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Best New Kids Books for Preteens and Tweens | September 2016

The Children’s Book Review | September 1, 2016

16 New Middle Grade Books for Ages 7-12

From the many middle grade books that release this month, we’ve picked 16 of the best new middle grade books for kids ages 7 through 12. You’ll find non-fiction, sports fan fiction, an outstanding Raina Telgemeier graphic novel, contemporary tales, an embarrassingly honest look at growing up, a novel in verse, and a hilariously scary chapter book perfect for the upcoming spooky season.

Children Just Like Me- A new celebration of children around the world

Children Just Like Me: A new celebration of children around the world

From DK Publishing

Publisher’s Synopsis: A favorite in classrooms, libraries, and homes, Children Just Like Me is a comprehensive view of international cultures, exploring diverse backgrounds from Argentina to New Zealand to China to Israel. With this brand new edition, children will learn about their peers around the world through engaging photographs and understandable text laid out in DK’s distinctive style.

Highlighting 36 different countries, Children Just Like Me profiles 44 children and their daily lives. From rural farms to busy cities to riverboats, this celebration of children around the world shows the many ways children are different and the many ways they are the same, no matter where they live.

Meet Bolat, an eight-year-old from Kazakhstan who likes to cycle, play with his pet dogs, and play the dromba; Joaquin from New Jersey who enjoys reading and spending time with his family, and whose favorite food is bacon; or Yaroslav from Moscow who likes to make robots. Daily routines, stories of friends and family, and dreams for the future are spoken directly from the children themselves, making the content appropriate and interesting to draw in young readers.

To celebrate the twentieth anniversary of this special project, all-new photography, maps, and facts give unique insight to children’s lives in our world today showing their homes, food, outfits, schools, families, and hobbies.

A passport to a celebratory journey around the world, Children Just Like Me is perfect for children who are curious about the children of the world and their stories.

Ages 7-10 | Publisher: DK Children | September 6, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1465453921

Atlas of Animal Adventures

Atlas of Animal Adventures: A collection of nature’s most unmissable events, epic migrations and extraordinary behaviours

Written by Rachel Williams and Emily Hawkins

Illustrated by Lucy Letherland

Publisher’s Synopsis: From the team behind the best-selling Atlas of Adventures. Head off on a journey of discovery, with this book that collects together nature’s most unmissable events from between the two poles, including epic migrations, extraordinary behaviours, and Herculean habits. Find hundreds of things to spot and learn new facts about every animal.

Ages 7-10 | Publisher: Wide Eyed Editions | September 9, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1847808417

Left Out by Tim GreenLeft Out

Written by Tim Green

Publisher’s Synopsis: Perfect for fans of Mike Lupica, New York Times bestselling author and former NFL player Tim Green tells a heartfelt and moving story about a deaf boy’s journey to change how others see him—both on and off the football field.

All Landon Dorch has ever wanted is to be like everyone else. His deafness and the way he talks have been obstacles all his life. But now he finally sees his chance to fit in. Bigger and taller than any other seventh grader in his new school, Landon plans to use his size to his advantage and join the school’s football team. But the same speech problems and the cochlear implants that help him hear continue to haunt him.

Just when it looks like Landon will be left out of football for good, an unlikely friend comes along. But in the end only Landon can fight his way off the bench and through a crowded field of bullies bent on seeing him forever left out.

Ages8-12 | Publisher: HarperCollins | September 27, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0062293824

Ghosts by Raina TelgemierGhosts

Written and Illustrated by Raina Telgemeier

Publisher’s Synopsis: Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn’t happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister’s sake — and her own.

Raina Telgemeier has masterfully created a moving and insightful story about the power of family and friendship, and how it gives us the courage to do what we never thought possible.

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: GRAPHIX | September 13, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0545540629

Two NaomisTwo Naomis

Written by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Audrey Vernick

Publisher’s Synopsis: A realistic contemporary story of two girls, both named Naomi, whose divorced parents begin to date—perfect for fans of Lisa Graff, Sara Pennypacker, and Rita Williams-Garcia.

Other than their first names, Naomi Marie and Naomi Edith are sure they have nothing in common, and they wouldn’t mind keeping it that way.

