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Orphans: Books For Kids

Looking for a list of the best kids books about orphans?

Children’s literature has many notable options when it comes to orphans. To help you find the right books for you and your young reader, we’ve compiled a list of the best kids books about orphans.

Our list includes board books, picture books, and chapter books. Board books are best for babies and toddlers from ages newborn to 2 or 3. Picture books are generally great options for toddlers and for preschool and kindergarten age children. Picture books are especially enjoyable for adults to read aloud with young kids. The chapter books on our list are generally best for elementary through early middle school age tween kids. You can filter to sort by the best book type for your kid, and you can also use our table of contents to jump to particular topics you think your kid will enjoy.

When it comes to children’s stories about orphans, there are a variety of titles. This list covers everything, from classics like Boxcar Children to popular sellers like Life of Pi to some of our favorite hidden gems like The Secret Garden.

We hope this list of kids books about orphans can be a helpful resource for parents, teachers, and others searching for a new book!

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Top 10 Books About Orphans

#1
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The Graveyard Book
Written by Neil Gaiman & illustrated by Dave McKean
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

The original hardcover edition of a perennial favorite, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, which has sold more than one million copies and is the only novel to win both the Newbery Medal and the Carnegie Medal.

Bod is an unusual boy who inhabits an unusual place—he’s the only living resident of a graveyard. Raised from infancy by the ghosts, werewolves, and other cemetery denizens, Bod has learned the antiquated customs of his guardians’ time as well as their ghostly teachings—such as the ability to Fade so mere mortals cannot see him.

Can a boy raised by ghosts face the wonders and terrors of the worlds of both the living and the dead?

The Graveyard Book is the winner of the Newbery Medal, the Carnegie Medal, the Hugo Award for best novel, the Locus Award for Young Adult novel, the American Bookseller Association’s “Best Indie Young Adult Buzz Book,” a Horn Book Honor, and Audio Book of the Year.

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#2
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The Secret Garden
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

After losing her parents, young Mary Lennox is sent from India to live in her uncle’s gloomy mansion on the wild English moors. She is lonely and has no one to play with, but one day she learns of a secret garden somewhere in the grounds that no one is allowed to enter. Then Mary uncovers an old key in a flowerbed – and a gust of magic leads her to the hidden door. Slowly she turns the key and enters a world she could never have imagined.

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#3
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Anne of Green Gables
Written by L.M. Montgomery
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Puffin in Bloom is a charming assortment of classic novels with coming-of-age themes, aimed at the young reader. Bond, a stationary artist with Rifle Paper Co. renowned for her floral patterns, puts her signature touch on the covers in this line, because just as a flower blossoms, a young child comes into her own.

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#4
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Fortune's Magic Farm
Written by Suzanne Selfors
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

When she is rescued from a rainy, boggy town where she works in a dismal factory, ten-year-old orphan Isabelle learns that she is the last surviving member of a family that tends the world’s only remaining magic-producing farm.

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#5
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Ruby Holler
Written by Sharon Creech
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

“You are now entering Ruby Holler, the one and only Ruby Holler! Your lives are never going to be the same—“

“Trouble twins” Dallas and Florida are orphans who have given up believing there is such a thing as a loving home. Tiller and Sairy are an eccentric older couple who live in the beautiful, mysterious Ruby Holler, but they’re restless for one more big adventure. When they invite the twins to join them on their journeys, they first must all stay together in the Holler, and the magic of the place takes over. Two pairs of lives grow closer and are changed forever.

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#6
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Peter and the Starcatchers
Written by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson & illustrated by Greg Call
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-16

Soon after Peter, an orphan, sets sail from England on the ship Never Land, he befriends and assists Molly, a young Starcatcher, whose mission is to guard a trunk of magical stardust from a greedy pirate and the native inhabitants of a remote island.

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#7
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The Magic Misfits
Written by Neil Patrick Harris & illustrated by Lissy Marlin and Kyle Hinton
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

From award-winning actor, Neil Patrick Harris, comes the magical first book in a new series with plenty of tricks up its sleeve. When street magician Carter runs away, he never expects to find friends and magic in a sleepy New England town. But like any good trick, things change instantly as greedy B.B. Bosso and his crew of crooked carnies arrive to steal anything and everything they can get their sticky fingers on. After a fateful encounter with the local purveyor of illusion, Dante Vernon, Carter teams up with five other like-minded illusionists. Together, using both teamwork and magic, they’ll set out to save the town of Mineral Wells from Bosso’s villainous clutches. These six Magic Misfits will soon discover adventure, friendship, and their own self-worth in this delightful new series. (Psst. Hey, you! Yes, you! Congratulations on reading this far. As a reward, I’ll let you in on a little secret… This book isn’t just a book. It’s a treasure trove of secrets and ciphers and codes and even tricks. Keep your eyes peeled and you’ll discover more than just a story–you’ll learn how to make your own magic!)

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#8
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The Thief Lord
Written by Cornelia Funke & illustrated by Christian Birmingham
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The enchanting international bestseller with bonus back matter and a beautiful new cover!

Two orphaned brothers, Prosper and Bo, have run away to Venice, where crumbling canals and misty alleyways shelter a secret community of street urchins. Leader of this motley crew of lost children is a clever, charming boy with a dark history of his own: He calls himself the Thief Lord.

Propser and Bo relish their new “family” and life of petty crime. But their cruel aunt and a bumbling detective are on their trail. And posing an even greater threat to the boys’ freedom is something from a forgotten past: a beautiful magical treasure with the power to spin time itself.

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#9
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The Marvelous Magic of Miss Mabel
Written & illustrated by Natasha Lowe
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Penderwicks meets Edward Eager in this charming coming of age tale about a young witch found in a flowerpot who’s on a journey to discover her roots.

The morning Nora Ratcliff finds a baby in the flowerpot on her front steps her life changes forever. She had always wanted a child, but after her husband passed away, Nora never thought she would have one, but her flowerpot child was a miracle and she decided to name her Mabel. As Mabel grew up, she showed a distinct talent for magic.

When Mabel is accepted to the prestigious witch school, Ruthersfield Academy, she excels at the magic curriculum but is constantly in trouble for experimenting and inventing her own potions. One day she is asked to write a paper on her magical roots and discovers the truth about her birth after a mean classmate blurts out what everyone seems to know except Mabel. Mabel is shocked but the revelation does explain a lot. In rebellion, Mabel changes her name to Magnolia and tries to understand why she was left in the flowerpot and who her birth family might be.

Will Mabel find the answers she’s looking for—or will she discover that families are people who love each other and look after each other and that’s most important of all.

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#10
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The Bfg
Written by Roald Dahl
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

From the bestselling author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda!

The BFG is no ordinary bone-crunching giant. He is far too nice and jumbly. It’s lucky for Sophie that he is. Had she been carried off in the middle of the night by the Bloodbottler, or any of the other giants—rather than the BFG—she would have soon become breakfast. When Sophie hears that the giants are flush-bunking off to England to swollomp a few nice little chiddlers, she decides she must stop them once and for all. And the BFG is going to help her!

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Table of Contents
Scroll to books about Orphans and...

Books About Orphans and Magic

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Fortune's Magic Farm
Written by Suzanne Selfors
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

When she is rescued from a rainy, boggy town where she works in a dismal factory, ten-year-old orphan Isabelle learns that she is the last surviving member of a family that tends the world’s only remaining magic-producing farm.

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Peter and the Starcatchers
Written by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson & illustrated by Greg Call
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-16

Soon after Peter, an orphan, sets sail from England on the ship Never Land, he befriends and assists Molly, a young Starcatcher, whose mission is to guard a trunk of magical stardust from a greedy pirate and the native inhabitants of a remote island.

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Add to list
The Magic Misfits
Written by Neil Patrick Harris & illustrated by Lissy Marlin and Kyle Hinton
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

From award-winning actor, Neil Patrick Harris, comes the magical first book in a new series with plenty of tricks up its sleeve. When street magician Carter runs away, he never expects to find friends and magic in a sleepy New England town. But like any good trick, things change instantly as greedy B.B. Bosso and his crew of crooked carnies arrive to steal anything and everything they can get their sticky fingers on. After a fateful encounter with the local purveyor of illusion, Dante Vernon, Carter teams up with five other like-minded illusionists. Together, using both teamwork and magic, they’ll set out to save the town of Mineral Wells from Bosso’s villainous clutches. These six Magic Misfits will soon discover adventure, friendship, and their own self-worth in this delightful new series. (Psst. Hey, you! Yes, you! Congratulations on reading this far. As a reward, I’ll let you in on a little secret… This book isn’t just a book. It’s a treasure trove of secrets and ciphers and codes and even tricks. Keep your eyes peeled and you’ll discover more than just a story–you’ll learn how to make your own magic!)

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Honorable Mentions
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  1. The Tragical Tale of Birdie Bloom - A hilarious and heartwarming stand-alone middle grade debut, The Tragical Tale of Birdie Bloom is a whimsically fractured fairy tale perfect for fans of Shannon Hale and Adam Gidwitz. In the fairy-tale kingdom of Wanderly, everyone has a role. Birdie Bloom is a Tragical—an orphan doomed to an unhappy ending. Agnes Prunella Crunch is a witch. The wicked kind. In Wanderly, a meeting between a witch and a Tragical can only end one way: tragically. But with the help of some mysterious Winds, a few wayward letters, and a very unusual book, the two might just form the kingdom’s unlikeliest friendship—and together, rewrite their story into one that isn’t very Tragical at all.

  2. Rules for Thieves - After twelve-year-old orphan, Alli Rosco, is cursed with a deadly spell, she must join the legendary Thieves Guild in order to try and save herself in this high-stakes debut.

  3. The Secrets of Winterhouse - Back at the Winterhouse hotel for another holiday season, Elizabeth and Freddy dig deeper into the mystery surrounding Riley S. Granger, a hotel guest who left behind odd artifacts―one being a magical book that the evil Gracella Winters once attempted to use to gain destructive power over the entire Falls lineage. The two friends follow a trail of clues, inadvertently attracting the attention of a suspicious new hotel guest: Elana Vesper. The clock is ticking as Elizabeth and Freddy struggle to figure out whether Elana is merely a pawn or a player in the plot to revive the spirit of Gracella. If that wasn’t enough, Elizabeth suspects she is coming into her own special powers―and she’s fearful it might lead her right into Gracella’s vicious web. Mystery, adventure, and a winning friendship combine in this much anticipated sequel.

  4. Escape to Witch Mountain - With renewed interest in Alexander Key’s extraordinary 1968 novel, fans can dive into Escape to Witch Mountain as it was meant to be read. The powerful, thrilling story of Tony and Tia—twins joined by their paranormal gifts, on the run from evil forces that seek to suppress their forgotten pasts—is more gripping and relevant than ever.

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How about books about magic?

Books About Orphans and Culture

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Anne of Green Gables
Written by L.M. Montgomery
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Puffin in Bloom is a charming assortment of classic novels with coming-of-age themes, aimed at the young reader. Bond, a stationary artist with Rifle Paper Co. renowned for her floral patterns, puts her signature touch on the covers in this line, because just as a flower blossoms, a young child comes into her own.

