The Children’s Book Review | August 21, 2017
11 New Middle Grade Books for Ages 7-14 (and Beyond)
We’ve picked 11 middle grade books that we think are some of the best new books for preteens and tweens that release during the month of August. Here’s what you can expect to find: a charmer of a tale laced with magical realism from New York Times bestselling author Alison McGhee, a groundbreaking look at the diverse Latinos who live in the United States, a magic-infused story of a golden gator and two cursed kids, a wry and heartfelt exploration of friendship, a funny and practical creative writing guide perfect for all kids who dream of seeing their name on the spine of a book, a riveting middle-grade mystery thriller, and a haunting exploration of human connection.
Which middle grade book will you share with your growing readers this month?
Written by Aaron Blabey
Publisher’s Synopsis: It’s a zombie kitten apocalypse!
Can the Bad Guys save the world from evil Dr. Marmalade’s meowing monsters?!? They’ll need help from foxy Agent Fox, a swampy secret zombie antidote, and the feistiest, toothiest, hungriest granny around. Get ready to watch the fur fly!
Ages 7-10 | Publisher: Scholastic Paperbacks | August 29, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1338087536
Written and Illustrated by Dav Pilkey
Publisher’s Synopsis: He was the best of dogs… He was the worst of dogs… It was the age of invention… It was the season of surprise… It was the eve of supa sadness… It was the dawn of hope… Dog Man, the newest hero from the creator of Captain Underpants, hasn’t always been a paws-itive addition to the police force. While he can muzzle miscreants, he tends to leave a slick of slobber in his wake! This time, Petey the cat’s dragged in a tiny bit of trouble — a double in the form of a super-cute kitten. Dog Man will have to work twice as hard to bust these furballs and remain top dog!
Ages 7-10 | Publisher: Graphix | August 29, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0545935210
Written by Alison McGhee
Illustrated by Ana Juan
Publisher’s Synopsis: A boy who drifted into the seaside town of Isla as a baby searches for answers about where he and his parrot came from in this charmer of a tale laced with magical realism from New York Times bestselling author Alison McGhee.
The seaside town of Isla has many stories, the most notable being the legend of the Seafaring Parrot. Locals claim that the Seafarer remembers every sound, every whisper, cry, laugh, or snort ever uttered. But, though there have been rumored Seafarer sightings, no one has actually seen the bird before. Other stories surround a boy named Pablo, who had washed up on shore in a blow-up swimming pool as an infant with only a lavender parrot as a companion. Now, on the eve of his tenth birthday, the stories are repeated.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books | August 22, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1481470261
Written by Lulu Delacre
Publisher’s Synopsis: Acclaimed author and Pura Belpré Award honoree Lulu Delacre’s beautifully illustrated collection of twelve short stories is a groundbreaking look at the diverse Latinos who live in the United States.
In this book, you will meet many young Latinos living in the United States, from a young girl whose day at her father’s burrito truck surprises her to two sisters working together to change the older sister’s immigration status, and more.
Turn the pages to experience life through the eyes of these boys and girls whose families originally hail from many different countries; see their hardships, celebrate their victories, and come away with a better understanding of what it means to be Latino in the U.S. today.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: HarperCollins | August 29, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0062392145
Written by Cassie Beasley
Publisher’s Synopsis: From the New York Times bestselling author of Circus Mirandus comes the magic-infused story of a golden gator, two cursed kids, and how they take their destinies into their own hands.
When the red moon rises over the heart of the Okefenokee swamp, legend says that the mysterious golden gator Munch will grant good luck to the poor soul foolish enough to face him.
But in 1817, when TWO fools reach him at the same time, the night’s fate is split. With disastrous consequences for both . . . and their descendants. Half of the descendants have great fates, and the other half have terrible ones.
Now, Tumble Wilson and Blue Montgomery are determined to fix their ancestors’ mistakes and banish the bad luck that’s followed them around for all of their lives. They’re going to face Munch the gator themselves, and they’re going to reclaim their destinies.
But what if the legend of Munch is nothing but a legend, after all?
Full of friendship, family, and the everyday magic and adventure that readers of Savvy and A Snicker of Magic love, Cassie Beasley’s newest middle grade book is another crowd-pleasing heart-warmer—perfect for reading by yourself, or sharing with someone you love.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Dial Books | August 29, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0525428442
Written by Celia C. Pérez
Publisher’s Synopsis: From debut author and longtime zine-maker Celia C. Pérez, The First Rule of Punk is a wry and heartfelt exploration of friendship, finding your place, and learning to rock out like no one’s watching.
There are no shortcuts to surviving your first day at a new school—you can’t fix it with duct tape like you would your Chuck Taylors. On Day One, twelve-year-old Malú (María Luisa, if you want to annoy her) inadvertently upsets Posada Middle School’s queen bee, violates the school’s dress code with her punk rock look, and disappoints her college-professor mom in the process. Her dad, who now lives a thousand miles away, says things will get better as long as she remembers the first rule of punk: be yourself.
