2013-2014 SC Junior Book Award Nominees

junior book award

Come discover the 2013-2014 South Carolina Book Awards, where each title is chosen to encourage students to read good quality contemporary literature.

The South Carolina Junior Book Award nominees are appropriate for 6-8 grade levels.

Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart - Candance Fleming

Book coverFrom the acclaimed author of The Great and Only Barnum—as well as The Lincolns, Our Eleanor, and Ben Franklin's Almanac—comes the thrilling story of America's most celebrated flyer, Amelia Earhart. In alternating chapters, Fleming deftly moves readers back and forth between Amelia's life (from childhood up until her last flight) and the exhaustive search for her and her missing plane. With incredible photos, maps, and handwritten notes from Amelia herself—plus informative sidebars tackling everything from the history of flight to what Amelia liked to eat while flying (tomato soup)—this unique nonfiction title is tailor-made for middle graders.

The Apothecary - Maile Meloy

Book coverIt’s 1952 and the Scott family has just moved from Los Angeles to London. There, fourteen-year-old Janie meets a mysterious apothecary and becomes fascinated by his son, Benjamin Burrows—a boy who isn’t afraid to stand up to authority and who dreams of becoming a spy. When Benjamin’s father disappears, Janie and Benjamin must uncover the secrets of the apothecary’s ancient book, the Pharmacopoeia, in order to find him, all while keeping those secrets out of the hands of Russian spies. Discovering transformative elixirs they never believed could exist, Janie and Benjamin embark on a dangerous race to save the apothecary and prevent impending nuclear disaster.

Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading - Tommy Greenwald

Book coverCharlie Joe Jackson may be the most reluctant reader ever born. And so far, he’s managed to get through life without ever reading an entire book from cover to cover. But now that he’s in middle school, avoiding reading isn’t as easy as it used to be. And when his friend Timmy McGibney decides that he’s tired of covering for him, Charlie Joe finds himself resorting to desperate measures to keep his perfect record intact.This is the hilarious story of an avid non-reader and the extreme lengths to which he’ll go to get out of reading a book.

Chomp - Carl Hiaasen

Book coverWahoo Cray lives in a zoo. His father is an animal wrangler, so he's grown up with all manner of gators, snakes, parrots, rats, monkeys, snappers, and more in his backyard. The critters he can handle. His father is the unpredictable one.

When his dad takes a job with a reality TV show called "Expedition Survival!", Wahoo figures he'll have to do a bit of wrangling himself—to keep his dad from killing Derek Badger, the show's boneheaded star, before the shoot is over. But the job keeps getting more complicated. Derek Badger seems to actually believe his PR and insists on using wild animals for his stunts. And Wahoo's acquired a shadow named Tuna—a girl who's sporting a shiner courtesy of her old man and needs a place to hide out.

They've only been on location in the Everglades for a day before Derek gets bitten by a bat and goes missing in a storm. Search parties head out and promptly get lost themselves. And then Tuna's dad shows up with a gun...

It's anyone's guess who will actually survive "Expedition Survival"...

City of Orphans - Avi

Book coverThe streets of 1893 New York are crowded and filthy. For thirteen-year-old newsboy Maks Geless, they are also dangerous. Bruno, leader of the awful Plug Ugly Gang, has set his sights on Maks and orders his boys to track him down. Suddenly Maks finds himself on the run, doing all he can to evade the gang, with only his new friend Willa by his side. And that’s just the start of Mak’s troubles. His sister, Emma, has been arrested and imprisoned for stealing a watch from the glamorous new Waldorf Hotel. Maks knows she didn’t do it—but will he be able to prove it in time?

The Fourth Stall - Chris Rylander

Book coverDo you need something? Mac can get it for you. It’s what he does—he and his best friend and business manager, Vince. Their methods might sometimes run afoul of the law—or at least the school code of conduct—but if you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can pay him, Mac is on your side. His office is located in the east wing boys' bathroom, fourth stall from the high window. And business is booming.Or at least it was, until this particular Monday. It starts with a third grader in need of protection. And before this ordeal is over, it’s going to involve a legendary high school crime boss named Staples, an intramural gambling ring, a graffiti ninja, the nine most dangerous bullies in school, and the first Chicago Cubs World Series game in almost seventy years. And that’s just the beginning. Mac and Vince soon realize that the trouble with solving everyone else’s problems is that there’s no one left to solve yours.

