Wednesday, December 4, 2019

12 Days of Giving: Great Chapter Books and Middle Grade

Today, I'm featuring my favorite chapter books and middle grade books for the readers in your life. If you're looking for something more specific or want more suggestions, check out last year's 12 Days of Giving posts for:

Dear Sweet Pea by Julie Murphy (Balzer + Bray, 2019). Grades 4-6. Sweet Pea is an awesome character who's not afraid to be herself in this funny middle grade novel. You may recognize Julie Murphy from her wildly successful young adult books, including Dumplin', which was turned into a Netflix movie. Her middle grade debut is just as great and perfect for kids who like funny character-driven books set in small towns with quirky characters. 

Emmy in the Key of Code by Aimee Lucido (Versify, 2019). Grades 4-7. Emmy's just starting at a new school and she's not sure where she fits in. When she starts a coding class, she starts to make some friends and figure out her place. Written in verse, the poems incorporate some coding terms and this would make a great read for young coders, but also any kids interested in friendship stories. 

A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramée (Balzer + Bray, 2019). Grades 5-8. This is a great book for middle schoolers who are interested in or asking about Black Lives Matters or social justice. Shayla is allergic to trouble, but as tensions rise between the African American community and the local police and she starts making more African American friends in middle school, she just might find that some kinds of trouble are worth standing up for what you believe in. 

Lalani of the Distant Sea by Erin Entrada Kelly (Greenwillow, 2019). Grades 5-8. This is a wonderfully rich fantasy novel based on Filipino folklore with a strong dose of girl power. Life's not great in Lalani's village. There's a drought going on, people are getting sick, and the sailors sent to find provisions on a legendary island said to house riches never return. It may take an ordinary kid to be the hero that the village needs. This is a sure bet for fans of The Girl Who Drank the Moon or other fantasy adventure stories. 

Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds (Atheneum, 2019). Grades 5-8. With unforgettable characters in a series of short stories, this book explores the streets in an urban neighborhood as kids get out of school. Both funny and poignant, this is a book for readers who like to get a peek into the lives of others. It invites the reader to see characters and relationships in different ways. 

More to the Story by Hena Khan (Salaam Reads, 2019) Grades 3-6. This heartfelt, contemporary story about four Muslim American sisters in Georgia was inspired by Little Women and is a really fun read for fans of that classic book. Pair it with a copy of the Louisa May Alcott's classic and tickets to see the new movie coming out. 

Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai (Henry Holt, 2019). Grades 3-6. This is a really sweet (see what I did there?) story of a kid immigrating to a new country that feels like Mars since he doesn't speak English and can't understand anyone. This graphic novel / prose hybrid is a great choice for Wimpy Kid fans who like a little more meat to their story. It's both funny and serious - sweet and salty like the perfect salted caramel sauce.

Planet Earth is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos (Random House, 2019) Grades 4-7. This is a book for kids who like to feel ALL THE FEELS. Set in 1986, Nova's just been placed in a new foster home without her sister, which is a huge change since Nova has autism and is almost completely nonvocal. Her sister is the only one who understands her. But Nova knows they'll be reunited to watch the Challenger launch, because her sister promised. It's a powerful story for readers who like to connect with characters. 

Roll With It by Jamie Sumner (Atheneum, 2019). Grades 4-7. Ellie's a kid who tells it like it is, even though everyone expects her to be meek and inspiring because she has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair. When Ellie and her mom move to a small town (including a new school that's not super equipped to handle a kid in a wheelchair), Ellie starts to make real friends for the first time and she's got to convince her mom that it's okay for them to stay. This is a great book for anyone who enjoys a story told with heart and humor and a super strong voice. 

To Night Owl from Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer (Dial, 2019). Grades 4-7. Bett and Avery are first introduced when their single dads Marlow and Sam, recently dating each other, decide to spend the summer in China together and send both girls to the same camp so they can bond. In a series of emails, Bett and Avery plot about how to break up their dads. They both like life as it is and neither thinks the other is a likely friend (nevermind sister) - Bett is outgoing and impulsive while Avery is cautious and cerebral. They pledge not to talk to or even acknowledge each other at camp, but life has a way of making other plans. This is a funny book told with lots of heart, fun for readers who like fun summer stories about unlikely friends.