13 New, Amazing Middle Grade Books, May 2024

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2024 continues to impress me with amazing new middle grade books. This huge batch of books includes historical fiction, realistic fiction, adventure, graphic novels, and more! Two of these books (And Then Boom, Telephone of the Tree) will make you cry!

Believe it or not, I still have more MG books on my shelf for May and may have to do a second review post. We’ll see how I like them! If I like them enough, I’ll review and share those books, too.

One more thing: These are ALL AMAZING books, but I’m adding stars again to the books that will be on my best book list of 2024 instead of for a book of the month. Due to my time constraints and a lack of interest, I will not be creating any more book of the month activities. Thanks to those of you who downloaded the previous ideas.

New Middle Grade Books, May 2024

And Then Boom by Lisa Fipps
Joe experiences so many bad things that his first person narration takes us on an emotional, difficult journey that sometimes is hard to read. And then, boom! Even more bad things happen. (IKR?) When his mom abandons him again, he lives with his grandma in her trailer home where he’s happy and finally has food. Until,… I’m not going to spoil it for you. But Joe finds kindness from his friends, the manager of the trailer park, and the dog that he rescues. Written in first person verse, And Then, Boom! takes readers on an emotional journey of heartbreak to hope about poverty, friendship, family, kindness, and love.

Code Name Kingfisher written by Liz Kessler
Written from four points of view (which WHAT A FEAT!), this middle grade historical fiction novel is moving, well-written, and fascinating. In the present day, Liv gets a school assignment to research her family history, but her Bubbe, who is in a nursing home, won’t talk about her past. When Liv and her classmate clean out Bubbe’s attic, they discover pieces of Bubbe’s secret past. In the past, Bubbe aka. Mila is a Jewish girl in Holland sent with her sister to live with a Christian family for safety. Mila’s sister writes diary entries about joining the resistance and taking dangerous risks to save Jewish children. Learning about her heritage and how her Bubbe and her sister stood up to the Nazi bullies gives Liv the courage to do the same in the present day. Incredible.

Telephone of the Tree written by Alison McGhee
Tear alert–this book will make you cry SO HARD! Ayla always relied on her friendship with her nonbinary best friend Kiri who is gone. Ayla is waiting for Kiri to get back. When a telephone appears on her tree, she wonders if it’s magic. It seems to help people who stop to talk to their loved ones who have died. Ayla refuses to use the telephone for a long time. When she does accept what happened, it’s heartbreaking to witness her grief.

Jerry Let Me See the Moon written and illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbeler
Illustrated and fast-paced, this unique adventure takes place in a secret city that Jerry’s dad built for were-people. But the full-moon opening ceremony party goes terribly wrong with people’s animal instincts taking over, making the apex predators dangerous to everyone else. Even worse, no one is shifting completely back–they’re stuck partially as animals! This is a BIG problem because a suspicious news crew is trying to uncover the town’s secret. How will Jerry and his new friends solve the problem and keep the weres safe from discovery?

Operation Happy: A World War II Story of Courage, Resilience, and an Unbreakable Bond written by Jenni L. Walsh
Jody’s marine dad moves their family to Hawaii in 1940 to a small island naval base along with Jody’s beloved former military dog named Happy. Jody’s mom is always worried and terrified about something bad happening. When the worst happens, and Pearl Harbor is bombed, Jody, her sister, and her mom are evacuated to San Francisco. There, Jody’s mom stays in bed and is uncommunicative so it’s up to Jody and her sister to take care of themselves. But it’s too much, especially after Happy saves Jody from an attack. The loving relationship with Happy fills this story with sweetness despite the hardships they face. The only criticism I have of this book is that I think it should have included backmatter to address the mention of the Japanese American internment camps, among other topics. Otherwise, I thought it was a good historical fiction book that would appeal to lower grades and sensitive readers who don’t want to read about the violence of war.

Explorer Academy Vela: The Sailor Cipher written by Trudi Trueit, illustrated by Kadijah Khatib
In this new series, we follow Sailor’s adventures on a new and improved boat called Vela. But just as she’s about to start classes, Sailor learns that her sister is missing, and it might be due to her work for a top-secret organization. Despite worrying about her sister, Sailor goes undercover to find the mole in the secret organization, keeps attending classes, and hides her powers of animal communication like her grandmother directed her when she was young. Action, intrigue, and adventure — plus great illustrations and writing make this a stand-out first book of a new must-read series.

