Golden Dome Book List 2021-2022
Bachmann, Stefan. Cinders and Sparrows.
After spending her childhood in an orphanage, Zita has just received word that she’s the last living heir to a remote mountaintop castle, where her family, a long line of witches, has resided for centuries. After arriving at her ancestral home, Zita quickly begins to question the circumstances of her family’s untimely deaths. Unfortunately, the Castle’s other residents seem to be either under an enchantment or determined to do her harm. Unsure of who to trust, Zita must rely on her wits and newly discovered powers to uncover the dark forces working against her before all is lost. Grade 4 and up.
Bowling, Dusti. The Canyon’s Edge.
A year after losing her mother in a tragic incident, Nora and her father celebrate Nora’s birthday by exploring a canyon in the Arizona desert. Without warning, a flash flood sweeps through the canyon, taking away Nora’s father and all of the supplies. Nora must find her strength emotionally and physically if she is to find her father and survive the dangers of the canyon and of her past. Grade 4 and up
Bradley, Kimberly Brubaker. Fighting Words.
Ten-year-old Della has always been protected by her older sister, Suki, especially when her mother is incarcerated for drugs. But after Della and Suki are placed in a new foster home after escaping from Clifton, their mother’s boyfriend, it might be Suki who needs to be protected. Delia needs to learn that there are some words that she can’t say, but others, although difficult, that must be said. Grade 5 and up.
Callender, Kacen. King and the Dragonflies.
Twelve-year-old King believes that after his older brother, Khalid, died, he turned into a dragonfly. Before his death, Khalid warned King to distance himself from his best friend, Sandy, who was rumored to be gay, a dangerous situation in small-town Louisiana. King puts aside his friendship with Sandy - and then Sandy goes missing, only to be found camping in King’s back yard, escaping from his abusive father. The two boys come together to deal with issues of grief, loss, and sexuality, and rekindle their friendship as they come to terms with their changing identities. Grade 5 and up.
Copeland, Cynthia L. Cub
Cindy’s internship as a cub reporter for the local newspaper forces her out of her shell. From a quiet junior high girl, she becomes a bold, young journalist searching for a scoop in this upbeat and empowering semi-autobiographical graphic novel. Grade 4 and up.
Dee, Barbara. My Life in the Fish Tank.
Zinny’s older brother Gabriel, after a frightening car crash, has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and sent to a rehabilitation center. Zinny’s mother would rather keep the entire episode “private” – that is, a secret – and Zinny, her older sister, and younger brother all must learn to come to terms with Gabriel’s mental illness. In Zinny’s case, there’s help from unexpected quarters, including the support she gets support from the school Lunch Group – and from her passion for marine biology. Grade 5 and up.
Harrel, Rob. Wink.
Ross Maloy thought he’d spend 7th grade just trying to survive middle school – but it turns out he’s got to survive a rare form of eye cancer first. Flying under the radar is difficult when you’re medically required to wear a cowboy hat to school (to protect his vision). Ross decides that if he’s going to be thrust into the spotlight, he’d rather it was for his epic comic strip (Batpig) or for his musical prowess than for looking like a goopy-eyed cowboy. Under the tutelage of a rock-n’-roll loving radiation tech, Ross decides to start a band. With the odds stacked against him, he relies on his friends (and sometimes on his enemies) to make what could have been a killer year into something truly memorable. Grade 4 and up.
Higuera, Donna Barba. Lupe Wong Won’t Dance.
Lupe Wong is a star athlete and dreams of meeting her hero, Fu Li Hernandez, a pro baseball player who is Chinese and Mexican American just like her. And she might get her chance - all she has to do is get straight As. It’s looking good until the final gym unit is introduced; square dancing. Lupe, horrified, tries everything she can to get the unit canceled - from researching the racist history of the music to protesting therequired compliance to traditional gender roles. Nothing seems to work. Will Lupe learn to dance or give up her chance to meet Fu Li? Grade 4 and up.
Holt, K.A. BenBee and the Teacher Griefer.
For Ben Bellows and his three fellow classmates, nothing could be worse than having to spend time in summer school – and all because they didn’t pass the language arts section of the “FARTS” (The Florida Rigorous Academic Assessment Test). As their new teacher, Ms. J, soon finds out, each student will go to great lengths not to have to read aloud in class (one tries to flush her book down the toilet!). The kids make a deal with Ms. J that for every minute they read aloud, she will let them play their favorite online video game, Sandbox. When the school administration hears of this unorthodox plan, Ben B and his classmates have to work together to save their teacher’s job. Grade 4 and up.
