Best New Books for Tweens and Preteens | October 2017
The Children’s Book Review | October 30, 2017
15 New Middle Grade Books for Ages 7-14 (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 October. Here’s what you can expect to find: an important story of love and hope that will capture readers’ hearts, the perfect introduction to one of the world’s greatest playwrights and his enduring works, a modern classic in the making reminiscent of the Penderwicks series, a moving story that powerfully demonstrates the plight of endangered animals everywhere, and a sensitively told tale of child abuse.
Which middle grade book will you share with your growing readers this month?
Written by Kate Messner
Publisher’s Synopsis: Kirby “Zig” Zigonski lives for the world of simple circuits, light bulbs, buzzers, and motors. Electronics are, after all, much more predictable than most people–especially his father, who he hasn’t seen in over a year. When his dad’s latest visit is canceled with no explanation and his mom seems to be hiding something, Zig turns to his best friend Gianna and a new gizmo–a garage sale GPS unit–for help. Convinced that his dad is leaving clues around town to explain his absence, Zig sets out to find him. Following one clue after another, logging mile after mile, Zig soon discovers that people aren’t always what they seem . . . and sometimes, there’s more than one set of coordinates for home.
An important story of love and hope that will capture readers’ hearts, The Exact Location of Home is another must read from beloved author Kate Messner.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens | October 3, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1681195483
Written by the Reduced Shakespeare Co.
Illustrated by Jennie Maizels
Publisher’s Synopsis: Learn about all of Shakespeare’s plays in one book!
Read about William Shakespeare’s plays, sonnets, and poems as you never have before in an entertaining pop-up book collaboration between the internationally known comedy troupe the Reduced Shakespeare Company and best-selling illustrator Jennie Maizels. Featuring five interactive spreads filled with dramatic pop-ups, fun foldouts, hilarious summaries, and fascinating commentaries, this is the perfect introduction to one of the world’s greatest playwrights and his enduring works.
Ages 7-10 | Publisher: Candlewick | October 3, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0763698744
Written by Lindsay Eagar
Publisher’s Synopsis: Can a clever young inventor uncover a ruthless pirate’s heart of gold? Thrilling sea adventure takes on a hint of steampunk in the second book by the author of the acclaimed Hour of the Bees.
When her parents, the great marine scientists Dr. and Dr. Quail, are killed in a tragic accident, eleven-year-old Fidelia Quail is racked by grief — and guilt. It was a submarine of Fidelia’s invention that her parents were in when they died, and it was she who pressed them to stay out longer when the raging Undertow was looming. But Fidelia is forced out of her mourning when she’s kidnapped by Merrick the Monstrous, a pirate whose list of treasons stretches longer than a ribbon eel. Her task? Use her marine know-how to retrieve his treasure, lost on the ocean floor. But as Fidelia and the pirates close in on the prize, with the navy hot on their heels, she realizes that Merrick doesn’t expect to live long enough to enjoy his loot. Could something other than black-hearted greed be driving him? Will Fidelia be able to master the perils of the ocean without her parents — and piece together the mystery of Merrick the Monstrous before it’s too late?
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Candlewick | October 10, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0763679231
Written by Fanny Britt
Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault
Publisher’s Synopsis: In this powerful new graphic novel from Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault, we meet Louis, a young boy who shuttles between his alcoholic dad and his worried mom, and who, with the help of his best friend, tries to summon up the courage to speak to his true love, Billie.
A beautifully illustrated, true-to-life portrayal of just how complex family relationships can be, seen through the eyes of a wise, sensitive boy who manages to find his own way forward.
Ages 10-14 | Publisher: Groundwood Books | October 3, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1554988594
Written by Elaine Vickers
Publisher’s Synopsis: From the author of critically acclaimed Like Magic comes another sweet middle grade story about friendship, family, and discovering where you fit in the world.
Katie and Ana are the kind of friends who share everything with each other. But there are some things you can’t even share with your best friend.
Katie has always known she was adopted, but recently she’s been wondering about her birth parents and her birthplace. She worries that saying this out loud—even to her best friend—could mess up the perfect family she has now.
Ana’s family has been falling apart ever since her dad left, and it’s up to her to hold it together. But Ana fears no matter how hard she tries, her family may never be whole again.
