2018 Best Middle-Grade Fiction!

It’s been an exceptional year for middle-grade fiction, filled with diverse characters written by diverse authors. Here are my top picks for the year:

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed (9780399544682)

A very readable book that invites readers into rural Pakistan and the dangers of corruption and debt. – My Review

The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M.T. Anderson and Eugene Yelchin (9780763698225)

A timely look at political intrigue and getting beyond what holds us apart with plenty of humor to make it a delight. – My Review

Astrid the Unstoppable by Maria Parr Dactyl Hill Squad by Daniel Jose Older

Astrid the Unstoppable by Maria Parr (9781536200171)

Richly told, this book is a delightful wintry read that feels like a long-lost classic. – My Review

Dactyl Hill Squad by Daniel Jose Older (9781338268812)

A rip-roaring read that will have children longing for a dactyl to ride. – My Review

Front Desk by Kelly Yang The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson

Front Desk by Kelly Yang (9781338157802)

Based on her own childhood growing up as a family managing motels, Yang tells a vibrant story of hope in the face of crushing poverty. – My Review

The House with Chicken Legs by Sophie Anderson (9781338209969)

A dynamic retelling of the Baby Yaga folktale, this book offers a big world of magic and ghosts to explore. – My Review

Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave

Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake (9780316515467)

Blake has created a middle-grade book that is warm and beautifully supportive. – My Review

The Island at the End of Everything by Kiran Millwood Hargrave (9780553535327)

A complex book that takes a deep look at grief, loss, courage and family. – My Review

It Wasn't Me by Dana Alison Levy.jpg The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis

It Wasn’t Me by Dana Alison Levy (9781524766450)

Strongly written and compellingly paced, this novel is a fascinating look at how justice can be done in a school setting without the use of detentions or suspensions. – My Review

The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis (9780545156660)

The Newbery Award winning Curtis writes with such skill that it is impossible not to fall deeply into his stories and become immersed in the world he builds. – My Review

Just Like Jackie by Lindsey Stoddard The Language of Spells by Garret Weyr

Just Like Jackie by Lindsey Stoddard (9780062652911)

A brilliant debut novel with changing families, lots of maple syrup but one that isn’t too sweet either. – My Review

The Language of Spells by Garret Weyr (9781452159584)

Beautiful, haunting and tragic, this is a special fantasy for young readers. – My Review

Louisiana's Way Home by Kate DiCamillo Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina

Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo (9780763694630)

DiCamillo tells Louisiana’s story with a deft humor and a deep empathy. – My Review

Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina (9780763690496)

A winning middle-grade novel that is part of #ownvoices, this is a must-read. – My Review

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen

The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty (9781524767587)

A stellar read, this middle school book is a book that is hard to sum up, but one you can count on. – My Review

No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen (9780735262751)

A nuanced and skilled look at homelessness with great characters to discover along the journey. – My Review

Peasprout Chen, Future Legend of Skate and Sword by Henry Lien The Science of Breakable Things by Tae Keller

Peasprout Chen, Future Legend of Skate and Sword by Henry Lien (9781250165695)

I cannot stress enough how utterly captivating this children’s book is. – My Review

The Science of Breakable Things by Tae Keller (9781524715663)

Smartly written and filled with glowing characters living complicated lives, this middle grade novel is unbreakable. – My Review

The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon Small Spaces by Katherine Arden

The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon (9781524715953)

Magoon has created a story that reads smooth and sweet, a tale filled with adventures and riotous action. – My Review

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden (9780525515029)

Written with rich prose that is a delight to read, this eerie tale will be enjoyed by any young reader looking for some spine tingles. – My Review

The Stone Girl's Story by Sarah Beth Durst Sweep by Jonathan Auxier

The Stone Girl’s Story by Sarah Beth Durst (9781328729453)

Durst has created a compelling stand-alone fantasy book for middle graders. The world building is warm and lovely, unrolling like a carpet before the reader. – My Review

Sweep by Jonathan Auxier (9780735264359)

I loved the London that Auxier has created for us with all of its Victorian charms. He peels away the charming veneer though and shows us the brutality of child labor, the dangers and the cruelty of chimney sweeping in particular. – My Review

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor The Unforgettable Guinevere St. Clair by Amy Makechnie

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor (9780062491497)

Connor writes books that soar and are completely heartfelt, this book is another of those. – My Review

The Unforgettable Guinevere St. Clair by Amy Makechnie (9781534414464)

A great read, a grand mystery, and a strong protagonist. – My Review