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Anne of Green Gables
Written by Stephanie Clarkson & illustrated by Kevin Meyers
picture book
Recommend Ages: 3-5

BabyLit(R) Storybooks give classics new life for the next generation of early readers. In Anne of Green Gables, preschoolers get to know the beloved redheaded orphan Anne Shirley, who is sent to live with Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert in Avonlea. Tag along with Anne on her adventures with her best friend Diana and classmate Gilbert as they explore Prince Edward Island. Easy-to-follow, engaging text combined with original quotes and beautiful artwork create a book to be treasured through childhood and beyond. Part of the BabyLit(R) Storybook Series. Stephanie Clarkson authored Pride and Prejudice BabyLit(R) Storybook. She is also the author of Sleeping Cinderella and Other Princess Mix-ups, illustrated by Brigette Barrager (Scholastic). She lives in Surrey, England. Annabel Tempest illustrated three previous BabyLit(R) Storybooks: Pride and Prejudice, The Jungle Book, and Moby-Dick. She lives in Somerset, England.

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The End
Written by Lemony Snicket & illustrated by Brett Helquist and Michael Kupperman
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Like an off-key violin concert, the Roman Empire, or food poisoning, all things must come to an end. Thankfully, this includes A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket. The thirteenth and final installment in the groundbreaking series will answer readers’ most burning questions: Will Count Olaf prevail? Will the Baudelaires survive? Will the series end happily? If there’s nothing out there, what was that noise?

Then again, why trouble yourself with unfortunate resolutions? Avoid the thirteenth and final book of Lemony Snicket’s international bestselling series and you’ll never have to know what happens.

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  1. The Penultimate Peril - Lemony Snicket returns with the last book before the last book of his bestselling A Series of Unfortunate Events. Scream and run away before the secrets of the series are revealed! Very little is known about Lemony Snicket and A Series of Unfortunate Events. What we do know is contained in the following brief list:

    • The books have inexplicably sold millions and millions of copies worldwide
    • People in more than 40 countries are consumed by consuming Snicket
    • The movie was as sad as the books, if not more so
    • Like unrefrigerated butter and fungus, the popularity of these books keeps spreading
    Even less is known about book the twelfth in this alarming phenomenon. What we do know is contained in the following brief list:
    • In this book, things only get worse
    • Count Olaf is still evil
    • The Baudelaire orphans do not win a contest
    • The title begins with the word ‘The’
    Sometimes, ignorance is bliss.

  2. Great Expectations: A Babylit Storybook - In Great Expectations: A BabyLit Storybook, preschoolers follow Pip’s story, learning about the value of family and friends, fortune and loss, and love. Easy-to-follow, engaging text combined with original quotes and beautiful artwork create a book to be treasured through childhood and beyond. BabyLit(R) primers have become the chic, smart way to introduce babies to the most beloved and readable literature of our time. Gibbs Smith is now presenting a delightful collection of picture books, lovingly designed and crafted for young children. Each book retells a story from the literary canon, bringing a classic to life for an entirely new audience. Stephanie Clarkson began her writing career as a journalist at Britain’s Daily Mail newspaper and continues to write for the British press while dreaming up stories for children. Steph has written everything from pocket money books to gift titles and is the author of Sleeping Cinderella and Other Princess Mix-ups. She lives in Surrey, England. Mike Byrne lives in the Surrey countryside with his wife, cat, and two young sons where he spends his days doodling and illustrating children’s books fuelled only by tea and biscuits. Mike is the illustrator of Sproutzilla vs. Christmas and My Colourful Chameleon.

  3. Santiago's Road Home - "With every chapter, readers will be further immersed in Santiago's story as they root for his triumph over injustice." --Booklist (starred review)

  4. Papa Piccolo -

Books About Orphans and Disabilities

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The Secret Garden
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

After losing her parents, young Mary Lennox is sent from India to live in her uncle’s gloomy mansion on the wild English moors. She is lonely and has no one to play with, but one day she learns of a secret garden somewhere in the grounds that no one is allowed to enter. Then Mary uncovers an old key in a flowerbed – and a gust of magic leads her to the hidden door. Slowly she turns the key and enters a world she could never have imagined.

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Nadya Skylung and the Masked Kidnapper
Written by Jeff Seymour & illustrated by Brett Helquist
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Nadya Skylung paid a high price when she defeated the pirates on the cloudship Remora- She lost her leg. But has she lost her nerve too? When Nadya and the rest of the crew of the cloudship Orion reach the port of Far Agondy, they have a lot to do, including a visit to Machinist Gossner’s workshop to have a prosthetic made for Nadya. But though the pirates are far away across the Cloud Sea, Nadya and her friends are still not safe. A gang leader called Silvermask is kidnapping skylung and cloudling children in Far Agondy. When Nadya’s friend Aaron is abducted, Nayda will stop at nothing to save him and the other missing kids, and put a stop to Silvermask once and for all.

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How to Make Friends with the Sea
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Tanya Guerrero's How to Make Friends with the Sea is a middle grade debut novel set in the Philippines about a young boy's challenges with anxiety while his mother fosters an orphaned child with a facial anomaly.

Pablo is homesick.

He's only twelve years old, but he's lived in more countries than he can count. After his parents divorced, he and his mother have moved from place to place for years, never settling anywhere long enough to call it home. And along the way, Pablo has collected more and more fears: of dirt, of germs, and most of all, of the ocean.

Now they're living in the Philippines, and his mother, a zoologist who works at a local wildlife refuge, is too busy saving animals to notice that Pablo might need saving, too. Then his mother takes in Chiqui, an orphaned girl with a cleft lip--and Pablo finds that through being strong for Chiqui, his own fears don't seem so scary.

He might even find the courage to face his biggest fear of all...and learn how to make friends with the sea.

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  1. Tune It Out - From the author of the acclaimed Roll with It comes a moving novel about a girl with a sensory processing disorder who has to find her own voice after her whole world turns upside down.

  2. Scarlet Ibis - Twelve-year-old Scarlet doesn’t have an easy life. She’s never known her dad, her mom suffers from depression, and her younger brother Red has Asperger’s and relies heavily on her to make the world a safe place for him. Scarlet does this by indulging Red’s passion for birds, telling him stories about the day they’ll go to Trinidad and see all the wonderful birds there (especially his beloved Scarlet Ibis), saving her money to take him to the zoo, helping him collect bird feathers, and even caring for a baby pigeon who is nesting outside his window.But things with her mom are getting harder, and after a dangerous accident, Scarlet and Red are taken into foster care and separated. As Scarlet struggles to cope with the sudden changes in her life and her complex feelings towards her mom, the one thing she won’t give up on is finding Red. Nothing is going to get in her way—even if it might destroy the new possibilities offered to her by her foster family.

  3. Secret Garden: The 100th Anniversary Edition with Tasha Tudor Art and Bonus Materials - What secrets lie behind the doors at Misselthwaite Manor? Recently arrived at her uncle’s estate, orphaned Mary Lennox is spoiled, sickly, and certain she won’t enjoy living there. Then she discovers the arched doorway into an overgrown garden, shut up since the death of her aunt ten years earlier. Mary soon begins transforming it into a thing of beauty–unaware that she is changing too.<P>But Misselthwaite hides another secret, as mary discovers one night. High in a dark room, away from the rest of the house, lies her young cousin, Colin, who believes he is an incurable invalid, destined to die young. His tantrums are so frightful, no one can reason with him. If only, Mary hopes, she can get Colin to love the secret garden as much as she does, its magic will work wonders on him.

  4. Gathering Blue - Lois Lowry once again creates a mysterious but plausible future world. It is a society ruled by savagery and deceit that shuns and discards the weak. Left orphaned and physically flawed, young Kira faces a frightening, uncertain future. Blessed with an almost magical talent that keeps her alive, she struggles with ever broadening responsibilities in her quest for truth, discovering things that will change her life forever. As she did in THE GIVER, Lowry challenges readers to imagine what our world could become, how people could evolve, and what could be considered valuable. Every reader will be taken by Kira’s plight and will long ponder her haunting world and the hope for the future.

Books About Orphans and School

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The Marvelous Magic of Miss Mabel
Written & illustrated by Natasha Lowe
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Penderwicks meets Edward Eager in this charming coming of age tale about a young witch found in a flowerpot who’s on a journey to discover her roots.

The morning Nora Ratcliff finds a baby in the flowerpot on her front steps her life changes forever. She had always wanted a child, but after her husband passed away, Nora never thought she would have one, but her flowerpot child was a miracle and she decided to name her Mabel. As Mabel grew up, she showed a distinct talent for magic.

When Mabel is accepted to the prestigious witch school, Ruthersfield Academy, she excels at the magic curriculum but is constantly in trouble for experimenting and inventing her own potions. One day she is asked to write a paper on her magical roots and discovers the truth about her birth after a mean classmate blurts out what everyone seems to know except Mabel. Mabel is shocked but the revelation does explain a lot. In rebellion, Mabel changes her name to Magnolia and tries to understand why she was left in the flowerpot and who her birth family might be.

Will Mabel find the answers she’s looking for—or will she discover that families are people who love each other and look after each other and that’s most important of all.

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Lit for Little Hands: Anne of Green Gables
Written by Brooke Jorden & illustrated by Olga Skomorokhova
board book
Recommend Ages: 3-8

“People laugh at me because I use big words. But if you have big ideas, you have to use big words to express them, haven’t you?”

Fall in love with the precocious Anne Shirley all over again! Filled with interactive wheels and pull-tabs, and lavishly illustrated, Lit for Little Hands: Anne of Green Gables is an unprecedented kid’s introduction to L. M. Montgomery’s beloved classic coming-of-age novel. Unlike many board books that tackle the classics, Lit for Little Hands tells the actual story in simple, engaging prose?. Gorgeous illustrations transport the reader to Prince Edward Island, while tons of interactive elements invite kids to join Anne in one mishap after another―from cracking her slate over Gilbert’s head to finding a dead mouse in the pudding sauce! Fans of the novel will be delighted by the book’s attention to detail and clever use of original dialogue. And the book’s super-sturdy board means everyone can enjoy this heartwarming story over . . . and over . . . and over again!

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Max and the Millions
Written by Ross Montgomery
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

In the vein of The Borrowers and The Indian in the Cupboard, this is an imaginative, irresistible, and incredible exploration into what happens when one boy discovers a kingdom of tiny people.

The day before summer vacation, Max’s closest friend at boarding school disappears, leaving behind his amazing model collection and a handful of sand on his bedroom floor. Like Max, the eccentric janitor Mr. Darrow is a genius at building tiny models. Eight weeks later, Max finds that the sand has magically transformed into a whole desert kingdom–filled with millions of tiny people!

Max wears hearing aids, and they allow him to hear the ant-sized people. There’s a boy named Luke who’s about to become king. But when Max appears, he plunges their world into chaos. Luckily, Luke has two strong allies: Ivy, a fearless girl, and Luke’s trusty steed–a flea.

While Max and his new friend Sasha fight to protect the Floor from their evil headmaster, Luke must fight to save it from being destroyed by all-out war.

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  1. The Austere Academy - As the three Baudelaire orphans warily approach their new home Prufrock Preparatory School, they can’t help but notice the enormous stone arch bearing the school’s motto Memento Mori or “Remember you will die.” This is not a cheerful greeting and certainly marks an inauspicious beginning to a very bleak story just as we have come to expect from Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, the deliciously morbid set of books that began with The Bad Beginning and only got worse.

