The South Carolina Junior Book Award nominees are appropriate for 6-8 grade levels. Visit SCASL's SC Junior Book Award page to learn more about past nominees and other materials.
Eleven-year-old Rigel Harman loves her life in off-the-grid Alaska. She hunts rabbits, takes correspondence classes through the mail, and plays dominoes with her family in their two-room cabin. She doesn’t mind not having electricity or running water—instead, she’s got tall trees, fresh streams, and endless sky.
But then her parents divorce, and Rigel and her sisters have to move with their mom to the Connecticut suburbs to live with a grandmother they’ve never met. Rigel hates it in Connecticut. It’s noisy, and crowded, and there’s no real nature. Her only hope is a secret pact that she made with her father: If she can stick it out in Connecticut for one year, he’ll bring her back home.
At first, surviving the year feels impossible. Middle school is nothing like the wilderness, and she doesn’t connect with anyone . . . until she befriends a crow living behind her school. And if this wild creature has made a life for itself in the suburbs, then, just maybe, Rigel can too.
Twelve-year-old Jolene spends every day she can at the library watching her favorite livestream: The Desert Aviator, where twelve-year-old “Addie Earhart” shares her adventures flying an ultralight plane over the desert. While watching this daring girl fly through the sky, Jolene can dream of what it would be like to fly with her, far away from her own troubled home life where her mother struggles with a narcotic addiction. And Addie, who is grieving the loss of her father, finds solace in her online conversations with Jolene, her biggest—and only—fan.
Then, one day, it all goes wrong: Addie's engine abruptly stops, and Jolene watches in helpless horror as the ultralight plummets to the ground and the video goes dark. Jolene knows that Addie won’t survive long in the extreme summer desert heat. With no one to turn to for help and armed with only a hand-drawn map and a stolen cell phone, it's up to Jolene to find a way to save the Desert Aviator.
Ahmed Aziz is having an epic year—epically bad.
After his dad gets sick, the family moves from Hawaii to Minnesota for his dad’s treatment. Even though his dad grew up there, Ahmed can’t imagine a worse place to live. He’s one of the only brown kids in his school. And as a proud slacker, Ahmed doesn’t want to deal with expectations from his new teachers.
Ahmed surprises himself by actually reading the assigned books for his English class: Holes, Bridge to Terabithia, and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Shockingly, he doesn’t hate them. Ahmed also starts learning about his uncle, who died before Ahmed was born.
Getting bits and pieces of his family’s history might be the one upside of the move, even as his dad’s health hangs in the balance and the school bully refuses to leave him alone. Will Ahmed ever warm to Minnesota?
There are zero reasons for Theo Ripley to look forward to his family vacation. Not only are he, sister Laura, and nature-obsessed Dad going to Big Bend, the least popular National Park, but once there, the family will be camping. And Theo is an indoor animal. It doesn’t help that this will be the first vacation they’re taking since Mom passed away.
Once there, the family contends with 110 degree days, wild bears, and an annoying amateur ornithologist and his awful teenage vlogger son. Then, Theo’s dad hits him with a whopper of a surprise: the whole trip is just a trick to introduce his secret new girlfriend.
Theo tries to squash down the pain in his chest. But when it becomes clear that this is an auditioning-to-be-his-stepmom girlfriend, Theo must find a way to face his grief and talk to his dad before his family is forever changed.
“I don’t remember. Tell me everything, Pepito. Tell me about Cuba.”
When the failed Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961 solidifies Castro’s power in Cuba, twelve-year-old Cumba’s family makes the difficult decision to send him to Florida alone. Faced with the prospect of living in another country by himself, Cumba tries to remember the sound of his father’s clarinet, the smell of his mother’s lavender perfume.
Life in the United States presents a whole new set of challenges. Lost in a sea of English speakers, Cumba has to navigate a new city, a new school, and new freedom all on his own. With each day, Cumba feels more confident in his new surroundings, but he continues to wonder: Will his family ever be whole again? Or will they remain just out of reach, ninety miles across the sea?
Thirteen-year-old Eddie needs to do a community service project in preparation for his bar mitzvah. Against his better judgment, he ends up with a volunteering gig at Silver Brook Pavilion retirement home, where the residents call him "Eddie Whatever" rather than worry about remembering his last name. These old folks soon upend all Eddie's assumptions about the boringness of the elderly. There's a dramatic courtship unfolding, long-hidden secret identities, a rumor of a vengeful ghost, and a thief on the loose.
When suspicion falls on Eddie, he teams up with his fellow volunteer (and crush), Tessa, to solve the mysteries of Silver Brook.
As World War II comes to a close, the United States and the Soviet Union emerge as the two greatest world powers on extreme opposites of the political spectrum. After the United States showed its hand with the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, the Soviets refuse to be left behind. With communism sweeping the globe, the two nations begin a neck-and-neck competition to build even more destructive bombs and conquer the Space Race. In their battle for dominance, spy planes fly above, armed submarines swim deep below, and undercover agents meet in the dead of night.
Libby comes from a long line of bullies. She wants to be different, but sometimes that doesn’t work out. To bolster herself, she makes a card with the message You are amazing. That card sets off a chain reaction that ends up making a difference in the lives of some kids who could also use a boost—be it from dealing with bullies, unaccepting families, or the hole that grief leaves. Receiving an encouraging message helps each kid summon up the thing they need most, whether it’s bravery, empathy, or understanding. Because it helps them realize they matter—and that they're not flying solo anymore.
World War I stretches its cruel fingers across Europe, where five young people, each from different backgrounds and nations, face the terror of battle, the deprivations of hunger, and all the awful challenges of war.
