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  • Writer's pictureZoe

New Middle-Grade Books You HAVE To Read

Last time I went to the library, I completely raided the new books section on the children's floor and found so many great books! These new releases from late 2019 and 2020 are full of heart and humor, tackling tough topics with grace and spunk. I love these children's books because anyone can read them. They are perfect read-alouds kids will love, but with enough plot and tough questions that all age ranges can enjoy! Read on for seven new middle-grade books you just can't pass up.

Zoe Washington's summer sounds b-o-r-i-n-g. While her parents work, she's stuck at home in the heat with her two best friends away for the summer. She didn't mind so much last year because her best friend Trevor was right next door. But he was rude to Zoe and now she's totally freezing him out.

At the start of the summer, Zoe discovers a letter from her birth dad, who's in jail. She's shocked to find out that her mom has been keeping letters from her for years! She starts writing her birth father, but the situation gets more and more twisted. How can she trust this man who's a convicted murderer? But how can she not trust her birth father? With the help of baking cupcakes and unexpected friendships, Zoe begins to discover who her father really is and, most importantly, who she really is.

Ellie so does not fit in. It's bad enough that she's in a wheelchair because of her cerebral palsy and her aid is always following her around, squashing any possible friendships. Even though she throws herself into her baking, Ellie's still a little lonely.

When her grandpa's memory gets even worse, Ellie's mom makes a spur-of-the-moment decision to move to her grandparents' house to help out. There, Ellie meets two other "trailer park kids:" over-the-top girly Coralee and weirdo Burt. Ellie tackles middle school...without an aid! With her newfound friends, she sets out to win a pie baking contest and show everyone she's more than just her wheelchair. But when her grandpa's declining health turns into some serious accidents and she feuds with a friend, Ellie's not sure her new life is so perfect after all.

3. Guts

Raina Telgemeier, author of Smile, Sisters, Drama, Ghosts, and more, is back at it and better than ever with her new graphic novel Guts! Guts follows young Raina who begins having stomach troubles brought on by her anxiety. Friendship troubles, presenting in class, and everything else starts giving Raina horrible aches in her stomach. What's going on?

Raina Telgemeier's graphic novels never disappoint, and Guts certainly doesn't! Hilarious and honest, Telgemeier's new book has all the same qualities fans love.

Everything in Birdie's life is changing. Her mom seems to be moving on from her father who passed away, her grandma's found a love interest of her own, and even her two best friends seem to be pairing off. Birdie's not happy about any of it. Not even the birds she loves to watch and study are bringing her any joy. Told from a young girl's perspective in free verse, Birdie is a bittersweet novel that will still your heart.

Shayla doesn't understand why her sister Hana keeps talking about Black Lives Matter and making a big deal about the fact that Shay doesn't have any black friends. Why would Shayla even need black friends? She has her two besties Isabella and Julia, who call themselves the United Nations, and she thinks she has all she needs.

Julia deserts Isabella and Shay to go sit by the other Asians at lunch. She starts talking and acting differently and ditching the other United Nations. Isabella gets a makeover and Shay can't ignore the fact that's she's a little jealous of how pretty Isabella suddenly is.

Everyone takes a turn for the worse when Shay has a horrible first kiss and discovers her friends talking about her behind her back. When an important court case about a black man and a police officer hits the headlines, Shayla tries to figure out what being black means to her and mending her relationships with her friends.

Sweet Pea's family isn't exactly conventional. Her parents split up after her father came out as gay but didn't want to disrupt Sweet Pea's life any more than they had to. They decide to buy another house on their street and make it identical to the old one. But the fact that Sweet Pea's house is identical to the first one doesn't make her life any easier. Sweet Pea's best friend Kiera ditched her a while ago. Sweet Pea's trying to make amends but it looks like her new best friend Oscar isn't a big fan of that. To top it all off, her neighbor Miss Flora Mae, advice columnist, leaves town and asks Sweet Pea to mail her letters for her column. But when Sweet Pea starts to meddle with the column, everything she's dealing with takes a twisty turn.

A Place to Belong is the heartfelt tale of Hanako who, after being imprisoned in an Ameican camp for the Japanese during World War 2, is traveling with her family to go live in Japan with her grandparents, who she's never met. They own practically nothing, and Japan isn't exactly a paradise. The aftermath of the bomb is still painfully apparent and most are living in extreme poverty. Traveling to her grandparents' house, Hanako meets a "pink boy," an orphan who was burned so badly his skin looks pink and scarred. Hanako's parents are funny and sweet, even if they have practically no rice to eat. Hanako learns what growing up in Japan means and is faced with difficult decisions. Does she give her rice to the pink boy who is orphaned and has no food to eat, or to her own younger brother? A Place to Belong is an earnest tale of the effects of the war and how people must learn to go on.

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Ciao, Zoe!

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