A Mighty Girl's top picks of girl-empowering books for middle grade readers!
One of the great joys of summer for avid young readers is the opportunity to explore books all on their own! Tweens are ready for intriguing, original, and complex stories, which means that middle grade readers can find titles perfect for them in every genre. And with new titles coming out all the time — many of them starring Mighty Girl characters — there is an ever-growing selection of books to choose from!
Whether your tween is looking for an imaginative fantasy novel or a suspenseful mystery, a hilarious romp or a thrilling story of adventure, the empowering titles in our new blog post will keep her flipping through pages all summer long! Both classic novels and new releases are included, so you can encourage your tween to read a book you remember fondly from your own childhood, or help her discover a new favorite. With a wide range of diverse, courageous, and determined Mighty Girls at the center of the story, your young reader is sure to find a character she loves.
Books starring mighty Girls for tweens
Flory is a night fairy, no taller than an acorn, with a beautiful set of wings like a luna moth... until she loses them in an encounter with a bat. Unable to fly home, Flory suddenly finds herself having to learn how to survive among the daylight creatures in the Giantess' garden! The world may be very big and dangerous, but Flory is fierce and determined, and more than ready to tell others like Skuggle, her new squirrel friend, what to do. Not all of the garden's residents, however, are willing to bend to her demands. Through Flory's personal growth, this magical story offers an important lesson in how skills like compassion, diplomacy, and quick thinking are valuable complements to one's bravery in reaching your goals.
The world's greatest fourth-grade detective, Moxie McCoy, is on the hunt for the person who's kidnapped the school's beloved mascot... but without her best friend/crime-solving partner, who's moved away, things just don't feel right. So her interrogations now serve a double purpose: searching for clues, and interviewing for a new partner. Nobody quite seems to suit, and Moxie can't solve the case on her own. But when her quiet, tentative, boring little brother Milton proves he's an excellent listener, maybe the pair can form an unexpected alliance. Warm and funny, with clever "debrief" questions that encourage readers to examine Moxie's narrative, this will be a hit with mystery fans. The mystery-solving siblings return in The Real McCoys: Two's A Crowd.
Clementine is having an absolutely terrible week. It starts on Monday, with a trip to the principal's office for helping cut her friend Margaret's hair, and by Saturday, Margaret, her mother, and Clementine's own mother are all mad at her. Clementine's "spectacularful" ideas aren't appreciated by the people around her, and she's starting to wonder if her precocious brain is really worth the trouble! Fortunately, thanks to a resilient and optimistic attitude, Clementine is able to turn things around and figure out a way to make things right. With delicious language and an irrepressible, good-hearted main character, this is sure to be a hit. For more Clementine, there is also A Box of Clementines, a box set containing the first three books in the series.
There's never been anyone like Gooney Bird Greene at Watertower Elementary School. What other new kid comes to school wearing pajamas and cowboy boots one day and a polka-dot t-shirt and tutu on another? She is the star of story time and keeps her teacher and classmates on the edge of their seats with her "absolutely true" stories. But what about her classmates? Maybe they have interesting stories to share too.... This laugh-out-loud book will teach young readers the elements of storytelling — and encourage them to come up with stories of their own! Fans of Gooney Bird can check out the second book in the series, Gooney Bird Greene and the Room Mother.
The energetic Ramona Quimby has been a favorite for generations! Whether she's inviting her entire class to her house for a party (without telling anyone), struggling with a teacher who doesn't appreciate her boundless energy and unique perspective, or worrying about what will happen to her family when big changes are in the offing, Ramona's experiences are both hilarious and relatable to many children. This box set collects all of the Ramona books so that kids can read along as she grows.
Avani is struggling to find a place to fit in after moving to a new town. Everyone in school thinks she's weird, especially the girls in her Flower Scouts troop. Is it so weird to think scouting should be about fun and adventure, not about makeovers and boys, boys, boys? Then Avani is accidentally abducted by Mabel, an alien from across the galaxy. It turns out that Mabel is a Star Scout, and collecting alien specimens is just one of the activities on her troop’s list. If Avani can make it through the Star Scouts’ Camp Andromeda — and manage to prevent her dad from realizing she’s left the planet — she’ll prove that humans can hold their own in the Star Scouts and finally find a place to belong, both in the Scouts and on Earth. Fans of this book should also check out the sequel, Star Scouts: The League of Lasers.
Smart, sensitive Matilda is stuck with a family that doesn’t appreciate her — and a headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, who’s determined to break the will of every child in her school. Fortunately, her teacher, Miss Honey, sees her tremendous potential. But when it turns out that Miss Honey is just as beaten down by Miss Trunchbull as her students, Matilda will have to make use of some unexpected abilities to see justice done. Even if she can free Miss Honey, though, will Matilda ever find a family who will cherish her and all of her talents? Like all Roald Dahl's books, this beloved classic is full of broad, funny characters, and kids will delight in the adventure, heart, and humor of Matilda's story.
After Mary Lennox is orphaned by a cholera epidemic, she goes to live on her uncle's Yorkshire estate. Lonely and sad, she's left alone to explore, eventually meeting the high-spirited Dickon and her sickly and imperious cousin Colin. Then she discovers the greatest treasure of all: a locked, walled garden, overgrown and desperately in need of tending. And as she, Dickon, and Colin start caring for the garden, a remarkable thing happens: Mary and Colin start to bloom too. This classic novel, full of beauty and emotion, is sure to inspire your Mighty Girl as it has inspired generations of others.
Eight-year-old orphan Sophie's life takes a surprising turn for the better when a giant swipes her out of her bed in London and takes her to Giantland! The BFG, or Big Friendly Giant, is definitely both friendly and giant to Sophie, but it turns out that he's not so big compared to some of his more ferocious relations. In fact, Sophie and the BFG will have to work together to bring beautiful dreams to all the other boys and girls, make an alliance with the Queen, and finally trap the evil giants for good! This beloved book — which has been adapted into a film version — is just as entrancing for readers today as it was when it was published decades ago.
Roz the robot opens her eyes for the first time to find herself alone on a remote island, full of nothing but wilderness. There's no time to wonder how she got there — or why she's exists — before she's already facing danger. A fierce storm and a vicious bear attack convince Roz that the best way to make it is to adapt, observe, and learn from the island's animals. Slowly, the animals adapt to Roz too, and before long, the island is feeling like home. But can Roz really live a wild, free life — even when her creators finally come looking for her? Author / illustrator Peter Brown tells an exciting and touching story about nature, technology, and what it means to belong. Roz's story continues in The Wild Robot Escapes, or both books are available in The Wild Robot box set.
Olive is sure this will be the best summer ever — she and her friend Willow are heading to camp together! But while Olive makes friends fast, Willow struggles, and latches onto Olive for companionship. It's not long before Olive is fed up and they have a full-on fight. Summer camp was definitely not supposed to be the end of their friendship! Fortunately, a little time apart gives them the chance to find their own way — and their way back together. Tween readers will sympathize with both Olive and Willow during this graphic novel sequel to Click that celebrates how summer adventures can help you discover new strength.
Leonora's mother, aunt, and older sisters run the best bakery in Rose Hill, Texas, and Leonora wants to help prepare for Dia de los Muertos — but once again, they tell her she's too young. One day, when Leo sneaks down to the bakery, she learns why: they are all brujas, witches of Mexican ancestry, and they bake a little delicious magic into every bite! Leo's sure she's old enough to learn magic too, so when her best friend has a problem, she decides to dig into the family recipe book. But Leo doesn't read Spanish, so deciphering the recipes isn't easy... and when things go awry, Leo learns that her family will support her but she has to fix her own mistakes! This charming story effortlessly weaves together Mexican, Texan, and American cultures and adds a dash of mystery and magic to delightful effect. Leonora and her family return in the sequel, A Sprinkle of Spirits.
12-year-old Maddie loves her quirky sense of humor (including the fake mustaches she slaps on at every opportunity) and her new lead role in the class play, even if they mean unwanted attention from a class bully. But when she develops unusual symptoms, she's diagnosed with a brain tumor and her world is flipped upside down. At first, Maddie wants to hide her illness, but as her surgery date approaches, her creativity, offbeat humor, and kind heart might make a difference for more people than she ever thought possible. Kids will love Maddie's big heart and even bigger imagination.
Ronia is the celebrated daughter of Matt, leader of a ferocious band of robbers, but she’s happiest alone, exploring the deep forest. There, she meets Birk, the son of Matt’s greatest rival, Borka, and the two become unexpected friends. But when new hostilities break out between two bands, Ronia is faced with conflicting loyalties when her father wants to use Birk as a hostage to force his rival’s surrender. Can Ronia and Birk find a way to reconcile the two robber barons, or will they have to choose between friendship and family? This book by Astrid Lindgren, author of Pippi Longstocking, is full of adventure, suspense, and the joy of true friendships.
14-year-old Doreen Green is facing a few more challenges than the typical teenager who’s just completed a cross-country move! Doreen has the powers of a squirrel but feels like a caged animal in her new home. After she stops a group of troublemakers in her neighborhood, Doreen decides to embrace her powers and become a full-fledged Super Hero. But when a real-life Super Villain appears, is the newly minted Squirrel Girl ready for the major leagues? This fun new novel, a prequel to the current Squirrel Girl comic line, features a hero with infectious optimism and enthusiasm, plus a blend of real-life teen problems and superhero challenges. Fans of this novel can check out the sequel 2 Fuzzy 2 Furious.
Amanda is incredibly excited for her eleventh birthday — until everything goes wrong, including a fight with her best friend, Leo, who has always shared her birthday before this year. She's glad when the day is over... but wakes up to discover that she's starting it all over again. The only other person aware of the time loop is Leo, and soon the pair have patched their friendship and start exploring the possibilities of unlimited do-overs. It turns out that seemingly small decisions have big and often unforeseen consequences — but can they find the one that gets them out of the loop and back to real life? Kids will love seeing Amanda discover her own power as she realizes that what she does really does make a difference. Fans can return to author Wendy Mass' unique world in the second book in the series, Finally.
Everyone in Emma's family is special, and they all learned what their extraordinary destiny would be through a dream. Emma's been waiting for her dream since her mother died, after promising her she would do whatever it takes to make fulfill it. But when Emma's dream finally does come, it directs her to find a legendary treasure which is hidden in her town's cemetery. It's been missing for centuries and is rumored to be protected by a singing ghost, so the task seems impossible — but how can Emma let down generations of her ancestors and break such an important promise to her own mother? Full of lyrical writing and quirky humor, this book by the author of the best-selling A Snicker of Magic is sure to delight young readers!
