Middle-Grade Paperbacks for the New School Year

The 47 People You'll Meet in Middle School

The 47 People You'll Meet in Middle School By Kristin Mahoney

Getting ready to start middle school? Well, you'll need to know what to expect. Get to know every person you'll meet and how they can help (and who to stay away from!).

"Mahoney authentically captures the universal indignities of middle school, the challenges of self-discovery, and the joy of making true friends." --Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

Dear Lou,
You've been asking and asking about what middle school is like, but I just thought they were annoying-younger-sister questions. Even though I am almost done with my first year, I can still remember when I thought middle school was a mystery, so I'll try to give you a leg up. I know middle school is a lot to figure out. But since I still haven't worked it all out yet, I'm happy to help as much as I can. That's what big sisters are for.
Love, Gus

Discover the ins and outs of middle school in this guide from an older sister to her younger sister. From tackling a new building to meeting new people like the assistant principal, the class pet, the Huggers, the renegade, the tomato kid, your old best friend's new best friend, this is a must-read for everyone starting middle school.

With wit and warmth, Kristin Mahoney, author of Annie's Life in Lists, delivers heartwarming, pitch-perfect advice, ideal for anyone nervously approaching middle school.

The Boy at the Back of the Class

The Boy at the Back of the Class By Onjali Q. Raúf

In the vein of timely titles such as Katherine Applegate's Wishtree and Alan Gratz's Refugee comes a touching, accessible middle-grade debut about the ongoing Syrian refugee crisis, as well as the life-changing power of friendship and standing as an ally.

There used to be an empty chair at the back of Mrs. Khan's classroom, but on the third Tuesday of the school year a new kid fills it: nine-year-old Ahmet, a Syrian refugee. The whole class is curious about this new boy--he doesn't seem to smile, and he doesn't talk much. But after learning that Ahmet fled a Very Real War" and was separated from his family along the way, a determined group of his classmates band together to concoct the Greatest Idea in the World--a magnificent plan to reunite Ahmet with his loved ones.

Balancing humor and heart, this relatable story about the refugee crisis from the perspective of kids highlights the community-changing potential of standing as an ally and reminds readers that everyone deserves a place to call home.

Overall Winner of the 2019 Waterstones Children's Book Prize
Winner of the 2019 Blue Peter Book Award

"Tearjerking and chuckle-inducing. . . . Above all it celebrates the power of kindness." --The Sunday Post (Scotland)

"Inspiring and sweet. . . . This is a beautiful, open-hearted debut from Onjali Q Raúf that should help children be the best they can be and realise the power of kindness." --BookTrust (UK)

"An engaging exploration of the refugee crisis through the eyes of a child." --Readings (Australia)

The Perfect Star

The Perfect Star By Rob Buyea

Return to Lake View Middle School in the third book of the PERFECT SCORE series from the beloved author of Because of Mr. Terupt.

Eighth grade promises to be an unforgettable year of tears, laughter, surprises, and star power.

GAVIN's days of football glory have arrived, but an accident on the home front upends his family. Ever enterprising, NATALIE anchors a morning news broadcast at school--where she's unafraid to tackle big issues. Being on the outs with his best friend sucks, but the more TREVOR tries to patch things up, the worse things get. Sidelined with a gymnastics injury, RANDI develops a bad attitude and worries that her mom's new boyfriend means changes she won't like. SCOTT discovers hidden talents . . . and becomes a secret weapon on and off the football field.

It's the final year of middle school--a time to play hard, smart, and together!

Silver Meadows Summer

Silver Meadows Summer By Emma Otheguy

"Beautiful and wise, [this] is a gem of a book." --Adam Gidwitz, Newbery Honor-winning author of The Inquisitor's Tale

Just right for fans of Pam Muñoz Ryan, this story of moving out and moving on is a touching portrayal of the experience of leaving one's home country and making new friends--sometimes where least expected.


Eleven-year-old Carolina's summer--and life as she knows it--is upended when Papi loses his job, and she and her family must move from Puerto Rico to her Tía Cuca and Uncle Porter's house in upstate New York. Now Carolina must attend Silver Meadows camp, where her bossy older cousin Gabriela rules the social scene.

Just as Carolina worries she'll have to spend the entire summer in Gabriela's shadow, she makes a friend of her own in Jennifer, a fellow artist. Carolina gets another welcome surprise when she stumbles upon a long-abandoned cottage in the woods near the campsite and immediately sees its potential as a creative haven for making art. There, with Jennifer, Carolina begins to reclaim the parts of the life she loved in Puerto Rico and forget about how her relationship with Mami has changed and how distant Papi has become.

But when the future of Silver Meadows and the cottage is thrown into jeopardy, Carolina and--to everyone's surprise--Gabriela come up with a plan to save them. Will it work?

"A warm depiction of family and of standing up for what you believe in."--Kirkus
"An introspective, character-driven tale that will appeal to artists, introverts, or any child who has felt like an outsider."--SLJ
"With comforting warmth and gentle realism, this is a hopeful exploration of what home means."--The Bulletin