Middle Grade May
May was a great month for middle-grade releases, but it seems 2023 is going to be an excellent year for the genre published by Harper Collins.
Here are some of my favorites that I've read or are on my wishlist.
Book 3 ( also reads as a standalone)
One of my top three favorites for May.
(From Goodreads) "Ruby’s story picks up a few months after the events of The One and Only Bob. Now living in a wildlife sanctuary, Ruby’s caretaker from the elephant orphanage in Africa where she grew up is visiting. Seeing him again brings back a flood of memories - both happy and sad - of her life before the circus, and she recounts the time she spent in the African savannah to Ivan and Bob."
Katherine Applegate is the author of The One and Only Ivan, winner of the 2013 Newbery Medal. Her novel Crenshaw spent over twenty weeks on the New York Times children's bestseller list, and her first middle-grade stand-alone novel, the award-winning Home of the Brave, continues to be included on state reading lists, summer reading lists, and class reading lists.
Genres: Middle Grade - Animals - Fantasy - Fiction - Childrens - Young Adult - Chapter Book
Book 2 (From Goodreads): "What rises . . . must fall. Two brothers One Good. One Evil. In exchange for power and immortality, they watch over the Endless Woods and rule the School for Good and Evil. Yet all School Masters must face a test. Theirs is loyalty. But what happens when loyalty is corrupted? When the bonds of blood are broken? Who will survive? Who will die? And what will become of the school and its students? The journey that started a hundred years ago throttles towards its end. This final chapter in the duology that began with the RISE OF THE SCHOOL FOR GOOD AND EVIL brings the tale of the twin School Masters to the brink of war and a shocking conclusion that will change the course of the school forever."
Genres: Fantasy - Middle Grade - Young Adult - High Fantasy - Fiction -Queer - Magic
Buy on B&N (First Edition Signed available) or Amazon.
(From Publisher:) "Natty deals with moving after her mom’s departure by pulling a “Ted Lasso” and starting a pep squad in this standalone middle-grade novel about friendship and toxic positivity by the author of TBH and the Friendship List series.
When Natty’s mom kind of takes a break from her dad and sort of the whole family, Natty and her dad move to his childhood hometown of Miller Creek. Now she’s starting middle school for the second time, this time in Miller Creek—without her mom—or her BFF. But Natty’s doing great! Really. Anything is possible. And what’s the point of dwelling on the stuff that stinks when there’s so much good stuff to think about?
Natty is absolutely, positively sure that she can turn it all around. Like 1,000 percent sure. As long as she stays absolutely positive! She’ll get her dad off the couch, make her tons of new friends, and even convince her mom to come live with them in Miller Creek. First step? Starting a pep squad to spread the good vibes.
But what happens when the leader of the pep squad has no more cheer to give?
From Lisa Greenwald comes a heartfelt and reassuring novel about the pros and cons of always looking on the bright side, the ups and downs of making a fresh start, and the power of friendship."
Genres: Middle Grade - Fiction - Contemporary
(From the Publisher) "Inspired by the author's own childhood, this stunning novel in verse, sequel to the award-winning #1 bestseller Inside Out and Back Again, picks up two years after Hà and her family arrive in Alabama as refugees from the Việt Nam War.
Hà and her family have worked hard to make a life for themselves in the US, but it hasn’t come easy. Hà has only just started to feel settled when Mother decides that the family will move to Texas for a new job.
Hà knows how hard starting over is and doesn’t want to have to do it again. But sometimes even an unwanted change can bring opportunity, new friends, and a place to call home.
This lyrical and compelling sequel to the National Book Award Medalist and Newbery Honor winning, #1 New York Times bestselling novel Inside Out and Back Again follows Hà and her family through another year of upheaval, growth, and love."
Genres: Middle Grade - Historical Fiction - Poetry - Realistic Fiction - Childrens - Fiction
(From the Publisher) "When a celebrity chef's new restaurant threatens Mila's family's food truck, she plans to expose them for the recipe thieves they are--even if that means dabbling in the Filipino folk magic she's tried to avoid. Fans of Tae Keller and Lily LaMotte will cheer for this charming story about food, family, and finding the place you belong.
Mila may have moved to Coral Beach months ago, but it still doesn't feel like home. She wants to belong, but a few awkward incidents with her new friends make her wonder if she'll ever neatly fit into the super-samey small town.
Mila feels the only place she can be herself is at her dad's Filipino-Indian food truck, The Banana Leaf. But when celebrity chef twins the Fab Foodie Brothers open a restaurant nearby, it turns out the food they are serving is exactly the same as The Banana Leaf's--right down to the recipes!
