Category Archives: JFIC Books

JFIC Family Stories

Hello, jFIC Fans,

Here’s a list of 25 diverse jFIC books about family stories. Some are happy and some are sad, some are contemporary and some are historical, most are realistic and a few are fantastical, and all are great reads. 

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

How Tia Lola Came to (Visit) Stay and sequels by Julia Alvarez

My Diary from the Edge of the World by Jodi Lynn Anderson

Hold Fast by Blue Balliett

Hold Fast by [Blue Balliett]

The Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall

The Family Under the Bridge by Natalie Savage Carlson

The Watsons Go to Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis

The Lotterys Plus One and sequel by Emma Donoghue

The Birchbark House and sequels by Louise Erdrich

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street and sequels by Karina Yan Glaser

A Slip of a Girl by Patricia Riley Giff

The Family Hitchcock by Mark Levin and Jennifer Flackett

The Family Hitchcock by [Levin, Mark, Flackett, Jennifer]

Sarah, Plain, and Tall and sequels by Patricia MacLachlan

Saffy’s Angel and sequels by Hilary McKay

Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina

The Borrowers and sequels by Mary Norton

Astrid the Unstoppable by Maria Parr

The Best Man by Richard Peck

Esperanza Rising and sequel by Pam Munoz Ryan

Shooting Kabul and sequels by N.H. Senzai

All-of-a-Kind Family and sequels by Sydney Taylor

Three Times Lucky and sequels by Sheila Turnage

One Crazy Summer and sequels by Rita Williams-Garcia

The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss

Front Desk by Kelly Yang

Happy reading!

“Mercy on us, how they did talk! first one, then the other, then all burst out together–trying to tell the history of three years in half an hour. It was fortunate that tea was at hand, to produce a lull and provide refreshment–for they would have been hoarse and faint if they had gone on much longer.” – Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

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Spooky JFIC

Hello, jFIC fans,

October is my favorite month of the year, not just because it’s so cool and colorful, but because it has the funnest holiday: Halloween! To celebrate, here’s a list of creepy reads that’ll leave you feeling delightfully spooked. Read them at night with a steaming cup of your favorite autumn tea.

The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson

Small Spaces and Dead Voices by Katherine Arden

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

The House With a Clock in Its Walls and other books by John Bellairs

Doll Bones by Holly Black

The Halloween Tree by Ray Bradbury

The Ghost Road by Chris Cotter

The Witches by Roald Dahl

A Curious Tale of the In-Between by Lauren DeStefano

Watch Hollow by Gregory Funaro

The Graveyard Book and Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Wait Till Helen Comes and other books by Mary Downing Hahn

The Great Ghost Rescue and Dial-a-Ghost by Eva Ibbotson

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

How to Catch a Bogle Trilogy by Catherine Jinks

How to Catch a Bogle

The Dark Thirty by Patricia McKissack

The Book of Bad Things and other books by Dan Poblocki

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (three books) by Alvin Schwartz

City of Ghosts and Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab

Beware! scary stories picked by by R.L. Stine

Goosebumps Series by R.L. Stine

Lockwood & Co Series by Jonathan Stroud  

The Accidental Afterlife of Thomas Marsden by Emma Trevayne

Nightbooks by J.A. White

Happy reading!

“Autumn stars shine through gaps in the wall. We brew midnight tea by the stove’s ruddy light.” ~From a traditional Taoist song

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JFIC and Love of Nature

Hello, jFIC fans,

From beloved classics like Heidi by Johanna Spyri to contemporary gems like The Wild Robot by Peter Brown, there are many jFIC books that inspire love and respect for nature. Here are a few: 

The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp by Kathi Appelt

The Ancient One by T.A. Barron

Willa of the Wood by Robert Beatty

The Wild Robot and sequel by Peter Brown

The Earth Is My Mother by  Bev Doolittle and Elise Maclay

The Journey of the Pale Bear by Susan Fletcher

Julie of the Wolves and sequels by Jean Craighead George

My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George

Hoot and others by Carl Hiaasen

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate and sequel by Jacqueline Kelly

Wild Wings and others by Gill Lewis

Wild Wings by [Lewis, Gill]

Hatchet and sequels by Gary Paulsen

Heidi by Johanna Spyri

Song of the Trees by Mildred Taylor

The Last Wild and sequels by Piers Torday

Happy reading!

“Where there’s tea there’s hope.” ~Arthur Wing Pinero


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JFIC Books about School

Hello, jFIC fans,

August is National Back-to-School Month, and many schools have already begun or are about to begin the new school year, so here’s a broad list (alpha by title) of jFIC books (including some graphic novels) about school life, followed by a few personal favorites. 

