I’ve struggled to find middle grade books this month that held my interest with good writing and compelling plots — so my roundup list is shorter than usual. I abandoned at least ten books in the middle, if not more. That being said, I didn’t read all the books on my shelves — and am trying to find a solution to my overwhelm. Because my current workload isn’t sustainable for my health.
Nevertheless, here are four amazing new choices for your readers that I love and think you will, too.
4 New Middle Grade Books, April 2023
My Not-So-Great French Escape by Cliff Burke
Rylan hopes that traveling to work on a farm in France with his former best friend will repair their friendship. But once there, His arrogant friend ditches him. Rylan befriends other international kids at the farm and does things he never imagined including milking a goat named Bijou and growing a garden from scratch. The growth that Rylan experiences is incredible; readers will be cheering him on as he forges his path, experiencing hard-earned, painful truths about his former friend and his absent dad along with finding wonderful new lessons about what he values and who he is.
Leeva at Last by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Matthew Cordell
REALISTIC (illustrated middle grade)
Leeva’s horrible Matilda-like parents ask her sarcastically, What are people for? And Leeva, who isn’t allowed to go to school and does the chores, cooking, and other tasks to help her parents become rich and famous, decides to investigate the question. She discovers the library and books — but more than that, she discovers kind new friends, including the librarian and her grandson and two kids her age. She realizes that people help you not be lonely because they share life with you…and hugs are a nice bonus, too. I love the writing and the message of kindness and good things from books!
Shoshana, her mom, and her siblings flee Jewish persecution in Ukraine in 1905 for North Dakota to a mud house on the plains with her father and brother. But being Jewish isn’t always accepted, even in this new country. And Shoshana wants to fit in so much that she agrees to participate in the Christmas activities. Ultimately, Shoshana learns (with a little help from her sister Libke) to be proud of being Jewish, even when others don’t accept her. Stunning writing with a loveable main character make this a middle grade book that you won’t want to miss.
Felice and the Wailing Woman by Diana López
Felice discovers that her mom is La Llorna, the ghostly spirit trapped between worlds haunting the river near Tres Leches. Felice runs away from her uncle’s house for her hometown of Tres Leches, a strange, magical town filled with myths and curses. She befriends two outcast kids, the Witch Owl’s daughter and the Devil’s son, who help her overcome her fears of water to find her mother. Felice hopes to stop her mother from haunting the river and drowning children. And while the kids are at it, they also free the town from the sinister Bonita’s curses, and the resolution of events is lovely and heartwarming.