Many kids at the upper end of middle grade enjoy fantastic adventures and brave kids saving the day, but there are also plenty of 11-12 year olds who want realism in their reading. One of the best writers of middle grade fiction that tackles tough topics is Jo Knowles. Her characters are in the midst of adolescence, with all the social anxiety that entails (there’s some thinking about romantic relationships and dating, but with a feel that it’s practice for later). On top of that, the protagonists of her books are coping with bigger, harder, problems. For kids going through tough times of their own, it can help to know they aren’t alone, and for kids that aren’t, the books tug on the heartstrings and encourage empathy and understanding. And when these tough issues are paired with relatable, lovable characters and splashes of humor, you get stories kids will love!
Here are her three books for kids not quite ready to leave “middle grade” for the YA shelves.
See You at Harry’s Fern is used to being mortified by her father’s use of the family to promote their family restaurant, Harry’s. She’s used to having to look after her little brother, Charlie, when the rest her family seems too busy to do their share, and she’s ready to tackle the social challenges of seventh grade. But her older brother, Holden, is facing challenges of his own in 9th grade; he’s realized he’s gay, and so have the bullies who are making his life miserable. And when tragedy strikes her family, and little Charlie dies, Fern blames herself. Can her family, loving but flawed, hold itself together when sadness is pulling them apart? You’ll need Kleenex, but there is warmth and hope, the start of healing, and even humor here to keep it from being too much to bear.
Still a Work in Progress
Middle school is full of social uncertainty (and bad smells). Noah could cope with that, but things at home are scary; his big sister Emma has an eating disorder that reached a crisis point a few years back. It still hangs over the family, though they don’t talk about it, and all the signs are there that Emma is relapsing. When she ends up back in the hospital, Noah struggles to cope with grief, guilt, confusion, frustration, and anger. Middle school gets even harder to bear, but Noah is able to find comfort in his growing artistic talent, and even his immature and sometimes annoying friends are able to help (a bit). There’s no magical happy ending, but there is hope that Emma, and Noah’s family, will be ok. The tension of Emma’s eating disorder is balanced by the ordinary and sometimes funny happenings at school, and Noah is a relatable character to cheer for.
Where the Heart Is (just published!)
The summer that Rachel turns 13 is one of change for her and her family. Money has always been tight at home, the aptly-named Bittersweet Farm, and Rachel’s happy to find work looking after the new neighbors’ hodge podge bunch of farm animals. But with her mother out of work, and the bills piling up, there’s nothing she can do that will help save her home. Her relationship with Micah, her best friend for years, is threatened too—he wants more than just friendship, and she just can’t offer him that. Instead, she’s wondering if she’s feeling attracted to another girl. The inevitable happens, and Bittersweet Farm is foreclosed, and Rachel has to learn that it’s where the heart is that matters most. This coming of age story doesn’t shy away from the tough topic of a family facing financial hardship, but it’s mainly a gentle and sensitive look at a young girl forced to deal with the stress of change and growing up that will resonate with many readers.
If you or your young reader are looking for some chilling stories to take the heat off summer, here are some great recent books with just the right level of scary for kids ages 8-12.
Watch Hollow, by Gregory Funaro When an elderly Englishman offers their father a fortune to repair a giant clock that once powered his isolated Rhode Island mansion, Blackford House, Lucy and Oliver think things are looking up. But when they arrive at Blackford House they’re dismayed to find it almost a ruin. Starting the clock again might bring the house back, but the challenges are more than just mechanical. Lucy discovers that some of the animals once set in the clock to mark the hours come to life at night, hiding in terror from an evil monster, the Garr. The Garr wants control of the clock and its magic and soon the family is under attack. Lucy must not only rescue the remaining clock animals but her brother as well as the Garr moves closer to taking over the house. The Garr is a terrifying creature of nightmare, but the love holding Lucy’s family together, and the magical charm of the clock animals, keeps the thrilling horror to a safe level.
