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Best New Books for Preteens and Tweens | November 2016

The Children’s Book Review | November 1, 2016

12 New Middle Grade Books for Ages 8-14 (and Beyond)

From the many middle grade books that release during November, we’ve picked 12 of our favorites to share with you. Here’s what you’ll find: Lemony Snicket meets Elf in a warmhearted Christmas caper, a poignant story of loss and hope, the original screenplay of J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a charming historical-fiction mystery, various friendship and kindness experiments, and a thrilling adventure for Ranger’s Apprentice fans. Which middle grade book will you share with your growing readers this month?


jurassic-classic-the-prehistoric-masters-of-artJurassic Classic: The Prehistoric Masters Of Art

Written by Saskia Lacey

Publisher’s Synopsis: Using dinosaur mashups as a creative way to introduce art history, The Prehistoric Masters of Artexplores the lives of the famous “masters” of our past.

Jurassic Classics: The Prehistoric Masters of Art uses prehistoric dinosaur humor to introduce young readers to art history in a fun and inviting new way. The Prehistoric Masters of Art features an assortment of artist biographies, each with a “prehistoric” twist, such as Leonardo da Vilociraptor, Vincent van Guanadon, and Frida Kahlopholus. After a brief “dino” history of each artist, a clever parody of his or her most famous sketches and paintings is included, as well as a true-to-life biography, with actual facts and descriptions about the life of each artist.

Ages 8-11 | Publisher: Walter Foster Jr. | 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1633221802


a-boy-called-christmasA Boy Called Christmas

Written by Matt Haig

Illustrated by Chris Mould

Publisher’s Synopsis: Before there was Santa Claus, there was a young boy who believed in the impossible. . . . Lemony Snicket meets Elf in this warmhearted Christmas caper.

Eleven-year-old Nikolas—nicknamed “Christmas”—has received only one toy in his life: a doll carved out of a turnip. But he’s happy with his turnip doll, because it came from his parents, who love him. Then one day his father goes missing, and Nikolas must travel to the North Pole to save him.

Along the way, Nikolas befriends a surly reindeer, bests a troublesome troll, and discovers a hidden world of enchantment in the frozen village of Elfhelm. But the elves of Elfhelm have troubles of their own: Christmas spirit and goodwill are at an all-time low, and Nikolas may be the only person who can fix things—if only he can reach his father before it’s too late. . . .

Sparkling with wit and warmth, A Boy Called Christmas is a cheeky new Christmas classic-in-the-making from acclaimed author Matt Haig and illustrator Chris Mould.

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers | November 1, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0399552656


the-mutts-autumn-diariesThe Mutts Autumn Diaries

Written and Illustrated by Patrick McDonnell

Publisher’s Synopsis: Yesh! Mooch, Earl, and all their endearing Mutts friends return in this third Mutts collection for kids!

Grab a sweater and pick out a pumpkin—it’s finally fall! Follow along as our dynamic duo, Earl and Mooch, enjoy the changing colors, start up a (very large) leaf collection, and select the very best Trick-or-Treat costumes.

When they aren’t busy filling their bellies with Halloween treats and Thanksgiving shnacks, Mooch and Earl show Bip, Bop and the rest of the gang that the best way to appreciate the season is with a friend.

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing | November 8, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1449480110


The Kindness ClubThe Kindness Club

Written by Courtney Sheinmel

Publisher’s Synopsis: Chloe Silver has always been good at looking on the bright side. Even though her parents got divorced and she’s moved to a new town, she knows that she will make great friends at her new school. So when she is assigned a science project with offbeat Lucy Tanaka and nerdy Theo Barnes, they have fun creating an experiment that tests out the laws of science through different acts of kindness . . . officially forming The Kindness Club.

But when she is also asked join the cool girls’ exclusive It Girls club, Chloe feels completely torn between the It Girls and The Kindness Club. Faced with the possibility of upsetting all her new friends, Chloe’s capacity for kindness is put to the test. Sometimes mistakes yield the best discoveries, and there is one hypothesis that can always be proven correct: Kindness is the coolest.

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens | November 1, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1681190914


threads-by-ami-polonskyThreads

Written by Ami Polonsky

Publisher’s Synopsis: To Whom It May Concern: Please, we need help!

The day twelve-year-old Clara finds a desperate note in a purse in Bellman’s department store, she is still reeling from the death of her adopted sister, Lola.

By that day, thirteen-year-old Yuming has lost hope that the note she stashed in the purse will ever be found. She may be stuck sewing in the pale pink factory outside of Beijing forever.

Clara grows more and more convinced that she was meant to find Yuming’s note. Lola would have wanted her to do something about it. But how can Clara talk her parents, who are also in mourning, into going on a trip to China?

Finally the time comes when Yuming weighs the options, measures the risk, and attempts a daring escape.

The lives of two girls–one American, and one Chinese–intersect like two soaring kites in this story about loss, hope, and recovery.

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Disney-Hyperion | November 1, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1484746905


fantastic-beasts-and-where-to-find-them-original-screenplayFantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay

Written by J.K. Rowling

Publisher’s Synopsis: When Magizoologist Newt Scamander arrives in New York, he intends his stay to be just a brief stopover. However, when his magical case is misplaced and some of Newt’s fantastic beasts escape, it spells trouble for everyone…

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them marks the screenwriting debut of J.K. Rowling, author of the beloved and internationally bestselling Harry Potter books. Featuring a cast of remarkable characters, this is epic, adventure-packed storytelling at its very best.

Whether an existing fan or new to the wizarding world, this is a perfect addition to any reader’s bookshelf.

Ages 8+ | Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books | November 18, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1338109061


abrakapowAbrakaPOW

Written by Isaiah Campbell

Publisher’s Synopsis: Based on a true World War II story, Isaiah Campbell tells a charming mystery about a mishap at a magic show at a POW camp—featuring magic how-to diagrams throughout.

