The Children’s Book Review | January 2, 2017
13 New Middle Grade Books for Ages 7-14 (and Beyond)
From the middle grade books that release during January, we’ve picked 13 that we think you’re going to love. Here’s some of what you’ll find: A fast-paced debut chapter book, a story of love and loss, a bold anthology that celebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us, an uplifting portrait of a family overcoming a crisis, and a collection of poetry from Nikki Grimes. Which middle grade book will you share with your growing readers this month?
Written by Gigi Priebe
Illustrated by Daniel Duncan
Publisher’s Synopsis: Henry Whiskers must face his fears and rescue his little sister from the scary Rat Alley in this fun, fast-paced debut chapter book set in Queen Mary’s historical dollhouse at Windsor Castle.
Twenty-five generations of Whiskers have lived in Windsor Castle’s most famous exhibit: Queen Mary’s Dollhouse. For young, book-loving Henry Whiskers and his family, this is the perfect place to call home.
But when the dollhouse undergoes unexpected repairs and Henry’s youngest sister, Isabel, goes missing, he risks everything in a whisker-whipping race against time to save her. His rescue mission will take him to the murky and scary world of Rat Alley, and Henry will have to dig deep and find the courage he never knew he had in order to bring his sister back home.
Ages 7-10 | Publisher: Aladdin | January 3, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1481465755
Written by Ali Standish
Publisher’s Synopsis: Life can be transformed in one moment, but does that one moment define you for life?
Lost in the Sun meets The Thing About Jellyfish in Ali Standish’s breathtaking debut. A poignant middle grade novel of friendship and forgiveness, The Ethan I Was Before is a classic in the making.
Ethan had been many things. He was always ready for adventure and always willing to accept a dare, especially from his best friend, Kacey. But that was before. Before the accident that took Kacey from him. Before his family moved from Boston to the small town of Palm Knot, Georgia.
Palm Knot may be tiny, but it’s the home of possibility and second chances. It’s also home to Coralee, a girl with a big personality and even bigger stories. Coralee may be just the friend Ethan needs, except Ethan isn’t the only one with secrets. Coralee’s are catching up with her, and what she’s hiding might be putting both their lives at risk. The Ethan I Was Before is a story of love and loss, wonder and adventure, and ultimately of hope.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: HarperCollins | January 24, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0062433381
Written by Victoria J. Coe
Publisher’s Synopsis: When evil bunnies invade the Dog Park, Fenway’s hot on their trail. Hattie seems understandably alarmed, though she clearly doesn’t appreciate his efforts. She shoos him out of the garden and fills in holes as fast as he can dig them!
Fenway wonders if his beloved Hattie could be working against him, until she brings home a cage with a bunny inside. He can hardly control his excitement – she captured one of the intruders! But when Fenway realizes Hattie actually likes the bunny, he’s crushed. Is his heart big enough to accept that Hattie can love another pet, too?
In this sequel to Fenway and Hattie, these two best buddies learn that making the right choice can be tough, but being a real friend is the greatest choice of all.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers | January 24, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1101996331
Written by Jacqueline Harvey
Publisher’s Synopsis: When a surprise letter arrives at Winchesterfield-Downsfordvale Academy for Proper Young Ladies offering a cultural exchange to Beijing, Alice-Miranda and her friends are quick to sign up. They can’t wait to experience the delights of one of the world’s busiest cities! While there, the visitors will attend The Bright Star Academy and be billeted among the local students. Excitingly, Alice-Miranda and Jacinta are placed with a family who own one of the most famous acrobatic circus troupes in China. Their shows are spectacular but on closer inspection it appears that attempts are being made to sabotage the performances. Is it an insider, or is someone else trying to bring the family down? When Alice-Miranda stumbles upon a priceless missing antiquity in her host’s home the mystery deepens. Will the saboteur be caught before it’s too late?
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Random House Australia | January 1, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0857985200
Edited by Ellen Oh
Publisher’s Synopsis: Whether it is basketball dreams, family fiascos, first crushes, or new neighborhoods, this bold anthology—written by the best children’s authors—celebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us.
In a partnership with We Need Diverse Books, industry giants Kwame Alexander, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Peña, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Tingle, and Jacqueline Woodson join newcomer Kelly J. Baptist in a story collection that is as humorous as it is heartfelt. This impressive group of authors has earned among them every major award in children’s publishing and popularity as New York Times bestsellers.
From these distinguished authors come ten distinct and vibrant stories.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers | January 3, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1101934593
Written by Sally J. Pla
Publisher’s Synopsis: The Someday Birds is a debut middle grade novel perfect for fans of Counting by 7s and Fish in a Tree, filled with humor, heart, and chicken nuggets.
Charlie’s perfectly ordinary life has been unraveling ever since his war journalist father was injured in Afghanistan.
When his father heads from California to Virginia for medical treatment, Charlie reluctantly travels cross-country with his boy-crazy sister, unruly brothers, and a mysterious new family friend. He decides that if he can spot all the birds that he and his father were hoping to see someday along the way, then everything might just turn out okay.
