25 Magnificent Middle Grade Novels To Get Your Hands On ASAP


1. Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky by Kwame Mbalia (2020)

Rick Riordan Presents, Via kwamembalia.com

Certain to go down in literary history as one of the best middle grade novels of all time, Kwame Mbalia’s debut is a delight for mythology, adventure, and magic lovers of all ages. Tristan is supposed to be spending a month at his grandparents’ farm in Alabama, where he’s being sent to heal after a bus accident that took his best friend Eddie’s life. All he has left of Eddie is a notebook of his stories… which is stolen by a doll-like creature on his first night at the farm. In the ensuing struggle, Tristan punches a tree, accidentally opening a chasm into the MidPass, and landing him in the middle of a conflict involving Black American folk heroes (such as Brer Rabbit and John Henry) and West African Gods (such as Anansi, the Weaver).

Get it from Bookshop for $16.55, Barnes and Noble for $15.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

Rick Riordan Presents, Via kwamembalia.com

Certain to go down in literary history as one of the best middle grade novels of all time, Kwame Mbalia’s debut is a delight for mythology, adventure, and magic lovers of all ages. Tristan is supposed to be spending a month at his grandparents’ farm in Alabama, where he’s being sent to heal after a bus accident that took his best friend Eddie’s life. All he has left of Eddie is a notebook of his stories… which is stolen by a doll-like creature on his first night at the farm. In the ensuing struggle, Tristan punches a tree, accidentally opening a chasm into the MidPass, and landing him in the middle of a conflict involving Black American folk heroes (such as Brer Rabbit and John Henry) and West African Gods (such as Anansi, the Weaver).

Get it from Bookshop for $16.55, Barnes and Noble for $15.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

2. Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga (2019)

Balzer + Bray, Via jasminewarga.com

Jude and her mom have just come to live in Ohio with her uncle, leaving her dad and brother behind in Syria. Adjusting to a new culture is hard enough, but with half her family on the other side of the world, and people putting labels on her that she’s never expected, she’ll need to find herself and rediscover what home means. Jasmine Warga describes the new surprises in Jude’s life — such as new friends and a school musical — through gorgeous free verse.

Get it from Bookshop for $15.63, Barnes and Noble for $15.29, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

Balzer + Bray, Via jasminewarga.com

Jude and her mom have just come to live in Ohio with her uncle, leaving her dad and brother behind in Syria. Adjusting to a new culture is hard enough, but with half her family on the other side of the world, and people putting labels on her that she’s never expected, she’ll need to find herself and rediscover what home means. Jasmine Warga describes the new surprises in Jude’s life — such as new friends and a school musical — through gorgeous free verse.

Get it from Bookshop for $15.63, Barnes and Noble for $15.29, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

3. The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy (2013)

Walden Pond Press, Christopher Healy

You’ve heard of the Prince Charmings, right? Well, let me tell you, they all have names — Prince Liam, Prince Frederic, Prince Duncan, and Prince Gustav, to be precise — and they’d like the world to use them. It should also be known that their princesses are quite capable of saving themselves, so really the only option for our four princes is for them to band together and form a League of Heroes and go off fighting battles — which they’re still not really great at.

Get it from Bookshop for $7.35, Barnes and Noble for $7.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

Walden Pond Press, Christopher Healy

You’ve heard of the Prince Charmings, right? Well, let me tell you, they all have names — Prince Liam, Prince Frederic, Prince Duncan, and Prince Gustav, to be precise — and they’d like the world to use them. It should also be known that their princesses are quite capable of saving themselves, so really the only option for our four princes is for them to band together and form a League of Heroes and go off fighting battles — which they’re still not really great at.

Get it from Bookshop for $7.35, Barnes and Noble for $7.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

4. The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbert (2020)

Little, Brown, Jessie Weinberg

Alberta is thrilled when she finds out that the new owners of the bed and breakfast across the street have a 12-year-old daughter just like her — finally, she won’t be the only Black girl in town. While Alberta loves being a California girl, Edie misses her native Brooklyn and is struggling with the adjustment to their small town. When the girls discover a box of old journals in the bed and breakfast, they decide to investigate who they belonged to and why they were left in the attic.

Get it from Bookshop for $15.62, Barnes and Noble for $16.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

Little, Brown, Jessie Weinberg

Alberta is thrilled when she finds out that the new owners of the bed and breakfast across the street have a 12-year-old daughter just like her — finally, she won’t be the only Black girl in town. While Alberta loves being a California girl, Edie misses her native Brooklyn and is struggling with the adjustment to their small town. When the girls discover a box of old journals in the bed and breakfast, they decide to investigate who they belonged to and why they were left in the attic.

