Growing Reader

Tween

21 Middle Grade & Chapter Books to Dive Into This Fall 2020

by Keith Rice

fall preview 2020

With the waning days of summer coming to a close, fall is just around the corner. Now is the perfect time to take a look at all the great middle grade and chapter books coming down the pike. Whether a thoughtful examination of dealing with family tragedy, a rip-roaring adventure, a thrilling fantasy, or a book designed to help young readers understand – and put into context – current events, there’s plenty to get excited about.

  • Before the Ever After

    by Jacqueline Woodson

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    The latest from National Book Award winner Jaqueline Woodson is an examination of grief, the power of memories, and the often-tenuous threads that hold a family together. The story centers around ZJ, the son of a famous and beloved pro football star. But lately ZJ’s once charming father is now increasingly angry and seems to have trouble remembering things. While ZJ knows that this is the result of head injuries sustained during his playing years, it doesn’t make coming to grips with his new reality any easier. ZJ is left struggling to pick up the pieces of his seemingly disintegrating family.
    (On Sale: 9/1/2020)

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  • The Circus of Stolen Dreams

    by Lorelei Savaryn

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    For Andrea, the world fell apart on the day her brother Francis disappeared. The loss formed a new and devastating reality that she could not escape. That Is, until Andrea stumbles across a fantastical dream world called Reverie in the forest near her house. To get inside she must surrender a memory forever, and once inside, Andrea discovers a magical landscape of dreams come to life. At first, it’s more fun than she could have hoped for. But unfortunately, not all dreams are happy or safe ones, and soon Andrea discovers a dark truth and nightmarish figure intent on breaking free from Reverie.
    (On Sale: 9/1/20)

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  • Who Was Kobe Bryant?

    by Ellen Labreque and Who HQ, illustrated by Gregory Copeland

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    The tragic death of Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter Gianna was a tremendous shock to fans of the former NBA All-Star. Not only was Bryant a tremendous athlete, but he spent much of time and energy engaging various philanthropic endeavors aimed at the homeless, veterans, and children. He leaves behind an extraordinary legacy both on and off the court. One of the first books in the new Who HQ NOW series, this book provides a wonderful way to introduce young readers to Kobe Bryant and his extraordinary life and career. Be sure to take a look at all the offerings in the Who HQ series, including Who Is Greta Thunberg? and the upcoming books Who Is Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? and Who Is Cristiano Ronaldo?, which will be released in 2021.
    (On Sale: 9/1/20)

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  • The Last Kids on Earth and the Skeleton Road

    by Max Brallier, illustrated by Douglas Holgate

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    The latest in the bestselling The Last Kids on Earth series sees Jack and the gang on the hunt for the terrifying Thrull and his skeletal army. The forces are evil are one step closer to creating a portal that will bring about the destruction of our dimension. Fortunately, June discovered an important clue during her Wild Flight, and it could be the key to saving everything. Unfortunately, it will require Jack, Quint, June, and Dirk to do the unthinkable: finally leave Wakefield. It’s a road trip of epic, world-saving proportions.
    (On Sale: 9/15/20)

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  • Séance Tea Party

    by Reimena Yee

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    For Lora, there is simply nothing better than being a kid. From her point of view, the adult world is too serious. No one wants to play or let their imagination run free. Lora wants nothing more than to remain a kid forever and she’ll do whatever it takes to make that happen, even if that means rediscovering her old “imaginary” friend – a ghost named Alexa who continues to haunt her house. This fantastical coming-of-age graphic novel is a bittersweet tribute to childhood and what it means to let go.
    (On Sale: 9/15/20)

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  • Hatch

    by Kenneth Oppel

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    The follow up to Bloom, and second in Oppel's The Overthrow series, again finds our heroes Seth, Anaya, and Petra as the world's only hope. When human-eating alien plants invaded Earth, these three kids were somehow immune to their toxins and found a way to combat the beasts. But now, more strange lifeforms - including an array of terrifying insects — have hatched. The government suspects that Seth, Anaya, and Petra - along with a slew of other immune kids - may themselves be aliens. How will they save the world if they're locked underground?
    (On Sale: 9/15/2020)

