HomeBooks by AgeAges 4-8Best New Books for Tweens | May 2018
Best-New-Middle-Grade-Books-May-2018-the-boy-the-bird-the-coffin-maker

Best New Books for Tweens | May 2018

The Children’s Book Review | August 6, 2018

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

We’ve picked 13 middle grade books that we think are some of the best new books for preteens and tweens that released during the month of May. Here’s what you can expect to find: A magical story about the enduring power of friendship, the finale you’ve all been waiting for: The Penderwicks at Last, a delightfully eccentric illustrated middle-grade gem from an extraordinary new literary voice, a story about the fight for equal rights in America’s favorite arena: the baseball field, the compelling story of a girl’s fight to regain her life and dreams after being forced into indentured servitude, and much more!

Which middle grade book will you share with your growing readers this month?


Bob Wendy MassBob

Written by Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead

Illustrated by Nicholas Gannon

Publisher’s Synopsis: It’s been five years since Livy and her family have visited Livy’s grandmother in Australia. Now that she’s back, Livy has the feeling she’s forgotten something really, really important about Gran’s house.

It turns out she’s right.

Bob, a short, greenish creature dressed in a chicken suit, didn’t forget Livy, or her promise. He’s been waiting five years for her to come back, hiding in a closet like she told him to. He can’t remember who―or what―he is, where he came from, or if he even has a family. But five years ago Livy promised she would help him find his way back home. Now it’s time to keep that promise.

Clue by clue, Livy and Bob will unravel the mystery of where Bob comes from, and discover the kind of magic that lasts forever.

Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead, two masterminds of classic, middle-grade fiction come together to craft this magical story about the enduring power of friendship.

Order a Copy Now: Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Feiwel & Friends | May 1, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1250166623


Endling The LastEndling: The Last

Written by Katherine Applegate

Publisher’s Synopsis: First Katherine Applegate thrilled readers with the action-packed Animorphs series. Then she stole our hearts with the award-winning The One and Only Ivan. Now she takes us on anunforgettable journey in this first book of an epic middle grade series!

Byx is the youngest member of her dairne pack. Believed to possess remarkable abilities, her mythical doglike species has been hunted to near extinction in the war-torn kingdom of Nedarra.

After her pack is hunted down and killed, Byx fears she may be the last of her species. The Endling. So Byx sets out to find safe haven, and to see if the legends of other hidden dairnes are true.

Along the way, she meets new allies—both animals and humans alike—who each have their own motivations for joining her quest. And although they begin as strangers, they become their own kind of family—one that will ultimately uncover a secret that may threaten every creature in their world.

Building upon the success of her critically acclaimed novels such as The One and Only Ivan, Crenshaw, and Wishtree, while also returning to her action-packed fantasy roots of Animorphs, the Endling series is Katherine Applegate at her finest. With its enthralling characters, unique setting, and gripping adventure, this series is the perfect next read for fans of Rick Riordan, Brian Jacques, and Tui T. Sutherland.

Order a Copy Now: Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: HarperCollins | May 1, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-0062335524


Front Desk by Kelly YangFront Desk

Written by Kelly Yang

Publisher’s Synopsis: Mia Tang has a lot of secrets.

Number 1: She lives in a motel, not a big house. Every day, while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, ten-year-old Mia manages the front desk of the Calivista Motel and tends to its guests.

Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants. And if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they’ve been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed.

Number 3: She wants to be a writer. But how can she when her mom thinks she should stick to math because English is not her first language?

It will take all of Mia’s courage, kindness, and hard work to get through this year. Will she be able to hold on to her job, help the immigrants and guests, escape Mr. Yao, and go for her dreams?

Order a Copy Now: Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books | May 29, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1338157796


The Miscalculations Of Lightning Girl

Written by Stacy McAnulty

Publisher’s Synopsis: A lightning strike gave her a super power…but even a super genius can’t solve the problem of middle school. This smart and funny novel is perfect for fans of The Fourteenth Goldfish, Rain Reign, and Counting by Sevens.

Lucy Callahan was struck by lightning. She doesn’t remember it, but it changed her life forever. The zap gave her genius-level math skills, and ever since, Lucy has been homeschooled. Now, at 12 years old, she’s technically ready for college. She just has to pass 1 more test–middle school!

Lucy’s grandma insists: Go to middle school for 1 year. Make 1 friend. Join 1 activity. And read 1 book (that’s not a math textbook!). Lucy’s not sure what a girl who does calculus homework for fun can possibly learn in 7th grade. She has everything she needs at home, where nobody can make fun of her rigid routines or her superpowered brain. The equation of Lucy’s life has already been solved. Unless there’s been a miscalculation?

A celebration of friendship, Stacy McAnulty’s smart and thoughtful middle-grade debut reminds us all to get out of our comfort zones and embrace what makes us different.

Order a Copy Now: Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers | 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1524767570


The Penderwicks at LastThe Penderwicks at Last

Written by Jeanne Birdsall

Publisher’s Synopsis: The finale you’ve all been waiting for: The Penderwicks at Last is the final, flawless installment in the modern classic series from National Book Award winner and New York Times bestselling author Jeanne Birdsall!

