The Children’s Book Review | March 31, 2018
15 New Middle Grade Books for Ages 7-12 (and Beyond)
We’ve picked 15 middle grade books that we think are some of the best new books for preteens and tweens that release during the month of March. Here’s what you can expect to find: Book four of the wonderfully imaginative Dory Fantasmagory series, a look at NASA’s beloved Mars rover is sure to fascinate budding space explorers, an electrifying new series about a brother and sister who must harness their powers and find their place in a sharply divided world, an innovative book that offers something for every kind of reader and creator, short but hard-hitting wordless graphic picture book gets to the heart of childhood anxiety and opens the way for dialogue about acceptance, a Scottish medieval adventure about the youngest in a war-band who must free her family from a castle prison after knights attack her home, a heartfelt story of one girl’s search for home and identity, an emotionally-charged new classic about the science of hope, and much more!
Which middle grade book will you share with your growing readers this month?
Written by Abby Hanlon
Publisher’s Synopsis: A loose tooth leads to hilarious hijinks with the tooth fairy in book four of the wonderfully imaginative Dory Fantasmagory series.
Dory has her first loose tooth, and, with her usual over-the-top excitement, she cannot stop talking about the tooth fairy. Naturally, this drives her brother and sister crazy. But it also sparks a serious jealous streak in her nemesis, Mrs. Gobble Cracker, who wants all of Dory’s attention to herself.
But Mrs. Gobble Gracker has decided to steal the tooth fairy’s job, and flying around in a tutu from Rosabelle, she heads for Dory’s house. It’s time for Dory to come up with a serious plan to get the tooth fairy her job back.
The fourth installment in the wildly popular Dory Fantasmagory series delivers laughs on every page as Dory teams up with her pals, real and imaginary, to save the tooth fairy for all the world’s children–and get her dollar!
Ages 6-8 | Publisher: Dial Books | March 6, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-0735230460
Written and Illustrated by Markus Motum
Publisher’s Synopsis: Full of eye-catching retro illustrations, a look at NASA’s beloved Mars rover is sure to fascinate budding space explorers — and set inquisitive minds soaring.
Maybe you remember when a little robotic spacecraft landed on a far-off planet. On August 6, 2012, the rover Curiosity touched down on the rocky surface of Mars — and now she’s ready to guide you through her journey firsthand. From idea to creation and beyond, this fact-filled, stylish book introduces readers to Curiosity and her mission: to discover more about the red planet and search for evidence of life. How did Curiosity get her name? What tools does she use to carry out her tasks? In her own voice, the popular NASA rover tells how and why she traveled more than 350,000,000 miles to explore a planet no human has ever visited . . . and what she’s been doing there. In his debut picture book, Markus Motum brings Curiosity’s story to life in vivid color: the deep blues of space set off the warm, rusted hues of Mars’s dusty red surface, marking this lovable rover and her mission as something special — truly a world apart.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Candlewick | March 13, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-0763695040
Written by Joe Archer and Caroline Craig
Publisher’s Synopsis: For beginners and green-thumbed foodies, this unusually all-inclusive garden-to-kitchen cookbook is part lesson in gardening and part collection of healthy, delicious, kid-friendly recipes.
With vibrant photo-illustrations and clearly organized sections, discover how to plant seeds in patio containers, window boxes, or on an allotment; harvest fruits and vegetables; determine which plant parts are edible; spot pests in the garden; and use home-grown crops to cook everything from bean and bacon spaghetti to polenta chips to tomato, feta, and basil pizza.
Ages 7-10 | Publisher: Charlesbridge | March 6, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1580898171
Written by Tami Charles
Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton
Publisher’s Synopsis: Middle graders will laugh and cry with thirteen-year-old Vanessa Martin as she tries to be like Vanessa Williams, the first black Miss America.
In this semi-autobiographical debut novel set in 1983, Vanessa Martin’s real-life reality of living with family in public housing in Newark, New Jersey is a far cry from the glamorous Miss America stage. She struggles with a mother she barely remembers, a grandfather dealing with addiction and her own battle with self-confidence. But when a new teacher at school coordinates a beauty pageant and convinces Vanessa to enter, Vanessa’s view of her own world begins to change. Vanessa discovers that her own self-worth is more than the scores of her talent performance and her interview answers, and that she doesn’t need a crown to be comfortable in her own skin and see her own true beauty.