Suspicious of the similarities, Mila teams up with family friend Ajay to investigate. She soon realizes that she needs to take the beloved Fab Foodie Brothers down before they run her family's tiny truck out of town. But that means dabbling in the Filipino folk healing and magical traditions that she has shied away from her whole life . . . as well as alienating her new friends.
Does Mila have to choose between her family and fitting in? Or, like the best recipes, will a blend of the traditional and the unexpected mix into something truly special?"
Genres: Middle Grade - Juvenile - Food - Filipino Folklore
Celebrating May Asian Heritage Month
One of my top three favorites for May.
(From the Publisher) "Her best friends aren’t speaking to her. She ended the year in detention. Her sister’s about to leave for college. Ruby’s still grieving her grandfather, Ye-Ye, when it seems like no one else is. And without Ye-Ye and his annual scavenger hunts across their hometown of San Francisco, their hometown doesn’t really feel like home anymore.
Things get worse when Ruby’s forced to spend the summer with her distant grandmother, Nai-Nai, in Chinatown. But the looming shutdown of a beloved former scavenger hunt stop, May’s Bakery, and a secret about Nai-Nai threaten to change everything. Though Ruby feels out of place, maybe this summer of forming unexpected friendships and fighting to save the bakery will help Ruby reconnect with the world — and discover what it means to find home again."
Genres: Middle Grade - Contemporary - Realistic - Fiction - Fiction - Juvenile -Young Adult - Asian Literature
Release Date: May 16th, 2023
(From the Publisher):
One of my favorites for May.
"Red may not know who her true family is, but she’s determined to find out where she belongs, in this story about magic, nature, family, love, and betrayal. There Flies the Witch will enchant fans of Erin Entrada Kelly, Tae Keller, and Grace Lin. Red doesn’t remember who she is or where she came from. In fact, her only memory is a terrifying, repeating dream of a threatening shadow and a foggy field. But after many years, she wonders if that’s just something she made up. Red does know that she now belongs with Yakaka, the witch who rescued Red when she was a little girl. Full of power and magic, Yakaka travels the world, healing the planet when it calls for her help. Yakaka carries Red between the wings on her back during these journeys, teaching her the skills of witchcraft, storytelling, and healing—skills Red can never seem to master. After a dangerous mission leads to Yakaka and Red’s falling from a great height and into the stormy ocean, Red wakes up alone on a seemingly deserted island. Days later, a young boy and his mother find Red and help her recover. For the first time, Red has a friend her own age to play with, and a chance to live a different kind of life. But what happened to Yakaka? Mayonn Paasewe-Valchev explores themes of family, identity, belonging, and resilience in this truly extraordinary coming-of-age story for readers of Kelly Barnhill’s The Girl Who Drank the Moon , Lauren Wolk’s Beyond the Bright Sea , and Laurel Snyder’s Orphan Island."
Genres: Fantasy - Middle Grade - Childrens
Release Date: May 16th, 2023
My top favorite, number 1 from May.
Celebrating May Jewish Heritage Month.
(From the publisher) "Laurel Snyder, author of Orphan Island, returns with a story of one girl's quest to answer the seemingly unanswerable questions about what makes us who we are.
Hi, whoever is reading this. I'm Zipporah Chava McConnell, but everyone calls me Zippy.
Things used to be simple--until a few weeks ago. Now my best friend, Bea, is acting funny; everyone at school thinks I'm weird; and my mom is making me start preparing for my bat mitzvah, even though we barely ever go to synagogue. In fact, the only thing that still seems to make sense is magic.
See, the thing is, I'm a witch. I've been casting spells since I was little. And even if no one else wants to believe in magic anymore, it's always made sense to me, always felt true. But I was still shocked the day I found a strange red book at the library and somehow...I conjured something. A girl, actually. A beautiful girl with no memory, and wings like an angel. You probably don't believe me, but I swear it's the truth.
Miriam is like no one else I've ever met. She's proof that magic is real. And, it's hard to explain this part, but I just know that we're connected. That means it's up to me to help Miriam figure out what she is and where she came from. If I can do that, maybe everything else in my life will start to make sense too.
Anyway, it's worth a try.
