Today I want to tell you about five middle-grade novels that I think you’ll love. Some are new, others have been out for a couple of years.

“Middle-grade novel,” by the way, is publisher-speak for books geared for 8-12 year-olds. I don’t always agree with publishers on age recommendations 😇, so you’ll notice I often age up.

My feeling is that you can never be too old for a good book, but you sure can be too young for one!

Of course, you are the best person to decide when your kids are ready for any particular book, so just take my recommendations as very loose suggestions, based on my own limited experience.

A Place to Hang the Moon

Author:

Kate Albus

My age recommendation:

All ages, though 6 or 7+ will enjoy it most. Your teens will enjoy it too!

About the book:

It’s 1940 and William, Edmund, and Anna, aren’t terribly upset by the death of the not-so-grandmotherly grandmother who has been taking care of them. But the children do need a guardian, and in WWII London, those are in short supply.

Could the evacuation of children from London to the countryside be the answer? It’s a preposterous plan, but it just might work. This one is a story about the dire importance of family: the one you’re given, and the one you choose.

My take:

This book will make you want to re-read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, make a teetering TBR pile, drink a mug of cocoa, slather a piece of toast in butter, plant a garden, thank a librarian, and hug your siblings.

🎧 The audio book cover is terrible, but the narrator is fabulous. Highly recommended on audio. (This is my favorite way to share read-alouds, because then I can work on a puzzle while I listen!)

Get the book here →


Wonderland

Author:

Barbara O’Connor

My Age recommendation:

7-14

About the book:

This one is told in super short chapters through 3 points-of-view: Mavis is fearless and bold. Her mother has just taken a job as housekeeper for the Tully family in Magnolia Estates. Rose Tully is a worrier whose very best friend is old Mr. Duffy. He hasn’t been himself since his dog died (before the book began—it doesn’t feel crushing to the reader like a dog death often does). Henry is a dog who ran away from home. He craves kindness and comfort- but doesn’t know where to find it.

The three tales intertwine into a story of unlikely friendship.

My take:

I listened to this on audio (fantastic) and immediately gave it to my 9yo to listen next. She finished the book in a day and a half!

Barbara O’Connor is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. Her writing is just 👌🏼 and makes me want to be a better writer myself. (You might recognize her as the author of Wish, which is also excellent.)

Get the book here→


The Vanderbeekers Make a Wish

Author:

Karina Yan Glaser

My age recommendation:

All ages (you might want to wait to start the series until your oldest is 8+, though). These are great whole-family read-alouds!

About the book:

It’s summer on 141st Street, and the Vanderbeekers are looking forward to Papa’s surprise fortieth birthday party.

But then Papa must leave town to help his best friend and the Vanderbeeker children are surprised to find their maternal grandparents on their doorstep. Grandma is very critical of everything they do.

Can they come to appreciate the grandparents they have while making sure their papa has the best birthday ever?

My take:

Karina Yan Glaser does it again! I think these Vanderbeeker books just keep getting better, and this one (#5 in the series) is the best yet. If you haven’t started the series yet, begin with The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street. (It’s especially good to read around Christmas time!)

Get the book here →


The Monster Missions

Author:

Laura Martin

My age recommendation:

10-15

About the book:

Berkeley and her best friend, Garth, live on an old cruise ship, scavenging for supplies from the drowned cities left behind on the ocean floor after the sea swallowed up all the land. They think they’ve seen every kind of aquatic creature, but they never expected to find sea monsters…

After awakening a Hydra, Berkeley and Garth are sent to live on a submarine, where they study and hunt sea monsters. But the Hydra wants revenge on their home ship—and monsters aren’t the only deadly things lurking in the ocean.

My take:

Laura Martin is (hands-down) my go-to author for any kid age 10-14 who says they don’t like reading. This newest from her is perfect especially for fans of The Edge of Extinction books (I love those!) (and I’m not even a science fiction person!).

I tend to think Laura’s books make better read-alones than read-alouds… mostly because they are page-turners, and your kids aren’t going to want to stop once they start. But if you have a reluctant reader, try reading aloud the first chapter or two and then “running out of time” so they have to keep reading on their own to see what happens! 😎

Get the book →


Sweet Home Alaska

Author:

Carole Estby Dagg

My age recommendation:

All ages, though 7+ will like it most; a great whole-family read-aloud

Heads-up:

This is our Winter 2022 Family Book Club novel in RAR Premium! We’ll have a Family Book Club Guide for you, and will also get to meet the author in a live Zoom.

About the book:

It’s 1934, and times are tough. Determined to provide for his family, Trip’s father moves their family to Alaska to become pioneers as part of President Roosevelt’s Palmer Colony project.

Trip and her family are settling in, except her mom, who balks at the lack of civilization. But Trip feels like she’s following in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s footsteps, and she hatches a plan convince her mother that Alaska is a wonderful home.

My take:

I loved this book. It feels like The Year of Miss Agnes meets Little House on the Prairie. (Now that is a convincing pitch! 😆)

🎧 I’m a big audio book fan, but I didn’t enjoy the audio version of this one. I thought the narrator made the main character sound a little whiny. And… well… maybe it’s because I’m a mother, but I didn’t need that much whining in my ear 😅. When I switched to reading the book with my eyes, I didn’t think the main character seemed whiny at all. Your mileage may vary.

Get the book here →