Everything seems to be going against Karma: her best friend has found a blonder best friend; her beloved dadima has passed away; her father has become the new stay-at-home parent while her mother spends most of her time at work; and perhaps worst of all, she's spotted seventeen hairs sprouting on her upper lip. As her classmate's taunts about her mustache grow, Karma wonders if someone like her — half white and half Indian, half Methodist and half Sikh — belongs anywhere. Debut author Kristi Wientge tackles body hair, self-image, and bullying in this relatable novel about defining your own destiny.
Emily Windsnap is half-human, half-mermaid, and the moment she discovers her true heritage, she's off on a series of underwater adventures! But there are dangers that Emily, who was raised as a human, isn't prepared for in the world of the merpeople — and when she makes mistakes, the consequences can be enormous. Fortunately, she has good friends to help her find her way. This beautiful collection includes the first six books from the Emily Windsnap series in paperback editions. Fans of the series can also get books seven and eight, Emily Windsnap and the Falls of Forgotten Island and Emily Windsnap and the Pirate Prince.
Anna is growing up in Berlin, and thinks of herself as a German like everyone else she knows. Hitler’s face on posters around the city doesn’t mean anything to her — until one night her father disappears. Her mother explains that he had to leave, and soon, they will join him. Escaping Nazi Germany means a life as a refugee, leaving everything Anna knows behind, but at first it just seems like an adventure. Soon, though, Anna realizes the move is permanent, complete with new languages to learn, financial struggles, and a new realization: the most important thing of all is that their family is together. Kids will empathize with Anna's confusion as this book provides a gentle introduction to World War II and Holocaust history.
Maggie and Abby are best friends... except after six weeks away at camp, all Abby wants to talk about is camp things. She even calls Maggie's awesome pillow fort a "cabin" — but at least she builds one too. Then, Maggie discovers that a spot in the back of her pillow fort leads straight to Abby's, and the girls learn that there is a massive network of linked pillow forts... and the kids who run it aren't happy that Maggie and Abby got in without authorization. They have only three days to prove they deserve access, or they'll lose their link forever! A fantastical adventure with deep themes of friendship and a cliffhanger ending will leave kids eager for the next volume.
Nim has spent her whole life on a solitary island with her scientist father; her best friends are a sea lion and an iguana. She knows what it takes to live alone, and never minds when her father has to be away for a few days for his research... until the day his boat is disabled and Nim loses contact. Her only human friend now is reclusive author Alex Rover, who reached out to her father via e-mail while researching for a new novel. But when a tropical storm — and an invasion of tourists — threaten the island and Nim, it will take all her friends to help her out of trouble! This fun survival adventure story has also been adapted into a feature film, as well as a film sequel Return to Nim's Island, both for ages 7 and up.
Miri is the only non-twin in a family of five kids, and there are times she feels downright out of place. Then, she discovers a surprising property of her bedroom in the family's new home, an old farmhouse: somehow, she transports herself back to 1935, where she meets Molly, a girl her own age who desperately needs to escape her abusive life. The two become fast friends, but when Miri accidentally goes back to her own time — without Molly — she has to figure out how to get back to Molly and maybe even end up with the sister she's always wanted. This fast-paced and magical story is sure to delight young readers who have wondered what secrets might lurk in their own home. Fans of this story can follow Miri and Molly in the sequel, Magic in the Mix.
When Laura Ingalls and her family set out in a covered wagon for new lands to settle in Kansas, they're determined to find the perfect place to call home. Laura and her older sister Mary must be determined and brave along their journey, and then, when they finally settle, there is much work for them to do — but there are still plenty of opportunities for fun and exploration in the rolling hills nearby! Just as they are really starting to feel at home, the Ingalls family finds themselves in the middle of an unexpected conflict. Even if they have to leave their little prairie house behind, though, they know they will always have the most important thing: each other. Fans may want to consider the complete box set of this series so they can read it start to finish! For more resources about this beloved author, visit our Laura Ingalls Collection.
Midnight Gulch used to be a place where people could sing up a thunderstorm or dance up sunflowers; thanks to a curse, though, magic like that is a thing of the past. Felicity is familiar with the effects of such curses, since her mother has been cursed with a wandering heart, leaving her unable to settle anywhere. And she knows about magic: Felicity is a “word collector” and sees words shimmering everywhere. But then, Midnight Gulch produces words she's never seen before: words like “home” and “friend.” Perhaps Felicity can heal her mother's heart and bring back Midnight Gulch's magic... A charming story full of heart, this fantasy novel is pure delight.
12-year-old Rose is autistic and has a particular obsession with homophones — so when her father brings her home a dog, she names him Rain, a word with three homophones (rein, reign) that makes him extra special. When a storm causes flooding and Rain goes missing, she is determined to find her beloved dog, but when Rose discovers that Rain may belong to someone else, she faces a seemingly insurmountable challenge: breaking out of her routine and comfort zone to find Rain's owners, and maybe even giving back her beloved friend. Rose's authentic voice in this book captures her struggles with a life full of rules that are critical to her but unimportant or incomprehensible to those around her.
Everyone in 11-year-old Cady's world has a Talent, a semi-magical ability. In Cady's case, she has a gift for making cakes: just by looking at someone, she knows exactly what they'd like. It seems like a mundane (if delicious) ability, but it will lead Cady on an unexpected journey, out of the orphanage where kindly Miss Mallory has been struggling to find a family for her, to a lost-luggage emporium, a family of children searching for their own Talents, and a mysterious Talent Thief. And maybe, to truth about how Cady became an orphan — and even to a long-lost parent. Fans of this magical world can return to it in A Clatter of Jars.
This Newbery Award-winning novel tells the story of 12-year-old Claudia, who decides to run away from home — and brings her little brother Jamie along for the ride. She chooses the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City as their new home and they quickly settle into living secretly in the museum. But when a new exhibit arrives — a marble angel statue that might just be a real Michaelangelo — the children fall into the middle of a mystery that takes them on another grand adventure: finding the previous owner of the statue, Mrs. Frankweiler herself, in hopes of proving it! This classic, suspenseful read with an urban adventure story has been a favorite for generations.
Minli lives in the valley of the Fruitless Mountain, where she and her parents struggle to survive. At night, her father tells her miraculous tales about the Jade Dragon and the Old Man in the Moon, who holds everyone's destiny, but her mother is too busy worrying to enjoy the stories. So one day, Minli decides that she will find the Old Man in the Moon and change her family's fortune. Along the way, she befriends a talking fish, a flightless dragon, and more amazing creatures... but when she reaches the Old Man, she will have to decide whether asking for riches for herself and her family is the best use of a chance to change fate. Inspired by Chinese folktales and full of vibrant illustrations, this unique story teaches an important lesson about greed and happiness. Fans of this book can check out the companion, When The Sea Turned To Silver.
In this quirky story, 12-year-old introvert Bicycle has been raised by Sister Wanda in the Mostly Silent Monastery since she was left there as a three-year-old. But Sister Wanda is worried that Bicycle doesn't have any friends, so she declares that she's going to sleepaway camp at the Friendship Factory (“Three Guaranteed Friendships or Your Money Back.”) Bicycle has other ideas, and sets off on her own bike for California, aiming to meet her hero, Polish cycling racer Zbig. Along the way, she encounters a good-natured ghost, a mysterious woman in black, and an unexpected number of new friends! Hilarious and charming, this adventure celebrates the call of the open road and the joy of friendship.
When Reena's family moves to Maine, she's expecting beaches, blueberries, and lobster — not being "volunteered" to work for Mrs. Falala on a farm with animals like Paulie the Pig, Edna the snake, China the cat, and a very stubborn cow named Zora. Even more unexpectedly, Reena discovers a surprising bond with the ornery but somehow lovable cow — and learns more about Mrs. Falala, which in turn affects her family in ways she'd never predicted. Told in a combination of prose and free verse poems, this book recognizes the power of being open to new experiences and the bonds we can form with the most unexpected people (and creatures.)
Imagine a world where a young Ada Lovelace (of computer programming fame) became best friends with Mary Godwin (the future Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein) and formed their own detective agency! That's what happens in this entertaining series that combines mystery with STEM subjects. When a heirloom is stolen — and someone falsely confesses to the crime — it's up to the astute but socially awkward Ada and the daring and romantic Mary to put their analytical talents to solving the mystery. For more volumes in the series, visit our Wollstonecraft Detective Agency Collection.
Every Beaumont knows that when they turn 13, they develop a savvy, a magical power — and with brothers who create electricity and hurricanes, Mibs is hoping for something amazing. But one day before her birthday, Poppa is in a terrible accident, and now all she wants is a savvy that will save him. Confident that her coming savvy will address the situation, she sneaks onto a salesman's bus — followed by her sibling and the preacher's kids — with plans to get to the hospital. But when the bus is going the wrong way, and Mibs' savvy doesn't turn out to be what she expected, she'll have to figure out what to do about the mess she's made. Fans of this volume can follow the adventures of the Beaumont family in Scumble and Switch.
Alice's Aunt Polly was the Pie Queen of Ipswitch, and when she dies, her recipe for her world-famous pie crust is surely lost forever. Or is it? In her will, Polly actually leaves the recipe to her surly, overweight cat Lardo — and leaves Lardo to Alice. Now everyone in town is wondering how you leave a pie recipe to a cat, and with the next big pie contest approaching fast, competitive drive is running wild. Alice and her friend Charlie are going to have to puzzle out what Polly was up to, whether the recipe actually exists... and perhaps most difficult of all, what is going to make her happy. This funny and sweet story about family and friends even includes a handful of pie recipes for your kids to try!
Upon her christening, the fairies gift Princess Amy with Wit, Charm, Health, Courage... and Ordinariness. Unlike her exquisite sisters, Amy's appearance is plain, and she's far more interested in adventures than in marrying a prince. So when her parents try to marry her off, Amy decides to run away, and her gift of being ordinary allows her to blend in perfectly as a kitchen maid in the neighboring kingdom's palace. There, she makes a new friend — but Perry, a "man of all work", has a secret as remarkable as her own. In fact, they may just be the perfect pair. This charming story, with its reminder that looks are unimportant without substance behind them, also captures the power of choosing your own path in life.
In the wacky Villa Villekulla lives a very extraordinary girl! Pippi Longstocking, the strongest girl in the world, lives alone with her monkey Mr. Nilsson, and her arrival is going to turn Tommy and Annika’s life upside down. Full of incredible hijinks, daring deeds, and expectation-defying adventures, any child would want to follow Pippi just to see what happens next! Fans of Pippi should also check out The Adventures of Pippi Longstocking, which collects the three full-length Pippi books into one volume. You can also find more Pippi books, films, and toys in our Pippi Longstocking Collection.
