10 New Middle-Grade Books, June 2018
Front Desk by Kelly Yang
COMING-OF-AGE / INCLUSION
Survivor Diaries: Avalanche! by Terry Lynn Johnson
If you like short, fast adventures, try this interesting survival story about twins who get caught in an avalanche. How they survive, well, that’s the story. I think this series will entice many reluctant readers.
The Legend of Greg by Chris Rylander
I can see this book appealing to boys who like fantasy stories and underdog stories. When his father is attacked by a TROLL, Greg is surprised to learn that trolls and elves and dwarfs exist. And that he’s a dwarf and his BFF is the elf lord’s son, and elves are the enemies of the dwarves. Whoa. Greg moves underground for safety and warrior training where he learns about the history and many failures of the dwarves. He also learns that his dad finally found the magic hidden from the magical races for centuries. Greg will need to rescue his dad, find the magic, and hopefully stop the war with the elves.
Just Under the Clouds by Melissa Sarno
COMING-OF-AGE / HOMELESSNESS
This is a coming-of-age story about what makes a home, family, and friends. Cora is responsible for her little sister, Adare, while her mom works. Cora loves climbing and trees but doesn’t love not having a home or any friends. When their mom takes them to stay with an old friend, it finally feels like a home. And she makes a friend at school, one who understands what it’s like to not have a permanent home because she lives in a houseboat. Moving and well-written.
The Memory of Forgotten Things by Kat Zhang
COMING-OF-AGE / MAGICAL REALISM / GRIEF
If you like magical realism, you’ll love this story about friends who have memories that don’t exist in their world. They discover that there are multiple worlds but ones with slightly different storylines. Sophia misses her mom who died so much, she decides to leave her world to go to one where her mom is still alive. Once she gets there, things are not what she expected. Interesting!
Junior Ninja Champion: The Competition Begins by Catherine Hapka
ACTION / SPORTS
Surprisingly, I actually liked the plot of this short chapter book. It follows the lives of five kids who all end up on a team to compete in a kid’s version of the Ninja Warrior TV show. It’s fast-paced and interesting with more books to come.
The Ostrich and Other Lost Things by Beth Hautala
AUTISM SPECTRUM / COMING-OF-AGE
Olivia is tired of how much attention her brother Jacob gets — because he’s on the autism spectrum and has special needs. She wants something of her own, without Jacob, but not even the play of Peter Pan is only hers. This coming-of-age story addresses the difficulties siblings face when they have a brother or sister with special needs as well as growing into who you are.
The Incredible Magic of Being by Katherine Erskine
I didn’t realize until the ending that this book wasn’t entirely realistic. The plot is about a boy named Julian whose moms move he and his sister to rural Maine to open a B&B where he helps his grumpy neighbor grieve for his late wife. Erskine is a skilled writer who crafts compelling characters.
Dreaming Dangerous by Lauren DeStefano
A fast-paced story about a group of Extraordinary kids who live at a special school, this mystery is a bit predictable yet remains entertaining enough to recommend for a fun summer escape read.
Disney’s Daring Dreamers Club: Milla Takes Charge by Erin Soderberg
I’m not totally sold on the concept of this book series. It’s about older girls who relate their lives to the Disney princesses for a class assignment and build strong bonds of friendship. Do you think your 9 – 12-year-old kids would relate? If so, give this a try. I liked that it was told from the perspectives of five different friends yet I’ll admit to feeling like the diversity of the group including a Muslim and a girl with two moms was a bit too contrived.
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