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Read: MCBA 2018-2019

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Founded in 1975, the Massachusetts Children's Book Award lets you pick the award winner!

Fourth-, fifth-, and sixth-graders are given a master list of book titles. After reading five of the books, students may vote for their favorite. The list is compiled from nominations of participating teachers, librarians, and interested publishers. A selection committee works with the nominations and chooses 25 titles to appear on the master list.

Criteria for the master list include literary quality, genres variety, representation of diverse cultural groups, and reader appeal. Books published within five years of the award year are eligible. The author of the winning book receives a plaque to commemorate the award.

The award is sponsored by Salem State University.

 

 

Ms. Bixby's Last Day

                  

A funny, heartwarming, and heartbreaking contemporary story about three boys, one teacher, and a day none of them will ever forget. Everyone knows there are different kinds of teachers. The boring ones, the mean ones, the ones who try too hard, the ones who stopped trying long ago. The ones you’ll never remember, and the ones you want to forget. Ms. Bixby is none of these. She’s the sort of teacher who makes you feel like school is somehow worthwhile. Who recognizes something in you that sometimes you don’t even see in yourself. Who you never want to disappoint. What Ms. Bixby is, is one of a kind. Topher, Brand, and Steve know this better than anyone. And so when Ms. Bixby unexpectedly announces that she won’t be able to finish the school year, they come up with a risky plan—more of a quest, really—to give Ms. Bixby the last day she deserves. Through the three very different stories they tell, we begin to understand what Ms. Bixby means to each of them—and what the three of them mean to each other.

A Boy Called Bat

For Bixby Alexander Tam (nicknamed Bat), life tends to be full of surprises—some of them good, some not so good. Today, though, is a good-surprise day. Bat’s mom, a veterinarian, has brought home a baby skunk, which she needs to take care of until she can hand him over to a wild-animal shelter.

But the minute Bat meets the kit, he knows they belong together. And he’s got one month to show his mom that a baby skunk might just make a pretty terrific pet.

The Terrible Two

Miles Murphy is known for one thing and one thing only: pranking.

He's the best prankster his school has ever seen. So when he's forced to move to boring Yawnee Valley (also known for one thing and one thing only: cows), he assumes he'll be the best prankster at his new school too. There's one problem. The school already has a prankster—and he's good. Really good.

The Bad Guys

They sound like the Bad Guys, they look like the Bad Guys... and they even smell like the Bad Guys. But Mr Wolf, Mr Piranha, Mr Snake and Mr Shark are about to change all of that! Mr Wolf has a daring plan for the Bad Guys’ first good mission. The gang are going to break 200 dogs out of the Maximum Security City Dog Pound. Will Operation Dog Pound go smoothly? Will the Bad Guys become the Good Guys? And will Mr Snake please spit out Mr Piranha?

 

Science Comics: Volcanoes

In a not-so-distant future our world is as cold as a frozen burrito. But can humanity save itself by harnessing a power that dwells inside the Earth? Explode into the world of geology in Volcanoes: Fire and Life!

A lot of magic happens under the Earth's crust. Thanks to magma vents, shifting continental plates, and volcanic eruptions, we know that our planet is alive and in motion. Alongside Aurora, a young explorer, you'll learn that volcanoes are just one of the massively powerful forces at work on our planet. From catastrophic destruction to the creation of new land masses, volcanoes have made their mark on our amazing Earth.

 

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook

Eleven-year-old Perry was born and raised by his mom at the Blue River Co-ed Correctional Facility in tiny Surprise, Nebraska. His mom is a resident on Cell Block C, and so far Warden Daugherty has made it possible for them to be together. That is, until a new district attorney discovers the truth—and Perry is removed from the facility and forced into a foster home.

When Perry moves to the “outside” world, he feels trapped. Desperate to be reunited with his mom, Perry goes on a quest for answers about her past crime. As he gets closer to the truth, he will discover that love makes people resilient no matter where they come from . . . but can he find a way to tell everyone what home truly means?