Princess Celie loves living in Castle Glower, and she especially loves Tuesdays, the day that a new room, turret, or wing magically appears! No one can guess what the castle will do next, and Celie is the only one who ever takes the time to map the new additions. And, when King and Queen Glower are ambushed and foreign interlopers appear to try to claim the kingdom, Celie's intimate knowledge of the castle will be key to protecting herself, her family, and her people. Celie's unique friendship with the magical castle provides fodder for all sorts of fun adventures in this charming story! You can continue Celie's adventures in Wednesdays in the Tower, Thursdays with the Crown, Fridays with the Wizards, and Saturdays at Sea.
10-year-old Mandy is an orphan who wants a place to call her own more than anything in the world. So when she climbs over the orphanage wall and finds an abandoned cottage, Mandy realizes that she’s found the perfect place. Through the year, Mandy works to make the cottage hers, “borrowing” things she needs from the orphanage. But when Mandy gets sick at the cottage on a stormy night, she’ll learn that there are friends to be found in the most unexpected places! This charming novel by beloved actress Julie Andrews is sure to delight any child who’s dreamed of creating her very own secret space. Mandy’s hard work and big imagination are touching and inspiring, and kids will cheer when this Mighty Girl gets her happy ending.
Ten-year-old Poppy has the powers of a witch — gifts that are tremendously valued, even coveted, in her world! But Poppy also has a knack for baking, and what she'd really like is a career as a baker. Despite her protests, her parents push her to follow in the footsteps of her great-aunt, a famous witch, but when they go so far as to take the oven out of their house, Poppy discovers that there's a dark side to magic... one that can come out all too easily when you're angry. Fortunately, good friends and good food can turn things around! This spirited story — which comes complete with recipes you can try at home — features a likeable character whose frustration will feel familiar to many tweens. Fans of this volume can read the sequel featuring Poppy's daughter, The Courage of Cat Campbell, and the companion, The Marvelous Magic of Miss Mabel.
Emily's literary idol, Garrison Griswold, lives in San Francisco — something that makes her move to the city a lot more exciting! He's the creator of Book Scavenger, a game where books are hidden in cities around the country. But when she arrives, Emily learns that Griswold has been attacked, and no one knows anything about the epic new game he was just about to launch. When Emily and her friend James discover a strange book, they find themselves rushing from clue to clue, trying to find the secret — before whoever attacked Griswold comes after them too. This fun adventure, sprinkled with mysteries and ciphers, is sure to appeal to mystery fans. For the conclusion of the story, check out The Unbreakable Code.
Princess Tilda dreams of running away from her princess responsibilities: between her love of books and being "cursed" with a crippled foot, she doesn't see herself ruling a kingdom. But when her cousin Ivo usurps her kingdom and holds her hostage, Tilda finds herself on a new path. Alongside her handmaiden and a failed squire, they set off on a quest to find and slay dragons — one which will challenge everything Tilda knows about her own capabilities and how she feels about her role as a leader. This engaging fantasy stars a Mighty Girl who shows you can love both books and swords.
Opal comes home from her local Winn-Dixie supermarket with something entirely unexpected — a stray dog! Soon she and the dog are best friends, and she’s named him after the place where they met. Winn-Dixie’s goofy, warm attitude become the conversation starter Opal needs to meet a wide variety of unexpected characters in her new town... and even prompts her sad, introverted father to open up about why Opal’s mother left the family. This Newbery Honor book, which was also adapted into a live-action film, is a lovely story of building relationships and finding acceptance and love.
Five years after her first visit to her grandmother's house in Australia, Livy is back — and feels like there's something important she's forgotten about her last trip. What she forgot was Bob: a small, mysterious being dressed in a chicken suit. She promised to help find his family… and Bob remembers her promise, even if he doesn't remember his way home. Together, Livy and Bob will have to puzzle out the clues to where Bob comes from — and along the way, they'll learn truths about both love and the joys of childhood. Told in alternating chapters in Livy and Bob's perspectives, this irresistible story explores friendship, belonging, and the magic of storytelling.
The Penderwick sisters are spending the summer on a sprawling estate, full of interesting places to explore. And as the girls meander through the gardens and nose through the attics, they also meet a fascinating new companion: Jeffrey, the son of the estate’s owner, Mrs. Tifton. Who better to accompany them on their adventures? Mrs. Tifton doesn't approve, and Jeffrey's on the verge of being sent to a military school. Will the sisters' adventures save their new friend from such a terrible fate, or just get him deeper into hot water? It will be a summer of full of trouble, laughter, mischief, and confusion — definitely one that no one on the estate will ever forget! Fans of the Penderwicks can find more of their adventures in our Penderwicks Collection.
Tuesday's mother, Serendipity, is a famous author — and now she's missing. So Tuesday and her dog Baxterr set out to find her, and discover the mysterious, unpredictable place that stories come from. In order to rescue her mother — and get to The End — Tuesday will have to make new friends, learn to sail a magical boat, defeat a dangerous pirate, learn the truth about her definitely-not-ordinary dog, and get in touch with her creative side to find the power in storytelling. This magical adventure plays with narrative structure and the creative process, all while communicating a message about the power of finding your own voice. Serendipity's story continues in the sequel, A Week Without Tuesday.
Gladys Gatsby adores gourmet food — something her fast food-loving parents don’t appreciate. So she's been cooking fancy dishes for herself in secret since the age of seven... until she accidentally sets fire to the kitchen and finds herself banned from cooking altogether. But then a major newspaper contacts her, thinking she's an adult foodie, asking her to write a review of one of the best restaurants in New York City! If Gladys wants to get her dream job, she'll have to engage in some clever maneuvering — and draw on the help of both her friends and the snobbiest girl in school. This clever and funny book about a girl with a passion for fine food will delight young readers. Gladys' story continues in The Stars of Summer and Stars So Sweet.
At birth, Ella was given the "gift" of obedience by a foolish fairy; as a result, she cannot refuse any order given to her, no matter what it is — or who gives it to her. Ella's stepmother and stepsisters are more than happy to take advantage of her curse, but Ella is not content to accept her fate. Instead, she sets out to find a way to reverse the curse and spell... and find her own happiness. This Newbery Honor book plays with many aspects of the traditional Cinderella story, but at its heart is an independent, determined heroine who ultimately frees herself. For a companion novel set in the same world, check out Ogre Enchanted.
Ana Rosa is a budding writer — but in the authoritarian Dominican Republic, there is no such thing as freedom of expression. She spends her days scribbling on napkins, paper bags, and shop paper, and dreams of having a notebook of her own, and the only support her mother feels safe offering is, "there always has to be a first person to do something." Then, the government announces that they will be bulldozing Ana Rosa's village to build hotels for tourists, and Ana Rosa's brother, Guario, is appointed the village's spokesperson. Ana Rosa's poems don't have the power to stop the government's crackdown, but perhaps they can help her process her grief and tell her loved ones' story to the world. This powerful story about oppression, creativity, and the drive to seek justice will get kids thinking about the freedoms they likely take for granted.
Princesses Meryl and Addie are as different as they could be: Meryl is brave and adventurous, dreaming of fighting dragons and saving the kingdom, while Addie is shy and fearful and just wants to stay safe inside the castle. When the Gray Death plague strikes, though, and Meryl is fatally ill, Addie has to overcome her fear and attempt to fulfill an ancient prophecy, not just to save her sister, but the whole kingdom. Setting off alone with a selection of magical items to help her on her way, Addie will find the courage to defeat spectres, ogres, and even a dragon! Fans of this book will want to check out the prequel, The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre.
In Josie Shilling's house, there's never enough room, attention, or time for everyone... and she feels like she's the one who always gets left out. That's extra hard when the young gymnast is worrying about whether she's getting too tall for her favorite sport -- and whether her parents can afford the fee. So when her brother brings home a rescued piglet named Hamlet from a nearby farm, Josie delights at feeling a special connection with him. But if there's no room for the kids in the Shilling home, there's definitely no room for Hamlet — and who ever heard of a pig in the city? Josie decides she'll have to find Hamlet a forever home... and along the way, she might find she's not as alone as she thinks.
Kiranmala's parents have always told her that she's a real Indian princess, and she's always rolled her eyes... until the morning of her twelfth birthday, when her parents disappear and a rakkhosh demon smashes into the kitchen of her New Jersey home! Then, two handsome princes show up at her door, insisting they are here to rescue her. As Kiran gets whisked away to a dimension of magic, wonder, and creatures she thought were Indian fairy tales, she'll have to learn fast to avoid the Serpent King and the Rakkhoshi Queen, find her parents, and save the world. Full of action, mythology, and magic, this book is a thrilling and fast-paced introduction to Kiranmala and the Kingdom Beyond; Kiran returns in the second book, Game of Stars.
Merci is full of confidence and drive, but sixth grade will test even her. As a scholarship student at her Florida private school, she's always felt different from her peers, and this year, her required community service makes Merci the target of the school queen bee's jealousy. Meanwhile, her grandfather Lolo has been acting strangely, from forgetting things to getting angry over nothing, and no one will tell her what's going on. Fortunately, her take-charge personality helps her overcome all the bumps in the road! This Newbery Medal-winning coming-of-age tale stays light, while still tackling tough issues facing many middle-grade kids.
After 11-year-old Claire and her older sister Sophie move to Windermere Manor, they discover a secret ladder in the fireplace leads to the magical land of Arden. There, they find a world in constant turmoil: the four magic guilds no longer trust each other after the disappearance of their beloved unicorns, and terrible wraiths freely roam the land. Scared, the girls return home, but when Sophie disappears, Claire will have to push through her fear to return to Arden and bring her sister safely home. A magical world where nothing is ruled by pure good or evil and a protagonist who challenges herself to find her own power make this an exciting introduction to the world of Arden. The sisters' adventures continue in the sequel, Secret in the Stone.
12-year-old Heidi knows nothing about her background: her mentally disabled mother is minimally verbal and can't fill her in. Fortunately, a kindly next door neighbor and Heidi's own "good luck" powers have kept them safe. But when her mother adds the word "soof" to her vocabulary, Heidi becomes curious, and when she discovers a camera with an undeveloped roll of film, she becomes determined to figure out where he mother came from — and what "soof" means. This touching coming-of-age story has also been adapted into a live action motion picture. Fans of this book can also check out the companion novel, Soof.
Corinne La Mer isn't afraid of the jumbies — they're just stories made up by parents! Except that one night, she sees a pair of yellow eyes near the forbidden forest. The next day, a beautiful but strange woman named Severine shows up at Corinne's house. She's going to claim the entire island for the jumbies — unless Corinne can stop her. Corinne has courage aplenty and friends to stand by her sides — but how can an ordinary girl save her island against this magical force? Unless, of course, she has magic of her own... An action-packed story and vibrant Caribbean setting will delight middle grade readers. Readers can follow Corinne's adventures in Rise of the Jumbies and The Jumbie God's Revenge.