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  • Pages & Co.: The Map of Stories

    by Anna James, illustrated by Paola Escobar

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    In the third adventure in the bestselling Pages & Co. series, Tilly and Oskar set off on an adventure that will take them all the way to Washington, D.C. and into the stacks of the Library of Congress. As they search for a group of bookwanderers called the Archivists – who may be the key to saving the British Underlibrary – Tilly and Oskar will stumble into a dangerous new mystery unlike any they’ve previously encountered… one that endangers the very practice of bookwandering.
    (On Sale: 9/22/20)

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  • The Great Escape

    by Kate Biberdorf

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    This sophomore science-themed adventure sees Kate the Chemist up against an escape room designed to test teamwork and scientific knowledge. With time winding down and a host of clues and obstacles in their path, Kate and her friends will have to employ all their STEM-based know-how to crack the code and make their way out. The Kate the Chemist series is a great way to give your budding scientist a fun and engaging introduction into the basics of chemistry and other sciences.
    (On Sale: 9/29/20)

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  • Planet Omar: Unexpected Super Spy

    by Zanib Mian, illustrated by Nasaya Mafaridik

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    This follow up to Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet sees Omar and his friends coming together for a talent show to raise money to save their mosque. However, when Omar’s sister puts together a rival talent show, the battle is on – at least, until all the money goes missing. Now, Omar must become a super spy to track down the nefarious villain who made off with the talent show money in this imaginative, uproarious adventure.
    (On Sale: 9/29/20)

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  • The Secret Explorers and the Tomb Robbers

    by DK and SJ King

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    In the latest adventure in The Secret Explorers series, the Explorers are tasked with stopping the Cairo Museum from shutting down. After receiving their mission from the Explorer Station, history expert Gustavo and engineering ace Kiki are sent back in time to Ancient Egypt. The duo is quickly caught up in a tense mystery centering around the tomb and treasures of Pharaoh Khufu, with the fate of the beloved Cairo Museum hanging in the balance.
    (On Sale: 10/6/20)

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  • Iggy Is Better Than Ever

    by Annie Barrows, illustrated by Sam Ricks

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    Iggy is nothing if not a lovable troublemaker, and in his latest adventure — a seemingly great idea — quickly devolves into full pandemonium. Now, the principal is here and Iggy is airborne, knowing disaster is not far off. How did he get here and how will this particular shenanigan come to end?
    (On Sale: 10/6/20)

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  • Magic Tree House Deluxe Edition: Dinosaurs Before Dark

    by Mary Pope Osborne, illustrated by Antonio Javier Caparo

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    Mary Pope Osborne’s Magic Tree House series is a modern classic for a reason. The lively adventures of Jack and Annie Smith are equal parts thrilling and educational. This oversized, newly illustrated deluxe edition of the first entry in the series is a perfect way to bring your chapter book reader into the tree house. In Dinosaurs Before Dark, Annie and Jack stumble across a mysterious tree house. Before they can figure out where the tree house came from, they are whisked into the prehistoric past and must find their way back before dark – or they become a dinosaur’s dinner.
    (On Sale: 10/6/20)

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  • Keep It Curious, George

    by Grant Baciocco

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    This brand new Curious George adventure is guaranteed fun for the whole family. Mad Libs and Curious George come together for a funny, endearing, and interactive tale centering on the importance of being true to yourself. Readers will help Curious George fill in the blanks in a tale that is both meaningful and hilarious.
    (On Sale: 10/6/20)