Naomi Marie starts clubs at the library and adores being a big sister. Naomi Edith loves quiet Saturdays and hanging with her best friend in her backyard. And while Naomi Marie’s father lives a few blocks away, Naomi Edith wonders how she’s supposed to get through each day a whole country apart from her mother.

When Naomi Marie’s mom and Naomi Edith’s dad get serious about dating, each girl tries to cling to the life she knows and loves. Then their parents push them into attending a class together, where they might just have to find a way to work with each other—and maybe even join forces to find new ways to define family.

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Balzer + Bray | September 13, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0062414250

Frazzled- Everyday Disasters and Impending DoomFrazzled: Everyday Disasters and Impending Doom

Written by Booki Vivat

Publisher’s Synopsis: Meet Abbie Wu. Abbie is in crisis—and not just because she’s starting middle school or because she’s stuck in a family that doesn’t quite get her or because everyone seems to have a Thing except her. Abbie Wu is always in crisis.

From debut author and professional doodler Booki Vivat, Frazzled dives right into the mind of this hilariously neurotic middle school girl as she tries to figure out who she is and where she belongs. Akin to Smile by Raina Telgemeier, Frazzled is heavily illustrated, embarrassingly honest, and sure to appeal to anyone in the middle of figuring out how to survive the everyday disasters of growing up.

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: HarperCollins | September 27, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0062398796

Nightmares! The Lost LullabyNightmares! The Lost Lullaby

Written by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller

Illustrated by Karl Kwasny

Publisher’s Synopsis: The third book in the hilariously scary Nightmares! series by New York Times bestselling authors Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller is here! You thought the nightmares were over? You better keep the lights on!

Charlie Laird has a very bad feeling.

1. There’s a NEW GIRL at school, and Charlie and his friends have DEFINITELY seen her before.
2. He’s been hearing strange noises after dark, which is NEVER a good sign.
3. The nightmares are back, and they’re WEIRDER THAN EVER.

Not since he faced his fears has Charlie had so many bad dreams. Whenever he falls asleep, he finds himself in a Netherworld field, surrounded by a flock of CREEPY BLACK SHEEP. They’re not counting sheep. They refuse to jump. In fact, they don’t do much at all. EVEN EERIER, THOUGH, is that it’s not Charlie’s nightmare. Somehow he’s trapped in someone else’s bad dream. And he’s pretty sure the twins ICK and INK are responsible. Charlie and his friends thought they’d put the twins out of business, but it seems they didn’t quite finish the job. Now the WOOLLY NIGHTMARES are closing in, and INK has shown up at Cypress Creek Elementary! Charlie’s convinced that INK is up to NO GOOD. And if he’s right, it could be a very long time before anyone’s dreams are sweet again.

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers | September 13, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0385744294

Unbound- A Novel in Verse by Ann E. BurgUnbound: A Novel in Verse

Written by Ann E. Burg

Publisher’s Synopsis: The day Grace is called from the slave cabins to work in the Big House, Mama makes her promise to keep her eyes down. Uncle Jim warns her to keep her thoughts tucked private in her mind or they could bring a whole lot of trouble and pain.

But the more Grace sees of the heartless Master and hateful Missus, the more a rightiness voice clamors in her head-asking how come white folks can own other people, sell them on the auction block, and separate families forever. When that voice escapes without warning, it sets off a terrible chain of events that prove Uncle Jim’s words true. Suddenly, Grace and her family must flee deep into the woods, where they brave deadly animals, slave patrollers, and the uncertainty of ever finding freedom.

With candor and compassion, Ann E. Burg sheds light on a startling chapter of American history–the remarkable story of runaways who sought sanctuary in the Great Dismal Swamp–and creates a powerful testament to the right of every human to be free.

