HomeBooks by AgeAges 9-12Best New Books for Preteens and Tweens | October 2016

Best New Books for Preteens and Tweens | October 2016

The Children’s Book Review | October 2, 2016

16 New Middle Grade Books for Ages 7-12 (and Beyond)

We’ve picked 16 of the best new middle grade books for kids ages 7 through 12, from the many middle grade books that release this month. You’ll find some outstanding non-fiction, a novel inspired by Chinese folklore, a graphic novel, a high-stakes middle grade fantasy, a pulse-pounding novel set during WW II, and the must-read book that lists 101 books to be read before a child grows up (we’re particularly excited that this one was written by The Children’s Book Review‘s founder).

some-writer-the-story-of-e-b-whiteSome Writer!: The Story of E. B. White

Written and Illustrated by Melissa Sweet

Publisher’s Synopsis: “SOME PIG,” Charlotte the spider’s praise for Wilbur, is just one fondly remembered snippet from E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. In Some Writer!, the two-time Caldecott Honor winner Melissa Sweet mixes White’s personal letters, photos, and family ephemera with her own exquisite artwork to tell his story, from his birth in 1899 to his death in 1985. Budding young writers will be fascinated and inspired by the journalist, New Yorker contributor, and children’s book author who loved words his whole life. This authorized tribute is the first fully illustrated biography of E. B. White and includes an afterword by Martha White, E. B. White’s granddaughter.

Ages 7-10 | Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers | October 4, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0544319592

the-way-things-work-nowThe Way Things Work Now

Written and Illustrated by David Macaulay

Publisher’s Synopsis: Explainer-in-Chief David Macaulay updates the worldwide bestseller The New Way Things Work to capture the latest developments in the technology that most impacts our lives. Famously packed with information on the inner workings of everything from windmills to Wi-Fi, this extraordinary and humorous book both guides readers through the fundamental principles of machines, and shows how the developments of the past are building the world of tomorrow. This sweepingly revised edition embraces all of the latest developments, from touchscreens to 3D printer. Each scientific principle is brilliantly explained–with the help of a charming, if rather slow-witted, woolly mammoth.

An illustrated survey of significant inventions closes the book, along with a glossary of technical terms, and an index. What possible link could there be between zippers and plows, dentist drills and windmills? Parking meters and meat grinders, jumbo jets and jackhammers, remote control and rockets, electric guitars and egg beaters? Macaulay explains them all.

Ages 7-10 | Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers | October 4, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0544824386

gerties-leap-to-greatnessGertie’s Leap to Greatness

Written by Kate Beasley

Publisher’s Synopsis: Gertie Reece Foy is 100% Not-From-Concentrate awesome. She has a daddy who works on an oil rig, a great-aunt who always finds the lowest prices at the Piggly Wiggly, and two loyal best friends. So when her absent mother decides to move away from their small town, Gertie sets out on her greatest mission yet: becoming the best fifth grader in the universe to show her mother exactly what she’ll be leaving behind. There’s just one problem: Seat-stealing new girl Mary Sue Spivey wants to be the best fifth grader, too. And there is simply not enough room at the top for the two of them.

From debut author Kate Beasley, and with illustrations by Caldecott Honor artist Jillian Tamaki, comes a classic tale of hope and homecoming that will empty your heart, then fill it back up again–one laugh at a time.

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux | October 4, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0374302610

when-the-sea-turned-to-silverWhen the Sea Turned to Silver

Written by Grace Lin

Publisher’s Synopsis: A breathtaking, full-color illustrated fantasy inspired by Chinese folklore, a companion to the Newbery Honor winner Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.

Pinmei’s gentle, loving grandmother always has the most exciting tales for her granddaughter and the other villagers. However, the peace is shattered one night when soldiers of the Emperor arrive and kidnap the storyteller.
Everyone knows that the Emperor wants something called the Luminous Stone That Lights the Night. Determined to have her grandmother returned, Pinmei embarks on a journey to find the Luminous Stone alongside her friend Yishan, a mysterious boy who seems to have his own secrets to hide. Together, the two must face obstacles usually found only in legends to find the Luminous Stone and save Pinmei’s grandmother–before it’s too late.
A fast-paced adventure that is extraordinarily written and beautifully illustrated, When the Sea Turned to Silver is a masterpiece companion novel to Where the Mountain Meets the Moon and Starry River of the Sky.

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | October 4, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0316125925

ratpunzelHamster Princess: Ratpunzel

Written and Illustrated by Ursula Vernon

Publisher’s Synopsis: Rapunzel gets a rodent twist in book three of the critically acclaimed and uproariously funny series that’s perfect for fans of Princess in Black and Babymouse

Princess Harriet Hamsterbone does not like sitting around at home. How’s a princess supposed to have any fun when her parents are constantly reminding her to be careful and act princessly? So when her pal Prince Wilbur needs help finding a stolen hydra egg, Harriet happily takes up the quest.  The thief’s trail leads them to a wicked witch and a tall tower, occupied by a rat whose tail has more to it than meets the eye!

