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The Best Ohio Kids Books

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Lost and Found
Written by Andrew Clements & illustrated by Mark Elliott
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Twelve-year-old identical twins Jay and Ray have long resented that everyone treats them as one person, and so they hatch a plot to take advantage of a clerical error at their new school and pretend they are just one.

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Other Words for Home
Written by Jasmine Warga
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A gorgeously written, hopeful middle grade novel in verse about a young girl who must leave Syria to move to the United States, perfect for fans of Jason Reynolds and Aisha Saeed. Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives. At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US—and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before. But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is. This lyrical, life-affirming story is about losing and finding home and, most importantly, finding yourself.

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Night Boat to Freedom
Written by Margot Theis Raven & illustrated by E. B. Lewis
picture book
Recommend Ages: 6-9

What scares the head is best done with the heart.

When Granny Judith asks twelve-year-old Christmas John to row Molly across the river from Kentucky to the Free State of Ohio, he’s terrified. But Granny Judith reassures him. So Christmas John begins the first of many dangerous journeys. And each passing day brings hope that Granny and John can find their own freedom, just across the river.

Night Boat to Freedom is a 2007 Bank Street - Best Children’s Book of the Year.

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Jack and Louisa Act 3
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A show-stopping middle-grade series about life in and out of the spotlight from Broadway stars and Internet sensations Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Kate Wetherhead. Two weeks at Camp Curtain-Up is just what Jack and Louisa need to fuel their passion for theater: Broadway musical sing-alongs, outdoor rehearsals, and tons of new MTNs (musical theater nerds) to meet… maybe even a special someone. It almost feels like fate when the two friends return home to find local auditions for The Sound of Music. But as Louisa fantasizes about frolicking in the Alps, Jack gets tempted by a student-run drama competition that would reunite the two with their camp friends. Will Jack get Louisa to skip an audition? Can Lou handle Jack as her director? And will someone finally get a big, Broadway happy ending?

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Jack & Louisa Act 1
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A show-stopping series about life in the spotlight from Broadway actors and internet sensations Andrew Keenan-Bolger and Kate Wetherheada. Twelve-year-old Jack Goodrich was a Broadway star-until a sudden voice change cost him his dream role. Now he lives with his parents in Shaker Heights, Ohio trying hard to leave his acting past behind. But his new neighbor, Louisa-a self-proclaimed musical theater nerdo-won’t stop until Jack auditions for a local production of Into the Woods. Fans ofTim Federle’s Nate Foster bookswill rejoice to meet the newest MTN’s (musical theater nerds) on the block- Jack & Lou.

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  • Jack & Louisa Act 2 - Cast opposite each other when their middle school stages a production of Guys and Dolls, Jack and Lou find their ambitions of stardom threatened by a mysterious new director, a Broadway-level dance call and a new stage competitor.

  • Fiona's Friends - Fiona, was born six weeks premature. She was too weak to stand and nurse from her mother, Bibi, so caregivers and vet staff stepped in to provide. With help from #TeamFiona, the premature hippo grew into a healthy hippo and an amazing ambassador for her species. Some of the other species represented in this book, like black rhinos and Malayan tigers, are critically endangered. There is hope for them, but people must care enough to want to save them.

  • Blended - Eleven-year-old Isabella’s blended family is more divided than ever in this thoughtful story about divorce and racial identity from the award-winning and New York Times bestselling author of Out of My Mind, Sharon M. Draper. Eleven-year-old Isabella’s parents are divorced, so she has to switch lives every week: One week she’s Isabella with her dad, his girlfriend Anastasia, and her son Darren living in a fancy house where they are one of the only black families in the neighborhood. The next week she’s Izzy with her mom and her boyfriend John-Mark in a small, not-so-fancy house that she loves. Because of this, Isabella has always felt pulled between two worlds. And now that her parents are divorced, it seems their fights are even worse, and they’re always about HER. Isabella feels even more stuck in the middle, split and divided between them than ever. And she’s is beginning to realize that being split between Mom and Dad is more than switching houses, switching nicknames, switching backpacks: it’s also about switching identities. Her dad is black, her mom is white, and strangers are always commenting: “You’re so exotic!” “You look so unusual.” “But what are you really?” She knows what they’re really saying: “You don’t look like your parents.” “You’re different.” “What race are you really?” And when her parents, who both get engaged at the same time, get in their biggest fight ever, Isabella doesn’t just feel divided, she feels ripped in two. What does it mean to be half white or half black? To belong to half mom and half dad? And if you’re only seen as half of this and half of that, how can you ever feel whole? It seems like nothing can bring Isabella’s family together again—until the worst happens. Isabella and Darren are stopped by the police. A cell phone is mistaken for a gun. And shots are fired.

  • The Grave Digger - In 1875 Ohio, twelve-year-old Cap Cooper is an aspiring inventor—and a reluctant graverobber—enlisted by his father to help pay for his mother’s medical expenses. When one of the dead returns to life at his touch, Cap unearths a world of dark secrets that someone at the local medical school wants to keep buried. On the brink of discovery, he’ll have to use every ounce of cunning he has to protect those he loves most and save his own skin. The Grave Digger is an eerie mystery set in the aftermath of the Civil War, filled with action, friendship, and a hint of the paranormal, perfect for those who enjoy reading late into the night and long after the lights go out.

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M.C. Higgins, the Great
Written by Virginia Hamilton
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Discover this masterpiece from Virginia Hamilton that was the first book to win the Newberry, the National Book Award, and the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award.

Mayo Cornelius Higgins sits on his gleaming, forty-foot steel pole, towering over his home on Sarah’s Mountain. Stretched before him are rolling hills and shady valleys. But behind him lie the wounds of strip mining, including a mountain of rubble that may one day fall and bury his home.

M.C. dreams of escape for himself and his family. And, one day, atop his pole, he thinks he sees it—two strangers are making their way toward Sarah’s Mountain. One has the ability to make M.C.’s mother famous. And the other has the kind of freedom that M.C. has never even considered.

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Girl Wonder: A Baseball Story in Nine Innings
Written by Deborah Hopkinson & illustrated by Terry Widener
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 6-9
Inspired by the life of pioneering female baseball player Alta Weiss, and dramatized by Terry Widener's bold illustrations, Girl Wonder tells the unforgettable story of a true American original.
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Lentil
Written by Robert McCloskey
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-7

Young Lentil wants to learn to sing, but no matter how hard he tries he can’t sing on key. He can’t even pucker his lips to whistle! So Lentil learns to play the harmonica instead and beautifully carries his tune through the winding streets of Alto, Ohio. Lentil masters his craft just as the beloved Colonel Carter returns to town and the Alto residents decide to plan a special celebration. But Old Sneep, the grouchiest man in town, doesn’t want anyone celebrating Colonel Carter’s homecoming. When Old Sneep stops the welcoming parade in its tracks, Lentil’s music turns out to be just what Alto needs. <p/>Robert McCloskey, the Caldecott-winning author and illustrator of <i>Make Way for Ducklings, </i>brings readers this delightful two color picture book.

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