Fiction Grades 4-6

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Please note that although these are suggested for grades 4-6, many of them are most suitable for the 'middle school' grades of 5-8. Others can be used in primary grades, especially if read aloud to students. Some picture books are included when their content makes them most suitable for use with upper elementary students.

Also, don't miss the excellent 'novels in verse' in the Poetry section. Some of the strongest children's novels in recent years have been published in this form.

Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix

  • In a future where the Population Police enforce the law limiting a family to only two children, Luke has lived all his twelve years in isolation and fear on his family's farm, until another "third" convinces him that the government is wrong. Used in a unit about politics' also obvious connections to China's one-child policy. (10/07)

Anastasia Krupnik by Lois Lowry

  • A delightful story for grades 3+ about 10-year-old Anastasia and all the 'things she loves' and the 'things she hates' - including the prospect that her parents are about to have a baby. A humourous and believable story that girls of a similar age will relate to, and it's the first of a series that follows Anastasia as she grows. (02/07)

Because of Winn-Dixie" by Kate DiCamillo

Benny and Omar by Eoin Colfer

  • Benny is very upset when his family moves from Ireland to Tunisia, until he meets Omar and they discover that they can communicate using 'TV talk' English. Both funny and touching, and might be usable with grade three Social Studies, although would probably have to be read aloud. (10/07)

The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

  • The moving story of Parvana, a young Afghan girl, forced to disguise herself as a boy and work so that her family can survive under the brutal regime of the Taliban. Insight into current events and women’s issues in a very good read that’s proven popular with upper-elementary students.(11/06)

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

  • Keep your kleenex handy as you read the ending of this deeply moving book about the growing friendship between Jess and Leslie, as they meet in their secret hiding place of Terabithia. A classic award-winning title rich in imagery and imagination. One class viewed the recent movie made from it and compared the strengths and weaknesses of the two formats.(02/07)

Bumface by Morris Gleitzman

  • The ‘kid appeal’ of the title is obvious! 12 year old Angus is the put-upon eldest child of a divorced mother. Great character development, and fluid writing style. Upper elementary/Junior High.

Captain Arsenio: Inventions and (Mis)adventures in Flight by Pablo Bernasconi

  • A humourous imaginative account of many failed attempts to create a flying maching in the 1780s, told as if from the pages of a 'recently discovered diary.' Used with grade 5/6 for unit about flight, because it does have science content and engages children in thinking about what does make flight possible.(02/08)

The Capture by Kathryn Lasky

  • The first book in the popular Guardians of Ga'Hoole series about a young barn own named Soren, who gets captured and taken away to the St. Aegolius Academy for Orphaned Owls, where he becomes part of a group of friends who try to liberate themselves. Fast-paced and a strong good against evil theme, with analogies to Nazism in the 'pure owls' endeavour to eliminate the unpure. Suitable for grade 5-8. Likely to be popular with those who like Kenneth Oppel's Sunwing series and the Warriors series.(12/06)

Champ by Marica Thornton Jones (not in Doucette)

  • Riley is awful at sports but his dad won't let him give up. When an injured dog comes into his life, he ends up teaching Riley some lessons about life. Described as a compelling read for Division 2, and usable in Division 1 as a read-aloud because of the themes it addresses. (09/08)

Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett

  • The adventure is when seemingly unrelated events lead two eleven-year-olds to solve an international art scandal, but the interest for teachers may be in the teacher’s methods and the use of pentominoes. (well received by grade six students)

The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

  • A fondly remembered story about a group of children, entranced by the study of ancient Egypt, who play their own Egypt game and become involved in a murder.

Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

  • A hugely popular book about a girl with an unusual gift. A retold fairy tale and very popular with Grades 4 (Grade 3 advanced readers) on up - and big people , too. Ella is a great heroine in a very spirited fairy tale with a twist. (02/08)

Everything on a Waffle by Polly Horvath

  • Primrose Squarp knows her parents did not perish at sea but, for the time being, she is an orphan and must live with her Uncle Jack. For sanctuary she visits the local restaurant where everything is served on a waffle, even lasagna. A novel with fascinating characters.