Music Boxes, by Tonja Drecker Lindsay is proud of her little sister’s musical talent but resentful when it means that her own hopes of being a ballet dancer are put on a back burner. Then she’s invited to be part of a magical ballet school where Madame Destinee has gathered super-talented young dancers from around the world. Lindsay realizes it’s a strange place, what with the secret midnight performances and the impossible collection of kids, but she isn’t scared at first. Then she realizes what Madame really wants from her students…and the joy she took in dancing better than she ever had before turns to terror. Beautiful music boxes aren’t the only thing Madame collects…
Spirit Hunters, by Ellen Oh Harper’s parents are thrilled with the big old house they’ve bought, but for Harper it’s a nightmare. She can communicate with ghosts, and the house is haunted. The spirit of a little boy who died in the house takes possession of her little brother, and her gifts are tested to the utmost when she learns the ghost boy is just the cat’s-paw of a more powerful malevolent spirit. The evil possession is creepy, and horror builds from there to a final confrontation is full of bloody terror (though no one dies). Harper’s a great, relatable character, with family and friendship tensions on the side, making this a great pick for any 10-to-12-year-old who wants a good scare! Harper’s adventures with supernatural horror continue in The Island of Monsters, when her family vacation becomes a desperate struggle against demons.
The Owls have Come To Take Us Away, by Ronald L. Smith
This one is perfect for those who like supernatural horror intruding into the real world, like in The X-files. Twelve-year-old Simon is wiling away the summer on the Air Force base where he lives playing video games, writing a fantasy novel, and researching aliens. Then, on a camping trip with his parents, something happens to him in the forest. Now he knows the aliens are real, and he’s sure that there’s an alien implant in his stomach. Simon is on his own with the horror of it; his parents can’t believe him when he tells them about the owl-like beings. Then he finds other adults in the Air Force who do believe…but what can anyone do about it? The terror here comes from Simon’s powerlessness, and the tension of whether or not the aliens are real, which the reader doesn’t out till the very end.
Nightbooks, by J.A. White
Ever since watching Night of the Living Dead at a young age, Alex has been fascinated by horror. This has not played out well at school, so he decides to burn his notebooks of scary stories and become “normal.” But his trip down to the furnace of his building is sidetracked when he’s lured into an apartment on the fourth floor where he is trapped by the evil witch Natacha. Alex must keep Natacha happy with scary stories every night, and though he likes his stories being appreciated, he doesn’t give up trying to find a way home. With help from fellow prisoner Yasmin and the witch’s magical cat, Alex finds his way to the evil heart of the witch’s magic and breaks her power. It’s Hansel and Gretel meets 1001 Arabian Nights, with the real-world horror of child abduction. The fairytale magic, though, gives Alex’s adventures the feel of a fantasy quest, softening the threat.
What scary stories is your young reader going to love?
Relive the magical tale of Aladdin with this storytime event featuring two books—Aladdin, a Little Golden Book retelling of the hit Disney movie, and Aladdin: A Friend Like Him, a story celebrating the friendship between Aladdin and his hilarious, devoted, wisecracking Genie.
Don’t miss this magical storytime!
Storytimes come with a coupon offer for a grilled cheese and milk or juice for $4 (café stores only). While you’re there, why not take a minute to join the B&N Members and Kids’ Club for special offers all year long? Ask a bookseller for details on how to join!
Do you know a dad whose essence just isn’t captured by the usual Father’s Day cards, with their abundance of golf, beer, grilling, and fishing? Luckily, the depiction of dads in picture books is far more varied and inclusive. Here are six terrific picture books about fathers that celebrate all kinds of dads.
Dandy, by Ame Dyckman and Charles Santoso
Some dads take lawn care very seriously. But in Dandy, Ame Dyckman’s sweet new book, even a dad with a pristine lawn can let things go to seed a little in the name of his daughter’s happiness. As Dandy opens, a daddy lion spies a lone dandelion emerging on his lawn. Panicked, he rushes out to remove it—but before he gets there, his daughter, little Sweetie, has declared the weed to be her flower, named it Charlotte, and appointed it her best friend. Egged on by the lawncare devotees of the neighborhood, Daddy tries to remove the dandelion when Sweetie isn’t there—but she’s always there, her love for Charlotte growing by the day. Eventually, Daddy must choose between his lawn and his daughter. Kids with super daddies, you know how that’s going to turn out, right?
My Dad Used to Be So Cool, by Keith Negley
The little boy who narrates this book is puzzled by evidence of his dad’s past life. While his dad goes about his boring dad day, folding laundry and vacuuming, his son notices his sleeve tattoos, instruments tucked away in the closet, and photos of him with a red mohawk, fronting a rock band. “My dad having fun?” he says, “I wish I could have seen it.” The boy may never determine what mysterious occurrence led his father to sell his motorcycle and give up his rock band, but the way the dad spends all day playing with and caring for his son gives readers a clue in this droll book with striking stylized illustrations.
