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Pick of the Decade 1998-2008 The Best Books for Children Grades k-8

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Fiction for Fifth Grade

Alexander, Lloyd. The Gawgon and the Boy, 2001.

In Depression-era Philadelphia, when eleven-year-old David is too ill to attend school, he is tutored by the unique Aunt Annie, whose teaching combines with his imagination to send him on adventures exploring the wonders of the world.
Anderson, M. T. The Game of Sunken Places, 2004.

When two boys stay with an eccentric relative at his mansion in rural Vermont, they discover an old-fashioned board game that draws them into a mysterious adventure.

Anderson, M. T. Whales on Stilts, 2005.

Racing against the clock, shy middle-school student Lily and her best friends, Katie and Jasper, must foil the plot of her father's conniving boss to conquer the world using an army of whales. (Sequels: The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen and Jasper Dash and the Flame Pits of Delaware.)

Appelt, Kathi. The Underneath, 2008.

An old hound that has been chained up at his hateful owner's run-down shack, and two kittens born underneath the house, endure separation, danger, and many other tribulations in their quest to be reunited and free.

Armstrong, Alan. Whittington, 2005.

Whittington, a feline descendant of Dick Whittington's famous cat of English folklore, appears at a rundown barnyard plagued by rats and restores harmony while telling his ancestor's story.

Avi. Perloo the Bold, 1998.

Perloo, a peaceful scholar, who has been chosen to succeed Jolaine as leader of the furry underground people called the Montmers, finds himself in danger when Jolaine dies and her evil son seizes control of the burrow.

Avi. The Good Dog, 2001.

McKinley, a malamute, is torn between the domestic world of his human family and the wild world of Lupin, a wolf that is trying to recruit dogs to replenish the dwindling wolf pack.

Avi and Rachel Vail. Never Mind: A Twin Novel, 2004

Twelve-year-old New York City twins Meg and Edward have nothing in common, so they are just as shocked as everyone else when Meg’s hopes for popularity and Edward’s mischievous schemes coincidentally collide.

Avi. The Seer of Shadows, 2008.

In trying to make money off grieving families by taking photos of the ghosts of the dead, a photographer's young apprentice frees the ghost of a dead girl determined to seek her revenge on people from her past.

Balliett, Blue. Chasing Vermeer, 2004.

When seemingly unrelated and strange events start to happen and a precious Vermeer painting disappears, eleven-year-olds Petra and Calder combine their talents to solve an international art scandal. (Sequels: The Wright 3 and The Calder Game.)

Berlin, Eric. The Puzzling World of Winston Breen, 2007.

When his sister stumbles upon strange wooden strips with words and letters that could lead to a priceless treasure, Winston Breen, a master puzzle solver, must overcome distrust and dangerous threats to unravel this mystery and claim the prize.

Birdsall, Jeanne. The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale Of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, And A Very

Interesting Boy, 2005.

While vacationing with their widowed father in the Berkshire Mountains, four lovable sisters, ages four through twelve, share adventures with a local boy, much to the dismay of his snobbish mother. (Sequel: The Penderwicks on Gardam Street.)

Blume, Lesley. The Rising Star of Rusty Nail, 2007.

Believing she has learned all she can from the town's only piano teacher, ten-year-old piano prodigy Franny Hansen yearns to get out of her nowhere community in rural Minnesota, so when a mysterious Russian woman takes up residence, Franny begins to think the new arrival may be just what she needs to help make her next big move.

Bode, N. E. The Anybodies, 2004.

After learning that she is not the biological daughter of boring Mr. and Mrs. Drudger, Fern embarks on magical adventures with her real father and finally finds "a place that feels like home." (Sequels: The Nobodies and The Somebodies.)

Branford, Henrietta. Fire, Bed, and Bone, 1998.

In 1381 England, a hunting dog recounts what happens to his beloved master Rufus and his family when they are arrested on suspicion of being part of the peasants’ rebellion.

Broach, Elise. Shakespeare’s Secret, 2005.

Named after a character in a Shakespeare play, misfit sixth-grader Hero becomes interested in exploring this unusual connection because of a valuable diamond supposedly hidden in her new house, an intriguing neighbor, and the unexpected attention of the most popular boy in school.

Broach, Elise. Masterpiece, 2008.

