Middle Grade Chapter Books – New Recommendations

middle grade chapter booksI’m been reading so many great, new middle grade chapter fiction books (chapter books for 9 – 12 year olds)  – about one a day so I could share new titles with you. Here’s what I’m enjoying for Fall 2011.

Middle Grade Chapter Books

middle grade chapter books
The Midnight Zoo
by Sonya Hartnett (Great pick for a Newbery)
Tissue alert – this book made me weep. A lot. Racking sobs, I’m not kidding. It’s a breathtaking story; a fable about life set in Nazi Germany. We follow three Gypsy siblings who have witnessed the capture of their family and friends. While walking and searching for food, they find an abandoned zoo, with talking animals. That’s all I’ll reveal. You NEED to read this beautiful story. It will change your life.

**Teachers, read this chapter book and use it in your middle grade classrooms — it’s rich in allegory, theme, metaphor, imagery . . . I’d consider it for middle and high school more than elementary school.

middle grade chapter books
Vordak the Incomprehensible: Rule the School
by Vordak the Incomprehensible
I laughed out loud while reading this witty book and loved every page of Vordak’s diabolical plan to rule the school. My 5th grade neighbor agrees that it is “really good!” Even the dedication cracked me up — “As some of you may recall, I dedicated my first book to myself. It was brought to my attention that this was a sign of inflated self-importance and extreme egomania — which is why I am also dedicated this book to me.” 

middle grade chapter books
Eggs over Evie

Evie is dealing with her parents divorce, not feeling so great about her dad’s new family-to-be and her mom’s first date. She cooks and starts every chapter with a quote from a famous chef and ends each chapter with a recipe. You’ll enjoy this middle grade chapter book Evie’s journey of self-discovery. 


middle grade chapter books
The Six Crowns: Trundle’s Quest by Allan Jones
I love finding books like this in a series! This fantasy adventure joins Trundle, the hedgehog, who reluctantly joins Esmeralda to find the Six Crowns. A prophecy, pirates, and a quest – it’s actually a great early (not middle grade) chapter book for fantasy fans! 

middle grade chapter books
The Absolute Value of Mike
by Kathryn Erskine (Newbery pick for me.)
If you only read one middle grade book this year, make it this one. It’s so powerful and stuck with me for weeks. (Kind of like Erskine’s other book, Mockingbird, another deeply moving book.) The title is the only math concept Mike understands — absolute value — a subject in which Mike’s dad wants Mike to excel. Only Mike hates math and when he gets sent to a small town for the summer with distant relatives, Mike learns is true value. 

middle grade chapter books
Secrets of the Crown (The Familiars Book #2)
by Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson
I love this middle grade fantasy book series – and was thrilled that the second book was just as entertaining as the first! So, the animal helpers of magicians, the familiars, must solve the mystery of why humans can no longer perform magic. The three familiars from the first book – Aldwyn, Skylar, and Gilbert, journey across the land and discover secrets about themselves and are shocked to learn who is behind the betrayal of humans. Read how kids can create their own animal familiar. 

middle grade chapter books
The Dagger Quick
by Brian Eames
Young boy, Kitto, must go with his pirate uncle when his dad is murdered. The story is suspenseful as Kitto tries to discover his family’s secret history and survive life among pirates. I loved the action! 

middle grade chapter books
The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic
by Jennifer Trafton
Remember Trafton’s guest post on Imagination Soup? I finally got to her book and couldn’t believe I waited so long! It’s an exciting plot about a ten-year old girl Persimmony Smudge, whose father has disappeared and the king and his men treat the island’s subjects with cruelty. Persimmony and her friends realize that the island is not really an island, but a sleeping giant who might soon awake. 

middle grade chapter books
The Exquisite Corpse Adventure
by Various Authors
A thoroughly entertaining (and crazy) adventure written as a continuing story started by Jon Scieska – I will blog about this in more detail soon. Very fun! 

middle grade chapter books
The Crowfield Curse
by Pat Walsh
Orphan William, servant at an English monastery, saves a Hobgoblin from a trap. While the Hob is recovering, Will learns of a long-kept secret — an archangel is buried nearby and someone very evil is trying to find it. 

middle grade chapter books
8th Grade Superzero 
by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich

I’m in awe of how Rhuday-Perkovich created such a moving story and lovable main character, Reggie McKnight, an unpopular yet thoughtful middle-school student.  I love this book! 

middle grade chapter books
Visconti House
 by Elsbeth Edgar

A moving middle grade mystery chapter book story about two misfits, a boy and girl, who become friends when trying to discover the truth about the Visconti House. 