Get it from Bookshop for $15.62, Barnes and Noble for $16.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

5. Hurricane Season by Nicole Melleby (2019)

Algonquin, Liz Welch

Fig and her father, a once-renowned piano player, live in a beachside town where hurricane season lasts long months. Sometimes, her dad will go looking for the music in the middle of a storm, and when he shows up at school one day, confused and looking for her, it brings social services to their door. With the help of her best friend, her new neighbor, a cute girl at the library, and the art class she’s taking to help her see the world through her dad’s eyes, she learns that it’s okay to make your own definition of family.

Get it from Bookshop for $7.31, Barnes and Noble for $7.95, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

Algonquin, Liz Welch

Fig and her father, a once-renowned piano player, live in a beachside town where hurricane season lasts long months. Sometimes, her dad will go looking for the music in the middle of a storm, and when he shows up at school one day, confused and looking for her, it brings social services to their door. With the help of her best friend, her new neighbor, a cute girl at the library, and the art class she’s taking to help her see the world through her dad’s eyes, she learns that it’s okay to make your own definition of family.

Get it from Bookshop for $7.31, Barnes and Noble for $7.95, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

6. Just South of Home by Karen Strong (2019)

Simon & Schuster, Stephanie Ifendu

Sarah is 12 years old, and finally considered old enough to watch — aka boss around — her younger brother, Ellis, rather than being bossed around by their grandmother. But her plans for this summer are squashed when their cousin Janie, who has a knack for getting into trouble, comes to stay with them. And their journey soon turns into much more when they discover a deep-seated part of their town’s racist past.

Get it from Bookshop for $8.27, Barnes and Noble for $8.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

Simon & Schuster, Stephanie Ifendu

Sarah is 12 years old, and finally considered old enough to watch — aka boss around — her younger brother, Ellis, rather than being bossed around by their grandmother. But her plans for this summer are squashed when their cousin Janie, who has a knack for getting into trouble, comes to stay with them. And their journey soon turns into much more when they discover a deep-seated part of their town’s racist past.

Get it from Bookshop for $8.27, Barnes and Noble for $8.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

7. Front Desk by Kelly Yang (2018)

Scholastic, Via kellyyang.com

Ten-year-old Mia Tang wants to be a writer, but her mom thinks she should stick to math since English isn’t her first language. Her parents are immigrants, and they all work at the Calivista Motel: Every day, while her parents clean the rooms, Mia manages the front desk. She also keeps a big secret — her parents hide immigrants in the empty rooms of the motel, and if Mr. Yao, the mean owner of the motel, found out, they’d all be in big trouble. So Mia starts to wonder if there’s a way her dream of writing could help her parents and the immigrants they assist.

Get it from Bookshop for $7.35, Barnes and Noble for $7.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

Scholastic, Via kellyyang.com

Ten-year-old Mia Tang wants to be a writer, but her mom thinks she should stick to math since English isn’t her first language. Her parents are immigrants, and they all work at the Calivista Motel: Every day, while her parents clean the rooms, Mia manages the front desk. She also keeps a big secret — her parents hide immigrants in the empty rooms of the motel, and if Mr. Yao, the mean owner of the motel, found out, they’d all be in big trouble. So Mia starts to wonder if there’s a way her dream of writing could help her parents and the immigrants they assist.

Get it from Bookshop for $7.35, Barnes and Noble for $7.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

8. The Whispers by Greg Howard (2019)

Putnam, Jamie Wright Images

Eleven-year-old Riley has a lot of wishes: that the bullies at school would leave him alone; that his crush, Dylan, would like him back; that he’d stop wetting the bed; and, most importantly, that his missing mom would come home. Determined to find her, he and his friend Gary go on a camping trip where Riley plans to track down the Whispers — magical wood creatures that grant wishes.

Get it from Bookshop for $8.27, Barnes and Noble for $8.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

Putnam, Jamie Wright Images

Eleven-year-old Riley has a lot of wishes: that the bullies at school would leave him alone; that his crush, Dylan, would like him back; that he’d stop wetting the bed; and, most importantly, that his missing mom would come home. Determined to find her, he and his friend Gary go on a camping trip where Riley plans to track down the Whispers — magical wood creatures that grant wishes.