Nine years, five older siblings, a few beloved dogs, and an endless array of adventures–these are the things that have shaped Lydia’s journey since readers first met her in The Penderwicks in Spring.

Now it’s summertime, and eleven-year-old Lydia is dancing at the bus stop, waiting for big sister Batty to get home from college.

This is a very important dance and a very important wait because the two youngest sisters are about to arrive home to find out that the Penderwicks will all be returning to Arundel this summer, the place where it all began. And better still is the occasion: a good old-fashioned, homemade-by-Penderwicks wedding.

Bursting with heart and brimming with charm, this is a joyful, hilarious ode to the family we love best. And oh my MOPS–Meeting of Penderwick Siblings–does Jeanne Birdsall’s The Penderwicks at Last crescendo to one perfect Penderwick finale.

Order a Copy Now: Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers | May 15, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-0385755665


Al Capone Throws Me a CurveAl Capone Throws Me a Curve

Written by Gennifer Choldenko

Publisher’s Synopsis: Return to Al Capone’s Alcatraz with Newbery Honor-winning author Gennifer Choldenko in this charming addition to the beloved series about the son of a prison guard.

Moose Flanagan lives on a famous island in California: Alcatraz, home to some of the most dangerous prisoners in the United States in the 1930s. It’s the summer before he starts high school, and Moose is going to play a lot of baseball and win a spot on the high school team. But he still needs to watch his special older sister, Natalie–and then the warden asks Moose to look after his two-faced, danger-loving daughter, Piper.

In the cell house there are rumors that the cons will a strike, and that Moose’s father might step up to a new job. Moose is worried: What will this mean for their family, especially for Natalie, who’s had some scary run-ins with prisoners? Then the unthinkable happens: Natalie winds up someplace she should never, ever go. And Moose has to rescue her.

Order a Copy Now: Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books | May 8, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1101938133


The Boy the Bird and the Coffin MakerThe Boy, the Bird, and the Coffin Maker

Written by Matilda Woods

Illustrated by Anuska Allepuz

Publisher’s Synopsis: Friendship and magical realism sparkle on the page in this heartwarming, delightfully eccentric illustrated middle-grade gem from an extraordinary new literary voice. Perfect for fans of A Snicker of Magic and The Penderwicks.

Alberto lives alone in the town of Allora, where fish fly out of the sea and the houses shine like jewels. He is a coffin maker and widower, spending his quiet days creating the final resting places of Allora’s people.

Then one afternoon a magical bird flutters into his garden, and Alberto, lonely inside, welcomes it into his home. And when a kindhearted boy named Tito follows the bird into Alberto’s kitchen, a door in the old man’s heart cracks open. Tito is lonely too–but he’s also scared and searching for a place to hide. Fleeing from danger, he just wants to feel safe for once in his life. Can the boy and the old man learn the power of friendship and escape the shadows of their pasts?

With a tender bond that calls to mind The Girl Who Drank the Moon, charming characters reminiscent of The Penderwicks, and the whimsy of A Snicker of Magic, this is a novel to curl up with, an extraordinary work of magical realism that makes the world feel like a warmer and happier place. Complete with dazzling interior illustrations, a gem from start to finish.

Order a Copy Now: Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Philomel Books | May 15, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-0525515210


Out of Left FieldOut of Left Field

Written by Ellen Klages

Publiser’s Synopsis: A story about the fight for equal rights in America’s favorite arena: the baseball field!

Every boy in the neighborhood knows Katy Gordon is their best pitcher, even though she’s a girl. But when she tries out for Little League, it’s a whole different story. Girls are not eligible, period. It is a boy’s game and always has been. It’s not fair, and Katy’s going to fight back. Inspired by what she’s learning about civil rights in school, she sets out to prove that she’s not the only girl who plays baseball. With the help of friendly librarians and some tenacious research skills, Katy discovers the forgotten history of female ball players. Why does no one know about them? Where are they now? And how can one ten-year-old change people’s minds about what girls can do?

Set in 1957—the world of Sputnik and Leave It to Beaver, saddle shoes and “Heartbreak Hotel”—Out of Left Field is both a detailed picture of a fascinating historic period and a timelessly inspiring story about standing up for equality at any age.

Order a Copy Now: Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers | May 1, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-0425288597


Boy Bites BugBoy Bites Bug

Written by Rebecca Petruck

Publisher’s Synopsis: Will didn’t plan to eat a stinkbug. But when his friend Darryl called new kid Eloy Herrera a racial slur, Will did it as a diversion. Now Will is Bug Boy, and everyone is cracking up inventing insect meals for him, like French flies and maggot-aroni and fleas.

Turns out eating bugs for food is a real thing, called entomophagy. Deciding that means he can use a class project to feed everyone grasshoppers, Will bargains for Eloy’s help in exchange for helping him with wrestling, but their growing friendship only ticks off Darryl more.