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  • Matilda

    by Roald Dahl, illustrated by Sarah Walsh

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    Matilda is one of Roald Dahl’s most beloved creations. The delightfully quirky story centers around a very special little girl with a terrible set of parents. She hopes school will provide an escape and is excited to learn as much as possible, but the kid-hating headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, rules the school and terrorizes children with an iron fist. It may be time for Trunchbull to get precisely what she deserves in this quintessential Roald Dahl adventure featuring brand-new illustrations by Sarah Walsh.
    (On Sale: 10/13/20)

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  • His Dark Materials: Serpentine

    by Philip Pullman, illustrated by Tom Duxbury

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    Set after the events of The Amber Spyglass, Serpentine is a must-read companion adventure for fans of Pullman’s His Dark Materials world. Serpentine sees Lyra and Pan, still recovering from the events of The Amber Spyglass, once again traveling to the Far North to seek an audience with the Consul of Witches. Serpentine serves as an ideal bridge into the events of The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage.
    (On Sale: 10/15/20)

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  • Kingston and the Magician’s Lost and Found

    by Rucker Moses and Theo Gangi

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    Kingston’s father, King Preston, was one of the world’s greatest magicians — until one trick went disastrously wrong and King Preston disappeared, taking all the magic in Echo City, Brooklyn with him. Now, Kingston has returned to Echo City – a mere shell of what it once was – to search for his father. When he discovers a magic box left behind by his dad, Kingston is drawn into a mystery far darker and with deeper implications than he could have ever imagined.
    (On Sale: 10/27/20)

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  • The Smartest Kid in the Universe

    by Chris Grabenstein

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    Jack is beside himself when he discovers that his middle school is about to be shut down. He wants desperately to save it, but has no idea how. After munching on some jellybeans that turn out to be ingestible information pills, Jack suddenly finds himself the smartest kid in the universe. Surely, the smartest kid in the universe can save a middle school, right? Unfortunately for Jack, he’s about to discover that even super smart kids have a lot to learn, and navigating middle school is a tricky proposition no matter how bright you are.
    (On Sale: 11/3/20)

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  • This Is Your Time

    by Ruby Bridges

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    At the age of six, Ruby Bridges unexpectedly became an icon of the civil rights movement as the first Black child to integrate into an all-white elementary school. Because of threats and protesters, Ruby had to be escorted to class by federal marshals. She was screamed at by adults and ostracized by the other children, but her extraordinary story led to extraordinary change. Written in the form of a letter from Ruby Bridges to the reader, This is Your Time is both a stirring recounting of her experiences and a necessary call to action.
    (On Sale: 11/10/20)

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  • Escape This Book! Race to the Moon

    by Bill Doyle, illustrated by Sarah Sax

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    Part doodling notebook, part “choose your own adventure,” the Escape This Book! series is entirely fun. This thrilling adventure gives readers three chances to join the space program and help the Apollo missions reach the moon. It’s a fun, engaging, and informative way to dig into some of the most amazing moments in history.
    (On Sale: 11/20/20)

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  • Max and the Midknights: Battle of the Bodkins

    by Lincoln Peirce

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    Book two in the Max and the Midknights series brings more of what middle grade readers loved about the first – swashbuckling adventure, magic, dangerous creatures, and a few good laughs. Now that she’s officially in knight school, Max can say with certainty that she did not expect it to be this tough. And now that Byjovia is under attack, things are about to get a whole lot tougher. It’s up to Max and the Midknights to not only navigate the ins and outs of Knight School, but possibly save Byjovia in the process.
    (On Sale: 12/1/20)

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  • What Is the Civil Rights Movement?

    by Sherri L. Smith and Who HQ, illustrated by Tim Foley

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    This entry in the What Was? series feels particularly timely as the U.S. has once again found itself at a potential civil rights crossroads. Helping our curious middle grade readers makes sense of current events is a difficult but vital task, and one cannot overstate the importance of context. What Is the Civil Rights Movement? takes readers through key moments and milestones of the movement, with easily-understood and age-appropriate explanations of events featured alongside black and white illustrations and a 16-page photo insert.
    (On Sale: 12/29/20)

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