Get it from Bookshop for $8.27, Barnes and Noble for $8.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

9. A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore Ramée (2019)

Balzer + Bray, Rod Searcey

Shayla is a rule follower. All she wants to do is get through seventh grade without causing any trouble (and maybe learn to run track and get a cute boy’s attention along the way). But in the midst of friendship woes, and some classmates saying she isn’t Black enough, Shayla starts to question the rules she thought she understood. After attending a protest with her sister, Hana, Shay starts wearing an armband to school in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Everyone at school takes sides, and when Shay is issued an ultimatum, she must face her choice head on.

Get it from Bookshop for $7.35, Barnes and Noble for $7.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

Balzer + Bray, Rod Searcey

Shayla is a rule follower. All she wants to do is get through seventh grade without causing any trouble (and maybe learn to run track and get a cute boy’s attention along the way). But in the midst of friendship woes, and some classmates saying she isn’t Black enough, Shayla starts to question the rules she thought she understood. After attending a protest with her sister, Hana, Shay starts wearing an armband to school in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Everyone at school takes sides, and when Shay is issued an ultimatum, she must face her choice head on.

Get it from Bookshop for $7.35, Barnes and Noble for $7.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

10. The Bone Garden by Heather Kassner (2019)

Henry Holt, Cameron Straatsma

In this gorgeous lyrical debut that is perfect for fans of Tangled and The Graveyard Book, Heather Kassner tells the story of Irréelle — a girl made of dust and bone and imagination, with only the finest magical thread tethering her to life. But when she makes an unforgivable mistake, and her cruel creator, Miss Vesper, threatens to imagine her away, Irréelle flees to the underside of the graveyard in defiance of her creator for the very first time.

Get it from Bookshop for $15.63, Barnes and Noble for $16.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

Henry Holt, Cameron Straatsma

In this gorgeous lyrical debut that is perfect for fans of Tangled and The Graveyard Book, Heather Kassner tells the story of Irréelle — a girl made of dust and bone and imagination, with only the finest magical thread tethering her to life. But when she makes an unforgivable mistake, and her cruel creator, Miss Vesper, threatens to imagine her away, Irréelle flees to the underside of the graveyard in defiance of her creator for the very first time.

Get it from Bookshop for $15.63, Barnes and Noble for $16.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

11. The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani (2018)

Penguin, David Beinstein

In 1947, India was split into two countries — India and Pakistan — after being freed from British rule. Tensions stay high between Hindus and Muslims, and hundreds of thousands are killed crossing borders. Nisha is half-Muslim, half-Hindu, and very unsure of where she belongs. But when her father decides it’s too dangerous to remain in Pakistan, their family become refugees and journey to a new home — something Nisha chronicles in letters to her late mother.

Get it from Bookshop for $8.27, Barnes and Noble for $8.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

Penguin, David Beinstein

In 1947, India was split into two countries — India and Pakistan — after being freed from British rule. Tensions stay high between Hindus and Muslims, and hundreds of thousands are killed crossing borders. Nisha is half-Muslim, half-Hindu, and very unsure of where she belongs. But when her father decides it’s too dangerous to remain in Pakistan, their family become refugees and journey to a new home — something Nisha chronicles in letters to her late mother.

Get it from Bookshop for $8.27, Barnes and Noble for $8.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

12. The Jumbies by Tracy Baptiste (2015)

Algonquin Young Readers, Via traceybaptiste.com

Corinne isn’t afraid of anything, especially not jumbies — after all, they’re just made up by parents to frighten their kids. But after chasing an agouti all the way to the forest one night, and meeting a beautiful stranger the next day, she knows something life-changing is about to happen. That stranger, Severine, plans to claim her entire island for the jumbies, and it is up to Corinne to save her home and embrace the magic inside of her.

Get it from Bookshop for $7.31, Barnes and Noble for $7.95, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

Algonquin Young Readers, Via traceybaptiste.com

Corinne isn’t afraid of anything, especially not jumbies — after all, they’re just made up by parents to frighten their kids. But after chasing an agouti all the way to the forest one night, and meeting a beautiful stranger the next day, she knows something life-changing is about to happen. That stranger, Severine, plans to claim her entire island for the jumbies, and it is up to Corinne to save her home and embrace the magic inside of her.

Get it from Bookshop for $7.31, Barnes and Noble for $7.95, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

13. Midnight Without a Moon by Linda Williams Jackson (2017)

HMH, Via lindajacksonwrites.blogspot.com

Rose Lee Carter lives with her grandparents who work as sharecroppers on a Mississippi plantation in 1955. When Emmett Till is murdered one town over — and his murderers are unjustly acquitted — Rose realizes she wants to be a part of the movement to help change the South. Rose Lee Carter also appears in the sequel, A Sky Full of Stars.

