20 of the Most Buzzed-About Middle Grade Books of 2018
by Melissa Taylor
With books from debut authors like Matt Laney and Tae Keller as well as new releases from fan favorites like Dave Eggers, Christopher Paul Curtis, Wendy Mass, and Rebecca Stead, here’s a look at some of the most buzz-worthy middle grade books of 2018.
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Check out The Most Exciting Middle Grade Books of 2019!
Set in Pakistan, 12-year-old Amal’s life changes drastically when she’s forced to work as an indentured servant for the rich Khan family. With her growing awareness of the Khan’s illegal activities and an unpleasant new enemy, Amal must find the courage to stand up for justice and change.
The Season of Styx Malone
Ten-year-old Caleb Franklin and his older brother Bobby Gene are bored with their ordinary, small-town lives. So it’s no surprise when they quickly fall under the influence of Styx Malone, an older, smooth-talking boy. Styx has big plans for the boys this summer, but as their adventures become increasingly more daring, the boys start to wonder if there’s more to Styx than meets the eye.
Calling All Minds
Autism spokesperson, scientist, and inventor, Temple Grandin, shares wisdom and inspiration to help young inventors as they tinker, build, and invent. Read about the science and history of inventions, stories from Grandin’s childhood, and ways (many ways) to innovate with an open, inquisitive mind.
Samantha Spinner and the Super-Secret Plans
Just before he disappears, Samantha’s uncle gifts her a rusty red umbrella. On it, she discovers a hidden map that leads her and her brother to a secret travel portal to Paris where they’re pursued by ninja-like, sword-wielding men. But Paris is just the first stop of many — the siblings must hurry to solve the secret puzzles in this action-packed world adventure.
Betty Before X
In Detroit in the 1940s, 11-year-old Betty feels like she doesn’t belong. She connects to the messages at church, especially the speeches from civil rights activists like Paul Robeson and Thurgood Marshall. There, and at the Housewives League, Betty grows into her identity and life’s purpose. Based on the childhood of civil rights icon, Dr. Betty Shabazz.
An Anthology of Intriguing Animals
Did you know a male moose’s antlers can grow to weigh more than 44 lbs? Discover fascinating animal facts like this and more in An Anthology of Intriguing Animals. Kids will love poring over the extraordinary photos, dazzling illustrations, and fun facts on over 100 different species from land, sea, and sky.
The Journey of Little Charlie
To repay his late sharecropper father’s debt, Charlie agrees to hunt fugitives for Cap’n Buck. But when he realizes who the fugitives are, Charlie must make a difficult choice, even if it means crossing the cruel Cap’n Buck. Written by the Newbery Award winning author of Bud, Not Buddy.
Payback on Poplar Lane
When 12-year-old Peter’s intern, Rachel, starts a competing business next door, these two entrepreneurial rivals fight to get each other’s customers. Filled with business tips, humor, and a lemonade war unlike any other, Peter and Rachel will learn that friendship is more important than profits.
Once a week, six students meet in the ARTT Room (short for “A Room to Talk”) for an hour of unsupervised conversation. As the year goes on, the kids’ walls come down and they use the safe space to share their grief and pain, ranging from deportation and racial inequalities to deceased parents.
The Thrifty Guide to the American Revolution: A Handbook for Time Travelers
If you’re time traveling to the American Revolution (or anywhere), you obviously must bring a handy dandy travel guide. This helpful guidebook gives practical tips for finding the best hotel rooms, avoiding prison, and meeting famous patriots. Written with plenty of humor and fascinating historical facts, kids won’t even realize all the history they’re learning.
Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein
Based on a true story, Ali describes his life in Iraq under Saddam Hussein’s regime during the 43-day war with the United States and other nations. The constant bombings remind Ali of watching a video game but it’s not a game when the bombs get close, his family can’t find enough food, and no one knows if Ali’s father is still alive. Redemption comes both with Hussein’s defeat and Ali’s interpreter work at Hussein’s later trial.
The Cardboard Kingdom
Artist Chad Sell teams up with ten authors to bring to life the vast imaginations of a fictional group of kids who all live in the same neighborhood. Using cardboard boxes, the kids dream up a fantastical land filled with heroes, villains, and lots of adventure.
The Night Diary
At the end of British rule, the country of India splits into two — Pakistan and India — a divide that separates religious as well as geographical differences. Twelve-year-old Nisha, half Muslim and half Hindi, feels lost now that she and her family are no longer safe in Pakistan. They flee as refugees, embarking on a harrowing journey by train and foot to find a new, safer home.
The Science of Breakable Things
Natalie’s sure that if her team can win the egg drop science competition, she can use the prize money to go see the rare Cobalt Blue Orchids with her mom. Then her mom won’t be depressed anymore. A moving coming-of-age story, Natalie uses the scientific method for both the science contest and her mother’s situation, leading her to reconsider what can be fixed and how to fix it.
The Spinner Prince
Scientific, smart felines rule the country of Singara with Prince Leo next in line for the throne. To prove he’s worthy of the job, he must defeat a slaycon. At the same time, he’s also trying to control his forbidden Spinner power while fighting against an uprising beyond the Great Wall and preventing his cousin from seizing power.
The Mad Wolf’s Daughter
Drest’s entire Scottish warband family is kidnapped by invading knights leaving her behind. She pursues them, taking a wounded knight with her, knowing she doesn’t have much time before her father and brothers are killed. It’s a dangerous, confusing trip; she’s followed by a bandit, helped by a mysterious witch, and when she arrives at the castle, betrayed by a new friend.
When Granite and Catalina discover a magical doorway to a labyrinth of tunnels underneath their town, they learn that it’s up to them to save the world from the mysterious forces below the earth.
Bob’s been hiding in a closet in Livy’s grandmother’s house for five years, waiting for Livy to return. Even though Livy doesn’t remember this greenish creature in a chicken costume named Bob, she honors her promise to help the memory-less Bob discover his past. Their journey for answers forms a magical friendship.
The Key to Everything
When Tash returns from summer camp, she discovers that her neighbor, babysitter, and friend, Cap’n Jackie, is in a care home after breaking her hip. As Tash visits Cap’n Jackie, who no longer seems like herself, Tash wonders if it’s all her fault and what she can do to bring Cap’n Jackie home.
She Loves You (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah)
It’s 1966. Twelve-year-old Trudy’s treasured Beatles fan club has decreased to only three other kids, her best friend is now a cheerleader going by a new name, and her life at home stinks. So, when the Beatles arrive in Boston for their world tour, Trudy and friends sneak off to their concert, hoping it will change things for the better.