26 New Middle Grade Books for Kids, May & June 2020

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Is this list to long? Because holy moly do I have a TON a new middle grade and YA books to share with you!
All of these books, I’ve read and recommend. My very favorites are indicated with a star.


Legacy and the Queen
by Annie Matthew, created by Kobe Bryant
Not only is this book beautifully executed with a fuzzy cover, full-color illustrations, and lovely border details, but the uniquely imagined story is also beautifully written and 100% enchanting.
Legacy lives at an orphanage with her father and the other orphans but she longs to compete in tennis. When she gets the chance, she leaves to try out for the country’s elite tennis academy. Once she’s there, Legacy’s country background makes her an outcast but that also helps her discover two true friends, her inner magical power, and the dangerous truth of what’s actually going on at the Academy. I loved this unexpected but delightful combination of tennis and fantasy and can’t wait until the next book!

Curse of the Night Witch
by Alex Aster
Tor wishes for a different gift and ends up with a curse instead prompting he and two friends to leave their homes to search for the evil Night Witch to break it. Along the way, the friends encounter new lands, people, and dangerous monsters. Interspersed through the story are myths from their culture that may be actually give them a map to find the Night Witch. I love the myths, the adventure, and the very surprising ending.

The Girl Who Speaks Bear
by Sophie Anderson
When Yanka’s legs turn into hair bear legs and paws, she leaves her foster mother’s home in the village to find answers in the forest. Her quest for answers leads her to a wolf she met as a baby bear, a Yaga girl and mom and thier house on chicken legs, her grandmother, the Bear Tsarina, and eventually, a dangerous task to kill a dragon and save the wish tree so that Yanka can ask for her friend Sasha’s life to be spared.. It’s a Russian-folktale-infused story with themes of family, belonging, identify, selflessness, and the power of stories that transports readers on an epic hero’s journey.

The Way to Rio Luna
by Zoraida Cordova
Danny’s latest foster home is not good, even worse without his beloved sister who’s been missing for two years. Danny mostly still believes in magic and his sister’s promise to be waiting for him in the land of Rio Luna. On a field trip to the New York Public Library, he sees magical arrows pointing him to the original Rio Luna book of fairy tales. With the help of a new friend, Glory and Glory’s aunt, they all set off on an epic adventure to follow the magical signs that only Danny can see– to find Rio Luna and hopefully, Danny’s sister. Mysteries, magic, magical creatures, monsters, stories, and betrayal, this heart-stopping fantasy adventure will keep you up all night reading.

The Gryphon’s Lair (A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying)
by Kelley Armstrong
An absolutely wonderful adventure that I enjoyed even more than the first book!! I love how the monster hunter teaches kindness and empathy  towards all creatures, even monsters, and that friendship leads to achieving your goals. This story is about the dangerous journey to return a baby gryphon into the wild— and it’s epic.

The Ruby Princess Runs Away
by Jahnna N. Malcom
Roxanne, the Red Princess doesn’t feel ready to rule so she runs away just before her coronation. She stumbles upon a plot to put an imposter Red Princess on the throne. She also meets kindly people who help her to understand that ruling isn’t about being ready but about kindness and friendship. With this new perspective, Roxanne returns to the palace and stops the imposter from stealing her crown. A charming wholesome story in a new series that will appeal to readers ages 7 to 10 who love princesses.

Enchanter’s Child
by Angie Sage
Enchanters are outlawed in this country where Alex lives with a foster mom and sisters. Her malicious foster sister reports to authorities that Alex is illegally using Enchanted cards, cards that she’s had since she was abandoned as a baby. Alex, her foster mom, and her other sister barely escape but they’re not safe. Meanwhile, Alex’s real father is no longer in prison and decides to finally look for his daughter. The complex plot is filled with exciting and dangerous events bringing the compelling main characters to the oracles and…the king who wants to kill them.

The Court of Miracles
by Kester Grant
YA ages 13+
I loved this story so much! Eponine (Nina) is a survivor thanks to the protection of her older sister. But when her dad sells her older sister into prostitution, Nina knows she has to save her sister. This sends her to a new, dangerous guild for protection and alliances. While she works for the guild as a thief, she  cares for a new orphan named Cosette, and makes plans to save her sister –no matter the cost…Intrigue, adventure, and an unpredictable plot make this a new YA favorite. And did I mention, it’s set in the world of Les Miserables!?

Science Fiction and STEM

Finn and the Intergalactic Lunchbox
by Michael Buckley
A kooky but entertaining adventure involving good and bad aliens, a secret weapon to defeat the bug bad guys, and a malfunctioning robot. A secret weapon to defeat the bug bad guys gets stuck in a lunch box and partially attached to Finn. The robot wants to bring it back to the Resistance but he’ll have to take Finn with him. Wormholes, betrayal, and a fight to save the Earth will appeal to adventurous kids who love science fiction.

Dragon Vs. Unicorns: Kate the Chemist
by Dr. Kate Biberdorf with Hillary Homzie
Exciting from the first page (a fire breathing science experiment!!), this awesome new STEM chapter book series is hard to put down. There’s lots happening in Kate’s busy life every day but no matter if she’s dealing with science, the school play, or friends, she’s a determined problem solver. When she tries to figure out who is sabotaging the school musical, it’s going to take all her skills to find the culprit.