Get it from Bookshop for $7.35, Barnes and Noble for $7.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

HMH, Via lindajacksonwrites.blogspot.com

Rose Lee Carter lives with her grandparents who work as sharecroppers on a Mississippi plantation in 1955. When Emmett Till is murdered one town over — and his murderers are unjustly acquitted — Rose realizes she wants to be a part of the movement to help change the South. Rose Lee Carter also appears in the sequel, A Sky Full of Stars.

Get it from Bookshop for $7.35, Barnes and Noble for $7.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

14. The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi (2017)

Salaam Reads, Linda Rosier

After Farah’s younger brother gets trapped inside a mechanical board game, she and her friends must journey into the game to rescue him. The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand is more than just a board game, however — it houses the most ancient and dangerous type of magic. The only way out is to win. And winning is difficult when the game cheats.

Get it from Bookshop for $8.27, Barnes and Noble for $8.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

Salaam Reads, Linda Rosier

After Farah’s younger brother gets trapped inside a mechanical board game, she and her friends must journey into the game to rescue him. The Gauntlet of Blood and Sand is more than just a board game, however — it houses the most ancient and dangerous type of magic. The only way out is to win. And winning is difficult when the game cheats.

Get it from Bookshop for $8.27, Barnes and Noble for $8.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

15. I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day (2019)

HarperCollins, Jessica Wood / Via bychristineday.com

After finding a box hidden in her house — full of letters signed, “Love, Edith,” and photos of a woman who looks like her — Edie has a flurry of questions. Until now, she’s been sure that questions she had about her Native American heritage would go unanswered, since her mother was adopted by a white couple. But now she is determined to discover everything she can about Edith, and if she’s connected to the Native family Edie has never known.

Get it from Bookshop for $15.63, Barnes and Noble for $15.49, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

HarperCollins, Jessica Wood / Via bychristineday.com

After finding a box hidden in her house — full of letters signed, “Love, Edith,” and photos of a woman who looks like her — Edie has a flurry of questions. Until now, she’s been sure that questions she had about her Native American heritage would go unanswered, since her mother was adopted by a white couple. But now she is determined to discover everything she can about Edith, and if she’s connected to the Native family Edie has never known.

Get it from Bookshop for $15.63, Barnes and Noble for $15.49, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

16. The Deep and Dark Blue by Niki Smith (2019)

Hachette, Niki Smith

In this lovely graphic novel, siblings Hawke and Grayson have to flee after a political coup puts them in danger. Adopting new identities as girls Hanna and Grayce, they’re able to hide in the Communion of Blue, an order of magical women able to spin the threads of reality to their will. Hawke is determined to return to his old life, and begins hatching a plan to avenge their family and retake their home. But Grayce is unsure, as she begins to realize she wants to stay in a place that allows her to finally live as a girl.

Get it from Bookshop for $11.95, Barnes and Noble for $12.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

Hachette, Niki Smith

In this lovely graphic novel, siblings Hawke and Grayson have to flee after a political coup puts them in danger. Adopting new identities as girls Hanna and Grayce, they’re able to hide in the Communion of Blue, an order of magical women able to spin the threads of reality to their will. Hawke is determined to return to his old life, and begins hatching a plan to avenge their family and retake their home. But Grayce is unsure, as she begins to realize she wants to stay in a place that allows her to finally live as a girl.

Get it from Bookshop for $11.95, Barnes and Noble for $12.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

17. Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega (2020)

Scholastic, Via claribelortega.com

After accidentally awakening malicious spirts, Lucely and her best friend Syd must join forces with Syd’s witch grandmother, Babette, and her cat, Chunk. If they don’t reverse the curse, and rid St. Augustine of the malicious spirits, it could be the end of their world as they know it. If you want a little bit of spooky and a little bit of sweet, and a whole lot of cat, you’ll fall head over heels for Ghost Squad.

Get it from Bookshop for $16.55, Barnes and Noble for $15.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

Scholastic, Via claribelortega.com

After accidentally awakening malicious spirts, Lucely and her best friend Syd must join forces with Syd’s witch grandmother, Babette, and her cat, Chunk. If they don’t reverse the curse, and rid St. Augustine of the malicious spirits, it could be the end of their world as they know it. If you want a little bit of spooky and a little bit of sweet, and a whole lot of cat, you’ll fall head over heels for Ghost Squad.

