School, Friends, Family & Growing Up
New Realistic Fiction for Kids
Reading Level: Grades 7 and up
Kit's mother was a serial killer before she married. She had a drop box in London where people could request a murder and she marked each of her victims with a magic marker heart on their chest, but she never managed to reach the notoriety that most serial killers do. After "quitting" her mother uses her experience to train her only child to be a perfect killing machine. Kit takes over the drop box (with her mother's help) at age nine and, as she grows older and becomes independent, leaves her calling card, the letters cleaned of all DNA, with each of her victims. By the time she is seventeen she has reached Jack the Ripper status and is known to the public as The Perfect Killer. However, when she gets a request from a classmate to kill another classmate things begin to spiral out of control.
Reading Level: Ages 3-7
Morris Micklewhite likes Sundays when his mother makes him pancakes. He also loves Mondays because he gets to to go school, and there are lots of activities he likes there: painting, singing, snack time, the list goes on. The very best thing about school is the dress up box, where he always finds his favorite bright tangerine dress to put on. The other kids aren't very accepting of Morris wearing a dress, but he is able to find solace at home where he paints pictures inspired by his dreams and imagination.
Reading Level Grades 4-6
11-year-old Arlo has lived with his only relative, his grandfather Poppo, since Arlo was two. But in the last couple of years Poppo's mind has started slipping. Arlo now takes care of his grandfather making sure no one knows how bad Poppo is getting.
On the night Poppo is found trapped in a dumpster, life as Arlo knows it disappears. After one night in the children's home, Arlo knows he must escape. Armed with $68 and courage he sets out on a journey to find his missing grandmother, the one he has just recently learned is alive.
Other stories of kids seeking family are:
Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt and
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
Reading Level: Grades 5 - 8
...until Morgan Sturtz kicks my butt
Sam Lewis and Morgan Sturtz were best friends all through elementary school, but by seventh grade Sam is the brainy, nerdy, small kid while Morgan is is the popular football player who struggles in school. Readers know something has happened to warrant the promised "butt kicking," but don't find out until later in the book. Hask-Lowy takes readers through a boring social studies class, a classic food fight, a fire drill and the cover "butt kicking." Sam is a smart, likeable narrator. "If you know someone was going to kick you someplace, would you not hope for that place to be your butt?"
There are so many books about the changing friendships among girls. Here's one about boys that girls will enjoy, too.
Reading Level: Grades 6 -9
Told in free verse, this is the story of Kasienka, who has just left her native Poland for a tenament in England. Her mother was determined to follow her father who left the family two years before and hasn't been heard from since. Kasienka is miserable in her new life. At her middle school the popular girls bully her and at home her mother is determined to continue the exhausting, fruitless search for her father. Only when she's swimming does Kasienka feel good and empowered.