The Children’s Book Review | June 8, 2017
9 New Middle Grade Books for Ages 7-14 (and Beyond)
We’ve picked 9 middle grade books that we think are some of the best new books for preteens and tweens that release during the month of June. Here’s what you can expect to find: an epic new world told from three different animals’ points of view, an uplifting debut novel, an action-packed short novel including references to classic children’s literature, a hilarious and surprisingly tender parable about parenthood, and a picture book biography that feels like Indiana Jones for kids!
Which middle grade book will you share with your growing readers this month?
Publisher’s Synopsis: Since the early nineteenth century, the women of Gee’s Bend in southern Alabama have created stunning, vibrant quilts. In the only photo-essay book about the quilts of Gee’s Bend for children, award-winning author Susan Goldman Rubin explores the history and culture of this fascinating group of women and their unique quilting traditions. Rubin uses meticulous research to offer an exclusive look at an important facet of African American art and culture.
This book should be of great interest to classrooms, libraries, and those interested in African American art in the United States, in addition to quilting, life in early emancipated colonies in the South, and Gee’s Bends importance in the Civil Right’s movement. The quilts and the incredible stories behind them are powerful motivators for anyone who wishes to accomplish anything. A map, directions on how to make a quilt square, endnotes, and an index round out this stunning nonfiction book.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers | June 13, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1419721311
Written and Illustrated by Elise Gravel
Publisher’s Synopsis: Welcome to the charming world of cartoonist Elise Gravel’s notebook, where her imagination runs wild with creatures of all shapes and sizes.
In the outrageously amusing If Found…Please Return to Elise Gravel, Elise Gravel offers readers a sneak peek into her sketchbook, where colorful monsters, imaginary friends, a grumpy things reign supreme. Meet Donald, who sings off-key; Francine, who likes to eat stones; and Marvin, the man with lots of stuff in his beard. Mixing the real with the fantastical, Elise’s drawings exude curiosity, as microbes and mushrooms share the page with speckled pepper pops, gloppers, and floofs.
Filled to the brim with vibrant felt marker illustrations, If Found… is not just an exhibition of Gravel’s work, but a challenge to young artists to keep a daily sketchbook. She reveals her top tips to becoming a successful illustrator―practice! practice! practice!―while empowering young artists to face their fears of making “ugly drawings.” Stop worrying about what makes a drawing good or bad―Elise draws anything and everything and you can too!
Ages 8+ | Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly | June 6, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1770462786
Written by Erin Hunter
Publisher’s Synopsis: Heed the call of the wild with this brand-new, action-packed animal fantasy series from the #1 nationally bestselling author of Warriors. Enter the Bravelands…and discover the Erin Hunter series you’ve been waiting for.
A lion cast out from his pride.
An elephant who can read the bones of the dead.
A baboon rebelling against his destiny.
For generations, the animals of the African plains have followed a single rule: only kill to survive. But when an unthinkable act of betrayal shatters the peace, the fragile balance between predators and prey will rest in the paws of three unlikely heroes.
Set in an epic new world and told from three different animals’ points of view, Bravelands will thrill readers who love Spirit Animals and Wings of Fire, as well as the legion of dedicated fans who’ve made Erin Hunter a bestselling phenomenon.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: HarperCollins | June 6, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0062642028
Written by Mandy Davis
Publisher’s Synopsis: Perfect for fans of Fish in a Tree and Wonder, this uplifting debut novel from Mandy David follows space-obsessed Lester Musselbaum as he experiences the challenges of his first days of public school: making friends, facing bullies, finding his “thing,” and accidentally learning of his autism-spectrum diagnosis.
Lester’s first days as a fifth grader at Quarry Elementary School are not even a little bit like he thought they would be—the cafeteria is too loud for Lester’s ears, there are too many kids, and then there’s the bully.
Lester was always home-schooled, and now he’s shocked to be stuck in a school where everything just seems wrong. That’s until he hears about the science fair, which goes really well for Lester! This is it. The moment where I find out for 100 percent sure that I won.