The third book in the award-winning comic hybrid Hamster Princess series will make you look at rodents, royalty, and fairy tales in a whole new light.

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Dial Books | October 18, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0803739857

101-books-to-read-before-you-grow-up101 Books To Read Before You Grow Up

Written by Bianca Schulze

Publisher’s Synopsis: 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up provides a comprehensive list of kid-friendly books for children to read before they grow up. This must-read review list acts as an interactive journal where kids can document the books they read, why they like them, and how they rate them. Divided into sections by subject, from fairy tales and fantasy to sports and nonfiction, 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Upcelebrates the importance of reading and encourages family participation to develop lifelong readers. The perfect reference guide for book lovers of all ages, 101 Books to Read Before You Grow Up helps both kids and parents decide which books to read next!

Ages 5-11 | Walter Foster Jr. | October 10, 2016 | 978-1633221697

like-magic-by-elaine-vickersLike Magic

Written by Elaine Vickers

Illustrated by Sara Not

Publisher’s Synopsis: This sweet middle grade novel featuring a diverse cast of characters proves that friendship can be just around the corner.

For three ten-year-old girls, their once simple worlds are starting to feel too big. Painfully shy Grace dreads starting fifth grade now that her best friend has moved away. Jada hopes she’ll stop feeling so alone if she finds the mother who left years ago. And Malia fears the arrival of her new baby sister will forever change the family she loves. When the girls each find a mysterious treasure box in their library and begin to fill the box with their own precious things, they start to feel less alone. But it’s up to Grace, Jada, and Malia to take the treasures and turn them into something more: true friendship.

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: HarperCollins | October 18, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0062414311


Written by Henry H. Neff

Publisher’s Synopsis: In the first book of Henry H. Neff’s new high-stakes middle grade fantasy series, two unlikely allies confront a conspiracy that will shake the world of Impyrium to its core.

For over three thousand years, the Faeregine dynasty has ruled Impyrium. But the family’s magic has been fading, and with it their power over the empire. Whether it’s treachery from a rival house, the demon Lirlanders, or rebel forces, many believe the Faeregines are ripe to fall.

Hazel, the youngest member of the royal family, is happy to leave ruling to her sisters so that she can study her magic. But the empress has other plans for her granddaughter, dark and dangerous plans to exploit Hazel’s talents and rekindle the Faeregine mystique. Hob, a commoner from the remote provinces, has been sent to the city to serve the Faeregines—and to spy on them.

One wants to protect the dynasty. The other wants to destroy it. But when Hazel and Hob form an improbable friendship, their bond may save the realm as they know it…or end it for good.

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: HarperCollins | October 4, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0062392053

the-tudors-kings-queens-scribes-and-ferretsThe Tudors: Kings, Queens, Scribes, and Ferrets!

Written and Illustrated by Marcia Williams

Publisher’s Synopsis: The Tudor era springs to life in Marcia Williams’s lively account, written and illustrated in her signature comic-book style.

Travel back to Tudor times with Arthur Inkblott, Queen Elizabeth I’s favorite scribe, and his pet ferret, Smudge, who lives (and offers commentary) in the margins of the book. Meet the handsome and headstrong Henry VIII and his six wives, as well as the clever and beautiful Elizabeth I, who politely refused entreaties to marry. Fight the Spanish Armada, sail across the Atlantic with Christopher Columbus, and spend time with the Tudor common folk, who offer their own take on what life was like in these times. Packed with jokes, colorful illustrations, and fascinating facts, this informative and entertaining comic-strip history showcases the work of Marcia Williams at her very best.

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Candlewick | October 11, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0763681227

projekt-1065-a-novel-of-world-war-iiProjekt 1065: A Novel of World War II

Written by Alan Gratz

Publisher’s Synopsis: Infiltrate. Befriend. Sabotage.
World War II is raging. Michael O’Shaunessey, originally from Ireland, now lives in Nazi Germany with his parents. Like the other boys in his school, Michael is a member of the Hitler Youth.

But Michael has a secret. He and his parents are spies.

Michael despises everything the Nazis stand for. But he joins in the Hitler Youth’s horrific games and book burnings, playing the part so he can gain insider knowledge.

When Michael learns about Projekt 1065, a secret Nazi war mission, things get even more complicated. He must prove his loyalty to the Hitler Youth at all costs — even if it means risking everything he cares about.

Including… his own life.

From acclaimed author Alan Gratz (Prisoner B-3087) comes a pulse-pounding novel about facing fears and fighting for what matters most.

Ages 9-12 | Publisher: Scholastic Press | October 11, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0545880169

the-tragic-tale-of-the-great-aukThe Tragic Tale of the Great Auk

Written by Jan Thornhill

Publisher’s Synopsis: For hundreds of thousands of years Great Auks thrived in the icy seas of the North Atlantic, bobbing on the waves, diving for fish and struggling up onto rocky shores to mate and hatch their fluffy chicks. But by 1844, not a single one of these magnificent birds was alive.