Ages 9-12 | Publisher: Scholastic Press | September 27, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0545934275

The Music in George's HeadThe Music in George’s Head: George Gershwin Creates Rhapsody in Blue

Written by Suzanne Slade

Illustrated by Stacy Innerst

Publisher’s Synopsis: George Gershwin heard music all the time—at home, at school, even on New York City’s busy streets. Classical, ragtime, blues, and jazz—George’s head was filled with a whole lot of razzmatazz! With rhythmic swirls of words and pictures, author Suzanne Slade and illustrator Stacy Innerst beautifully reveal just how brilliantly Gershwin combined various kinds of music to create his masterpiece, Rhapsody in Blue, a surprising and whirlwind composition of notes, sounds, and one long wail of a clarinet. Includes author’s note, timeline, and bibliography.

Ages 9-11 | Publisher: Calkins Creek | September 13, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1629790992

The BEst Man by Richard PeckThe Best Man

Written by Richard Peck

Publisher’s Synopsis: Newbery Medalist Richard Peck tells a story of small-town life, gay marriage, and everyday heroes in this novel for fans of Gary Schmidt and Jack Gantos

Archer Magill has spent a lively five years of grade school with one eye out in search of grown-up role models. Three of the best are his grandpa, the great architect; his dad, the great vintage car customizer,; and his uncle Paul, who is just plain great. These are the three he wants to be. Along the way he finds a fourth—Mr. McLeod, a teacher. In fact, the first male teacher in the history of the school.

But now here comes middle school and puberty. Change. Archer wonders how much change has to happen before his voice does. He doesn’t see too far ahead, so every day or so a startling revelation breaks over him. Then a really big one when he’s the best man at the wedding of two of his role models. But that gets ahead of the story.

In pages that ripple with laughter, there’s a teardrop here and there. And more than a few insights about the bewildering world of adults, made by a boy on his way to being the best man he can be.

Ages 9-12 | Publisher: Dial Books | September 20, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0803738393

The Creeping Shadow

Lockwood and Co.: The Creeping Shadow: Book 4

Written by Jonathan Stroud

Publisher’s Synopsis: After leaving Lockwood & Co. at the end of The Hollow Boy, Lucy is a freelance operative, hiring herself out to agencies that value her ever-improving skills. One day she is pleasantly surprised by a visit from Lockwood, who tells her he needs a good Listener for a tough assignment. Penelope Fittes, the leader of the giant Fittes Agency wants them–and only them–to locate and remove the Source for the legendary Brixton Cannibal. They succeed in their very dangerous task, but tensions remain high between Lucy and the other agents. Even the skull in the jar talks to her like a jilted lover. What will it take to reunite the team? Black marketeers, an informant ghost, a Spirit Cape that transports the wearer, and mysteries involving Steve Rotwell and Penelope Fittes just may do the trick. But, in a shocking cliffhanger ending, the team learns that someone has been manipulating them all along. . . .

Ages 9-12 | Publisher: Disney-Hyperion | September 13, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1484709672

The ADventurers Guide to Successful Escapes by Wade Albert WhiteThe Adventurer’s Guide to Successful Escapes

Written by Wade Albert White

Publisher’s Synopsis: A thrilling debut novel where fantasy and science fiction meet, dragons aren’t as innocent as they look, and nothing is quite what it seems.

Anne has spent most of her thirteen years dreaming of the day she and her best friend Penelope will finally leave Saint Lupin’s Institute for Perpetually Wicked and Hideously Unattractive Children. When the big day arrives, a series of very curious happenings lead to Anne being charged with an epic quest. Anne, Penelope, and new questing partner Hiro have only days to travel to strange new locales, solve myriad riddles, and triumph over monstrous foes–or face the horrible consequences.
Packed with action, humor, and endless heart, this debut novel marks the first volume in an irresistible and original fantasy series.

Ages 9-12 | Publisher: Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | September 13, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0316305280

Mighty Jack by Ben HatkeMighty Jack

Written and Illustrated by Ben Hatke

Publisher’s Synopsis: Jack might be the only kid in the world who’s dreading summer. But he’s got a good reason: summer is when his single mom takes a second job and leaves him at home to watch his autistic kid sister, Maddy. It’s a lot of responsibility, and it’s boring, too, because Maddy doesn’t talk. Ever. But then, one day at the flea market, Maddy does talk―to tell Jack to trade their mom’s car for a box of mysterious seeds. It’s the best mistake Jack has ever made.