middle grade chapter books
The Mostly True Story of Jack
by Kelly Barnhill

How come Jack isn’t like other boys? And his mom doesn’t remember who he is? What is the magic happening and how is Jack connected? An enthralling fantasy story with a very satisfying conclusion. 

middle grade chapter books
Heart of the Samurai
by Margi Preus

I loved learning that this chapter book was based on a true story – a must read historical-fiction book. Really interesting and entertaining. It isn’t a 2011 book but I wanted to include it anyway. :) 

middle grade chapter books
Lisel and Po
by Lauren Oliver

Don’t miss the forward, why Oliver wrote this chapter book, it really made the story more impactful for me. I felt the sadness of death so deeply while reading, and the bittersweet beauty in finding closure. 

middle grade chapter books
Okay for Now
by Gary D. Schmidt (I already blogged about this but it’s REALLY amazing! Newbery pick for sure, I hope.)
One of the best chapter books I’ve ever read whose characters I felt deeply connected to. The main character, Doug, is struggling to read while living in poverty with an abusive dad and older brother. What saves him, is the connecting to a librarian who shows him Audobon’s bird paintings – and how to draw. It’s excellent!!!!

MORE LISTS . . .

Goodreads list of popular middle grade fiction books

The Book Smugglers Middle Grade Appreciation Week

The Cybils Middle Grade nominations for 2011

More Book Recommendations

 Wordless Picture Books to Love

 Great Non-Fiction Books, 2011

 Best Picture Books – Spring 2011

  • http://terrylynnjohnson.blogspot.com terry lynn johnson

    what a great list! thanks so much for this. It’s hard to write short blurbs about books like this. Some of these sound amazing! Yay middle grade!

  • :Donna

    Hello :)
    I was glad to come across your site because this is quite a list! I’m an aspiring author and am reading all the time. Recommendations are always welcome since I hate wasting my time reading books that don’t cut it for me. Thanks!

    And, btw, you should follow Vordak on Twitter. He’s hilarious! He also has a funny blog. I think it’s “Ask Vordak.” He’s just too funny :)
    :Donna

    • http://imaginationsoup.net Melissa Taylor

      I will follow him, thanks for the tip. I LOVE his style. :) Glad you found Imagination Soup!!

  • http://wordplayhouse.com wordplayhouse®

    Many middle-grade books are captivating enough even for adults. So, I imagine you’ve been enjoying these reads even though they are geared to children—sometimes I revisit my favorite middle grade books and read them aloud to our children. We haven’t read the Midnight Zoo, but after seeing it here I’d like to—thanks for recommending it!

  • http://PragmaticMom.com PragmaticMom

    These look great! I read the Mostly True Story of Jack … amazing book but my 6th grader didn’t get into it. ditto for Heart of a Samarai. Tough sometimes to find books we both like! I’ll have to read the rest on your list!

    • http://imaginationsoup.net Melissa Taylor

      Jack was an unusual book I thought. Interesting but not for everyone.

  • http://busyteacher.wordpress.com Miss Anderson

    I’m in the middle of Okay for Now and I’m absolutely in love with it. I’m seeing Doug in my interactions with my students already, and it’s making me think differently about those interactions. This is a great list, and I’m glad I already have many of them in my media center (thanks to Junior Library Guild!)

    • http://imaginationsoup.net Melissa Taylor

      Yeah, glad to hear you love it, too. I just felt so connected to him, and his pain – I want a sequel. I’m not ready to let him go . . . :)

  • http://www.melitasmilovic.blogspot.com Melita

    These are great, but you should include Violet Mackerel by Anna Branford. Our whole family is in love with Violet Mackerel.

    • http://imaginationsoup.net Melissa Taylor

      Wow, I’ve never heard of Anna Branford, I think it’s only in Australia because it doesn’t come up on Amazon.com for the states. Sad!!!

  • http://www.theaccidentalnovelist.wordpress.com Danika Dinsmore

    Great list and sadly I have read none of them . . . and I read a lot of MG/YA books!

    Mark page, add to goodreads, reserve at library.

    Thanks for this!

    • http://imaginationsoup.net Melissa Taylor

      I’m like you, Danika! I love good book recommendations and the reserve option at the library. Enjoy!

  • Critters and crayons

    Wow! What work! My kids still have several years before these books are on our shelves but I’m going to bookmark this one. The first book on the gypsies sound intriguing. Thanks!

    • http://imaginationsoup.net Melissa Taylor

      I’d recommend it for you – it’s so beautiful.

  • http://www.staceyloscalzo.com/blog/ Stacey

    What a great list! Can’t wait to dig in to a few of these titles that are new to me :)