Finders Keepers by Andrea Spalding

  • Set in Alberta in the area around Head-Smashed-In-Buffalo Jump. Ties into units about the prairies, and also rocks and minerals. Danny runs away from school one day and meets Joshua, a Peigan boy out on the prairie who teaches him about Indian life in the past and new ways to handle problems at school.(10/07)

Firegirl by Tony Abbott

  • A story about differences and looking beyond the superficial to what someone is about. A badly burned girl enrolls at school for the duration of time that she is receiving treatment at a nearby hospital. She is shunned by the class and terrible rumours are spread about her - but Tom tries to see beyond her exterior and discovers some interesting things in the process. Better for upper grades (grade 5 - 8). (O2/08)

The Giver by Lois Lowry

  • In a futuristic community in which the landscape is completely controlled and each person is assigned a specific role, 12-year-old Jonas is apprenticed to The Giver who keeps the collective memories of the society. He grows increasingly aware of the hypocrisy that rules his world. There are two companions books: Gathering Blue which takes place in a different community at the same time, about a crippled girl and her role ; and Messenger in which we remeet Jonah from the first book, as a grown man, and also catch up with characters from second book. (01/07)

Ghost Train by Paul Yee

  • A young Chinese girl finally comes to join her father who has been in Canada building the transcontinental railway, but when she gets there, she learns of his death. He appears to her in a dream, asking her to paint him on the train he built, and as she does this we see the toil and sorrow of the men who died far from home building it. A beautifully illustrated picture book that could probably better be used in upper elementary. (01/07)

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

  • New and lonely in his small Florida town Roy is intrigued by a barefoot boy running by the bus, and gets involved in his attempt to save a colony of burrowing owls from a developer. Being read to grade 3 class, but also popular with grade 7/8.

House of the Wooden Santas by Kevin Major

  • A book to read aloud with one child, or a class, throughout the month of December. Each chapter counts down one more day until Christmas and one more day in which 9-year-old Jesse adjusts to his new life in a small Maritime village and gradually makes friends with a classmate who originally tormented him, while his mother tries to earn a living carving and selling wooden Santas - one for each day and chapter. Illustrated with photos of the great Santas created by Cape Breton carver Imelda George.(12/06)

Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks

  • A nine-year-old boy receives a plastic Indian, a cupboard, and a little key for his birthday and finds himself involved in adventure when the Indian comes to life in the cupboard and befriends him. Being done as a grade-four novel study. Good message but beware of the stereotyping. (01/07)

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

  • A story within a story, about a father Mo, who has the power to read book characters to life. This ability sets Mo and his daughter Meggie on the run from one of the characters who wants an immortal monster read out of the story to get rid of his enemies. The adventure revolves around their attempts to escape the monster and find the author, so that a new ending may be written. Part one of a three part trilogy - part two is Inkspell (not available in Doucette) and part three is Inkdeath (not yet published, but coming soon!!). (02/08)

Into the Wild by Erin Hunter (not in the Doucette)

  • Highly recommended by a bright grade three girl and her grade seven brother. This is the first of the hugely popular Warriors series about a housecat who becomes part of a clan of feral cats and joins in their battles against the other clans. Usually recommended for upper elementary/junior high. Likely to be popular with those who like the Guardians of Ga'Hooole and Kenneth Oppel's Sunwing series.(12/06)

The Invention of Hugo Cabret : a novel in words and pictures by Brian Selznick

  • Winner of the 2008 Caldecott Medal, this book combines both words and pictures to tell the story of a young orphaned boy who lives in the wall of a train station and attempts to bring to life an automaton, found by his recently deceased father. This is an intriguing mystery, with a series of suspenseful events, told in charcoal drawings. (04/04/08)