When he finds himself involved in a case to recover a famous drawing stolen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 11-year-old James turns to his miniature and artistically talented friend, Marvin the beetle, for help in solving the mystery and bringing the culprit to justice.

Bruchac, Joseph. Bearwalker, 2007.

Although the littlest student in his class, thirteen-year-old Baron Braun calls upon the strength and wisdom of his Mohawk ancestors to face both man and beast when he tries to get help for his classmates, who are being terrorized during a school field trip in the Adirondacks.

Byars Betsy. King of Murder, 2006.

Herculeah meets a murder mystery writer, and has the uneasy feeling that he knows more about murder than he should. (Newest in the Herculeah Jones Mysteries that begins with: The Dark Stairs.)

Carbone, Elisa. Storm Warriors, 2001.

In 1895, after his mother's death, twelve-year-old Nathan moves with his father and grandfather to Pea Island off the coast of North Carolina, where he hopes to join the all-black crew at the nearby lifesaving station, despite his father's objections.

Carey, Janet Lee. Wenny Has Wings, 2002.

Having had a near-death experience in the accident that killed his younger sister, eleven-year-old Will tries to cope with the situation by writing her letters.

Choldenko, Gennifer. Notes from a Liar and Her Dog, 2001.

Eleven-year-old Ant, stuck in a family that she does not like, copes by pretending that her "real" parents are coming to rescue her, by loving her dog Pistachio, by volunteering at the zoo, and by bending the truth and telling lies.

Choldenko, Gennifer. Al Capone Does My Shirts, 2004. (SP)

A twelve-year-old boy named Moose moves to Alcatraz Island in 1935 when guards' families were housed there, and has to contend with his extraordinary new environment in addition to life with his autistic sister.

Cleary, Beverly. Ramona’s World, 1999.

Follows the adventures of nine-year-old Ramona at home with big sister Beezus and baby sister Roberta and at school in Mrs. Meacham's class. (Previous titles: Beezus and Ramona, Ramona the Pest, Ramona the Brave, Ramona and Her Father, Ramona and Her Mother, Ramona Quimby Age 8, and Ramona Forever.)

Clinton, Cathryn. A Stone in My Hand, 2002.

Eleven-year-old Malaak and her family are touched by the violence in Gaza between Jews and Palestinians when first her father disappears and then her older brother is drawn to the Islamic Jihad.

Colfer, Eoin. Artemis Fowl, 2001.

When a twelve-year-old evil genius tries to restore his family fortune by capturing a fairy and demanding a ransom in gold, the fairies fight back with magic, technology, and a particularly nasty troll. (Sequels: Artemis Fowl: The Artic Incident; Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code; Artemis Fowl: The Opal Deception; Artemis Fowl: The Lost Colony; and Artemis Fowl: The Time Paradox.)

Colfer, Eoin. Half-Moon Investigations, 2006. (SP)

Twleve-year-old private investigator Fletcher Moon, nicknamed "Half Moon" because of his shortness, must track down a conspiracy or be framed for a crime he did not commit.

Collard, Sneed. Dog Sense, 2005.

After he and his mother move from California to Montana to live with his grandfather, thirteen-year-old Guy gradually adjusts to the unfamiliar surroundings, makes a friend, and learns to deal with a bully, with the help of his Frisbee-catching dog, Streak.

Collins, Suzanne. Gregor the Overlander, 2003.

When Gregor’s two-year-old sister, Boots, tumbles down an air duct in the laundry room of their apartment building, he leaps after her. The two wind up in Underland, a place inhabited by humans who have not been “Overland” in centuries, as well as giant-sized rat, bats and cockroaches. Gregor just wants to find a way home until he discovers that his father is a prisoner of the rats. As he searches for a way to free him and keep his sister safe, he finds he may indeed be the Overlander of prophecy. (First in the Underland Chronicles. Sequels: Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane, Gregor and the Curse of the Warmbloods, Gregor and the Marks of Secret, and Gregor and the Code of the Claw.)

Compestine, Ying Chang. Revolution Is Not a Dinner Party, 2007.

Starting in 1972 when she is nine years old, Ling, the daughter of two doctors, struggles to make sense of the communists' Cultural Revolution, which empties stores of food, homes of appliances deemed "bourgeois," and people of laughter.

Couloumbis, Audrey. Getting Near to Baby, 1999.

