In a recent newsletter, I shared that I’ve been in a reading slump. Big time. Sometimes, to snap me out of it, I read different genres — or gasp, adult books. You should see my to-read pile of middle-grade books that I still need to read and review…
But here are six that I’ve recently read and think you’ll want to know about, too.
Middle-Grade Books I’ve Read This Month
Super Jake & the King of Chaos by Naomi Milliner
Ethan’s story is messy and beautiful. He loves his family, especially his little brother Jake who, because of a neurological disorder, doesn’t talk or move on his own. Ethan struggles to balance his own wants and needs with the reality of his brother’s often life-threatening illnesses and constant care. Based on the author’s family situation, this feels genuinely authentic and important.
Riverland by Fran Wilde
MAGICAL REALISM/ ABUSE
I couldn’t put this heartbreaking story down. Sisters in an abusive home life survive by keeping their situation hidden and frequently hiding under older sister Eleanor’s bed. But then a river appears under her bed, taking the girls on a harrowing journey of nightmares and danger in a world called Riverland. Their story shows their fear and helplessness turning into courage and empowerment. The symbolism and their situation would be great to discuss in a book club.
Spark by Sarah Beth Durst
Mina is a quiet girl lives in a country that relies on storm dragons to create perfect weather. When Mina is matched to a lightning dragon, she gets to go to a training school where she unexpectedly learns that her country’s weather dragons are creating killer storms in neighboring countries. Despite her quiet nature, she finds a way to be heard by her friends and then her peers and then the entire country. Not only is this a very enjoyable story, but I also love how it’s about a quiet character who is powerful and makes a difference.
The Missing Piece of Charlie O’Reilly by Rebecca K.S. Asari
A story of forgiveness, redemption, and family. Charlie’s brother is missing and he’s the only one who even remembers that his brother existed. The new baseball coach reveals that he was one of the missing boys and he will show Charlie and his best friend, Ana, what is going on but that to save Charlie’s brother, they’ll both be forgotten, too. In a magically enchanted mansion with a creepy lady who thinks Charlie is her son, they find kids who have felt so badly for something that they wished their lives away. I’m sure this will spark many important discussions!
Tree of Dreams by Laura Resau
Resau’s written a thought-provoking story for readers ages 8 – 12 that illuminates the ongoing destruction in the Amazon while simultaneously being relatable to readers and showing the hopeful possibilities of people working together for change. After winning a chocolate cooking contest, chocolate-expert Coco and her former best friend, Leo, travel with their dear family friend, Gali, and their mothers to cacao farm in a remote area in the Ecuadorian Amazon. Coco and Leo rekindle their friendship and realize that they’re both having significant dreams from the Ceiba Tree who tells them, “Within my roots, treasure awaits.” Their search for the tree’s treasure gives them the bigger picture of the destructive and dangerous logging for oil which is destroying the natural resources and villages.
The True History of Lyndon B Hawkins by Gail Shepherd