Evanston Public Library’s 101 Great Books for Kids 2021: Fiction

October 18, 2021


44. Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. Alston

Men in Black meets Harry Potter! When Amari Peters discovers that her brother has nominated her to attend the Bureau of Supernatural Affairs she discovers powers she never knew she had. J Alsto.B

45. Amber and Clay by Laura Amy Schlitz

A girl as precious as amber. A boy as common as clay. Two children in ancient Greece dance with bears, play with ghosts, and live in a time of gods and philosophers. J Schli.L

46. Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids edited by Cynthia Leitich Smith

An amazing group of Native writers contribute interconnected short stories about young people (and one cool rez dog) heading to an Intertribal powwow. x808.83 Ancesto

47. The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo, ill. Sophie Blackall 

A young girl, hunted by the king, is found in a monastery where she is nursed back to health by a monk. So begins an epic medieval tale. Lyrical narration is supported by gorgeous black and white illustrations. J Dicam.K

48. Black Boy Joy: 17 Stories Celebrating Black Boyhood, edited by Kwame Mbalia

Seventeen stories by acclaimed Black authors that celebrate joy form a collection that has humor, heart, sci-fi action, a story in verse and even a new comic by Newbery-winner Jerry Craft. x808.83 Black

49. The Comeback: A Figure Skating Novel by E.L. Shen

Competitive ice skater Maxine Chen is determined to be the best. But with anti-Asian racism at school and a new top ice skater in the rink, will she withstand the pressure or crack like ice? J Shen.E

50. Frankie & Bug by Gayle Forman 

Summertime and Bug’s stuck with the neighbor’s odd nephew instead of with her older brother at the beach like she planned. What to do? A poignant coming-of-age novel that addresses social issues and complicated emotions. J Forma.G

51. The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera

When Petra escaped Earth with her family for a new life, she had no idea what would happen when she awoke from her cryogenic sleep. Now it’s 300 years later and she’s the only person left with memories and stories of the past. What went wrong? And how can she survive? J Higue.D

52. The Losers at the Center of the Galaxy by Mary Winn Heider

Siblings Louise and Winston encounter weird happenings at their school like falling tubas and secretive teachers. A Chicago-based mix of absurd humor and heartbreak. J Heide.M

53. Lotería by Karla Arenas Valenti

Each year Life and Death play the card game Lotería with a single soul held in the balance. Unknowingly, Clara plunges deep into a fantasy world, determined to save her missing cousin. J Valen.K

54. Maya and the Robot by Eve L. Ewing, ill. Christine Almeda

Wanting to show off her serious science prowess, Maya fixes up an old robot and gets more than she bargained for. A sweet, funny STEM story. J Ewing.E

55. Much Ado About Baseball by Rajani LaRocca, ill. Chloe Dijon 

Being the only girl on a baseball team is tough enough, but Trish never expected to be playing alongside rival math prodigy Ben. Can the two become friends in spite of their competition or will it take a bit of magic? J Laroc.R

56. Pity Party by Kathleen Lane

A deft and daring collection of stories, quizzes, advertisements, and more. A book for anyone who has ever wanted a funny, strange, sad book to soothe their anxieties. J Lane.K

57. Playing the Cards You’re Dealt by Varian Johnson

Ant hopes to impress his dad by becoming the next in his family to win a card tournament. However, he must deal with some surprising truths that throw him off his game. J Johns.V

58. The Raconteur’s Commonplace Book by Kate Milford, ill. Nicole Wong

Twelve guests, trapped at the Blue Vein Tavern by floodwaters, tell stories to pass the time.  An infinitely clever tale of the crossover between storytelling and reality. J Milfo.K

59. Root Magic by Eden Royce

An atmospheric and creepy historical novel (set among the Gullah people in 1963 South Carolina) stars twins Jezebel and Jay who want nothing more than to learn how to use potions and powders to save their family…and maybe even get some revenge.  J Royce.E

60. Starfish by Lisa Fipps

Imagine if perfect strangers walked up and insulted you regularly. Imagine if even your own mom was awful! Ellie’s been bullied about her weight since she was five. Now it’s time to fight back and embrace what makes her special. J Fipps.L

61. Thanks a Lot, Universe by Chad Lucas

Music-loving Ezra has developed a crush on his shy, nervous friend Brian and cannot tell anyone. Meanwhile, Brian has to land on his feet after a major family crisis. J Lucas.C

