Well it is that time of year again, when we get inundated with everyone’s opinion of what the best books of the year were. And of course I have to add to the many lists my own opinions, because mine is the only one that counts! Just kidding. I didn’t read as many middle grade books as I perhaps should have this year, only 33, but I enjoyed all of the ones I did read. It was hard to choose just a few favorites, but I did manage to narrow it down to just 5 (or really 6) books that really stood out to me this year.
A Wolf for a Spell by Karah Sutton
This was such a fun and delightful retelling of the Baba Yaga fairy tale. The characters were all wonderfully strong female characters. This Baba Yaga was perhaps a nicer version than we are used to, but I really liked her. I also simply adored Zima, the wolf. Her reaction to suddenly being human was great. This is a great debut book and one that kids who like wolves and strong female characters will enjoy.
Scary Stories for Young Foxes by Christian McKay Heidicker
It wasn’t any wonder that this one won a Newbery Honor medal. It was wonderful and so full of heart. I didn’t think it was all that scary, but there were some moments that might be hard for the younger kids. Still, this story is full of heart and so full of great characters. There is also some pretty great action and times when it was hard to put this one down because I wanted to know what would happen next. I also really enjoyed the author’s writing style and will keep my out for new books by him.
Roll With It by Jamie Sumner
I read two books by this author this year, Tune It Out was the other one, and thought she did a marvelous job writing stories that featured kids with disabilities. I really appreciated that in this story the main plot did not focus on Ellie’s disability, but it was about family and doing the best you can under hard circumstances. I also liked that Ellie was basically a happy and well adjusted kid, who just wanted to be treated like everyone else. This was especially hard for her mom to accept, but she eventually does. I am also keeping an eye out for more by this author.
Ban This Book by Alan Gratz
This is an older title (2017) but it got on my radar this year because it was nominated for my state’s Children’s Choice Award this year. And I am so glad it was. This is a great story about how banning books hurts more than it helps. Amy Anne is a great character, who even though she is shy, she ends up sticking up for her rights and those of her fellow students. She came up with a great plan to show how ridiculous book banning can get if people let it. This is only the second book I have read by this author, but I have really enjoyed them both.
The Overthrow Series by Kenneth Oppel
This is really two book, but they were both so good, I couldn’t choose just one. This series is very scary. It is a different kind of alien invasion, that scared the heck out of me. Plus it makes me suspicious of any plant I don’t recognize showing up in my yard. Great characters and lots of action accompany a plot with lots of surprises in it. The last book in the series comes out in the spring and I can’t wait to see how this all come to an end.
If you are looking for a book to give as a gift to a middle schooler, you can’t go wrong with any of these. I’m sure there were a lot of really good middle school books out there that I didn’t get to, but there is always next year.
Do you read Middle Grade books? What was your favorite this year?