No matter how much I want to, there is no way I will be able to cover all the awesome middle grade novels I have had the pleasure of reading these past few years in this one short month. So, the only viable solution I have is to write up a list (annotated? perhaps) and cover them very very briefly. So without further ado, here are some of the more stellar titles I have read and loved:
- Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee
Notable because both the protagonists are physically weak and emotionally fragile. Though the story is a retelling of the Snow Queen, I like the novel’s contributions where the protagonists are concerned. Very fitting read for a cold winter evening.
- The Glass Sentence by S. E. Grove
The worldbuilding in this one is really complex and beautiful. The characterizations are original as well and I like how well-thought out the story was. I just really enjoyed the storytelling and the story.
- The Thickety – J. A. White
Another fantastic middlegrade novel that is way grimmer than many of its counterparts. This book doesn’t pull any punches. In fact, it is one of the darkest novels (for any age group) that I have read in a long time. It deals with some pretty bleak issues so I don’t know how a very impressionable child will react to it.
- The Castle of Thorns by Merrie Haskell
A wonderful, wonderful retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Haskell’s works are always winners but this one is even more so than the others.
- Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge
Sophisticated and skillfully executed, this novel deals with complex issues such as identity and family.
- The Bone Dragon by Alexia Casale
In turns heartbreaking and affirming, this novel has themes of abuse, adoption and moving on from past trauma. Of course there is a dragon but it is a very different dragon than the ones that feature in fantasy novels.
- The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter
This one is remarkably strange and the less said about it the better. It’s definitely worth a checkout though. I’ll be talking more about Ellen Potter in March during the retelling month when I discuss her The Humming Room so look forward to that.
- The Cavendish Home for Boys and Girsl by Claire LeGrand
Deliciously creepy. A wonderful tale for the times when you need thrills.
- Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai
A verse novel. It details the life of a Vietnamese girl as she comes to America and tries to find herself in a strange environment surrounded by strange people.
- The Wednesdays by Julie Bourbeau
Another chilling tale. I seem to have read a lot of them. I liked this one in particular because of how fresh the story felt. Or perhaps it was just me. But I really liked it.
- Splendours and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz
If you read any middlegrade novel, read this one. It’s so brilliant. I believe it won the Newberry and quite deservedly so in my opinion.
- The League of Princes by Christopher Healy
Fairytale princes come to life and tell their own stories. About darned time they did too.
- Kat, Incorrigible by Stephanie Burgis
A trilogy focusing on Kat and her incorrigibility. It’s funny and it’s charming. Historical fiction with a dash of magic and some witchery.
- The Flora Trilogy by Ysabeau S. Wilce
Honestly speaking, this could function as a YA series too particularly the third one but this one is so remarkably creative that the more imaginative child will enjoy the oddness of the characters and the story.
- The Princess Curse by Merrie Haskell
If Merrie Haskell writes something, I’m going to read it. And you should too.
- Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge
Just as brilliant and sophisticated as her other book. This one is breathtaking in its worldbuilding and storytelling. A world in which faces do not make expressions by themselves and it is into this world that a human girl wanders in with a face like glass–a face that easily reflects whatever she’s thinking.
- The Year of Shadows by Claire Legrand
Two very relatable main characters, one haunted theater and ghosts.
- The Magic Thief Quartet by Sarah Prineas
Easily one of the best MG fantasies I’ve read in years. High fantasy, sparse but amazing.
- Iron Hearted Violet by Kelly Barnhill
About being who you are and not who you are supposed to be. Brilliant.
- The Sinister Sweetness of Splendid Academy – Nikki Loftin
A school, some dubious teachers and attitudes towards food and body issues. It was really well done.