Felix, from Austria-Hungary, longs for the bravery to resist Jewish deportations before his own family can be taken.
Kara, from Britain, dreams of someday earning her Red Cross pin and working as a nurse -- or even a doctor.
Juliette, of France, hopes her family can remain knitted together, despite her father's imprisonment, as the war's longest battle stretches on and on.
Elsa, from Germany, hopes her homing pigeon might one day bring her a friend from out of the chaos.
And Dimitri, of Russia, wants only to survive the front, where he's been sent with no weapon.
None of them will find exactly what they want. But the winds of fate may cross their paths to give each of them just what they need. And in this remarkable exploration of World War I by critically acclaimed author Jennifer A. Nielsen, they will discover that friendship and courage can light the way through the most frightening of nights.
A student decides to fight back with a paper chain of 6 million links commemorating the victims of the Holocaust, and soon the whole school and half the internet are on board. Meanwhile, Link, perpetrator of many pranks and the most popular guy in the seventh grade, is shocked to learn he's actually Jewish.
Maizy has never been to Last Chance, Minnesota . . . until now. Her mom’s plan is just to stay for a couple weeks, until her grandfather gets better. But plans change, and as Maizy spends more time in Last Chance (where she and her family are the only Asian Americans) and at the Golden Palace—the restaurant that’s been in her family for generations—she makes some discoveries.
When her mother dies, fifteen-year-old Mari is desperate to avoid being caught up in the foster system....again. And to complicate matters, she is now the only one who can take care of her super-smart and on-the-spectrum nine-year-old stepbrother, Conor. Is there anyone Mari can trust to help them? Certainly not her mother's current boyfriend, Dennis. Not the doctors or her teachers, who would be obliged to call in social services.
Ten-year-old Anthony Joplin has made it to double digits! Which means he’s finally old enough to play in the spades tournament every Joplin Man before him seems to have won. So while Ant’s friends are stressing about fifth grade homework and girls, Ant only has one thing on his mind: how he’ll measure up to his father’s expectations at the card table.
Then Ant’s best friend gets grounded, and he’s forced to find another spades partner. And Shirley, the new girl in his class, isn’t exactly who he has in mind. She talks a whole lot of trash — way more than his old partner. Plus, he’s not sure that his father wants him playing with a girl. But she’s smart and tough and pretty, and knows every card trick in the book. So Ant decides to join forces with Shirley — and keep his plans a secret.
Only it turns out secrets are another Joplin Man tradition. And his father is hiding one so big it may tear their family apart…
The people of Walthorne love their basketball—and one of the things they love most is the special rivalry between the Walthorne North Middle School Cougars and the Walthorne South Middle School Panthers. As the season begins, two star players are feeling the heat: Austin Chambers, captain of Walthorne North, worries that he’s not good enough to live up to his father’s legacy, while across town, the brilliantly talented Carter Haswell, captain of Walthorne South, is already under pressure to get a scholarship that might ease his family’s financial stress.
While both boys do whatever they can to make sure their team wins, Alfie Jenks, a school sports reporter, discovers that behind-the-scenes scandals are just as much a part of youth sports as on-the-court action. When she blows the story wide open, the whole season is jeopardized.
When scientists discover a rare and mysterious mineral buried in the Earth's crust, they don't realize it's the most valuable substance in the universe. It's not long before aliens show up to our corner of the galaxy, offering us a promise of protection, fabulous new technology, and entry into their intergalactic coalition in exchange for access to this precious mineral--precious enough that other alien forces are willing to start a war over it. A war that makes its way to Earth.
Bell has spent his whole life--all eleven years of it--on Mars. But he's still just a regular kid--he loves cats and any kind of cake, and is curious about the secrets the adults in the US colony are keeping. Like, why don't they have contact with anyone on the other Mars colonies? Why are they so isolated? When a virus breaks out and the grown-ups all fall ill, Bell and the other children are the only ones who can help. It's up to Bell--a regular kid in a very different world--to uncover the truth and save his family...and possibly unite an entire planet.
All Ginny Anderson wants from her summer is to sleep in, attend a mystery writing workshop, and spend time with her best friend. But when Ginny's father—a respected restoration expert in Chicago—surprises the family with a month-long trip to Michigan, everything changes. They aren't staying in a hotel like most families would. No, they're staying in a mansion. A twenty-six room, century-old building surrounded by dense forest. Woodmoor Manor.
But unfortunately, the mansion has more problems than a little peeling wallpaper. Locals claim the surrounding woods are inhabited by mutated creatures with glowing eyes. And some say campers routinely disappear in the woods, never to be seen again.
As terrifying as it sounds, Ginny can't shake the feeling that there's something darker . . . another story she hasn't been told. When the creaky floors and shadowy corners of the mansion seem to take on a life of their own, Ginny uncovers the wildest mystery of all: There's more than one legend roaming Saugatuck, Michigan, and they definitely aren't after campers.
It's after her.
Daniel Redmayne is fast asleep on the first night of a white water rafting trip, when he's awoken by screams. The dam has failed. The river is surging, and their camp will be under water in a matter of moments. As the shrieking roar of the river rushes closer, the kids scramble to higher ground. They make it; their counselors do not. Now they're on their own, with barely any food or supplies, in the middle of the Montana wilderness. Do Daniel and his four classmates have what it takes to stay alive until they can get rescued? Alone in the wild, they forge powerful bonds -- but develop dangerous disagreements. If nature doesn't break them, they might just destroy each other.
Twelve-year-old Collin has a plan to survive any worst-case scenario. Avalanche? No problem. Riptide? Stay calm. He’s 100% prepared for every disaster…except maybe his home life.