  2. Planet Earth Is Blue - "Tender and illuminating. A beautiful debut." --Rebecca Stead, Newbery Medal-winning author of When You Reach Me A heartrending and hopeful story about a nonverbal girl and her passion for space exploration, for fans of See You in the Cosmos, Mockingbird, and The Thing About Jellyfish.

  3. Counting by 7s - Twelve-year-old genius and outsider Willow Chance must figure out how to connect with other people and find a surrogate family for herself after her parents are killed in a car accident.

  4. Gracefully Grayson - "Tenderly and courageously told, Gracefully Grayson is a small miracle of a book. Its story is so compelling I found myself holding my breath as I read it and so intimate I felt as if what was happening to Grayson was happening to me. Thank you, Ami Polonsky, for creating this memorable character who will open hearts and minds and very possibly be the miracle that changes lives." -James Howe, award-winning and best-selling author of The Misfits

Want to see books about school?

Books About Orphans and Sleuthing

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The Thief Lord
Written by Cornelia Funke & illustrated by Christian Birmingham
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The enchanting international bestseller with bonus back matter and a beautiful new cover!

Two orphaned brothers, Prosper and Bo, have run away to Venice, where crumbling canals and misty alleyways shelter a secret community of street urchins. Leader of this motley crew of lost children is a clever, charming boy with a dark history of his own: He calls himself the Thief Lord.

Propser and Bo relish their new “family” and life of petty crime. But their cruel aunt and a bumbling detective are on their trail. And posing an even greater threat to the boys’ freedom is something from a forgotten past: a beautiful magical treasure with the power to spin time itself.

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The Bad Beginning
Written by Lemony Snicket & illustrated by Brett Helquist and Michael Kupperman
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are intelligent children. They are charming, and resourceful, and have pleasant facial features. Unfortunately, they are exceptionally unlucky.

In the first two books alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, a lumpy bed, a deadly serpent, a large brass reading lamp, a long knife, and a terrible odor.

In the tradition of great storytellers, from Dickens to Dahl, comes an exquisitely dark comedy that is both literary and irreverent, hilarious and deftly crafted. Never before has a tale of three likeable and unfortunate children been quite so enchanting, or quite so uproariously unhappy.

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The Boxcar Children
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

The Aldens begin their adventure by making a home in a boxcar. Their goal is to stay together, and in the process they find a grandfather.

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  1. The Hundred-Year Mystery - The Boxcar Children stumble across a 100-year-old time capsule with a mysterious journal inside. It contains clues that lead the children around Greenfield and through the history books in search of a lost treasure. But questions remain. Who wrote the journal? And after 100 years, will there be enough evidence to find the hidden treasure?

  2. Wormwood Mire - This spine-tingling sequel to Withering-by-Sea sees Stella sent away to the moldering old family estate, where she discovers two odd cousins—and a mystery. Eleven-year-old Stella Montgomery has always wondered about her family. What happened to her mother? And could she have a long-lost sister somewhere? Stella’s awful Aunts refuse to tell her anything, and now they have sent her away to the old family home at Wormwood Mire, where she must live with two strange cousins and their governess. But dark secrets slither and skulk within overgrown grounds of the house, and Stella must be brave if she’s to find out who—or what—she really is…

  3. The Doughnut Whodunit - A hip new doughnut shop known for its bizarre recipes is opening up in Greenfield. At first, the owners of the other doughnut shop in town, Delilah’s, aren’t worried. Their shop has been a fixture downtown since just after World War II. But when the new shop starts making doughnuts that look just like some of Delilah’s greatest hits, the Boxcar Children must figure out if it’s just a coincidence or if someone from the new shop is stealing Delilah’s recipes.

  4. Surprise Island (The Boxcar Children: Time to Read, Level 2) - The Aldens spend the summer on Grandfather’s island! Joe, the island’s friendly handyman, helps them with anything they need, but as the children continue to explore their summer home, they realize there is more to the island—and to their new friend—than meets the eye. Adapted from the feature film of the same name, this early reader allows children to step into reading with a Boxcar Children classic.

Want to see books about sleuthing?

Books About Orphans and Mythical Creatures

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Ivy
Written by Katherine Coville & illustrated by Celia Kaspar
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-10

Ivy’s grandmother is a healer—to mostly four-legged patients of the forest. Although the woodland creatures love her, the residents of Broomsweep grumble about Grandmother’s unkempt garden. When a kingdom-wide contest is announced to proclaim the tidiest town in the land, the people of Broomsweep are determined to win. That is, if they can get Ivy’s grandmother to clean up her ways. Ivy is determined to lend a hand, but the task proves more challenging when a series of unexpected refugees descends on Grandmother’s cottage. Before the week is over, an injured griffin, a dragon with a cold, and a tiny flock of temperamental pixies will cause a most untidy uproar in Broomsweep . . . and brighten Ivy’s days in ways she never could have dreamed.

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The Language of Ghosts
Written by Heather Fawcett
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Princess Noa, aged eleven, Prince Julian, sixteen, and Princess Mite, five, flee their palace when a coup leads to their mother’s death, and unlock a long-forgotten magic to reclaim the stolen throne.

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Dragon Slippers
Written by Jessica Day George
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-13

This enchanting tale of dragons, betrayals, and the power of friendship is the first in a charming and thrilling series by New York Times bestselling author Jessica Day George.

Creel can't believe her aunt wants to sacrifice her to the local dragon. It's a ploy to lure a heroic knight so that he will fight the dragon, marry Creel out of chivalrous obligation, and lift the entire family out of poverty. Creel isn't worried. After all, nobody has seen a dragon in centuries.

But when the beast actually appears, Creel not only bargains with him for her life, she also ends up with a rare bit of treasure from his hoard: a pair of simple blue slippers, or so she thinks. But Creel learns that these shoes could be used to save her kingdom from the brink of war--or destroy it.

Don't miss these other stories from New York Times bestselling author Jessica Day George:

Dragon Slippers series
Dragon Slippers
Dragon Flight
Dragon Spear

The Rose Legacy series
The Rose Legacy

Tuesdays at the Castle series
Tuesdays at the Castle
Wednesdays in the Tower
Thursdays with the Crown
Fridays with the Wizards
Saturdays at Sea

The Twelve Dancing Princesses series
Princess of the Midnight Ball
Princess of Glass
Princess of the Silver Woods

Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow

Silver in the Blood

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  1. The Polar Bear Explorers' Club - A precocious young girl is determined to prove herself as an explorer in the first novel in the whimsical Polar Bear Explorers’ Club series. Stella Starflake Pearl knows, without a doubt, that she was born to be an adventurer. It’s too bad girls are forbidden from becoming explorers. But Stella’s father has never been one to play by the rules. Leaving behind her pet polar bear, Gruff, and beloved unicorn, Magic, Stella and Felix set off on an expedition to the snowy Icelands. There, Stella plans to prove herself as a junior explorer, worthy of membership in the Polar Bear Explorers’ Club. So when Stella and three other junior explorers are separated from the rest of their expedition, she has the perfect opportunity. Can they explore the frozen wilderness and live to tell the tale? The first in Alex Bell’s imaginative new series, The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club is a fun and daring adventure filled with magic, outlaws, and fantastic faraway lands.

  2. Elementals: Scorch Dragons - The struggle for power heats up in book two of this heart-stopping adventure series about siblings with magical shapeshifter powers, from New York Times bestselling author Amie Kaufman. After the fateful battle between the ice wolves and the scorch dragons, Anders and his twin sister, Rayna, have been reunited. But there’s no time to celebrate. The temperature all over Vallen is starting to drop. And Anders quickly learns that the wolves have stolen a weather-altering artifact called the Snowstone, and every dragon, including Rayna, is now in danger. Desperate to broker peace, Anders enlists the help of a few new flame-breathing friends to stop the wolves’ next plan of attack. Together, these former rivals must go on a dangerous quest to find the scattered pieces of the Sun Scepter, the only artifact that can counteract the Snowstone. Because if either device goes unchecked, all hope for a truce will be lost.

  3. The White Giraffe - After a fire kills her parents, eleven-year-old Martine must leave England to live with her grandmother on a wildlife game reserve in South Africa, where she befriends a mythical white giraffe.

  4. The Wonderling - Richly imagined, with shimmering language, steampunk motifs, and gripping, magical plot twists, this extraordinary debut novel follows a shy, fox-like foundling with only one ear and a desperate desire to belong, as he seeks his destiny.

Books About Orphans and Multigenerational

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Circus Mirandus
Written by Cassie Beasley
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Even though his awful Great-Aunt Gertrudis doesn’t approve, Micah believes in the stories his dying Grandpa Ephraim tells him of the magical Circus Mirandus: the invisible tiger guarding the gates, the beautiful flying birdwoman, and the magician more powerful than any other—the Man Who Bends Light. Finally, Grandpa Ephraim offers proof. The Circus is real. And the Lightbender owes Ephraim a miracle. With his friend Jenny Mendoza in tow, Micah sets out to find the Circus and the man he believes will save his grandfather. The only problem is, the Lightbender doesn’t want to keep his promise. And now it’s up to Micah to get the miracle he came for.

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Calling the Water Drum
picture book
Recommend Ages: 5-9

The story of a young Haitian boy who loses his parents as they attempt to flee Haiti in a boat, and after this loss can only communicate with the outside world through playing his drum.

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A Home for Goddesses and Dogs
Written by Leslie Connor & illustrated by Julie McLaughlin
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

A unique masterpiece about loss, love, and the world’s best bad dog, from award-winning author Leslie Connor, author of the National Book Award finalist The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle.

It’s a life-altering New Year for thirteen-year-old Lydia when she uproots to a Connecticut farm to live with her aunt following her mother’s death.

Aunt Brat and her jovial wife, Eileen, and their ancient live-in landlord, Elloroy, are welcoming―and a little quirky. Lydia’s struggle for a sense of belonging in her new family is highlighted when the women adopt a big yellow dog just days after the girl’s arrival.

Wasn’t one rescue enough?

Lydia is not a dog person―and this one is trouble! He is mistrustful and slinky. He pees in the house, escapes into the woods, and barks at things unseen. His new owners begin to guess about his unknown past.

Meanwhile, Lydia doesn’t want to be difficult―and she does not mean to keep secrets―but there are things she’s not telling…

Like why the box of “paper stuff” she keeps under her bed is so important…

And why that hole in the wall behind a poster in her room is getting bigger…

And why something she took from the big yellow dog just might be the key to unraveling his mysterious past―but at what cost?

Award-winning author Leslie Connor crafts a story that sings about loss and love and finding joy in new friendships and a loving family, along with the world’s best bad dog. This uplifting story about recovery features strong female characters, an adorable dog, and the girl who comes to love him.

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  1. When Jessie Came Across the Sea - "Hest simply and faithfully holds a mirror to the milestone event for millions of turn-of-the-century immigrants." -- Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  2. Louisiana's Way Home - **The instant _New York Times_ bestseller! From two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo comes a story of discovering who you are — and deciding who you want to be.** When Louisiana Elefante’s granny wakes her up in the middle of the night to tell her that the day of reckoning has arrived and they have to leave home immediately, Louisiana isn’t overly worried. After all, Granny has many middle-of-the-night ideas. But this time, things are different. This time, Granny intends for them never to return. Separated from her best friends, Raymie and Beverly, Louisiana struggles to oppose the winds of fate (and Granny) and find a way home. But as Louisiana’s life becomes entwined with the lives of the people of a small Georgia town — including a surly motel owner, a walrus-like minister, and a mysterious boy with a crow on his shoulder — she starts to worry that she is destined only for good-byes. (Which could be due to the curse on Louisiana’s and Granny’s heads. But that is a story for another time.) Called “one of DiCamillo’s most singular and arresting creations” by The New York Times Book Review, the heartbreakingly irresistible Louisiana Elefante was introduced to readers in Raymie Nightingale — and now, with humor and tenderness, Kate DiCamillo returns to tell her story.