 

Raymie Nightingale

Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father, who left town two days ago with a dental hygienist, will see Raymie's picture in the paper and (maybe) come home. To win, not only does Raymie have to do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton; she also has to contend with the wispy, frequently fainting Louisiana Elefante, who has a show-business background, and the fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski, who's determined to sabotage the contest. But as the competition approaches, loneliness, loss, and unanswerable questions draw the three girls into an unlikely friendship -- and challenge each of them to come to the rescue in unexpected ways.

 

What Elephants Know

In the borderlands between Nepal and India during the 1970s, an orphan boy overcomes adversity to save his village and become a great elephant driver.

Abandoned in the jungle as a baby and cared for by wild dogs known as dholes, Nandu is rescued by an elephant, Devi Kali, and the head of a royal elephant stable, Subba-sahib. That he thinks of these two as his parents is clear from the very outset of this first-person narrative: “My mother is an elephant and my father is an old man with one arm.” But one day Nandu spoils the king’s attempt to shoot a tiger, perhaps influencing the king’s decision to close the elephant stable. Subba-sahib sends Nandu to boarding school, where he is again an outsider and bullied but where he also meets a white teacher. Together they collect bird specimens for the Smithsonian. Nandu and his friend Rita devise a plan to save the village by converting the stable to an elephant breeding station.

 

It Ain't So Awful, Falafel

Zomorod (Cindy) Yousefzadeh is the new kid on the block . . . for the fourth time. California’s Newport Beach is her family’s latest perch, and she’s determined to shuck her brainy loner persona and start afresh with a new Brady Bunch name—Cindy. It’s the late 1970s, and fitting in becomes more difficult as Iran makes U.S. headlines with protests, revolution, and finally the taking of American hostages. Even puka shell necklaces, pool parties, and flying fish can't distract Cindy from the anti-Iran sentiments that creep way too close to home.

 

The Doldrums

Archer B. Helmsley wants an adventure. No, he needs an adventure. His grandparents were famous explorers . . . until they got stuck on an iceberg. Now Archer’s mother barely lets him out of the house. As if that would stop a true Helmsley. 

Archer enlists Adelaide—the girl who, according to rumor, lost her leg to a crocodile and Oliver the boy next door—to help him rescue his grandparents.  

The Doldrums whisks us off on an adventure full of sly humor, incredible detail, and enormous heart. 

 

The Inquisitors Tale

1242. On a dark night, travelers from across France cross paths at an inn and begin to tell stories of three children: William, an oblate on a mission from his monastery; Jacob, a Jewish boy who has fled his burning village; and Jeanne, a peasant girl who hides her prophetic visions. They are accompanied by Jeanne’s loyal greyhound, Gwenforte . . . recently brought back from the dead.

As the narrator collects their tales, the story of these three unlikely allies begins to come together.

Their adventures take them on a chase through France to escape prejudice and persecution and save precious and holy texts from being burned. They’re taken captive by knights, sit alongside a king, and save the land from a farting dragon. And as their quest drives them forward to a final showdown at Mont Saint-Michel, all will come to question if these children can perform the miracles of saints.

 

One Last Word

In this collection of poetry, Nikki Grimes looks afresh at the poets of the Harlem Renaissance—including voices like Langston Hughes, Georgia Douglas Johnson, and many more writers of importance and resonance from this era—by combining their work with her own original poetry. Using "The Golden Shovel" poetic method, Grimes has written a collection of poetry that is as gorgeous as it is thought-provoking.

This book also includes original artwork in full-color from some of today's most exciting African American illustrators, who have created pieces of art based on Nikki's original poems. Featuring art by: Cozbi Cabrera, R. Gregory Christie, Pat Cummings, Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Ebony Glenn, Nikki Grimes, E. B. Lewis, Frank Morrison, Christopher Myers, Brian Pinkney, Sean Qualls, James Ransome, Javaka Steptoe, Shadra Strickland, and Elizabeth Zunon.