The Girl Who Fought Back by Joshua M. Greene
I haven’t watched the entire show to know how age-appropriate it is, but I feel like you could pair this book with the Hulu show “We Were the Lucky Ones.” Comment if you know what ages could watch the show.
This an excellent biograpical story of a Jewish girl who helped the Jewish resistance in Poland. Vladka (her code name) leaves the ghetto to pass for a Christian outside the ghetto walls and work for the Jewish resistance. I learned so much about the divided Jewish factions in the ghetto and the Polish resistance not helping the Jews with weapons. Amazingly, Vladka survived the war and much of what we know about her life, Joshua attributes to her autobiography and many speaking engagements. This is a well-researched, must-read historical biography.

Magnolia Wu Unfolds It All written and illustrated by Chanel Miller
In this charming, illustrated story, Magnolia’s parents own a laundromat in New York City. A new girl named Iris from California suggests that Magnolia find the owners of the lost socks on the (slightly embarrassing) lost sock bulletin board so that’s how the girls spend their days. Magnolia uses her knowledge of their customers to seek out the owners. They learn the backstories and secrets of many people, as well as introduce Iris to the city of New York. Magnolia experiences growing pains in her new friendship but also growth in other relationships in her beautiful, diverse, and kind community.

The Minor Miracle: The Amazing Adventures of Noah Minor written by Meredith Davis, illustrated by Billy Yong
Noah learns he is a gravitas and can train to be an agent to do good in the world. But he also learns that his uncle is a fugitive who wants Noah’s help to unlock the stolen secret Gravitas capsule of agent names. When Noah struggles to learn and control his powers, his frustration leaves an opportunity for his uncle and he’s swayed by his persuasive, manipulative uncle. Luckily, Noah soon realizes his uncle erased his best friend’s memories and really is the bad guy after all. But how will he help his best friend? And stop his uncle? This is an entertaining story of growing up with superpowers and making good choices.

The Monarchs of Winghaven written by Naila Moreira
Sammie loves observing the field she calls “Winghaven,” recording in her journal the flora and fauna she notices. But one day, she finds a boy named Bram at HER spot –a boy who makes her angry by giving her suggestions for improving her drawings. Despite her annoyance, Bram’s nature photography and friendliness win Sammie over. Together, they start a summer-long study of the monarchs who live at Winghaven. When Sammie learns about a shady deal involving the mayor and a developer which would sell the land, destroying the diverse ecosystem, Bram and Sammie must figure out how to save and protect the land. This is a gentle story about nature-loving kids, conservation, advocacy, and friendship.

The Kid written by Jeff Schill
There aren’t too many “Western” stories in middle grade, but this one is everything a Western should be–gunslingers, outlaws, farming, and city slickers plus action and adventure. When Henry’s father dies, Henry worries about losing the family farm and getting separated from his three younger brothers. His solution is inventing a heroic character called The Kid to keep people away from Destiny, Colorado. What he doesn’t know about this stories is that they make money and people think The Kid is real!  In fact, an outlaw called Snake Eye Sam escapes from prison just so he can kill The Kid, traveling closer and closer. Henry and Sam’s stories are joined by the city slicker editor’s story as he travels to meet The Kid. also. He wants more stories. The book culminates with a Western showdown– but it’s a story, not guns, that will save them all. Bravo!

Plain Jane and the Mermaid written by Vera Brosgol
In this story about beauty, real love, and kindness, Jane’s (horrible) parents have died and she’s disinherited from her home unless she gets married. Jane believes she’s in love with a handsome boy. Even though she doesn’t know the boy, she proposes to him right before he’s snatched by a beautiful mermaid. When Jane finds a way to breathe underwater to rescue the boy, she’s captured by a demon and, after escaping, is helped by a level-headed selkie boy who agrees to show her the human-eating mermaid’s location. We hope Jane realizes she isn’t really in love with the handsome boy because the selkie boy is much nicer. First, she’ll have to complete her rescue, and to her surprise, she finds a human in the selkie village that she knows and will change everything! This is a great story with gorgeous art and an important message that will keep any fantasy and middle grade book reader entertained.

Sing It Like Celia written by Mónica Mancillas
I loved this book so much! When Salva’s mom doesn’t come home, her dad brings her to a campground on his work trip where he’s reporting on a woman who is imprisoned because she’s undocumented. Salva feels sad, mad, and scared not knowing about her mom and living with a dad she barely knows. Even still, she meets friends and gets the chance to sing in a band. Like Celia, who keeps on singing even when she’s nervous and afraid, Salva stands up to a mean girl, faces the difficult truth about what happened to her mom, and fights for justice for the incarcerated mom. The writing is outstanding, the emotional arc is moving, and the ending is perfection.

new middle grade books, May 2024

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