  3. Blooming at the Texas Sunrise Motel - Twelve-year-old Stevie attempts to brighten the lives of her cranky grandfather and the residents of his motel by planting a garden in this middle grade novel by National Book Award–winning author Kimberly Willis Holt. Stevie’s world changes drastically when her parents are tragically killed and she is forced to live with her estranged grandfather at his run-down motel. After failed attempts to connect with her grandfather, Stevie befriends the colorful motel tenants and neighbors. Together, they decide to bring some color and life to the motel by planting a flower garden, against Stevie’s grandfather’s wishes. It will take Stevie’s departure before her grandfather realizes just how needed she is by everyone. Blooming at the Texas Sunrise Motel explores themes of loss, family, and love, and gets at the heart of what it means to find a place to call home. A Christy Ottaviano Book “Endearing and imperfect, Stevie establishes immediate rapport with readers.” —Kirkus Reviews More from Kimberly Willis Holt: Skinny Brown Dog Dear Hank Williams Dinner with the Highbrows The Water Seeker Keeper of the Night When Zachary Beaver Came to Town The Piper Reed series: Piper Reed, Navy Brat Piper Reed, Clubhouse Queen Piper Reed Gets a Job Piper Reed, Party Planner Piper Reed, Campfire Girl Piper Reed, Rodeo Star Piper Reed, Forever Friend

  4. Wild Things - Stubborn, self-reliant eleven-year-old Zoe, recently orphaned, is forced to move to the country to live with her strange and bad-tempered uncle. Zoe could care less that he’s a famous doctor and sculptor. All she knows is that he is impossible to understand. The only interesting thing on the farm is a feral cat who won’t let Zoe near. Together, Zoe and her uncle learn about trust and the strength of family ties. In this moving coming-of-age novel, Zoe comes to understand what it means to love and be loved, uncovers a long-kept secret, and finds family where she least expects it. Includes an interview with the author and a reading group guide. Named ALA Notable Children’s Book Award; Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s books of the Year; NCTE Notable Children’s Books in the Language Arts; Kirkus Reviews Best Children’s Book.

Books About Orphans and Country Life

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Ruby Holler
Written by Sharon Creech
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

“You are now entering Ruby Holler, the one and only Ruby Holler! Your lives are never going to be the same—“

“Trouble twins” Dallas and Florida are orphans who have given up believing there is such a thing as a loving home. Tiller and Sairy are an eccentric older couple who live in the beautiful, mysterious Ruby Holler, but they’re restless for one more big adventure. When they invite the twins to join them on their journeys, they first must all stay together in the Holler, and the magic of the place takes over. Two pairs of lives grow closer and are changed forever.

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Anne of Green Gables
Written by L.M. Montgomery
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The Cuthberts are in for a shock. They are expecting an orphan boy to help with the work at Green Gables � but a skinny red-haired girl turns up instead. Highly spirited Anne Shirley charms her way into the Cuthberts’ affection with her vivid imagination and constant chatter, and soon it’s impossible to imagine life without her. A favourite classic with cover and introduction by the inimitable Lauren Child, award-winning creator of Clarice Bean and the hugely popular Charlie and Lola series.

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Hope in the Holler
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-
*
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  1. Rilla of Ingleside (Special Collector's) - Anne’s children were almost grown up, except for pretty, high-spirited Rilla. No one could resist her bright hazel eyes and dazzling smile. Rilla, almost fifteen, can’t think any further ahead than going to her very first dance at the Four Winds lighthouse and getting her first kiss from handsome<P> Kenneth Ford. But undreamed-of challenges await the irrepressible Rilla when the world of Ingleside becomes endangered by a far-off war. Her brothers go off to fight, and Rilla brings home an orphaned newborn in a soup tureen. She is swept into a drama that tests her courage and leaves her changed forever.

  2. Anne's House of Dreams - Anne’s own true love, Gilbert Blythe, is finally a doctor, and in the sunshine of the old orchard, among their dearest friends, they are about to speak their vows. Soon the happy couple will be bound for a new life together and their own dream house, on the misty purple shores of Four Winds Harbour…<P> A new life means new problems to solve, new surprises. Anne and Gilbert will make new friends and neighbors: Captain Jim, the lighthouse attendant, with his sad stories of the sea; Miss Cornelia Bryant, the lady who speaks from the heart - and speaks her mind; and the tragically beautiful Leslie Moore, into whose dark life Anne shines a brilliant light.

  3. Anne of Windy Poplars -

  4. Rainbow Valley - Anne’s family grows ever larger–and ever more joyful–in this artfully packaged edition of the fifth book in the Anne of Green Gables series. <p/>It’s been fifteen years since Anne Shirley married Gilbert Blythe, and they are still blissfully happy, delighting in their six children: Jem, Walter, Nan, Di, Shirley, and Rilla. <p/>After a holiday in Europe, Anne returns to find that a new minister has arrived in Glen St. Mary. John Meredith is a widower with four young children: Jerry, Faith, Una, and Carl. The children have not been properly brought up since the death of their mother, with only their absent-minded father and their old and partially deaf Aunt Martha to take care of them. Anne instantly takes them under her wing, and they become best friends with her children. <p/>The group goes on many adventures together, but always has the best time in their favorite spot: Rainbow Valley. <p/>This addition to the renowned Anne of Green Gables series makes a wonderful gift and keepsake.

Books About Orphans and Siblings

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The Ersatz Elevator
Written by Lemony Snicket & illustrated by Brett Helquist and Michael Kupperman
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

In their most daring misadventure, the Baudelaire orphans are adopted by very, very rich people, whose penthouse apartment is located mysteriously close to the place where all their misfortune began. Even though their new home in the city is fancy, and the children are clever and charming, I’m sorry to say that still, the unlucky orphans will encounter more disaster and woe.

In fact, in this sixth book in A Series of Unfortunate Events, the children will experience a darkened staircase, a red herring, an auction, parsley soda, some friends in a dire situation, a secret passageway, and pinstripe suits.

Both literary and irreverent, hilarious and deftly crafted, A Series of Unfortunate Events offers an exquisitely dark comedy in the tradition of Edward Gorey and Roald Dahl. Lemon Snicket’s uproariously unhappy books continue to win readers, despite all his warnings.

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The Grim Grotto
Written by Lemony Snicket & illustrated by Brett Helquist and Michael Kupperman
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Warning: Your day will become very dark—and possibly damp—if you read this book.

Plan to spend this spring in hiding. Lemony Snicket is back with the eleventh book in his New York Times bestselling A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Lemony Snicket’s saga about the charming, intelligent and grossly unlucky Baudelaire orphans continues to provoke suspicion and despair in readers the world over. In the eleventh and most alarming volume yet in the bestselling phenomenon A Series of Unfortunate Events, the intrepid siblings delve further into the dark mystery surrounding the death of their parents and the baffling VFD organisation.

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The Carnivorous Carnival
Written by Lemony Snicket & illustrated by Brett Helquist and Michael Kupperman
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Everybody loves a carnival! Who can fail to delight in the colourful people, the unworldly spectacle, the fabulous freaks?

A carnival is a place for good family fun—as long as one has a family, that is. For the Baudelaire orphans, their time at the carnival turns out to be yet another episode in a now unbearable series of unfortunate events. In fact, in this appalling ninth installment in Lemony Snicket’s serial, the siblings must confront a terrible lie, a caravan, and Chabo the wolf baby.

With millions of readers worldwide, and the Baudelaire’s fate turning from unpleasant to unseemly, it is clear that Lemony Snicket has taken nearly all the fun out of children’s books.

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  1. The Wide Window - Dear Reader, If you have not read anything about the Baudelaire orphans, then before you read even one more sentence, you should know this: Violet, Klaus, and Sunny are kindhearted and quick–witted, but their lives, I am sorry to say, are filled with bad luck and misery. All of the stories about these three children are unhappy and wretched, and this one may be the worst of them all.If you haven’t got the stomach for a story that includes a hurricane, a signalling device, hungry leeches, cold cucumber soup, a horrible villain, and a doll named Pretty Penny, then this book will probably fill you with despair.I will continue to record these tragic tales, for that is what I do. You, however, should decide for yourself whether you can possibly endure this miserable story. With all due respect, Lemony Snicket Ages 10+

  2. The Reptile Room - Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are intelligent children. They are charming, and resourceful, and have pleasant facial features. Unfortunately, they are exceptionally unlucky. In the first two books alone, the three youngsters encounter a greedy and repulsive villain, itchy clothing, a disastrous fire, a plot to steal their fortune, a lumpy bed, a deadly serpent, a large brass reading lamp, a long knife, and a terrible odour. In the tradition of great storytellers, from Dickens to Dahl, comes an exquisitely dark comedy that is both literary and irreverent, hilarious and deftly crafted. Never before has a tale of three likeable and unfortunate children been quite so enchanting, or quite so uproariously unhappy.

  3. The Miserable Mill - I hope, for your sake, that you have not chosen to read this book because you are in the mood for a pleasant experience. If this is the case, I advise you to put this book down instantaneously, because of all the books describing the unhappy lives of the Baudelaire orphans, The Miserable Mill might be the unhappiest yet. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire are sent to Paltryville to work in a lumber mill, and they find disaster and misfortune lurking behind every log. The pages of this book, I’m sorry to inform you, contain such unpleasantries as a giant pincher machine, a bad casserole, a man with a cloud of smoke where his head should be, a hypnotist, a terrible accident resulting in injury, and coupons. I have promised to write down the entire history of these three poor children, but you haven’t, so if you prefer stories that are more heartwarming, please feel free to make another selection. With all due respect, Lemony Snicket

  4. The Hostile Hospital - The Baudelaires need a safe place to stay—somewhere far away from terrible villains and local police. A quiet refuge where misfortune never visits. Might Heimlich Hospital be just the place? In Lemony Snicket’s eighth ghastly installment in A Series of Unfortunate Events, I’m sorry to say that the Baudelaire orphans will spend time in a hospital where they risk encountering a misleading newspaper headline, unnecessary surgery, an intercom system, anesthesia, heart-shaped balloons, and some very startling news about a fire.