62. Too Bright to See by Kyle Lukoff 

Bug’s house has always been haunted, but it wasn’t until Uncle Rodrick died that things started to get weird. Is Rodrick trying to tell Bug something? And is it something Bug’s ready to hear? J Lukof.K

63. Trouble in the Stars by Sarah Prineas 

Trouble has no memory of his past but he knows one thing: He’s a shapeshifter, the only one in the galaxy, and now he’s just stowed away on a spaceship to who knows where.  J Prine.S

64. The Wild Huntsboys by Martin Stewart

Set in a futuristic England at war, three boys find themselves in danger when they anger the fairies and must battle enemies on every side. J Stewa.M

65. The Year I Flew Away by Marie Arnold 

A girl from Haiti gets a chance to immigrate to Brooklyn to live with her aunt and uncle. She wants to be American, know English perfectly, and fit in at her new school. That’s all normal, but is it wise to accept help and advice from a magical witch?  What do we trade of our culture when we move to a new place? What do we lose? J Arnol.M


Return to the full list of 101 Great Books for Kids here.

Evanston Public Library’s 101 Great Books for Kids 2020: Fiction

November 6, 2020


43. The Blackbird Girls by Anne Blankman.

In 1986 Ukraine two girls become unlikely friends after experiencing the fallout from the horrifying Chernobyl crisis. Call Number: J Blank.A

You can listen to the ebook here and the e-audiobook on Overdrive here.


44. Echo Mountain by Lauren Wolk.

Everyone blames Ellie for her father’s accident but this city girl turned mountain expert is determined to find a cure for his coma. A Depression-era tale of fortitude punctuated with scintillating descriptions and writing. Call Number: J Wolk.L

You can check out the Playaway of this book here.

You can check out the audiobook on CD of this book here.

You can check out the ebook here and the e-audiobook here on Overdrive.


45. Efrén Divided by Ernesto Cisneros.

Fifth grader Efrén’s life turns upside down after he discovers his beloved mother has been deported. This powerful, fast-paced novel shows a boy struggling to keep his family together. Call Number: J Cisne.E

You can check out the Playaway of this book here.

You can check out the ebook on Hoopla here.

You can check out the ebook here or the e-audiobook here on Overdrive.


46. Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley.

Sisters Della and Suki have always stuck together, even when they had to live with their mom’s terrible boyfriend. Now he’s headed to jail but Suki’s still not okay. A tough and gripping story of abuse and hope. Call Number: J Bradl.K

You can check out the Playaway of this book here.

You can read the ebook here or the e-audiobook here on Overdrive.


47. Fly On the Wall by Remy Lai.

Henry Khoo’s family treats him like a baby, so he does the only natural thing in response: he buys a ticket and hops a plane to Shanghai! A hilarious and clever adventure. Call Number: J Lai.R

You can check out the Playaway of this book here.


48. From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks.

Budding chef Zoe discovers a letter from her estranged birth father serving time in jail for murder. When he tells her he didn’t do it, Zoe will stop at nothing to prove his innocence. Call Number: J Marks.J

You can check out the Playaway of this book here.

You can check out the audiobook here.

You can check out the ebook here or the e-audiobook here on Overdrive.


49. A Game of Fox and Squirrels by Jenn Reese.

If you could have only one wish, what would it be? When Samantha plays a game with a charming fox, she has a chance to make everything go back to the way it was. But should she? Call Number: J Reese.J

You can check out the ebook here on Overdrive.


50. Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen by Sarah Kapit.

Autistic Vivy can throw a mean knuckleball and wants to play on an all-boys’ little league team. Made up of emails between Vivy and a Major League pitching star, this engaging book is a home run. Call Number: J Kapit.S


51. The Girl and the Ghost by Hanna Alkaf.

Suraya’s best friend has always been a ghost. He’s cruel and terrible and scary and he adores Suraya. So what happens when she decides the two can’t be together anymore? Call Number: J Hanna


52. Here in the Real World by Sara Pennypacker.

Ware loves the age of knights and chivalry. Jolene prefers the reality of plants and trees. A powerful look at friendship and the birth of a budding artist. Call Number: J Penny.S

Check out the Playaway of this book here.

Check out the ebook here or the e-audiobook here on Overdrive.


53. Hide and Seeker by Daka Hermon.

A simple game of Hide and Seek turns into a nightmare when a malevolent monster starts pulling kids into its terrifying world. You can run, but you cannot hide! Call Number: J Hermo.D


54. King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender.

In this visceral Louisiana-set novel, twelve-year-old Kingston experiences racism and homophobia while grieving the death of an older brother who may now be a dragonfly. Call Number: J Calle.K

Check out the Playaway of this book here.