Will may have bitten off more than he can chew as crickets, earthworm jerky—even a scorpion—end up on his plate, but insects are the least of his problems. When things with Darryl and Eloy heat up, Will wrestles with questions of loyalty, honor—and that maybe not all friendships are worth fighting for.

Order a Copy Now: Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Ages 8-12 | Publisher: Harry N. Abrams | May 8, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1419721410


Becca Fair and FoulBecca Fair and Foul

Written by Deidre Baker

Publisher’s Synopsis: When eleven-year-old Becca returns to her grandmother’s rustic cottage for another summer, she finds herself seeing her beloved island in new ways. A hunting owl mistakes a bobbing ponytail for prey. A cozy sleepover on the beach takes on the tinges of a nightmare when a family of river otters shows up to claim their territory. An argument between a nestbound baby eaglet and its haranguing mother reaches operatic dimensions. Becca finds a dead bear on the beach and helps to give it a burial at sea.

Then there are dramas of the human variety. Aunt Meg is grieving over a miscarriage, and Aunt Clare’s medical work in Africa has brought on a sadness that even the love of family and the island’s beauty can’t cure. And there is the burning question of whether Aunt Fifi and the local plumber will ever become an item, and would that mean losing the only plumber on the island?

Meanwhile, cousin Alicia claims to be too old to participate in the kids’ summer project — a performance of The Tempest, a play that seems to find unsettling echoes in the natural surroundings Becca thought she knew so well.

Order a Copy Now: Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Ages 9-12 | Publisher: Groundwood Books | May 1, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1554989577


The Trials of Apollo Book Three The Burning MazeThe Trials of Apollo: Book 3: The Burning Maze

Written by Rick Riordan

Publisher’s Synopsis: The formerly glorious god Apollo, cast down to earth in punishment by Zeus, is now an awkward mortal teenager named Lester Papadopoulos. In order to regain his place on Mount Olympus, Lester must restore five Oracles that have gone dark. But he has to achieve this impossible task without having any godly powers and while being duty-bound to a confounding young daughter of Demeter named Meg. Thanks a lot, Dad.

With the help of some demigod friends, Lester managed to survive his first two trials, one at Camp Half-Blood, and one in Indianapolis, where Meg received the Dark Prophecy. The words she uttered while seated on the Throne of Memory revealed that an evil triumvirate of Roman emperors plans to attack Camp Jupiter. While Leo flies ahead on Festus to warn the Roman camp, Lester and Meg must go through the Labyrinth to find the third emperor–and an Oracle who speaks in word puzzles–somewhere in the American Southwest. There is one glimmer of hope in the gloom-filled prophecy: The cloven guide alone the way does know. They will have a satyr companion, and Meg knows just who to call upon. . . .

Order a Copy Now: Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Ages 10-13 | Publisher: Disney-Hyperion | May 1, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1484746431


Be PreparedBe Prepared

Written and Illustrated by Vera Brosgol

Publisher’s Synopsis: In Be Prepared, all Vera wants to do is fit in―but that’s not easy for a Russian girl in the suburbs. Her friends live in fancy houses and their parents can afford to send them to the best summer camps. Vera’s single mother can’t afford that sort of luxury, but there’s one summer camp in her price range―Russian summer camp.

Vera is sure she’s found the one place she can fit in, but camp is far from what she imagined. And nothing could prepare her for all the “cool girl” drama, endless Russian history lessons, and outhouses straight out of nightmares!

Order a Copy Now: Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Ages 10-14 | Publisher: First Second | May 15, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-1626724457


Amal UnboundAmal Unbound

Written by Aisha Saeed

Publisher’s Synopsis: The compelling story of a girl’s fight to regain her life and dreams after being forced into indentured servitude.

Life is quiet and ordinary in Amal’s Pakistani village, but she had no complaints, and besides, she’s busy pursuing her dream of becoming a teacher one day. Her dreams are temporarily dashed when–as the eldest daughter–she must stay home from school to take care of her siblings. Amal is upset, but she doesn’t lose hope and finds ways to continue learning. Then the unimaginable happens–after an accidental run-in with the son of her village’s corrupt landlord, Amal must work as his family’s servant to pay off her own family’s debt.

Life at the opulent Khan estate is full of heartbreak and struggle for Amal–especially when she inadvertently makes an enemy of a girl named Nabila. Most troubling, though, is Amal’s growing awareness of the Khans’ nefarious dealings. When it becomes clear just how far they will go to protect their interests, Amal realizes she will have to find a way to work with others if they are ever to exact change in a cruel status quo, and if Amal is ever to achieve her dreams.

Order a Copy Now: Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Ages 10+ | Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books | May 8, 2018 | ISBN-13: 978-0399544682


*Header image from the cover of You Go First, written by Erin Entrada Kelly (Greenwillow Books, 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 .

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.

Comments
  • All those book s look great. Did you see MATTHEW PATTERSON AND THE WISH DEFENDERS? (wishdefenders.com) It’s lots of fun, funny and full of heart and important lessons about bullying, self-worth and hard work!

    August 6, 2018

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.