Jamieson, Victoria, and Omar Mohamed. When Stars are Scattered.
Omar and his younger brother Hassan escaped war-torn Somalia and for much of their young lives have called Dadaab, a refugee camp, home. Life there is hard. Families live for years in the camp, in hopes that some nation will allow them to emigrate and build a new life. Omar is resilient and resourceful, but without parents, he is also responsible for the care of his non-verbal brother. Can he continue to hold on to hope, shoulder responsibility, and take all the right steps to find them both a new place to call home - even as he can only watch as dear friends become resigned to a refugee life? Grade 5 and up.
Keller, Tae. When You Trap a Tiger.
Lily’s halmoni (Korean word for grandmother) has stolen something. Something important. From someone unusual, a large, talking tiger - the trickster from Halmoni’s stories. And now Halmoni is acting strangely – is it an illness or perhaps a curse? When the tiger offers to cure Halmoni for the return of what has been stolen, Lily has to decide-- should she make the deal and trust the tiger? Grade 6 and up.
Leyh, Kat. Snapdragon. First Second.
When social outcast Snapdragon suspects her missing dog might be at the home of a spooky, reclusive neighbor, her protective instincts give her the boost she needs to face the suspected dognapper - whom everyone says is a witch. Turns out, Good Boy (the now three-legged dog), is safe and sound, and Snapdragon might just have more in common with the neighborhood “witch” than she’d bargained for! Full of twists, turns, and a smidge of magic, this graphic novel serves as a reminder that the best things come from embracing our differences, and is a testament to the transformative power of friendship and love. Grade 5 and up.
McAnulty, Stacy. Millionaires for the Month.
Could you spend five million dollars in a month? This is the challenge set by a tech billionaire Laura Friendly to seventh-graders Benji and Felix after they return her missing wallet minus $20 the boys used to buy lunch. If the boys are successful, they can each earn ten million dollars. But there are rules - lots of them, ithe most difficult being that they can’t tell anyone about the challenge. The boys need to put aside their differences, deceive their families, and work together in order to win the money. However spending five million dollars isn’t as easy as it sounds. Grade 5 and up.
Nuanez, J.M.M Birdie and Me.
After their Mama dies, Jack and her younger brother Birdie need to find a new place to call home. At first, they move in with fun-loving Uncle Carl, who not only provides them with all the Honey Bunny Buns they can possibly want, but also embraces the non-gender- conforming Birdie for who he is. Uncle Carl soon proves unreliable though, and Jack and Birdie are sent to live with quieter, more practical, and more conformist Uncle Jack, who tries to change Birdie to protect him from bullies. Jack and Birdie will have none of it though, and eventually - together with both uncles - they build back a family filled with hope, humor, and acceptance of each other for who they are - with Honey Bunny Buns. Grade 5 and up
Oppel, Kenneth. Bloom.
This alien-invasion thriller begins with a strange downpour of rain, after which deadly plants begin to bloom and take over the landscape. Anaya, Seth, and Petra - three teens with problems of their own - seem to be immune to the toxic effects of the plants. It soon becomes clear that the plants come from another planet and are bent on colonizing the Earth – with only three brave kids to fight them off and prevent the end of the world. Grades 5 and up.
Park, Linda Sue Prairie Lotus.
In 1880, Hanna and her father leave heartache and tragedy behind in Los Angeles to settle in the Dakota Territory. Hanna has big goals: to finish her education (her mother’s dream for her) and to help her father establish a successful shop in the small prairie town. She also has a secret dream: to make a friend. Given her spirited intelligence, her talent as a seamstress, and her kind heart, there be little to stand in her way - but Hanna’s mother was Asian, and racism is as real on the prairie as it had been in San Francisco, making her dreams nearly impossible, if not dangerous, to reach. Grade 4 and up.
Pearsall, Shelley. Things Seen from Above.
Joey Byrd is a reclusive fourth grader who spends recess alone, wandering in circles on the playground scuffing his feet in the dirt and wood chips. April, a sixth grader on Buddy Bench duty, takes an interest in Joey and soon – with the help of her covolunteer, Veena, and the perceptive school janitor, Mr. Ulysses – comes to realize that Joey has a rare talent: his scuff marks, seen from above, are wonderful and complex works of art. A story of kindness, compassion, and new ways of seeing. Grade 4 and up.
Pennypacker, Sara. Here in the Real World.
