30 standouts of 2020 so far, for middle grade (ages 8-12) readers. Last updated 7/15.
In the latest of Matilda Woods’s clever folktale-inspired stories a young boy named Otto finds himself in Hodeldorf, a peculiarly cold village, where he quickly becomes separated from his mother, then his coat, before things take an even sharper turn for the worse. Delightfully littered with magical elements throughout, this is a read-aloud that equally captivated both my 12- and 8-year-old boys alike. What a treat. Also check out The Boy, The Bird & the Coffin Maker by Woods.
Jewell Parker Rhodes is one of my favorite kids' authors of all time, and this story served beautifully as read-aloud for both my boys (8 and 11). We found ourselves having some important family conversations about race, and we all learned a whole lot about fencing. --Elese
A new illustrated, early chapter book series (ages 6-10) that will appeal to fans of Notebook of Doom.
My boys and I passed the early stay-at-home days in the world of 1880s LaForge, Dakota Territory, as seen through the eyes of Hanna. It's a Little House on the Prairie take that de-centers the white experience; Hanna's late mother is Chinese & Korean and her father is white. While navigating the pervasive racism of this up-and-coming railroad town, Hanna pursues her dream of becoming a dressmaker, with all of the gloriously detailed sewing descriptions one could hope for--bolts of calico fabric, button boxes and Godey's Lady's Book fashions. --Elese
The long-awaited sequel to The One and Only Ivan by Newbery Award winner Katherine Applegate.
At Namwon prison, the fates of three precocious children intertwine as they venture out into the Thai-inspired, incandescent fantasy world of Chattana. A gripping, fast-paced story that pulses with poignancy, imagination, and the preservative powers of friendship. --Ben
The latest from the author of the brilliant Pax.
This wonderful imaginative story begins with a flock of pigeons in New York City rescuing a baby they found abandoned in a dumpster while searching for food. They name her Coo, and raise her collectively for eleven years. Coo is just starting to outgrow the pigeon coop and question her belonging in the flock when she meets another human for the first time--a sweet older woman who feeds the pigeons in the park. Coo learns about the human world, relationships, and her own identity as this delightful book unfolds. --Coco
Booklist says this is an "insightful story of friendship and change" and it's set in North Carolina!
When the residents of Sunnyside Plaza--a group home for adults with developmental disabilities--start unexpectedly passing away, a young woman must work with the other Sunnysiders to figure out what's happening. Scott Simon's characters are instantly emotionally engaging and their resiliency and determination to help and protect each other will have readers of all ages deeply invested in their story. --Colin
"Debut author Marks seamlessly weaves timely discussions about institutionalized racism into this uplifting and engaging story that packs an emotional punch. Zoe is a relatable tween, with friendship and familial frustrations that will resonate with readers." --Publishers Weekly
Did you know that the high-five was invented by MLB player Glenn Burke in the 1970s?! Burke is a hero to Silas, a kid obsessed with baseball, Sandlot (the movie) and making his teammates laugh. And there's another thing about Glenn Burke--he was gay. So is Silas. Silas channels Burke's spirit as he navigates speaking his truth to the friends, family and teammates in his life. A book full of hijinks and heart perfect for any sports fan. --Elese
National Geographic's Explorer Academy series combines science, exploration, and adventure.
The sequel to the hilarious Sal and Gabi Break the Universe.
"Anna James has done it again! In this wondrous second installment in the Pages & Co series, Tilly and Oskar go boldly into the unpredictable (and often dangerous) world of fairy tales. As with the first Pages & Co book, this story reminds me most of the magic of books that exists in our own world: "The magic in books that lets us be part of them, and them part of us." I just know that so many young book lovers will consider Pages & Co to be part of them one day. How joyous it is to read books written so clearly by a book lover about their reverent love of books!" --Coco