Although thirteen-year-old Willa Jo and her Aunt Patty seem to be constantly at odds, staying with her and Uncle Hob helps Willa Jo and her younger sister come to terms with the death of their family’s baby.

Couloumbis, Audrey. The Misadventures of Maude March, or Trouble Rides a Fast Horse, 2005.

After the death of the stern aunt who raised them since they were orphaned, eleven-year-old Sallie and her fifteen-year-old sister escape their self-serving guardians and begin an adventure resembling those in the dime novels Sallie loves to read. (Sequel: Maude March on the Run.)

Corbett, Sue. Free Baseball, 2006.

Angry with his mother for having too little time for him, eleven-year-old Felix takes advantage of an opportunity to become bat boy for a minor league baseball team, hoping to someday be like his father, a famous Cuban outfielder.

Coville, Bruce. Juliet Dove, Queen of Love, 2004.

Juliet is a shy twelve-year-old who leaves Mr. Elives’ Magic Shop with the Helen of Troy amulet. Soon, all the boys in school are swooning after Juliet, and the amulet won’t come off. (Newest in the Magic Shop quartet which includes: The Monster’s Ring, Jennifer Murdley’s Toad, and The Skull of Truth.)

Creech, Sharon. Love That Dog, 2001. (SP)

A young student, who comes to love poetry through a personal understanding of what different famous poems mean to him, surprises himself by writing his own inspired poem. (Sequel: Hate That Cat.)

Creech, Sharon. Replay, 2005.

While preparing for a role in the school play, twelve-year-old Leo finds an autobiography that his father wrote as a teenager and ponders the ways people change as they grow up. Includes the text for the play, "Rumpopo's Porch."

Curtis, Christopher Paul. Bud, Not Buddy, 1999.

Ten-year-old Bud, a motherless African-American 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. (See also: The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963.)

Curtis, Christopher Paul. Elijah Buxton, 2007.

As the first child born into freedom in a Canadian town for runaway slaves, eleven-year-old Elijah finds himself on a dangerous journey to America to track down an unscrupulous former slave who stole the money from his friend, Mr. Leroy, that was intended to buy his family their freedom from slavery.

D’Adamo, Francesco. Iqbal, 2003.

A fictionalized account of the Pakistani child who escaped from bondage in a carpet factory and went on to help liberate other children like him before being gunned down at the age of thirteen.

Danziger, Paula and Ann Martin. P.S. Longer Letter Later, 1998.

Twelve-year-old best friends Elizabeth and Tara-Starr continue their friendship through letter-writing after Tara-Starr's family moves to another state. (Sequel: Snail Mail No More.)

DeFelice, Cynthia. Bringing Ezra Back, 2006.

In the mid-1800s, twelve-year-old Nathan journeys from his farm on the Ohio frontier to Western Pennsylvania to rescue a friend held captive by the owners of a freak show. (Previous title: Weasel. See also: Nowhere to Call Home, Devil’s Bridgel, Lostman’s River, and Death at Devil’s Bridge.)

DiCamillo, Kate. The Tale of Despereaux, 2003.

Despereaux Tilling has been different from all the other mice from the moment he was born. The large-eared rodent, enjoys reading fairy tales and falls in love with a real live princess, but when the other mice banish him to the dungeon, not only is his own life in danger, but his beloved princess’s as well.

Dowell, Frances. Dovey Coe, 2000.

When accused of murder in her North Carolina mountain town in 1928, Dovey Coe, a strong-willed twelve-year-old girl, comes to a new understanding of others, including her deaf brother.

DuPrau, Jeanne. The City of Ember, 2003.

In the year 241, twelve-year-old Lina trades jobs on Assignment Day to be a Messenger to run to new places in her decaying but beloved city, perhaps even to glimpse Unknown Regions. (Sequels: People of Sparks, The Prophet of Yonwood, and The Diamond of Darkhold.)

Elliot, David. Jeremy Cabbage and the Museum of Human Oddballs and Quadruped Delights, 2008.

While searching for a loving family, orphaned Jeremy becomes entangled in a conflict between his city's arrogant and oppressive leader, the Baron von Strompie, and a group of outlandish people called the "cloons."

Erdrich, Louise. The Birchbark House, 1999.

Omakayas, a seven-year-old Native American girl of the Ojibwa tribe, lives through the joys of summer and the perils of winter on an island in Lake Superior in 1847. (Sequels: The Game of Silence and The Porcupine Year.)

