Elza and I love games almost as much as we love reading middle grade books. You’ll find more of these over on Middle Grade Carousel and posting throughout the day on our Twitter account. Follow us and play along! ~CJ
Having read a handful of Roy’s A-Z Mysteries, this book was in familiar territory, since the mains are the younger siblings of his previous series. April Adventure is a decidedly lower middle grade storyline involving a seasonal quest. Basically an Easter scavenger hunt. Clementine is one of those children who sees the world a little differently than everyone else. You could call her artistic. You could call her trouble. Both really do apply. A lower middle grade chapter book with strong family themes. I came away loving Clementine’s parents. In Cool, after an accident, Robbie’s stuck in a coma. He can hear everyone around him, reacting and responding in his own thoughts, but he can’t figure out how to wake up. His family and his doctors try everything they can think of to guide him safely back.
In Song for a Whale, Iris learns about a lonely whale in science class, and she can relate. Blue 55 can’t communicate with other whales because he can’t understand their songs. Iris is deaf, so she misses out on all the conversations happening around her. But she has a plan. Iris composes a song for Blue 55 so he’ll know he isn’t alone. Estranged is the first in a graphic novel duology. A boy who was swapped in the cradle with a changing has grown up in the underground world of the fae, known only as “the Human Childe.” But when his adoptive parents are attacked, he can only think of one place to turn for help. To the changeling who’s living his life in the human world. Explorer: The Mystery Boxes includes seven short stories in comic format, each playing off the group’s theme: mystery boxes. A fun middle grade anthology that gives readers a sampling from several different storytellers, each with unique art and tale-spinning styles.
The Wooden Prince is Pinocchio re-imagined. He’s a construct of wood and gears, a robot servant in the palace of the doge. But suddenly he has ideas of his own and a person to find: an alchemist named Geppetto. Fascinating world-building. Steampunk and alchemy, with a island where “half-beasts” and elementals live under the peaceful reign of a benevolent eternal. Lots to discover and action aplenty. In Den of the White Fox, Zenta and Matsuzo travel into a valley where people believe in legends of a trickster fox. In order to help the young woman who offers them shelter, the two ronin seek to unravel a mystery involving several thefts. A (much-welcomed) final story from Namioka, which was probably not included in the main series simply because it’s shorter than the previous books. Jinx’s Fire is the final installment in the Jinx trilogy. He may not be the most tactful boy in the Urwald, but he’s certainly the most powerful. But he can’t end a war and save a friend without help. Complex, unique, and very satisfying to my curmudgeon-loving soul.
In The Owls have Come to Take Us Away, Simon is intrigued by aliens and the conspiracies surrounding them. When his family leaves the air force base that they call home to camp in the woods, something strange happens in the woods. Simon is sure he’s been abducted by aliens. Getting someone to believe him is tough. I’d call this a psychological thriller, middle grade style. The Isle of the Lost is a fairy tale remix set after the events of all the Disney movies, during an era when King Beast and Queen Belle rule over all the kingdoms and the villains (and their assorted minions) have long been banished to the Isle of the Lost, where they have no access to magic. Words of Stone was kind of … literary? Blaze is a fearful boy facing big changes. Joselle is an angry girl looking to alleviate her boredom by picking on the aforementioned fearful boy. Which inspires a fragile kind of friendship. I’d say this is one of those kids’ books that doesn’t seem to have been written for kids.