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Growing Reader

Tween

The Most Exciting Middle Grade & Chapter Books Hitting Shelves in 2021

by Iva-Marie Palmer

2021-middle-grade-chapter-books-preview

Books have been a great companion to many kids during the strenuous year that was 2020. As the calendar rolls over to 2021, many of those same kids will be seeking fresh reads for a new year. Here are some of the most exciting titles coming soon for school-aged kids — from early chapter book readers to those ready for middle grade novels.

  • She Persisted: Harriet Tubman

    by Andrea Davis Pinkney and Chelsea Clinton, illustrated by Alexandra Boiger and Gillian Flint

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    The She Persisted series of chapter book-biographies is a spinoff of Chelsea Clinton and Alexandra Boiger’s bestselling picture book series of the same name. One of the most successful and determined conductors of the Underground Railroad, Harriet Tubman is the subject of the first entry. New books in the series will come out throughout the year, featuring women from astronaut Sally Ride to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor.
    (On Sale: 01/05/2021)

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  • The Lion of Mars

    by Jennifer L. Holm

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    Jennifer L. Holm, the bestselling author of The Fourteenth Goldfish, is back with a new middle grade novel. With the usual heart and humor of her work, Holm tells the story of Bell, a kid raised on Mars, who starts to wonder why his colony has no contact with any of the others on the planet. When the grown-ups on the Red Planet begin to get sick, Bell and the other kids might be the only ones who can help, while also uncovering some truths about what is scaring the adults.
    (On Sale: 01/05/2021)

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  • Katie the Catsitter

    by Colleen AF Venable, illustrated by Stephanie Yue

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    This one is a must-read for fans of Raina Telgemeier and any kid who loves cats. The graphic novel is about Katie, who’s facing a boring summer unless she can come up with money to go to the same expensive summer camp her friends attend. She finds a job catsitting for her upstairs neighbor, Madeline, who has 217 cats – and not normal cats, either. Readers who loved Telgemeier's Guts and Shannon Hale’s Real Friends will delight in reading about Katie’s adventures as she navigates her friendships and corrals dozens of cats.
    (On Sale: 01/05/2021)

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  • Purrmaids #9: Kitten Campout

    by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

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    Everyone’s favorite kitten mermaids are back for a kitten overnight, and while that mostly means lots of fun, it can also mean one of the mer-cats will feel left out. Perfect (or should we say, purrfect?) for early readers, this illustrated chapter book series has eight previous volumes, too.
    (On Sale: 01/05/2021)

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  • Who Is Kamala Harris?

    by Kirsten Anderson and Who HQ, illustrated by Manuel Gutierrez

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    If she’s not already a household name, Vice President elect Kamala Harris surely will be when she is inaugurated in January. This book, part of the new Who HQ NOW series, provides a look at Harris’s life, right up to her history-making election where she was voted in as the United States’s first female, first Black, and first Asian American VP.
    (On Sale: 01/19/2021)

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  • Pizza and Taco: Best Party Ever!

    by Stephen Shaskan

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    This graphic novel – the second in the Pizza and Taco series – is perfect for younger chapter book readers. This hilarious installment follows buddies Pizza and Taco as they try to throw a party. This short and silly series is a great step on kids’ way to reading longer chapter books.
    (On Sale: 01/26/2021)

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  • girl stuff.

    by Lisi Harrison

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    Harrison, author of the bestselling series The Clique, is back with a new book about the ups and downs of navigating friendships in middle school. As BFFs Fonda, Drew, and Ruthie enter Poplar Middle School as seventh graders, they wonder what their new life has in store. They have every intention of keeping their friendship intact, but seventh grade has other plans for them. Harrison brings her trademark humor and heart to this friendship story.
    (On Sale: 02/02/2021)

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  • The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as told to his brother)

    by David Levithan

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    Lucas’s brother Aidan disappeared for six days, and when he returns the story he tells is impossible. Lucas is on his side and wants to believe him, but it’s getting harder and harder to do that as friends – and even their parents – insist that Aidan merely ran away. As Aidan becomes an outcast, Lucas has to decide what he believes. Levithan, the bestselling co-author of Dash & Lily's Book of Dares and Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist, promises to take younger readers on a journey of family and faith.
    (On Sale: 02/02/2021)

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  • Hilo Book 7: Gina—The Girl Who Broke the World

    by Judd Winick

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    Judd Winick’s Hilo graphic novel series has delighted fans with the adventures of Hilo, the boy who crashed to Earth, and DJ and Gina, his ordinary pals. In this installment, Gina gets to take center stage as magical beings – thought long gone from Earth – return, and only she can see them (as well as suddenly do magic herself). Fans of the series will adore this latest laugh-out-loud adventure.
    (On Sale: 02/02/2021)

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  • J.D. and the Great Barber Battle

    by J. Dillard, illustrated by Akeem S. Roberts

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    Bad home haircuts are even more relatable after 2020, and this hilarious new chapter book series starts with one. When J.D.’s mom gives him a truly tragic cut the night before the first day of third grade, he quickly becomes the laughingstock of Douglass Elementary. So he takes the clippers into his own hands, and before he knows it, is operating a barbershop out of his bedroom.
    (On Sale: 02/23/2021)

