She has received a prestigious Newbery Honor for one of her novels, but Gennifer Choldenko also writes books for younger readers. As in her longer works, she presents readers with characters who are just a bit different, always memorable; they feel real, and are worth talking about. Meet Choldenko's characters brought to life in word and illustration in the books suggested here. Please note the books that are more appropriate for kids ages 9–12.
Al Capone Does My Shirts
When Moose's family moves to Alcatraz so his father can work as a guard and his sister Natalie (who has autism) can attend a special school in San Francisco, Moose has to leave his friends and his winning baseball team behind. Moose just wants to protect Natalie, live up to his parent's expectations, and stay out of trouble, but on Alcatraz, trouble is never very far away.
Al Capone Shines My Shoes
Nothing is the way it's supposed to be when you live on an island with a billion birds, a ton of bird crap, a few dozen rifles, machine guns and automatics and 278 of America's worst criminals. And then there's Moose Flanagan. Moose's father works as a prison guard and his family lives on the east side of Alcatraz — not far from the mobster Al Capone.
How to Make Friends With a Giant
Though one is very tall and the other quite short, Jake and Jacomo find they have much in common and find friendship in spite of classmates’ teasing. Though no longer in print, this recognizable, realistic story may be available used or at libraries.
If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period
Kirsten's parents are fighting and her best friend has suddenly joined the popular crowd. Walker is the only black student at his new private school and his single mom watches over him like a hawk. What happens when Kirsten's and Walker's worlds collide?
Shy Lili is so soft spoken she has been marked absent and has a tough time standing up for herself — especially when partnered with bold Cassidy. Lili finds her voice, however, when just in time to help the class pet from disaster. Well told and gently illustrated, all readers are likely to empathize with the well-drawn characters.
Moonstruck: The True Story of the Cow Who Jumped Over the Moon
Read the back story of why — and how — the cow who jumped over the moon (made famous in the nursery rhyme) was able to accomplish this feat. Though no longer in print, this funny parody may be available used or at libraries.
No Passengers Beyond This Point
Three siblings — India, Finn, and Mouse — have less than 48 hours to pack up all their belongings and fly, without Mom, to their uncle Red's in Colorado, after they lose their house to foreclosure. When they land, a mysterious driver meets them at the airport, and he's never heard of Uncle Red. Like Dorothy in Oz, they find themselves in a place they've never heard of, with no idea of how to get home.
Notes from a Liar and Her Dog
For Antonia MacPherson, lying is a way of life. If it weren't for her best friend, Harrison, and a tiny ball of fluff named Pistachio, she would be miserable. Her older sister, Your Highness Elizabeth, says Ant is in training to be a juvenile delinquent, Harrison smells like a salami sandwich, and Pistachio should be put out of his misery. When a teacher takes Ant under her wing, Ant's way of life may have to change.
Fifth-grader, Liam, is the oldest of the three with two younger sisters. Confident Dakota is a third grader just waiting until she can cure cancer; friendly second grader, Izzy, is a hugger and notices things that other kids miss. Their parents are divorced and money is tight. Can the kids figure out what is causing their beloved dog to urinate on the apartment’s carpet – before the landlord evicts them? Difficult themes are handled with a light touch by the author of Newbery-honor winning, Al Capone Does My Shirts.
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