Middle-grade experiences are universal, which makes these stories wonderful tools to teach social-emotional lessons and provide windows and mirrors to lived experiences, both past and present. These coming of- age tales can help kids navigate unfamiliar and challenging situations by reminding them they are not alone.
Eb & Flow By Kelly J. Baptist
A ten-day suspension has tweens De'Kari and Ebony seeing the world with a fresh perspective. Don't miss this poignant novel in verse from the award-winning author of Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero.
Two kids. One fight. No one thinks they’re wrong.
I don’t even hit girls . . . is what I’m thinking.
I roll my eyes, turn them to my shoes.
Shoes I’ma wear every day till they fall off my feet.
It was all just an accident!
Nobody was trying to mess up
his Stupid Ugly Shoes.
Now I’ve got my third suspension of seventh grade.
Ebony and De’Kari (aka Flow) do not get along. How could they when their cafeteria scuffle ended with De'Kari's ruined shoes, Ebony on the ground, and both of them with ten days of at-home suspension? Now Eb and Flow have two weeks to think about and explain their behavior—to their families, to each other, and ultimately to themselves.
Award-winning author Kelly J. Baptist delivers a novel in verse that follows Eb and Flow as they navigate their parallel lives. Single-parent homes, tight funds, and sibling dynamics provide a balancing act for the growing tweens. And whether they realize it or not, these two have a lot more in common than they think.
Not an Easy Win By Chrystal D. Giles
FOUR STARRED REVIEWS!
Twelve-year old Lawrence is new to chess--can he find a way to get on the board, even though the odds are stacked against him?
Find out in this powerful novel about family, forgiveness, and figuring out who you are when you don’t make the rules—just right for middle-grade fans of Nic Stone and Jason Reynolds.
*“Essential middle grade and tween realistic reading.”—School Library Journal, starred Review
Lawrence is ready for a win. . . .
Nothing’s gone right for Lawrence since he had to move from Charlotte to Larenville, North Carolina, to live with his granny. When Lawrence ends up in one too many fights at his new school, he gets expelled. The fight wasn’t his fault, but since his pop’s been gone, it feels like no one listens to what Lawrence has to say.
Instead of going to school, Lawrence starts spending his days at the rec center, helping out a neighbor who runs a chess program. Some of the kids in the program will be picked to compete in the Charlotte Classic chess tournament. Could this be Lawrence's chance to go home?
Lawrence doesn’t know anything about chess, but something about the center—and the kids there—feels right. Lawrence thought the game was over . . . but does he have more moves left than he thought?
Turtles of the Midnight Moon By María José Fitzgerald
When poachers threaten the island they love, two girls team up to save the turtles—and each other. An eco-mystery with an unforgettable friendship story at its heart from a fresh new voice in middle grade.
Twelve-year-old Barana lives in a coastal village in Honduras, where she spends every spare minute visiting the sea turtles that nest on the beach.
Abby is feeling adrift in sixth grade, trying to figure out who she is and where she belongs after her best friend moved away from New Jersey.
When Abby’s papi plans a work trip to Honduras, she is finally given the opportunity to see his homeland—with Barana as her tour guide. But Barana has other plans: someone has been poaching turtle eggs, and she’s determined to catch them! Before long, Abby and Barana are both consumed by the mystery, chasing down suspects, gathering clues, and staking out the beach in the dead of night. . . . Will they find a way to stop the poachers before it’s too late?
A heart-pounding mystery with a hint of magic, María José Fitzgerald’s debut novel explores the power of friendship, community, and compassion to unite all living creatures.
Once in a Blue Moon By Sharon G. Flake
A beautiful and uplifting novel in verse about family, friendship, journeys that take us far from home and back again, renewed and more courageous from the three-time Coretta Scott King Honor winner of The Skin I'm In!
James Henry used to be brave. He hasn't been the same since that fateful night at the lighthouse when his ma went searching for Dog. Now months later, he feels as small as the space between the numbers on a watch, nervous day and night, barely able to go outside. Even words have a hard time leaving his mouth. The only person he speaks to is Hattie, his courageous twin sister, who fiercely protects him, especially from bullies.
James Henry wants nothing more than to be brave again. However, finding his voice will mean confronting the truth about what happened at the lighthouse-a step James Henry isn't sure he can take. Until a blue moon is forecast, and as Gran has said, everything is possible under a rare blue moon . . .
