You’re going to love this list of new middle grade books — action, mystery, fantasy, realistic, and historical. There’s a good book here for almost every interest. Dive in and see what you’ll want to read first. There are SO many excellent choices, I don’t even know what to recommend first.
New Chapter Books Fall 2016
Framed! A T.O.A.S.T. Mystery by James Ponti MYSTERY (ages 8 – 12)
Captivating from the first page, 12- year old Florian Bates uses his brilliant, observing brain to implement T.O.A.S.T. (the Theory of All Small Things) to notice things that others have missed. Including the FBI when there’s a art heist at the museum his mother works at. The FBI hires him to help unravel a mysterious art heist which he does with the help of his best friend, Margaret. Fast-paced and interesting.
Furthermore by Tahereh Mafi FANTASY (ages 8 – 12)
Magic and color are closely linked in her world. Only Alice has no color in her skin or hair. And her Father has been missing for years making her even more sad. She travels with a boy named Oliver to a different magical land in order to find and rescue her Father. But the rules are wildly different and the inhabitants eat people for their magic. Even though Oliver and Alice start their quest at odds, the many challenges join them in a solid friendship. Furthermore is a uniquely creative plot that is so well written, you won’t want it to end. (This book is on my BEST BOOKS OF 2016 list!)
The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill FANTASY (ages 8 – 12)
Wonderfully crafted and imagined, this is a fairy tale of sorts about a good witch who rescues a town’s abandoned (the town thinks sacrificed) babies and gives them to another town to love. Except one baby who she adopts for her own; a special baby named Luna who is accidentally infused with moon magic. It’s also the story of the baby’s magical, bereaved mother, a wicked witch who feeds off sorrow, a woodcarver who wants justice, and most of all, Luna.
Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier GRAPHIC NOVEL / REALISTIC (ages 8 – 12)
Catrina’s little sister, Maya, is sick with cystic fibrosis. A ghost tour outing with a neighbor boy sends Maya to the hospital. Cat feels guilt and fear for her sister, knowing that her sister’s lungs will never get better. But as the neighbor introduces Cat to the beautiful Day of the Dead celebration, Cat starts to see death and life differently. Beautifully written and illustrated, this story deftly deals with big issues in an interesting, unique way.
Snow White: A Graphic Novel by Matt Phelan GRAPHIC NOVEL / FAIRY TALE (ages 10+)
I adore this reimagining of Snow White set in New York City in the 20s. Snow White’s dad is a Wall Street king, her stepmother is a Zigfield Follies star, and her seven small protectors are street kids. It’s SO interesting how Phelan uses this historical setting to animate a familiar fairy tale. The black and white illustrations set the tone for this dark story with a happy ending. (This book is on my BEST BOOKS OF 2016 list!)
Addison Cooke and the Treasure of the Incas by Jonathan W. Stokes ADVENTURE (ages 8 – 12)
I thoroughly enjoyed this action-packed adventure story. Addison and Molly’s archeologist aunt and uncle are kidnapped for their specialized knowledge about the Incas and their famed, hidden treasure. But the kidnappers have underestimated the persistence and brilliance of Addison and Molly who, with their friends, pursue the treasure and their aunt and uncle.
The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz, illustrated by Hatem Aly ADVENTURE / HISTORY / FANTASY (ages 8 – 12)
This is the story of three children in medieval France and tackles big issues such as faith, God, prejudice, friendship, and family. The writing, the story, the characters, and the themes all pack a big punch adding up to a compelling novel that will make you think deeply and leave you changed. (Sensitive readers: there are a few swear words and two scenes with a lot of blood.) LONGER REVIEW HERE. (This book is on my BEST BOOKS OF 2016 list!)
Diary of an 8-Bit Warrior by Cube Kid, illustrated by Saboten ADVENTURE / SCI-FI (ages 7 – 12)
Runt is a 12-year old with real problems. He doesn’t want to be a typical villager with the typical boring life. He wants to be a warrior like Steve. So he’s excited when his school finally agrees that the villagers might need warriors to fight back against the nightly attacks. When Steve loses everything and moves in with Runt’s family, Runt hopes that Steve will help with warrior training. But it’s a guy named Mike whose in the village jail that helps because Steve is too depressed. Runt’s a relatable, mostly serious, character who just wants a different life — like most kids his age and is competing for a dream opportunity.
The Evil Wizard Smallbone by Deliz Sherman FANTASY (ages 8 – 12)
Runaway, Nick, leaves his horrible uncle’s only to get stuck with an evil wizard who calls him foxkin and won’t let him leave. If he tries anything against the rules, Nick gets turned into something– a spider and a rock, for example. Once he’s resigned to his new life, Nick finds a lot to like, especially learning magic from the wizard’s books and then helping the wizard protect the Smallbone town from the Evil Wizard Fidelou. This is a magical story about kindness, friendship, and growing up. (With a little Dread Pirate Roberts twist thrown in at the end!)
Nightmare Escape Dream Jumper by Greg Grunberg GRAPHIC NOVEL / FANTASY (ages 8 – 12)
Ben discovers that he’s a dream jumper, meaning he can jump into the dreams of other people. So he does because his friends aren’t waking up and he can help. Once in the dream world, Ben is helped by a curious talking rabbit who turns out to be his grandfather. The story ends on a cliff hanger when we find out the evil monster capturing people in their dreams is working for someone else, someone who has been banned from the awake world . . .
Cloud and Wallfish by Anne Nesbet HISTORICAL (ages 10+)
I was hooked by this mysterious plot about a boy named Noah whose parents one day tell him they’re moving to East Germany, he has a different name and birthdate, and they must never talk about what’s going on or what they really feel. It’s 1989. Once there, Noah who is now called Jonah meets a sad little girl named Claudia. While there are some plot holes that are never addressed, this story gives us a glimpse into the fearful environment of this communist country just before the Berlin Wall comes down.
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