There’s no real reason I decided to switch up today’s theme, I just felt like doing something else! Lately I’ve been reading a lot of middle grade books, some for work and some just because they sounded so good, so today I thought I would share my FAVORITE MIDDLE GRADE BOOKS OF 2020* with you!
*Books that I’ve read in 2020, not necessarily books published in 2020
And now without any further ado, here’s this week’s Top Ten Tuesday!
The Retake by Jen Calonita
Published by Delacorte Press on December 1, 2020
Genres: Middle Grade, Contemporary, Science Fiction
Zoe knows that the only thing harder than middle school is losing a best friend. She and Laura used to do everything together from taking silly selfies, to joining all the same clubs together and even throwing surprise birthday parties for one another.
But lately things have been weird between them. Now Laura will post a photo of her hanging out with other girls before responding to Zoe's simple text. She doesn't even want to sit with her at lunch anymore. Zoe is heartbroken--all she wants is for things to go back to normal.
But then a magical app downloads on her phone...and things get even weirder! Suddenly Zoe can travel back in time to moments where her and Laura started drifting apart. It is like a dream come true. A chance for Zoe to mend their friendship.
But as Zoe goes back to moments of middle school drama--sleepover games gone wrong, field trips with cliques and crushes, and school projects that bring on more-than-awkward encounters--she realizes that second chances don't always go as planned and that sometimes you need to trust the magic of new beginnings.
Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valor by Ally Carter
Series: Winterborne Home for Vengeance and Valor #1
Published by HMH Books for Young Readers on March 3, 2020
Genres: Middle Grade, Contemporary, Thriller
April didn’t mean to start the fire. She wasn’t even the one who broke the vase.
She had absolutely no intention of becoming the only person who knows that Gabriel Winterborne, the missing-and-presumed-dead billionaire, is neither missing nor dead and is actually living in the basement of Winterborne House, sharpening his swords and looking for vengeance.
Now that April knows Gabriel Winterborne is alive, it’s up to her to keep him that way. But there’s only so much a twelve-year-old girl can do, so April must turn to the other orphans for help. Together, they’ll have to unravel the riddle of a missing heir and a creepy legend, and find a secret key, before the only home they’ve ever known is lost to them forever.
Other Words for Home by Jasmine Warga
Published by Balzer + Bray on May 28, 2019
Genres: Middle Grade, Contemporary, Poetry
I am learning how to besadand happyat the same time.
Jude never thought she’d be leaving her beloved older brother and father behind, all the way across the ocean in Syria. But when things in her hometown start becoming volatile, Jude and her mother are sent to live in Cincinnati with relatives.
At first, everything in America seems too fast and too loud. The American movies that Jude has always loved haven’t quite prepared her for starting school in the US—and her new label of “Middle Eastern,” an identity she’s never known before. But this life also brings unexpected surprises—there are new friends, a whole new family, and a school musical that Jude might just try out for. Maybe America, too, is a place where Jude can be seen as she really is.
Show Me a Sign by Ann Clare LeZotte
Published by Scholastic Press on March 3, 2020
Genres: Middle Grade, Historical Fiction
Mary Lambert has always felt safe and protected on her beloved island of Martha's Vineyard. Her great-grandfather was an early English settler and the first deaf islander. Now, over a hundred years later, many people there - including Mary - are deaf, and nearly everyone can communicate in sign language. Mary has never felt isolated. She is proud of her lineage.
But recent events have delivered winds of change. Mary's brother died, leaving her family shattered. Tensions over land disputes are mounting between English settlers and the Wampanoag people. And a cunning young scientist has arrived, hoping to discover the origin of the island's prevalent deafness. His maniacal drive to find answers soon renders Mary a "live specimen" in a cruel experiment. Her struggle to save herself is at the core of this novel.
From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on January 14, 2020
Genres: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Zoe Washington isn’t sure what to write. What does a girl say to the father she’s never met, hadn’t heard from until his letter arrived on her twelfth birthday, and who’s been in prison for a terrible crime?
A crime he says he never committed.
Could Marcus really be innocent? Zoe is determined to uncover the truth. Even if it means hiding his letters and her investigation from the rest of her family. Everyone else thinks Zoe’s worrying about doing a good job at her bakery internship and proving to her parents that she’s worthy of auditioning for Food Network’s Kids Bake Challenge.
But with bakery confections on one part of her mind, and Marcus’s conviction weighing heavily on the other, this is one recipe Zoe doesn’t know how to balance. The only thing she knows to be true: Everyone lies.
A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying by Kelley Armstrong, Xavière Daumarie
Series: A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying #1
Published by Puffin Canada on August 6, 2019
Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Twelve-year-old Rowan is next in line to be Queen; her twin brother, Rhydd, to be Royal Monster Hunter. Rowan would give anything to switch places, but the rule is, the oldest child is next in line, even if she is only older by two minutes. She resigns herself to admiring her royal monster hunter aunt's official sword and having tea with dignitaries with her mother, the queen. But a tragic event breaks up longstanding rules, and now Rowan finds herself in hunt of a dangerous gryphon.
Accompanied by a feisty and determined baby jackalope and a giant wolf that barely tolerates her, she sets off on a journey that will see her join forces with other unlikely allies: a boy who has ambitions of his own to hunt monsters, and a girl from a nearby clan with hidden motives for befriending Rowan. It will take all of Rowan's skills, both physical and diplomatic, to keep this journey on track. The future of the kingdom depends on it.
The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine
Series: The Two Princesses of Bamarre #0.5
Published by HarperCollins on May 2, 2017
Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy
Peregrine strives to be the Latki ideal—and to impress her parents: affectionate Lord Tove, who despises only the Bamarre, and stern Lady Klausine. Perry runs the fastest, speaks her mind, and doesn’t give much thought to the castle’s Bamarre servants, who she knows to be weak and cowardly. The Lakti always wage war, and the battlefield will give her the chance to show her valor.