Amy Anne considers herself shy, but when she learns that her favorite book in the whole world, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, has been banned from the library, she decides it's time to find her courage! So she recruits her friends to make their point: they start a secret banned books library in her locker and even make arguments why every single book in library should also be banned. It turns out that when Amy Anne finds a cause that's important to her, she's ready to take on the world! Middle grade readers will laugh and cheer as they read this stirring defense against censorship.
Every night, little lights appear in Sandy's bedroom — lights that she transforms into companions to play with until she falls asleep. The next day, she's always captivated trying to draw her nighttime friends. One day, a girl with purple hair arrives at her school, and to Sandy's surprise, Morfie seems to know all about Sandy's lights. But when it turns out that Morfie intends to enter Sandy's night world and take it over, Sandy will have to muster all of her confidence and determination to fight off the invader. Exquisitely illustrated, this thoughtful graphic novel will prompt discussions about creativity, insecurity, and gaining control of your fears. Fans of this book will love the equally spellbinding sequel, Hicotea.
Emmie is quiet, artistic, shy, and self-conscious — and feels practically invisible in the halls of her middle school. Katie, on the other hand, is outgoing, athletic, and confident. When the sappy love note Emmie wrote to a crush as a joke is made public by a bully, she's humiliated; but to Emmie's surprise, Katie comes to her defense. Soon Katie is urging Emmie to finally make her voice be heard — and a surprising twist reveals that the two girls have more in common than anyone imagined. This empowering graphic novel carries a powerful message about facing down embarrassment and standing up for yourself. Two companion graphic novels, Positively Izzy and Just Jaime, are available; Invisible Emmie and Positively Izzy are also available together in the Adventures in Middle School set.
Cricket's grandmother and father are dead, and her beloved mama has run off, leaving her in the "care" of a scheming aunt — so Cricket decides the best way to get her mama to come back is to find the secret room, painted by a mysterious artist, that she always told stories about. With a few handfuls of stolen snacks, she runs off into the Mississippi woods with the only clue she has: an old coin from a nearby ghost town. As she camps out in a tree house and forages for food, Cricket tries to figure out the puzzle, meets some new friends — and starts to come to terms with some hard truths about her family. A survival adventure, an art mystery, and an emotional story of searching for home come together beautifully in this debut novel.
For years, 11-year-old Charlie Reese has collected ways to make wishes, from blowing off an eyelash to eating the pointed tip of a slice of pie last. She wishes for luck, to fit in, and for her mother to get off the couch and care for her, so she doesn't have to go live with an aunt and uncle she doesn't even know. But while living with Aunt Bertha and Uncle Gus, Charlie stumbles across a stray dog she names Wishbone and a neighbor boy named Howard, both of whom threaten to break through her tough exterior. And when Wishbone goes missing, Charlie might find that there's a difference between what you wish for and what you actually want. This complex story about the true meaning of family will resonate with readers long after they're done.
11-year-old Ellie is nervous about the first year in middle school — navigating new and old friendships and all the changes of a new school are feeling pretty daunting. And things only get stranger when an odd, cranky boy at her school turns out to be her Grandpa Melvin, who's long dreamed of finding the secret to immortality. Having a grandfather her own age gives Ellie the chance to learn more about his passion for science — but the more she learns, the more she wonders if science can go too far. Maybe Ellie has a few lessons to teach Melvin too. This lighthearted, funny book is sure to be a hit with science-loving kids; Ellie and Melvin return for more adventures in the sequel, The Third Mushroom.
Twins Iris and Lark are identical but not the same: Iris is the sensible, capable counterpart to her brilliant and dreamy sister, and has grown accustomed to protecting Lark after a series of illnesses. But in fifth grade, the twins suddenly find themselves not just in different classrooms, but in different after-school activities too. Suddenly, everything feels wrong — strange things are happening in the city, including items going missing. If the sisters are going to save one another — and everyone else — they may have to realize that being apart isn't the same as growing apart. An eerie mystery, deep symbolism, and a mysterious narrator combine in this powerful story about the struggles of growing up.
Annie uses lists to help her feel more in control — and the shy fifth grader is dealing with a lot right now, including 1. An almost photographic memory that sometimes gets her in trouble; 2. Wanting to overcome her shyness; 3. A move to the small town of Clover Gap, and a brother who's convinced its her fault they moved; 4. A best friend forever (hopefully?); 5. A whole new class full of people she doesn't know; and 6. A difficult start finding her place in her new home. This novel, written entirely in lists, introduces a sympathetic and appealing Mighty Girl who slowly settles in and finds her voice.
In Cecilia's world, souls of the dead go to the Land of Yesterday, and after a tragic accident, her little brother, Celadon, is one of them. Worse, her house's spirit, Widdendream — and Cecilia herself — believe Celadon's death is her fault. When Cecilia's mother decides to follow Celadon into Yesterday, Cecilia and her father resolve to rescue her, but Widdendream decides the quest should be Cecilia's alone. As she ventures into yesterday, Cecilia faces the most difficult journey of her life... one from which she may never return. This imaginative story in a compelling world full of metaphors for loss and grief is rich with gentle magic.
Emma has been lonely homeschooling without her brother, so she's decided to go to public school. The day before she starts, she helps her game warden father rescue a lost bunny trapped in a fence. Emma names the bunny Lapi, after her beloved French Canadian grandfather's stories, and Lapi helps her find common ground with her first friend, a misfit named Jack who speaks out of turn and adores animals. And when Emma wonders if her friendship with Jack could hold her back at school, Lapi will also remind her that staying true to yourself is the most important thing of all. This heartfelt novel encourages young readers to see the value in understanding other peoples' perspectives — especially when they're different.
12-year-old Sophie knows little beyond the four walls of her father's bookshop, where she repairs old books and dreams of escaping the confines of her dull life. But when a strange boy, Peter Nimble, and his talking cat/horse companion show up with a rare and mysterious book, she finds herself pulled into a real-life adventure beyond anything she has ever read! Soon Sophie is on an adventure to find four magical tomes that can help Peter solve a riddle and save the world. This companion to Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes introduces an intriguing Mighty Girl character to Jonathan Auxier's fascinating world of magic and mystery.
Last summer, Quinnen was a star pitcher, with her whole family there to cheer her on — including her big sister Haley. But this summer, everything is different: Haley has died, Quinnen's family is still reeling, and baseball seems like the least important thing in the world. But when Quinnen's family is picked to host one of the players for the Bandits, the local minor-league baseball team, it might just be the glimmer of hope the whole family needs — and the push that gets Quinnen back up on the pitcher's mound. Told in chapters that alternate between the previous summer and the current one, this poignant and heartfelt novel explores grief, resiliency, and the difficulty of forgiving yourself.
Orphan Anthea Cross-Thornley desperate for a home when she receives an invitation to safety from a long-lost uncle. To her horror, she discovers that her uncle breeds horses, which have been forbidden from her kingdom after they spread a plague centuries ago. Worse, Anthea finds she can sense the horses' thoughts and feelings, and while her uncle considers The Way a gift, it terrifies her. As Anthea learns more about her family and her country's history, though, she starts to question all the truths she thinks she knows... and when she learns that her mother is alive and threatens everything she holds dear, Anthea will have to choose which path to follow. This thought-provoking fantasy will delight young animal lovers and anyone who has ever felt like an outsider. Anthea's story continues in the second volume, The Queen's Secret.
Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends forever, but things start to change when Adrienne starts hanging out with Jen, the leader of the elementary school's popular clique known as The Group. To be in The Group, you have to do everything Jen says — even if that means bullying others. Shannon will need to decide whether being part of The Group is worth it... and figure out how to stand up for herself if it's not. Young Shannon’s day dreams hint at her future as a bestselling author, while LeUyen Pham's appealing illustrations still underscore how alienated Shannon feels with The Group and how comfortable she feels with other friends. This graphic novel memoir from beloved author Shannon Hale about navigating the challenges of friendship will resonate with many young readers.
Little people have some big adventures in Mary Norton's classic series The Borrowers! Pod, Homily, and their daughter Arriety are miniature people who "borrow" what they need from the giant "human beans" who live around them — everything from matchboxes for dressers to postage stamps for artwork. But after Pod is spotted by a human boy, the Borrowers' lives change forever. These charming stories have been favorites for many, and were even adapted into the Studio Ghibli film The Secret World of Arrietty. This beautiful volume collects all of the Borrowers books and stories, perfect for both old and new fans. To check out just the first volume, see The Borrowers.
In 12-year-old Aisulu's Mongolian Kazakh community, roles for girls and boys are still sharply divided, but she chafes at the boundaries. When her brother Serik develops a limp that won't go away, her parents take him to a distant hospital, leaving Aisulu with her aunt and uncle — and secretly caring for an orphaned baby eagle, just like the traditional eagle hunters do. Her aunt says that 'there have been women with eagles since ancient days'; Aisulu isn't sure that her father will agree. But when Serik needs expensive treatment, Aisulu hopes that a win at the Eagle Festival will not only pay for his care, but also prove that she deserves to be an eagle hunter. Lyrical and ultimately hopeful, middle grade readers will soar along with Aisulu as she finds her place in her community.
Sylvia Mendez didn't want to be the center of a legal battle; she just wanted to go to school. Aki Munemitsu just wanted to stay on her family farm; instead, she's been relocated to a Japanese internment camp. It's 1943, and racism is changing the lives of both girls: Sylvia is being denied admission to a "white" school because she is Hispanic American, and Aki is being declared a potential traitor after Pearl Harbor because her family is Japanese. Their lives were tied together by coincidence: Sylvia's family rented the home that Aki was forced to leave behind. Through extensive interviews with both women, author Winifred Conkling has created a unique story about two Mighty Girls who faced their own struggles with racial discrimination. Younger kids can learn Sylvia's story in the picture book Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez and Her Family's Fight for Desegregation for ages 6 to 9.
Aru Shah tells fibs to fit in with her jet-setting classmates, but it backfires when several of them show up at the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture and demand she prove her claim that the museum's Lamp of Bharata is cursed. Lighting the lamp releases the Sleeper, an ancient demon who wants to wake the God of Destruction. With her classmates and mother frozen in time, Aru will need to seek legendary heroes from the Mahabharata — and discover unexpected gifts of her own — but will it be enough to save the day? This exciting adventure rooted in Indian mythology is perfect for fans of Rick Riordan. Aru's adventures continue in the sequel, Aru Shah and the Song of Death.
Malú is struggling with the aftermath of her parents' divorce: she misses her laid-back, artsy, white father, and feels pressured by her academic mother, who she calls "SuperMexican." And on the first day at her new school, the school's queen bee calls Malú a "coconut": brown on the outside, white on the inside. But when Malú gets a band started with some fellow misfits, she'll do anything to keep it together — even if it means standing up to the world! This exploration of friendship, identity, and the joy of rocking out to your own beat is sure to inspire your Mighty Girl to stand up for what she believes in.
