A few weeks ago, I posted Part 1 of my list of favorite middle grade chapter and graphic novels with a focus on upper middle grades (mature grade 6 – 8) You can read that post HERE. I intended to post Part 2 last week, but 7 workshops and webinars in 5 days got in the way! So here is Part 2 – which features books I would recommend for lower middle grades (grades 4-6). And once again, I had trouble counting to ten!!
Abby In Between: Ready or Not – Megan Ebryant
Very excited about this first book in a young middle-grade series about nine-year-old Abby as she navigates all the chaos that can come from growing up. I loved Judy Blume books when I was growing up and this one certainly had a modern Judy Blume vibe! It’s a great book to introduce the topic of puberty as I feel it offers a realistic portrayal of the emotions, experiences, and feelings of a young girl. I appreciated the understanding doctor and the un-embarrassed mother.
Growing Pangs – Kathryn Ormsbee
Another coming of age theme in this cute graphic novel that includes topics like homeschooling, theater, friendship, summer camp, OCD, and anxiety. They say “books are mirrors” and I really like that there are so many authors this year writing “connect” books for middle graders who are trying to find their place in the world and be proud of who they are.
Surely Surely Marisol Rainey – Erin Entrada Kelly
This is the second “Marisol” book in a new series (I haven’t read the first one) featuring the quirky, unathletic Marisol Rainey. Marisol Rainey’s two least-favorite things are radishes and gym class. Well, I made so many connections to this book! I was the kid in elementary school who was terrified of gym class and picked last for every class sport. Basically: I was Marisol. Turns out Marisol has more spunk and grit than she thinks! Humorous and heartfelt story of friendship, family and fitting in for fans of Clementine, Judy Moody, Billy Miller, and Ramona the Pest.
Step – Deborah Ellis
Canadian icon Deborah Ellis has written a collection of short stories featuring children who are all about to turn 11-years old — and how that event changes them. The series of stories are about children from all over the world and feature magical and mysterious themes. I LOVED this book and thought of so many wonderful ways you could use it in a classroom! A perfect book for an interactive read aloud to model questioning, connecting and transforming!
Odder – Katherine Applegate
Sea Otters + Katherine Applegate + a novel in verse = middle grade gold! How can you NOT fall in love with this adorable sea otter? Like her other books, beloved author Katherine Applegate knows how to weave important issues into her books with such respect and grace wrapped up in gorgeous writing and endearing characters. This book could stand alone as an amazing read aloud. But I could see it being the anchor to a class inquiry unit around endangered species, conservation, climate change, ecosystems, animal surrogates – the list goes on! Great information included in the back notes. This book will be released on Sept. 22nd.
Oh, Sal – Kevin Henkes
I love Kevin Henkes books so was excited to see this continuation of his Billy Miller series, told from Billy’s younger sister Sal’s voice. Henkes, once again, writes from the voice right of a nervous child worrying about trivial things that are very important to her. The whole story takes place over the course of a single day but with lots of space to explore Sal’s many emotions. The book is illustrated in black and white and a great choice for fans of Ramona, Ivy + Bean, and Dory Fantasmagory. A strong grade 2 reader would enjoy this story, up to beginning grade 4.
Max & The Midknights: The Tower of Time – Lincoln Peirce
A funny new graphic novel series (this is #3) about Max – a Knight in Training by the author of Nate the Great. This book is jam packed with action and adventure, pictures and personality, fantasy and fun!!! In this continuation of Max’s story, she meets her twin Mary, and the two journey (along with the other Midknights) to learn what happened to their parents. We also learn how Max got her name!
Nat Enough – Maria Scrivan
Nat Enough is a coming of age graphic novel (first in a series) about a young girl finding her place in middle school. Her best friend from elementary school is hanging out with the ‘cool kids’ now, and Natalie feels like she is “not enough”- not pretty enough, not talented enough, not cool enough. Certainly a lot of connections will be made with this one!
The Ice Cream Machine – Adam Rubin
Such a clever and original idea! This book is a collection of six short stories in a variety of genres and settings, all featuring ice cream! I enjoyed how each of the stories were a different genre, great for introducing genres to your class and great anchors for writing! Kids will make lots of connections to the book. I appreciated the author’s notes at the beginning and end of the book so don’t forget to share those if you are reading this story aloud.
The Bird & Squirrel On The Run – James Burk
I so enjoyed this colorful graphic novel featuring two unlikely friends – a nervous squirrel and a carefree bird, who join together to escape the menacing cat that wants to eat them. Kids will enjoy the silly humour and colorful illustrations. LOTS of fun!
Mr. Wolf’s Class – Aron Nels Steinke
Another fun graphic novel – this one is about the first day of grade four and everyone is nervous — even Mr. Wolf! Despite the characters being colorful cartoon animals, the book had a realistic feel to it. All the student animals are unique and have their own challenges, hopes, goals. I think kids will really enjoy this first book in a new series.
PAWS: Gabby Gets It Together – Michelle Assarasakorn & Nathan Fairbarirn
This new graphic novel series is about best friends, cute dogs, and all the fun (and trouble) that comes with them. Funny and heartwarming – think Baby-Sitters Club for pets!
Omar Rising – Aisha Saeed
I enjoyed this book by the author of Amal Unbound. In this book about injustice in education, young Omar gets accepted to a private school on scholarship but is expected to work for free, cannot play in extracurricular events, and must maintain an A plus average. Most scholarship boys do not make past their first year so Omar decides to challenge this unfair system. An uplifting story about working together to make a change; the story is hopeful and empowering.
Outside Nowhere – Adam Borba
Surprised by how much I enjoyed this book! It’s about a funny, slacker kid who gets himself fired from his summer job at the pool and then gets sent to a farm in the middle of nowhere. But before long, magical things start happening at the farm. It’s weird, wonderful and whimsical! Would make a wonderful read-aloud.
The Trouble At Turtle Pond – Diana Renn
This is a eco-mystery is about making friends and saving endangered turtles – perfect for animal lovers everywhere! Strange that a mystery can also be heart-warming – but this story was. I think because of Miles, the loveable main character, who I was cheering for after the first page. A great mystery with important environmental lessons and a great characters.