Amelia’s Middle School Graduation Yearbook by Marissa Moss

Anastasia Again! by Lois Lowry

Anna Wang: The Year of the Book by Andrea Cheng

Back to School, Mallory! by Laurie Friedman

The Best Man by Richard Peck

Big Nate in a Class by Himself (Big Nate Series) by Lincoln Peirce

Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly

The Boy at the Back of the Class by Onjali Q. Rauf (NEW 2019)

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series by Jeff Kinney

Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-So-Fabulous Life (Dork Diaries Series) by Rachel Renee Russell 

Eighth Grade Is Making Me Sick by Jennifer L. Holm

Ellie McDoodle New Kid in School by Ruth McNally Barshaw

The Fantastic and Terrible Fame of Classroom 13 by Honest Lee and Mathew J. Gilbert

Fire Girl by Tony Abbott

The First Day of School Forever by R. L. Stein

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

The 47 People You’ll Meet in Middle School by Kristin Mahoney (NEW 2019)

The Friendship Experiment by Erin Teagan

Frindle and other books about school by Andrew Clements

George by Alex Gino

The Great Wall of Lucy Wu by Wendy Wan-Long Shang

The Homework Strike by Greg Pincus

How to Survive Middle School by Donna Gephart

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko

The Kid in the Red Jacket by Barbara Park

Loser, Crash, and other books about school by Jerry Spinelli

Middle School Cool by Maiya Williams

Middle School Is Worse than Meatloaf by Jennifer L. Holm

Middle School Misadventures by Jason Platt

The Middle School Rules of Brian Urlacher by Sean Jensen

Middle School Series and other books about school by James Patterson and partner writers

The Misadventures of Max Crumbly Series by Rachel Renee Russell

My Homework Ate My Homework by Patrick Jennings

New Kid by Jerry Craft

One Tough Chick (from the Annabelle Unleashed Series) by Leslie Margolis

Posted by John David Anderson

Tales from Lovecraft Middle School Series by Charles Gilman

Reformed by Justin Weinberger

Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan

Smile and Drama by Raina Telgemeier

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda Series by Tom Angleberger

The Teacher’s Funeral by Richard Peck

Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made (from the Timmy Failure Series) by Stephan Pastis

Too Cool for This School by Kristen Tracy

Twerp by Mark Goldblatt

The Unteachables and other books about school by Gordon Korman

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

The Worst Class Trip Ever by Dave Barry

And three favorites:

Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome

Eleven-year-old Langston moves with his father from Alabama to Chicago in 1946 after his mother dies. Langston has to deal with many new experiences: a whole new way of life in the city, a new school, bullying, and different kinds of discrimination. Fortunately he walks into a library and discovers the comforting words of poet Langston Hughes, his namesake. 

Merci Suarez Changes Gears by  Meg Medina

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Cuban American Merci Suárez lives with her mother, father, and older brother. Her grandfather, with whom she has a close relationship and who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, lives next door. Other relatives live nearby, and the whole extended family helps each other in different ways. Her father doesn’t earn much money, but Merci has earned a scholarship to a private school for rich kids, where she experiences multiple challenges. Merci has to learn to balance the school’s expectations and her family responsibilities. Family comes first, of course.

The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt

It’s 1967, and seventh grader Holling Hoodhood is being forced to spend each Wednesday afternoon with his teacher, Mrs. Baker, whom he believes hates him. Holling slowly realizes that although Mrs. Baker is strict, she’s also caring and insightful. Through his teacher, his sister, friends, and the works of Shakespeare, Holling opens his eyes to the dangers in the world he’s living in: the Vietnam war and its tragic consequences and the problems of racism and discrimination. The Wednesday Wars is a humorous coming-of-age novel with a lot of heart.

Happy reading!

“Coffee, coffee! It’s our drink! If we don’t get it, we can’t think!” ~Unknown


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JFIC’s Resilient Children

Hello, jFIC fans,

Some of the most engaging jFIC books are about resilient children overcoming terrible circumstances. Here are a few well-known titles:

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase by Joan Aiken

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier

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Sweep: A Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier

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The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Turnaway Girls by Hayley Chewins

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The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis

James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl

Matilda by Roald Dahl

The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke

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The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert

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How to Catch a Bogle by Catherine Jinks

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West of the Moon by Margi Preus

West of the Moon by [Preus, Margi]

Withering-by-Sea by Judith Rossell

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Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

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The Explorer by Katherine Rundell 

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Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

How I Became a Ghost by Tim Tingle

Nightbooks by J. A. White


Happy reading!