Ages 10+ | Publisher: Charlesbridge | March 13, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1580897778
Written by Roshani Chokshi
Publisher’s Synopsis: Best-selling author Rick Riordan introduces this adventure by Roshani Chokshi about twelve-year-old Aru Shah, who has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she’ll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur?
One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru’s doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don’t believe her claim that the museum’s Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again.
But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it’s up to Aru to save them.
The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Rick Riordan Presents | March 27, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1368012355
Written by Amie Kaufman
Publisher’s Synopsis: From New York Times bestselling author Amie Kaufman comes an electrifying new series about a brother and sister who must harness their powers and find their place in a sharply divided world.
Everyone in Vallen knows that ice wolves and scorch dragons are sworn enemies who live deeply separate lives.
So when twelve-year-old orphan Anders takes one elemental form and his twin sister, Rayna, takes another, he wonders whether they are even related. Still, whether or not they’re family, Rayna is Anders’s only true friend. She’s nothing like the brutal, cruel dragons who claimed her as one of their own and stole her away.
In order to rescue her, Anders must enlist at the foreboding Ulfar Academy, a school for young wolves that values loyalty to the pack above all else. But for Anders, loyalty is more complicated than obedience, and friendship is the most powerful shapeshifting force of all.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: HarperCollins | March 27, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-0062457981
Edited by Colby Sharp
Publisher’s Synopsis: Book advocate Colby Sharp presents more than forty beloved, award-winning, diverse and bestselling authors and illustrators in a creative challenge!
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | March 13, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-0316507813
Written by Ashley Herring Blake
Publisher’s Synopsis: In the wake of a destructive tornado, one girl develops feelings for another in this stunning, tender novel about emerging identity, perfect for fans of The Thing About Jellyfish.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | March 6, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-0316515467
Written by Susan Tan
Illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte
Publisher’s Synopsis: Priscilla “Cilla” Lee-Jenkins has just finished her (future) bestselling memoir, and now she’s ready to write a Classic. This one promises to have everything: Romance, Adventure, and plenty of Drama―like Cilla’s struggles to “be more Chinese,” be the perfect flower girl at Aunt Eva’s wedding, and learn how to share her best friend.
In Cilla Lee-Jenkins: This Book Is a Classic, author Susan Tan seamlessly weaves experiences as a Chinese American with universal stories about being a big sister, making friends, and overcoming fears. Cilla Lee-Jenkins will bulldoze her way into your heart in this winning middle grade novel about family, friendship, and finding your voice.
Ages 8-10 | Publisher: Roaring Brook Press | March 27, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1626725539
Written and Illustrated by Mel Tregonning
Publisher’s Synopsis: In this wordless graphic picture book, a young boy feels alone with his worries. He isn’t fitting in well at school. His grades are slipping. He’s even lashing out at those who love him.
Talented Australian artist Mel Tregonning created Small Things in the final year of her life. In her emotionally rich illustrations, the boy’s worries manifest as tiny beings that crowd around him constantly, overwhelming him and even gnawing away at his very self. The striking imagery is all the more powerful when, overcoming his isolation at last, the boy discovers that the tiny demons of worry surround everyone, even those who seem to have it all together.
This short but hard-hitting wordless graphic picture book gets to the heart of childhood anxiety and opens the way for dialogue about acceptance, vulnerability, and the universal experience of worry.
Ages 8-10 | Publisher: Pajama Press | March 1, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1772780420
Written by Diane Magras
Publisher’s Synopsis: A Scottish medieval adventure about the youngest in a war-band who must free her family from a castle prison after knights attack her home–with all the excitement of Ranger’s Apprentice and perfect for fans of heroines like Alanna from The Song of the Lioness series.
One dark night, Drest’s sheltered life on a remote Scottish headland is shattered when invading knights capture her family, but leave Drest behind. Her father, the Mad Wolf of the North, and her beloved brothers are a fearsome war-band, but now Drest is the only one who can save them. So she starts off on a wild rescue attempt, taking a wounded invader along as a hostage.
Hunted by a bandit with a dark link to her family’s past, aided by a witch whom she rescues from the stake, Drest travels through unwelcoming villages, desolate forests, and haunted towns. Every time she faces a challenge, her five brothers speak to her in her mind about courage and her role in the war-band. But on her journey, Drest learns that the war-band is legendary for terrorizing the land. If she frees them, they’ll not hesitate to hurt the gentle knight who’s become her friend.