Get it from Bookshop for $16.55, Barnes and Noble for $15.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

18. Mary Underwater by Shannon Doleski (2020)

Abrams, Kim Torres

Mary Murphy has a plan. She’s going to build a submarine and pilot it across the Chesapeake Bay. It seems like the only way she can save herself, ever since her violent father came home from prison and the social worker at school is suspicious of her new bruises. The only refuge she has is the model sub she’s been making with class clown, Kip, and her heroine Joan of Arc.

Get it from Bookshop for $15.63, Barnes and Noble for $16.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

Abrams, Kim Torres

Mary Murphy has a plan. She’s going to build a submarine and pilot it across the Chesapeake Bay. It seems like the only way she can save herself, ever since her violent father came home from prison and the social worker at school is suspicious of her new bruises. The only refuge she has is the model sub she’s been making with class clown, Kip, and her heroine Joan of Arc.

Get it from Bookshop for $15.63, Barnes and Noble for $16.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

19. Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi (2018)

Rick Riordan Presents, Aman Sharma

Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in, which one day leads to her claiming that the museum where she and her mother live holds a cursed lamp — the Diya of Bharata. When three classmates show up at her doorstep to call her on the lie, they dare her to prove it. But lighting the lamp frees an ancient demon, called the Sleeper, which leaves her classmates and mom frozen in time. To save them, she’ll need to find the reincarnations of the five Pandava brothers and journey through the Kingdom of Death.

Get it from Bookshop for $7.35, Barnes and Noble for $7.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

Rick Riordan Presents, Aman Sharma

Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in, which one day leads to her claiming that the museum where she and her mother live holds a cursed lamp — the Diya of Bharata. When three classmates show up at her doorstep to call her on the lie, they dare her to prove it. But lighting the lamp frees an ancient demon, called the Sleeper, which leaves her classmates and mom frozen in time. To save them, she’ll need to find the reincarnations of the five Pandava brothers and journey through the Kingdom of Death.

Get it from Bookshop for $7.35, Barnes and Noble for $7.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

20. Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano (2018)

Walden Pond Press, Via annameriano.com

Leonora Logroño hopes that this year is finally the year she gets to help her family prepare for the annual Dia de los Muertos festival. But her family, who own the most beloved bakery in their town, tell her she is still too young. One day, after sneaking out of school and heading to the bakery, she discovers that her mom, aunt, and older sisters are actually brujas, who put a little bit of magic into everything they bake. Realizing that she also has magical abilities, she decides to test her craft when her friend Caroline has a problem that needs solving. Just one little spell… what could go wrong?

Get it from Bookshop for $7.35, Barnes and Noble for $7.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

Walden Pond Press, Via annameriano.com

Leonora Logroño hopes that this year is finally the year she gets to help her family prepare for the annual Dia de los Muertos festival. But her family, who own the most beloved bakery in their town, tell her she is still too young. One day, after sneaking out of school and heading to the bakery, she discovers that her mom, aunt, and older sisters are actually brujas, who put a little bit of magic into everything they bake. Realizing that she also has magical abilities, she decides to test her craft when her friend Caroline has a problem that needs solving. Just one little spell… what could go wrong?

Get it from Bookshop for $7.35, Barnes and Noble for $7.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

21. The Dragon Warrior by Katie Zhao (2019)

Bloomsbury, Via katiezhao.com

After their father disappeared, Faryn Liu and her brother Alex were shunned by the Jade Society, and have trained in secret to honor their family and the gods by becoming warriors. When Faryn helps defeat a demon while running an errand, it turns out she might be a fabled warrior called the Heaven Breaker, destined to command an army of dragons to defeat demons. But she has to prove her worth, and find the island of the immortals — all before the Lunar New Year.

Get it from Bookshop for $15.63, Barnes and Noble for $16.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

Bloomsbury, Via katiezhao.com

After their father disappeared, Faryn Liu and her brother Alex were shunned by the Jade Society, and have trained in secret to honor their family and the gods by becoming warriors. When Faryn helps defeat a demon while running an errand, it turns out she might be a fabled warrior called the Heaven Breaker, destined to command an army of dragons to defeat demons. But she has to prove her worth, and find the island of the immortals — all before the Lunar New Year.

