Title: Louisa June and the Nazis in the waves
By: Laura Elliott
Days after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, Hitler declared war on the U.S., unleashing U-boat submarines to attack American ships. Suddenly, the waves outside Louisa June’s farm aren’t for eel-fishing or marveling at wild swans or learning to skull her family’s boat—they’re dangerous, swarming with hidden enemies.
Her oldest brothers’ ships risk coming face-to-face with U-boats. Her sister leaves home to weld Liberty Boat hulls. And then her daddy, a tugboat captain, and her dearest brother, Butler, are caught in the crossfire.
Her mama has always swum in a sea of melancholy, but now she really needs Louisa June to find moments of beauty or inspiration to buoy her. Like sunshine-yellow daffodils, good books, or news accounts of daring rescues of torpedoed passengers.
Determined to help her Mama and aching to combat Nazis herself, Louisa June turns to her quirky friend Emmett and the indomitable Cousin Belle, who has her own war stories—and a herd of cats—to share. In the end, after a perilous sail, Louisa June learns the greatest lifeline is love.
Ages: 8-12 years
Title: How to find what you're not looking for
By: Veera Hiranandani
Middle schooler Ariel Goldberg must find her own voice and define her own beliefs after her big sister elopes with a young man from India following the Supreme Court decision that strikes down laws banning interracial marriage.
By: Ali Standish
Danny Timmons has looked up to Jack Bailey ever since Jack saved two small children from drowning during the Great Flood of 1940. Now, with his father away fighting in World War II and his mother about to have a new baby, Danny relies on Jack's friendship and guidance more than ever. So when Jack goes missing without a trace from their small Appalachian town, Danny is determined to find him. He wonders if Jack's abusive father could be behind his disappearance, or if it has anything to do with Yonder--a hidden magical town Jack once spoke of, where flocks of rainbow birds fly through the sky and they've never heard of war. As answers elude him, Danny begins to fear that he didn't know Jack as well as he thought. Ultimately, Danny's investigation forces him to reckon with even larger questions: What is America fighting for in this war? What role do each of us play in stopping injustices, big and small? And is there such thing as a true hero?
Ages 8-12 years
Title: The blackbird girls
By: Anne Blankmann
On a spring morning, neighbors Valentina Kaplan and Oksana Savchenko wake up to an angry red sky. A reactor at the nuclear power plant where their fathers work--Chernobyl--has exploded. Before they know it, the two girls, who've always been enemies, find themselves on a train bound for Leningrad to stay with Valentina's estranged grandmother, Rita Grigorievna. In their new lives in Leningrad, they begin to learn what it means to trust another person. Oksana must face the lies her parents told her all her life. Valentina must keep her grandmother's secret, one that could put all their lives in danger. And both of them discover something they've wished for: a best friend. But how far would you go to save your best friend's life? Would you risk your own?"
Ages: 8-12 years
Title: The Lost Year
By: Katherine Marsh
In the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, thirteen-year-old Matthew discovers a shocking secret about his great-grandmother's past as he learns about her life during the Holodomor famine in Soviet Ukraine.
Ages: 10-14 years
Title: Soul Lanterns
By: Kuzki Shaw
Twelve-year-old Nozomi's understanding of the bombing of Hiroshima in 1945 is transformed when she learns how those she knows and loves were affected by the event.
Title: The swallows' flight
By: Hilary McKay
The lives of two sets of best friends, Kate and Ruby in England and Erik and Hans in Germany, as well as a stray dog in London are brought together in unexpected ways during World War II.
Ages: 8-12 years
Title: Finding Langston
By: Lesa Cline-Ransome
Discovering a book of Langston Hughes' poetry in the library helps Langston cope with the loss of his mother, relocating from Alabama to Chicago as part of the Great Migration, and being bullied.
Title: When the Sky Falls
By: Phil Earle
Even though the city faces nightly air raids, in 1941 Joseph is sent to London to live with the gruff Mrs. F, who teaches the angry boy how to care for the remaining animals in the city zoo, including a mighty silverback gorilla named Adonis.
Title: The length of a string
By: Elissa Brent Weissman
Twelve-year-old Imani, the only black girl in Hebrew school, is preparing for her bat mitzvah and hoping to find her birthparents when she discovers the history of adoption in her own family through her great-grandma Anna's Holocaust-era diary.
Ages: 10-14 years
Title: A place to hang the moon
By: Kate Albus
In World War II England, orphaned siblings William, Edmund, and Anna are evacuated from London to live in the countryside, where they bounce from home to home in search of someone willing to adopt them permanently.
Title: Being Clem
By: Lisa Ransome-Cline
Clem's father is away, serving as a sailor in World War II. When the family receives news that his father has died in the infamous Port Chicago explosion in San Francisco, everything begins to fall apart. Clem's mother is forced to work long, tough hours as a maid for a wealthy white family. The obstacles put in place by racial injustice seem insurmountable. Soon Clem can barely recognize his home--and himself. Can he live up to his father's legacy?
Title: The orphan band of Springdale
By: Anne Nesbet
Its 1941, and tensions are rising in the United States as the Second World War rages in Europe. Eleven-year-old Gusta's life, like the world around her, is about to change. Her father, a foreign-born labor organizer, has had to flee the country, and Gusta has been sent to live in an orphanage run by her grandmother. Nearsighted, snaggletoothed Gusta arrives in Springdale, Maine, lugging her one precious possession: a beloved old French horn, her sole memento of her father. But in a family that's long on troubles and short on money, how can a girl hang on to something so valuable and yet so useless when Gusta's mill-worker uncle needs surgery to fix his mangled hand, with no union to help him pay? Inspired by her mother's fanciful stories, Gusta secretly hopes to find the coin-like “Wish” that her sea-captain grandfather supposedly left hidden somewhere. Meanwhile, even as Gusta gets to know the rambunctious orphans at the home, she feels like an outsider at her new school and finds herself facing patriotism turned to prejudice, alien registration drives, and a family secret likely to turn the small town upside down.
Title: All He Knew
By: Helen Frost
In 1939 six-year-old Henry, who is deaf, is taken from his family and placed in a home for the feeble-minded where, years later, his friends include a conscientious objector serving there during World War II
Title: The unsung hero of Birdsong, USA
By: Brenda Woods
Gabriel, twelve, gains new perspective when he becomes friends with Meriwether, a Black World War II hero who has recently returned to the unwelcoming Jim Crow South.
Title: Our Castle by the Sea
By: Lucy Strange
Growing up in a lighthouse, eleven-year-old Pet's world has been one of storms, secret tunnels, and stories about sea monsters. But now the country is at war and the clifftops are a terrifying battleground. Pet will need to muster all her bravery to uncover why her family is being torn apart. This is the story of a girl who is afraid and unnoticed ... A girl who is somehow destined to become part of the strange, ancient legend of the Daughters of Stone
Ages: 8-12 years
Title: Bud, not Buddy
By: Christopher Paul Curtis
Ten-year-old Bud, a motherless boy living in Flint, Michigan, during the Great Depression, escapes a bad foster home and sets out in search of the man he believes to be his father--the renowned bandleader, H.E. Calloway of Grand Rapids.
Title: Inside out & back again
By: Waka Brown
Through a series of poems, a young girl chronicles the life-changing year of 1975, when she, her mother, and her brothers leave Vietnam and resettle in Alabama.