At a time when they need each other the most, the links between the girls are beginning to break. Before they lose each other, they must work through the tangles of secrets to the shining truth underneath: friendship, just like family, is worth fighting for.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: HarperCollins | October 17, 20177 | ISBN-13: 978-0062414342
Written by Karina Yan Glaser
Publisher’s Synopsis: A modern classic in the making reminiscent of the Penderwicks series, The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street is about the connections we make and the unexpected turns life can take.
The Vanderbeekers have always lived in the brownstone on 141st Street. It’s practically another member of the family. So when their reclusive, curmudgeonly landlord decides not to renew their lease, the five siblings have eleven days to do whatever it takes to stay in their beloved home and convince the dreaded Beiderman just how wonderful they are. And all is fair in love and war when it comes to keeping their home.
Ages 7-10 | Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers | Oct. 3, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0544876392
Written by Margriet Ruurs
Illustrated by Pedro Covo
Publisher’s Synopsis: Inspired by the real-life Aaron and Zambezi at the Lilayi Elephant Nursery in Zambia, author Margriet Ruurs has created a moving story that powerfully demonstrates the plight of endangered animals everywhere. Pedro Covo’s stunning illustrations add a level of depth and haunting beauty to the story and the animals. Three nonfiction spreads interspersed throughout the story explore facts about elephants, ivory poaching and elephant orphanages. The back of the book contains ways children can help endangered wildlife. Useful tools include a table of contents and a glossary. This beautifully illustrated nonfiction book spans the curriculum, from life sciences to global awareness to environmental stewardship. It also offers a unique perspective for character education lessons on empathy, caring and responsibility on a larger scale.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Kids Can Press | Oct. 3, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1771385619
Written by Supriya Kelkar
Publisher’s Synopsis: In 1942, when Mahatma Gandhi asks Indians to give one family member to the freedom movement, ten-year-old Anjali is devastated to think of her father risking his life for the freedom struggle.
But it turns out he isn’t the one joining. Anjali’s mother is. And with this change comes many more adjustments designed to improve their country and use “ahimsa”–non-violent resistance–to stand up to the British government. First the family must trade in their fine foreign-made clothes for homespun cotton, so Anjali has to give up her prettiest belongings. Then her mother decides to reach out to the Dalit community, the “untouchables” of society. Anjali is forced to get over her past prejudices as her family becomes increasingly involved in the movement.
When Anjali’s mother is jailed, Anjali must step out of her comfort zone to take over her mother’s work, ensuring that her little part of the independence movement is completed.
Inspired by her great-grandmother’s experience working with Gandhi, New Visions Award winner Supriya Kelkar shines a light on the Indian freedom movement in this poignant debut.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Tu Books | October 2, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1620143568
Written by Tony Medina
Illustrated by John Jennings and Stacey Robinson
Publisher’s Synopsis: Alfonso Jones can’t wait to play the role of Hamlet in his school’s hip-hop rendition of the classic Shakespearean play. He also wants to let his best friend, Danetta, know how he really feels about her. But as he is buying his first suit, an off-duty police officer mistakes a clothes hanger for a gun, and he shoots Alfonso.
When Alfonso wakes up in the afterlife, he’s on a ghost train guided by well-known victims of police shootings, who teach him what he needs to know about this subterranean spiritual world. Meanwhile, Alfonso’s family and friends struggle with their grief and seek justice for Alfonso in the streets. As they confront their new realities, both Alfonso and those he loves realize the work that lies ahead in the fight for justice.
In the first graphic novel for young readers to focus on police brutality and the Black Lives Matter movement, as in Hamlet, the dead shall speak–and the living yield even more surprises.
Featuring a foreword by Bryan Stevenson, Executive Director of the Equal Justice Initiative and author of Just Mercy
Ages 11-12 | Publisher: Tu Books | October 12, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1620142639
Written by Jane O’Reilly
Publisher’s Synopsis: Eleven-year-old Cooper Cameron likes things to be in order. When he eats, he chews every bite three times on each side. Sometimes he washes his hands in the air with invisible water. He invented these rituals after the death of his beloved grandfather to protect others he loves from terrible harm.
But when Cooper’s strange behavior drives a wedge between his parents, and his relationship with his older sister, Caddie, begins to fray, his mother’s only solution is to take Cooper and Caddie to the family cabin for the summer.
Armed with a collection of rocks, his pet frog, and his notebook, Cooper vows to cure himself and bring his damaged family back together.
