Best of 2017 Booktalks

I am just about to launch into my new spring booktalk season, but before I do, I want to share a list of superstar titles from booktalks in 2017. There are 18 titles here, drawn from the 72 books I used in fourth, fifth, and sixth grade classes during the year. These were the books the kids got most excited about reading—and they were the most fun to booktalk. A printer-friendly version of this list is available on the Jackson County Library Services website.


Almost Home by Joan Bauer. When they lose their house, Sugar’s mom has a hard time taking care of things. Sometimes Sugar has to be the one to act like the grown-up. She’s glad she has her puppy, Shush, by her side. Grades 5-8. The cute puppy cover makes this one an easy sell. (2012)

Dark Life by Kat Falls. Ty grew up in a pioneering undersea community, and he loves it there. When outlaws start attacking homesteads, the future of the whole settlement is in danger. Grades 6 & up. This was the top favorite among sixth graders in the fall. (2010)

Double Identity by Margaret Peterson Haddix. Bethany doesn’t know what’s up with her parents. They drive her across four states and leave her with an aunt she never knew she had. Grades 5-8. This is an older title from Haddix, but it holds up pretty well. (2005)

The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis. In an encounter with a food mage, a young dragon gets herself transformed into a 12-year-old human girl. She’s left with no claws, no wings, and no fire—only her insatiable taste for chocolate. Grades 4-7. A fun fantasy read, this was one of my personal favorites among titles published in 2017—the voice is strong and original. (2017)

fuzzy mud thFuzzy Mud by Louis Sachar. When the school bully disappears, Marshall couldn’t be happier—until he realizes where the boy is. Grades 5-8. I have mixed feelings about this one, but kids seem to love it. (2015)

ghost 2Ghost by Jason Reynolds. Castle Crenshaw (known as Ghost) is a fast runner—he’s had to be—but he’s never tried out for the track team before. Grades 5-8. I’d call this a “must-read” title. (2016)

great treehouse war smThe Great Treehouse War by Lisa Graff. After the divorce, Winnie’s parents keep trying to outdo each other. Winnie decides to stay in her treehouse until they can be reasonable. Grades 3-6. The outlandish premise makes this an easy one to booktalk. (2017)

pugs thPugs of the Frozen North by Philip Reeve. Shen and Sika want to win the race to the Snowfather’s palace at the top of the world, but they have no sled dogs—only 66 tiny pugs. Grades 2-5. Great choice for reluctant readers—it’s highly illustrated and funny. (2015)

Restart by Gordon KormanRestart by Gordon Korman. Chase Ambrose falls off a roof and loses all memory of his life before the accident. He doesn’t know why his classmates are afraid of him. Grades 4-7. I’ve gotten great response from kids on this and other Gordon Korman books I’ve booktalked. (2017)

story thieves 1Story Thieves by James Riley. Owen sees his classmate Bethany climb out of a book. He promises not to tell anyone—if she’ll take him into his favorite series. Grades 4-6. Series. Kids get really excited about the idea of being able to go into a book. (2015).

Tentacle & Wing by Sarah Porter. Ada has been lying to people her whole life. She looks human, but she’s a dreaded chimera, with part animal DNA. When she’s 12, she gets caught and sent away to a quarantined school. Grades 5-8. This one will be on my new spring list, but I previewed it in several sixth grade classes, and the students seemed quite excited about it. Or maybe it was the squid tentacles I was wearing. (2017)

The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and Jory John. Miles doesn’t want to move to boring Yawnee Valley, but at least he’ll be the best prankster at school. Or so he thinks. Grades 3-6. Series. This is an appealing prankster story. (2015)

The 13-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths. Andy and Terry live in a 13-story treehouse, and there’s way too much to do (like hatching sea-monkey eggs) to think about Mr. Big Nose’s book deadline. Grades 3-6. Series. Highly illustrated and funny. The sequel titles give good practice on the 13 times tables…26-Story Treehouse, 39-Story Treehouse, 52-Story Treehouse… (2013)

Tumble and Blue by Cassie Beasley. Like half his family, Blue Montgomery is cursed. But this year he has a chance at a new fate—a good one. Grades 4-6. Another one of my favorites from 2017. I was rooting for a Newbery medal for this one. (2017)



Dog Encyclopedia for Kids by Tammy Gagne. Grades 4-7. Chock full of pictures, this book is a great choice for dog lovers. (2017)

Famous Fails! Mighty Mistakes, Mega Mishaps & How a Mess Can Lead to Success! by Crispin Boyer. Grades 4-7. This title has high visual appeal and plenty of humor. Kids were especially drawn to the story of a guy who tried to break a relative out of prison—while wearing a giant Snoopy costume. (2016)

The LEGO Ideas Book by Daniel Lipkowitz. Grades 3-6. For the LEGO builders in the class. I used it to promote our library’s LEGO club. (2011)

Moto and Me: My Year as a Wildcat’s Foster Mom by Suzi Eszterhas. Grades 2-5. I love this book. The narrative is engaging and the photos are superb. The kitten is so cute, there’s always a round of squeals and awwwhhhhhs from the class when I show the pictures. (2017)