The Children’s Book Review | April 3, 2017
12 New Middle Grade Books for Ages 7-14 (and Beyond)
We’ve picked 11 new middle grade books that we think are some of the best new books for preteens and tweens that release during the month of April. Here’s what you can expect to find: a whirlwind trip through time, an illustrated chapter book series for younger readers, a touching and rare wildlife rescue story, an irresistibly fun middle-grade graphic novel from Marcus Emerson, a fresh look at President John F. Kennedy and his relationship with the civil rights movement, an unforgettable multicultural coming-of-age narrative, and a heartrending story of family torn apart and put back together again.
Which middle grade book will you share with your growing readers this month?
Written by Andy Griffiths
Illustrated by Terry Denton
Publisher’s Synopsis: Before they can go up, they have to go back―travel through time with Andy and Terry as they attempt to save the treehouse!
New York Times bestselling author Andy Griffiths invites readers to come hang out with him and his friend Terry in their 65-Story Treehouse-the fifth book in the illustrated middle-grade series filled with Andy and Terry’s signature slapstick humor!
Andy and Terry live in a 65-Story Treehouse. (It used to be 52 stories, but they keep expanding.) It has a pet-grooming salon, a birthday room where it’s always your birthday (even when it’s not), a room full of exploding eyeballs, a lollipop shop, a quicksand pit, an ant farm, and a time machine…which is going to be really, really useful now, since Terry messed up (again) and the treehouse just FAILED it’s safety inspection.
Join Andy and Terry on a whirlwind trip through time as they try to stop the treehouse from being demolished!
Ages 7-10 | Publisher: Feiwel & Friends | April 4, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1250102461
Written by Carole P. Roman
Illustrated by Mateya Arkova
Publisher’s Synopsis: From award-winning author Carole P. Roman comes a new chapter book featuring Susannah Logan, a young student having a very bad day. It all begins with homework trouble and an invitation to a sleepover that she doesn’t want to go to. Would you want to go to a sleepover in a creepy house? Rather than dealing with her problems, Susannah stuffs them into her backpack. But how much can a backpack take? Will she be able to confront her worries before the backpack bursts? Or will she just continue to hide them away? Join Susannah and her friends in this story sure to charm busy young readers everywhere.
Ages 7-10 | Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform | April 3, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1543034615
Written by Jacqueline Kelly
Publisher’s Synopsis: Callie Vee and Travis help animals big and small in this illustrated chapter book series for younger readers.
In this second book in the Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet series, Callie takes a hands-on approach to animal doctoring. When Callie and Granddaddy go exploring by the river, Callie discovers a leaf covered with spots. Those spots, it turns out, are eggs, and those eggs become butterflies. One of her newly hatched butterflies has a problem, though―its wing is broken. Can Callie find a way to help this butterfly fly?
Mother’s prize sheep, Snow White, is pregnant and about to give birth. With Dr. Pritzker off helping a colicky horse, it falls to Callie to deliver the lamb. Will Callie be able to take the situation in hand?
Ages 7-10 | Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. | April 4, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1627798709
Written and Photographed by Suzi Eszterhas
Publisher’s Synopsis: Moto and Me tells the remarkable firsthand story of wildlife photographer Suzi Eszterhas’s care for an orphaned baby serval—a small, spotted wildcat—in Kenya. When a grass fire separates the serval from his family, a ranger asks Suzi, who is living in a bush camp and is skilled with animals, to be the serval’s foster mom.
The book chronicles Suzi’s tender care of Moto, including how she feeds, bathes, and plays with him, and helps him develop hunting skills. Her goal is to help him learn how to survive on his own in the wild. After 6 months, he is ready to leave—a difficult good-bye, but exactly what Suzi had worked for. Stunning photography illustrates this touching and rare wildlife rescue story.
Ages 7-10 | Publisher: Owlkids | April 11, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1771472425
Written andby Marcus Emerson
Publisher’s Synopsis: When imaginations go wild in the schoolyard, anything can happen. Normal kids become world-saving heroes, girls become power-hungry pirates, and zombies take over the school after being infected by the dreaded epidemic―cooties! It’s up to Scrap, his partner Yoshi (don’t you dare call her a sidekick!), and Clinton, the baddest cowboy in the, um, badlands, to stop recess from collapsing into total apocalyptic chaos.
With dynamic full-color art and nonstop action, Recess Warriors is an irresistibly fun middle-grade graphic novel from Marcus Emerson, the creator of the hit self-published series, Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja.
Ages 7-10 | Publisher: Roaring Brook Press | April 11, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1626727083
Written by Shana Corey
Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
Publisher’s Synopsis: Acclaimed author Shana Corey and New York Times Best Illustrated, Caldecott Honor, and Coretta Scott King Honor–winning artist R. Gregory Christie deliver a fresh look at President John F. Kennedy and his relationship with the civil rights movement.
From prominent leaders such as Martin Luther King, Jr. and Jackie Robinson to children and teenagers, it was the people speaking out and working for civil rights through sits-ins, freedom rides, and marches who led John F. Kennedy to take a stand.
And with his June 11, 1963, civil rights address, he did.
This is the story of JFK—from his childhood to the events that led to his game-changing speech and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Corey and Christie offer a deeply human look at our country’s thirty-fifth president, underscoring how each one of us, no matter who we are, have the power to make a difference.
With quotes from JFK’s speeches, detailed back matter, and a thought-provoking author’s note, this biography—in time for what would be JFK’s 100th birthday—offers a sensitive look at a tumultuous time in history and compelling questions about effecting positive change today.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: NorthSouth Books | April 4, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0735842755
Written by Janet Tashjian
Illustrated by Jake Tashjian
Publisher’s Synopsis: Book 6 in the bestselling My Life series!
