In this list, you’ll find books that entertain, books that put us in another person’s shoes, and books that push us to think deeply. For example, Avi’s Loyalty is a book that now, a few weeks after I read it, is still on my mind. See what reading flavor your readers want to try from this new book list.
Historical fiction, science fiction, mystery, and more — these are the best middle-grade books that I’ve read this month.
Omar Rising by Aisha Saeed
Incredible writing about one (scholarship) boy’s fight to stay in a prestigious private school, this is a superb book of determination, resiliency, and community set in Pakistan. Omar gets a scholarship to attend a prestigious Pakistani boarding school, a step in fulfilling his dream of becoming an astronomer and buying his mom a house. But, his hopes are dashed when he’s told that scholarship students must work, must get A+ grades, and can’t do sports or clubs. Omar is grateful for his new friends and teachers but he’s worried he’ll lose it all so he studies all the time, even asking for tutoring help from the strict headmaster. Despite his efforts, his grades aren’t enough and he gets kicked out. But, that’s not the end of the story. He shares his story with his classmates and they support him with a walk-out to protest the unfair treatment of scholarship students and the headmaster gets the boar to change their mind, and the rules.
The Supernatural Society by Rex Ogle
When Will’s parents get divorced, he moves to a new town where he sees monsters. Everywhere. From the crossing guard to the librarians, his town is filled with monsters that no one else can see except his neighbor girl because of a mysterious ring. When the town’s pets go missing, including Will’s dog, he and his sibling neighbors Ivy and Linus know it’s up to them to find them. This involves solving ciphers, evading the witches, and thwarting a vampire veterinarian. Narrated by a chatty and hilarious narrator, this spooky adventure with fantastic characters is one you won’t be able to put down.
Loyalty by Avi
HISTORICAL FICTION – REVOLUTIONARY WAR
Noah’s loyalist dad is killed from being tarred and feathered so his mom takes the family to an uncle’s house in Boston. There, to be loyal to his dad’s beliefs in the Crown, he becomes a spy at a tavern run by a free Black man named Jolla. Jolla opens Noah’s eyes to the hypocrisy of the Sons of Liberty who want freedom for themselves but not for slaves and the British Loyalists who own slaves and forcibly use slaves as soldiers. Noah realizes he needs to think for himself about to whom he is loyal — but it’s not an easy choice. Avi does an incredible job showing Noah’s inner turmoil and sharing the historical setting and events, this would be a great book club book!
The Swallowtail Legacy Wreck at Ada’s Reef by Michael D. Bell
Lark’s grieving the loss of her mom and adjusting to life with her new cobbled-together family while spending the summer on Swallowtail Island where she’s attending soccer camp and working for her mom’s friend who is a journalist searching for the truth to an old boating accident and missing will. Despite being able to predict the ending that confirms their suspicions, it’s an interesting journey as she pieces together the clues with a heart-warming character arc.
Area 51 Interns: Alien Summer by James S. Murray and Carsen Smith
It’s the first day of summer vacation and Viv and her friends’ parents are “taking their kids to work”–at Area 51. It starts off boring and touristy but when aliens escape from their cells, the kids see the real facility and watch as the adults get captured by aliens. Viv and her friends must find a way to get to the alien ship and save their parents and other kids. It’s an exciting, fast-paced, kids-as-heroes alien adventure with a big twist…
The Weeping Tide by Amanda Foody (Wilderlore Book 2)
The cool world-building in this series continues with attacking sea Beasts and deadly island-consuming algae. The Guardians and their apprentices gather to find a solution — but old rivalries put the apprentices’ new friendships and loyalties to the test. Not only that but Barclay feels unsure about his place with the other apprentices. Yet, he continues to learn and try to solve the mysterious attacks. More adventure, a shocking twist, and genuine character growth make this second book of the series a winning continuation of the series. (Book 1: The Accidental Apprentice)
Forbidden City by James Ponti (City Spies Book 3)
Action-packed as usual, this third book gives us our favorite spies, nuclear missiles, and espionage with themes of friendship, identity, and family. The City Spies need to help a North Korean nuclear scientist defect to the UK before he’s stolen by Umbra. It’s a group effort but Paris takes the lead. He competes in a chess tournament with the scientist’s son, hoping to communicate with chess moves and help them escape during a pop concert with Sydney’s insider help. Of course, it doesn’t go as planned — and it makes for an exciting twisty-turney adventure. (Book 1: City Spies)
Freewater by Amina Luqman-Dawson
Told from many different, well-developed characters’ points of view, this is a historical fiction story about the plantations with their abuse and enslavement contrasted with the thriving swamp community of Freewater filled with formerly enslaved people and some freeborn children, loosely based on the history of maroon communities in the South. There are many intertwined story threads including escaped children, Freewater residents, and the plantation owner’s daughter that weave together for a hopeful ending.
Otto: A Palindrama by Jon Agee
HUMOR / GRAPHIC NOVEL
Hilarious and brilliant, this is a crazy adventure story told ONLY in illustrations and palindromes. I found it clever, surprising, and humorous. Will kids love it as much as I do? If they like humor and words, then yes!
Abby In Between by Megan E. Bryant
Abby’s best-friend cousin moves to California, her mom gets a full-time job, and she is forced to do an after-school running club. To make matters even harder, she notices breast buds and other signs of puberty. Also, Abby learns about a girl living in her car and becomes concerned about the homeless. So she’s thrilled there’s a running race to support a Tiny Village for the homeless and develops an actual interest in running that she didn’t have when she first started. Through these experiences, Abby learns that middle school changes and puberty aren’t a bad thing– just a new thing.