Ghetto Cowboy - Greg Neri

Book coverWhen Cole’s mom dumps him in mean streets of Philly to live with the dad he’s never met, the last thing Cole expects to see is a horse—let alone a stable full of them. He may not know much about cowboys, but what he knows for sure is that cowboys ain't black and they don’t live in the inner city! But on Chester Avenue, horses are a way of life, and soon Cole’s days of goofing off and skipping school in Detroit have been replaced by shoveling muck and trying not to get stomped on.

Hidden - Helen Frost

Book coverWhen Wren and Darra meet at age fourteen, they recognize each other instantly, though they’ve never actually met. It has been six years since something happened that affected each of them profoundly: Darra’s father stole a car and drove it home, not knowing that Wren was hiding in the back. Darra was the only one who guessed that Wren stayed hidden in their locked garage—how could she help Wren and still protect her father?

How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous - Georgia Bragg

Book coverOver the course of history men and women have lived and died. In fact, getting sick and dying can be a big, ugly mess-especially before the modern medical care that we all enjoy today. How They Croaked relays all the gory details of how nineteen world figures gave up the ghost. For example:

It is believed that Henry VIII's remains exploded within his coffin while lying in state. Doctors "treated" George Washington by draining almost 80 ounces of blood before he finally kicked the bucket. Right before Beethoven wrote his last notes, doctors drilled a hole in his stomach without any pain medication. Readers will be interested well past the final curtain, and feel lucky to live in a world with painkillers, X-rays, soap, and 911.

Icefall - Matthew J. Kirby

Book coverTrapped in a hidden fortress tucked between towering mountains and a frozen sea, Solveig, along with her brother the crown prince, their older sister, and an army of restless warriors, anxiously awaits news of her father’s victory at battle. But as winter stretches on, and the unending ice refuses to break, terrible acts of treachery soon make it clear that a traitor lurks in their midst. A malevolent air begins to seep through the fortress walls, and a smothering claustrophobia slowly turns these prisoners of winter against one another.Those charged with protecting the king’s children are all suspect, and the siblings must choose their allies wisely. But who can be trusted so far from their father’s watchful eye and unchallenged authority? Can Solveig and her siblings survive the long winter months and expose the traitor before he succeeds in destroying a king, his empire, and his children?

The Lions of Little Rock - Kristin Levine

Book coverAs twelve-year-old Marlee starts middle school in 1958 Little Rock, it feels like her whole world is falling apart. Until she meets Liz, the new girl at school. Liz is everything Marlee wishes she could be: she's brave, brash and always knows the right thing to say. But when Liz leaves school without even a good-bye, the rumor is that Liz was caught passing for white. Marlee decides that doesn't matter. She just wants her friend back. And to stay friends, Marlee and Liz are even willing to take on segregation and the dangers their friendship could bring to both their families.

Notes from an Accidental Band Geek - Erin Dionne

Book coverElsie Wyatt is a born French horn player, just like her father and her grandfather before her. In order to qualify for the prestigious summer music camp of her dreams, she must expand her musical horizons and join--gasp!--the marching band. There are no French horns in marching band, but there are some very cute boys. Elsie is not so sure she'll survive, but the new friends she's making and the actual fun she's having force her to question her dad's expectations and her own musical priorities.

Okay for Now - Gary D. Schmidt

Book coverAs a fourteen-year-old who just moved to a new town, with no friends and a louse for an older brother, Doug Swieteck has all the stats stacked against him. So begins a coming-of-age masterwork full of equal parts comedy and tragedy from Newbery Honor winner Gary D. Schmidt. As Doug struggles to be more than the "skinny thug" that his teachers and the police think him to be, he finds an unlikely ally in Lil Spicer—a fiery young lady who smelled like daisies would smell if they were growing in a big field under a clearing sky after a rain. In Lil, Doug finds the strength to endure an abusive father, the suspicions of a whole town, and the return of his oldest brother, forever scarred, from Vietnam. Together, they find a safe haven in the local library, inspiration in learning about the plates of John James Audubon’s birds, and a hilarious adventure on a Broadway stage.

The Running Dream - Wendelin Van Draanen

Book coverJessica thinks her life is over when she loses a leg in a car accident. She's not comforted by the news that she'll be able to walk with the help of a prosthetic leg. Who cares about walking when you live to run?

As she struggles to cope with crutches and a first cyborg-like prosthetic, Jessica feels oddly both in the spotlight and invisible. People who don't know what to say, act like she's not there. Which she could handle better if she weren't now keenly aware that she'd done the same thing herself to a girl with CP named Rosa. A girl who is going to tutor her through all the math she's missed. A girl who sees right into the heart of her.With the support of family, friends, a coach, and her track teammates, Jessica may actually be able to run again. But that's not enough for her now. She doesn't just want to cross finish lines herself—she wants to take Rosa with her.