Ware’s ultra-efficient and opinionated mother has arranged for him to spend the summer at the community center Rec, having Meaningful Social Interactions – but Ware, whose passions are solitude and medieval history, instead slips across the street to the grounds of a ruined church. There he meets prickly and suspicious Jolene, who is planting a papaya garden on the abandoned ground. The two form a bond – and Ware begins to convert the shattered building into his version of a medieval castle. Their imaginary kingdom can’t survive – but Ware learns to accept himself and others, and all ultimately discover that though the real world can be bleak, there are still kind people and heroes in it. Grade 4 and up.
Pixley, Marcella. Trowbridge Road.
Set in the early 80’s at the beginning of the AIDS epidemic, Trowbridge Road immerses us in the lives of pre-teens June Bug and Ziggy. June Bug is struggling with the loss of her dad to AIDS and a mother battling depression and a germ phobia. Ziggy moves in down the street to live with Nana Jean after troubles of his own at school and with a mother not ready to settle down. The two kids fall into an easy friendship and escape their troubles through their wild imaginations and trips to the “9th dimension” where their problems can be wished away. June Bug narrates the book with a poetic quality and readers will fall in love with these sweet, troubled kids and a loving grandmother with an open heart and arms. Grade 5 and up
Rhodes, Jewell Parker. Black Brother, Black Brother. Little
Due to the color of his skin, life for 12-year-old Donte is far more complicated and less fair than that of the other students at his wealthy prep school, including that of his older brother, Trey. The boys come from a bi-racial family, and while Trey’s skin tone is light, leading people to assume he is white, Donte’s is dark, making the two appear to be not related at all. After an incident that leads to Donte’s unfair arrest and suspension from school, he becomes determined to overcome his bully by beating him at his own game – fencing - with the help of a supportive coach, his family, and a few new friends. Grade 4 and up.
Salazar, Aida. Land of the Cranes. Scholastic Press. $17.99. ISBN: 978-1338343809. Betita, a young Latinx girl, lover of poetry and Aztec stories, is facing the unthinkable. After escaping violence in Mexico, she and her family seek sanctuary in Los Angeles. When her father is picked up by ICE and deported, Betita and her pregnant mother are adrift. Then mother and daughter are sent to a detention camp where they face isolation and inhumane conditions - though Betita finds community among camp detainees and volunteer workers and uses her poetry to hold on to hope. Will her family ever be reunited? Grade 4 and up.
Savit, Gavriel. The Way Back.
When Death comes for Bluma’s Grandmother, he gets more than he bargained for, and in the ensuing scuffle, leaves behind his most prized and relied upon implement- a silver spoon. Upon discovering the spoon, Bluma realizes she now has the means to travel to the Far Country beyond the town cemetery to find the House of Death and reclaim what she has lost. Across town, Yehuda Leib is fleeing home in the dead of night. Rumors are whispered in the village that his ominous and greatly feared Father has returned and is on the hunt for his son. Yehuda too comes face to face with Death, and is sent into the Far Country, a world inhabited by demons and spirits sprung from Jewish folklore. As the two children’s paths collide, they must work together to barter and bargain their way back towards the mortal world, and towards the truth. A tourde-force of storytelling steeped in Jewish folklore. Grade 7 and up.
Shulevitz, Uri. Chance: Escape from the Holocaust
Memories of a Refugee Childhood. Shulevitz, known for his award-winning work in picture books, tells the story of his family’s escape from Poland in 1938 after their home was destroyed by Nazi bombs. This first-hand account covers his life from age 4 to 14, as the family travels through Poland to a work camp in the Soviet Union, then finally, at the war’s end, to Paris. This story of survival against all odds is illustrated by the author and is as brutal as it is inspiring. Grade 4 and up.
Soontornvat, Christina. All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team.
When the 13 members of the Wild Boars soccer team decided to explore some caves after practice, they never dreamed that they would soon be trapped deep below the ground with no way out. The book chronicles the 18 days that the boys and their coach spent underground and the herculean efforts that were made to rescue them. A pageturner that combines science, spectacular photographs, cultural insight and heart stopping suspense into a story that readers won’t want to put down! Grade 5 and up
Woodson, Jacqueline. Before the Ever After.
In this novel in verse, ZJ’s larger-than-life father, a football star, is suffering from the results of traumatic brain injury - and ZJ and his family now have to deal with a tragic condition that will never get better. ZJ’s enduring love for his dad and the support he gets from his three best friends help him deal with the new ever after – but the outcome is ultimately heartbreaking. There’s a lot to talk about here. Are some sports worth it? What kind of price do we expect athletes to pay? Grade 5 and up.