Where there’s tea there’s hope.
-Arthur Wing Pinero


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Award-Winning JFIC Books

Hello, jFIC fans,

The 2019 Youth Media Awards have been announced (https://americanlibrariesmagazine.org/blogs/the-scoop/2019-youth-media-award-winners/), and I’ve listed all the jFIC winners:

Newbery Medal (most outstanding contribution to children’s literature):

Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina

Honors:

The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani

The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock


Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award (African-American author of outstanding books for children):

Honors:

Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome

The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson

The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon


Schneider Family Book Award (children’s books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience):

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor

Honor:

The Collectors by Jacqueline West


Mildred L. Batchelder Award (outstanding international translated books):

Honor:

Edison: The Mystery of the Missing Mouse Treasure, written and illustrated by Torben Kuhlmann and translated from the German by David Henry Wilson


Pura Belpré Awards (books by Latinx writers and illustrators that best portray, affirm, and celebrate the Latino cultural experience):

Honor:

They Call Me Güero : a Border Kid’s Poems by David Bowles


Stonewall Book Award (children’s books of exceptional merit relating to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender experience):

Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender

Honor:

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake


Asian/Pacific American Award (books that promote Asian/Pacific American culture and heritage):

Front Desk written by Kelly Yang

Honor:

The House that Lou Built by Mae Respicio

The Sydney Taylor Book Award (books that authentically portray the Jewish experience):

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier


American Indian Youth Literature Award (best writing and illustrations by and about American Indians)

This award is announced in even years. The next announcement will be in 2020. Meanwhile, I recommend you read Two Roads by Joseph Bruchac.

Also, let’s not forget the 2018 National Book Award Finalists:

The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson / Eugene Yelchin


The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor

The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis


Hey, Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka




Congratulations to all the winners, and happy reading to us!

“Coffee is a hug in a mug.” –Anonymous

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Welcome the New Year

The Reading Café is changing a little bit. Instead of only addressing middle school students, I’ll be addressing jFIC (a.k.a. juvenile or middle grade fiction) fans of all ages. I’ll continue to share book lists, personal recommendations, and useful online resources, but all posts will have a jFIC focus and will be intended for a wider audience. I’ll also continue to include tea and coffee quotes.

So let’s begin:

Hello, jFIC fans,

Happy 2019! I’ve read approximately 45 jFIC titles published in 2018. Most were good and some were great. Here are my favorites:

The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis

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Twelve-year-old Charlie is forced to pay off a family debt by working for a terrible man who is tracking down fugitives. When Charlie discovers what’s really happening and who the fugitives are, he has to choose between conscience and survival.

Christopher Paul Curtis brilliantly combines humor and heartbreak in his historical fiction stories. He does it again with this outstanding novel.

Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina

Sixth grader Merci Suárez deals with difficult middle school and family issues in this highly entertaining novel full of humor and insight. The writing is delightfully peppered with Hispanic American sayings and idiosyncrasies.

The Assasination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson

Elfin historian Brangwain Spurge’s mission is to deliver a peace offering to the goblin kingdom, but also to spy on them in the process. Goblin archivist Werfel’s mission is to serve as Brangwain’s host and enthusiastic tourist guide. But their ridiculously different cultures and conflicting historical perceptions result in dangerous consequences for the two of them and their kingdoms.

The novel alternates between illustrations showing Brangwain’s secret messages to the elfin kingdom and Werfel’s differing narrative, and delivers a funny, clever, and timely social commentary plus the story of a unique friendship.

The Book of Boy by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Boy is a fearful outcast with a large hump on his back, a gift of talking to animals, and no recollection of his past. A mysterious pilgrim named Secondus notices his climbing abilities and takes him on as his servant on a journey to gather the seven precious relics of Saint Peter. Boy reluctantly agrees in the hope that Saint Peter will answer his prayer and take his hump away. Extraordinary adventures follow, and the reader soon realizes that neither Boy nor Secondus are what they seem.

The Book of Boy is a unique and surprising story about discovering and valuing your identity and gifts.

Nightbooks by J.A. White

Alex loves to watch, read, and write scary stories. When he is trapped by witch Natasha in her magical apartment, he discovers that his hair-raising tales can keep the witch and her home happy, which can buy him time to figure out how to escape. But he soon realizes that escaping—even with the help of two other captives—may be impossible. As he well knows, terrifying stories like the one he’s now a part of, hardly ever have happy endings.

Nightbook is sure to delight young writers and readers of dark and creepy tales.

