You know I love middle-grade books A LOT so I thought I could do a recommendation post with some of my favorite middle-grades. From graphic novels to spooky books, there’s a mix of everything for everyone!
I was inspired by the announcement of Middle Grade Magic Readathon happening from August 1st to August 16th. Check out their twitter thread for more info.
–Sheets by Brenna Thummler. This story has ghosts, evil adults and a kid who’s just trying her hardest. It’s a story with soft and delightful art, charming characters and a very bittersweet tone. Making friends with ghosts while also dealing with grief. At the moment I felt very frustrated by the “adults-don’t-listen-to-the-kids” thing, but looking back now, this was a very good read.
–Sincerely, Harriet by Sarah Winifred Searle. This story is so quiet and beautiful, following a disabled girl (multiple sclerosis) that feels alone in her new home until she meets her neighbor. It was a heartbreaking story, too, with supportive parents and a hopeful ending that I adore.
–Stargazing by Jen Wang. Okay, another beautiful story, Cande? Well, yes, my favorite type of middle grade novel! I adore Jen Wang’s art, the colors and characters expressions are spectacular. This story is about friendship and it’s explored in this messy and vulnerable way that I appreciated a lot. It feels so real and bittersweet, and it’s just such an incredible story.
–The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag. Oh this series is so sweet and amazing! All about gender roles, family and friendship. Again, beautiful art with some of my favorite world-building. I adore this family made up of witches and shapeshifters. The story has a complex and complicated family relationship, but it’s still very clear that they all love each other and they want to support Aster.
Spooky and Magical
–Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega. You have to know by now how much I enjoyed this story. But in case you missed it, my review and character interview! This book made me realized that spooky middle grade may be my favorite spooky. Ghost Squad is also a story with funny jokes, great dialogue and unforgettable characters. It balances grief, with the magic and spooky stuff very well, and I feel like this is the perfect story to start your middle grade journey.
–A Dash Of Trouble by Anna Meriano. Okay, another series I talk A LOT about on here. But listen, cooking brujas + friendship + annoying older sisters + mischief? Yeah, my dose of happiness right there. I love Leo and the Logroños family a lot, I love Leo’s adventures slash troubles and I love the magic in this world. It’s the type of book that feels like a warm hug while still talking about the complicated feelings of being the youngest sibling and feeling always left out.
–The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste. I don’t understand how this series can be so underhyped: very spooky, set in the Caribbean, found family, deals with grief and identity. There’s so much heartbreak in this book, but it’s so delightfully funny. I adore the all the friends Corinne makes and how the entire island always comes back together to stand by her side.
–The Forgotten Girl by India Hill Brown. Again, I really love spooky middle-grade; the way books can make you tense up in fear and anticipation of the next page while also having very hilarious moments. This story also has an element of heartbreak as both the ghost and Iris feel invisible as young Black girls in their own families and communities. Brown also handled so well the jealousy and annoyance you feel as older sibling with that fierce, loyal love. This story was incredible and you can read my mini-review here.
Gut-Punching and Funny
–Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai. This story is so precious to my heart. It’s all about immigration, assimilation, grief and sibling relationships. It’s funny and heartbreaking, Remy perfectly captures being an immigrant, a stranger to an entire language, as a kid. There’s so much emotion between these pages and also so much love, it made me so happy. I see myself rereading this book many times.
–Front Desk by Kelly Yang. Another story about immigration, a family of Chinese immigrants trying to manage a hotel. This one is also funny, with some of the most heartwarming moments, but it never shies away from talking about racism, anti-Blackness, xenophobia, classicism… What I adore of Kelly Yang’s book is the look at community, how immigrants form families with friends, neighbors and fellow immigrants and how beautiful that looks. This story just gives me so much hope.
–Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina. This may be one of the hardest stories in this list because it deals with terminal illness of a grandparent. It’s incredibly heartbreaking how we see Merci’s life changed and her fear and frustration. But it’s also a book sprinkle with so much love, friendship and adorable moments. This is a hard one, but I highly recommended it. Review.
–The Moon Within by Aida Salazar. I haven’t talked about this book that much but it’s one of my 2019 highlights. Written in verse it follows a young Mexica-Puerto Rican girl learning about family traditions and growing up. I adore how this book centers in friendship, culture and family and how honest and sometimes messy it is.
–Some Places More Than Others by Renee Watson. Talking about family and traditions, that’s exactly what I love from Renee Watson’s story. All about learning about your family and community’s history while exploring a relationship with your grandfather and having honest conversations with your parents. This story was just beautiful. Review.
Have you read any of these middle grade books? Which ones are you personal favorites?