* "An evocative, immediate novel with compelling characters and a wonderfully well-paced plot." —The Horn Book, starred review
The Eyes and the Impossible By Dave Eggers; illustrated by Shawn Harris
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • From the award-winning author of The Every and the illustrator behind the beloved picture book Her Right Foot comes an endearing and beautifully illustrated story of a dog who unwittingly becomes a hero to a park full of animals.
Johannes, a free dog, lives in an urban park by the sea. His job is to be the Eyes—to see everything that happens within the park and report back to the park’s elders, three ancient Bison. His friends—a seagull, a raccoon, a squirrel, and a pelican—work with him as the Assistant Eyes, observing the humans and other animals who share the park and making sure the Equilibrium is in balance.
But changes are afoot. More humans, including Trouble Travelers, arrive in the park. A new building, containing mysterious and hypnotic rectangles, goes up. And then there are the goats—an actual boatload of goats—who appear, along with a shocking revelation that changes Johannes’s view of the world.
A story about friendship, beauty, liberation, and running very, very fast, The Eyes & the Impossible will make readers of all ages see the world around them in a wholly new way.
Wrecker By Carl Hiaasen
Wrecker needs to deal with smugglers, grave robbers, and pooping iguanas—just as soon as he finishes Zoom school. Welcome to another wild adventure in Carl Hiaasen's Florida!
Valdez Jones VIII calls himself Wrecker because his great-great-great-great-great-grandfather salvaged shipwrecks for a living.
So is it destiny, irony, or just bad luck when Wrecker comes across a speedboat that has run hard aground on a sand flat? The men in the boat don't want Wrecker to call for help—in fact, they'll pay him to forget he ever saw them.
Wrecker would be happy to forget, but he keeps seeing these men all over Key West—at the marina, in the cemetery, even right outside his own door. And now they want more than his silence—they want a lookout.
He'll have to dive deep into their shady dealings to figure out a way to escape this tangled net. . . .
Lasagna Means I Love You By Kate O'Shaughnessy
What are the essential ingredients that make a family? Eleven-year-old Mo is making up her own recipe in this unforgettable story that's a little sweet, a little sour, and totally delicious.
Nan was all the family Mo ever needed. But suddenly she’s gone, and Mo finds herself in foster care after her uncle decides she’s not worth sticking around for.
Nan left her a notebook and advised her to get a hobby, like ferret racing or palm reading.
But how could a hobby fix anything in her newly topsy-turvy life?
Then Mo finds a handmade cookbook filled with someone else’s family recipes. Even though Nan never cooked, Mo can’t tear her eyes away. Not so much from the recipes, but the stories attached to them. Though, when she makes herself a pot of soup, it is every bit as comforting as the recipe notes said.
Soon Mo finds herself asking everyone she meets for their family recipes. Teaching herself to make them. Collecting the stories behind them. Building a website to share them. And, okay, secretly hoping that a long-lost relative will find her and give her a family recipe all her own.
But when everything starts to unravel again, Mo realizes that if she wants a family recipe—or a real family—she’s going to have to make it up herself.
Back to the Bright Before By Katherin Nolte; illustrated by Jen Bricking
A magical adventure about two brave siblings determined to find a treasure that could save their family.
When eleven-year-old Pet Martin’s dad falls from a ladder on their family farm, it isn’t just his body that crashes to the ground. So does every hope her family had for the future. Money is scarce, and Pet’s mom is bone-tired from waiting tables at the local diner, and even with the extra hours, it’s not enough for a third surgery for Pet’s dad. Her five-year-old brother, Simon, now refuses to say anything except the word “cheese.” Worst of all? The ladder accident was Pet’s fault.
She’s determined to fix things—but how? Good old-fashioned grit…and maybe a little bit of magic.
When a neighbor recites a poem about an ancient coin hidden somewhere on the grounds of the local abbey, Pet forms a plan. With her brother, a borrowed chicken, and a stolen pony, Pet runs away from home. If she can find the coin, Daddy can have his surgery, Momma can stop her constant working, and Simon might speak again. But Pet isn't the only one who wants the coin…which means searching for it is more dangerous than she ever imagined.
This dazzling debut novel filled with magic, family, and adventure is sure to be an instant classic.