Iqbal by Francesco D’Adamo

  • Used with grade 4. A novel based on the true story of Iqbal Masih, a Pakistani boy who tried to resist the child labour of Pakistan’s rug factories. His courage gave hope to the other overworked and abused children working in the factory. and his story inspired the work of another 12 year old - Canada’s Craig Kielburger.(12/05)

Julie's Wolf Pack by Jean Craighead George

  • Continues the story introduced in the Newbery-winning Julie of the Wolves. Here the focus is even more strongly on the wolves although Julie, as a grown-woman, retains a connection to the pack. Julie's relationship with wolves in these books is somewhat stretched but these are very real, and well-researched animal stories that deal with real issues. (01/07)

Leon and the Spitting Image by Allen Kurzweil

  • Leon, a fourth grader at The Ethical School, tries to survive fourth grade despite his teacher, Miss Hagmeyer, and his archenemy, Lumpkin the Pumpkin. Luckily, Leon has friends who will stand by him even if his magical plans for rescue and revenge involve spit. Appealed to a reluctant reader in grade 3.

Love-Lies-Bleeding by Barbara Haworth-Attard

  • This story, told in diary format, of life on the 'home front' in Canada during World War II, is made more poignant by the author's inclusion of segments of letters written by her father during his six years of Canadian military service in Europe. Well-written, with a believable young protagonist who struggles with the usual issues of adolescence against a background of war. This book may particularly resonant now in the face of Canada's involvement in the fighting in Afghanistan. Readers of this book will also enjoy 'The Sky is Falling.' (10/07)

Matilda by Roald Dahl

  • Matilda applies her untapped mental powers to rid the school of the evil, child-hating headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, and restore her nice teacher, Miss Honey, to financial security. Very memorable. Adults sometimes worry about it. Kids love the subversiveness and may enjoy "Leon and the Spitting Image" for the same reason. (01/07)

Millions By Frank Cottrell Boyce

  • What would you do if you suddenly became rich? Some bags of money on the way to be destroyed fall into the hands of two brothers and presents them with an interesting dilemma. Poses some good questions for kids who have often dreamed about what they would do if they found a lot of money. (02/08)

Minstrel’s Daughter by Linda Smith

  • In the fantasy land of Freya, Catrina sets out on a quest to find her father, but when she seeks helps from an apprentice wizard her own age, the spell goes awry - and she’s changed into a cat. Nominated for children’s choice book awards in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and B.C. The first book of the Tale of Three Lands trilogy, and set in the same fantasy land as the author's earlier Freyan Trilogy, which begins with Windshifter. Upper elementary/junior high. (12/06)

Morning Girl by Michael Dorris

  • The lives of a girl and her brother in pre-Columbian America just at the time of Columbus’ arrival. The strong connections between the sister and brother and their parents make their lives very real, so it's a wonderful choice for a Social Studies unit on the so-called 'discovery' of the Americas. Upper elementary to junior high. (Grade 3 if reading aloud..) (12/05)

Mr Maxwell’s Mouse by Frank Asch, illus. by David Asch

  • Lunching at an upscale restaurant for cats, Mr Maxwell decides to celebrate his promotion by ordering a live mouse, who proceeds to engage him a conversation, and convinces him to wear a blindfold – with dire results for Mr Maxwell. A picture book whose humour is probably most suitable for upper elementary.

Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert O'Brien

  • Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse with four small children, must move her family immediately, or face almost certain death, but her youngest son is very ill. It's the highly intelligent Rats of NIMH who come up with a brilliant solution. Grad 3+. Participant recently re-read this book from her childhood and still enjoyed it and thinks you could do things with it connected to civilization. Won the 1972 Newbery Medal. (01/07)

My Friend the Enemy by J.B. Cheaney

  • Set in the United States, during World War II, a twelve-year-old girl develops a friendship with a young Japanese-American boy she discovers being sheltered and hidden by her neighbor, even though she's always worried about whether she should trust him. For the Japanese-Canadian perspective on this part of history, see 'Namoi's Road'. (10/07)

Naomi's Road by Joy Kogawa

  • Like Kogawa's adult book Obasan, this children's story about a young Japanese Canadian girl during World War II raised many questions about race, politics and war, but it also speaks to persistence and a belief in good. Combines exquisite verbal imagery and a few strong black and white drawings to create a powerful story. Obvious Social Studies connections but also a strong choice for Language Arts. (03/07)

Number devil: A mathematical adventure by Hans Magnus Enzensberger

  • The number devil visits twelve-year-old Robert in his dreams and math becomes an adventure. A great introduction to different math concepts: participant used in grade five classroom as a springboard to math topics.(12/05)

Orphan at my Door: The Home Child Diary of Victoria Cope by Jean Little

  • One of the most successful of Scholastic's 'Dear Canada' series of stories written in diary form and set in different periods of Canadian history. Through the eyes of eleven-year-old Victoria, whose family acquires a 'Bernardo child', we learn about the plight of these orphans sent from Britain to work for Canadian families in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Jean Little is one of Canada's best authors of children's fiction,and this is an award-winning novel, readable both as a good story and to provide insight into an aspect of Canadian history for Social Studies. (03/07)

Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

  • When 10-year-old Milo drives into a toy tollbooth he finds himself in a land like no other where he meets the Mathemagician, the not-so-wicked "which", and Faintly Macabre. For a teacher it has possibilities for use in almost any subject, given the way it plays with words, ideas and math concepts. A classic! (03/07)

Pink and Say by Patricia Polacco

  • Based on a true story about two young soldiers, one white and one black, during the American Civil War. When wounded Say is rescued by Pink and goes to his home, he comes to understand his friend's vision of freedom, which resonates with him long after Pink is hung by Confederate maurauders. Picture book format but more suitable for upper elementary. (02/07)

Project Mulberry by Linda Sue Park

  • While working on a project for a science fair, a Korean American girl and her friend Patrick learn not just about science and silkworms, but also about tolerance, prejudice, friendship, and patience. Between the chapters are short dialogues between the author and main character about the writing of the book, so it could be used as an aid to teaching about writing as well as about science processes. (01/07)

Ramona the Brave by Beverly Cleary

  • A reminder that sometimes the classics still work best. Although this was originally published in the 1970s, Ramona and her family are so real and true-to-life that the story is as fresh, humorous and relevant as ever for today’s children. And there’s the added benefit that there’s a whole series of Ramona books.

Red Goodwin by John Wilson

  • After his father's death in World War I young Will Ryan is sent to live with his uncle, a coal mine manager on Vancouver Island, and he encounters the real historical figure of Albert 'Ginger' Goodwin. Goodwin's attempts to organize the coal miners lead the government to attempt to conscript him for war service, dispite his lung problems, and eventually to his death at the hands of hired private policemen. Wilson specializes in writing historical stories, often set in wars, especially for boys and this book is both a good read and an interesting look at a little known part of Canada's labour history.(12/06)

Rose Blanche by Roberto Innocenti

  • A young German schoolgirl follows some soldiers as they arrest a boy - and discovers a concentration camp in the woods near her town. She begins to bring the prisoners food until their town is liberated. This is a simple story, told with few words and wonderful pictures - but its subject matter could be highly emotional. Rose Blanche was also the name of a non-violent resistance group during Hitler's regime. (02/08)

Shadow Spinner by Susan Fletcher

  • The story of Shahrazad, told by Marjan, a young girl who must help Shahrazad find stories as she is running out of tales to tell the Sultan. Marjan sneaks from the harem and travels the streets of the city to find these tales. In doing so,Marjan becomes the centre of her own story, one she never could have imagined. (02/08)