Try as she might, cheeky middle schooler Maxine Larousse (you may call her Max “La Roo” or The Amazing Max, if you’d like) has yet to learn the one magic trick she needs the most: how to reappear in New York City. That is where she used to live with her parents before her father, Major Larousse, was put in charge of a Nazi POW camp in Abilene, Texas. At least in this desolate wasteland she’ll have plenty of time to practice her illusions, even if the only audience member is her ferret Houdini.

When she’s tasked with entertaining the Nazi prisoners with a magic show, the pressure may be too much. But with the help of some classmates and an unexpected magic expert, the performance is a hit—until twelve Nazis escape during her final act. Will she be able to track them down before her reputation as a magician is destroyed forever?

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | November 8, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1481426343


the-bone-sparrowThe Bone Sparrow

Written by Zana Fraillon

Publisher’s Synopsis: Subhi is a refugee. Born in an Australian permanent detention center after his mother and sister fled the violence of a distant homeland, Subhi has only ever known life behind the fences. But his world is far bigger than that—every night, the magical Night Sea from his mother’s stories brings him gifts, the faraway whales sing to him, and the birds tell their stories. And as he grows, his imagination threatens to burst beyond the limits of his containment.

The most vivid story of all, however, is the one that arrives one night in the form of Jimmie—a scruffy, impatient girl who appears on the other side of the wire fence and brings with her a notebook written by the mother she lost. Unable to read it herself, she relies on Subhi to unravel her family’s love songs and tragedies.

Subhi and Jimmie might both find comfort—and maybe even freedom—as their tales unfold. But not until each has been braver than ever before.

Ages 9-12 | Publisher: Disney-Hyperion | November 1, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1484781517


the-friendship-experimentThe Friendship Experiment

Written by Erin Teagan

Publisher’s Synopsis: Future scientist Madeline Little is dreading the start of middle school. Nothing has been right since her grandfather died and her best friend changed schools. Maddie would rather help her father in his research lab or write Standard Operating Procedures in her lab notebook than hang out with a bunch of kids who aren’t even her friends. Despite Maddie’s reluctance, some new friends start coming her way—until they discover what she’s written in that secret notebook. And that’s just part of the trouble. Can this future scientific genius find the formula for straightening out her life?

Ages 9-12 | HMH Books for Young Readers | November 1, 2016 | 978-0544636224


out-of-tuneOut of Tune

Written by Gail Nall

Publisher’s Synopsis: A country music hopeful puts her Nashville dreams on hold when she moves into an RV to travel across the country with her family in this charming new novel from the author of Breaking the Ice.

When twelve-year-old Maya’s parents sell their house and move the family into the world’s ugliest RV to travel the country, Maya’s only goal is to get back home in time to audition for Dueling Duets, the singing competition show that’s going to surely propel her—and her cowboy-hatted crush—to country stardom.

As Operation Maya Goes Home, or OMGH, turns out to be more complicated than she had expected, she embarks on a secret one-day, one-hundred-mile bike ride with her know-it-all little sister, a cute nature boy, and blue-haired, earbud-addicted Shiver (a.k.a. the most annoying girl ever). Somewhere between the worst muscle ache she’s ever experienced and losing half of their group to a flat tire, Maya starts wondering if maybe, just maybe, it’s possible to find home in the last place you expected.

Ages 9-14 | Publisher: Aladdin | November 8, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1481458177


the-battle-of-hackham-heath-rangers-apprenticeThe Battle of Hackham Heath: Ranger’s Apprentice: The Early Years: Book 2

Written by John A. Flanagan

Publisher’s Synopsis: John Flanagan, author of the bestselling Ranger’s Apprentice fantasy adventure epic, delivers a second prequel to Ruins of Gorlan, the novel that started it all, with Halt and Crowley preparing for war against a near-unstoppable enemy

When the former Baron Morgarath escaped to avoid punishment for treason, an uneasy peace fell on Araluen. But Morgarath, now in hiding, is already planning his next move, recruiting an army of savage, overpowering beasts known as Wargals. Newly crowned King Duncan knows he must assemble his troops for battle.

To find out the full extent of Morgarath’s plan of attack, Halt prepares for a seemingly impossible task–climbing the deadly cliffs of the Mountains of Rain and Night and venturing deep into enemy territory to spy. After all, the winner of this war could be determined by one wrong move.

At the Battle of Hackham Heath, the fate of a Kingdom will be decided. This origin story of how Halt came to be Araluen’s most famous Ranger – and how war will decide the future of the next generation – will thrill Ranger’s Apprentice fans and new readers alike.

Ages 10+ | Publisher: Philomel Books | November 29, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-0399163623


fannie-never-flinched-one-womans-courage-in-the-struggle-for-american-labor-union-rightsFannie Never Flinched: One Woman’s Courage in the Struggle for American Labor Union Rights

Written by Mary Cronk Farrell

Publisher’s Synopsis: Fannie Sellins (1872–1919) lived during the Gilded Age of American Industrialization, when the Carnegies and Morgans wore jewels while their laborers wore rags. Fannie dreamed that America could achieve its ideals of equality and justice for all, and she sacrificed her life to help that dream come true. Fannie became a union activist, helping to create St. Louis, Missouri, Local 67 of the United Garment Workers of America. She traveled the nation and eventually gave her life, calling for fair wages and decent working and living conditions for workers in both the garment and mining industries. Her accomplishments live on today. This book includes an index, glossary, a timeline of unions in the United States, and endnotes.

Ages 10-14 | Publisher: Abrams Books for Young Readers | November 1, 2016 | ISBN-13: 978-1419718847


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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