The Book Thief by Markus Zusak: Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel–a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors.
The Thief (Queen’s Thief Series) by Megan Whalen Turner: Gen flaunts his ingenuity as a thief and relishes the adventure which takes him to a remote temple of the gods where he will attempt to steal a precious stone.
The Watsons go to Birmingham: Chronicles the ordinary interactions and everyday routines of the Watsons, an African American family living in Flint, Michigan, and how they are drastically changed after they go to visit Grandma in Alabama in the summer of 1963.
A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck: A boy recounts his annual summer trips to rural Illinois with his sister during the Great Depression to visit their larger-than-life grandmother.
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett: Young Mary Lennox returns to England to live with her uncle and discovers a hidden garden and an unknown cousin.
Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (and the movie): In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-Smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-Earth still it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell, by chance, into the hands of the Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins. On his eleventy-first birthday, Bilbo disappeared, bequeathing to his young cousin, Frodo, the Ruling Ring, and a perilous quest: to journey across Middle-Earth, deep into the shadow of the Dark Lord and destroy the Ring by casting it into the Cracks of Doom.
Holes by Louis Sachar (and the movie): As further evidence of his family’s bad fortune which they attribute to a curse on a distant relative, Stanley Yelnats is sent to a hellish correctional camp in the Texas desert.
Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater: Nineteen-year-old returning champion Sean Kendrick competes against Puck Connolly, the first girl ever to ride in the annual Scorpio Races, both trying to keep hold of their dangerous water horses long enough to make it to the finish line.
Shipbreaker by Paolo Bacigalupi: In a futuristic world, teenaged Nailer scavenges copper wiring from grounded oil tankers for a living, but when he finds a beached clipper ship with a girl in the wreckage, he has to decide if he should strip the ship for its wealth or rescue the girl.