 

Took: A Ghost Story

Seventh grade Daniel and his little sister Erica had a comfortable, happy life in Connecticut, but when their family runs into trouble, they have to move to rural Brewster’s Hill, out in the country.  As if having to move to a run-down old farmhouse isn’t bad enough, none of the kids at school will talk to Daniel or Erica, except to tell them what Daniel assumes is a mean ghost story.

Daniel thinks nothing of what Brody and the other kids at school say—it’s a bunch of hogwash —until he realizes that Erica has begun to act strangely.  She keeps to herself, talking only with her lookalike doll.  When the doll goes missing and Erica disappears, it looks like those tales were more than campfire stories. Daniel will have to muster up the courage to go into the woods and after his sister, facing Old Auntie to get Erica back.  Did the witch strike? Has Erica been “took”?

 

Underground Abductor

Araminta Ross was born a slave in Delaware in the early 19th century. Slavery meant her family could be ripped apart at any time, and she could be put to work in dangerous places and for abusive people. But north of the Mason–Dixon line, slavery was illegal. If she could run away and make it north without being caught or killed, she'd be free.

Facing enormous danger, Araminta made it, and once free, she changed her name to Harriet Tubman. She spent the rest of her life helping slaves run away like she did, every time taking her life in her hands. History meets humor when Nathan Hale tells the tale of this incredible freedom fighter and the risks she took on the Underground Railroad. 

 

Curious World of Calpurnia Tate

Callie’s younger brother Travis keeps bringing home strays. And Callie has her hands full keeping the animals—Travis included—away from her mother’s critical eye.

When a storm blows change into town in the form of a visiting veterinarian, Callie discovers a life and a vocation she desperately wants. But with societal expectations as they are, she will need all her wits and courage to realize her dreams.

 

A Handful of Stars

A Handful of Stars explores a friendship between a small-town girl and the daughter of migrant workers.

When Lily's blind dog, Lucky, slips his collar and runs away across the wide-open blueberry barrens of eastern Maine, it's Salma Santiago who manages to catch him. Salma, the daughter of migrant workers, is in the small town with her family for the blueberry-picking season.

After their initial chance meeting, Salma and Lily bond over painting bee boxes for Lily's grandfather, and Salma's friendship transforms Lily's summer. But when Salma decides to run in the upcoming Blueberry Queen pageant, they'll have to face some tough truths about friendship and belonging. Should an outsider like Salma really participate in the pageant — and possibly win?

 

Rain Reign

Rose Howard has Asperger’s syndrome, and an obsession with homonyms (even her name is a homonym). She gave her dog Rain a name with two homonyms (Reign, Rein), which, according to Rose’s rules of homonyms, is very special. Rain was lost dog Rose’s father 
brought home. Rose and Rain are practically inseparable. And they are often home alone, as Rose’s father spends most evenings at a bar, and doesn’t have much patience for his special-needs daughter.

Just as a storm hits town, Rain goes missing. Rose’s father shouldn’t have let Rain out. Now Rose has to find her dog, even if it means leaving her routines and safe places to search. Rose will find Rain, but so will Rain’s original owners.

 

A Night Divided

With the rise of the Berlin Wall, twelve-year-old Gerta finds her family divided overnight. She, her mother, and her brother Fritz live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, cannot return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall, to think forbidden thoughts of freedom, yet she can’t help herself. She sees the East German soldiers with their guns trained on their own citizens; she, her family, her neighbors and friends are prisoners in their own city.

But one day, while on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform on the western side, pantomiming a peculiar dance. Then, when she receives a mysterious drawing, Gerta puts two and two together and concludes that her father wants Gerta and Fritz to tunnel beneath the wall, out of East Berlin. However, if they are caught, the consequences will be deadly. No one can be trusted. Will Gerta and her family find their way to freedom?

