J Animal Story
For the kids who’ve read everything…here’s some new stuff! These books are slated to come out 2018 (although exact release dates may change). I haven’t read these yet, so summaries and age ranges are based on promotional materials from the publishers and advance reviews.
All books below are for middle grade readers (grades 4-6). I’ll be posting new YA announcements next week!
Continuing Series for Middle Grades
Fenway and Hattie Up to New Tricks by Victoria J. Coe (1/2)
Book 3 of Fenway and Hattie. Ages 8-12.
A Sky Full of Stars by Linda Williams Jackson (1/2)
Sequel to Midnight Without a Moon. Ages 8-12.
The Terrible Two Go Wild by Mac Barnett and Jory John (1/9)
Book 3 of The Terrible Two. Ages 8-12.
The Uncanny Express by Kara LaReau (1/9)
Book 2 of The Unintentional Adventures of the Bland Sisters. Ages 8-12.
War of the Realms by Kate O’Hearn (1/9)
Book 3 of Valkyrie. Ages 9-13.
Waking the Monsters by Judd Winick (1/16)
Book 4 of Hilo. Ages 8-12.
Dark Wyng by Chris d’Lacey (1/30)
Book 2 of Erth Dragons. Ages 8-12.
Dragon Overnight by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins (1/30)
Book 4 of Upside Down Magic. Ages 8-12.
A Warp in Time by Jude Watson (1/30)
Book 3 of Horizon. Ages 9-12.
Tempests and Slaughter by Tamora Pierce (2/6)
Book 1 in a new Tortall series. Ages 10 & up.
The Oceans Between Stars by Kevin Emerson (2/13)
Book 2 of Chronicle of the Dark Star. Ages 8-12.
Iron Tide Rising by Carrie Ryan and John Parke Davis (2/13)
Final book of The Map to Everywhere. Ages 8-12.
Boggart Fights Back by Susan Cooper (2/27)
A Boggart book. Ages 8-12.
Revenge of the Beetle Queen by M.G. Leonard (2/27)
Sequel to Beetle Boy. Ages 8-12.
A Side of Sabotage by C.M. Surrisi (3/1)
A Quinnie Boyd Mystery. Ages 9-14.
Phoenix Burning by Bryony Pearce (3/10)
Book 2 of Phoenix. Ages 10 & up.
Bat and the Waiting Game by Elana K. Arnold (3/27)
Sequel to A Boy Called Bat. Ages 8-12.
The Crooked Castle by Sarah Jean Horowitz (4/10)
Book 2 of Carmer and Grit. Ages 10-13.
Sunny by Jason Reynolds (4/10)
Book 3 of Track. Ages 10 & up.
Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz (4/24)
A Descendants novel. Ages 8-12.
Waste of Space by Stuart Gibbs (4/24)
Book 3 of Moon Base Alpha. Ages 8-12.
Lost in the Jungle by Bill Nye and Greg Mone (5/1)
Book 3 of Jack and the Geniuses. Ages 8-12.
The Burning Maze by Rick Riordan (5/1)
Book 3 of the Trials of Apollo. Ages 10 & up.
Worlds Apart by James Riley (5/20)
Book 5 of Story Thieves. Ages 8-12.
Sandapalooza Shake-Up by Chris Grabenstein (5/22)
Book 3 of Welcome to Wonderland. Ages 8-12.
Evil Emperor Penguin: Strikes Back by Laura Ellen Anderson (5/29)
Book 2 of Evil Emperor Penguin. Ages 8-12.
Griffin’s Feather by Cornelia Funke (7/31)
Sequel to Dragon Rider. Ages 8-12.
The Law of Finders Keepers by Sheila Turnage (9/11)
Conclusion to Mo & Dale Mysteries. Ages 10 & up.
Fantasy & Sci Fi for Middle Grades
The Eternity Elixir by Frank L. Cole (1/2)
A young potion master must prevent a dangerous elixir from falling into the wrong hands. Ages 10 & up.