Mystery & Adventure

Connect the Dots
by Keith Calabrese
Middle school is even weirder when a girl named Matilda arrives. She starts hanging out with Oliver and his friend, soon noticing that explains that suspicious men in SUVs are following Oliver everywhere. The friends realize that there’s something suspicious with Oliver’s mom’s new job and boyfriend and that the bad guys are searching for reclusive antisocial genius, Preston Oglethorpe, who went to high school with Oliver’s mom. The kids find Preston by figuring out how he used the Butterfly Effect to connect people but they’re not out of danger yet because someone is about to get kidnapped. A puzzling, entertaining mystery with a heart-warming message of human connection!

The Amelia Six
by Kristin L. Gray
Six standout girls are invited to the historic childhood home of Amelia Earhart to spend the night. Their sleep over turns into a mystery when famous valuable goggles disappear. As the girls search, they form a bond that helps them navigate the clues, a poisoning, and getting locked in the basement. The story is interesting enough to hold readers’ attention and is filled with fascinating Amelia Earhart trivia.

The Unadoptables
by Hana Tooke
This started out a little slow but once it got going, the story hooked me! 5 older orphans escape an adoption from an unscrupulous ship captain and use clues to find Milou’s long-lost parents. When they arrive at the location, there are no adults there so the kids make a puppet dad to trick the neighbors. To earn money for their illegal adoption, they plan a big puppet show. Meanwhile, the ship captain is searching for them — and won’t give up easily. An enthralling adventure with heroic, problem-solving kids!

Tornado Brain
by Cat Patrick
When 7th grade Frankie’s former best friend, Colette, vanishes, Frankie begins to look for clues on her own. As she does, we see how complicated it is to be in her brain. Loud noises, changes, touch, and so many things affect her intensely. Frankie realizes that Colette was trying to finish the list of dares that they made up when they were younger. The mystery of Colette’s whereabouts keeps every moment of the story suspenseful. Frankie and her twin sister piece together Colette’s last known locations. As they do, it helps Frankie accept herself and forgive Colette and her sister. It’s a brilliant, touching first person story that gives us insights into a neurodivergent character’s brain in a suspenseful mystery story.


Trowbridge Road
by Marcella Pixley
Heartbreakingly sad, this is a beautiful story of misfit friends set in the 1980s. Both are lost and emotionally abandoned children who become friends when Ziggy’s abandoned at his grandmother’s house the neighborhood. June Bug’s mom suffers from severe mental disorders including fear of germs ever since June Bug’s dad died of AIDS. She doesn’t get out of bed, she doesn’t cook, and she’s obsessive about cleanliness. June Bug is starving because there’s no food in the house but she doesn’t want to tell anyone, even her uncle. Luckily, Ziggy’s Nana Jean notices and offers June Bug love, food, and safety. deeply connected to these survivor kids. The friends’s imaginary world helps them deal with the neighborhood bullies and family troubles. It’s a complex story with friendship, love, and redemption despite the pain of abandonment and the effects of mental illness.
Sara wants to be cured of her mental illnesses and be “normal” like other kids so she makes rules for herself. Among other diagnoses, Sara is bipolar for which she blames herself. She hates her out-of-control brain and feels like nobody can help. Meanwhile, she begins group therapy where she makes a friend; a friend who is covered in hidden bruises. Sara and Erin think of themselves as Star Children, kids alien DNA. It’s profoundly sad to witness Sara’s self-loathing yet her still hoping for a better tomorrow. Sara begins to realize she wants to change her inner dialogue and accept herself. For readers, it’s a valuable opportunity to see inside Sara’s mind and how painful it is to have an invisible disease. It won’t make you think like her but will give you compassion.

The Startup Squad
by Brian Weisfeld and Nicole C. Kear
Resa’s class gets put into groups for a lemonade stand competition and Resa gets paired with her best friend, Didi, and a new girl named Amelia. Unfortunately, Resa demands to be in charge of everything and their communication problems affect how their team is doing in the competition. Even though their team don’t win, the girls, especially Resa, learn the importance of teamwork and listening to all ideas. It’s a great book for showing kids about entrepreneurship and communication.

Katerina Ballerina
by Tiler Peck and Kyle Harris, illustrated by Sumiti Collina
An earnest young girl loves ballet but since her dad can’t afford lessons, she watches YouTube videos and practices in her room. After a disastrous talent shows Katerina’s dad her bravery, Katrina’s dad stretches the budget for lessons. It’s not a great start though– she shows up in red swimming suit and homemade tutu! But she makes a friend who helps her learn ballet terms and adjust to formal classes. As Katrina becomes more serious in her dancing, a competition reminds Katrina that she needs to balance both working hard and enjoying dancing.