Books About Orphans and Foster Care

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Three Pennies
Written & illustrated by Melanie Crowder
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A girl in foster care tries to find her birth mother before she loses her forever in this “tender tale” (School Library Journal, starred review) about last chances and new opportunities. For a kid bouncing from foster home to foster home, The Book of Changes is the perfect companion. That’s why Marin carries three pennies and a pocket-sized I Ching with her everywhere she goes. Yet when everything in her life suddenly starts changing—like landing in a foster home that feels like somewhere she could stay, maybe forever—the pennies don’t have any answers for her. Marin is positive that all the wrongs in her life will be made right if only she can find her birth mother and convince her that they belong together. Marin is close, oh so close—until she gets some unwelcome news and her resolve, like the uneasy earth far beneath the city of San Francisco, is shaken

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Extraordinary Birds
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Eleven-year-old December knows everything about birds, and everything about getting kicked out of foster homes. All she has of her mom is the bird guide she left behind, and a message: “In flight is where you’ll find me.” December believes she’s truly a bird, just waiting for the day she transforms. The scar on her back is where her wings will sprout; she only needs to find the right tree and practice flying.When she’s placed with foster mom Eleanor, who runs a taxidermy business and volunteers at a wildlife rescue, December begins to see what home means in a new light. But the story she’s told herself about her past is what’s kept her going this long. Can she learn to let go?An extraordinary story about identity and family perfect for fans of Holly Goldberg Sloan and Lynda Mullaly Hunt.

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The Barren Grounds
Written by David A. Robertson
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-
Narnia meets traditional Indigenous stories of the sky and constellations in an epic middle grade fantasy series from award-winning author David Robertson.
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  1. Dream of Night - Untamable. Damaged. Angry. Once full of promise and life, now a fiery knot of resentment and detachment. This is the story of Dream of Night, an injured and abused racehorse. It’s also the story of Shiloh, a sarcastic eleven-year-old foster child. By chance, Dream of Night and Shiloh both find themselves under the care of Jessalyn DiLima. Just in time—it’s a last chance for them both. Jess fosters animals and kids like Dream of Night and Shiloh for a reason—she’s a little broken, too. And as the three of them become an unlikely family, they recognize their similarities in order to heal their pasts—but not before one last tragedy threatens to take everything away.

  2. Pictures of Hollis Woods - This Newbery Honor book about a girl who has never known family fighting for her first true home "will leave readers . . . satisfied" (Kirkus Reviews). Hollis Woods
    is the place where a baby was abandoned
    is the baby's name
    is an artist
    is now a twelve-year-old girl
    who's been in so many foster homes she can hardly remember them all. When Hollis is sent to Josie, an elderly artist who is quirky and affectionate, she wants to stay. But Josie is growing more forgetful every day. If Social Services finds out, they'll take Hollis away and move Josie into a home. Well, Hollis Woods won't let anyone separate them. She's escaped the system before; this time, she's taking Josie with her. Still, even as she plans her future with Josie, Hollis dreams of the past summer with the Regans, fixing each special moment of her days with them in pictures she'll never forget. Patricia Reilly Giff captures the yearning for a place to belong in this warmhearted story, which stresses the importance of artistic vision, creativity, and above all, family.

  3. Peace, Locomotion - Twelve-year-old Lonnie is finally feeling at home with his foster family. But because he’s living apart from his little sister, Lili, he decides it’s his job to be the “rememberer”—and write down everything that happens while they’re growing up. Lonnie’s musings are bittersweet; he’s happy that he and Lili have new families, but though his new family brings him joy, it also brings new worries. With a foster brother in the army, concepts like Peace have new meaning for Lonnie.Told through letters from Lonnie to Lili, this thought-provoking companion to Jacqueline Woodson’s National Book Award finalist Locomotion tackles important issues in captivating, lyrical language. Lonnie’s reflections on family, loss, love and peace will strike a note with readers of all ages.

  4. Locomotion - When Lonnie was seven years old, his parents died in a fire. Now he’s eleven, and he still misses them terribly. And he misses his little sister, Lili, who was put into a different foster home because “not a lot of people want boys-not foster boys that ain’t babies.” But Lonnie hasn’t given up. His foster mother, Miss Edna, is growing on him. She’s already raised two sons and she seems to know what makes them tick. And his teacher, Ms. Marcus, is showing him ways to put his jumbled feelings on paper. Told entirely through Lonnie’s poetry, we see his heartbreak over his lost family, his thoughtful perspective on the world around him, and most of all his love for Lili and his determination to one day put at least half of their family back together. Jacqueline Woodson’s poignant story of love, loss, and hope is lyrically written and enormously accessible.

Books About Orphans and Girls And Women

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The Midwife's Apprentice
Written by Karen Cushman
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-12

From the author of Catherine, Called Birdy comes another spellbinding novel set in medieval England. The girl known only as Brat has no family, no home, and no future until she meets Jane the Midwife and becomes her apprentice. As she helps the sharp-tempered Jane deliver babies, Brat–who renames herself Alyce–gains knowledge, confidence, and the courage to want something from life: “A full belly, a contented heart, and a place in this world.” Medieval village life makes a lively backdrop for the funny, poignant story of how Alyce gets what she wants. A concluding note discusses midwifery past and present. A Newbery Medal book.

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The Shadow Thieves
Written & illustrated by Alexandra Ott
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Alli must risk everything to save her new family from a rogue organization that is threatening the Thieves Guild’s existence—and the lives of all its members—in this high-stakes sequel to Rules for Thieves.Alli Rosco, former orphan and thief, is free after her disastrous Thieves Guild trial, which left an innocent woman dead while Alli’s partner-in-crime, Beck, fled.Now Alli is getting more than just a fresh start: her long-lost brother, Ronan, has come forward to claim responsibility for her and let her live with him on a trial basis. They try to mend the rift that started when Alli was dropped off at the orphanage while Ronan became a lawyer in Ruhia. But as determined as she is to make things work, Alli can’t seem to stay out of trouble.To make matters worse, Alli finds a surprise guest on her doorstep one night: Beck.He’s on the run and brings news of the Shadow Guild, a rogue organization that is trying to overthrow the current king of the Thieves Guild. Their friends are in real danger. And Beck needs Alli’s help one more time to bring the Shadows down.Once again, Alli is forced to make a hard choice: save her friends, or lose her last chance to have a true family.

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Orphan Train Girl
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

This young readers' edition of Christina Baker Kline's #1 New York Times bestselling novel Orphan Train follows a twelve-year-old foster girl who forms an unlikely bond with a ninety-one-year old woman.

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  1. Rilla of Ingleside - Rediscover Anne Shirley and her adventures in this beautiful edition of L.M. Montgomery’s classic. <p/>The youngest daughter of Anne and Gilbert meets the trials of World War I with irrepressible spirit in this artfully packaged edition of the sixth book in the Anne of Green Gables series. <p/>Anne’s children are almost grown up, except for pretty, high-spirited Rilla. No one can resist her bright hazel eyes and dazzling smile. Rilla, nearly fifteen, can’t think any further ahead than going to her very first dance at the Four Winds lighthouse and getting her first kiss from handsome Kenneth Ford. But undreamed-of challenges await as the world of Ingleside becomes endangered by a faraway war. When her brothers go off to fight and Rilla brings home an orphaned newborn in a soup tureen, she is swept into a drama that tests her courage and leaves her changed forever.

  2. Anne of Avonlea - The inimitable Anne Shirley makes her mark on Avonlea in this artfully packaged edition of the sequel to <i>Anne of Green Gables</i>. <p/>Five years after Anne Shirley came to the town of Avonlea, she feels (a little) more grown up, but she’s still the same skinny, red-headed orphan Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert took in. After putting her dream of attending Redmond College on hold so she can help Marilla with the farm, Anne doubts she has many adventures ahead of her. But even in plain old Avonlea, her life proves to be anything but ordinary. <p/>This sequel to <i>Anne of Green Gables </i>follows Anne’s endeavors to become a successful teacher, help raise a pair of rambunctious twins, and improve her beloved hometown–with the help of her former enemy, Gilbert Blythe, who’s giving her an awful lot of attention… <p/>This addition to the renowned Anne of Green Gables series makes a wonderful gift and keepsake.

  3. Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valor - "A fast-paced thrill ride of a book . . . it's Batman meets Annie." --Stuart Gibbs, New York Times best-selling author of the Spy School series

  4. Beholding Bee - In 1942, when life turns sour at the carnival that has always been her home, eleven-year-old Bee takes her dog, Peabody, and piglet, Cordelia, and sets out to find a real home, aided by two women only Bee and her pets can see.

Books About Orphans and Friendship

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The Bfg
Written by Roald Dahl
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

From the bestselling author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Matilda!

The BFG is no ordinary bone-crunching giant. He is far too nice and jumbly. It’s lucky for Sophie that he is. Had she been carried off in the middle of the night by the Bloodbottler, or any of the other giants—rather than the BFG—she would have soon become breakfast. When Sophie hears that the giants are flush-bunking off to England to swollomp a few nice little chiddlers, she decides she must stop them once and for all. And the BFG is going to help her!

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Hockey Night in Kenya
Written by Eric Walters and Danson Mutinda & illustrated by Claudia Davila
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 7-9

&#9733; <b>”This simple story of discovery, sport, and friendship is filled with likable characters and innocently joyful moments…Delightful.”–<i>Kirkus Reviews</i>, starred review</b> <p/>Kenyan orphans, Kitoo and Nigosi, spend their days studying, playing soccer, helping their elders with chores around the orphanage and reading from the limited selection of books in their library. When the librarian gives Kitoo a copy of <i>Sports Around the World</i> he becomes fascinated by an image of the Canadian national men’s ice hockey team. Then one day the fates align and Kitoo finds a pair of beat up old roller blades, he teaches himself to skate and dreams of one day playing hockey like the men in his book. But you can’t play ice hockey in Kenya, can you?

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The Second Story
Written by Neil Patrick Harris & illustrated by Lissy Marlin
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12
From award-winning actor Neil Patrick Harris comes the magical second book in the New York Times bestselling Magic Misfits series--with even more tricks up its sleeve.
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  1. Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle - Selected for the Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List

  2. Magic Misfits: The Minor Third - The Magic Misfits must stop the latest member of the Emerald Ring in the third magical book of Neil Patrick Harris's #1 New York Times bestselling series filled with fun and friendship!

  3. Outside In - “A compassionate story of homelessness and friendship, recycled art and community.” —Kirkus Reviews A twelve-year-old boy living on the streets of Chandigarh, India, stumbles across a secret garden full of sculptures and sees the possibility of another way of life as he bonds with the man who is creating the garden in this searingly beautiful novel—based on a true story. Twelve-year-old Ram is a street boy living behind a sign on a building’s rooftop, barely scraping by, winning games of gilli for money, occasionally given morsels of food through the kindness of Mr. Singh, a professor and father of his friend Daya. But his prowess at gilli (an outdoor game similar to cricket) is what gets him into big trouble. One day, when he wins against some schoolboys fair and square, the boys are infuriated. As they chase Ram across town, he flings his small sack of money over a factory gate where no one can get it, and disappears into the alleyways. But someone does get the money, Ram discovers when he sneaks back later on to rescue what is his—a strange-ish man on a bike who also seems to be collecting…rocks? Ram follows the man into the jungle, where he finds something unlike anything he’s seen—statues, hundreds of statues…no, thousands of them! Gods and goddesses and buildings, all at half scale. What is this place? It seems that the rock collecting man, Nek, has built them all! When Nek discovers that Ram has followed him, he has no choice but to let the boy stay and earn back the money Nek has already spent. How else can he keep him quiet? For his creations lie on land that isn’t technically his to build on. As Ram and Nek hesitantly become friends, Ram learns the true nature of this hidden village in the jungle, as well as the stories of Shiva and Lord Rama, stories of gods and goddesses that in strange ways seem to parallel Ram’s…and Nek’s. Based on the true story of one of India’s most beloved artists and modern day folk heroes, Nek Chand was a real man—a man displaced from his home in the midst of war and conflict; a man who missed his home so terribly he illegally reconstructed his entire village in miniature out of found objects and rock, recreating mosaic statues and sculptures spanning acres of jungle. Though Ram is a fictionalized character, Nek’s artwork is real. Intertwined with mythology and the sociopolitics of India, this is an exquisitely wrought, unexpected, and singular tale about the connection of community and how art can help make us human.