Ages 8-11 | Publisher: Carolrhoda Books | Oct. 1, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1512404159
Written by Jessica Townsend
Publisher’s Synopsis: A breathtaking, enchanting new series by debut author Jessica Townsend, about a cursed girl who escapes death and finds herself in a magical world–but is then tested beyond her wildest imaginatio.
Morrigan Crow is cursed. Having been born on Eventide, the unluckiest day for any child to be born, she’s blamed for all local misfortunes, from hailstorms to heart attacks–and, worst of all, the curse means that Morrigan is doomed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | Oct. 31, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0316508889
Written by Tony Abbott
Publisher’s Synopsis: Owen and his best friend, Sean, are both eleven years old. They’ve lived on Cape Cod all their lives, and now that they’re a little older, they’ll finally be free to spend some time on their own. But Sean’s mother has a different idea―she hires a babysitter to look after Sean. Paul is in his twenties, and a well-liked guy from church.
Paul starts doing things that just feel wrong. Because they’ve always been as close as brothers, Sean tells Owen, and no one else. What’s not certain to Owen is what he should do. Sean warns him not to tell anyone what is happening. But if Owen doesn’t tell, could something even worse happen to Sean?
This harrowing and sensitively told tale of child abuse is a must-read for anyone who might ever be called upon to help a friend in need.
Ages 10-14 | Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux | Oct. 17, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0374305505
Written by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Publisher’s Synopsis: Like the classic heroines of Sarah, Plain and Tall and Little Women, Ada conquers the homefront as her World War II journey continues in this sequel to the Newbery Honor–winning The War that Saved My Life.
When Ada’s clubfoot is surgically fixed at last, she knows for certain that she’s not what her mother said she was—damaged, deranged, crippled mentally as well as physically. She’s not a daughter anymore, either. Who is she now?
World War II rages on, and Ada and her brother, Jamie, move with their guardian, Susan, into a cottage with the iron-faced Lady Thorton and her daughter, Maggie. Life in the crowded home is tense. Then Ruth moves in. Ruth, a Jewish girl, from Germany. A German? Could Ruth be a spy?
As the fallout from war intensifies, calamity creeps closer, and life during wartime grows even more complicated. Who will Ada decide to be? How can she keep fighting? And who will she struggle to save?
Ada’s first story, The War that Saved My Life, was a #1 New York Times bestseller and won a Newbery Honor, the Schneider Family Book Award, and the Josette Frank Award, in addition to appearing on multiple best-of-the-year lists. This second masterwork of historical fiction continues Ada’s journey of family, faith, and identity, showing us that real freedom is not just the ability to choose, but the courage to make the right choice.
Ages 9-12 | Publisher: Dial Books | Oct. 3, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0525429203
Written by Lucy Strange
Publisher’s Synopsis: 1919. Mama is ill. Father has taken a job abroad. Nanny Jane is too busy to pay any attention to Henrietta and the things she sees — or thinks she sees — in the shadows of their new home, Hope House.
All alone, with only stories for company, Henry discovers that Hope House is full of strange secrets: a forgotten attic, ghostly figures, mysterious firelight that flickers in the trees beyond the garden.
One night she ventures into the darkness of Nightingale Wood. What she finds there will change her whole world…
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Chicken House | Oct. 31, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-1338157475
Written and Illustrated by Allen Say
Publisher’s Synopsis: James Castle was born two months premature on September 25, 1899, on a farm in Garden Valley, Idaho. He was deaf, mute, autistic and probably dyslexic. He didn’t walk until he was four; he would never learn to speak, write, read or use sign language.
Yet, today Castle’s artwork hangs in major museums throughout the world. The Philadelphia Museum of Art opened “James Castle: A Retrospective in 2008.” The 2013 Venice Biennale included eleven works by Castle in the feature exhibition “The Encyclopedic Palace.” And his reputation continues to grow.
Caldecott Medal winner Allen Say, author of the acclaimed memoir Drawing from Memory, takes readers through an imagined look at Castle’s childhood, allows them to experience his emergence as an artist despite the overwhelming difficulties he faced, and ultimately reveals the triumphs that he would go on to achieve.
Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books | Oct. 31, 2017 | ISBN-13: 978-0545927611
*Header image form Louis Undercover, written by Fanny Britt and illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault (Groundwood 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.
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