Samantha Spinner and her uncle Paul shared a love of strawberry waffles and puzzles — so when he goes missing, and her siblings get fantastic gifts while Samantha just gets a rusty red umbrella with a tag reading "Watch out for the RAIN," she knows it's more than it seems. As she and her brother Nipper investigate exactly what that umbrella means, they have no idea that they're getting mixed up in some important, dangerous, and definitely EXCITING plans! This series opener is a round-the-world adventure full of laughs and secret messages that middle grade readers will love; the series continues with Samantha Spinner and the Spectacular Specs.
Twelve-year-old Sophie has never quite fit in, and she's always had to conceal a big secret: she's a Telepath. When she meets a mysterious boy named Fitz, she learns that she literally doesn't belong where she is, because she's actually an elf living in the human world. But while returning to the elf world answers some of her questions, others linger...including where she really came from and why she can't remember her past. This box set collects paperbacks of the first five volumes of the series, Keeper of the Lost Cities, Exile, Everblaze, Neverseen, and Lodestar. For the remaining books in the series, check out Nightfall and Flashback.
In 1920s Chicago, Isabel is already unique, the only girl selling copies of the Tribune on the street corner. But she's got bigger dreams: in fact, Isabel wants to be a news reporter, just like her idol, Maude Collier. So at first she's thrilled when she stumbles across Collier at a real-live murder scene... until the police accuse an innocent friend. Now, instead of devoting her time to the news, Isabel has to turn her investigative skills to solving the mystery of the real killer! With short, cliffhanger chapters and an atmosphere crackling with guns, gangsters, and 1920s glamour, this is a middle-grade mystery she'll find hard to put down!
For years, 12-year-old Drest has trained as a warrior, but has been protected by her father, the Mad Wolf of the North, and her five loving brothers, the mainstay of his early 13th century Scottish warband. But when her father and brothers are captured by invading knights — and scheduled to be executed in five days — Drest comes up with a daring rescue plan: travel to Faintree Castle and trade an injured knight for their freedom. On the dangerous journey, she meets allies and enemies alike, and starts to hear stories about her father and brothers that contradict her image of them as just and moral warriors. Drest will have to race against time through a world she's never navigated alone if she's going to learn the truth about her family and save the day. This fast-paced and riveting adventure story explores the complexity of morality, friendship, and family loyalty. Drest's adventures continue in the sequel, The Hunt for the Mad Wolf's Daughter.
Aventurine the dragon is tired of being treated like she's a helpless fledgling, so she decides to sneak out of her home and prove her mettle with a hunt. It all goes awry, though, when Aventurine is lured by the delicious aroma of a cup of enchanted hot chocolate and gets transformed into a weak, vulnerable 12-year-old girl! The trade off is that she has a new passion — and the chance to learn to make the confection herself. But can Aventurine figure out the human world well enough to reconcile her human and dragon identities...and can a mere chocolate apprentice save the kingdom? It turns out that combining magic, chocolate, and dragons makes a recipe for a delicious story! Fans of this book will love the companion about Aventurine's friend, Silke, The Girl with the Dragon Heart.
Zomorod Yousefzadeh is the new kid — again. Her family's most recent home is California's Newport Beach, where she's going to start fresh; she's even picked a perfect new, and very American, name, Cindy. But in the late 1970s, with Iran making headlines in the U.S. with protests, revolution, and finally the taking of American hostages, even mood rings and puka shell necklaces can't protect Cindy from anti-Iran sentiments that are way too close to home. The first middle grade novel by the author of the best-selling adult memoir Funny in Farsi, this story shows middle grade leaders what it's like to bridge the gap between beloved traditions and new customs.
Only Fallow has a miraculous gift of seeing lies — but in exchange, telling them causes her terrible pain. While her family tries to keep her ability a secret, it's only a matter of time before the King hears word and forcibly brings her to the Bellskeep castle, where she is ordered to help the King identify his enemies. Her travels as the King's Mayquin, or truth seeker, show her how many traitors lurk around them... but also how much of the world lies beyond her family's doorstep. This memorable coming of age story follows Only as she gradually develops a new, more nuanced vision of her world — one that includes a realistic understanding of its injustices. Only's story concludes in Riverbound.
When 12-year-old Lucy Callahan was struck by lightning at age eight, she developed genius math skills and has been homeschooled ever since. Now she's ready to head off to college, but before she does, her grandma insists on a different sort of test: middle school. Her tasks: attend for 1 year, make 1 friend, join 1 activity, and read 1 book (not another math textbook!). In this smart, funny, and heartfelt novel, author Stacy McAnulty cleverly helps readers see the world through Lucy's point of view – both her gift for numbers and her struggles with OCD, which can lead to spiraling digits of pi taking over her brain. This outstanding story is an uplifting celebration of friendship, self acceptance, and, of course, math!
11-year-old Calpurnia is curious why the yellow grasshoppers in her yard are so much bigger than the green grasshoppers. But it's Texas in 1899, and girls are supposed to devote their time to proper activities like needlework, not tromping through the grasses studying bugs. Still, Calpurnia recruits her grandfather, an avid naturalist, to help her figure out the mystery. As the pair grows closer, Calpurnia dreams of becoming a scientist, even as it becomes more obvious how difficult that will be for a girl of her time. Fans of Calpurnia can read the continuation of her story in The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate. You can also check out Skunked! for age 6 to 9, which is the first volume of the early chapter book series, Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet.
Twelve-year-old Alice Alexis Queensmeadow is determined to find her missing father, who always loved her even though she is pale and almost empty of color, out of place in a vibrant world full of magic. When Oliver Newbanks approaches her for help, she's skeptical, especially since he usually teases her about her appearance, but he says he knows where her father is. Together, the pair will travel into the dangerous land of Furthermore — but nothing there is as it seems. Can Alive find her father... and maybe even herself? This lush fantasy is rich and imaginative; fans of this book will want to check out the darker companion, Whichwood.
Cat is one of the only people who can keep her special-needs brother Chicken happy, and since her father passed away, she's become almost completely responsible for his care. But when a plan for a summer trip falls through, Cat and Chicken suddenly find themselves in the North Carolina home of their grandparents, Macon and Lily, who have been estranged from the family as long as Cat can remember. Cat's determined to protect Chicken, but as the summer goes on, she begins to realize just how overwhelmed she has been by caring for him — and that, if she starts to speak up, her whole family might be better off. Emotional and real, this touching debut novel is perfect for fans of Lynda Mullaly Hunt or Ali Benjamin.
Catrina's family is moving to Bahia de la Luna, where the coastal air will help Maya's cystic fibrosis symptoms. Cat misses her friends and resents being forced to move, but she loves her sister and is terrified of Maya getting sick. So when their neighbor tells them that Bahia de la Luna is home to ghosts — spirits of ancestors who watch over them — Cat wants nothing to do with them... and is horrified to discover that Maya seems fascinated by the ghosts. As the Day of the Dead approaches, and Cat meets the ghosts face to face, she'll learn more about the Mexican side of her heritage — and learn to set her fears aside, for both Maya's sake and her own. This original graphic novel by the author / illustrator of best-selling graphic novels Smile, Sisters, and Drama is sure to delight your Raina Telgemeier fan!
10-year-old Mia Tang has a lot of secrets. For one, she lives in a motel, not a big house, and while her immigrant parents clean the rooms, Mia manages the front desk. Number 2: Her parents hide immigrants — and if the mean motel owner, Mr. Yao, finds out they've been letting them stay in the empty rooms for free, the Tangs will be doomed. And third, she wants to be a writer, even though her mom thinks English being her second language means Mia should stick to math. With enough courage, determination, and kindness, however, Mia might be able to help out her family and the other immigrants and pursue her dreams. Based on author Kelly Yang's own experiences in the 1980s and 1990s, this engaging story offers young readers an eye-opening look at the immigrant experience and the power of one girl to make a difference.
Only nine orphan children live on Jinny's island, and every year there is a Changing: a boat arrives with a new, young child, and the eldest gets taken away, never to be seen again. This year, the boat brought Ess, and took Deen, Jinny's best friend — leaving her as the new elder. Jinny will fill her role by teaching Ess everything she needs to know to live on the island, but as the next Changing grows closer, Jinny starts wondering if she dares to defy the rules that she's never even questioned before. Haunting and mysterious, this book will raise interesting questions about holding on versus letting go.
Aven has long since gotten tired of questions about what "happened" to her arms, so she creates crazy stories instead of repeating over and over that she was born without them. When her family moves to Arizona to run a theme park called Stagecoach Pass, she steels herself for even more questions. Then she meets Connor, who also feels isolated by disability (in his case, Tourette's Syndrome.) When the newfound friends discover a mystery at Stagecoach Pass, the real adventure can begin! This quirky story starring a delightfully funny main character is a reminder that others' reactions are often more problematic than the disability itself — and that nothing, not even "lack of armage," has to hold you back. Aven's story continues in the sequel, Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus.
Charlie's needs always seem to come in last in her family — like right now, when she's struggling to save money for an outfit for her next Irish dancing competition. Then, while ice fishing one day, she comes across a big surprise: a fish who promises to grant her wishes. It seems like a great solution, but Charlie soon discovers that wishes are never quite granted the way she'd hoped. And when she faces the huge problem of her older sister's addiction, Charlie realizes that some things are too important for wishes: some things require hard work, sacrifice, and love. The magical twist to this story provides a gentle opportunity to talk about very real challenges that many tweens and teens face, making it an excellent conversation starter.
Molly Ayer has been shipped from foster family to foster family; she's tired of adults acting like she's an inconvenience, and she doesn't care who knows it. But when Molly has to help an elderly woman clean out her attic for community service, she's surprised to discover that Vivian actually listens to her. As they work side by side, Vivian tells Molly her own story: the life of an Irish immigrant orphan riding an "orphan train" to the Midwest with hundreds of other children. This young readers' edition of Christina Baker Kline's #1 New York Times bestselling novel Orphan Train celebrates friendship and forgiveness.
Billie Simms may only be 13, but she is already determined to see an end to segregation in her hometown of Anniston, Alabama — even if few people agree with her. When she hears that the Freedom Riders will pass through Anniston, Billie hopes that the town will see the justice in their cause; instead, they show the depths of their racism and prejudice. With the buses about to move on, Billie has to decide what to do: stay safe at home, or join the cause she believes in so passionately. In addition to the presentation of historical events, this novel explores Billie's developing awareness of her own internalized racism, which provides an intriguing starting point for discussion about racial issues of today.
