My favorite one from the book fair is called "The Fourteenth Goldfish" by Jennifer Holm. (I bought three copies for the media center and nagged several people into buying it too!) I already adore Jennifer Holm who writes with an amazing mix of humor and deep feelings. I completely loved her chapter book called "Turtle in Paradise" about a girl who moves to Key West in the 1930s and her graphic novels that she writes with her brother Matt, "Baby Mouse" and "Squish" are also wonderful. Her latest book, "The Fourteenth Goldfish" starts with a girl going into middle school. She has the usual angst about people being her friend (her best friend has joined the volleyball team and is now busy with her new set of friends), her hair, her clothes and then her mom gets two pieces of distressing information on the same day-their long time baby sitter is quitting to take a job at the mall and an emergency call from her dad (Ellie's grandfather) who is a scientist and has been working on a project about aging with some sort of unexpected consequences, many of which are pretty hilarious. It has a great message about science being super cool as well as believing in yourself and find your own passion, even if it's different from what your parents want.
Here's the book trailer about it!
I also really liked "Half a Chance" by Cynthia Lord. Cynthia Lord wrote a great book a couple years ago called "Rules" about a girl who has an autistic brother, whom she adores and also doesn't want any one to know about. She makes up rules for him so he doesn't appear too wacky or draw attention to her in any way. It's a great book and this new one, "Half a Chance" is really great too. It's about a girl named Lucy who's family moves to a lake house in Vermont. Her dad is a famous wildlife photographer who is gone on photo shoots for extended periods of time. She misses him terribly and uses photography as a way to connect with him, even when he's far away. She meets some of the kids who live close by her, some of them live there year round, like she will and some will only be there for the summer. Nate, the boy next door, is a special friend and Lucy gets drawn into not only his circle of friends but his extended family who also come to the lake for the summer. Unfortunately, Nate's grandma is suffering from dementia and that puts a lot of strain on everyone. Lucy comes up with an idea to enter a photography contest sponsored by her dad as a way to help. It has big themes of friendship, kindness, art and what you do for the sake of art as well as separation.
The last one I read from the book fair (and bought two copies for the media center because that's all that were left) is called "The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing" by Sheila Turnage. I adore her use of language-she writes similes better than any other modern writer. The first book about this group of characters is called "Three Times Lucky". It's about a girl named Mo (short for Moses, because as a baby she was rescued from a river after a hurricane by a man wearing military clothes-she calls him the Colonel and a lady named Miss Lana who run a cafe together). Mo and her best friend Dale like to know what's going on and in the first book they end up solving a murder so in this book, they are continuing their detective ways. Imagine a plot line that includes a ghost (a real one and a fabricated one), a convict, a moonshiner, a costume party, car racing, poetry from surprising places, a crooked banker, devastatingly handsome men and beautiful women, as well as the best smilies on the planet. I LOVED this one.