Lawrence in the Fall, by Matthew Farina and Doug Salati
This sweet book shows that while dads may not have all the answers to life’s problems, they usually have a pretty good idea about where to look for them. Lawrence, a young fox, gets stressed out when his teacher assigns everyone to bring in something they collect for show and tell. All the other animals already have collections, but not Lawrence. Lawrence’s dad finds him crying that night and when he hears the explanation says, “I know a place where we might find a collection fit for a special fox like you.” The next day Lawrence’s dad brings him to the forest, and they begin their search for a collection. Eventually the answer comes to Lawrence on the wind.
The Bureau of Misplaced Dads, by Éric Veillé and Pauline Martin
When the little boy in this book loses his dad during a game of hide and seek, he knows just where to find him: The Bureau of Misplaced Dads. The hysterical, imaginative illustrations depict cave dads “who’ve been waiting around since the dawn of time,” 18th century dads playing checkers, and a strongman dad showing off his muscles. “Once a year, we release a few dads back into the wild. Just for fun,” the director of the bureau confides. The little boy grows frustrated—none of these are his dad, but he can’t really describe his dad either. “He knows me,” the boy says, “and he’s the one who drives me to school.” Luckily, seeing such a vast array of dad-dom jogs the boy’s memory about where he misplaced his own dad.
A Perfect Father’s Day, by Eve Bunting and Susan Meddaugh
This sweet book depicts how small children assume that the way they observe their fathers spending their time is their favorite way to spend time, period. Four-year-old Susie declares to her father that she’s “taking you out for a perfect Father’s Day.” Her dad is game as she leads him to the crowded fast food restaurant she assumes is his favorite, brings him to the park where she likes to play, and definitely doesn’t spoil the surprise that her mom has planned for him for later.
Papa’s Backpack by James Christopher Carroll
Holidays can be tough for military families that cannot spend them together, and this book honors their commitment and their bond. A little bear explains, “My papa is a soldier, with arms strong and warm. My papa is a soldier, and sometimes soldiers go.” The little bear imagines if he could go with his papa in his backpack, and witness everything he does. But in the end, he knows it’s best if he lets his papa go off to do his service, while he stays home and plays.
What picture books are helping your family celebrate Father’s Day?
Kids can spend hours playing Minecraft. The inventive video game allows them to challenge their engineering skills even as it encourages creative thinking. But what do you do when it’s time for them to read?
Why, you give them a book in the same vein.
No, no, we’re not talking about guidebooks. We’re talking about fantastical stories for wonderfully inventive kids. Here are five titles perfect for fans of Minecraft.
Minecraft: The Crash, by Tracey Baptiste You might know Tracey Baptiste from her incredible Jumbies books, but did you know she wrote a novel set in the Minecraft universe? After a car crash leaves her stuck in the hospital, Bianca chooses to avoid the difficult questions raised by the accident and dives instead into a new virtual-reality version of Minecraft. The world seems to respond to her every wish, but the arrival of a glitching avatar she believes to be her best friend sends her on a journey to rescue him… while the mobs hunting them down seem to respond to Bianca’s worst fears. Can she save her friend and heal?
Guardians of the Taiga, by Stacy Plays Kids who love Minecraft might be familiar with Stacy Plays and Dogcraft: a single-player Minecraft mod that Stacy plays through on YouTube, inspired by Stacy’s real-life dog rescuing. She takes that mod to a new fictional universe in Guardians of the Taiga, the first of the Wild Rescuers series. Think of it as a Minecraft-Warriors hybrid. Stacy was raised by wolves and prefers it that way. Humans are dangerous, but Stacy’s six-wolf pack keeps the other animals in the forest safe. Each wolf has their own abilities—but when the forest changes, will the abilities of the pack be enough to keep them safe?
Inkling by Kenneth Oppel Let’s weave a little bit of magic with art and make a potential disaster, shall we? Kids who enjoy the creative spirit of Minecraft might relate to the little ink blot that stars in Kenneth Oppell’s Inkling. Ethan’s family is stuck, but when the little ink blot in his father’s notebook comes to life, he thinks it will solve his problems: help Ethan with his homework, give his sister a puppy, inspire Dad to write. But when the little Inkling goes missing, Ethan and his family must face what they truly need, and where creativity really comes from.