Genres: Middle Grade - Fantasy - Fiction - Childrens - Witches - Jewish - Paranormal
Release Date: May 16th, 2023
(From the publisher); "A fierce, feminist, and fun middle grade fantasy graphic novel about a twelve-year-old Indian American girl named Shakti who must learn the power of her ancestral magic if she wants to save her family and town from a dangerous curse. Written by Stonewall Honor Book recipient and Lambda Literary Fellow SJ Sindu and illustrated by Nabi H. Ali. Shakti is used to being the new girl at school. She and her two moms have moved more times than she can count. With her unborn baby brother on the way, Shakti hopes her family has found their forever home in Amherst, Massachusetts, and that she can finally make friends. On her first day of seventh grade, she meets Xi and they bond over their shared passion for manga (and pizza with mayo). But the three meanest girls in school—Harini, Emily, and Kelly (aka “HEK”)—are determined to make life miserable for Shakti and her new friends. When Shakti and Xi discover HEK casting spells in the woods, they fear what might happen to the other kids at school. Drawing on ancient Indian magic, Shakti seeks the aid of Durga Ma to stop HEK. But instead, Shakti accidentally conjures Kali Ma, the destroyer—Durga Ma's dangerous twin. Kali Ma punishes HEK by transforming them into monsters and curses the entire town. As more and more people begin to fall ill, including Shakti’s mom, will Shakti be able to harness her own strength, power, and empathy to save those she loves—and put an end to all the hate?"
Genres: Graphic Novel - Comics - Middle Grade - Magic - Fantasy - LGBT - Young Adult
Release Date: May 23rd, 2023
Book 2 (From the Publisher) "Edward feels ready to move in with his dad’s girlfriend and her son, Nathan. He might miss having his dad all to himself, but even if things in their new home are a little awkward, living with Nathan isn’t so bad. And Nathan is glad to have found a new guardian for Dew, the young water monster who has been Nathan’s responsibility for two years.
Now that Nathan is starting to lose his childhood connection to the Holy Beings, Edward will be the one to take over as Dew’s next guardian. But Edward has a lot to learn about taking care of a water monster. And fast. Because Dew’s big sister, the powerful Yitoo Bii’aanii, is coming up to the Fourth World to instruct Dew after recovering in the Third World for one hundred and sixty years. She suspects a monstrous and enormous Enemy from the Hero Twins stories has returned and is stealing water from all of the Navajo Nation. In their search for the Modern Enemy, Nathan, Edward, Dew, and Yitoo must confront their past and their inner selves if they are to save the Fourth World from a devastating disaster." --We Need Diverse Books"
Genres: Fantasy - Middle Grade
Release Date: May 23rd, 2023
(From the Publisher): "Friendship and creativity come together when three girls open their own styling studio in this new graphic novel series that's perfect for fans of Click and Smile.
Shy Mariana is looking for her chance to shine. She's having trouble making friends after a cross-country move to Ohio, plus, her dad refuses to let her help out at his hair salon, despite the fact that she's a social media expert!
So when she meets science whiz Zoe and creative maven Everly, and the three decide to start their own hair styling studio, she finally finds the friends--and the calling--she's been searching for. The trio's studio, True Colors, is a smash hit, and the girls are having a blast. Not to mention, Mariana loves helping her fellow middle-school clients express themselves.
But with the town Harvest Fest on the horizon and a line of customers always at the door, the friends have to scale up quickly, and they don't always agree on how. Can Mariana find the courage to speak up for what she wants? And does True Colors have what it takes to succeed in business and friendship?"
Genres: Graphic Novels - Middle Grade - True Self - Identity
Release Date: May 23rd, 2023
(From the Publisher): "Lemon Peabody is certain that aliens visited Grandpa Walt thirty years ago, but she's running out of time to prove it before he forgets his best story. This humorous and tenderhearted story about family, friendship, and always believing in yourself is for fans of Greg van Eekhout, Stuart Gibbs, and Hour of the Bees.
Lemon Peabody loves spending time with Grandpa Walt. Even though he has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and moved to an assisted living facility, he’s still the same funny, loving grandpa he’s always been. One of Grandpa’s claims to fame is his story about meeting an alien years ago—and that it looked like a garden gnome. Ever since, it’s been something of a town-wide joke, and the cause of a rift between Grandpa and Lemon’s dad. Lemon is determined to find those extraterrestrial gnomes and vindicate Grandpa Walt—while Grandpa can still remember it.
Late one night, after seeing the flash of a spaceship during a storm, Lemon enlists the help of two friends to find out what might have crashed in the woods. But then the aliens find her, and nothing goes the way she expected. Lemon is sure she can convince the aliens to fix Grandpa Walt’s memory and bring back the grandpa she misses so much for good. But the aliens are dealing with problems of their own. With a little creativity and compassion, maybe they can all help one another.
Casey Lyall’s lively, voice-driven novel bursts with heart and humor. With family and friendship—and aliens!—at its core, Gnome Is Where Your Heart Is will captivate readers of Rebecca Stead’s and Wendy Mass’s Bob, Greg van Eekhout’s Weird Kid, and Adam Rex’s The True Meaning of Smekday."
Genres: Middle Grade - Fiction
Release Date: May 30th, 2023