You know those (expensive) subscription book boxes? My kids love getting the goodies that come with the books. So I thought why make your own book box gift… Give your children a book plus a related bookish gift. Fun, right? You’ll see suggestions for each of the books. (Let me know what you think about this idea in the comments.)
Best Children’s Chapter Books of 2017
Zoey and Sassasfras: Dragons and Marshmallows by Asia Citro, illustrated by Marion Lindsay
FANTASY / STEM
I love this beginning chapter book because it’s entertaining, well-written, has the coolest mix of science and magic, a diverse main character, and fantastic illustrations. When her mom leaves town, Zoey is in charge of listening for the special doorbell that indicates a magical animal needs help. Soon, a tiny, sick dragon arrives. Zoey uses the scientific method to figure out how to help the little dragon that she names Marshmallow. Kids won’t even realize they’re learning STEM information because it’s such a fantastic plot.
See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng
Luminous and heartfelt, 11-year-old Alex Petroski’s story will grab your heart and expand it. His dream is to launch a rocket into space with his iPod of recordings about life on earth. The story is a transcription of what he records on the iPod — his solo journey to the rocket convention, the interesting people he befriends on the way and there, his trip Las Vegas to find information about his deceased father, and his unique, innocent perspective that tries to make sense of the the world.
Refugee by Alan Gratz
HISTORICAL / CURRENT EVENTS
Timeless Diego and the Rangers of the Vastlantic by Armand Baltazar
Podkin One-Ear The Legend Begins by Kieran Larwood
The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig
The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
This beguiling story of Whichwood (which can be read independent of the first novel, Furthermore) captures the humanity of loneliness, love, and life’s purpose. It’s the story of a mordeshoor girl named Laylee with magic over the dead. She’s all alone, with corpses piling up, and a time limit before the corpses go looking for new skins. Two young strangers appear on Laylee’s doorstep to help. They’ll mostly fail. But they get a second chance with help from a buggy friend and thousands of reanimated corpses. It’s not your average story, it’s better. Not to mention, Mafi’s prose takes you on a journey of it’s own — absolutely exquisite word-smithing.
All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson
REALISTIC / GRAPHIC NOVEL
Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams – Garcia
The Van Gogh Deception by Deron Hicks
MYSTERY / ADVENTURE
Written like an adult suspense novel, this is one of the best edge-of-your-seat mystery books for middle grade that I’ve ever read. A boy with no memory is found at the National Gallery staring at a Degas sculpture. Strangely, this boy knows a great deal about art and artists. After he’s put in foster care, we learn he’s being hunted by a team of professional bad guys. The boy, Art, and his foster sister, escape from several kidnapping attempts and begin to unravel who he is and what’s going on as they race around Washington D.C. Tweens will love the absolutely fantastic plot plus the QR codes embedded throughout the book showing the artwork mentioned.