Granted by John David Anderson

Ophelia Delphinium Fidgets is a Granter-in-training fairy. A Granter’s job is to leave their magical land called the Haven, fly out into the dangerous human world, and grant a previously selected human wish. Wish-granting is crucial to the fairies because it releases the magic that protects the Haven, so being a Granter is a huge responsibility. Ophelia is given her first assignment, and she enthusiastically sets out to complete her mission, but wish-granting turns out to be far more complicated and difficult than she expected.

Dangerous adventures and a heroine with a noble heart are what make this fantasy novel truly special.

Wicked Nix by Lena Coakley

The fairy queen and her court have gone away and left Nix behind. He concludes that it’s because he was given the important job of protecting the forest from humans until the queen and the rest of the fairies return. So when a trespasser arrives, Nix tries to scare him away with fairy tricks, but to no avail. Who is this trespasser, and what’s the real reason for the fairies to have left Nix behind?

Themes of home, family, identity, and belonging make Wicked Nix a unique and unforgettable fairy tale.       

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier

Chimney sweep Nan Sparrow’s protector has disappeared, but has left a creature made from soot and ash–a golem–in his place. Nan and the golem form a unique friendship and together find ways to survive and protect each other and other chimney sweeps.

Sweep is a fascinating historical/fantasy story full of wonder, friendship, heartbreak, and hope.

The Tale of Angelino Brown by David Almond

A tiny angel appears in the pocket of Bert, a bus driver. He takes “Angelino” home to his wife, Betty, and they both become his doting parents. Tiny Angelino charms and cheers up everyone he meets, or rather, almost everyone, for in any happy story, there’s always a meanie who wants to spoil things. But Angelino is not going to let anyone foil his mission of spreading goodness and gladness and of being a special blessing to Bert and Betty.

Angelino Brown is a delightful little story that will bring joy and hope to all who read it.

Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo

Louisiana Elefante’s granny wakes her up in the middle of the night with the cry “The day of reckoning has arrived!” and whisks her off on a road trip to wherever the gasoline left in their old car will take them. Their destination turns out to be a small Georgia town where Louisiana makes some unexpected friends while Granny stays in bed recovering from an emergency dental procedure. Louisiana’s difficult situation worsens when Granny unexpectedly takes off, leaving her with nothing but a shocking good-bye letter. What will happen to Louisiana now? Will she find a way back to her best friends, Raymie and Beverly? Most importantly, will she ever find a place to call home?

Great writing, humor and surprise, unique characters, and themes of kindness, friendship, resiliency, belonging, and forgiveness make Louisiana’s Way Home an oustanding story.

Saving Winslow by Sharon Creech

Louie is determined to save the sickly newborn donkey that his father has brought home. No one expects the donkey, whom Louie names Winslow, to survive, including his prickly new friend, Nora. But Winslow surprises everyone. He not only survives and grows, but also proves to be a valuable companion to the children and even a hero of sorts.

Saving Winslow is a sweet story full of tenderness, friendship, love, and the hopeful message of finding your place and purpose in the world.

Love to Everyone by Hilary McKay

Love to Everyone is the story from birth to adulthood of smart, kind, and loving Clarry Penrose. Clarry wants to get an education and discover her place and purpose in the world, but it’s not easy with a distant father who doesn’t believe that girls need to be educated and it being the early twentieth century. Fortunately, Clarry has the support of her brother Peter, her cousin Rupert, her grandparents, and her friends. But then World War I happens and everything changes for everyone.

Love to Everyone is both a heartwarming and heartbreaking story of resiliency, perseverance, and steadfast love. (My absolute favorite 2018 jFIC read!)

More 2018 jFIC novels you may like:

The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson ****

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden****

The Wild Robot Escapes by Peter Brown****

Two Roads by Joseph Bruchac****

Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender****

The Turnaway Girls by Hayley Chewins****

Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome*****

The Truth As Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor*****

The Ghost Road by Charis Cotter****

Winterhouse by Ben Guterson****

Otherwood by Pete Hautman****

Very Rich by Polly Horvath****

The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson****

The Mad Wolf’s Daughter by Diane Magras****

Bob by Wendy Mass*****

The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty*****

Inkling by Kenneth Oppel****

Miraculous Miranda by Siobhan Parkinson ****

Astrid the Unstoppable by Maria Parr*****

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed****

City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab****

The Collectors by Jacqueline West*****

The Language of Spells by Garret Weyr *****

Front Desk by Kelly Yang ****

Happy reading, and love to everyone!

“Home is where the tea is.” —Js Devivre

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