But then things go a bit sideways, and Lester has to find his way back. A touching peek into the life of a sensitive autism-spectrum boy facing the everydayness of elementary school, Superstar testifies that what you can do isn’t nearly as important as who you are.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: HarperCollins | June 20, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0062377777
Written by Linda Bailey
Illustrated by Victoria Jamieson
Publisher’s Synopsis: Encouraged by the brave deeds done by small creatures such as Stuart Little and Charlotte from Charlotte’s Web, Eddie comes up with a plan to save the library—a plan that requires all the courage one little bug can muster.
A great read-aloud and read-alone, this action-packed short novel includes references to classic children’s literature throughout and is perfect for fans of Chris Grabenstein’s Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library and Lynne Rae Perkins’s Nuts to You. Featuring extensive black-and-white art from Newbery Honor Medalist and New York Times-bestselling author-artist Victoria Jamieson.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Greenwillow Books | June 20, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0062440938
Written by Corey Ann Haydu
Publisher’s Synopsis: Readers who loved The Thing About Jellyfish and Goodbye Stranger will find a mysterious magic and unforgettable friendship in The Someday Suitcase, written by the critically acclaimed author of Rules for Stealing Stars.
Clover and Danny are the kind of best friends who make each other even better. They’re so important to each other that Clover believes they’re symbiotic: her favorite science word, which describes two beings who can’t function without the other. But when Danny comes down with a mysterious illness that won’t go away, the doctors can’t figure out what’s wrong with him. So Clover decides to take matters into her own hands by making lists—list of Danny’s symptoms, his good days, his bad days.
As the evidence piles up, only one thing becomes clear: Danny is only better when Clover is around.
Suddenly it feels like time is running out for Clover and Danny to do everything they’ve planned together—to finally see snow, to go on a trip with the suitcase they picked out together. Will science be able to save Danny, or is this the one time when magic can overcome the unthinkable?
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books | June 27, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0062352750
Written by Benjamin Renner
Publisher’s Synopsis: Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Fox? No one, it seems.
The fox dreams of being the terror of the barnyard. But no one is intimidated by him, least of all the hens―when he picks a fight with one, he always ends up on the losing end. Even the wolf, the most fearsome beast of the forest, can’t teach him how to be a proper predator. It looks like the fox will have to spend the rest of his life eating turnips.
But then the wolf comes up with the perfect scheme. If the fox steals some eggs, he could hatch the chicks himself and raise them to be a plump, juicy chicken dinner. Unfortunately, this plan falls apart when three adorable chicks hatch and call the fox Mommy.
Beautifully rendered in watercolor by Benjamin Renner, The Big Bad Fox is a hilarious and surprisingly tender parable about parenthood that’s sure to be a hit with new parents (and their kids too).
Ages 7-11 | Publisher:First Second | June 20, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1626723313
Written by Greg Pizzoli
Publisher’s Synopsis: From an award-winning author comes a picture book biography that feels like Indiana Jones for kids!
British explorer Percy Fawcett believed that hidden deep within the Amazon rainforest was an ancient city, lost for the ages. Most people didn’t even believe this city existed. But if Fawcett could find it, he would be rich and famous forever. This is the true story of one man’s thrilling, dangerous journey into the jungle, and what he found on his quest for the lost city of Z.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers | June 13, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0670016532
Written by Fracaswell Hyman
Publisher’s Synopsis: What happens when your BFF becomes your EFF . . . EX-Friend-Forever?
When seventh-grader Mango Delight Fuller accidentally breaks her BFF Brooklyn’s new cell phone, her life falls apart. She loses her friends and her spot on the track team, and even costs her father his job as a chef. But Brooklyn’s planned revenge—sneakily signing up Mango to audition for the school musical—backfires when Mango not only wins the lead role, but becomes a YouTube sensation and attracts the attention of the school’s queen bee, Hailey Jo. Hailey Jo is from a VERY wealthy family, and expects everyone to do her bidding. Soon Mango finds herself forced to make tough choices about the kind of friend she wants to have . . . and, just as important, the kind of friend she wants to be.
Ages 9-13 | Publisher: Sterling Children’s Books | June 6, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1454923329
*Header image form the cover of If Found … Please Returm to Elise Gravel, by Elise Gravel
Which of these middle grade books will you be sharing with your tweens? For more of the best new middle grade books for kids ages 8 through 14, follow along with our articles tagged with New Books for Kids, Middle Grade Books, Books for Ages 4-8, and Books for Ages 9-12.
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