Many people think they could write a book for children, but few truly have what it takes to capture the thoughts and imaginations of young people. This is especially true of middle grade, where authors have to develop a fully formed novel that will still be readable and interesting for kids. Middle grade authors do more with less. Their books are deeply affecting in the unique way of childhood’s big emotions, while still maintaining the sophistication of books for adults. Here’s a list of some our favorite new voices in middle grade. Share these great reads with your kids and see all the wonderful new stories being told.
by Sonja K. Solter
One day after school, on the couch in the basement, Tori’s uncle did something bad. Afterward, Tori tells her mom. Even though telling was a brave thing to do, her mom still doesn’t believe her at first. Her grandma still takes his side. And Tori doesn’t want anyone else — even her best friend — to know what happened. Now Tori finds herself battling mixed emotions — anger, shame, and sadness — as she deals with the trauma. But with the help of her mom, her little sister, her best friend, and others, can Tori find a way to have the last word?
by Brandy Colbert
Beach-loving surfer Alberta has been the only black girl in town for years. Alberta’s best friend, Laramie, is the closest thing she has to a sister, but there are some things even Laramie can’t understand. When the bed and breakfast across the street finds new owners, Alberta is ecstatic to learn the family is black-and they have a 12-year-old daughter just like her. Alberta is positive she and the new girl, Edie, will be fast friends. But while Alberta loves being a California girl, Edie misses her native Brooklyn and finds it hard to adapt to small-town living. When the girls discover a box of old journals in Edie’s attic, they team up to figure out exactly who’s behind them and why they got left behind. Soon they discover shocking and painful secrets of the past and learn that nothing is quite what it seems.
by Scott Simon
Sally Miyake can’t read, but she learns lots of things. Like bricks are made of clay and Vitamin D comes from the sun. Sally is happy working in the kitchen at Sunnyside Plaza, the community center she lives in with other adults with developmental disabilities. For Sally and her friends, Sunnyside is the only home they’ve ever known. Everything changes the day a resident unexpectedly dies. After a series of tragic events, detectives Esther Rivas and Lon Bridges begin asking questions. Are the incidents accidents? Or is something more disturbing happening? The suspicious deaths spur the residents into taking the investigation into their own hands. But are people willing to listen?
by Sarah R. Baughman
Twelve-year-old Addie should stay away from Maple Lake. After all, her twin brother, Amos, drowned there only a few months ago. But its crisp, clear water runs in Addie’s veins, and the notebook Amos left behind — filled with clues about a mysterious creature that lives in the lake’s inky-blue depths — keeps calling her back. So despite her parents’ fears, Addie accepts a Young Scientist position studying the lake for the summer, promising she’ll stick to her job of measuring water pollution levels under adult supervision. Still, Addie can’t resist the secrets of Maple Lake. She enlists the lead researcher’s son, Tai, to help her investigate Amos’s clues. As they collect evidence, they also learn that Maple Lake is in trouble — and the source of the pollution might be close to home. Addie finds herself caught between the science she has always prized and the magic that brings her closer to her brother, and the choice she makes will change everything.
by Bridget Farr
Twelve-year-old Pavi Sharma is an expert at the Front Door Face: the perfect mix of puppy dog eyes and a lemonade smile, the exact combination to put foster parents at ease as they open their front door to welcome you in. After being bounced around between foster families and shelter stays, Pavi is a foster care expert, and she runs a “business” teaching other foster kids all she has learned. With a wonderful foster family in mom Marjorie and brother Hamilton, things are looking up for Pavi. Then Pavi meets Meridee: a new five-year-old foster kid, who is getting placed at Pavi’s first horrendous foster home. Pavi knows no one will trust a kid about what happened on Lovely Lane, even one as mature as she is, so it’s up to her to save Meridee.
by Niki Smith
After a terrible political coup usurps their noble house, Hawke and Grayson flee to stay alive and assume new identities, Hanna and Grayce. Desperation and chance lead them to the Communion of Blue, an order of magical women who spin the threads of reality to their will. As the twins learn more about the Communion, and themselves, they begin to hatch a plan to avenge their family and retake their royal home. While Hawke wants to return to his old life, Grayce struggles to keep the threads of her new life from unraveling, and realizes she wants to stay in the one place that will allow her to finally live as a girl.
by Kurt Kirchmeier
In the small town of Griever’s Mill, eleven-year-old Ben Cameron is expecting to finish off his summer of relaxing and bird-watching without a hitch. But everything goes wrong when dark clouds roll in. Old Man Crandall is the first to change — human one minute and a glass statue the next. Soon it’s happening across the world. Dark clouds fill the sky and, at random, people are turned into frozen versions of themselves. There’s nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and no one knows how to stop it. With his mom on the verge of a breakdown, and his brother intent on following the dubious plans put forth by a nameless voice on the radio, Ben must hold out hope that his town’s missing sparrows will return with everyone’s souls before the glass plague takes them away forever.