  4. Bubble - Wonder meets Mark Haddon in the poignant and uplifting debut novel about superheroes, super-nurses, and the beauty you can find in hope. Eleven-year-old Joe has never had a life outside of the hospital, with its beeping machines and view of London’s rooftops. His condition means he’s not allowed outside, not even for a moment, and his few visitors risk bringing life-threatening germs inside his bubble. Then a new nurse offers Joe the possibility of going outside. But Joe doesn’t know if the nurse is serious—or whether he could survive the adventure. Bubble is the touching story of how Joe spends his days, copes with his loneliness and frustration, and looks—with superhero-style bravery, curiosity, and hope—to a future without limits.

Books About Orphans and Adventure And Adventurers

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The Fog Diver
Written by Joel Ross
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Joel Ross debuts a thrilling adventure series in which living in the sky is the new reality and a few determined slum kids just might become heroes. This Texas Bluebonnet selection--a fantasy filled with daring and hope and a wonderfully imaginative world--is perfect for fans of Rick Riordan and Brandon Mull.

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Nowhere Boy
Written by Katherine Marsh
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

A timely, poignant tale of family, sacrifice and the friendship between a young Syrian refugee and an American boy living in Brussels.

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Lost in the Jungle
Written by Bill Nye & illustrated by Gregory Mone
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

When Jack and his genius foster siblings, Ava and Matt, discover inventor Hank Witherspoon is missing, they travel deep into the Amazon jungle, overcoming strange creatures, a raging river, and some very clever foes to find their friend and protect his big idea.

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  1. The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict - Before there was a Mysterious Benedict Society, there was simply a boy named Nicholas Benedict - now it's time to meet the boy who started it all.

  2. In the Deep Blue Sea - New York Times–bestselling authors Bill Nye the Science Guy and Gregory Mone take middle-grade readers on a scientific adventure in Book 2 of the exciting new Jack and the Geniuses series. The series combines real-world science along with a mysterious adventure that will leave kids guessing until the end, making the books ideal for STEM education. In the second installment, In the Deep Blue Sea, Jack, his genius siblings Ava and Matt, and inventor Dr. Hank Witherspoon travel to the Hawaiian island home of Ashley Hawking, a technology billionaire. Hawking and engineer Rosa Morris have built a revolutionary electricity plant that harvests energy from the deep ocean, but someone has been sabotaging the project. In their search for the culprit, Jack and crew navigate an unusual world of characters and suspects, including Hawking and her obnoxiously intelligent son, Steven; a family of surfers who accuse the billionaire of trespassing on sacred land; an ex–Navy SEAL with a fondness for cat photos; and a cigar-chomping man who calls himself the Air-Conditioning King of Hawaii. Readers will learn about the mysteries of the deep ocean, the scientific process, and the potential of green energy as Jack and his brilliant siblings use all their brainpower to survive. Integrating real science facts with humor and suspense and featuring a multiethnic cast of boy and girl characters, this engaging series is an irresistible combination for middle-grade readers. With easy-to-read language presented in a fun and accessible way, these books are great for both inquisitive kids and reluctant readers. In the Deep Blue Sea: Jack and the Geniuses Book 2 includes information about the science discussed and used to solve the mystery, as well as a cool project that kids can do at home or in the classroom.

  3. Jack and the Geniuses: At the Bottom of the World - New York Times bestselling authors Bill Nye the Science Guy and Gregory Mone take middle-grade readers on a scientific adventure in the launch of an exciting new chapter book series, Jack and the Geniuses. The perfect combination to engage and entertain readers, the series features real-world science along with action and a mystery that will leave kids guessing until the end, making these books ideal for STEM education.

  4. Jack and the Geniuses - New York Times bestselling authors Bill Nye the Science Guy and Gregory Mone take middle-grade readers on a scientific adventure in the launch of an exciting new chapter book series, Jack and the Geniuses. The perfect combination to engage and entertain readers, the series features real-world science along with action and a mystery that will leave kids guessing until the end, making these books ideal for STEM education. In the series opener, Jack and the Geniuses: At The Bottom of The World, readers meet Jack and his foster siblings, Ava and Matt, who are orphans. But they’re not your typical kind of orphans–they’re geniuses. Well, Ava and Matt are, which sometimes makes life difficult for 1twelve-year-old Jack. Ava speaks multiple languages and builds robots for fun, and Matt is into astronomy and a whiz at math. As for Jack, it’s hard to stand out when he’s surrounded by geniuses all the time. When the kids try to spy on Dr. Hank Witherspoon, one of the world’s leading scientists, they end up working for him in his incredible laboratory. Soon, Hank and the kids travel to Antarctica for a prestigious science competition, but they find that all is not as it seems: A fellow scientist has gone missing, and so has any trace of her research. Could someone be trying to use her findings to win the contest? It’s up to Jack, Ava, and Matt to find the missing scientist and discover who’s behind it all–before it’s too late. Integrating real science facts with humor and suspense, and featuring an ensemble cast of loveable boy and girl characters, this uniquely engaging series is an irresistible chemical reaction for middle-grade readers. With easy-to-read language presented in a fun, motivating, and accessible way, this series opener is a great book for both inquisitive kids and reluctant readers. The book also includes information about the science discussed and used to solve the mystery, as well as a cool science project about density that kids can do at home or in the classroom. Bill Nye’s brand new talk show series for Netflix, “Bill Nye Saves the World” is set to launch in Spring 2017.

Books About Orphans and 1900-1949

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The War I Finally Won
Written & illustrated by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A New York Times bestseller Like the classic heroines of Sarah, Plain and Tall, Little Women, and Anne of Green Gables, Ada is a fighter for the ages. Her triumphant World War II journey continues in this sequel to the Newbery Honor-winning The War that Saved My Life When Ada’s clubfoot is surgically fixed at last, she knows for certain that she’s not what her mother said she was–damaged, deranged, crippled mentally as well as physically. She’s not a daughter anymore, either. Who is she now? World War II rages on, and Ada and her brother, Jamie, move with their guardian, Susan, into a cottage with the iron-faced Lady Thorton and her daughter, Maggie. Life in the crowded home is tense. Then Ruth moves in. Ruth, a Jewish girl, from Germany. A German? Could Ruth be a spy? As the fallout from war intensifies, calamity creeps closer, and life during wartime grows even more complicated. Who will Ada decide to be? How can she keep fighting? And who will she struggle to save?

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The War That Saved My Life
Written & illustrated by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A young disabled girl and her brother are evacuated from London to the English countryside during World War II, where they find life to be much sweeter away from their abusive mother.

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The War I Finally Won
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-13
A New York Times bestseller
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  1. The Orphan Band of Springdale - With the United States on the verge of World War II, eleven-year-old Gusta is sent from New York City to Maine, where she discovers small-town prejudices – and a huge family secret. It’s 1941, and tensions are rising in the United States as the Second World War rages in Europe. Eleven-year-old Gusta’s life, like the world around her, is about to change. Her father, a foreign-born labor organizer, has had to flee the country, and Gusta has been sent to live in an orphanage run by her grandmother. Nearsighted, snaggletoothed Gusta arrives in Springdale, Maine, lugging her one precious possession: a beloved old French horn, her sole memento of her father. But in a family that’s long on troubles and short on money, how can a girl hang on to something so valuable and yet so useless when Gusta’s mill-worker uncle needs surgery to fix his mangled hand, with no union to help him pay? Inspired by her mother’s fanciful stories, Gusta secretly hopes to find the coin-like “Wish” that her sea-captain grandfather supposedly left hidden somewhere. Meanwhile, even as Gusta gets to know the rambunctious orphans at the home, she feels like an outsider at her new school – and finds herself facing patriotism turned to prejudice, alien registration drives, and a family secret likely to turn the small town upside down.

  2. Annie - It’s a hard-knock life for America’s favorite orphan! Everyone knows the story of the irrepressible Annie, who lives at Miss Hannigan’s orphanage until she beats the odds and finds a new life with the benevolent and wealthy Daddy Warbucks. Annie has enchanted millions of readers from her original comic strip appearance to the hit Broadway musical. Now, with a Tony-nominated revival playing on Broadway, Puffin is reissuing this novelization of the classic story, with a new introduction by Tony and Emmy Award-winning author Thomas Meehan. This is an adaptation that delves even deeper into Annie’s story, as she lives on the streets during the Great Depression, finds Sandy the dog, and encounters characters both familiar and new.

  3. Listening for Lions - A critically acclaimed historical novel "that roars" (Kliatt), from the author of the National Book Award-winning novel Homeless Bird.

  4. The Bravest Man in the World - One afternoon, Jonathan Harker Weeks didn’t feel like practicing the piano. So his grandfather decided to tell him a story to show how much of an impact music can have. When he was a child growing up poor in Ireland, his mother made sure he learned to play the fiddle, despite their challenges. After his mother passed away and he was on his own, Jonathan’s grandfather fell asleep hiding in a mail sack and was taken to a ship. When he woke up, he realized he was on the Titanic on its maiden voyage, and it was there that he met Wallace Hartley and Mrs. Weeks, a kind man and woman who took him in. Then one night, the majestic ship hit an iceberg. He and Mrs. Weeks were put on a lifeboat—and Mr. Hartley and his band bravely continued to play to calm the crew and passengers. The story of Wallace Hartley is true and he is known throughout the world as a hero. The New York Times bestselling author and illustrator of The Keeping Quilt Patricia Polacco offers this stunning and heartbreaking picture book to celebrate the memory and bravery of a single man who used the power of music to comfort thousands of people during a catastrophic situation.

Want to see books about 1900-1949?

Books About Orphans and History

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Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster
Written by Jonathan Auxier
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

A 2019 Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner!

It’s been five years since the Sweep disappeared. Orphaned and alone, Nan Sparrow had no other choice but to work for a ruthless chimney sweep named Wilkie Crudd. She spends her days sweeping out chimneys. The job is dangerous and thankless, but with her wits and will, Nan has managed to beat the deadly odds time and time again.

When Nan gets stuck in a chimney fire, she fears the end has come. Instead, she wakes to find herself unharmed in an abandoned attic. And she is not alone. Huddled in the corner is a mysterious creature–a golem–made from soot and ash.

Sweep is the story of a girl and her monster. Together, these two outcasts carve out a new life–saving each other in the process. Lyrically told by one of today’s most powerful storytellers, Sweep is a heartrending adventure about the everlasting gifts of friendship and wonder.

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A Long Walk to Water
Written & illustrated by Linda Sue Park
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-12

The New York Times bestseller A Long Walk to Water begins as two stories, told in alternating sections, about two eleven-year-olds in Sudan, a girl in 2008 and a boy in 1985. The girl, Nya, is fetching water from a pond that is two hours’ walk from her home: she makes two trips to the pond every day. The boy, Salva, becomes one of the “lost boys” of Sudan, refugees who cover the African continent on foot as they search for their families and for a safe place to stay. Enduring every hardship from loneliness to attack by armed rebels to contact with killer lions and crocodiles, Salva is a survivor, and his story goes on to intersect with Nya’s in an astonishing and moving way.

