Middle school is a totally weird time, so it makes sense that middle grade reads would give us some awesomely off-the-wall stories to explore. This month we’ve got some stellar new middle grade books about a Freaky Friday-style body swap through time, a magic-filled feminist fairy tale, an awesome biography about two female super-scientists, and some self-described geeky kids with some pretty weird superpowers. Check out our picks for some exciting new MG books to add to your collection.
Lucy Castor Finds Her Sparkle, by Natasha Lowe
In this charming, cozy novel, readers meet 10-year-old Lucy Castor, an almost-fourth-grader who thrives on the comfort of consistency. But everything around her is changing: Lucy’s best friend, Ella, doesn’t believe in magic anymore and is hanging out with a new group of friends; Lucy’s mom has just announced she’s pregnant with twins; and her grumpy neighbor just put up a huge sun-blocking fence sure to cause Lucy’s petunias to dry up. But Lucy might just learn that change holds a magic all its own in this sweet, funny story about growing up.
The Art of the Swap, by Kristine Asselin and Jen Malone
This Freaky Friday-esque mystery follows the lives of two young girls—Hannah, the 12-year-old daughter of the caretaker for The Elms mansion-turned-museum, and Maggie, the tween heiress living with her family in The Elms in the year 1905. Hannah is fascinated by stories of the original occupants of the old mansion, particularly Maggie, who was the subject of a famous painting that went missing during an art heist. When a magic mirror allows the girls to switch places, Hannah suddenly finds herself trying to solve the mystery of the missing painting, while Maggie has to figure out how to navigate life in the 21st century in this fast-paced and entertaining time-traveling tale.
Marabel and the Book of Fate, by Tracy Barrett
Feminism and fairy tales combine in this first of an enchanting new middle grade series from author Tracy Barrett. According to the Book of Fate, the predictor of everything in Magikos, 13-year-old Marabel’s twin brother, Marco, is the Chosen One who is destined to save their realm. But one night when Marco is kidnapped by an evil queen, it is spirited and courageous Marabel who runs to his rescue. Journeying outside the castle walls for the first time, Marabel will have to face unforeseen challenges on the quest to find her brother in this funny and heartfelt fantasy tale.
Radioactive!: How Irene Curie and Lise Meitner Revolutionized Science and Changed the World, by Winifred Conkling
Winifred Conkling’s Radioactive! offers young readers a fascinating dual biography of influential 20th-century physicists Irene Joliot-Curie and Lise Meitner. The two female scientists were often rivals in their field but their individual contributions to science were revolutionary, leading to the creation of the atomic bomb. Both women had to fight misogyny—Curie was denied a place in the French Academy of Sciences because she was a woman, and Meitner’s male colleagues took credit for her discoveries. But they continued to persevere in this incredible story of their lives.
The Ostrich and Other Lost Things, by Beth Hautala
The author of Waiting for Unicorns brings middle graders yet another unforgettable read. Eleven-year-old Olivia Grant has a special knack for finding lost things, but one thing she can’t track down is her autistic older brother’s lost toy ostrich. The bird seems to have a soothing effect on her brother, and Olivia believes his autism has gotten much worse since he lost it. When summer begins, Olivia is determined to find the ostrich, while also making time for something that’s just for her—auditioning for a children’s production of Peter Pan. And as Olivia soon learns, maybe not everything that’s lost is meant to be found in this engaging coming-of-age story.
Raffie on the Run, by Jacqueline Resnick and Joe Sutphin
Fans of the classic The Cricket in Times Square will love this new book about a little rat with a big imagination who lives in a subway station in Brooklyn. When Raffie the rat’s little brother, Oggie, is taken from their family’s subway home, Raffie must set out through the city to find him, being careful to avoid hungry cats, seedy squirrels, and other obstacles along the way. Thankfully, he’ll find some help on his journey—a pigeon with street smarts, a pampered pooch, and a genteel cockroach—in this charming tale of friendship and family.
Geeked Out, by Obert Skye
If Diary of a Wimpy Kid were set in a dystopian future, you might end up with something like Obert Skye’s Geeked Out. Even though society has all but crumbled, middle school must go on at Waddle Jr. High, where geeky Tip and his crew of friends form a secret vigilante group—the League of Average and Mediocre Entities (aka LAME). Tip and his trio of pals have been bitten by ooze-eating spiders, giving the gang some weird superpowers to help them defeat their school foes like the Jocks and Sox and their evil principal Darth Susan in this funny and fast-paced read filled with comic-style illustrations.
What middle grade books are you reading this month?