Middle grade was my first love, and the market just keeps getting more diverse and delightful. Fall is usually a season of big releases, and this year’s middle grade has got me very excited (and worried about my bank account).
Note: this is entirely my personal anticipated releases, and thus reflect my own reading habits and interests! I don’t read much sci-fi or fantasy right now, and I’m sure there’s books that just haven’t come across my radar. Let me know what you’re excited about in the comments!
Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers by Celia C. Pérez (Sept. 3)
I haven’t read Pérez’s first book yet, The First Rule of Punk, but I immediately got interested in her second book from the description alone: A middle grade book tackling activism! It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot. Here’s some of the summary (from Goodreads):
“Ofelia Castillo (a budding journalist), Aster Douglas (a bookish foodie), and Cat Garcia (a rule-abiding birdwatcher) meet the kid behind the invite, Lane DiSanti, and it isn’t love at first sight. But they soon bond over a shared mission to get the Floras, their local Scouts, to ditch an outdated tradition. In their quest for justice, independence, and an unforgettable summer, the girls form their own troop and find something they didn’t know they needed: sisterhood.”
My Jasper June by Laurel Snyder (Sept. 3)
I can’t say I know much about Laurel Snyder or this book, but I’ve seen educators raving about it and it features close female friendship and grief. I’m always up for heartbreaking middle grade.
More to the Story by Hena Khan (Sept. 3)
This is a recent addition to the list because I saw a play version of Little Women, and now I want to see how the story is interpreted in different ways! This follows four Pakistani-American Muslim sisters, one of which (the Jo?) wants to be a journalist, and it looks adorable.
Guts by Raina Telgemeier (Sept. 10)
I confess the only Telgemeier I’ve read is Drama, but the wildly popular middle grade graphic novelist is back at it with Guts, which from what I understand is a memoir about anxiety. And I’m always here for more anxiety representation.
The Backstagers and the Final Curtain (Book 3) by Andy Mientus (Sept. 24)
Followers of this blog know I’ve loved the Backstagers novels, which I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to review the first and second of (and Andy Mientus is a Broadway fave of mine). I even read the comics recently, which were great. This looks like it might be the last, which makes me sort of sad, but I’m excited to see what magical theatre and real-world shenanigans the kids get up to this time.
Maybe He Just Likes You by Barbara Dee (Oct. 1)
A middle grade novel about sexual harassment and assault? Yes, please. Middle school is an unfortunately frequent time for sexual harassment between students, so this is a much-needed novel to have on hand. (I also might have made lesson plans last semester that would dovetail with this book perfectly…) I’ve enjoyed Barbara Dee’s writing in the past with Star-Crossed.
Redwood and Ponytail by K.A. Holt (Oct. 1)
I’ve got an ARC of this one I’m excited to get to soon! It’s a novel in verse about two girls falling for each other, what’s not to love?
I’ve also been really appreciating how Holt has been speaking up about how schools have been trying to censor her because of her sexuality, too.
The Best at It by Maulik Pancholy (Oct. 8)
An #ownvoices book about a gay Indian-American kid in Indiana? I need this! There’s very few (especially ownvoices) middle grade books about queer kids of color, it’s in Indiana (where I’m from/live/will teach and Pancholy spent time as a kid), and the main plot centers around Rahul trying to figure out what he’s really good at in life so he can focus on that because of middle school/growing up anxiety. I’m fully aware I’m 22 and have wanted to be a writer since I was 5, but….RELATABLE.
(I admit I haven’t watched 30 Rock, Pancholy’s most famous acting credit, but I’m glad he’s branching into middle grade!)
Friend or Fiction by Abby Cooper (Oct. 8)
Another one I’ve got an ARC of. I enjoyed Abby Cooper’s debut, Sticks and Stones, and I’ve been meaning to read more from her. This one follows a girl going through tough times who needs a friend so she writes one, and then she comes to life. Who hasn’t wanted to do that? But is it everything she wanted?
Hazel’s Theory of Evolution by Lisa Jenn Bigelow (Oct. 8)
This summer I read and loved Bigelow’s middle grade debut Drum Roll, Please, so I’m excited to see what she has up her sleeve. Plus, this is about a girl who is questioning her sexuality who accepts she is aromantic asexual (aroace), representation rarely seen. I’ve heard great things. And one of her moms is having a baby and she’s worried she’ll miscarry again. And it looks like she has a dog…
The Year We Fell From Space by Amy Sarig King (Oct. 15)
NEW A.S. KING BOOK ALERT! While I generally liked her first middle grade, I’m way more excited about this one. (Also, have you read her new YA Dig yet? You should. It’s my new favorite.) This looks like a quiet and beautiful book about parents splitting up, a sister with depression, and finding yourself in the midst of all of that. And…I might have an ARC of it…(thanks, Tay!)
The Forgotten Girl by India Hill Brown (Nov.5)
THIS COVER. But more importantly, THIS PREMISE. The Forgotten Girl is a spooky ghost story, yes, but it’s also about the history of racial segregation in graveyards and how Black graves were left forgotten–something I admit I didn’t know about. I’m excited to read this and I think kids would enjoy and learn from it.