The Wild Robot, by Peter Brown Want to know what’s better to find in the wild than Endermen and Creepers? Adorable robots. Roz wakes up on a wild island all on her own, much like how Minecraft players wake up alone in the middle of their world. She doesn’t know how to get home, but she knows she needs to survive, be it a storm or a bear attack. Can she befriend the creatures around her and learn how to thrive in the wilderness? With adorable illustrations added throughout, this is great for the younger Minecraft fans in your household.
Sanity and Tallulah, by Molly Brooks Let’s take this adventure to space. Hardcore Minecraft fans might be familiar with the Galacticraft mod, which allows Minecraft users to go to space. That same fun, creative heart is brought to life in Sanity and Tallulah, the graphic novel by Molly Brooks. The old space station that Sanity and Tallulah call home is boring—at least, until Sanity creates a three-headed kitten. It’s totally illegal, completely adorable, and causes absolute havoc when it escapes. Can the girls get the kitten back before the space station has to be evacuated?
What novels would you recommend for Minecraft fans?
Some children prefer cozy mysteries: gradually piecing together who stole a trombone at camp, or which student cheated for the class election, or where a missing dog has gone. But others want something more intense; they prefer their stakes a little bit higher. These middle-grade thrillers are sure to keep young readers on the edge of their seats.
The Accomplice, by John Grisham Theodore Boone is back! The seventh book in beloved adult thriller author John Grisham’s middle grade series picks up with ambitious young lawyer-in-training Theodore once again dishing out advice and solving mysteries. When Woody Lambert’s brother holds up a convenience store with a fake gun, Woody gets arrested—even though he didn’t know what was happening and only stayed in the car. Theodore Boone, determined to become the best courtroom lawyer in the state, thinks he can help Woody… but he’s years away from being a qualified attorney, and Woody needs help now. This series, a mesh of realistic courtroom drama and middle grade adventure, will appeal to young readers who love dreaming big and beating grownups at their own games. For an overview of the Theodore Boone series, click here.
City of Ghosts, by Victoria Schwab Do you know a Harry Potter fan who wants something a little scarier? Hand them City of Ghosts, the first of the ghost series from fantasy favorite Victoria Schwab. Cassidy Blake’s parents host a ghost-hunting television show, but Cassidy knows that ghosts are real. After a near-death experience, she can see them. When her parents head to Scotland for the television show, Cassidy learns about the sinister Red Raven—a ghost that steals the lives of children—and knows she must fight to protect the world from its touch. The second book in this thrilling and spooky ghost series hits shelves in September.
Shadows of Sherwood, by Kekla Magoon You may know the story of Robin Hood, but you don’t know the story of Robyn Loxley: a twelve-year-old thief, forced onto the streets after her parents disappear. Fending for herself in Nott City, Robyn and her band of misfits do what they need to do to survive, even as she looks for her parents. But Robyn’s destiny is tied to Nott City in ways she doesn’t expect—if she can take down the terrible new governor Ignomus Crown. All three books of the Robyn Hoodlum series are out now, making it perfect for kids who need a binge-read.
The Nest, by Kenneth Oppel Some thrillers have a supernatural element, and The Nest by Kenneth Oppel hits that sweet spot, especially for young readers who have started asking for Stephen King books. Summers aren’t relaxing for Steve, not with struggling parents and a sick baby brother. When a mysterious wasp queen invades his dreams with offers to fix his baby brother, Steve thinks it may be the answer he needs—but if he says yes, what will change? And can he change it back? Dark and creepy, save this one for mature thriller readers, because even adult readers may get nightmares.
The Usual Suspects, by Maurice Broaddus Are you looking for something with high stakes and a heartfelt story? Mashup the stakes of a thriller with the contemporary storytelling of Jason Reynolds for The Usual Suspects, a debut novel from Maurice Broaddus. Thelonius Mitchell is labeled as different—and he’s tired of it. He doesn’t like being in special education classes, doesn’t like being separated from “normal” kids, and doesn’t like how his teachers distrust him—even if he does occasionally prank them. But he would never handle a gun, and he certainly wouldn’t leave it at the neighborhood hangout. Nobody else may believe him, but Thelonius will figure out who actually did it and clear his name.
What books would you recommend to young thriller-fans-in-training?
(CODE RED: This blog post is for your eyes only.) If Mac B. Kid Spy’s secret missions are as real as he says they are, then he’s not just a spy, he’s the coolest kid in the world. And I want to be his friend. I might not know the Queen of England or even Mac Barnett, but I do have a few assets he might find helpful the next time the phone rings, and it’s time to go undercover. Please remember to eat this blog post when you’re done. This is top secret stuff. And don’t steal any of my ideas in an elaborate heist. Mac B should be MY best friend, not yours. If you agree to these terms, you are allowed to read on.
