This second one is realistic fiction and it has such a marvelous main character. It's called "The Charming Life of Izzy Malone" by by Jenny Lundquist. It's about Izzy (NOT Isabella) who is adapting to life in middle school. Her former friend, Violet isn't speaking to her and Izzy is trying to get on to a paddling team with the "in crowd". The "in crowd" isn't having it. She also has to contend with a perfect older sister (who, in addition to being perfectly kind and well behaved, is also a musical prodigy), her grandmother and her great aunt (who is her grandmother's twin), and her mother is running to be the mayor of her small town. It's a complicated plot but Izzy is so wonderfully unique and interesting, I couldn't wait to see what happened. There's a bit of a mystery and a small amount of (middle school) romance. I thought this one was terrific.
The last one is a picture book. It's called "When We Were Alone" by David Alexander Robertson. It's about a little girl talking with her grandmother. The story is posed in a question and answer format. The girl asks about her grandmother's clothes, her hair, even how she spends her time. The answers all stem back to a time when her grandmother was separated from her family (of Native People) and forced to assimilate into white society. I think this would be a nice story book to start a conversation about Native people with kids who have no background information on this kind of thing. The story isn't scary or painful to read but it gives you a really clear idea of how much the Native people lost during this time. The pictures are terrific too-very modern and blocky but with so much emotion. I liked this one a lot. It would be great with a unit on Native Americans or a unit on social issues.