Shadows of Disaster by Cathy Beveridge

  • Jolene and her grandfather go through a time crease and find themselves in the coalmining town of Frank in 1903 at the time of the famous rock slide. Well written and a great preparation for trip to the Frank Slide museum. This Calgary author has also written a book that goes back to 1917 and the Halifax explosion.(12/06)

Shi-shi-etko by Nicola Campbell

  • A simply told picture book about a young native girl who collects memories of her own community as she prepares to go away to residential school. The poignancy comes from our own realization of how residential school deliberately disconnected aboriginal children from their roots. Could be used with children of various ages, but might best connect to the new grade four social studies curriculum. (01/07)

Silverwing by Kenneth Oppel

  • When a newborn bat named Shade but sometimes called 'Runt' becomes separated from his colony during migration, he grows in ways that prepare him for even greater journeys. This fast-paced adverture story is an award-winning book that would appeal to all ages, and has popular sequels in Sunwing and Firewing. Those who like it might also like the Warriors and the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series.(12/06)

The Sky is Falling by Kit Pearson

  • The first volume in the award-winning 'Guests of War' trilogy, introduces Norah and her five-year old brother Gavin as German bombs start falling on England, and their parents decide to send them to Canada for the duration of the Second World War. Upper elementary students, both boys and girls, will be engrossed this well told story and its sequels. Another book set in Canada during the war is 'Love-Lies-Bleeding'.(10/07)

Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

  • “From the author of "Because of Winn-Dixie" comes a fairy tale full of quirky, unforgettable characters, narrated by DiCamillo's trademark humor and heartbreaking poignancy.” Upper elementary. Done as a novel study with grade 6 – Mr Maxwell’s Mouse might be a good accompaniment.

Time Cat by Lloyd Alexander (not in the Doucette though many of his books are)

  • A cat who can experience his nine lives through different time periods of history learns to be satisfied with his own life as he travels. Alexander may be best known for his popular five-part humorous fantasy series, the Prydain Chronicles, which begins with The Book of Three. (01/07)

Tom's Midnight Garden by Philippa Pearce

  • Away from his own home, a lonely boy wakes when the clock strikes thirteen and wanders out of the house to find himself in a Victorian garden, where he meets a young girl. This is a classic work of children's literature that haunts readers years after they first read it. (01/07)

Travels of Thelonious by Susan Schade and Jon Buller

  • This story, told in both graphic and conventional format, is about Thelonious Chipmunk, a young chipmunk who believes in the existence of humans in a world where their existence is in legend only. His home (and him with it) is swept away during a rainstorm and he ends up in the City of Ruins, where he meets several companions, who help him find his way back home. The story is told in alternating chapters of prose and comic book format and is a nice alternative for those who are new to graphic novels - and those who are not sure about graphic novels as a format. (04/04/2008)

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

  • The Tuck family is confronted with an agonizing situation when they discover that a ten-year-old girl and a malicious stranger now share their secret about a spring whose water prevents one from ever growing old. Themes of life, family and love. Beware the movie with its misplaced emphasis on romantic love. (02/07)

Van Gogh Café by Cythia Rylant

  • The Van Gogh Café was formerly a theatre, and some of the old theatre magic seems still to be present as ten-year-old Clare and her father, the café owner, witness everyday miracles where broken hearts mend and dreams come true. A charming and whimsical story.(11/06)

The Wanderer by Sharon Creech

  • 13 year old Sophie joins her three uncles and two cousins as they sail across the Atlantic. The story reveals itself through travel log entries, written mostly by Sophie, and is about negotiating life's pressures and relationships. (04/04/2008)

The Watsons go to Birmingham – 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis

  • When the oldest boy of a Flint, Michigan family starts acting-out, the family drives to Alabama to take him to his grandmother – and arrives in time for the historical bombing of a church in which four little black girls were killed.