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The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Written by Brian Selznick
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12

Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo’s undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. A cryptic drawing, a treasured notebook, a stolen key, a mechanical man, and a hidden message from Hugo’s dead father form the backbone of this intricate, tender, and spellbinding mystery.

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  1. A Single Shard - In this Newbery Medal-winning book set in 12th century Korea, Tree-ear, a 13-year-old orphan, lives under a bridge in Ch’ulp’o, a potters’ village famed for delicate celadon ware. He has become fascinated with the potter’s craft; he wants nothing more than to watch master potter Min at work, and he dreams of making a pot of his own someday. When Min takes Tree-ear on as his helper, Tree-ear is elated — until he finds obstacles in his path: the backbreaking labor of digging and hauling clay, Min’s irascible temper, and his own ignorance. But Tree-ear is determined to prove himself — even if it means taking a long, solitary journey on foot to present Min’s work in the hope of a royal commission . . . even if it means arriving at the royal court with nothing to show but a single celadon shard.

  2. Dactyl Hill Squad - An unforgettable historical, high-octane adventure. -- Dav Pilkey, author-illustrator of the Dog Man series

Books About Orphans and Death

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One Shadow on the Wall
Written & illustrated by Leah Henderson
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

An orphaned boy in contemporary Senegal must decide between doing what is right and what is easy as he struggles to keep a promise he made to his dying father in this “stirring” (School Library Journal) debut novel laced with magical realism. Eleven-year-old Mor was used to hearing his father’s voice, even if no one else could since his father’s death. It was comforting. It was also a reminder that Mor had made a promise to his father before he passed: keep your sisters safe. Keep the family together. But almost as soon as they are orphaned, that promise seems impossible to keep. With an aunt from the big city ready to separate him and his sisters as soon as she arrives, and a gang of boys from a nearby village wanting everything he has—including his spirit—Mor is tested in ways he never imagined. With only the hot summer months to prove himself, Mor must face a choice. Does he listen to his father and keep his heart true, but risk breaking his promise through failure? Or is it easier to just join the Danka Boys, whom despite their maliciousness are at least loyal to their own? One Shadow on the Wall is about love and loss, family and friendship, and creating your own future—even when it’s hard to do.

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The Boy, the Bird & the Coffin Maker
Written & illustrated by Matilda Woods
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Alberto lives alone in the town of Allora, where fish fly out of the sea and the houses shine like jewels. He is a coffin maker and widower, spending his quiet days creating the final resting places of Allora’s people.

Then one afternoon a magical bird flutters into his garden, and Alberto, lonely inside, welcomes it into his home. And when a kindhearted boy named Tito follows the bird into Alberto’s kitchen, a door in the old man’s heart cracks open. Tito is lonely too–but he’s also scared and searching for a place to hide. Fleeing from danger, he just wants to feel safe for once in his life. Can the boy and the old man learn the power of friendship and escape the shadows of their pasts?

With a tender bond that calls to mind The Girl Who Drank the Moon, charming characters reminiscent of The Penderwicks, and the whimsy of A Snicker of Magic, this is a novel to curl up with, an extraordinary work of magical realism that makes the world feel like a warmer and happier place. Complete with dazzling interior illustrations, a gem from start to finish.

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Forest of Stars
Written by Heather Kassner & illustrated by Iz Ptica
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

In this mysterious and mesmerizing fantasy novel, perfect for fans of Splendor and Glooms and Circus Mirandus, a windswept girl who can float among the stars searches for her long-lost father at a shadow-filled carnival.

Kassner’s writing dazzles . . . a tale of hope, courage, and friendship. –Newbery Honor winner Ingrid Law

Left all alone after her mother passes away, twelve-year-old Louisa LaRoche watches the sky for her father. Long ago, a powerful gust of wind swept through town, stealing him away on the wings of his untamed magic–the same magic that stirs within Louisa. As if she is made of hollow bones and too much air, her feet never quite touch the ground. But for all her sky gazing, Louisa finds her fortune on the leaf-strewn street when she spots a gleaming black-and-gold invitation–a ticket to the Carnival Beneath the Stars. If her father fits in nowhere else, maybe she’ll find him there, dazzling crowds alongside the other strange and wonderful feats. Only, soon after she arrives, a tightrope act ends disastrously–and suspiciously. As fate tugs Louisa closer to the stars, she must decide if she’s willing to slip into the injured performer’s role, despite the darkness plucking at the carnival’s magical threads.

In The Forest of Stars, Heather Kassner weaves a spectacle of wondrous magic, unexpected friendship, and dark secrets.

Featuring illustrations by Iz Ptica.*

Irresistible. – Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Like the carnival at its heart, this story is richly magical and delightfully eerie. –Cassie Beasley, New York Times bestselling author of Circus Mirandus

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  1. Race to the Bottom of the Sea - Can a clever young inventor uncover a ruthless pirate’s heart of gold? Thrilling sea adventure takes on a hint of steampunk in the second book by the author of the acclaimed Hour of the Bees. When her parents, the great marine scientists Dr. and Dr. Quail, are killed in a tragic accident, eleven-year-old Fidelia Quail is racked by grief – and guilt. It was a submarine of Fidelia’s invention that her parents were in when they died, and it was she who pressed them to stay out longer when the raging Undertow was looming. But Fidelia is forced out of her mourning when she’s kidnapped by Merrick the Monstrous, a pirate whose list of treasons stretches longer than a ribbon eel. Her task? Use her marine know-how to retrieve his treasure, lost on the ocean floor. But as Fidelia and the pirates close in on the prize, with the navy hot on their heels, she realizes that Merrick doesn’t expect to live long enough to enjoy his loot. Could something other than black-hearted greed be driving him? Will Fidelia be able to master the perils of the ocean without her parents – and piece together the mystery of Merrick the Monstrous before it’s too late?

  2. Curiosity House: The Fearsome Firebird - In this third book in the exceptional Curiosity House mystery series by bestselling author Lauren Oliver and mysterious recluse H. C. Chester, four children must uncover the evil Nicholas Rattigan’s newest dastardly scheme, wage war with a rival freak show, and deal with a spy who may have infiltrated their happy home. Sam, Philippa, Thomas, and Max have just started to recover from their capture and subsequent escape from Rattigan. But the children’s lives don’t stay quiet for long. A slew of bank robberies is terrorizing the city. And when Professor Farnum, the ringmaster of the museum’s now immensely popular flea circus, is charged with murder, the search for the real killer uncovers a plot much bigger than any individual crime—a plot that can only be the work of Nicholas Rattigan. This is the third book in the series and contains even more exciting marvels, such as: A nefarious spy within the museum A very unfortunate flea circus The heavenly Georgie Rawls, from the original cast of Last Chance A beautiful and mysterious tattooed lady It continues not to have: A comprehensive review of the top ten toothbrushes A heaping bowl of sugarless cereal A long and boring family vacation A handmade, scratchy wool sweater Learn more about the series online at www.thecuriosityhouse.com

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Books About Orphans and Secrets

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Greetings from Witness Protection!
Written by Jake Burt
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

A funny and poignant debut middle-grade novel about a foster-care girl who is placed with a family in the witness protection program, and finds that hiding in plain sight is complicated and dangerous.

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The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book VI
Written by Maryrose Wood & illustrated by Eliza Wheeler
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

For fans of Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events and Trenton Lee Stewart’s Mysterious Benedict Society, here comes the final book in the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place, the acclaimed and hilarious Victorian mystery series by Maryrose Wood. Unhappy Penelope Lumley is trapped in unhappy Plinkst! Even the beets for which Plinkst is inexplicably famous fail to grow in this utterly miserable Russian village. Penelope anxiously counts the days and wonders how she will ever get back to England in time to save all the Ashtons—who, she now knows, include herself and the Incorrigible children, although their precise location on the family tree is still a mystery—from their accursèd fate. Her daring scheme to escape sends her on a wildly unexpected journey. But time is running out, and the not-really-dead Edward Ashton is still on the loose. His mad obsession with the wolfish curse on the Ashtons puts Penelope and the Incorrigibles in dire peril. As Penelope fights her way back to her beloved pupils, the three brave Incorrigibles endure their gloomy new tutor and worriedly prepare for the arrival of Lady Constance’s baby. Little do they know the danger they’re in! In this action-packed conclusion to the acclaimed series, mysteries are solved and long-lost answers are found. Only one question remains: Will Penelope and the Incorrigibles find a way to undo the family curse in time, or will the next full moon be their last?

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False Prince (the Ascendance Trilogy, Book 1): Book 1 of the Ascendance Trilogy
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
New York Times bestseller The False Prince thrills with wild twists and turns, danger and deceit, and the revelation of hidden identities that will have readers rushing breathlessly to the end.
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  1. False Prince (the Ascendance Trilogy, Book 1) - New York Times bestseller The False Prince thrills with wild twists and turns, danger and deceit, and the revelation of hidden identities that will have readers rushing breathlessly to the end.

  2. City of Islands - A dark and riveting middle grade fantasy from the critically acclaimed Kali Wallace about an archipelago of magical islands and one girl’s dangerous discovery on the ocean floor. Perfect for fans of Holly Black and Kate Milford. In a foggy archipelago called the City of Islands, twelve-year-old Mara has always been fascinated by the magic that drifts on the air as songs. But as a servant for the powerful Lady of the Tides, Mara must earn her keep by searching for magical treasures deep in the murky ocean. Then Mara finds the skeletons of strange hybrid creatures that haven’t existed in the city for centuries—all humming with a powerful spell-song. Convinced her discovery will earn her the opportunity to study magic, Mara shares them with the Lady. But instead of a reward, the Lady gives Mara a new challenge: to sneak into the island fortress, the Winter Blade. Now Mara must dive deeper than ever before to survive her mission. The chilling truths that Mara uncovers along the way, about her past as well as about the secrets of her beloved city, are more dangerous—and magical—than she ever imagined.

  3. Summer of the Gypsy Moths - A foster child named Angel and 12-year-old Stella, who are living with Stella’s great-aunt Louise at the Linger Longer Cottage Colony on Cape Cod, secretly assume responsibility for the vacation rentals when Louise unexpectedly dies and the girls are afraid of being returned to the foster care system. 50,000 first printing.

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Books About Orphans and Christmas

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Puppy Who Wanted a Boy
Written by & illustrated by Lisa McCue
picture book
Recommend Ages: 4-8

Petey the puppy has one wish for Christmas: to have a boy of his very own. But boys are in short supply this year, and he can't seem to find one who is just right!

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Story of Holly and Ivy
Written by Rumer Godden & illustrated by Barbara Cooney
picture book
Recommend Ages: 8-11

Ivy, Holly, and Mr. and Mrs. Jones all have one Christmas wish. Ivy, an orphan, wishes for a real home and sets out in search of the grandmother she’s sure she can find. Holly, a doll, wishes for a child to bring her to life. And the Joneses wish more than anything for a son or daughter to share their holiday. Can all three wishes come true? This festive tale is perfectly complemented by beloved Barbara Cooney’s luminous illustrations, filled with the warm glow of the Christmas spirit.