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  • The Elephant in the Room

    by Holly Goldberg Sloan

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    Sila has been missing her mother for nearly a year as she waits for her to return from Turkey, where she’s getting the immigration paperwork she needs to stay in the United States. The weight of the long separation starts to lift when Sila accompanies her dad outside their Oregon town to fix a truck and they meet a lottery winner who’s also adopted an elephant. With both humor and heart, Holly Goldberg Sloan, author of Counting by 7s, has crafted a family story that readers won’t forget.
    (On Sale: 03/02/2021)

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  • Ballet Bunnies #1: The New Class

    by Swapna Reddy, illustrated by Binny Talib

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    In this new, full-color chapter book series, ballet and bunnies take center stage. At Miss Luisa’s School of Dance, new student Millie is having trouble finding her footing, until some cute bunnies come to the rescue. Whether Millie can keep the dancing bunnies a secret or not becomes the new skill she needs to master.
    (On Sale: 03/02/2021)

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  • Camp Time in California

    by Mary Pope Osborne, illustrated by AG Ford

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    Many avid young readers have read every one of Mary Pope Osborne’s Jack and Annie adventures, but there’s no need to have started from book one or to read the series in order. The kids in your life can start with this new adventure, set at Yosemite National Park in 1903, or go back to book one, Dinosaurs Before Dark, where it all began.
    (On Sale: 03/02/2021)

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  • Starfish

    by Lisa Fipps

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    In Lisa Fipps’ poignant debut, Ellie is a fifth-grade girl who starts suffering the cruel teasing of her peers when she wears a whale swimsuit to a birthday party. To avoid being bullied, she devises her own “Fat Girl Rules” and spends lots of time in the water, where she’s less able to feel her weight or hear her mother’s mean remarks. But with the help of her father, her therapist, and a new friend, Ellie might actually be able to set aside her self-imposed rules and start appreciating being herself.
    (On Sale: 03/09/2021)

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  • We Belong

    by Cookie Hiponia Everman

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    This novel-in-verse is poet Cookie Hiponia Everman’s debut about Filipino sisters, Stella and Luna, who want to learn more about their mother, who immigrated to the United States from the Phillipines. She begins to tell them a story that weaves her own life as a young girl, newly arrived in America, with the story of Mayari, the daughter of a god. There’s much to connect with in this unforgettable story.
    (On Sale: 03/30/2021)

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  • The Anti-Book

    by Raphael Simon

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    An important fact to know about Raphael Simon, the author of this book, is that his bio states he is definitely not the alterego of Pseudonymous Bosch (wink, wink), author of the bestselling Secret series. In this new novel, described as paying homage to both The Phantom Tollbooth and Coraline, Mickey is always angry and sends away for something called The Anti-Book, advertised on a gum wrapper. Whatever he wants to erase, he just needs to write in the blank pages. Soon, he’s adventuring in the Anti-World and realizing the end of the world as he knew it was not what he wanted at all.
    (On Sale: 04/06/2021)

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  • Max Meow Book 2: Donuts and Danger

    by John Gallagher

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    The second book in the Max Meow series, this installment finds Max Meow still getting the hang of being a superhero when look-alikes of he and his best friend show up in Kittyopolis… to steal the donut supply! Young readers who love Dog Man, will adore Max Meow.
    (On Sale: 04/06/2021)

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  • War and Millie McGonigle

    by Karen Cushman

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    Newbery Award-winning novelist Karen Cushman is back with a middle grade novel set at the onset of the United States’ involvement in World War II. Millie McGonigle seems far removed from the conflict, enjoying the sand and shore of sunny California, but life’s not that simple. Plus, she’s dealing with a first crush, a sickly sister who gets all the attention, and her family’s money problems. This heartful and humorous book is an excellent entry point to learning about how World War II played out for families in the United States.
    (On Sale: 04/06/2021)

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  • The Legend of Auntie Po

    by Shing Yin Khor

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    This graphic novel blends historical fiction with magical realism as readers meet Mei, a 13-year-old Chinese girl working at a logging camp in the years after the United States’ passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act. As Mei tries to stay focused on her job – rather than the racial tumult around her – she begins telling stories of Paul Bunyan, but reimagines Bunyan as Po Pan Yin (Auntie Po), an aging Chinese matriarch. Kids will be drawn into this thoughtful adventure.
    (On Sale: 04/06/2021)

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  • The Last Kids on Earth: Thrilling Tales from the Tree House

    by Max Brallier, illustrated by Douglas Holgate, Jay Cooper, Anoosha Syed, Lorena Alvarez, Christopher Mitten, and Xavier Bonet

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    The hugely popular Last Kids on Earth series is getting the graphic novel treatment in this collection of six all-new stories starring Jack and the rest of his post-apocalyptic adventuring pals. Each member of the group gets a shot at recounting one of his or her escapades, and the book is capped off with a double-length story that gives readers a hint of what’s to come in the series’ seventh book, which will be published in Fall 2021.
    (On Sale: 04/06/2021)

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