author Donna Gephart crafts a compelling dual narrative about two remarkable young people: Lily, a transgender girl, and Dunkin, a boy dealing with...READ MORE

We Will Not Be Silent Book Cover
We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler
by Russell Freedman
published May 3, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly Star Image Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books  

In his signature eloquent prose, backed up by thorough research, Russell Freedman tells the story of Austrian-born Hans Scholl and his sister Sophie. They belonged to Hitler Youth as young children, but began to doubt the Nazi regime. As older students, the Scholls and a few friends formed the White...READ MORE

The Trials of Apollo Book 1 The Hidden Oracle Book Cover
The Trials of Apollo, Book 1: The Hidden Oracle
by Rick Riordan
published May 3, 2016

How do you punish an immortal?

By making him human.

After angering his father Zeus, the god Apollo is cast down from Olympus. Weak and disoriented, he lands in New York City as a regular teenage boy. Now, without his godly powers, the four-thousand-year-old deity must learn to survive in...READ MORE

Counting Thyme Book Cover
Counting Thyme
by Melanie Conklin
published April 12, 2016

Newbery-winning Rules meets Counting by 7s in this affecting story of a girl’s devotion to her brother and what it means to be home

When eleven-year-old Thyme Owens’ little brother, Val, is accepted into a new cancer drug trial, it’s just the second chance that he needs. But it also means the Owens...READ MORE

Mayday Book Cover
by Karen Harrington
published May 24, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly

A powerful coming-of-age story about the importance of finding your voice

Wayne Kovok lives in a world of After. After his uncle in the army was killed overseas. After Wayne and his mother survived a plane crash while coming back from the funeral. After he lost his voice.

Wayne has...READ MORE

The Nameless City Book Cover
The Nameless City
by Faith Erin Hicks
illustrated by Jordie Bellaire
published April 5, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly

Every nation that invades the City gives it a new name. But before long, new invaders arrive and the City changes hands once again. The natives don't let themselves get caught up in the unending wars. To them, their home is the Nameless City, and those who try to name...READ MORE

It Ain't So Awful, Falafel Book Cover
It Ain't So Awful, Falafel
by Firoozeh Dumas
published May 3, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Booklist Star Image Kirkus Reviews

Zomorod (Cindy) Yousefzadeh is the new kid on the block . . . for the fourth time. California’s Newport Beach is her family’s latest perch, and she’s determined to shuck her brainy loner persona and start afresh with a new Brady Bunch name—Cindy. It’s the late 1970s, and fitting in...READ MORE

Bubonic Panic: When Plague Invaded America Book Cover
Bubonic Panic: When Plague Invaded America
by Gail Jarrow
published May 10, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image School Library Journal Star Image Kirkus Reviews Star Image Publishers Weekly

In March 1900, San Francisco’s health department investigated a strange and horrible death in Chinatown. A man had died of bubonic plague, one of the world’s deadliest diseases. But how could that be possible? Bubonic Panic tells the true story of America’s first plague epidemic—the public health doctors who desperately fought to...READ MORE

The Last Boy at St. Edith's Book Cover
The Last Boy at St. Edith's
by Lee Gjertsen Malone
published February 23, 2016
Starred Reviews:
Star Image Kirkus Reviews

A seventh grade prankster is determined to escape the all-girls academy where he’s the only boy—by getting expelled—in this “spectacular debut” (Kirkus Reviews) that’s perfect for “fans of Jerry Spinelli’sCrash and Loser” (Booklist).

Seventh grader Jeremy Miner has a girl problem. Or, more accurately, a girls problem. 475 of them to be...READ MORE

Bounders Book Cover
by Monica Tesler
published January 5, 2016

In the tradition of Michael Vey and The Unwanteds, twelve-year-old Jasper and his friends are forced to go up against an alien society in this first book in a brand-new adventure series!

Thirteen years ago, Earth Force—a space-military agency—discovered a connection between brain structure and space travel. Now they’ve...READ MORE


I always find it interesting what different people like to read. My daughter is a tween, and she would probably not chose any of these books.

Hi Aileen! You bring up an excellent point, and I don't say this often enough... Every child's interests and tastes are unique. I would never advocate for a parent or child to pick anything, but what they're genuinely in to. I aim for the books on this site to be what I think of as "objectively good" -- the writing receives commendation from professional reviewers and readers rate the books highly. From there, I hope readers and parents will discover books of personal interest. One way I hope to enable that discovery is via the Find A Book pages (on the menu up top) on this site, which allow book filtering by genre, topic, etc.
I really appreciate your honesty. :) And... If your daughter is interested in a particular kind of book, I would be happy to make a list for her.

Thanks for sharing at the #LMMLinkup. I feel a real connection to Thyme just from reading your review. My son is involved in clinical research for one medical condition that causes a lesion on his hip at the National Institute of Health and in a clinical trial for a Type 1 Diabetes medication through another doctor. Thankfully, we have never had to move to participate in research and we have never suffered the agony of a child with cancer. Although, we have had to deal with scary unknowns when we were in the diagnosis process for the (benign) lesion.

Hi Leslie! Oh my gosh! I'm so sorry you've been dealing with such intense and frightening health issues with your son. It's fortunate that the lesion was benign, but wow, what a scary ordeal. I hope your son is doing well. I can see how Counting Thyme would echo some of those experiences for you. I wish you and your family the best. <3

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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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