Omakayas may be an Ojibwa girl living in the 1800s, but many of her problems will sound familiar to young readers — like dealing with a pesky brother and desperately wanting the approval of her beloved mother and older sister. Over a year, Omakayas and her family will move to their summer lodgings, harvest wild rice, prepare for a difficult winter, and face the horrors and grief that a smallpox epidemic brings. Along the way, Omakayas will learn more about how she came to be adopted as a toddler — and why her beloved neighbor Old Tallow is alone. Louise Erdich, a member of the Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwa, researched the daily life of Ojibwa villages in depth to write this historically accurate and deeply moving series. Fans of this book can check out the sequels The Game of Silence and The Porcupine Year.
Fans of Ann M. Martin’s long-running series will love these full color graphic novel editions, adapted by best-selling author / illustrator Raina Telegemeier! When Kristy has the idea to create a club of baby-sitters to get more baby-sitting jobs, she enlists her two friends Mary Anne and Claudia, and later new friends Stacey and Dawn. No new business goes smoothly, but with friendship to see them through, the baby-sitters will create something extra-special! Telgemeier’s dynamic illustrations bring Martin’s characters to life brilliantly. This set includes the first four full-color graphic novel adaptations: Kristy's Great Idea, The Truth About Stacey, Mary Anne Saves The Day, and Claudia and Mean Janine; you can also get the fifth and sixth volumes, Dawn and the Impossible Three and Kristy's Big Day, separately.
Ten-year-old Zoe has dreams of piano perfection, and all she needs is lessons and an elegant piano to practice on. But when her father goes to the music store, he comes home with a wheezy organ instead! That's just the latest in a series of frustrations and confusion, including Mom constantly working, Dad's fears of leaving the house, and the odd classmate who follows her home from school so that he can bake with her dad. But when her teacher recognizes Zoe's musical talent and recommends her for the Perfectone Perform-O-Rama organ competition, it's the start of a big realization: life can be perfect, even with quirks, surprises, and a family that's a little off-kilter. Simultaneously funny and wise, kids will love the fast-paced chapters full of Zoe's tongue-in-cheek observations.
When the Berlin Wall went up, it split Gerta's family in two: her father and middle brother, who had gone west to look for work, are on one side; Gerta, her mother, and her other brother are on the other, under Soviet control. Now Gerta is growing up with East German soldiers pointing guns at their own citizens to keep them from looking over the wall. Then, on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform, performing a strange dance, and receives a mysterious drawing. Her conclusion? Her father wants them to tunnel under the wall and reunite the family. But do they dare the consequences in search of freedom? This intriguing historical novel, with its unique setting, will give kids a new perspective on the importance of remembering history.
Natalie's botanist mother is suffering from depression, so Natalie has to figure out how to fix it. Her solution? Enter an egg drop competition, win the prize money, and use it to take her mother to see the cobalt blue orchids that survive in nearly impossible conditions — and that her mother wrote about in her book How To Grow A Miracle. She's sure the sight of them will breathe some hope back into her mother's life. With the help of her friends, Twig and Dari, Natalie gets to work... but in the end, she'll learn that sometimes talking is the best way to grow the miracle you need. This book sensitively explores the impact of depression on both an individual and on the people who love them.
When Abigail's attempt to escape from her terribly boring boarding school fails, she learns her school is more interesting than she thought! The school is actually a cover for an elite spy ring called The Center, and Abigail's mother, The Center's top agent, has gone missing in action. Abigail has to master her spy training fast, because even with the help of a former nemesis and a boy from her grade, she doesn't have much time to solve the mystery and save her mother. And answers may be closer than she thinks... Fast-paced and full of twists and turns, this will be a hit with young would-be spies! For more volumes in the series, check out Power Play and Double Cross.
Amina has always preferred to stay in the background, hanging out with her friend, Soojin. But with the start of middle school, things are changing fast. Soojin is hanging out with one of the "cool" girls, and is even talking about picking an "American" name; and Amina's uncle believes that her love of music is un-Islamic. Just as Amina starts wrestling with that, her mosque is vandalized, leaving her heartbroken. She's never spoken out before, but when she finds the courage and support she needs to make her voice heard, maybe she can bring her whole community together. This book celebrates the complexity and joys to be found in multicultural communities, as well as the power of one person's voice to change those around her.
Delphine may only be eleven, but she's used to caring for her sisters, Vonetta and Fern, since her mother left seven years ago for California. But the summer of 1968 is going to be different: their father is sending all three girls to visit Cecile in Oakland. They're expecting family trips to Disneyland to meet Tinkerbell; instead, Cecile sends them to youth programs at a Black Panther center and tells them to stay out as long as they can while she writes her poetry. They may not be getting the maternal experience they expected, but over one crazy summer, they'll learn a lot about their family, their country, and themselves. Fans of this book can continue the sisters' story in P.S. Be Eleven and Gone Crazy In Alabama.
Tiffany Aching is a dutiful (if grudging) big sister and a talented cheesemaker — but what she really wants is to be a witch. She might need some witch magic fast, though, when the Queen of Faerie steals her little brother away! With a piece of string, a borrowed toad, a cast-iron pan, and the Nac Mac Feegle, a clan of six-inch-tall Pictsies, Tiffany will have to dare going into fairyland itself if she’s going to make things right again. With a complex plot full of metaphors about growing up — and plenty of humor along the way — you’ll be eager to follow Tiffany on future adventures! Tiffany’s story continues in A Hat Full Of Sky, Wintersmith, I Shall Wear Midnight, and Terry Pratchett's final Discworld novel, The Shepherd's Crown.
Gratuity "Tip" Tucci has a tough assignment for school: writing about "The True Meaning of Smekday." For Tip, it brings back memories of her mother being abducted by aliens and the invasion of the Boov, who renamed the Earth "Smekland" after their captain and forcibly relocated all the humans to Florida. But it also reminds her of an unlikely friendship with a rogue Boov mechanic, a hovercar called Slushious, and a cross-country trip to rescue her mother and (hopefully) rescue her planet from yet another invasion. This funny and genre-bending novel which became the inspiration for the animated movie Home is full of newspaper clippings, "photos," and other fun details for you to discover together.
Creel's aunt is desperate to tie her family to royalty, so she dumps Creel in front of the local dragon in hopes that she'll be rescued by the local prince! Instead, Creel rejects the haughty prince and befriends the dragon, who gifts her a pair of slippers which only seem to be ordinary. As she sets off to forge her own path using her talent for embroidery, little does Creel know that these far-from-ordinary slippers could save the kingdom or destroy it. With its spirited and independent-minded heroine, this charming story, full of vivid descriptions of everything from Creel's "fancywork" to the rough streets of the King's Seat, will delight middle grade readers. Creel's story continues in Dragon Flight and Dragon Spear.
10-year-old Hà has lived her whole life in Saigon, and she loves everything about the city — the bustling markets, its unique traditions, and her very own papaya tree. But when the Vietnam War reaches the capital, Hà and her family are forced to flee. They make their way by boat to a tent city in Guam, then to Florida, and finally, to a new home in Alabama. To Hà, this new land is all wrong: her neighbors are cold, the food is dull, and even the landscape feels alien. Even still, thanks to the strength of her family and help from a teacher with a very unexpected connection to the country where she was born, Hà begins to find her own place in this new world. This National Book Award-winning novel is written in free verse. Thanhha Lai is also the author of a 2015 companion novel, Listen, Slowly.
When their small mining village is deemed to be the location of the future princess, Miri and the other teenaged girls are sent to an academy set up by the king’s ministers, where they will learn how to be “proper” princesses before the prince comes to choose one of them as his wife. At first, Miri only has to face the strict, condescending academy mistress and the bitter competition among the girls hoping to be chosen, but when bandits find the academy, determined to kidnap the future princess, Miri has to rally the girls to work together and use her newly discovered power to communicate silently to save herself and all her classmates. Miri’s story continues in the sequels, Princess Academy: Palace of Stone and Princess Academy: The Forgotten Sisters.
After tragedy strikes their family, Emily and Navin’s mother Karen decides to move the family to their great-grandfather’s house in the little town of Norlen. The locals believe the house is haunted, but the family discounts the rumors — until Karen is kidnapped by a monster! Emily and Navin discover they will have to follow her into another world if they want to reunite their family. Along the way, Emily discovers a stone amulet and learns that she has powers she didn’t know she possessed. This box set collects the first eight volumes of this popular and critically-acclaimed graphic novel series.
Brother and sister Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert were planning to take in an orphan boy to help on the family farm; they’re not expecting spirited, flame-haired Anne to show up instead. But Matthew is quickly charmed by Anne’s unique personality and vivid imagination — even if those same qualities often get her in no end of trouble. It may be that this unexpected girl will be the best thing to ever happen to their family! Anne Shirley is a deeply beloved character, and adults who loved reading her adventures will enjoy getting to introduce her to a new generation. Fans of Anne can also check out this box set featuring all the Anne novels, as well as the other products in our Anne of Green Gables Collection.
11-year-old Nan Sparrow is a 'climbing boy,' an orphan owned by a chimney sweep to do the dirty, dangerous work of cleaning flues in Victorian London. But, Nan isn't a boy and she's quite possibly the best chimney climber who ever lived, beating the odds again and again... until the day she's trapped in a chimney fire. When she wakes up safe in an attic, she discovers that she was saved by a mysterious creature — a golem — made from ash and coal. Together, the two outcasts will need to evade Nan's abusive boss and figure out how to create a better life in a world that's quick to label differences as monstrous. Told by master storyteller Jonathan Auxier, this powerful and heartwarming tale explores the search for home and family, in whatever form they take.
Eva Nine was raised in an underground sanctuary by the robotic Muthr, but when her home is destroyed, the 12-year-old returns to the surface to search for other humans — who she knows must exist because of a strange piece of cardboard depicting a girl, an adult, a robot, and the letters "WondLa." But not all humans will be friends, and soon Eva finds herself making tough choices on her journey to a place she can call home. This unique story includes Augmented Reality maps so readers can follow Eva's journey in 3D. Fans of Eva can follow the rest of her story in A Hero for WondLa and The Battle for WondLa; the trilogy is also available in a box set.
Morrigan Crow knows she's cursed: she was born on the unluckiest day, she gets blamed for every misfortune, and everyone reminds her that she's doomed to die on midnight of her next birthday. Then a mysterious man named Jupiter North appears and whisks her away to a magical city called Nevermoor. But her residence isn't permanent: Morrigan is Jupiter's selection to compete for a place in the Wundrous Society... and if she fails, she'll have to face her deadly fate. Exciting, whimsical, and colorful, this book will be a favorite with readers who love fantasy and adventure; Morrigan's adventures continue in Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow.