In Mighty Jack, what starts as a normal little garden out back behind the house quickly grows up into a wild, magical jungle with tiny onion babies running amok, huge, pink pumpkins that bite, and, on one moonlit night that changes everything…a dragon.

Ages 10+ | Publisher: First Second | September 6, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1626722644

The Inquisitor's Tale- Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy DogThe Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog

Written by Adam Gidwitz

Publisher’s Synopsis: An exciting and hilarious new medieval adventure about history, religion . . . and farting dragons, from the bestselling author of A Tale Dark and Grimm.

1242. On a dark night, travelers from across France cross paths at an inn and begin to tell stories of three children: William, an oblate on a mission from his monastery; Jacob, a Jewish boy who has fled his burning village; and Jeanne, a peasant girl who hides her prophetic visions. They are accompanied by Jeanne’s loyal greyhound, Gwenforte . . . recently brought back from the dead.
As the narrator collects their tales, the story of these three unlikely allies begins to come together.

Their adventures take them on a chase through France to escape prejudice and persecution and save precious and holy texts from being burned. They’re taken captive by knights, sit alongside a king, and save the land from a farting dragon. And as their quest drives them forward to a final showdown at Mont Saint-Michel, all will come to question if these children can perform the miracles of saints.

Beloved bestselling author Adam Gidwitz makes his long-awaited return with his first new world since his hilarious and critically acclaimed Grimm series. Featuring manuscript illuminations throughout by illustrator Hatem Aly and filled with Adam’s trademark style and humor, The Inquisitor’s Tale is bold storytelling that’s richly researched and adventure-packed.

Ages 10+ | Publisher: Dutton Books for Young Readers | September 27, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0525426165

I Am Drums Written by Mike GrossoI Am Drums

Written by Mike Grosso

Publisher’s Synopsis: Sam knows she wants to be a drummer. But she doesn’t know how to afford a drum kit, or why budget cuts end her school’s music program, or why her parents argue so much, or even how to explain her dream to other people.

But drums sound all the time in Sam’s head, and she’d do just about anything to play them out loud—even lie to her family if she has to. Will the cost of chasing her dream be too high?

An exciting new voice in contemporary middle grade, Mike Grosso creates a determined heroine readers will identify with and cheer for.

Ages 10-12 | Publisher: Clarion Books | September 6, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0544707108

Last Man Out by Mike LupicaLast Man Out

Written by Mike Lupica

Publisher’s Synopsis: From the #1 bestselling author of HeatTravel Team and Fantasy League comes a story of heroes, family, the thrills of skateboarding, and football.

When the Brighton Bears suit up on game day, 12-year-old Tommy Gallagher is the toughest kid on the football field. And the bravest. After all, his father Patrick is a Boston firefighter–one of Boston’s bravest. Tommy’s dad taught him everything he knows about football–and life.

Yet even Tommy isn’t strong enough for what happens when the sirens ring and, for the first time, they’re racing away from the fire. “First man in; last man out” had always been his dad’s motto . . . yet he never said anything about leaving in an ambulance. What kind of risk had his dad taken? Now Tommy’s biggest battle has nothing to do with football. And the kid who always had such respect for risk on the gridiron finds himself drawn to it off the field.

Set in New England, home of the Patriots’ football dynasty, Mike Lupica shows off his trademark knack for spinning a tale that’s equal parts sports action and heart. Last Man Out is a thoughtful tribute to the bravery of firefighters and the need we all have to live up to the level of our heroes.

Ages 10+ | Publisher: Philomel Books | September 13, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0399172793

For more of the best new middle grade books for kids ages 7 through 12, follow along with our articles tagged with New Books for Kids, Middle Grade BooksBooks for Ages 4-8, and Books for Ages 9-12.

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Bianca Schulze is the founder of The Children’s Book Review. She is a reader, reviewer, mother and children’s book lover. She also has a decade’s worth of experience working with children in the great outdoors. Combined with her love of books and experience as a children’s specialist bookseller, the goal is to share her passion for children’s literature to grow readers. Born and raised in Sydney, Australia, she now lives with her husband and three children near Boulder, Colorado.

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