The Children’s Book Review | April 30, 2018
10 New Middle Grade Books for Ages 7-12 (and Beyond)
We’ve picked 10 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 transcendent story of friendship, an engaging story about growing up and finding your place in the world by the Newbery Medal, a dynamic novel in verse, the mesmerizing adventure of a girl made of living stone who braves unforeseen dangers and magical consequences on a crucial quest to save her family, the incredible true story of how Americans from all walks of life weathered one of the most turbulent periods in our nation’s history—the Great Depression—and emerged triumphant, a gripping and poignant story about how children and families face the complexities of today’s world, a heartwarming piece of historical fiction, and much more!
Which middle grade book will you share with your growing readers this month?
Written by Anne Nesbet
Publisher’s Synopsis: With the United States on the verge of World War II, eleven-year-old Gusta is sent from New York City to Maine, where she discovers small-town prejudices — and a huge family secret.
It’s 1941, and tensions are rising in the United States as the Second World War rages in Europe. Eleven-year-old Gusta’s life, like the world around her, is about to change. Her father, a foreign-born labor organizer, has had to flee the country, and Gusta has been sent to live in an orphanage run by her grandmother. Nearsighted, snaggletoothed Gusta arrives in Springdale, Maine, lugging her one precious possession: a beloved old French horn, her sole memento of her father. But in a family that’s long on troubles and short on money, how can a girl hang on to something so valuable and yet so useless when Gusta’s mill-worker uncle needs surgery to fix his mangled hand, with no union to help him pay? Inspired by her mother’s fanciful stories, Gusta secretly hopes to find the coin-like “Wish” that her sea-captain grandfather supposedly left hidden somewhere. Meanwhile, even as Gusta gets to know the rambunctious orphans at the home, she feels like an outsider at her new school — and finds herself facing patriotism turned to prejudice, alien registration drives, and a family secret likely to turn the small town upside down.
Ages 10-14 | Publisher: Candlewick | April 10, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-0763688042
Written by Philippa Pearce
Illustrated by Edith
Publisher’s Synopsis: This exquisite graphic novel adaptation of Philippa Pearce’s Carnegie Medal–winning Tom’s Midnight Garden reimagines a beloved classic in a new, full-color format. With stunning art from award-winning graphic artist Edith, readers will be swept up in this transcendent story of friendship.
When Tom’s brother gets sick, Tom’s shipped off to spend what he’s sure will be a boring summer with his aunt and uncle in the country. But then Tom hears the old grandfather clock in the hall chime thirteen times, and he’s transported back to an old garden where he meets a mysterious girl named Hatty. Tom returns to the garden every night to have adventures with Hatty, who grows a little older with each visit. As the summer comes to an end, Tom realizes he wants to stay in the midnight garden with Hatty forever.
Winner of the Carnegie Medal, Tom’s Midnight Garden is a classic of children’s literature and a deeply satisfying time-travel mystery. This stunning graphic novel adaptation from award-winning French artist Edith transforms Philippa Pearce’s story into an engaging visual adventure.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Greenwillow Books | April 3, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-0062696564
Written by Erin Entrada Kelly
Publisher’s Synopsis: Newbery Medalist Erin Entrada Kelly’s You Go First is an engaging exploration of family, bullying, spelling, art, and the ever-complicated world of middle school friendships. Her perfectly pitched tween voice will resonate with fans of Kate DiCamillo’s Raymie Nightingale.
Twelve-year-old Charlotte Lockard and eleven-year-old Ben Boxer are separated by more than a thousand miles. On the surface, their lives seem vastly different—Charlotte lives near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, while Ben is in the small town of Lanester, Louisiana. Charlotte wants to be a geologist and keeps a rock collection in her room. Ben is obsessed with Harry Potter, presidential history, and recycling. But the two have more in common than they think. They’re both highly gifted. They’re both experiencing family turmoil. And they both sit alone at lunch.
Over the course of a week, Charlotte and Ben—online friends connected only by a Scrabble game—will intersect in unexpected ways, as they struggle to navigate the turmoil of middle school. This engaging story about growing up and finding your place in the world by the Newbery Medal–winning author of Hello, Universe and the winner of the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature will appeal to fans of Rebecca Stead and Rita Williams-Garcia.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Greenwillow Books | April 10, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-0062414182
Written by Kwame Alexander
Publisher’s Synopsis: From the New York Times bestselling author Kwame Alexander comes Rebound, a dynamic novel in verse and companion to his Newbery Award-winner, The Crossover, illustrated with striking graphic novel panels.
Before Josh and Jordan Bell were streaking up and down the court, their father was learning his own moves. In this prequel to Newbery Medal winner The Crossover, Chuck Bell takes center stage, as readers get a glimpse of his childhood and how he became the jazz music worshiping, basketball star his sons look up to.
A novel in verse with all the impact and rhythm readers have come to expect from Kwame Alexander, Rebound will go back in time to visit the childhood of Chuck “Da Man” Bell during one pivotal summer when young Charlie is sent to stay with his grandparents where he discovers basketball and learns more about his family’s past.
Ages 10-12 | Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers | April 3, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-0544868137
Written by Sarah Beth Durst
Publisher’s Synopsis: Exploring the power of stories and storytelling, Sarah Beth Durst presents the mesmerizing adventure of a girl made of living stone who braves unforeseen dangers and magical consequences on a crucial quest to save her family.