But just as she’s about to join her father on the front lines, she is visited by the fairy Halina, who reveals that Perry isn’t Latki-born. She is a Bamarre. The fairy issues a daunting challenge: against the Lakti might, free her people from tyranny.
The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby
Series: York #1
Published by Walden Pond Press on May 1, 2018
Genres: Middle Grade, Alternate History, Mystery, Steampunk
It was 1798 when the Morningstarr twins arrived in New York with a vision for a magnificent city: towering skyscrapers, dazzling machines, and winding train lines, all running on technology no one had ever seen before.
Fifty-seven years later, the enigmatic architects disappeared, leaving behind for the people of New York the Old York Cipher—a puzzle laid into the shining city they constructed, at the end of which was promised a treasure beyond all imagining. By the present day, however, the puzzle has never been solved, and the greatest mystery of the modern world is little more than a tourist attraction.
Tess and Theo Biedermann and their friend Jaime Cruz live in a Morningstarr apartment—until a real estate developer announces that the city has agreed to sell him the five remaining Morningstarr buildings. Their likely destruction means the end of a dream long held by the people of New York.
And if Tess, Theo, and Jaime want to save their home, they have to prove that the Old York Cipher is real. Which means they have to solve it.
The Clockwork Ghost by Laura Ruby
Series: York #2
Published by HarperCollins on May 14, 2019
Genres: Middle Grade, Mystery, Alternate History, Steampunk
It was only a few weeks ago that the Biedermann twins, Tess and Theo, along with their friend Jaime Cruz, followed the secrets of the Morningstarrs’ cipher further anyone had in its century-and-a-half history—and destroyed their beloved home in the process. But the Old York Cipher still isn’t solved. The demolition of 354 W. 73rd Street only revealed the next clue in the greatest mystery of the modern world, and if Tess, Theo, and Jaime want to discover what lies at the end of the puzzle laid into the buildings of New York by its brilliant, enigmatic architects, they will need to press on.
But doing so could prove even more dangerous than they know. It is clear that the Morningstarr twins marshaled all the strange technology they had spent their lives creating in the construction of the Cipher, and that technology has its own plans for those who pursue it. It is also clear that Tess, Theo, and Jaime are not the only ones on the trail of the treasure. As enemies both known and unknown close in on them from all sides and the very foundations of the city seem to crumble around them, they will have to ask themselves how far they will go to change the unchangeable—and whether the price of knowing the secrets of the Morningstarrs is one they are willing to pay.
Archimancy by J.A. White
Series: Shadow School #1
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on August 27, 2019
Genres: Middle Grade, Paranormal, Fantasy
Cordelia Liu knew Shadow School was going to be different. Black gates and ivied walls. Long hallways lined with old paintings. A tower with a window that looks like an eye. Different she expected; different she could handle. Still, Cordelia can’t shake the feeling that something’s not right—and that she’s being carefully watched.
The answer isn’t just in front of her eyes—it’s in her gym, next to the bulletin board, even in the cafeteria. The school grounds are filled with ghosts. Cordelia soon realizes she’s not the only one who can see them; her new friend Benji can too. Together with supersmart Agnes, the trio are determined to find out why the ghosts are there, and whether there’s a way to set them free. But the school was created with more sinister intentions, and someone is willing to go to extreme lengths to ensure that the ghosts remain trapped forever.
Dehaunting by J.A. White
Series: Shadow School #2
Published by Katherine Tegen Books on August 25, 2020
Genres: Middle Grade, Paranormal, Fantasy
Cordelia Liu’s first year at Shadow School was a success. She studied hard and made friends. She also sent hundreds of ghosts into the afterlife, because Shadow School isn’t a normal school, and Cordelia Liu isn’t a normal girl.
But her second year is already different. Ghosts are refusing to move on, the teachers are acting weird, and Cordelia’s best friends, Benji and Agnes, aren’t as interested in rescuing the ghosts as they used to be. Benji is busy hanging out with the girl he befriended over the summer, while Agnes spends all her time building a machine that might be capable of dehaunting the school forever.
Cordelia is the only one who believes that something sinister is happening right under their noses. But what if it’s even worse than she could imagine?
The Library of Ever by Zeno Alexander
Series: The Library of Ever #1
Published by Imprint on April 30, 2019
Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Time Travel
With her parents off traveling the globe, Lenora is bored, bored, bored--until she discovers a secret doorway in the library and becomes its newly appointed Fourth Assistant Apprentice Librarian.
In her new job, Lenora finds herself helping future civilizations figure out the date, relocates lost penguins, uncovers the city with the longest name on Earth, and more in a quest to help patrons. But there are sinister forces at work that want to destroy all knowledge. To save the library, Lenora will have to test her limits and uncover secrets hidden among its shelves.
Rebel in the Library of Ever by Zeno Alexander
Series: The Library of Ever #2
Published by Imprint on April 28, 2020
Genres: Middle Grade, Fantasy, Time Travel
Lenora returns to the magical Library―which holds every book ever known on its shelves. But she discovers the Library is under new management, its incredible rooms and corridors turned dark and sinister.
She quickly connects with a secret resistance that’s trying to free knowledge from the shadows threatening it. Her new friends introduce her to an ancient lost city, hang-gliding, and mathematical beings larger than the universe itself. And they help her face the mysterious Board of new leaders―who are leading the Library into darkness.
Now it’s up to Lenora to prove that knowledge is always more powerful than ignorance and fear.
What are some of your favorite middle grade books? Let me know in the comments and have a splendiferous week!