A long time ago, along with other book bloggers, I started organizing middle grade book readalongs, centered at first on Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, but the idea died down month after month, and I got busy with life and other things. What didn’t die is my love for middle grade books. In the midst of a two months long confinement, I just celebrated the fact that I HAVE BEEN WORKING AT THE BOOKSTORE FOR A YEAR NOW! And I’m in charge of the kidlit/middle grade/YA section, which means that I got the chance to discover and read more middle grade books this past year! And this rekindled my love for middle grade books. Some I would probably have read anyway, and some I discovered by chance and fell in love with. Which is why, today, I’m here to share all the love that I have for middle grade books!
I’m obviously not going to talk about Percy Jackson, even if I just binge read Heroes of Olympus, because it’s all I’m talking about these days, and I wanted to share my love for OTHER SERIES that also deserve it ♥ (Have I mentioned how excited I am that Percy Jackson is finally getting the TV show it deserves?)
Without further ado, here are seven middle grade books(eries) that you should check out!
City of Ghosts (Cassidy Blake #1) by Victoria Schwab
Okay so yes, I know I just said I wanted to share the love about authors and books I don’t talk about all the times, and I KNOW I talk about Victoria Schwab a lot. But hey, it’s worth it. Her books are amazing. The Cassidy Blake series is about a young girl whose parents earn a living by talking about ghosts. They have written many famous books as “The Inspecters” and are now having their own TV Show, which means they’re going to travel to cities famous for their ghosts. They talk about folklore and history, and are not necessarily believers. Cassidy probably wouldn’t have been a believer either, if not for the fact that… her best friend is a ghost. Jacob has been hanging out for the past year, ever since Cassidy almost died. And now they are going to be thrown into cities populated by dangerous ghosts. First Edinburgh, then Paris… And the third books, which will be released next March, is going to be set in Venice!
Aru Shah and the End of Time (Pandava Quartet #1) by Roshani Chokshi
This one is another series in the making and I am OBSESSED with it. I have yet to read the third book, but to be perfectly honest with you, I’m waiting for the paperback version to be released because I want it to match the rest of the series… Anyway. This one does have a special place in my heart, obviously because I loved it. The story is fun, action packed, with awesome characters. But also because I managed to sell it splendidly at work, and I will forever be proud of it. Spreading the love, one book sale at a time! Anyway. Think Percy Jackson, except it’s hindu mythology. On a bet, Aru opens a magical lamp in her mother’s museum. And suddenly, she finds out she is the reincarnation of a famous hero, and she has ten days to save the world, while traveling across the US. These books are excellent, and I will never stop recommending them.
Nowhere Boy by Katherine Marsh
A contemporary book for a change! Nowhere Boy is absolutely precious, and I’m so glad I decided to give it a go. Throughout the book, we follow two books who despite the fact that they have nothing in common, end up sharing a house in Brussels. Max comes from the US and his father has been relocated to Belgium for one year. He has to attend school in French despite his not speaking a word of it, and left all of his friends behind. Needless to say, he is less than happy about it. Ahmed fled Syria with his father. He lost him on the way, and ended up seeking refuge in the basement of a house in Brussels. One night, they meet, and the boys become friends. It’s a beautiful book about friendship in the face of adversity, that also deals with important topics such as the refugee crisis. And of course, I would definitely recommend that you check it out ASAP.
The Strangers (Greystone Secrets #1) by Margaret Peterson Haddix
This one is another fantasy book series that I believe is underrated. I’ve seen the first two books I mentioned around quite a lot on Bookstagram, or Book Twitter, but I haven’t seen this one much except for when I actively look for it. But I’m here to say: if you like middle grade books, then you should definitely give this one a try. The second book in the series has been released in early April and I have yet to read it. Here’s the premise: one day when the come back from school, the Greystone kids come across an odd piece of news. Three kids have gone missing, and they share their names, as well as age, and exact birth dates. The coincidence becomes even bigger when their mom disappears the next morning, leaving behind her a few scattered clues, and abandoning them in the care of a woman they barely know. So of course, they try to piece it together, and what they discover is even bigger than anything they could have foreseen, and much scarier… I’m not going to say anything more, but I LOVED the plot twists in this one, and I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel!
Thisby Thestoop and the Black Mountain by Zac Gorman
Just like The Strangers, I came across this one unexpectedly, because I received an ARC copy of the French edition at work. And I’m so glad that I decided to give it a go! It’s full of dark humour and irony for a start, and I am always here for that. It’s a story about friendship, and girls standing up for one another, which again, I am here for. Thisby is in charge of feeding the monsters of the Black Mountain, and checking up on them regularly, so that it remains what it is supposed to be: an attraction for wannabe heroes who want to earn some glory. From the get go, I loved the twist on classic fairytale like stories. One day, Iphigenia, the princess and heiress to the throne comes to visit with her brother. When the prince goes missing, the two girls set up on a quest among the half destroyed mountain to save him, facing on their way more monsters than they possibly could have expected. This book was fun and original, and featured not one but two badass female characters. There’s also a sequel called Thisby Thestoop and the Wretched Scrattle, and I can’t wait to check it out!
Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee
Like Aru Shah, this book is a part of the Rick Riordan Presents imprint that promotes books featuring all different kinds of mythology and cultures. That’s pretty much everything they have in common… Well, except for the fact that I also loved them both. Dragon Pearl is a standalone sci-fi/fantasy book featuring creatures from classical Korean mythology, except that it’s set in space. Think something like Gu Family Book or Arang and the Magistrate* meet Star Wars. Min comes from an old family of gumihos, who live on a distant planet. Nobody really knows about their origins, because foxes have a bad reputation. Because, you know, they can shapeshift. When her bother goes missing, and is accused from treason, she runs away from home with one goal in mind: find him, figure out what happened, and clear his name. The book is full of action, and had a very strong vibe of “middle grader saving the world” vibe which I absolutely loved. If you want to check out more middle grade fantasy books, but are too afraid of starting a series because you know you won’t finish it, then this is the thing for you!
*Two of my favourite sageuk kdramas, the first one featuring Gumihos aka shapeshifting nine-tailed foxes, and the second one being about ghosts.
Wings of Olympus by Kallie George
Last but not least, a book about Greek mythology that isn’t written by Rick Riordan (yes, they do exist!) This one is set up in ancient Greece, and follows Pippa, a girl who loves horses, and who is an orphan. One day, she is selected by Aphrodite to take part in a pegasus race organised by the Gods, an event that only takes place every hundred years. It’s an incredible honour, but her pegasus has a mind of its own, and the other kids look down on her because they come from wealthier backgrounds. And honestly, who would take Aphrodite seriously when it comes to winning a competition? She is the goddess of love after all. But Pippa is strong-willed, loves her pegasus Zephyr with all she has, and his determined to win. Its a beautiful book about friendship, and I quickly fell in love with it. A sequel, The Colt of the Coulds, was released in April and I cannot wait to check it out.
And of course, I couldn’t end this article without mentioning one of my favourite reads of 2019, a middle grade book AND a Canadian Classic, yes I’m talking about Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. If you haven’t done that yet, do yourself a favour and go read this book. I don’t know why I waited so long. (And yes, I am also obsessed with the show Anne with an E. I’m still upset Netflix canceled it.)
And with that, I’m done for today, and going back to reading!