Get it from Bookshop for $15.63, Barnes and Noble for $16.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

22. Dough Boys by Paula Chase (2019)

Greenwillow, Via paulachasehyman.com

Whenever someone asks for a book that’s perfect for someone who is reading right on the divide between middle grade and young adult books, I hand them a Paula Chase book. Deontae “Simp” Wright and Roland “Rollie” Matthews are best friends, both currently working as dough boys, playing lookout for their neighborhood’s drug operation. Simp wants to get his mom and four younger brothers out of their low-income housing project, and eventually make it into the NBA. Rollie used to love basketball, but his involvement in music means he can see an excuse to stop being a dough boy. But how can he abandon his best friend?

And if you like Dough Boys, Chase’s So Done and the upcoming Turning Point are set in the same neighborhood.

Get it from Bookshop for $15.63, Barnes and Noble for $16.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

Greenwillow, Via paulachasehyman.com

Whenever someone asks for a book that’s perfect for someone who is reading right on the divide between middle grade and young adult books, I hand them a Paula Chase book. Deontae “Simp” Wright and Roland “Rollie” Matthews are best friends, both currently working as dough boys, playing lookout for their neighborhood’s drug operation. Simp wants to get his mom and four younger brothers out of their low-income housing project, and eventually make it into the NBA. Rollie used to love basketball, but his involvement in music means he can see an excuse to stop being a dough boy. But how can he abandon his best friend?

And if you like Dough Boys, Chase’s So Done and the upcoming Turning Point are set in the same neighborhood.

Get it from Bookshop for $15.63, Barnes and Noble for $16.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

23. The Last Last-Day-of-Summer by Lamar Giles (2019)

Versify, Adrienne Giles

When a mysterious man arrives in town with a camera that literally freezes time, it’s up to local sleuths Otto and Sheed to help save the day. After all, when they dreamed of having a little more time before school started back up, this was not what they meant. And they’ll need to work quickly to save thier town, otherwise time might stop for good.

Get it from Bookshop for $15.62, Barnes and Noble for $15.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

Versify, Adrienne Giles

When a mysterious man arrives in town with a camera that literally freezes time, it’s up to local sleuths Otto and Sheed to help save the day. After all, when they dreamed of having a little more time before school started back up, this was not what they meant. And they’ll need to work quickly to save thier town, otherwise time might stop for good.

Get it from Bookshop for $15.62, Barnes and Noble for $15.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

24. Eva Evergreen, Semi-Magical Witch by Julie Abe (2020)

Little, Brown, Via julieabebooks.com

To earn the rank of Novice Witch, you must pass a test before your 13th birthday, or you lose your magic for good. Eva is determined to pass, but she only has the tiniest bit of magic (seriously, if she overuses her magic, she literally falls asleep). But she is determined to prove that she is worthy, and so she sets up a magical repair shop to help fix the lives of the townspeople in the coastal town of Auteri. If you’re a fan of Kiki’s Delivery Service, you’ve found your new obsession!

Get it from Bookshop for $15.63, Barnes and Noble for $16.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

Little, Brown, Via julieabebooks.com

To earn the rank of Novice Witch, you must pass a test before your 13th birthday, or you lose your magic for good. Eva is determined to pass, but she only has the tiniest bit of magic (seriously, if she overuses her magic, she literally falls asleep). But she is determined to prove that she is worthy, and so she sets up a magical repair shop to help fix the lives of the townspeople in the coastal town of Auteri. If you’re a fan of Kiki’s Delivery Service, you’ve found your new obsession!

Get it from Bookshop for $15.63, Barnes and Noble for $16.99, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

25. King and the Dragonflies by Kacen Callender (2020)

Scholastic, Ashley Cain

When Kingston’s brother, Khalid, unexpectedly passed away, Kingston is certain he’s turned into a dragonfly. As grief transforms his family, King wishes he could talk to his best friend, Sandy, a friendship that Khalid told King to end after overhearing that Sandy thinks he might be gay. When Sandy goes missing, and King finds him, he agrees to help Sandy escape an abusive father — and along the way will confront questions about himself and about Khalid.

Get it from Bookshop for $16.55, Barnes and Noble for $16.49, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

Scholastic, Ashley Cain

When Kingston’s brother, Khalid, unexpectedly passed away, Kingston is certain he’s turned into a dragonfly. As grief transforms his family, King wishes he could talk to his best friend, Sandy, a friendship that Khalid told King to end after overhearing that Sandy thinks he might be gay. When Sandy goes missing, and King finds him, he agrees to help Sandy escape an abusive father — and along the way will confront questions about himself and about Khalid.

Get it from Bookshop for $16.55, Barnes and Noble for $16.49, or from a local independent bookstore through Indiebound here.

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