 

Waylon! One Awesome Thing

Waylon has lots of ideas for making life more awesome through science, like teleportation, human gills, and attracting cupcakes by controlling gravity. But it's impossible for him to concentrate on his inventions when he's experiencing his own personal Big Bang.

Arlo Brody is dividing the fourth grade boys into two groups. Waylon would rather be friends with everyone. Well, everyone except the scary new kid, Baxter Boylen.

Waylon's older sister, Neon, is shooting away from the family. He wishes everything would go back to the way it was before she started wearing all black and saying "What's the point?" all the time

Just when it looks as though Waylon's universe is exploding, something happens to bring it all together again, and it is, without a doubt, One Awesome Thing.

 

Framed: a T.O.A.S.T. Mystery

Florian is twelve years old and has just moved to Washington. He’s learning his way around using
TOAST, which stands for the Theory of All Small Things. It’s a technique he invented to solve life’s 
little mysteries such as: where to sit on the on the first day of school, or which Chinese 
restaurant has the best eggrolls.
 
But when he teaches it to his new friend Margaret, they uncover a mystery that isn’t little. 
In fact, it’s HUGE, and it involves the National Gallery, the FBI, and a notorious crime 
syndicate known as EEL.
 
Can Florian decipher the clues and finish his homework in time to help the FBI solve the case?

 

Ghost

Ghost wants to be the fastest sprinter on his elite middle school track team, but his past is slowing him down. He has crazy natural talent, but no formal training. If Ghost can stay on track, literally and figuratively, he could be the best sprinter in the city.

But Ghost has been running for the wrong reasons—it all started with running away from his father, who, when Ghost was a very little boy, chased him and his mother through their apartment, then down the street, with a loaded gun, aiming to kill. Since then, Ghost has been the one causing problems—and running away from them—until he meets Coach, an ex-Olympic Medalist who blew his own shot at success by using drugs, and who is determined to keep other kids from blowing their shots at life.

 

Towers Falling

When her fifth-grade teacher hints that a series of lessons about home and community will culminate with one big answer about two tall towers once visible outside their classroom window, Dèja can't help but feel confused. She sets off on a journey of discovery, with new friends Ben and Sabeen by her side. But just as she gets closer to answering big questions about who she is, what America means, and how communities can grow (and heal), she uncovers new questions, too. Like, why does Pop get so angry when she brings up anything about the towers?

 

The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary

Eighteen kids,
one year of poems,
one school set to close.
Two yellow bulldozers
crouched outside,
ready to eat the building
in one greedy gulp.

But look out, bulldozers.
Ms. Hill’s fifth-grade class
has plans for you.
They’re going to speak up 
and work together
to save their school.

Families change and new friendships form as these terrific kids grow up and move on in this whimsical novel-in-verse about finding your voice and making sure others hear it.

 

Growing Up Pedro

Before Pedro Martínez pitched the Red Sox to a World Series championship, before he was named to the All-Star team eight times, before he won the Cy Young three times, he was a kid from a place called Manoguayabo in the Dominican Republic. Pedro loved baseball more than anything, and his older brother Ramon was the best pitcher he’d ever seen. He’d dream of the day he and his brother could play together in the major leagues—and here, Matt Tavares tells the story of how that dream came true. In a fitting homage to a modern day baseball star, the acclaimed author-illustrator examines both Pedro Martínez’s improbable rise to the top of his game and the power that comes from the deep bond between brothers.

 

Wolf Hollow

Growing up in the shadows cast by two world wars, Annabelle has lived a mostly quiet, steady life in her small Pennsylvania town. Until the day new student Betty Glengarry walks into her class. Betty quickly reveals herself to be cruel and manipulative, and while her bullying seems isolated at first, things quickly escalate, and reclusive World War I veteran Toby becomes a target of her attacks. While others have always seen Toby’s strangeness, Annabelle knows only kindness. She will soon need to find the courage to stand as a lone voice of justice as tensions mount.