Saint Louis Armstrong Beach - Brenda Woods

Book coverA boy, a dog, and New Orleans' most famous hurricane.

Saint is a boy with confidence as big as his name is long. A budding musician, he earns money playing clarinet for the New Orleans tourists, and his best friend is a stray dog named Shadow. At first Saint is sure that Hurricane Katrina will be just like the last one--no big deal. But then the city is ordered to evacuate and Saint refuses to leave without Shadow. Saint and Shadow flee to his neighbor's attic--and soon enough it's up to Saint to save them all.

Small as an Elephant - Jennifer Richard Jacobson

Book coverEver since Jack can remember, his mom has been unpredictable, sometimes loving and fun, other times caught in a whirlwind of energy and ”spinning” wildly until it’s over. But Jack never thought his mom would take off during the night and leave him at a campground in Acadia National Park, with no way to reach her and barely enough money for food. Any other kid would report his mom gone, but Jack knows by now that he needs to figure things out for himself — starting with how to get from the backwoods of Maine to his home in Boston before DSS catches on. With nothing but a small toy elephant to keep him company, Jack begins the long journey south, a journey that will test his wits and his loyalties — and his trust that he may be part of a larger herd after all.

The Underdogs - Mike Lupica

Book coverWill Tyler can fly on a football field. He may not be the biggest running back around, but no one can touch him when it comes to hitting the hole and finding the end zone. And no one can match his love of the game. When Will has a football in hand, he may as well be flying for real because life can't touch him - his dad isn't so defeated, his town isn't so poor, and everyone has something to cheer for. All of which does him no good if the football season is canceled. With no funding for things like uniforms and a cared-for playing field, with seemingly every other family moving to find jobs, there simply isn't enough money or players for a season. Unless one kid can rally an entire town and give everyone a reason to believe...

Waiting to Forget - Sheila Kelly Welch

Book coverT.J. has always looked out for his little sister, Angela. When Momma used to go out and leave them home alone, he'd lock the door so they'd be safe, keep Angela entertained, and get out the cereal and milk for her. When Momma's boyfriend got angry at them, he'd try to protect Angela. Later, at their foster homes, T.J. was the only one who knew how to coax his little sister out of her bad moods. The only one who understood why she made origami paper cranes and threw them out the window. But now T.J. is sitting in the waiting room at the hospital, wondering if Angela, unconscious after a fall, will ever wake up. Wondering, too, if he will ever feel at home with his and Angela's new parents—Marlene, who insists on calling him Timothy, and Dan, who seems to want a different son. Going back and forth between Now and Then, weaving the uncertain present with the painful past, T.J.'s story unfolds, and with the unfolding comes a new understanding of how to move forward.

Wild Life - Cynthia C. DeFelice

Book coverErik Carlson has just passed the New York State Hunter Safety class, and is all set to go on his first-ever pheasant hunting trip, when his life is turned upside down. His Army reservist parents are both being unexpectedly deployed to Iraq. Instead of going hunting with his friend Patrick, Erik is shipped off to North Dakota to live with Big Darrell and Oma, grandparents he barely knows. Oma seems nice enough, but Erik finds Big Darrell to be unwelcoming and downright mean. When Erik rescues a dog that’s been stuck by a porcupine, Big Darrell says he can’t keep her. But Erik has already named the dog Quill and can’t bear to give her up. After finding his Uncle Dan’s shotgun and camping gear, Erik takes Quill and runs away, certain that they can make it on their own out on the prairie. Family relationships and old secrets complicate this wilderness survival story.

A World Without Heroes - Brandon Mull

Book coverJason Walker has often wished his life could be less predictable—until a routine day at the zoo ends with Jason suddenly transporting from the hippo tank into a strange, imperiled world. Lyrian holds dangers and challenges unlike anyplace Jason has ever known. The people all live in fear of their malicious wizard emperor, Maldor. The brave resistors who once opposed the emperor have been bought off or broken, leaving a realm where fear and suspicion prevail.

In his search for a way home, Jason meets Rachel, who was also mysteriously drawn to Lyrian from our world. With the help of a few scattered rebels, Jason and Rachel become entangled in a quest to piece together the word of power that can destroy the emperor and learn that their best hope to find a way home will be to save this world without heroes.