A graduation day classic, you may have read Dr. Seuss’s Oh, the Places You’ll Go! a time or two, but introducing it to your little one will help you enjoy it with fresh eyes, and you’ll both love the timeless, encouraging message of hope and encouragement, even in the face of inevitable adversity.
Storytimes come with a coupon offer for a grilled cheese and milk or juice for $4 (café stores only). While you’re there, why not take a minute to join the B&N Members and Kids’ Club for special offers all year long? Ask a bookseller for details on how to join!
When kids fall in love with Hatchet, it’s easy to tell them what to read next: My Side Of The Mountain. And the list of enduring classics goes on. But once they’ve devoured Island of the Blue Dolphins, Jack London’s books, and the rest of the classic kids’ survivalist stories, their momentum tends to run out of steam…and their interest in survival books may peter out.
However, there are newer reads that can catch a kid’s attention and keep their excitement going. Here are five survival stories perfect for fans of Hatchet.
The Trail, by Meika Hashimoto Meiko Hashimoto’s The Trail is my favorite kid’s survival story to come out in recent years. Toby planned to hike the Appalachian Trail with his friend Lucas—it was the last thing on their list of daring things to do together. But Lucas is gone now, so Toby sets out with just his dog, ready to survive the heat and the hunger and the bears…until a storm rolls in, and he finds two boys desperately in need of help. But Toby is a kid alone. How much help can he really give?
Ice Dogs, by Terri Lynn Johnson What about surviving in the snow? Dogsled racer Victoria Secord is only fourteen, but she’s got things under control—at least, until she loses her way on a routine outing with the dogs. Temperatures are dropping and her food is gone. And then she meets Chris, a boy lost in the woods. Can she keep all of her dogs and Chris alive in the freezing wilderness?
The Skeleton Tree, by Iain Lawrence You’re on a sailing trip down the Alaskan coast when, out of nowhere, your boat sinks. Everybody dies except you, and a boy who hates you. What do you do? That’s Chris’s struggle in The Skeleton Tree by Iain Lawrence. Chris and Frank have no flares, food, or radio. To survive, they’ll have to scavenge and forage and hope that, somehow, somebody finds them. But the nights are getting longer, the days are getting colder, and they’ll need to work together if they want to survive.
Scar Island, by Dan Gemeinhart Slabhenge Reformatory School for Troubled Boys is not the safest place to be. Not only is it full of children who have potentially done terrible things, but it’s structurally completely unsafe: dark, damp, and crumbling into the ocean. It’s a place Jonathan Grisby thinks he deserves—but when a freak accident leaves the boys of the school without adult supervision, they manage to escape. With a whole island to themselves, it should feel like freedom. But if Jonathan can’t rally the group together and get them to safety, then every troubled boy is doomed.
Endangered by Eliot Schrefer Could you keep a bonobo safe? From National Book Award finalist Eliot Schrefer comes Endangered, the first in the Ape Quartet series—making it a perfect place to start for kids who really like to binge-read survival books. Sophie doesn’t want to visit her mother’s sanctuary for bonobos. She’d rather be at home… until Otto, a infant bonobo who lost his mother, connects with Sophie in a way that she’s never experienced before. But the peace of their meeting doesn’t last long. When revolution strikes, the sanctuary is attacked, and the two must escape into the jungles of the Congo. Can Sophie keep her new friend safe… and keep them both alive?
What books would you recommend to young readers who loved Hatchet?
Get ready to feel all the feels with these 10 new middle grade coming-of-age novels! Each one takes you on a unique and heartfelt emotional journey. From stories of confronting divorce and death, to tales of feeling different and fighting to survive, these books show kids navigating difficult life experiences with empathy and understanding. Grab some tissues, your favorite blanket, and a cup of something warm—and get ready to share life’s challenging but beautiful moments with your young reader.
Maybe a Mermaid, by Josephine Cameron
Ever feel alone, different, or lost? Come hang out with Anthoni Gills, an eleven-year-old girl desperate to find a True Blue Friend. But jumping from city to city with her mom selling Beauty & the Bee products makes it nearly impossible. Which is why, when Anthoni and her mom settle down for a summer at Thunder Lake, she’s convinced this time will be different. Until she realizes her mom lied and rumors abound about a mysterious mermaid. Will Anthoni be able to find her True Blue Friend, despite theuncertainties that surround her? Cameron writes with gentle authenticity, capturing the feelings of an eleven-year-old girl with insight.
