Happy November, book-loving friends! Today I’m sharing with you some amazing new middle-grade books for your 9 – 12-year-old readers. You’ll notice I’ve starred my favorites that are contenders for my best of 2019 list. But all these books are incredible so even the books I didn’t star are totally worth reading.
Written from many different voices about one day in history, readers easily can see the massive amount of cooperation, planning. and troops from different countries involved in D-Day (when the Allies invaded France at Normandy.) We hear from an American teenager soldier who was born in Germany, a French Algerian girl whose mom is a recently captured spy, a Canadian paratrooper who lands in the wrong spot, a female reporter, and an American black medic. It’s violent and disheartening yet despite terrible losses, racism, and injuries, the fighters persist despite everything to accomplish their goal — to take back the area for the Allies. What an incredibly powerful retelling of this day just right for middle-grade readers.
Tender, eye-opening, and heartfelt — this is the story of a foster kid named Red and her journey of abandonment, growing up, empowerment, and finding a family.
Now that her grandmother is dead and her mom’s in jail, Red is in the foster care
system with Celine and Jackson Grooves, kind-hearted people who run a petting zoo and treat Red as a welcome member of the family. Understandably, Red is mistrustful and prickly at first with everyone but the Grooves’ gigantic tortoise. This bond is the first step in unthawing Red’s broken heart. Soon, she becomes friends with a neighbor boy and starts developing a relationship with the Grooves. Unexpectedly, her mother announces that now that’s she’s out of jail, she wants visitation. Red is thrilled and conflicted. But she so badly wants her mom to love her that she’s willing to overlook her mom’s self-centered behaviors. Then Red notices the signs that her mother is using drugs again. She must make the hardest decision of her life…to tell the truth about her mom and pick her own family or not say anything. Readers will walk away from Red’s story with a profound sense of hope and love. It’s absolutely beautiful.
Rowan wants to be a Monster Hunter instead of the future queen. When tragedy strikes her brother, she gets her chance to switch roles and become the Royal Monster Slayer with her aunt with her brother as king. Unfortunately, she must face and kill a gryphon soon or her scheming uncle will get the throne instead. The story is an exciting adventure filled with surprises, mythical creatures, and new friendships. It’s not a cliff-hanger but it does leave the door open for another book. (I can’t wait!)
The author skillfully weaves an important, heartfelt story about growing up, family, and finding your identity in the context of adoption, historical maltreatment of Native Americans, and the mystery of your own heritage. Edie’s mom is an adopted Native American who can’t trace her heritage. When Edie unexpectedly finds a box of photos and letters from the woman she suspects was her mom’s birth mother, it prompts a journey to discover the truth of her heritage. And the truth is not what she expects but it opens her eyes (and ours) to the unjust but common practices that happened throughout U.S. history of taking Native kids away from their birth parents; parents whose only crime was being Native. While this book doesn’t specifically call us to advocacy, I think after reading it, you’ll be motivated to do something — even if it’s just to learn more about this time in history if not find ways you can make the world more fair for all people.
Sam’s sleepwalking has gotten so bad (chainsawing while asleep?!) that her mom finally takes her to an unorthodox doctor who unexpectedly helps her. The doctor detaches Sam’s soul so she can live the two lives she was mean to live — one in the daytime and one at nighttime — instead of one desperate, haunted life without sleep. Sam learns that she’s not the only Sleep Waker and that the personalities of Sleep Wakers are the opposite of their daytime selves. But she doesn’t want to believe the worst about the nicest girl in school, Madalynn who uses terror and manipulation to control her creepy followers. What else will you find in this compelling new story? A cute boy, a soul-stealing evil doctor, a manipulative bully, backstories that influence everything, and a girl just trying to find her place in this nighttime world. Very entertaining.
Set during World War II when the superheroes have vanished from the skies, a young girl named Josie O’Malley still believes that her beloved superheros will come back. Until then, she’s excited to apply for the job of a puzzler to help the war effort. She doesn’t get the job but she does meet two girls who discover that when they’re together, they transform into superheroes with amazing powers! Using their new superhero powers, they’re asked to uncover a spy ring and protect a secret computer from the Nazis. Don’t miss this exciting, girl-power adventure of good vs. evil!
Ten short stories tell about the lives of different kids after their middle school day ends. With complex backstories and incredible depth of character development, Reynold’s fiction feels truthful… so much so that I’m so very glad that I’m not in middle school anymore. What kinds of topics are these kids dealing with? Bullying, fear of dogs, parents who have cancer, stealing, comedian goals, OCD, skateboarding, and friendships. Some stories are funny, some are serious, all ring true.
Ember is a fire dragon whose adoptive father spelled to look like a girl to keep her safe. When she keeps bursting into flame, she’s sent to Antarctica to live with her aunt. There, she decides to sabotage an ice dragon hunt, makes her first real friends, and change the dragons’ destiny.
If you like dragon stories
, you’ll enjoy this magical adventure.
Bernice Buttman, Model Citizen
by Niki Lenz
This genuinely sweet story about a girl who goes from a bully to a trying-to-do-better model citizen will make you laugh and warm your heart.
When Bernice’s mom sends Bernice to live with her nun aunt, it’s a chance for this former bully without any friends except the town’s librarian, to reform her mean-spirited ways. Bernice does it — she makes a friend, becomes nicer, and finds an unexpected home with the nuns.