Stepping Stones
by Lucy Knisley
After her parents’ divorce, Jen moves to a farm with her mom and her mom’s boyfriend whose kids visit on the weekends. It’s a huge transition — she doesn’t love how bossy and whiney her stepsisters are and how annoying her mom’s boyfriend is. But she loves the chicks she takes care of and the farmer’s market.  Well, she loves it until her math skills aren’t good enough to be helpful. This story gently shows the ups and downs of living with a new family in a new place.

The One and Only Bob
by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Patricia Castelao
(This is the sequel to award-winning, The One and Only Ivan…I think you could read this independently but it would be richer if you read it after the first book.) A slow start but once we get into the meat of the story, it’s absolutely captivating…Bob’s now living in a home with the girl from the mall but he’s restless and insecure, believing he has nothing inside to match his outside bravado; that he’s a fraud. When Bob visits his friends Ivan and Ruby at the zoo, a hurricane hits. Animals are on the loose, there’s flooding, Ivan is trapped under a building, and Bob can’t find his people. As Ivan says, there’s one and only Bob to help rescue everyone. Surprisingly, his search and rescue involves his long lost sister and her puppy.  Sweet, redemptive, and adventurous, this is a story of a dog who finds himself while searching for others.

Santiago’s Road Home
by Alexandra Diaz
Santiago is thrown out of his cruel tia’s home in rural Mexico with nowhere to go except back to an even worse grandmother. But, Santiago unexpectedly meets a kind woman and her daughter who let him join with on their journey to el Norte. Santiago is a keen survivor and helps them find a trustworthy coyote but their group is attacked and must find the route without their coyote’s help. The heat and lack of water almost kill them, he and his adopted little sister are rescued half dead and taken to an internment camp where they’re separated. He learns that his sister is reunited with her mom but without papers or any way to prove he’s related to them, he’s confined for endless, hopeless days with guards who treat him like a criminal. He learns to read until the school funding is cut. Will Santiago get a happy ending? This book is amazing — unflinchingly honest about the situation of illegal immigrants with a heroic main characters who you’ll love.

The Next Great Jane
by K.L. Going
Wow, the pacing just clips along in this interesting small town story filled with science and a passion for writing. Likable Jane lives with her scientist father in a small Maine town and wants to be a writer like Jane Austin. But when her self-centered, actress mom swoops into town asking for custody, Jane gets worried that her life will change for the worse. Meanwhile, a famous writer moves to town with her kids, one of whom becomes Jane’s science partner. It’s a complicated, warm-hearted, and wonderful slice of life story that you’ll won’t want to end.

Orphan Eleven
by Gennifer Choldenko
Lucy runs away from the orphanage with three other kids. They’re helped by other former orphans, one who works for the circus and tries to find the kids a place with the circus. But it’s hard for Lucy to find an apprenticeship because she won’t talk. She loves the elephants and hopes she can work with them — but she’ll need to find her voice. In a horrifying series of memories, we learn that Lucy was one of many orphans used in cruel experiments to create a stutter in someone who didn’t previously stutter. She’ll find her inner strength to overcome the past in this atmospheric, circus-life story with a happy ending.

Home Home
by Lisa Allen-Agostini
YA ages 13+
Kayla’s moved from Trinidad to Canada with her aunt after a depressive episode and suicide attempt. She’s experiencing debilitating anxiety and self-loathing, making trips to the mall or a restaurant almost impossible. Her aunt and her aunt’s girlfriend are very understanding and patient which makes a huge difference in Kayla’s recovery. In therapy and her journal, she writes about the difficult relationship she has with a mother who wants her to be smart and pretty, not sick. It also helps when she befriends a good-natured boy named Josh who understands depression. His understanding, along with her aunts’ loving acceptance, helps Kayla come to terms with her illness. Her story feels honest, relatable, and important.
“Find me on Twinkl’s TBR list of best books and bookish bloggers!” 



Could You Survive The Ice Age?
by Blake Hoena
31 choices and 14 endings make this interactive choose your own adventure a full exploration of the Ice Age! A great choose-your-own adventure with a very cool setting in history. Also read: Could You Survive the Cretaceous Period?

Rebel Spy
by Veronica Rossi
YA ages 13+
Frannie escapes from her cruel stepfather in the Bahamas and in a shipwreck opportunity, assumes the identity of a high society lady named Emmeline Coates. It takes careful observation to learn how to be a true lady but she’s successful, living safely in New York where she decides to use her wealth and position to help spy for the Patriots against the Loyalists. Action, suspense, and history — this is a wonderfully imagined adventure based on the life of a real rebel spy during the Revolutionary War.
26 incredible new chapter books for kids (spring 2020)
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  1. Hi, Melissa!
    Just a suggestion to all the readers out there…
    It is important to read The One and Only Ivan book before you read The One and Only Bob book. The One and Only Ivan book was our favorite book this year in my 2nd grade classroom! In addition, we were lucky enough to attend a musical play of this story, and it was the best play we have seen in awhile! Almost of all of my students purchased the book from Scholastic. This story will move you.

    1. Do you think so? I thought it could be read separately. Although, I’ve read Ivan probably 4 times so maybe I’m taking it for granted that I know the story. Thank you for commenting. I’ll add something about that in the review.