2022 Middle Grade Books to Have on Your Radar, Part Two
This list is heavy on the contemporary fiction. It’s what I like best. I’m not saying there are no good fantasy or sci-fi or whatever books—this is just my personal list of anticipated reads. I’m sure I missed plenty of things that I, personally, would be very excited about. Thank goodness the internet and publishers will make sure I don’t overlook great books as release dates get closer!
Hop in the comments or catch me on Twitter @CiteSomething and tell me what you are excited to read in the second half of 2022!
All descriptions from the publishers or Goodreads summaries.
Thirst by Varsha Bajaj (ISBN-13: 9780593354391 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 07/19/2022, Ages 10-12)
The riveting story of a heroic girl who fights for her belief that water should be for everyone.
Minni lives in the poorest part of Mumbai, where access to water is limited to a few hours a day and the communal taps have long lines. Lately, though, even that access is threatened by severe water shortages and thieves who are stealing this precious commodity—an act that Minni accidentally witnesses one night. Meanwhile, in the high-rise building where she just started to work, she discovers that water streams out of every faucet and there’s even a rooftop swimming pool. What Minni also discovers there is one of the water mafia bosses. Now she must decide whether to expose him and risk her job and maybe her life. How did something as simple as access to water get so complicated?
Moonflower by Kacen Callender (ISBN-13: 9781338636598 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 07/19/2022, Ages 8-12)
Kacen Callender, National Book Award winner of King and the Dragonflies, delivers a stunning novel that invites readers into a child’s struggles with mental health, and their journey to wholeness.
Moon’s depression is overwhelming. Therapy doesn’t help, and Moon is afraid that their mom hates them because they’re sad. Moon’s only escape is traveling to the spirit realms every night, where they hope they’ll never return to the world of the living again.
The spirit realm is where they have their one and only friend, Wolf, and where they’re excited to experience an infinite number of adventures. But when the realm is threatened, it’s up to Moon to save the spirit world.
With the help of celestial beings and guardians, Moon battles monsters and shadows, and through their journey, they begin to learn that a magical adventure of love and acceptance awaits them in the world of the living, too.
This story of hope shows readers that our souls blossom when we realize that we are as worthy and powerful as the universe itself.
Grounded for All Eternity by Darcy Marks (ISBN-13: 9781534483361 Publisher: Aladdin Publication date: 07/26/2022, Ages 8-12)
A group of kids from hell come to Earth on one of the craziest nights of the year—Halloween—in this snarky, witty middle grade adventure about teamwork, friendship, shattering expectations, and understanding the world (or otherworld) around us.
Mal and his friends are just your regular average kids from hell. The suburbs that is, not the fiery pit part. But when Hell’s Bells ring out—signaling that a soul has escaped from one of the eternal circles, Mal and his friends can’t help but take the opportunity for a little adventure.
Before they know it, they’ve somehow slipped through the veil and found themselves in the middle of Salem, Massachusetts, on Halloween night. And what’s even worse, they’ve managed to bring the escaped soul with them! As the essence of one of history’s greatest manipulators gains power by shifting the balance on Earth, Mal and his squad-mates—along with some new friends that they meet along the way—work desperately to trap the escapee, save the people of Earth from the forces of evil, and find the portal back to their own dimension.
If they can’t manage it before their parents realize they’re gone, they’ll be grounded for an eternity. And an eternity in hell is a very, very long time.
Invisible: A Graphic Novel by Christina Diaz Gonzalez, Gabriela Epstein (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781338194548 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 08/02/2022, Ages 8-12)
For fans of Twins and Allergic, a must-have graphic novel about five very different students who are forced together by their school to complete community service… and may just have more in common than they thought.
Can five overlooked kids make one big difference?
There’s George: the brain
Sara: the loner
Dayara: the tough kid
Nico: the rich kid
And Miguel: the athlete
And they’re stuck together when they’re forced to complete their school’s community service hours. Although they’re sure they have nothing in common with one another, some people see them as all the same . . . just five Spanish-speaking kids.
Then they meet someone who truly needs their help, and they must decide whether they are each willing to expose their own secrets to help . . . or if remaining invisible is the only way to survive middle school.
With text in English and Spanish, Invisible features a groundbreaking format paired with an engaging, accessible, and relatable storyline. This Breakfast Club–inspired story by Christina Diaz Gonzalez, award-winning author of Concealed, and Gabriela Epstein, illustrator of two Baby-Sitters Club graphic novel adaptations, is a must-have graphic novel about unexpected friendships and being seen for who you really are.