Sixteen people — including one extremely smart 13-year-old girl, Turtle — are offered the opportunity to live in an exclusive condo. Shortly after, they discover that they are also invited to the reading of Sam Westing’s will, where two million dollars rest on finding Westing’s murderer before the other potential heirs! Suspicions, lies, and alliances flurry through the group as Westing gets to play one last game. The fascinating cast of characters and fast pace make this a title that's hard to put down, and its complex, layered mystery story will have readers guessing to the end.
People in town think Meg is a loose cannon, her brother Charles Wallace is dumb, and her father ran off and left their scientist mother — but Meg doesn’t believe a word of any of it. So when an unexpected stranger appears in their kitchen and tells Meg about a tesseract — the “wrinkle in time” which her father was researching for the government — Meg decides to set off through space and time to find him, with Charles Wallace and her next-door neighbor Calvin. It turns out her mission will require all of their strengths to accomplish! A Wrinkle in Time is the first of a quintet of science fiction classics, which are also available in a box set. Fans of the book can also check out the graphic novel adaptation by Hope Larson.
For hundreds of years, a small group of Elders have ruled the Protectorate by terrorizing its citizens with stories of a witch who will destroy the community if a baby is not left in the forest for her once a year. A witch does live in the forest — but she is a kind and gentle witch named Xan, who rescues the abandoned babies. One year, however, she accidentally feeds a rescued baby moonlight instead of starlight. The moonlight fills the child with powerful magic, and for her safety, Xan decides to raise this special child, Luna, as her own. As Luna approaches her 13th birthday, her magic begins to grow in new and unpredictable ways. With her coming of age, Luna will face new challenges to protect the people she loves and bring renewed hope to the lives of those around her.
In desperate and dangerous times, people must do whatever they can to protect those at risk. Lois Lowry’s Newbery Medal-winning book tells the remarkable true story of how the Danish Resistance moved nearly seven thousand Jewish people — almost the entire Jewish population of Denmark — across the sea to safety in Sweden. Through the eyes of fictional 10-year-old Annemarie, whose family conceals her Jewish best friend, Ellen, this incredible moment of courage and conviction is given a personal quality for tween readers. Younger readers can learn about this inspiring moment of resistance and defiance in The Whispering Town for ages 6 to 9.
Catherine just wants a normal life, but that seems impossible with her autistic brother, David. The family's whole life revolves around David, and Catherine has spent years trying to teach him rules so that he won't embarrass her — everything from "a peach is not a funny-looking apple" to "keep your pants on in public." But when Catherine becomes friends with Jason, a nonverbal paraplegic boy who uses a book of images to communicate, she's suddenly confronted with the truth: "normal" is hard to define, and rules are less important than acceptance and love. Catherine is an appealing character whose struggles between love for her brother and frustration with having to defer to his needs ring true.
When 11-year-old Wavie's mother dies, she is forced to leave the trailer park they called home and live with Aunt Samantha Rose in the poverty-mired Appalachian community of Conley Hollow. Once there, she discovers that Samantha Rose is cruel, verbally abusive, and only wants Wavie there so she can spend her social security checks. Wavie struggles with grief, but she takes comfort in sleeping in her mother's old bed, and even makes a few friends (although Samantha Rose calls them the "neighborhood-no-accounts.") But she hangs on to her mother's final words of wisdom: "You got as much right to a good life as anybody, so find it!" With its nuanced story about grief, poverty, and hanging on to hope, this book will linger with middle-grade readers.
Ever since Coyote Sunrise's mother and sisters were killed in a car accident, she and her father have been on the road in an old school bus; the only place they'll never go is their old hometown. But then she learns that a park in her old neighborhood is being destroyed — the park where she, her mom, and her sisters buried a memory box. So Coyote decides to trick her father into driving 3,600 miles in four days... without him realizing the destination. Along the way, they'll meet new friends, each of whom help Coyote as she struggles to find a home and a happy ending. Action-packed and charming, this poignant story celebrates the power of reclaiming the past.
Ever since her father died, Calliope June has faced rejection from peers every time her mother moves yet again; her Tourette's syndrome causes facial tics and noises that she can't control. In St. George, Utah, Calli finds friendship with her neighbor Jinsong, the student body president and a sports star. But will he be brave enough to make their friendship public when Calli fails to blend in? And what if Calli's mom decides to move again just as she's beginning to feel like her differences aren't the end of the world? Told in Calli and Jinsong's dual perspectives, in prose poetry and free verse, this touching story celebrates the power of acceptance and being true to who you are.
The woods of Briery Swamp fit May Bird like a fuzzy mitten, and keep her safe from the taunts of children at school who don't understand her. But one day, when she falls in the lake, she emerges into an unexpected new world — one that's far from warm and fuzzy. The Ever After is full of ghosts — including kindly ghosts like Pumpkin, who has watched May Bird since she was a child, but also nightmarish and bizarre creatures that have been haunting her for years. And if she doesn't get out fast, horrifyingly evil Bo Cleevil will turn her into nothing. This offbeat fantasy, the first of a trilogy is scary, fanciful, and truly suspenseful. Fans of this story can find the whole series in The May Bird Trilogy box set.
Jamila and Tai have been best friends as long as they can remember, hanging out together in their low-income housing project. But while Tai loves the energy of their neighborhood, Mila just wants out, and after she spends a summer with her aunt in the suburbs, she's more interested in dance auditions than spending time with her friend. Both girls are keeping secrets from one another, but they'll soon realizing that letting a friend in can be the first step in speaking up. A complicated friendship and real-life issues — including drug addiction, safety, and searching for your place in the world — make this a stand-out title for middle grad readers.
Alice hates her new home in Rainbow, Georgia, in the mid-1960s: it's too hot, too dry, and just plain doesn't feel like home. She's resentful when she's put in charge of walking her neighbor, Miss Millie's, dog, and frustrated when the dog won't walk without Miss Millie. But that means all three walk together, and soon, a surprise friendship begins to emerge — and Alice starts to learn about her new town and about the painful effects segregation has had on Miss Millie's family. And with Miss Millie, Alice is finally able to open up as well. This gentle depiction of a deep intergenerational friendship is tender and sweet.
Crow grew up in an isolated village in the Elizabeth Islands of Massachusetts, but other than Osh, the man who raised her, and Miss Maggie, their neighbor, the villagers treat her with suspicion. She was found adrift in a boat when she was only a few hours old — and everyone knows the only place she could have come from is the nearby island of Penikese, a leper colony. Crow has always been curious about her history, but when a mysterious fire appears across the water, her curiosity becomes overwhelming. So she, Osh, and Miss Maggie set off on a journey that includes adventure, danger, a story about hidden gold, and an important question: what does it mean to be a family? This evocative and heart-wrenching story stars a truly determined heroine.
12-year-old Mina's home of Alorria enjoys beautiful weather, thanks to the storm beasts and their bonded human guardians, who ensure the climate stays warm and pleasant. Mina is eager to have a storm beast of her own, but everyone is shocked when she hatches a lightning beast: lightning guardians are normally "brash and loud and brave." Mina may be quiet, but she is brave, which she proves when she and Pixit, her lightning beast, discover that her country's weather comes at a terrible price. A unique fantasy setting and appealing dragon-like storm beasts will leave readers wishing they could leap into Mina's world. For another compelling middle grade fantasy from this author, check out The Stone Girl's Story for ages 9 to 13.
Raymie has a plan: she'll win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, her father will see her picture in the paper, and he'll forget all about the dental hygienist he ran away with and come home. Winning the competition requires new skills, including dealing with her fellow competitors — like Louisiana Elefante, who has a show business background but faints constantly, and Beverly Tapinski, who's determined to sabotage the whole thing. But as the competition approaches, the three girls develop an unexpected bond based on loneliness, grief, and a series of adventures in which each girl gets a chance to come to the rescue. Louisiana's story continues in the companion novel, Louisiana's Way Home.
It's 1958, and twelve-year-old Marlee struggles at school, friendless and shy to the point of silence outside of her own family... until she meets Liz, the new girl at school. Fearless and determined, Liz knows just what to say to quiet the resident mean girl and to encourage Marlee to find her voice. Then, one day, Liz is gone — and rumor has it that she was only passing as white. But Marlee decides that she doesn't care: Liz is her best friend, and Marlee will do anything — even face the danger that comes with standing up against segregation — to have her friend back by her side. Heartfelt and touching, this book highlights just how arbitrary divisions based on race and skin color truly are.
Lailu Loganberry has spent years training to be an expert in monster cuisine — and now her dreams are coming true! Her mentor is opening a restaurant and Lailu will be the head chef. Everything seems perfect... until Lailu learns that her mentor borrowed money from a loan shark named Mr. Boss, and if the restaurant fails, she'll be trapped cooking for him for the rest of her life. To outsmart Mr. Boss, she'll have to avoid the king's assassin, the elf mafia, and Mr. Boss' henchmen — and work alongside her greatest rival. Kids will love the mix of humor, action, and fantasy in this delicious novel. Lailu's adventures continue in A Hint of Hydra.
Meteorology-loving Delsie has lived with her grandmother in a Cape Cod village since her mother left her as a baby, but recently she's been wishing she had a "normal" family. When her best off-Cape friend, Brandy, arrives for the summer, she comes wearing makeup and with a new friend, and together they sneer at Delsie's poverty and immaturity. So Delsie sets out to befriend Ronan, another new arrival in the village, and discovers that they have some unexpected things in common — and that family and friends are, more than anything else, about how someone treats you. This touching story by the author of Fish in a Tree features a resilient Mighty Girl who discovers that, with real friends and loving family by your side, you can stand strong through just about any weather.
10-year-old Lyddie’s family farm is deep in debt, so her parents are forced to hire her and her brother out as servants to pay it. Lyddie wants her family to be together again, so when she hears about the money a girl can make in the textile mills, it seems like the perfect solution. The working conditions are horrible, but she needs money too much to sign the workers’ petitions, even when her friends start getting sick. Instead, she escapes from her hardships with her new joy — reading. And when she learns that she can never return home, her love of books and learning may provide a new dream: an education. Kids will be astonished to learn about the history of working children and how the labor rights movement fought for people just like them.
Princess Cimorene has no interest in being a proper princess, so instead of waiting to be kidnapped by a dragon, she runs away and makes a bargain with one — and not just any dragon, but Kazul, one of the most powerful and dangerous dragons! Soon, to the great confusion of the princes who come to rescue her, she sends them all packing and settles into her new life among the dragons. Fortunately for Kazul, Cimorene also manages to help unearth the wizards’ plot against the dragons in time to stop it... for now. Fantasy fans will love reading about how Cimorene finds life, love, and family, all on her own terms. Readers can also check out the Enchanted Forest Chronicles box set, which includes all four books in the series.
