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Intermediate Fiction & Nonfiction (grades 4-6)

The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate; illustrated by Patricia Castelao (Harper/HarperCollins)
In this 2013 Newbery Award winner, Ivan is a gorilla who lives in a circus mall. When a new baby elephant arrives, Ivan taps into his creative side to help them both escape captivity. (307 pages)


Look Up! Bird-Watching in Your Own Backyard, by Annette LeBlanc Cate (Candlewick)
In this delightful introduction to birdwatching, author/illustrator Cate and birds (all portrayed in cartoonlike illustrations with speech balloons) poke fun at themselves and one another while teaching the basics of bird identification: color, shapes, behaviors, songs, habitat, range and migration. (64 pages)


The Great Unexpected, by Sharon Creech (Cotler/HarperCollins)
When strange boy Finn drops out of a tree in Blackbird Tree, USA, Naomi falls immediately under his spell. Meanwhile, in Ireland, an old woman and her companion talk of murder and revenge. To say the two plots converge is an understatement, as connections, coincidences and boys named Finn pile up. (226 pages)


Chickadee, by Louise Erdrich (Harper/HarperCollins; Birchbark House]
Eight-year-old Chickadee's abduction from the Ojibwe camp in the deep woods initiates a string of gripping adventures for the boy and a change to his family's way of life. The 2013 Scott O’Dell Award winner. (196 pages)


The Hero’s Guide to Storming the Castle, by Christopher Healy; illustrated by Todd Harris (Walden Pond/HarperCollins)
A new adventure beckons the League of Princes (The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom): Briar Rose blackmails them into setting off with her, Cinderella, Snow White and Rapunzel to steal a mystical object from the Bandit King. (477 pages)


Unusual Creatures: A Mostly Accurate Account of Some of Earth’s Strangest Animals, by Michael Hearst; illustrated by Arjen Noordeman, Christie Wright and Jelmer Noordeman (Chronicle)
Field guide–like pages, sidebars and diagrams of physiological features give this volume all the trappings of a conventional science text. But Hearst playfully tweaks the style in these profiles of 50 fascinating animals, adding humorous quizzes, witty asides and even verse. (109 pages)


Never Say Die, by Will Hobbs (Harper/HarperCollins)
Nick and his adult half-brother Ryan travel by bush plane, raft and foot through isolated Ivvakik National Park, where they face heavy weather, savage river waters, treacherous trails and a polar bear-grizzly hybrid. (212 pages)


One Year in Coal Harbor, by Polly Horvath (Schwartz & Wade/Random)
Primrose Squarp (Everything on a Waffle) has her previously-lost-at-sea parents back home, but the residents of Coal Harbor continue to need her varied, unusual talents. Primrose is an unforgettable character, with optimism, smarts and a hint of reflective melancholy. (216 pages)


P.K. Pinkerton and the Petrified Man [Western Mysteries], by Caroline Lawrence; illustrated by Richard Lawrence (Putnam)
Twelve-year-old P.K. Pinkerton (The Case of the Deadly Desperados) opens a detective agency in untamed Virginia City, Nevada Territory. His first client is frightened former slave Martha, who witnessed her employer’s murder and fears for her own life. P.K. knows how to spin a yarn. (310 pages)


Starry River of the Sky, by Grace Lin (Little, Brown)
The moon is missing, but no one besides runaway Rendi notices. This handsomely illustrated companion novel to the 2010 Newbery Honor Book Where the Mountain Meets the Moon intersperses stories that neatly circle around one another. A gratifying celebration of the significance of storytelling. (296 pages)


Ten Good and Bad Things About My Life (So Far), by Ann M. Martin (Feiwel)
Fifth-grader Pearl writes an essay about her summer vacation: Dad loses his job, Pearl and big-sis Lexie head to camp, the family embarks on a "staycation" and the sisters earn their own money. Martin cuts her characters' sweetness with a good dose of sass. (265 pages)


The Encyclopedia of Me, by Karen Rivers (Levine/Scholastic)
Tink chronicles her 12-going-on-13 summer in encyclopedia form. It's an amusing yet emotional journey: Her brother is autistic, resulting in family tension; she and BFF Freddie grow apart; and the new neighbor boy complicates everything. (252 pages)


Splendors and Glooms, by Laura Amy Schlitz (Candlewick)
Lizzie Rose and Parsefall, two Victorian waifs living under the guardianship of crook/magician/puppeteer Grisini, cross paths with cosseted Clara. This meeting results in a kidnapping, the magical imprisonment of Clara in puppet form and encounters with aging witch Cassandra. A 2013 Newbery Honor Book. (384 pages)


“Who Could That Be at This Hour?” [All the Wrong Questions], by Lemony Snicket; illustrated by Seth (Little, Brown)
Young Lemony Snicket, a detective apprentice in the Sam Spade mode, investigates the theft of a black wooden statue. In a style both deadpan and nutty, Snicket demonstrates his gift for metaphor, and illustrations by cartoonist Seth are a perfect match. (261 pages)


Three Times Lucky, by Sheila Turnage (Dial)
The center of rural Tupelo Landing is a café owned by the Colonel, who rescued and adopted Mo when she washed up during a hurricane as a baby. All is well — until a stranger comes to town. Humor sweetens the mix in this leisurely plotted mystery. A 2013 Newbery Honor Book. (314 pages)


P.S. Be Eleven, by Rita Williams-Garcia (Amistad/HarperCollins)
In this sequel to One Crazy Summer, 11-year-old Delphine navigates changes in her family dynamics (her father’s new “lady friend,” her uncle’s return from Vietnam, her brand-new relationship with her previously absent mother) in late-1960s Bed-Stuy, New York. (276 pages)

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