Finney, Patricia. I, Jack, 2004.

Jack, a Labrador Retriever, tells about his daily life of food, walks, and the "apedogs" and "funny-looking dogs" (cats) in his pack, as well as how everything changes when a pretty girl dog moves into the neighborhood. Includes explanatory footnotes written by the cats. (Sequel: Jack and Rebel, the Police Dog.)

Fuqua, Jonathan. Darby, 2002.

In 1926, nine-year-old Darby Carmichael stirs up trouble in Marlboro County, South Carolina, when she writes a story for the local newspaper promoting racial equality.

Funke, Cornelia. Igraine the Brave, 2007.

The daughter of two magicians, twelve-year-old Igraine wants nothing more than to be a knight, and when their castle is attacked by a treacherous neighbor bent on stealing their singing magic books, Igraine has an opportunity to demonstrate her bravery.

Gaiman, Neil. Coraline, 2002.

In this chilling tale, Coraline ventures into a mysterious corridor that leads to an alternate reality where her “other” parents are nicer to her than her real parents. But as they gaze at her with their black button eyes, Coraline finds that they want to keep her forever. When they kidnap her real parents, Coraline sets out on a desperate and dangerous journey to set them free.

Gantos, Jack. Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, 1998.

To the constant disappointment of his mother and his teachers, Joey has trouble paying attention or controlling his mood swings when his prescription meds wear off and he starts getting worked up and acting wired. (Sequels: Joey Pigza Loses Control, What Would Joey Do? and I Am Not Joey Pigza.)

Giff, Patricia Reilly. Pictures of Hollis Woods, 2002.

What twelve-year-old artist Hollis Woods wishes for the most is a family. She always runs away from her foster homes until she meets Josie who is as good at carving as Hollis is at drawing. Soon their roles reverse and Hollis is caring for the elderly Josie, as she relives the summer with the Regan family and struggles to find a place to call home. (See also: All the Way Home and Lily’s Crossing.)

Giff, Patricia Reilly. Eleven, 2008.

Opening a locked box found in the dusty attic of grandfather's house, Sam reads about a mysterious person who was kidnapped and begins to have crazy dreams centered around a big castle that make him wonder if his grandfather is really who he says he is.

Gliori, Debi. Pure Dead Magic, 2001.

When their father is kidnapped and danger looms, the Strega-Borgia children, their mysterious new nanny, and a giant tarantula use magic and actual trips through the Internet to bring peace to their Scottish castle. (Sequels: Pure Dead Wicked, Pure Dead Brilliant, Pure Dead Batty, and Pure Dead Frozen.)

Going, K. L. The Liberation of Gabriel King, 2005.

In Georgia during the summer of 1976, Gabriel, a white boy who is being bullied, and Frita, an African American girl who is facing prejudice, decide to overcome their many fears together as they enter fifth grade.

Grimes, Nikki. The Road to Paris, 2006.

Inconsolable at being separated from her older brother, eight-year-old Paris is apprehensive about her new foster family but just as she learns to trust them, she faces a life-changing decision.

Grove, Vicki. Reaching Dustin, 1998.

Fifth-grader Carly's assignment to interview a reclusive, brooding classmate leads her to discover some of the events that have caused his antisocial and abusive family's negative impact on their Missouri farming community, and Carly's family in particular.

Gutman, Dan. The Homework Machine, 2006.

Four fifth-grade students--a geek, a class clown, a teacher's pet, and a slacker--as well as their teacher and mothers, each relate events surrounding a computer programmed to complete homework assignments.

Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Among the Hidden, 1998.

In a future where the Population Police enforce the law limiting a family to only two children, Luke has lived all his twelve years in isolation and fear on his family's farm, until another "third" convinces him that the government is wrong. (Sequels: Among the Imposters; Among the Betrayed; Among the Barons; Among the Brave; Among the Enemy; and Among the Free.)

Hahn, Mary Downing. The Old Willis Place: A Ghost Story, 2004.

Diana and Georgie, live in the wild, depending only on each other, until Diana befriends Lissa. But when Lissa leads her into the derelict house she watches over, she unlooses the spirit of an old woman who lived and died there, and more.

Hamilton, Virginia. Bluish, 1999.