Drest thought that all she wanted was her family back; now she has to wonder what their freedom would really mean. Is she her father’s daughter or is it time to become her own legend?
Ages 9-12 | Publisher: Kathy Dawson Books | 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-0735229266
Written by Veera Hiranandani
Publisher’s Synopsis: In the vein of Inside Out and Back Again and The War That Saved My Life comes a poignant, personal, and hopeful tale of India’s partition, and of one girl’s journey to find a new home in a divided country
It’s 1947, and India, newly independent of British rule, has been separated into two countries: Pakistan and India. The divide has created much tension between Hindus and Muslims, and hundreds of thousands are killed crossing borders.
Half-Muslim, half-Hindu twelve-year-old Nisha doesn’t know where she belongs, or what her country is anymore. When Papa decides it’s too dangerous to stay in what is now Pakistan, Nisha and her family become refugees and embark first by train but later on foot to reach her new home. The journey is long, difficult, and dangerous, and after losing her mother as a baby, Nisha can’t imagine losing her homeland, too. But even if her country has been ripped apart, Nisha still believes in the possibility of putting herself back together.
Told through Nisha’s letters to her mother, The Night Diary is a heartfelt story of one girl’s search for home, for her own identity…and for a hopeful future.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Dial Books | 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-0735228511
Written by Tae Keller
Publisher’s Synopsis: An emotionally-charged new classic about the science of hope, love, and miracles! Natalie’s uplifting story of using the scientific process to “save” her mother from depression is sure to take root in readers’ hearts!
How do you grow a miracle?
For the record, this is not the question Mr. Neely is looking for when he says everyone in class must answer an important question using the scientific process. But Natalie’s botanist mother is suffering from depression, so this is The Question that’s important to Natalie. When Mr. Neely suggests that she enter an egg drop competition, Natalie has hope.
Eggs are breakable. Hope is not.
Natalie has a secret plan for the prize money. She’s going to fly her mother to see the Cobalt Blue Orchids–flowers that survive against impossible odds. The magical flowers are sure to inspire her mother to love life again. As Natalie prepares for the competition, she will discover that talking about problems is like taking a plant out of a dark cupboard and giving it light.
An extraordinary debut about the coming-of-age moment when kids realize that parents are people, too. Think THE FOURTEENTH GOLDFISH meets THE THING ABOUT JELLYFISH.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers | 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1524715663
Written by Kheryn Callender
Publisher’s Synopsis: Caroline Murphy is a Hurricane Child.
Being born during a hurricane is unlucky, and twelve-year-old Caroline has had her share of bad luck lately. She’s hated and bullied by everyone in her small school on St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands, a spirit only she can see won’t stop following her, and — worst of all — Caroline’s mother left home one day and never came back.
But when a new student named Kalinda arrives, Caroline’s luck begins to turn around. Kalinda, a solemn girl from Barbados with a special smile for everyone, becomes Caroline’s first and only friend — and the person for whom Caroline has begun to develop a crush.
Now, Caroline must find the strength to confront her feelings for Kalinda, brave the spirit stalking her through the islands, and face the reason her mother abandoned her. Together, Caroline and Kalinda must set out in a hurricane to find Caroline’s missing mother — before Caroline loses her forever.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Scholastic Press | March 27, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1338129304
Written by Varian Johnson
Publisher’s Synopsis: When Candice finds a letter in an old attic in Lambert, South Carolina, she isn’t sure she should read it. It’s addressed to her grandmother, who left the town in shame. But the letter describes a young woman. An injustice that happened decades ago. A mystery enfolding the letter-writer. And the fortune that awaits the person who solves the puzzle.
So with the help of Brandon Jones, the quiet boy across the street, she begins to decipher the clues. The challenge will lead them deep into Lambert’s history, full of ugly deeds, forgotten heroes, and one great love; and deeper into their own families, with their own unspoken secrets. Can they find the fortune and fulfill the letter’s promise before the answers slip into the past yet again?
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books | March 27, 2018 | ISBN-13:978-0545946179
*Header image from Curiosity: The Story of a Mars Rover, written and illustrated by Markus Motum (Candlewick, 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.