Loose Canon helps your school organize independent book choices in your own private ecosystem. With our year to year tracking, your school can offer the most popular titles again the next year. Your students review those books and create the buzz for the next go-round of lit circles or summer reading or SSR. Now is the time to create a culture of excitement around books.

Current research:

A brief round-up of the latest academic research on reading and choice in the classroom.

Loose Canon RecommendsTM:

  • Unclaimed Baggage

    By: Jen Doll
    Recommended for grade(s): 8

    Doris—a lone liberal in a conservative small town—has mostly kept to herself since the terrible waterslide incident a few years ago. Nell had to leave behind her best friends, perfect life, and too-good-to-be-true boyfriend in Chicago to move to Alabama. Grant was the star quarterback and epitome of “Mr. Popular” whose drinking problem has all but destroyed his life. What do these three have in common? A summer job working in a store called Unclaimed Baggage cataloging and selling other people’s lost luggage. Together they find that through friendship, they can unpack some of their own emotional baggage and move on into the future. — From Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

    Where to Find

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  • Here to Stay

    By: Sara Farizan
    Recommended for grade(s): 9, 10

    Bijan Majidi is: Shy around girls. Really into comics. Decent at basketball. Bijan Majidi is not: A terrorist. What happens when a kid who’s flown under the radar for most of high school gets pulled off the bench to make the winning basket in a varsity playoff game? If his name is Bijan Majidi, life is suddenly high fives in the hallways and invitations to exclusive parties—along with an anonymous photo sent by a school cyberbully that makes Bijan look like a terrorist. The administration says they’ll find and punish the culprit. Bijan wants to pretend it never happened. He’s not ashamed of his Middle Eastern heritage; he just doesn’t want to be a poster child for Islamophobia. Lots of classmates rally around Bijan. Others make it clear they don’t want him or anybody who looks like him at their school. But it’s not always easy to tell your enemies from your friends. –from Algonquin Books.

    Where to Find

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  • The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street

    By: Karina Yan Glaser
    Recommended for grade(s): 5

    A modern classic in the making reminiscent of the Penderwicks series, The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street is about the connections we make and the unexpected turns life can take. The Vanderbeekers have always lived in the brownstone on 141st Street. It’s practically another member of the family. So when their reclusive, curmudgeonly landlord decides not to renew their lease, the five siblings have eleven days to do whatever it takes to stay in their beloved home and convince the dreaded Beiderman just how wonderful they are. And all is fair in love and war when it comes to keeping their home. — From Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

    Where to Find

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  • She Rides Shotgun: A Novel

    By: Jordan Harper
    Recommended for grade(s): 11, 12, College Plus

    A propulsive, gritty novel about a girl marked for death who must fight and steal to stay alive, learning from the most frightening man she knows—her father. Eleven-year-old Polly McClusky is shy, too old for the teddy bear she carries with her everywhere, when she is unexpectedly reunited with her father, Nate, fresh out of jail and driving a stolen car. He takes her from the front of her school into a world of robbery, violence, and the constant threat of death. And he does it to save her life. Nate made dangerous enemies in prison—a gang called Aryan Steel has put out a bounty on his head, counting on its members on the outside to finish him off. They’ve already murdered his ex-wife, Polly’s mother. And Polly is their next target. Nate and Polly’s lives soon become a series of narrow misses, of evading the bad guys and the police, of sleepless nights in motels. Out on the lam, Polly is forced to grow up early: with barely any time to mourn her mother, she must learn how to take a punch and pull off a drug-house heist. She finds herself transforming from a shy little girl into a true fighter. Nate, in turn, learns what it’s like to love fiercely and unconditionally—a love he’s never quite felt before. But can their powerful bond transcend the dangerous existence he’s carved out for them? Will they ever be able to live an honest life, free of fear? She Rides Shotgun is a gripping and emotionally wrenching novel that upends even our most long-held expectations about heroes, villains, and victims. Nate takes Polly to save her life, but in the end it m...