Middle School Misadventures, by Jason Platt
Get ready for some fun with Jason Platt’s debut graphic novel! With full-color art, Middle School Misadventures follows Newell—a pancake loving, constantly tardy, bit-of-a-mess kid who, if he misses one more class, will be sent to summer school. Or, he can wipe his slate clean by participating in the school’s talent show. Only problem is? He’s got no talent. Will Newell discover a hidden skill? Or fall flat on his face? Fans of Calvin and Hobbs are sure to love this silly yet sweet illustrated tale.
The Line Tender, by Kate Allen
This poignant book takes its readers on a journey of grief. While Lucy’s mom died suddenly researching sharks five years ago, Lucy finds herself stuck in a circle of sadness. And when the sharks resurface, it’s just another reminder that her mom is gone. Then, when another tragedy hits, Lucy struggles to find purpose through another difficult time. But with the help of family, friends, and even the sharks, she’ll learn how to discover meaning in it all. Allen writes with such tenderness and realness you won’t be able to put the book—as heartbreaking as it is—down.
The Casket of Time, by Andri Snaer Magnason
Part science fiction, part fantasy, and all kinds of fun, The Casket of Time features an apocalyptic setting and an ancient curse, which hero Sigrun must break in order to fix the world she lives in. (Talk about drama!) After her TimeBox—a box meant to save people from the financial “situation” troubling the nation—malfunctions, she’s thrust into a once-thriving city that’s become overgrown by nature and separated from her parents. Will Sigrun and her new group of friends be able to save the world, even though she’s just a kid? Fans of The Maze Runner and Percy Jackson will love this mystical and eerie adventure!
Where the Heart Is, by Jo Knowles
A story about love, friendship, and facing down change. Thirteen-year-old Rachel is facing a summer of change—her best friend Micah wants more than a friendship, but Rachel isn’t sure she does. Her parents talk about moving, but that would mean leaving her beloved pony behind. Change is inevitable—but never easy. Rachel must learn to lean into these changes and discover that no matter what happens or where she ends up, she can hold onto memories in her heart forever.
Caterpillar Summer, by Gillian McDunn Caterpillar Summer touches on several delicate topics, like a parent’s death, and restoring broken relationships. But author Gillian McDunn approaches them with heart and a tender realness that will have you reaching for the tissues. The sweet sibling relationship between sister Cat, who’s growing up too fast, and brother Chicken, who has special needs, will resonate with anyone who loves and protects family “as fiercely as a shark bite.”
Extraordinary Birds, by Sandy Stark-McGinnis
December is a young girl who believes she is destined to become a bird (the scars she has on her back are where her wings will appear), which will take her into the sky and away from her struggles in the foster care system. But when she find herself opening up to her latest foster parent, a gentle woman named Eleanor, she begins to wonder whether she may have found a permanent home on the ground. Through the help of her passion for birds and friends who stand by her, December will learn that scars may never leave, but they can indeed be healed.
The Lost Boy’s Gift, by Kimberly Willis Holt
After his parents’ divorce, nine-year-old Daniel is forced to move with his mom to a faraway town and leave everything he knows behind, including most of his favorite things. As they settle into their new home on While-a-Way Lane, Daniel is bored by his new surroundings. However, soon he meets a handful of quirky characters, including his neighbor Lemonade Girl, a hopscotching mailman, tiny creatures, and gardening enthusiast Tilda Butter. Sometimes change, though hard, can lead us on a great journey.
The Becket List, by Adele Griffin
Becket Branch is a city girl at heart—until her family unexpectedly moves her to a farm. Determined to make the most of country life, she makes a list of “How to Be a Country Kid,” hoping it’ll speed the process along. She soon begins to learn that country living is harder than she expected. The small moments, like feeding the animals, driving a tractor, and laughing with her Gran, show her what “being a country kid” is truly about.
Chasing Helicity Into the Wind, by Ginger Zee
Weather-enthusiast Helicity’s name means “to spin,” just like a tornado, which, along with a flash flood, hit her family in a devastating tragedy in Chasing Helicity. She tries to outrun the pain by visiting her best friend Mia in Texas. However, when new troubles arise—including another intense storm—Helicity must face her fears and gather her strength in order to survive.
What new middle grade books are your young reader excited about?