Derek Fallon has expanded his taste in cartoons to the world of manga and anime. Together with his friends Carly, Matt, and Umberto, Derek has fun learning about all the cool aspects of ninja culture. When someone starts vandalizing their school with graffiti of a mischievous troll-like figure, these ninjas-in-training are convinced they’ll be able to crack the case. But it turns out that being a ninja is a lot more work than they thought, and this adventure brings about new opportunities for Derek to embarrass himself. For once, can he be the hero that saves the day?
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. | April 11, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1627798891
Written by Ruth Lauren
Publisher’s Synopsis: She’ll do anything to break her sister out of prison–even get arrested on purpose.
When thirteen-year-old Valor is sent to jail, she couldn’t be happier. Demidova’s prison for criminal children is exactly where she wants to be. Valor’s twin sister, Sasha, is serving a life sentence for stealing from the royal family, and Valor is going to help her escape . . . from the inside.
Never mind that no one has escaped the prison in centuries. Valor has a master plan and resources most people could only dream about. But she didn’t count on having to outsmart both the guards and her fellow prisoners. If Valor’s plan is to succeed, she’ll need to make some unlikely allies. And if the plan fails, she and Sasha could end up with fates worse than prison.
This exciting middle-grade debut effortlessly melds an unforgettable protagonist, a breathless plot, and stunning world-building–and is impossible to put down.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens | April 4, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1681191317
Written by Sarah Beth Durst
Publisher’s Synopsis: The traditional Emperor’s Journey is meant to be uneventful. But as the princesses Seika and Ji-Lin—twin sisters—travel to pay respects to their kingdom’s dragon guardian, unexpected monsters appear and tremors shake the earth. The Hidden Islands face unprecedented threats, and the old rituals are failing. With only their strength, ingenuity, and flying lion to rely on, can the sisters find a new way to keep their people safe?
Ages 10-12 | Publisher: Clarion Books | April 4, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0544706798
Written by Ruth Behar
Publisher’s Synopsis: In this unforgettable multicultural coming-of-age narrative—based on the author’s childhood in the 1960s—a young Cuban-Jewish immigrant girl is adjusting to her new life in New York City when her American dream is suddenly derailed. Ruthie’s plight will intrigue readers, and her powerful story of strength and resilience, full of color, light, and poignancy, will stay with them for a long time.
Ruthie Mizrahi and her family recently emigrated from Castro’s Cuba to New York City. Just when she’s finally beginning to gain confidence in her mastery of English—and enjoying her reign as her neighborhood’s hopscotch queen—a horrific car accident leaves her in a body cast and confined her to her bed for a long recovery. As Ruthie’s world shrinks because of her inability to move, her powers of observation and her heart grow larger and she comes to understand how fragile life is, how vulnerable we all are as human beings, and how friends, neighbors, and the power of the arts can sweeten even the worst of times.
Ages 10+ | Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books | April 11, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0399546440
Written by Sarah Dooley
Publisher’s Synopsis: Two sisters take off on a wild road trip in this poignant tale for fans of Counting by 7s and Fish in a Tree
After Mama Lacy’s death, Fella was forced to move in with her grandmother, Mrs. Madison. The move brought Fella all sorts of comforts she wasn’t used to at home, but it also meant saying goodbye to her sister Zoey (a.k.a. Zany) and her other mother, Mama Shannon. Though Mama Shannon fought hard to keep Fella, it was no use. The marriage act is still a few years away and the courts thought Fella would be better off with a blood relation. Already heartbroken, Fella soon finds herself alone in Mrs. Madison’s house, grieving both the death of her mother and the loss of her entire family.
Then one night, Zany shows up at Mrs. Madison’s house determined to fulfill Mama Lacy’s dying wish: to have her ashes spread over the lawn of the last place they were all happy as a family. Of course, this means stealing Mama Lacy’s ashes and driving hundreds of miles in the middle of night to Asheville, North Carolina. Their adventure takes one disastrous turn after another, but their impulsive journey helps them rediscover the bonds that truly make them sisters.
A heartrending story of family torn apart and put back together again, Ashes to Asheville is an important, timely tale.
Ages 10+ | Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers | April 4, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0399165047
Written by Sarah Jean Horwitz
Publisher’s Synopsis: A stunning debut about a magician’s apprentice and a one-winged princess who must vanquish the mechanical monsters that stalk the streets and threaten the faerie kingdom.
Aspiring inventor and magician’s apprentice Felix Carmer III would rather be tinkering with his latest experiments than sawing girls in half on stage, but with Antoine the Amazifier’s show a tomato’s throw away from going under, Carmer is determined to win the cash prize in the biggest magic competition in Skemantis. When fate throws Carmer across the path of fiery, flightless faerie princess Grit (do not call her Grettifrida), they strike a deal. If Carmer will help Grit investigate a string of faerie disappearances, she’ll use her very real magic to give his mechanical illusions a much-needed boost against the competition. But Carmer and Grit soon discover they’re not the only duo trying to pair magic with machine – and the combination can be deadly.
In this story perfect for readers of the Lockwood & Co and Wildwood series, Sarah Jean Horwitz takes readers on a thrilling journey through a magical wooded fairyland and steampunk streets where terrifying automata cats lurk in the shadows and a mad scientist’s newest mechanical invention might be more menace than miracle.
Ages 10-14 | Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers | April 25, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1616206635
*Header illustration by R. Gregory Christie, A Time to Act: John F. Kennedy’s Big Speech
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.