Check out the e-audiobook here on Overdrive.


55. Leaving Lymon by Lesa Cline-Ransome.

In the 1940s, Lymon loves music and his grandpops. However, after tragedy strikes, he must leave his home and travel into an uncertain future up North. Call Number: J Cline.L


56. The Magic in Changing Your Stars by Leah Henderson.

After Ailey botches his audition for The Wiz, his grandfather hands him magical shoes that once belonged to the legendary Bo Bojangles Robinson. Soon Ailey’s transported to 1939 Harlem where he meets his grandfather…as a boy with tapdance dreams! Call Number: J Hende.L


57. The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert.

California surfer Alberta is the only Black girl in her grade until goth Brooklynite Edie moves into the house next door. Can such different people become friends? Call Number: J Colbe.B

You can check out the Playaway of this book here.

You can check out the ebook here and the e-audiobook here on Overdrive.


58. Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet by Zanib Mian, ill. Nasaya Mafaridik.

A Pakistani Muslim boy living in England faces big changes when he starts school in a new town. Fans of Wimpy Kid and Big Nate, meet the one and only Omar! Call Number: J Mian.Z


59. Second Dad Summer by Benjamin Klas, ill. Fian Arroyo.

Jeremiah spends the summer with his dad. The only problem: his father’s flamboyant new boyfriend embarrasses him. Will Jeremiah learn to accept the new dad in his life? Call Number: J Klas.B

Read the ebook here and the e-audiobook here on Hoopla.


60. Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare Le Zotte.

Set in 1805, this atmospheric novel introduces Mary Lambert, a proud Deaf girl who lives among other Deaf people on Martha’s Vineyard. Still mourning the death of her beloved older brother, Mary finds her world shaken up by the arrival of a troubling stranger. Call Number: J Lezot.A

You can check out the ebook here on Overdrive.


61. Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake, ill. Jon Klassen.

As far as Badger’s concerned, he’s happiest holed up in his brownstone doing “important rock work”. But that’s before Skunk arrives and turns his life upside down in this kooky, charming bedtime read. Call Number: J Timbe.A

You can check out the ebook here and the e-audiobook (which we HIGHLY recommend) here on Hoopla.


62. Stand Up, Yumi Chung by Jessica Kim.

Shy Yumi wants to be a stand-up comedian, but her parents do not see a future in telling jokes. When she sneaks a peek at a summer comedy camp, the instructor mistakes her for someone else…and Yumi goes along with it! Breezy fun. Call Number: J Kim.J

You can check out the ebook here and the e-audiobook here on Overdrive.


63. The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez by Adrianna Cuevas.

Cuban-American Army brat Nestor moves from town to town. The upside? He can talk to animals. Soon after he arrives in New Haven, Texas, he learns that he must solve a mystery involving missing pets, his abuela, and sinister forces in the woods. Call Number: J Cueva.A

You can listen to the e-audiobook here on Hoopla.


64. Ways to Make Sunshine by Renée Watson, ill. Nina Mata.

After her family experiences some financial hardship, Ryan Hart has to move to a new house and face new challenges in Coretta Scott King Author winner Watson’s chipper series opener. Call Number: J Watso.R

You can read the ebook here on Overdrive.


65. Wayside School Beneath the Cloud of Doom by Louis Sachar.

The wacky kids of Wayside School have all kinds of problems. So when a great big, nasty cloud of doom perches on top of their school, things go from weird to wild. Call Number: J Sacha.L

Check out the Playaway for this book here.

You can check out the audiobook here.

You can check out the ebook here and the e-audiobook here on Overdrive.

You can check out the e-audiobook here on Hoopla.


66. What Lane? by Torrey Maldonado.

In this fast-paced realistic novel, Black sixth grader Stephen’s eyes become open to a world divided by race and force him to choose different lanes. Call Number: J Madlo.T

67. Wink by Rob Harrell.

It’s hard to blend in when you’re losing your hair, forced to wear a floppy cowboy hat, and get called “the cancer kid” behind your back. But when Ross Maloy becomes obsessed with learning the guitar, things go from awful to awesome. Call Number: J Harre.R

You can check out the ebook here and the e-audiobook here on Overdrive.


You can find the full 101 Great Books for Kids 2020 list here.

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