The Boys Who Challenged Hitler features a group of Danish teenagers ashamed of their country's lack of opposition to Nazi forces. Their acts of sabotage and resistance inspired the greater movement of Danish resistance. Phillip Hoose was able to interview Knud Pedersen for this account, which should make for riveting reading. It's earned excellent reviews so far, and should interest young readers drawn to World War II stories (doubly exciting because this involves teenagers).
Gail Jarrow is becoming the go-to author for books about epidemics (her first in a trilogy of epidemics, Red Madness, explored pellagra). Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary not only features the history of the epidemic, but also raises ethical questions about quarantine (in the light of the ebola epidemic, this should prove to be timely reading). The Horn Book Magazine calls this a "suspenseful medical mystery."
Like animal stories? Firstborn should probably go on your list. This story of a wolf who thinks outside the box (or pack?) is getting rave reviews and comparisons to White Fang and The Story of Ferdinand.
Gone Crazy in Alabama is the third and final entry in Rita Williams-Garcia's 1960s trilogy about the Gaither sisters. When the sisters spend a summer with their grandmother in Alabama, they discover that everyday African-American life is vastly different than their experiences in Oakland and Brooklyn; they also learn the true reason why their mother and aunt are estranged. This obviously doesn't appear to be a stand-alone title; you'll want to read the books in order. This has received (so far) four starred reviews.
Any publishing year is elevated when Cynthia Lord has a new novel out. A Handful of Stars (set in Lord's beloved Maine, as are many of her books) details the friendship between a young girl and a young Latino daughter of migrant workers (in town for blueberry picking season). This is receiving outstanding reviews (not unexpected, of course).
I was an ardent Baby-Sitters Club fan when the series was originally launched, and think they are still sweet choices for tween readers. However, the original covers scream 80s fashion and cover style, which makes them not very attractive to modern readers. Purchasing new copies with new covers was less than successful, but I'm counting on Raina Telgemeier's many fans and Ann M. Martin's numerous fans of her later series to boost attention to this relaunch. Kristy's Great Idea is her first graphic novel retelling of the original story.
The Octopus Scientists is one of the latest entries in the fabulous Scientists in the Field series. Every title is full of amazing facts and pictures about the natural world around us. Can't wait to learn more about these unique creatures.
Awwww. Yes. Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer had me at its very original title and adorable cover. This story of a young girl from Los Angeles who moves to a chicken farm with her family and encounters a telekinetic chicken is "exceptional" (School Library Journal) and a "top pick for young readers" (Kirkus Reviews).
Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library