The ninth Iowa Children's Choice Award nominee that I chose to read was Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur. This story addresses the age old theme of growing up. Specifically that time period of leaving elementary school behind and entering middle school. In the book it addresses it from Elise's point of view. Elise is a 12 year old girl who is being raised by her aunt and uncle, because her parents are deceased. She struggles with school, friendship, bullies, and her identity. Sometimes you want to shake her, sometimes you want to hug her!
This book would be good for teaching character, setting, theme, problem/solution, and using prior knowledge to connect with the text.
Make sure you check out Suzanne LaFleur's website. She shares some interesting insight into her writing process, which is so important for writers to see!