Twelve-year-old Nisha is half-Muslim, half-Hindu, and in 1947, when Pakistan and India have just separated, she feels like she doesn't know where she belongs. After losing her mother as a baby, she's desperate to cling to the familiar. But when her father decides it's too dangerous to stay in Pakistan, Nisha and her family set out as refugees in search of a new home, first by train and then on foot. It's long and dangerous travel, but Nisha still believes that the future will be bright. In a series of letters to her mother, Nisha relates her journey and explores the search for home, identity, and hope.
For the first time in history, students from Shin are being allowed to attend the Pearl Famous Academy of Skate and Sword, home of wu liu, the art of martial arts figure skating — and Peasprout Chen and her brother Cricket are the lucky students! But not everyone agrees that they belong at the Academy, and Peasprout's pride often gets in the way of making friends and learning the skills she needs to make it at the academy. When the beautiful pearl buildings of the Academy are vandalized, Peasprout has to prove she's not the culprit and figure out who wants Shin and Pearl at war. With plenty of action — including stunning and cinematic descriptions of wu liu battles — this exciting fantasy story puts a new twist on martial arts stories. Peasprout returns in the second book, Peasprout Chen: Battle of Champions.
12-year-old Anita de la Torre has always felt free in her home of the Dominican Republic. Her parents manage to protect her from the truth of what the Trujillo regime is like, so Anita is still more concerned with her crush on the American boy next door than the question of whether his maid is spying on her family. But as Anita starts to understand the real meaning to the adults' whispers — a plot to assassinate El Jefe, the dictator — the tension starts to rise. Are the risks worth the brutal reprisals the family will suffer if they are discovered? And can Anita and her family finally find a place where they are free? Author Julia Alvarez draws on stories from her cousins and friends who lived through the 1960s in the Dominican Republic to create this suspenseful but ultimately hopeful story.
Willa's Faeran clan once acted as stewards of the Great Smoky Mountains, but their numbers are declining, and under their current leader, the padaran, their old ways of foraging and caretaking are forbidden. Instead, he directs children like Willa to steal from human homesteaders, who she has been taught to despise. But when she is wounded breaking into a cabin one night, she's shocked when a human man tries to help her. And, when she discovers the padaran imprisoning human children, she begins to question everything about her society and its leader. Willa will have to stand up to evil around her with compassion and strength if she is going to save her people. This powerful story from the author of the best-selling Serafina series is full of magic, adventure, and hope.
At first, Lida believes that she and her family are safe from the Nazi regime, since they aren't Jewish — but her perception doesn't last. Nazi soldiers send Lida to a work camp, where she and other Ukrainian children will be worked making munitions until they drop. Lida comes up with a daring plan: sabotage the bombs. She and the other children set to work, but if they are discovered, their deaths will come that much sooner... Based on the real-life experience of countless Ukrainian and other Central and Eastern European children who were used as slave labor in Nazi work camps, this historical fiction novel captures the realities of the camps and the courage of those who resisted without being too graphic for younger readers. For another gripping historical fiction novel by the same author, this one about the Nazis' Lebensborn program, check out Stolen Girl.
Vera is desperate to fit in with her suburbian friends — but for a Russian immigrant with a single mother, that's not easy. The other girls in the neighborhood all go to summer camp, so when she finds out that her family's church will help pay for a Russian Orthodox camp, she convinces her mother to let her go. The reality of camp, though — complete with Russian history lessons, stinky outhouses, and peer drama — isn't quite what she imagined! Fortunately, with time, Vera achieves some real triumphs. Author / illustrator Vera Brosgol deftly combines emotional honesty and belly laughs in this autobiographical graphic novel.
Amal dreams of being a teacher, but as the oldest daughter in her Pakistani family, she has to stay home from school to care for her siblings. She plans to find other ways to continue her studies, but an accidental run-in with the son of the village's corrupt landlord turns her life upside down: she is forced into indentured servitude at his estate to pay off her family's debt. But Amal's ability to read provides her with a shocking — and dangerous — opportunity to expose the Khan family's corruption. This powerful novel with a courageous and intelligent main character is a celebration of education, resistance, and hope.
Even Annabelle's small Pennsylvania town has been touched by the two world wars that ravaged the world, but day to day life there has been quiet until the day a new student, Betty Glengarry, comes to her school. Betty is cruel and delights in bullying the vulnerable people around her — including reclusive World War I veteran Toby. Annabelle knows that Toby is kind, but the other people in town see nothing but his odd behavior. As Betty agitates the town against Toby, Annabelle will have to find the courage to be a voice of justice... even if she's standing alone. This poignant novel's questions about right and wrong and what marks the dark parts of history leave on all of us are sure to generate plenty of discussion.
Willow is an eccentric genius of a child, but her accepting adoptive parents have always given her space to be whoever she is — even when she's talking about rare skin conditions or focusing on multiples of seven. In fact, her parents are pretty well the only people she engages with at all. But when they are killed in a car crash, Willow's life is turned upside down. She begins to fear that her only choice will be life in a group home, where her idiosyncrasies and brilliance will be disadvantages, not traits to be admired and understood. However, when her sort-of-friend Mai's mother takes Willow in, she begins to see a possibility of connecting to more people in the world. Complex and appealing characters make this book a unique testament to the power of very different people to come together as a family.
10-year-old Ada has never left her family's one-bedroom apartment; her abusive mother considers her clubbed foot a humiliation and has kept her from public view her entire life. But when Ada’s little brother Jamie is shipped out of London to escape the dangers of World War II, Ada takes the greatest risk of her life and sneaks out to join him. Susan Smith, the recluse who’s forced to take the siblings in, doesn’t know anything about children — especially girls who flinch at every mistake. But as the pair grow closer, perhaps Ada has finally found someone that she can trust to love her just as she is. This touching 2015 Newbery Honor novel with an engaging main character is part adventure, part search for identity; Ada's story continues in The War I Finally Won.
When adventurous 12-year-old Bett Devlin peeks at her single father's emails, she's horrified to discover that her father is in love — and that he and his new boyfriend are planning to send their daughters to sleepaway camp together, so they can "accidentally" meet one another. Avery Bloom is Bett's opposite, bookish and fearful, and the girls agree they'll NEVER become friends. Except while they're at camp, friendship blossoms anyway, and when it appears that their dads are going to part ways, the two girls are determined to find a way to be sisters after all. Told entirely in letters and emails, and written by two bestselling authors, this laugh-out-loud novel celebrates the many ways that people can become family.
Melody's classmates and teachers dismiss her as mentally challenged, because her cerebral palsy leaves her unable to walk or speak. But the truth is that Melody's mind is remarkable: deeply intelligent and with a photographic memory, she's capable of much more than anyone expects. And while she's been repeating the same preschool-level ABCs year after year, she's also been planning exactly what she'll say whenever she figures out how to communicate. Then her parents get a computer — one which has a special keyboard that will allow Melody to talk. Melody has found her voice; are people ready to hear what she has to say? Complex and thought-provoking, this novel will open middle readers' eyes to the misconceptions about people with disabilities.
Sophie is the eldest of three daughters, and believes she is destined to fail miserably should she ever leave home to seek her fate. But when she unwittingly attracts the ire of the Witch of the Waste, Sophie finds herself under a horrid spell that transforms her into an old lady. Her only chance at breaking the spell lies in the Wizard Howl's ever-moving castle in the hills. To untangle the enchantment, Sophie must handle the seemingly heartless Howl, strike a bargain with a fire demon, and meet the Witch of the Waste head-on. Along the way, she discovers that there's far more to Howl — and herself — than first meets the eye. Diana Wynne-Jones' magical book, which inspired the Academy Award nominated Studio Ghibli film, is inventive and full of wonder. Fans of this book should also check out the sequel, House of Many Ways.
Ally is clever — she knows that, if she's enough of a disruption in class, no one will figure out just how little she can read. But how can she be smart if she can't even read the simplest things? But her newest teacher, Mr. Daniels, seems to see past her brash, troublemaking exterior, and even puts a name to her reading problems: dyslexia. Lynda Mullaly Hunt provides a compassionate look at life with a learning disability, with an ending that's realistic: Ally's happy ending will involve small changes and a lot of hard work! Most importantly, she reminds the reader that great minds don't always think alike, encouraging them to accept and admire the differences of the people around them.
It’s taken all the love and determination that 9-year-old Cassie’s family has to protect her from the awareness of racism and violence in the 1930s Deep South. But when night riders start threatening African-Americans in her community, the truth can’t be hidden any longer. Cassie will have to harden her heart, but in the process, she’ll gain new perspective on her father’s deep attachment to the precious land they own. Set in Depression-Era Mississippi, this stunning novel that shows prejudice and violence through the eyes of an innocent will bring a new perspective to young readers, but it's primarily a story of one family's pride, integrity, and love for one another.
Twelve-year-old September lives in Omaha, and had an ordinary life until her father went to war and her mother went to work. One day, September meets a Green Wind who invites her on an adventure to Fairyland. The new Marquess is unpredictable and fickle, and also not much older than September. With the help of new friends, including a book-loving Wyvern and a mysterious boy named Saturday, September is the only one who can retrieve a talisman the Marquess wants from the enchanted woods. But will September be able to return home, or will she find herself bound to Fairyland forever? Catherynne M. Valente's unique and original Fairyland books, featuring illustrations by Ana Juan, have the same timeless quality as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and The Wizard of Oz. To see all five volumes from the series, visit our Fairyland Collection.
Aerin is the king of Damar’s only child; she should be his heir, but because her mother was a witchwoman from the North, Damarians don’t trust her. Ultimately, in order to save her people, Aerin must embrace her destiny by confronting the Black Dragon and an evil sorcerer who has stolen Damar's source of strength, the Hero's Crown. This Newbery Award-winning novel features a complex and daring main character and an intriguing fantasy world. Fans of this book can also check out the sequel, The Blue Sword.
Esperanza grew up in privilege in Mexico, but when her father is killed by bandits shortly before her thirteenth birthday, she and her mother flee to America. In Depression-era California, no one cares about the elegant life Esperanza remembers: she’s just a farm worker, good for nothing but hard labor. But as Esperanza struggles with poverty, racism, and grief, a multiethnic spirit of labor organization is blossoming around her. Hope is coming both for Esperanza and for the workers around her struggling to get by. This Pura Belpre Award-winning novel is both heartfelt and thought-provoking.
Additional Recommended Resources
- For more Mighty Girl titles to share with tween readers, visit our collection of the Top Read Aloud Books Starring Mighty Girls.
- For girl-empowering titles for younger children to read independently, check out our blog post Ignite a Lifelong Love of Reading: 50 Mighty Girl Books for New Readers.
- For books starring Mighty Girls who love books and reading, visit our blog post Celebrating a Love of Reading: 25 Mighty Girl Stories About Books, Libraries, and Literacy.