10 New June Middle Grade Books to Wake Your Brain Cells

Here are 10 of the buzziest books coming out in June. Note: a bunch of books that had been slated to be released in June have been moved back to fall or 2021.

Asha and the Spirit Bird by Jasbinder Bilan

Beyond Me by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu

Braver: A Wombat’s Tale by Suzanne Selfors and Walker Ranson

Catalyst by Sarah Beth Durst

Con Quest! by Sam Maggs

Curse of the Night Witch by Alex Aster

Otto Tattercoat and the Forest of Lost Things by Matilda Woods

Raising Lumie by Joan Bauer

Sara and the Search for Normal by Wesley King

The Way to Rio Luna by Zoraida Cordova



Oil by Jonah Winter

Oil by Jonah Winter

Oil by Jonah Winter, illustrated by Jeanette Winter (9781534430778)

This nonfiction picture book offer a devastating look at the oil spill caused by the Exxon Valdez. The book begins with the Trans-Alaska Pipeway that carries oil to the ocean. It’s surrounded by wilderness and the animals who live there. The oil is then transferred to ships, and one of the those ships had an accident in the clear water when it ran aground on a reef. From there, the oil spreads, turning the water and waves black, covering the rocks on the shore. Hurting the wildlife who call the place home. People try to help, but even thirty years later so many things are different, changes caused by the destruction of an ecosystem and environment.

The Winter mother-son duo have crafted yet another compelling picture book about a complex nonfiction topic. Jonah’s text uses powerful repeating choruses of “oil” that is almost like a drum beat of emphasis. He uses other techniques of repetition and design that speed or slow the reading of the text very effectively. The book is a mixture of tragedy and a call to action.

Jeanette’s illustrations are in her signature simple style. They work particularly well here to emphasize the impact of the oil spill, steadily covering the pages with seeping blackness. Some pages are left without words, just allowing the reader to soak in the horror of what is happening.

Powerful and tragic, this picture book is an important addition for libraries. Appropriate for ages 5-8.

Reviewed from copy provided by Beach Lane Books.