2023 Staff Picks for Grades 3-5: Fiction

By Skokie Staff Youth Services

From a new Percy Jackson book to mysteries to stories narrated by animals to fantasies to books about families who migrate to America, this list has staff favorites for every kind of reader!

  • The Ghosts of Rancho Espanto

    2023 by Cuevas, Adrianna

    This well-written, engaging book is part ghost story, part mystery, part realistic exploration of grief and family. I couldn't put it down! Suggested by Caitlin.

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  • The Eyes & the Impossible

    2023 by Eggers, Dave

    I love a good animal story, and this is a great one. Johannes the dog's heartfelt narration, coupled with a few lavish illustrations by Shawn Harris, make for a wonderful family or classroom read-aloud. As I read on, I had that magical feeling like I was discovering a soon-to-be classic children's book! Suggested by Mandy.

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  • Ellie Engle Saves Herself!

    2023 by Johnson, Leah

    I absolutely loved Ellie as a character. While she might have super cool powers, I actually loved Ellie's journey of loving herself and learning to believe that she’s anything but ordinary even more. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • Ruby Lost and Found

    2023 by Li, Christina

    A beautiful, bittersweet read in which the main protagonist, Ruby, is navigating changing friendships, gentrification, grief, and loss. I appreciated that there is a balance of light and tough moments. While there is no tight little bow at the end, there is hope. Suggested by Rummanah.

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  • The Swifts: A Dictionary of Scoundrels

    2023 by Lincoln, Beth

    We thoroughly enjoyed this punny, witty, and seriously smart mystery with an eccentric group of characters. It's also a quick-witted, fast-paced murder mystery for budding whodunnit enthusiasts. It's exciting that this is going to be a series because we can't wait to see what shenanigans these characters get into in their next case! Suggested by Caitlin and Rummanah.

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  • The Death and Life of Benny Brooks: Sort of a Memoir

    2023 by Long, Ethan

    I love Ethan Long's quirky picture books and beginning readers, so I was curious about this semiautobiographical chapter book. While I didn't go through the same things as the main character Benny, I did relate to him and think many young readers might, too. It is not a light read, but Long's wit and illustrations make the topics of divorce and death very approachable. Suggested by Mandy.

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  • The Firefly Summer

    2023 by Matson, Morgan

    I liked this story about summer camp, hidden treasure, shenanigans, and family—and s'mores. Suggested by Meleesa.

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  • Camp Sylvania

    2023 by Murphy, Julie

    Julie Murphy always writes stories that are fun and full of surprises, and this is no exception. Maggie and her best friend Noral are psyched for the summer! They're going to Camp Rising Star, a performing art camp. But just before they're about to leave, Maggie's mom informs her that there's been a change of plan: Maggie is now going to weight-loss camp, which she knows she will hate. Hilarity and adventure ensue. I loved every word of this story of a girl who starts to learn to love herself. Suggested by Mary.

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  • The Umbrella House

    2023 by Nelson, Colleen

    The cover of this book caught my attention, and the characters and story kept me turning the pages at a quick pace! Set in New York City (my favorite non-Skokie place) and inspired by actual events, the video-making main characters use their skills to try to save their building from being torn down. They also uncover the mystery of the Midnight Muralist, and I was genuinely surprised that I didn't predict the outcome ahead of the big reveal. Suggested by Lorrie.

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  • Lasagna Means I Love You

    2023 by O'Shaughnessy, Kate

    I loved this sweet (sometimes frustrating) story about family, food, and recipes. I'm also going to try out some of the recipes! Suggested by Meleesa.

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  • The Chalice of the Gods

    2023 by Riordan, Rick

    It was a joy to return to the world of Percy Jackson 14 years after The Last Olympian was published! I couldn’t get enough of Percy, Annabeth, and Grover as they embarked on yet another action-packed journey. Suggested by Elise.

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  • The Museum of Lost and Found

    2023 by Sales, Leila

    I have had similar feelings as the main character of this book, related to trying to make sense out of a friendship failure, but only wish I had found an abandoned museum where I could have created an exhibit to help work through it! Suggested by Lorrie.

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  • Sisters of the Lost Marsh

    2023 by Strange, Lucy

    I fell in love with the gorgeous, lyrical writing and our intrepid heroine. The audiobook narration—read by the author—is phenomenal. Like a whispered fairy tale on a dark and stormy night. Suggested by Caitlin.

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  • The Song of the Swan

    2023 by Sutton, Karah

    As a long-time lover of fairy tales, this book made me very happy. Great characters and illustrations, and a spider narrator—I was hooked from page one! Suggested by Caitlin.

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  • Finally Seen

    2023 by Yang, Kelly

    I love Kelly Yang's characters—the kids are awesome, but believable, and she always tells a great family story. This book also deals with income disparity, how hard it is for people new to this country, book banning, and how family secrets and shame can get in the way—there's a lot packed in here. I rooted for Lina and her family the whole way through! Suggested by Shelley.

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