Teacher’s Guide: A Box of Bones

In A Box of Bones by Marina Cohen, twelve-year-old Kallie despises nonsense. She believes there’s a rational explanation for everything, despite the good-natured prodding of her Grandpa Jess, who takes her to frivolous wastes of time like their town’s local Festival of Fools.

There, Kallie meets a faceless man (must be some kind of mask) who gives her a strange wooden puzzle box (must be some kind of gimmick). Intrigued despite herself, Kallie sets to work on unlocking its secrets and…lets something out. From here Kallie’s life begins to entangle with another world, a world where Liah, a young bone carver, journeys with her master to sell wares to a wicked Queen.

The sights, sounds, smells, and spells of Liah’s world are beginning to leak into Kallie’s, and if Kallie can’t decipher the meaning of her own story, “the end” might be far from happy.

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Discussion Guide: A Game of Fox & Squirrels

A Game of Fox & Squirrels by Jenn Reese

Andre Norton Award finalist Jenn Reese explores the often thin line between magic and reality, light and darkness in her enchanting middle grade standalone.

After an incident shatters their family, eleven-year old Samantha and her older sister Caitlin are sent to live in rural Oregon with an aunt they’ve never met. Sam wants nothing more than to go back to the way things were… before she spoke up about their father’s anger.

When Aunt Vicky gives Sam a mysterious card game called “A Game of Fox & Squirrels,” Sam falls in love with the animal characters, especially the charming trickster fox, Ashander. Then one day Ashander shows up in Sam’s room and offers her an adventure and a promise: find the Golden Acorn, and Sam can have anything she desires.

But the fox is hiding rules that Sam isn’t prepared for, and her new home feels more tempting than she’d ever expected. As Sam is swept up in the dangerous quest, the line between magic and reality grows thin. If she makes the wrong move, she’ll lose far more than just a game.

Perfect for fans of Barbara O’Connor, Lauren Wolk, and Ali Benjamin, A Game of Fox & Squirrels is a stunning, heartbreaking novel about a girl who finds the light in the darkness… and ultimately discovers the true meaning of home.

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Teacher’s Guide: Last Pick

Last Pick by Jason Walz

In this first volume of Jason Walz’s dystopian graphic novel trilogy, the kids last picked are humanity’s last hope.

Three years ago, aliens invaded Earth and abducted everyone they deemed useful. The only ones spared were those too young, too old, or too “disabled” to be of value. Living on Earth under the aliens’ harsh authoritarian rule, humanity’s rejects do their best to survive. Their captors never considered them a threat—until now.

Twins Sam and Wyatt are ready to chuck their labels and start a revolution. It’s time for the kids last picked to step into the game.

A YALSA Recommended Reading Great Graphic Novel
A 2020 Texas Maverick Graphic Novel

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Teacher’s Guide: A is for Elizabeth

A is for Elizabeth by Rachel Vail; illustrated by Paige Keiser

This new chapter book series spinning off of the Justin Case books, stars Justin’s little sister, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth is in second grade. Class 2B! It’s great! Friends, recess, homework! Even a big project: Make a poster of your name. Yayyy! Hang on. The name Elizabeth has a bajillion letters in it!

The name Anna has only four letters. Plus, Anna’s first letter is A, which is also the first letter of Alphabetical Order. But Anna can’t always be first! That’s not fair!

In A is for Elizabeth, Elizabeth makes more than a poster. She also makes some important choices—about fairness, rules, speaking up, and glue. But the most important thing she makes is…a friend!

With copious line art by Paige Keiser, this first book in a new series—spun off from Rachel Vail’s beloved Justin Case series—is sure to delight fans of Judy Moody, Junie B. Jones, and Clementine.

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Teacher’s Guide: Quintessence

Quintessence by Jess Redman

Quintessence is an extraordinary story from Jess Redman about friendship, self-discovery, interconnectedness, and the inexplicable elements that make you you.

Find the Elements. Grow the Light. Save the Starling.

Three months ago, twelve-year-old Alma moved to the town of Four Points. Her panic attacks started a week later, and they haven’t stopped—even though she’s told her parents that they have. She’s homesick and friendless and every day she feels less and less like herself.

But one day she finds a telescope in the town’s junk shop, and through its lens, she watches a star—a star that looks like a child—fall from the sky and into her backyard. Alma knows what it’s like to be lost and afraid, to long for home, and she knows that it’s up to her to save the star. And so, with the help of some unlikely new friends from Astronomy Club, she sets out on a quest that will take a little bit of science, a little bit of magic, and her whole self.

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Teacher’s Guide: Light It Up

Light It Up by Kekla Magoon

Told in a series of vignettes from multiple viewpoints, Kekla Magoon’s Light It Up is a powerful, layered story about injustice and strength—as well as an incredible follow-up to the highly acclaimed novel How It Went Down.

A girl walks home from school. She’s tall for her age. She’s wearing her winter coat. Her headphones are in. She’s hurrying.

She never makes it home.

In the aftermath, while law enforcement tries to justify the response, one fact remains: a police officer has shot and killed an unarmed thirteen-year-old girl. The community is thrown into upheaval, leading to unrest, a growing movement to protest the senseless taking of black lives, and the arrival of white supremacist counter demonstrators.

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Teacher’s Guide: Born to Fly

Born to Fly: The First Women’s Air Race Across America by Steve Sheinkin; illustrated by Bijou Karman

Born to Fly is the gripping story of the fearless women pilots who aimed for the skies—and beyond.

Just nine years after American women finally got the right to vote, a group of trailblazers soared to new heights in the 1929 Air Derby, the first women’s air race across the U.S. Follow the incredible lives of legend Amelia Earhart, who has captivated generations; Marvel Crosson, who built a plane before she even learned how to fly; Louise Thaden, who shattered jaw-dropping altitude records; and Elinor Smith, who at age seventeen made headlines when she flew under the Brooklyn Bridge.

These awe-inspiring stories culminate in a suspenseful, nail-biting rate across the country that brings to life the glory and grit of the dangerous and thrilling early days of flying, expertly told by the master of nonfiction history for young readers, National Book Award finalist Steve Sheinkin.

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