Ten-year-old African-American Dreenie feels both intrigued and frightened when she thinks about the girl nicknamed Bluish, whose leukemia is making her pale and causing her to use a wheelchair.

Hannigan, Katherine. Ida B. 2004. (SP)

Ida B. enjoys her life being home-schooled and playing in the family’s apple orchard, but things change drastically when her mother begins treatment for breast cancer.

Harkrader, L. D. Airball: My Life in Briefs, 2005.

Uncoordinated Kansas seventh-grader Kirby Nickel braves his coach's ire and becomes captain of the basketball team in order to help him prove that NBA star Brett McGrew is the father he has never known.

Himelblau, Linda. The Trouble Begins, 2005.

Reunited with his family for the first time since he was a baby, fifth grader Du struggles to adapt to his new home in the United States.

Hobbs, Valerie. Defiance, 2005.

While vacationing in the country, eleven-year-old Toby, a cancer patient, learns some important lessons about living and dying from an elderly poet and her cow.

Holt, Kimberly Willis. When Zachary Beaver Came to Town, 1999.

During the summer of 1971 in a small Texas town, thirteen-year-old Toby and his best friend Cal meet the star of a sideshow act, 600-pound Zachary, the fattest boy in the world.

Horvath, Polly. Everything on a Waffle, 2001.

Eleven-year-old Primrose living in a small fishing village in British Columbia recounts her experiences and all that she learns about human nature and the predictability of life in the months after her parents are lost at sea. (See also: The Canning Season and The Pepins and Their Problems.)

Horvath, Polly. My One Hundred Adventures, 2008.

Hot air balloon rides, a new friendship with a preacher, and an encounter with an aspiring psychic make 12-year-old Jane's boring summer vacation an adventure to remember while teaching her a lot about herself in the process.

Hunter, Erin. Into the Wild, 2003.

For generations, four clans of wild cats have shared the forest. When their warrior code is threatened by mysterious deaths, a house cat named Rusty may turn out to be the bravest warrior of all. (First in the Warriors series which includes: Fire and Ice, Forest of Secrets, Rising Storm, A Dangerous Path, and The Darkest Hour.)

Hunter, Erin. The Quest Begins, 2008.

Three young bears of different species--one black, one polar, and one grizzly--travel on a perilous quest to the Northern Lights, escorting a shape-shifting grizzly cub whose destiny will affect them all.

Ibbotson, Eva. Island of the Aunts, 2000.

As they get older, several sisters decide that they must kidnap children and bring them to their secluded island home to help with the work of caring for an assortment of unusual sea creatures. (See also: Dial-a-Ghost and Which Witch?)

Johnson, Jane. The Secret Country: The Eildolon Chronicles, Book One, 2006.

Having learned from a talking cat that he and his sisters are the half-elfin royalty of a parallel world called Eidolon, twelve-year-old Ben Arnold attempts to stop his evil uncle from smuggling magical creatures between the two worlds to sell on the black market. (Sequel: The Shadow World.)

Joseph, Lynn. The Color of My Words, 2000. (SP)

When life gets difficult for Ana Rosa, a twelve-year-old would-be writer living in a small village in the Dominican Republic, she can depend on her older brother to make her feel better--until the life-changing events on her thirteenth birthday.

Karr, Kathleen. The Great Turkey Walk, 1998.

In 1860, a somewhat simple-minded fifteen-year-old boy attempts to herd one thousand turkeys from Missouri to Denver, Colorado, in hopes of selling them at a profit.

Keehn, Sally. Magpie Gabbard and the Quest for the Buried Moon, 2007.

In Kentucky in 1872, when goblins capture the moon, thirteen-year-old Magpie must rise above her family's fighting legacy and put her "cussedness" to use to save the moon and her loved ones, according to "the age-old prophecy."

Kehert, Peg. Stranger Next Door, 2002.

A clever cat's heroism helps two twelve-year-old boys become friends after their families, one of which is in a witness protection program, move to neighboring houses in Hilltop, Washington.

Kindl, Patrice. Goose Chase, 2001.

Alexandra Aurora Fortunato only wants to take care of her geese, but when she brushes her hair gold dust falls, and her tears become diamonds. This attracts the attention of King Claudio the Cruel and Prince Edmond of Dorloo. Clearly, she must escape, which she does, with the help of the geese. But then, she finds herself in more trouble than she was in the first place. (See also:

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