In this stunningly illustrated non-fiction picture book, award-winning author and illustrator Jan Thornhill tells the tragic story of these birds that “weighed as much as a sack of potatoes and stood as tall as a preteen’s waist.” Their demise came about in part because of their anatomy. They could swim swiftly underwater, but their small wings meant they couldn’t fly and their feet were so far back on their bodies, they couldn’t walk very well. Still the birds managed to escape their predators much of the time … until humans became seafarers.

Ages 9-12 | Publisher: Groundwood Books | October 11, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1554988655

to-stay-alive-mary-ann-graves-and-the-tragic-journey-of-the-donner-partyTo Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the Donner Party

Written by Skila Brown

Publisher’s Synopsis: Told in riveting, keenly observed poetry, a moving first-person narrative as experienced by a young survivor of the tragic Donner Party of 1846.

The journey west by wagon train promises to be long and arduous for nineteen-year-old Mary Ann Graves and her parents and eight siblings. Yet she is hopeful about their new life in California: freedom from the demands of family, maybe some romance, better opportunities for all. But when winter comes early to the Sierra Nevada and their group gets a late start, the Graves family, traveling alongside the Donner and Reed parties, must endure one of the most harrowing and storied journeys in American history. Amid the pain of loss and the constant threat of death from starvation or cold, Mary Ann’s is a narrative, told beautifully in verse, of a girl learning what it means to be part of a family, to make sacrifices for those we love, and above all to persevere.

Ages 10-14 | Publisher: Candlewick | October 11, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0763678111

magnus-chase-and-the-gods-of-asgard-book-2-the-hammer-of-thorMagnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: Book 2: The Hammer of Thor

Written by Rick Riordan

Publisher’s Synopsis: Thor’s hammer is missing again. The thunder god has a disturbing habit of misplacing his weapon–the mightiest force in the Nine Worlds. But this time the hammer isn’t just lost, it has fallen into enemy hands. If Magnus Chase and his friends can’t retrieve the hammer quickly, the mortal worlds will be defenseless against an onslaught of giants. Ragnarok will begin. The Nine Worlds will burn. Unfortunately, the only person who can broker a deal for the hammer’s return is the gods’ worst enemy, Loki–and the price he wants is very high.

Ages 10-14 | Publisher: Disney-Hyperion | October 4, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1423160922

sachiko-a-nagasaki-bomb-survivors-storySachiko: A Nagasaki Bomb Survivor’s Story

Written by Caren Stelson

Publisher’s Synopsis: This striking work of narrative nonfiction tells the true story of six-year-old Sachiko Yasui’s survival of the Nagasaki atomic bomb on August 9, 1945, and the heartbreaking and lifelong aftermath. Having conducted extensive interviews with Sachiko Yasui, Caren Stelson chronicles Sachiko s trauma and loss as well as her long journey to find peace. This book offers readers a remarkable new perspective on the final moments of World War II and their aftermath.

Ages 10-18 | Publisher: Carolrhoda Books | October 1, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1467789035

the-secret-horses-of-briar-hillThe Secret Horses of Briar Hill

Written by Megan Shepherd

Publisher’s Synopsis: There are winged horses that live in the mirrors of Briar Hill hospital–the mirrors that reflect the elegant rooms once home to a princess, now filled with sick children. Only Emmaline can see the creatures. It is her secret.

One morning, Emmaline climbs over the wall of the hospital’s abandoned gardens and discovers something incredible: a white horse with a broken wing has left the mirror-world and entered her own.

The horse, named Foxfire, is hiding from a dark and sinister force—a Black Horse who hunts by colorless moonlight. If Emmaline is to keep him from finding her new friend, she must surround Foxfire with treasures of brilliant shades. But where can Emmaline find color in a world of gray?

Ages 10+ | Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers | October 11, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1101939758

ashes-the-seeds-of-america-trilogyAshes: The Seeds of America Trilogy

Written by Laurie Halse Anderson

Publisher’s Synopsis: Return to the American Revolution in this blistering conclusion to the trilogy that began with the bestselling National Book Award Finalist Chains and continued with Forge, which The New York Times called “a return not only to the colonial era but to historical accuracy.”

As the Revolutionary War rages on, Isabel and Curzon have narrowly escaped Valley Forge—but their relief is short-lived. Before long they are reported as runaways, and the awful Bellingham is determined to track them down. With purpose and faith, Isabel and Curzon march on, fiercely determined to find Isabel’s little sister Ruth, who is enslaved in a Southern state—where bounty hunters are thick as flies.

Heroism and heartbreak pave their path, but Isabel and Curzon won’t stop until they reach Ruth, and then freedom, in this grand finale to the acclaimed Seeds of America trilogy from Laurie Halse Anderson.

Ages 10-14 | Publisher: Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books | October 4, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1416961468

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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