Debut author Sally J. Pla has written a tale that is equal parts madcap road trip, coming-of-age story for an autistic boy who feels he doesn’t understand the world, and an uplifting portrait of a family overcoming a crisis.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: HarperCollins | January 24, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0062445766
Written by Paul Mosier
Publisher’s Synopsis: A beautifully poignant debut perfect for fans of authors such as Rebecca Stead and Sharon Creech and books like Ali Benjamin’s The Thing About Jellyfish. When Rydr travels by train from Los Angeles to Chicago, she learns along the way that she can find family wherever she is.
Rydr is on a train heading east, leaving California, where her gramma can’t take care of her anymore, and traveling to Chicago, to live with an unknown relative. She brings with her a backpack, memories both happy and sad, and a box, containing something very important.
As Rydr meets her fellow passengers and learns their stories, her own story begins to emerge. It’s one of sadness and heartache, and one Rydr would sometimes like to forget. But as much as Rydr may want to run away from her past, on the train she finds that hope and forgiveness are all around her, and most importantly, within her, if she’s willing to look for it.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: HarperCollins | January 24, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0062455734
Written by R.A. Spratt
Illustrated by Phil Gosier
Publisher’s Synopsis: In the third book in R.A. Spratt’s hilarious Friday Barnes Mystery series, crime hits close to home when Friday Barnes learns her mother has been kidnapped. But her detective work gets put aside when Friday is distracted by other happenings at school: a new VIP student (a Norwegian princess!) has just arrived and a master thief called the Pimpernel is causing chaos across campus. Can super sleuth and girl genius Friday crack the case of her missing mother, reign in a royal brat, and unmask the elusive Pimpernel?
Big Trouble: A Friday Barnes Mystery brings the same wit and humor that kept readers puzzling and laughing in Friday Barnes, Girl Detective and Friday Barnes Under Suspicion.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Roaring Brook Press | January 17, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1626726376
Written by Linda Williams Jackson
Publisher’s Synopsis: It’s Mississippi in the summer of 1955, and Rose Lee Carter can’t wait to move north. But for now, she’s living with her sharecropper grandparents on a white man’s cotton plantation.
Ages 10-12 | Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers | January 3, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0544785106
Written by Michael Cottman
Publisher’s Synopsis: A pile of lime-encrusted shackles discovered on the seafloor in the remains of a ship called the Henrietta Marie, lands Michael Cottman, a Washington, D.C.-based journalist and avid scuba diver, in the middle of an amazing journey that stretches across three continents, from foundries and tombs in England, to slave ports on the shores of West Africa, to present-day Caribbean plantations. This is more than just the story of one ship – it’s the untold story of millions of people taken as captives to the New World. Told from the author’s perspective, this book introduces young readers to the wonders of diving, detective work, and discovery, while shedding light on the history of slavery.
Ages 10-12 | Publisher: National Geographic Children’s Books | January 3, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1426326639
Written by Michael Morpurgo
Publisher’s Synopsis: England, 1940. Barney’s home has been destroyed by bombing, and he and his mother are traveling to the countryside when German planes attack. Their train is forced to take shelter in a tunnel and there, in the darkness, a stranger― a fellow passenger―begins to tell them a story about two young soldiers who came face to face in the previous war. One British, one German. Both lived, but the British soldier was haunted by the encounter once he realized who the German was: the young Adolf Hitler.
The British soldier made a moral decision. Was it the right one? Readers can ponder that difficult question for themselves with Michael Morpurgo’s latest middle-grade novel An Eagle in the Snow.
Ages 10-14 | Publisher: Feiwel & Friends | January 17, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1250105158
Written by Steve Sheinkin
Publisher’s Synopsis: Jim Thorpe: Super athlete, Olympic gold medalist, Native American
Pop Warner: Indomitable coach, football mastermind, Ivy League grad
Before these men became legends, they met in 1907 at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School in Pennsylvania, where they forged one of the winningest teams in American football history. Called “the team that invented football,” they took on the best opponents of their day, defeating much more privileged schools such as Harvard and the Army in a series of breathtakingly close calls, genius plays, and bone-crushing hard work.
Undefeated: Jim Thorpe and the Carlisle Indian School Football Team is an astonishing underdog sports story―and more. It’s an unflinching look at the U.S. government’s violent persecution of Native Americans and the school that was designed to erase Indian cultures. Expertly told by three-time National Book Award finalist Steve Sheinkin, it’s the story of a group of young men who came together at that school, the overwhelming obstacles they faced both on and off the field, and their absolute refusal to accept defeat.
Ages 10-14 | Publisher: Roaring Brook Press | January 17, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1596439542
Written by Nikki Grimes
Publisher’s Synopsis: In this collection of poetry, Nikki Grimes looks afresh at the poets of the Harlem Renaissance — including voices like Langston Hughes, Georgia Douglas Johnson, and many more writers of importance and resonance from this era — by combining their work with her own original poetry. Using “The Golden Shovel” poetic method, Grimes has written a collection of poetry that is as gorgeous as it is thought-provoking.
This special book also includes original artwork in full-color from some of today’s most exciting African American illustrators, who have created pieces of art based on Nikki’s original poems. Featuring art by: Cozbi Cabrera, R. Gregory Christie, Pat Cummings, Jan Spivey Gilchrist, Ebony Glenn, Nikki Grimes, E. B. Lewis, Frank Morrison, Christopher Myers, Brian Pinkney, Sean Qualls, James Ransome, Javaka Steptoe, Shadra Strickland, and Elizabeth Zunon.
Ages 10-14 | Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens | January 3, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1619635548