Mayka and her stone family were brought to life by the stories etched into their bodies. Now time is eroding these vital marks, and Mayka must find a stonemason to recarve them. But the search is more complex than she had imagined, and Mayka uncovers a scheme endangering all stone creatures. Only someone who casts stories into stone can help—but whom can Mayka trust? Where is the stonemason who will save them?
Action and insight combine in this magical coming-of-age novel as the young heroine realizes the savior she’s been searching for is herself.
Ages 10-12 | Publisher: Clarion Books | April 3, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1328729453
Written by Marc Favreau
Publisher’s Synopsis: The incredible true story of how Americans from all walks of life weathered one of the most turbulent periods in our nation’s history–the Great Depression–and emerged triumphant.
Crash tells the story of the Great Depression, from the sweeping fallout of the market collapse to the more personal stories of those caught up in the aftermath. Packed with photographs, primary documents, and firsthand accounts, Crash shines a spotlight on pivotal moments and figures across ethnic, gender, racial, social, and geographic divides, reflecting many different experiences of one of the most turbulent decades in American history. Marc Favreau’s meticulous research, vivid prose, and extensive back matter paints a thorough picture of how the country we live in today was built in response to the widespread poverty, insecurity, and fear of the 1930s.
Ages 11-15 | Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | April 10, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-0316545860
Written by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Publisher’s Synopsis: A heartbreaking and powerful story about a black boy killed by a police officer, drawing connections through history, from award-winning author Jewell Parker Rhodes.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | April 17, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-0316262286
Written by Henry Lien
Publisher’s Synopsis: Welcome to Pearl Famous Academy of Skate and Sword, where the blades are sharp and the competition is fierce.
Peasprout Chen dreams of becoming a legend of wu liu, the deadly and beautiful art of martial arts figure skating.
As the first students from the rural country of Shin to attend Pearl Famous Academy of Skate and Sword, Peasprout and her little brother Cricket have some pretty big skates to fill. They soon find themselves in a heated competition for top ranking.
Tensions rise when the dazzling pearl buildings of the Academy are vandalized and outsider Peasprout is blamed for the attacks by her rivals … and even some friends.
Now, she must uncover the true vandal to ensure peace between Shin and Pearl – all while becoming a champion.
Ages 10-14 | Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. | April 3, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1250165695
Written by Sheila O’Connor
Publiser’s Synopsis: Set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, one young girl is determined to save her brother from the draft—and gets help from an unlikely source—in this middle-grade tale, perfect for fans of The Wednesday Wars.
When eleven-year-old Reenie Kelly’s mother passes away, she and her brothers are shipped off to live with their grandmother. Adjusting to life in her parents’ Midwestern hometown isn’t easy, but once Reenie takes up a paper route with her older brother Dare, she has something she can look forward to. As they introduce themselves to every home on their route, Reenie’s stumped by just one—the house belonging to Mr. Marsworth, the town recluse. When he doesn’t answer his doorbell, Reenie begins to leave him letters. Slowly, the two become pen pals, striking up the most unlikely of friendships.
Through their letters, Reenie tells of her older brother Billy, who might enlist to fight in the Vietnam War. Reenie is desperate to stop him, and when Mr. Marsworth hears this, he knows he can’t stand idly by. As a staunch pacifist, Mr. Marsworth offers to help Reenie. Together, they concoct a plan to keep Billy home, though Reenie doesn’t know Mr. Marsworth’s dedication to her cause goes far beyond his antiwar beliefs.
In this heartwarming piece of historical fiction, critically acclaimed author Sheila O’Connor delivers a tale of devotion, sacrifice, and family.
Ages 10+ | Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers | April 3, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-0399161933
Written by and Illustrated by Jan Thornhill
Publisher’s Synopsis: Behold the most despised bird in human history!
So begins Jan Thornhill’s riveting, beautifully illustrated story of the House Sparrow. She traces the history of this perky little bird, one of the most adaptable creatures on Earth, from its beginnings in the Middle East to its spread with the growth of agriculture into India, North Africa and Europe. Everywhere the House Sparrow went, it competed with humans for grain, becoming such a pest that in some places “sparrow catcher” became an actual job and bounties were paid to those who got rid of it.
But not everyone hated the House Sparrow, and in 1852, fifty pairs were released in New York City. In no time at all, the bird had spread from coast to coast. Then suddenly, at the turn of the century, as cars took over from horses and there was less grain to be found, its numbers began to decline. As our homes, gardens, cities and farmland have changed, providing fewer nesting and feeding opportunities, the House Sparrow’s numbers have begun to decline again ― though in England and Holland this decline appears to be slowing. Perhaps this clever little bird is simply adapting once more.
This fascinating book includes the life history of the House Sparrow and descriptions of how the Ancient Egyptians fed it to the animals they later mummified, how it traveled to Great Britain as a stowaway on ships carrying Roman soldiers, and how its cousin, the Eurasian Tree Sparrow, was almost eradicated in China when Mao declared war on it. A wealth of back matter material is also supplied.
Ages 9-12 | Publisher: Groundwood Books | April 3, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1773060064
*Header image from the cover of You Go First, written by Erin Entrada Kelly (Greenwillow Books, 2018)
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, Books for Ages 9-12, and Books Of 2018.