HomeBooks by AgeAges 4-85 Middle Grade Book Favorites Selected by Julie Falatko

5 Middle Grade Book Favorites Selected by Julie Falatko

Julie Falatko | The Children’s Book Review | July 27, 2018

Oh sure, it’ll be easy to pick my top five middle grade books, I thought, and then immediately felt overwhelmed by all the exciting, beautiful, hilarious books that I’ve read. Then I felt guilty because of all the books that would have to get cut from the list. Then I felt sorry for all of the books I haven’t had a chance to read yet – surely they’d make the list, if I could just find the time to read them.

You know you’re a reader when you feel sorry for the books you don’t love yet.

The books I love are ones that grab me and won’t let go, that swirl me up in their blanket of story and emotion, and that overflow with humor and hope.

Here are five of my favorites, with apologies to all of my other favorites.

The Meaning of Maggie

The Meaning Of Maggie 

Written by Megan Jean Sovern

The voice in this book is a flat-out delight. Get ready to smile hugely the whole time you read this one. I pick up The Meaning of Maggiewhenever I need to laugh. I am absolutely in love with Maggie and I want to be her friend.

Order a Copy Now: Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Chronicle Books | 2014 | ISBN-13: 978-1452128764

Front Desk by Kelly YangFront Desk

Written by Kelly Yang

I’ll admit I first bought this because I have a daughter whose favorite game is “hotel front desk.” This story, about a girl who works with her immigrant parents at a motel, quickly climbed its way to the top of my favorites pile. It’s endearing, charming, and inspiring.

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Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books | 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1338157796

A Tangle of KnotsA Tangle of Knots

Written by Lisa Graff

This is an excellent puzzle-pieced plot, with magic and cake recipes. I love books that start with a flashback chapter and then you have to read the entire book to figure out what that chapter was talking about.

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Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Philomel Books | 2013 | ISBN-13: 978-0399255175

The First Rule of PunkThe First Rule of Punk

Written by Celia C. Pérez

A perfect novel about punk rock, identity, standing up for yourself, and zines. This book will make you stand taller and rock harder.

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Ages 9-12 | Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers | August 22, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0425290408

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic EyesPeter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes

Written by Jonathan Auxier

When I reached the end of reading this book aloud to my kids, they all cheered “hurray!” and thrust their fists high in the air, like their team had won the game. Which I suppose it had. We’re team book, and we definitely won the game with Peter Nimble.

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Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Harry N. Abrams | 2013 | ISBN-13: 978-1419700255

Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Go to SchoolTwo Dogs in a Trench Coat Go to School

Written by Julie Falatko

Illustrated by Colin Jack

Publisher’s Synopsis: Sassy and Waldo are good dogs. They spend the day keeping their house safe. Has a squirrel ever gotten inside? No! But every day their boy, Stewart, comes home from this terrible place called school smelling like anxiety and looseleaf paper.

Sassy and Waldo decide to save Stewart. But they don’t let dogs into school. So Sassy and Waldo decide to get creative. They put on an old trench coat, and now everyone at Bea Arthur Elementary thinks they are a new student named Salty from Liver, Ohio. Well, everyone except Stewart.

Sassy and Waldo love school! Everything smells like meat and dirty socks. And they discover a whole other way to help out Stewart!

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Scholastic Inc. | 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1338189513

Available Here:

About the Author


Julie Falatko
Photo Credit: Cara Dolan

Julie Falatko writes quirky books about misunderstood characters trying to find their place in the world. She is the author of Snappsy the Alligator (Did Not Ask to Be in This Book), which was published to four starred reviews and coverage in the New York Times and People magazine. She is also the author of Snappsy the Alligator and His Best Friend Forever (Probably) as well as many more forthcoming books. To learn more about Julie, please visit juliefalatko.com or follow her on Twitter @juliefalatko or on Instagram @julie_falatko.

Julie Falatko, author of Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Go to School, selected these ‘5 Favorite Middle Grade Books.’ Discover more articles on The Children’s Book Review tagged with

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  • Thanks for the great list, Julie! Now I know what to look for when I need to get a book for one of my grandchildren. And I totally get the comment about feeling sorry for the books you don’t choose. I can’t be allowed in a used book store or a library book sale because I want to rescue all of the abandoned books!

    August 5, 2018

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