Isaiah Dunn Saves the Day by Kelly J. Baptist (ISBN-13: 9780593429211 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 08/02/2022, Ages 8-10)
Starting middle school is no joke! Isaiah Dunn has more to say in the sequel to the award-winning novel Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero. Friendship, community, and a love of words blend in this coming-of-age tale.
Things are looking up for super kid Isaiah Dunn. He and his little sister, Charlie, are getting used to staying with Miz Rita, and Mama’s feeling better. Isaiah’s poetry business with Angel is taking off, and his best friend, Sneaky, always has a new hustle. Plus, Isaiah has his dad’s journals for a story or if he needs advice….
Like maybe now, because starting middle school is hard. Especially when his mentee Kobe won’t stop making trouble. Isaiah knows something is up, but to get to the bottom of Kobe’s secret, he’ll have to rely on every hero he knows—including himself!
Discover the heartfelt and humorous sequel to the award-winning novel Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero.
Tumble by Celia C. Pérez (ISBN-13: 9780593325179 Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group Publication date: 08/16/2022, Ages 9-12)
From the award-winning author of The First Rule of Punk, a dazzling novel about a young girl who collects the missing pieces of her origin story from the family of legendary luchadores she’s never met.
Twelve-year-old Adela “Addie” Ramirez has a big decision to make when her stepfather proposes adoption. Addie loves Alex, the only father figure she’s ever known, but with a new half brother due in a few months and a big school theater performance on her mind, everything suddenly feels like it’s moving too fast. She has a million questions, and the first is about the young man in the photo she found hidden away in her mother’s things.
Addie’s sleuthing takes her to a New Mexico ranch, and her world expands to include the legendary Bravos: Rosie and Pancho, her paternal grandparents and former professional wrestlers; Eva and Maggie, her older identical twin cousins who love to spar in and out of the ring; Uncle Mateo, whose lucha couture and advice are unmatched; and Manny, her biological father, who’s in the midst of a career comeback. As luchadores, the Bravos’s legacy is strong. But being part of a family is so much harder—it’s about showing up, taking off your mask, and working through challenges together.
The Midnight Children by Dan Gemeinhart (ISBN-13: 9781250196729 Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) Publication date: 08/30/2022, Ages 8-12)
From Dan Gemeinhart, the acclaimed author of The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise, comes an extraordinary story about a family of runaways who take up residence in a small town, and the outcast boy who finds his voice and his people—perfect for fans of Katherine Applegate and Kate DiCamillo.
In the dead of night, a truck arrives in Slaughterville, a small town curiously named after its windowless slaughterhouse. Seven mysterious kids with suitcases step out of the vehicle and into an abandoned home on a dead-end street, looking over their shoulders to make sure they aren’t noticed.
But Ravani Foster covertly witnesses their arrival from his bedroom window. Timid and lonely, Ravani is eager to learn everything he can about his new neighbors: What secrets are they hiding? And most mysterious of all…where are the adults?
Yet amid this shadowy group of children, Ravani finds an unexpected friend in the warm and gutsy Virginia. But with this friendship comes secrets revealed—and danger. When Ravani learns of a threat to his new friends, he must fight to keep them safe, or lose the only person who has ever understood him.
Full of wonder, friendship, and mystery, The Midnight Children explores the meaning of “home,” what makes a family, and what it takes to find the courage to believe in yourself.
Attack of the Black Rectangles by A. S. King (ISBN-13: 9781338680522 Publisher: Scholastic, Inc. Publication date: 09/06/2022, Ages 9-12)
Award-winning author Amy Sarig King takes on censorship and intolerance in a novel she was born to write.
When Mac first opens his classroom copy of Jane Yolen’s The Devil’s Arithmetic and finds some words blacked out, he thinks it must be a mistake. But then when he and his friends discover what the missing words are, he’s outraged.
Someone in his school is trying to prevent kids from reading the full story.
Even though his unreliable dad tells him to not get so emotional about a book (or anything else), Mac has been raised by his mom and grandad to call out things that are wrong. He and his friends head to the principal’s office to protest the censorship… but her response doesn’t take them seriously.
So many adults want Mac to keep his words to himself.