Where in the World by Marie-Francine Hébert; illus. by Janice Nadeau

  • A powerful and disturbing picture book, whose illustrations won the Governor General’s Award for French language picture books. It could take place any place or any time, when a child’s world is turned upside-down because her family is being driven from their home. For older children or even adults.

Within a Painted Past by Hazel Hutchins

  • One day on her summer holiday in Canmore, Allison notices there is snow falling out of the painting in her room! When she goes to investigate, she finds herself stepping right through the picture - and into 1898. Alberta setting and could do lots with it in the clasroom: journaling, writing their own ending. Author is from Canmore and does terrific presentations to students in classrooms. (01/07)

Winter of Peril: The Newfoundland Diary of Sophhie Loveridge by Jan Andrews

  • In 1721, Sophe's father decides to take his family to Newfoundland so that he can write a book and Sophie uses her diary to describe the voyage across the ocean, the fishing and the struggle to survive a harsh winter. This book in the popular 'Dear Canada' series began a Canadian history timeline for this class, with various students taking out other books in the series.(10/07)

The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman

  • A picture book but probably more suited to upper elementary because the intensity of the artwork makes this story of a little girl who’s not believed when she hears wolves in the walls into a quite frightening tale – even though there’s also aspects of humour when the wolves turn out to be afraid of people too.

Zebra Wall by Keven Henkes

  • Ten-year-old Adine is the oldest of five girls, each of whose names starts with the next letter of the alphabet, so when a new baby girl is expected the family fills the nursery wall with words starting with ‘f’ – but the new baby is a boy and Adine’s life is further complicated when eccentric Aunt Irene comes to stay. Ages 8-9.

Nicholas by René Goscinny; translated from Le Petit Nicolas (not in Doucette)

  • A 1959 French classic about a mischievous schoolboy and his friends, finally translated into English this year. Upper elementary. In comic book format in French, there are similar schoolboy characters found in the series L'élève Ducobu by Zidron & Godi. (12/05)


Emile and the detectives by Erich Kastner (not in Doucette)

  • A classic,originally published in German as 'Emil und die Detektive' in 1929, very popular in translations in French and English - although having read it in French, the English version seems badly translated. (12/05)

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

  • Having run away to hide in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Claudia and her brother also run into a mystery about the museum’s newest sculpture. A Newbery Medal classic and good choice for grade six 'evidence and investigation' unit tie-in.

The Ghost In The Tokaido Inn by Dorothy & Thomas Hoobler

  • The 14-year-old son of a tea merchant in 18th-century Japan follows the trail of a missing gem, in a tale full of suspense and period details - might create connections to the Social Studies unit on Japan as well as to the Science evidence and investigation unit in grade six. Sequel is In Darkness Death in which young Seikei becomes involved with a ninja as he helps Judge Ooka, his foster father, investigate the murder of a samurai.(12/06)

Sammy Keyes series by Wendelin Van Draanen

  • There’s now at least five books in this enjoyable mystery series.

Thieves of Ostia by Caroline Lawrence

  • Takes place in the Roman port city of Ostia in the year A.D. 79 as a group of children try to determine who beheaded a dog. Fast-paced, good historical details and plausible clues, according to the reviews. Good link to grade six "evidence and investigation' unit.

Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

  • " I, Samuel W. Westing, here by swear that I did not die of natural causes. My life was taken from me-by one of you!". One of the sixteen heirs is a murderer! Using word clues, the heirs must find the name of Westing's murderer. Newbery Award winner. The Tattooed Potato and Other Clues by Raskin is also fun.

Non-fiction Grades K-3 Fiction K-3 (Picture Books)
Non-fiction Grades 4-6 plus Fiction K-3 (Chapter Books)
Youth Non Fiction Grades 7 and up Fiction Grades 4-6
Poetry/Novels in Poetry Youth Fiction Grades 7 and up
Suitable for All Grades Young Adult Grades 10 - 12
Books suitable for French Immersion Students
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