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Girl Who Saved Christmas
Written by & illustrated by Chris Mould
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
Fans of A Boy Called Christmas will rejoice at this whimsical story of the first child to ever be gifted a Christmas present! A perfect read-aloud this holiday season.
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  1. Plum - From Will & Grace star Sean Hayes and composer Scott Icenogle comes a modern classic inspired by The Nutcracker about how the Sugar Plum Fairy got her wings. Plum will not stay glum. For as long as she can remember, Plum has lived at the Mary Fitzgerald Orphanage, wishing and hoping for a family. When a sudden snowfall threatens a delivery of presents on Christmas Eve, Plum is determined to save Christmas—even for the kids who laugh at her. Plum’s pure heart grants her an unexpected reward. When she eats a cake left behind by a mysterious magician, she is transported into the Land of Sweets. But Christmas here is threatened, too—by a sourness that is spreading from the center of the land. Plum’s determined to help, and in doing so, she might just find the family she’s always dreamed of, thanks to a good heart—and Christmas magic!

  2. Winterhouse - Elizabeth, eleven, spends Christmas break at Winterhouse hotel under strange circumstances, where she discovers that she has magic, and her love of puzzles helps her solve a mystery.

  3. Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book I: The Mysterious Howling - The first book in the Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place--the acclaimed and hilarious Victorian mystery series by Maryrose Wood, perfect for fans of Lemony Snicket and Trenton Lee Stewart--has a brand-new look.

  4. The Road to Ever After - A young boy escorts an elderly woman back to her childhood home where she plans to die in this funny and heartbreaking middle-grade novel. Davy David, an orphan, lives by his wits in the dead-end town of Brownvale. When a stray dog named George turns Davy’s life upside down just days before Christmas, Davy sets in motion a chain of events that forces them to flee. A mischievous wind blows the two of them to a boarded-up museum on the outskirts of town where they meet the elderly recluse, Miss Flint. She has planned one last adventure before her time is up and hires the reluctant Davy and George to escort her. As they travel, the most peculiar thing begins to happen—Miss Flint gets younger and younger with every mile, and her story unfolds along with it. The Road to Ever After by Moira Young is magical and moving adventure about an unlikely friendship and an unforgettable journey. Praise for The Road to Ever After: “Gorgeous writing combines with a hauntingly bleak near-future setting, a whiff of holiday magic, and a transcendent story arc to make this novel feel like the classic it deserves to become.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review “This fairy tale-like novel has good potential as a read- aloud and is just quirky enough to not be sentimental.” —School Library Journal

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Books About Orphans and Aunts

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The Secret Life of Sam
Written by Kim Ventrella
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

The timelessness of Bridge to Terabithia meets the wonder of Big Fish in this bittersweet, magical story, perfect for fans of Barbara O'Connor, Lisa Graff, and Dan Gemeinhart.

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Emily's Quest
Written by L.M. Montgomery
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

Emily knows she’s going to be a great writer. She also knows that she and her childhood sweetheart, Teddy Kent, will conquer the world together. But when Teddy leaves home to pursue his goal to become an artist at the School of Design in Montreal, Emily’s world collapses. With Teddy gone, Emily agrees to marry a man she doesn’t love… as she tries to banish all thoughts of Teddy. In her heart, Emily must search for what being a writer really means.

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Emily of New Moon
Written by L.M. Montgomery
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-13
From the author of Anne of Green Gables, the first book of the beloved Emily trilogy--recently seen on Netflix's hit show Russian Doll!

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  1. Withering-by-Sea - A stalwart orphan sets out on a spine-tingling adventure in this wildly imaginative and darkly funny Victorian middle grade novel. High on a cliff above the gloomy Victorian town of Withering-by-Sea stands the Hotel Majestic. Inside the walls of the damp, dull hotel, eleven-year-old orphan Stella Montgomery leads a miserable life with her three dreadful aunts. Stella dreams of adventuring on the Amazon—or anyplace, really, as long as it isn’t this dreary town where nothing ever happens. Then one night Stella sees something she shouldn’t have. Soon she finds herself on the run from terrifying Professor Stark and his gang of thugs. But how can one young girl outwit an evil magician, much less rescue his poor, mistreated assistant? With the help of a mysterious maestro, his musical cats, and a lively girl named Gert, Stella Montgomery sets out to do the impossible.

  2. Pollyanna: Complete and Unabridged (Revised) - Soon after the eleven-year-old Pollyanna Whittier is left an orphan, she is sent to live with her rich Aunt Polly in Beldingsville, Vermont. Pollyanna’s aunt is a strict and dutiful woman she doesn’t even know. Aunt Polly puts Pollyanna in a tiny attic room where she hopes Pollyanna will be out of the way. But Pollyanna is the kind of girl who can always find something to be happy about, no matter how sad life may seem at the time. She calls it “playing the glad game.” Soon everyone around this remarkable girl, from John Pendleton, a rich but lonely bachelor, to Aunt Polly herself, falls under her special spell.<P>Until only day something so terrible happens that even Pollyanna doesn’t know how to feel glad anymore

  3. The Big Green Book - FANS OF MAURICE SENDAK’S CALDECOTT MEDAL-WINNING WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE WILL LOVE _THE BIG GREEN BOOK_—NOW BACK IN PRINT! A little boy named Jack discovers a big green book of magic in the attic and learns all sorts of spells—spells to change the look of things, spells to make him old and gray or disappear entirely! Jack makes the most of his new magic powers, and his poor old aunt and uncle are quite bewildered. This enchanting tale by noted British author Robert Graves is masterfully illustrated by Maurice Sendak, seven-time Caldecott Honor recipient, National Book Award winner, and the Caldecott Medal-winning creator of Where the Wild Things Are.

  4. Small Mercies - "Set in post-apartheid Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, this realistic story traces protagonist Mercy's quest to speak up for truth and, consequently, for herself. [...] Sensitive, funny, and tender." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

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Books About Orphans and Family Life

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Elephant's Girl
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12
A magical adventure about a girl with a mysterious connection with the elephant who saved her life, for fans of Katherine Applegate and Jennifer Holm.
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Eight Cousins
Written by Louisa May Alcott
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 10-14

Rose Campbell, tired and ill, has come to live at “The Aunt Hill” after the death of her beloved father. Six aunts fussing and fretting over her are bad enough, but what is a quiet 13-year-old girl to do with seven boisterous boy cousins?

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Mike's Mystery (the Boxcar Children: Time to Read, Level 2)
Written by Gertrude Chandler Warner & illustrated by Shane Clester
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 5-7

When the Aldens visit Aunt Jane, Benny’s friend Mike discovers a new mystery! Adapted from Gertrude Chandler Warner’s story of the same name, this early reader allows children to start reading with a Boxcar Children classic.

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  1. Rainbow Valley (Special Collector's) - Anne Shirley is grown up, has married her beloved Gilbert and now is the mother of six mischievous children.<P> These boys and girls discover a special place all their own, but they never dream of what will happen when the strangest family moves into an old nearby mansion. The Meredith clan is two boys and two girls, with minister father but no mother – and a runaway girl named Mary Vance. Soon the Meredith kids join Anne’s children in their private hideout to carry out their plans to save Mary from the orphanage, to help the lonely minister find happiness, and to keep a pet rooster from the soup pot. There’s always an adventure brewing in the sun-dappled world of Rainbow Valley.

  2. Schoolhouse Mystery - Benny’s curiosity, while staying in a fishing village, leads to capturing a swindler.

Books About Orphans and Sisters

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The Cruel Prince
Written by Holly Black
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 15-99

An instant New York Times bestseller! By #1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black, the first book in a stunning new series about a mortal girl who finds herself caught in a web of royal faerie intrigue. Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever. And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe. Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King. To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences. In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

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Ballet Shoes
Written & illustrated by Noel Streatfeild
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

In the tradition of Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Little Princess come Noel Streatfeild’s tales of triumph. In this story, three orphan girls vow to make a name for themselves and find their own special talents. With hard work, fame just may be in the stars! Originally published in 1937.

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Fairy-Tale Detectives (the Sisters Grimm #1): 10th Anniversary Edition
Written by Michael Buckley & illustrated by Peter Ferguson
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 9-12
Fans of fractured fairy tales will be delighted to discover the fantasy, mystery, adventure, and humor in the beloved New York Times bestselling Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley, now with new cover art!
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  1. Sisters Grimm: The Fairy-Tale Detectives - #1 - Orphaned sisters Sabrina and Daphne are sent to live with their mysterious grandmother, Relda Grimm, who lives in a town in rural New York State that experiences an extraordinary number of unexplained and unusual crimes.

  2. Nya's Long Walk: A Step at a Time - In this picture book companion to the bestseller A Long Walk to Water, a young South Sudanese girl goes on a journey that requires determination, persistence, and compassion. Young Nya takes little sister Akeer along on the two-hour walk to fetch water for the family. But Akeer becomes too ill to walk, and Nya faces the impossible: her sister and the full water vessel together are too heavy to carry. As she struggles, she discovers that if she manages to take one step, then another, she can reach home and Mama’s care. Bold, impressionistic paintings by Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Honor winner Brian Pinkney evoke the dry, barren landscape and the tenderness between the two sisters. An afterword discusses the process of providing clean water in South Sudan, reducing waterborne illness.

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Books About Orphans and 20th Century

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Anne of the Island (Special Collector's)
Written by L.M. Montgomery
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-12

“How horrible it is that people have to grow up!” <P>Wishing couldn’t keep Anne of Green Gables from growing up. Anne’s whole world was changing. Her childhood friends were beginning to get married, and Anne herself was leaving the island for four years of college. Now handsome Gilbert Blythe wants to win Anne’s heart, and suddenly Anne must decide if she’s ready for love…and for following her dreams if they mean leaving Green Gables behind forever.

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Pollyanna
Written by & illustrated by Eleanor H. Porter
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 8-10
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Hattie Big Sky
chapter book
Recommend Ages: 12-15

Alone in the world, teen-aged Hattie is driven to prove up on her uncle’s homesteading claim.<BR>For years, sixteen-year-old Hattie’s been shuttled between relatives. Tired of being Hattie Here-and-There, she courageously leaves Iowa to prove up on her late uncle’s homestead claim near Vida, Montana. With a stubborn stick-to-itiveness, Hattie faces frost, drought and blizzards. Despite many hardships, Hattie forges ahead, sharing her adventures with her friends–especially Charlie, fighting in France–through letters and articles for her hometown paper. <BR>Her backbreaking quest for a home is lightened by her neighbors, the Muellers. But she feels threatened by pressure to be a Loyal American, forbidding friendships with folks of German descent. Despite everything, Hattie’s determined to stay until a tragedy causes her to discover the true meaning of home. From the Hardcover edition.

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  1. Dear America: Like the Willow Tree - Two-time Newbery Award-winning author Lois Lowry brings a brand-new, beautiful diary to the Dear America series! Suddenly orphaned by the Spanish flu epidemic in the fall of 1918, eleven-year-old Lydia Pierce and her fourteen-year-old brother, Daniel, of Portland, Maine, are taken by their uncle to be raised in the Shaker community at Sabbathday Lake. Thrust into the Shakers’ unfamiliar way of life, Lydia must grapple with a new world that is nothing like the one she used to know. Now separated from her beloved brother, for men and women do not mix in this community, Lydia must adjust to many changes. But in time, and with her courageous spirit, she learns to find the joy in life again.

  2. Mystery Ranch - Eccentric Aunt Jane needs help on her ranch. The Aldens overturn a plot against her.

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