Mac’s about to see the power of letting them out.
In Attack of the Black Rectangles, acclaimed author Amy Sarig King shows all the ways truth can be hard… but still worth fighting for.
Anisa’s International Day by Reem Faruqi (ISBN-13: 9780063206236 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 09/20/2022, Ages 8-12)
From the award-winning author of Unsettled, meet Anisa, the adorable Pakistani American heroine of this irresistible younger middle grade novel about a girl who introduces her class to the art of mehndi for International Day. Filled with fun black-and-white interior art, recipes, and activities in the back matter and perfect for fans of Meet Yasmin!
“Genuine, sweet, and relatable. Anisa problems solves her way out of more than one sticky situation with sometimes unexpected—and joyful—results.” —Maleeha Siddiqui, author of Barakah Beats
Anisa is super-excited about International Day and can’t wait to share her mother’s samosas with her class. But when someone else has the exact same idea, Anisa is crushed.
Going to her aunt’s dholki party gives her an idea for the perfect activity instead—mehndi! There’s only one problem: Anisa’s best friend doesn’t seem to like the idea. She doesn’t even seem to like Anisa anymore.
Will Anisa ever get to enjoy International Day?
Frizzy by Claribel A. Ortega, Rose Bousamra (Illustrator) (ISBN-13: 9781250259622 Publisher: First Second Publication date: 10/18/2022, Ages 8-12)
A middle grade graphic novel about Marlene, a young girl who stops straightening her hair and embraces her natural curls.
Marlene loves three things: books, her cool Tía Ruby and hanging out with her best friend Camila. But according to her mother, Paola, the only thing she needs to focus on is school and “growing up.” That means straightening her hair every weekend so she could have “presentable”, “good hair”.
But Marlene hates being in the salon and doesn’t understand why her curls are not considered pretty by those around her. With a few hiccups, a dash of embarrassment, and the much-needed help of Camila and Tia Ruby—she slowly starts a journey to learn to appreciate and proudly wear her curly hair.
Sweet Valley Twins: Best Friends: (A Graphic Novel) by Francine Pascal, Claudia Aguirre (Illustrator), Nicole Andelfinger (Adapted by) (ISBN-13: 9780593376461 Publisher: Random House Children’s Books Publication date: 11/01/2022 Series: Sweet Valley Twins #1, Ages 8-12)
Jessica and Elizabeth are ready to take on middle school . . . but are they ready to take on each other? The New York Times bestselling world of Sweet Valley returns in these all-new graphic novel adaptations!
Jessica and Elizabeth have always been inseparable twins, but starting middle school means a chance for new beginnings! Elizabeth is excited to organize a school newspaper, but Jessica is more interested in joining the exclusive Unicorn Club. What will happen when the twins realize they might not be as alike as they thought?
Middle school is hard enough, but with these twins each dealing with becoming their own person—will they be able to stay friends at the same time?
Francine Pascal’s beloved Sweet Valley Twins comes to life in a brand-new graphic novel that will have old and new fans delighted as they meet Jessica and Elizabeth in graphic novel form. With the lively artwork of Claudia Aguirre, Sweet Valley Twins: Best Friends is a contemporary middle-grade graphic novel filled with heart, laughter, and lots of twins.
Morning Sun In Wuhan by Ying Compestine (ISBN-13: 9780358572053 Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers Publication date: 11/08/2022, Ages 8-12)
What was the pandemic of the century like at the start? This swift, gripping novel captures not only the uncertainty and panic when COVID first emerged in Wuhan, but also how a community banded together.
Weaving in the tastes and sounds of the historic city, Wuhan’s comforting and distinctive cuisine comes to life as the reader follows 13-year-old Mei who, through her love for cooking, makes a difference in her community. Written by an award-winning author originally from Wuhan.
Grieving the death of her mother and an outcast at school, thirteen-year-old Mei finds solace in cooking and computer games. When her friend’s grandmother falls ill, Mei seeks out her father, a doctor, for help, and discovers the hospital is overcrowded. As the virus spreads, Mei finds herself alone in a locked-down city trying to find a way to help.
Author Ying Chang Compestine draws on her own experiences growing up in Wuhan to illustrate that the darkest times can bring out the best in people, friendship can give one courage in frightening times, and most importantly, young people can make an impact on the world. Readers can follow Mei’s tantalizing recipes and cook them at home.
Filed under: new books
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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