The real Malú loves rock music, skateboarding, zines, and Soyrizo (hold the cilantro, please). And when she assembles a group of like-minded misfits at school and starts a band, Malú finally begins to feel at home. She’ll do anything to preserve this, which includes standing up to an anti-punk school administration to fight for her right to express herself!
Black and white illustrations and collage art throughout make The First Rule of Punk a perfect pick for fans of books like Roller Girl and online magazines like Rookie.
Ages 9-12 | Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers | August 22, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0425290408
Written by Jack Gantos
Publisher’s Synopsis: The Newbery Award–winning author of Dead End in Norvelt shares advice for how to be the best brilliant writer in this funny and practical creative writing guide perfect for all kids who dream of seeing their name on the spine of a book.
With the signature wit and humor that have garnered him legions of fans, Jack Gantos instructs young writers on using their “writing radar” to unearth story ideas from their everyday lives. Incorporating his own misadventures as a developing writer, Gantos inspires readers to build confidence and establish good writing habits as they create, revise, and perfect their stories. Pop-out text boxes highlight key tips, alongside Gantos’s own illustrations, sample stories, and snippets from his childhood journals. More than just a how-to guide, Writing Radar is a celebration of the power of storytelling and an ode to the characters who―many unwittingly―inspired Gantos’s own writing career.
Ages 9-12 | Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux | August 29, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0374304560
Written by Lorri Horn
Publisher’s Synopsis: Dewey Fairchild isn’t just good with parents, he’s great with them. He’s so good at handling parents that he’s built a thriving business out of it. He even has a secretary, Clara―a great alibi and an even better baker. Dewey settles the most troublesome of cases, from an overprotective mom who won’t let her child go to class on her own, to a dad who can’t stop picking his nose any chance he gets!
Dewey has no problem handling other people’s parents, but when he overhears his parents talking one day, he faces a challenge he never expected. Dewey can solve any problem parents may cause, but what will he do when the parents who are causing problems are his own?
Ages 9-12 | Publisher: Amberjack Publishing | August 8, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1944995164
Written by Reshma Saujani
Publisher’s Synopsis: Part how-to, part girl-empowerment, and all fun, from the leader of the movement championed by Sheryl Sandberg, Malala Yousafzai, and John Legend.
Since 2012, the organization Girls Who Code has taught computing skills to and inspired over 40,000 girls across America. Now its founder, Reshma Saujani, wants to inspire you to be a girl who codes! Bursting with dynamic artwork, down-to-earth explanations of coding principles, and real-life stories of girls and women working at places like Pixar and NASA, this graphically animated book shows what a huge role computer science plays in our lives and how much fun it can be. No matter your interest—sports, the arts, baking, student government, social justice—coding can help you do what you love and make your dreams come true. Whether you’re a girl who’s never coded before, a girl who codes, or a parent raising one, this entertaining book, printed in bold two-color and featuring art on every page, will have you itching to create your own apps, games, and robots to make the world a better place.
Ages 10+ | Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers | August 22, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0425287538
Written by Deron R. Hicks
Publisher’s Synopsis: Dan Brown meets Jason Bourne in this riveting middle-grade mystery thriller. When a young boy is discovered in Washington DC’s National Gallery without any recollection of who he is, so begins a high-stakes race to unravel the greatest mystery of all: his identity.
As the stakes continue to rise, the boy must piece together the disjointed clues of his origins while using his limited knowledge to stop one of the greatest art frauds ever attempted. Digitally interactive, this breathtaking museum mystery offers QR codes woven throughout the book that bring renowned paintings to readers’ fingertips.
Ages 10-12 | Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers | August 29, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0544759275
Written by Pam Smy
Publisher’s Synopsis: Parallel stories set in different times, one told in prose and one in pictures, converge as a girl unravels the mystery of the abandoned Thornhill Institute next door.
1982: Mary is a lonely orphan at the Thornhill Institute For Children at the very moment that it’s shutting its doors. When her few friends are all adopted or re-homed and she’s left to face a volatile bully alone, her revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary, and on Thornhill itself.
2017: Ella has just moved to a new town where she knows no one. From her room on the top floor of her new home, she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute across the way, where she glimpses a girl in the window. Determined to befriend the girl and solidify the link between them, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill’s shadowy past.
Told in alternating, interwoven plotlines―Mary’s through intimate diary entries and Ella’s in bold, striking art―Pam Smy’s Thornhill is a haunting exploration of human connection, filled with suspense.
Ages 10-14 | Publisher: Roaring Brook Press | July 3, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1626726543
*Header image form the cover of Pablo and Birdy, written by Alison McGhee and illustrated by Ana Juan (Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books 2017)
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.