    Where to Find

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  • Baddawi

    By: Leila Abdelrazaq
    Recommended for grade(s): 8, 9, 10

    Baddawi is the story of a young boy struggling to find his place in the world. Raised in a refugee camp called Baddawi in northern Lebanon, Ahmad is just one of the many thousands of refugee children born to Palestinians who fled their homeland after the war in 1948 established the state of Israel. In this visually arresting graphic novel, Leila Abdelrazaq explores her father’s childhood in the 1960s and ’70s from a boy’s eye view as he witnesses the world crumbling around him and attempts to carry on, forging his own path in the midst of terrible uncertainty. –From Just World Books

    Where to Find

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  • One Half from the East

    By: Nadia Hashimi
    Recommended for grade(s): 4, 5

    Perfect for fans of Rita Williams-Garcia, Thanhha Lai, and Rebecca Stead, internationally bestselling author Nadia Hashimi’s first novel for young readers is a coming-of-age journey set in modern-day Afghanistan that explores life as a bacha posh—a preteen girl dressed as a boy. Obayda’s family is in need of some good fortune, and her aunt has an idea to bring the family luck—dress Obayda, the youngest of four sisters, as a boy, a bacha posh. Life in this in-between place is confusing, but once Obayda meets another bacha posh, everything changes. Their transformation won’t last forever, though—unless the two best friends can figure out a way to make it stick and make their newfound freedoms endure. –From HarperCollins

    Where to Find

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  • Out Of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets

    By: Kwame Alexander, Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth, Ekua Holmes
    Recommended for grade(s): 3, 4, 5

    Out of gratitude for the poet’s art form, author and poet Kwame Alexander, along with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth, present original poems that pay homage to twenty famed poets who have made the authors’ hearts sing and their minds wonder. Stunning mixed-media images by Ekua Holmes, winner of a Caldecott Honor and a John Steptoe New Talent Illustrator Award, complete the celebration and invite the reader to listen, wonder, and perhaps even pick up a pen.  Coretta Scott King Award Winner 2018  –From Candlewick

    Where to Find

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  • Patina (Track #2)

    By: Jason Reynolds
    Recommended for grade(s): 5, 6

    Ghost. Lu. Patina. Sunny. Four kids from wildly different backgrounds with personalities that are explosive when they clash. But they are also four kids chosen for an elite middle school track teamÑa team that could qualify them for the Junior Olympics if they can get their acts together. They all have a lot to lose, but they also have a lot to prove, not only to each other, but to themselves. Patina, or Patty, runs like a flash. She runs for many reasonsÑto escape the taunts from the kids at the fancy-schmancy new school sheÕs been sent to since she and her little sister had to stop living with their mom. She runs from the reason WHY sheÕs not able to live with her ÒrealÓ mom any more: her mom has The Sugar, and Patty is terrified that the disease that took her momÕs legs will one day take her away forever. So PattyÕs also running for her mom, who canÕt. But can you ever really run away from any of this? As the stress builds up, itÕs building up a pretty bad attitude as well. Coach wonÕt tolerate bad attitude. No day, no way. And now he wants Patty to run relayÉwhere you have to depend on other people? HowÕs she going to do THAT? –From the website at Simon & Schuster

    Where to Find

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  • Shy

    By: Deborah Freedman
    Recommended for grade(s):

    Shy loves birds. He’d love to watch them fly and hear them sing, but he’s only ever read about them in books. . .until a real bird comes along. He’s dying to meet her, but there’s just one problem: Shy is, well, shy–so shy, in fact, that he’s afraid to leave the gutter of the book. Can Shy overcome his fears and venture out onto the page? This sweetly relatable picture book from the acclaimed Deborah Freedman speaks to every child who’s ever felt like hiding instead of facing the daunting world. –From the website at Penguin Random House

    Where to Find

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  • The Hate U Give

    By: Angie Thomas

    ( 3  total ratings )

    Recommended for grade(s): 9, 10, 11

    Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life. ALA and YALSA Top Ten Best Fiction 2018.  2018 Michael Printz Honor Book. 2018.   Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist.  Coretta Scott King Honor Book. –From Balzer + Bray

    Where to Find

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