Shadow Weaver by MarcyKate Connolly (1/2)
A girl with shadow magic faces a dilemma when her own shadow takes on a devious life of its own. Ages 8-14.
Flower Moon by Gina Linko (1/2)
An evil force in the moon threatens to push two “mirror twins” apart for good. Ages 8-12.
Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano (1/2)
A girl eager to begin her family tradition of baking magic decides to try a little spell on her own with unintended consequences. Ages 8-12.
The Last Gargoyle by Paul Durham (1/9)
A lonely gargoyle must seek a human ally when the Boneless King seeks to take his ward. Ages 8-12.
Magic, Madness, and Mischief by Kelly McCullough (1/9)
A boy with fire magic must learn to control his powers in order to save his mother from the Winter King. Ages 10-14.
The Unicorn Quest by Kamilla Benko (1/30)
Two sisters discover a magical world in turmoil and embark on a journey to find the lost unicorns. Ages 8-12.
The Problim Children by Natalie Lloyd (1/30)
Seven children in a quirky family find themselves caught in the dastardly schemes of their nosy neighbors. Ages 8-12.
Arlo Finch in the Valley of Fire by John August (2/6)
After joining an unusual scout troop, a boy learns to harness the power of the forest to survive a dangerous adventure. Ages 8-12.
The Song of Seven by Tonke Dragt (2/6)
A mysterious letter pulls a notorious teller of tall-tales into a series of far-fetched adventures. Ages 8-12.
Granted by John David Anderson (2/13)
A young wish-granting fairy finds her first assignment more difficult than she had expected. Ages 8-12.
Sci-Fi Junior High: Crash Landing by Scott Seegert and John Martin (2/20)
The new kid must save his outer space junior high school from a mad scientist. Ages 8-11.
Clem Hetherington and the Ironwood Race by Jen Breach (2/27)
In this graphic novel, a girl and her robot brother escape an orphanage and enter a high-stakes rally race, hoping to win archaeological artifacts to continue their late mother’s legacy. Ages 8-12.
The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta (2/27)
A sixth-grader discovers that she is an Indian princess from another dimension when demons abduct her parents. Ages 8-12.
Wed Wabbit by Lissa Evans (2/27)
After being transported to a fantasy world, four kids must unravel clues to defeat an evil stuffed animal. Ages 8-12.
The Super-Life of Ben Braver by Marcus Emerson (3/6)
A non-powered boy stumbles upon a school for young superheroes and joins up. Ages 8-12.
The Mad Wolf’s Daughter by Diane Magras (3/6)
After her family is captured, the youngest member of a Scottish war band must embark on a dangerous journey to rescue them. Ages 9-12.
Buttheads from Outer Space by Jerry Mahoney (3/6)
Two friends accidentally invite a gross butt-headed alien race to conquer the earth. Ages 8-12.
A Bad Night for Bullies by Gary Ghislain (3/13)
The daughter of a horror novelist gives a boy “the stone of the dead” and his bullies begin being haunted. Ages 8-12.
Bone’s Gift by Angie Smibert (3/20)
In a 1942 coal mining town, a girl with a gift for seeing visions when she touches inanimate objects must accept her gift and come to terms with her mother’s death. Ages 9-12.
Hurricane Child by Kheryn Callender (3/27)
An unlucky girl struggles with the crush she has on her best friend as the two girls venture out in a hurricane to look for her mother and escape the spirit that is following her. Ages 8-12.
Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi (3/27)
Trying to prove that an ancient lamp is cursed, a girl accidentally awakens a demon and must embark on a quest to free her mother and classmates from its curse. Ages 9-12.
Peasprout Chen, Future Legend of Skate and Sword by Henry Lien (4/3)
A young figure skating martial artist must track down a vandal to clear her name in time for a competition. Ages 10-14.
How to Sell Your Family to the Aliens by Paul Noth (4/3)
In an attempt to get rid of his grandma, a boy accidentally sells his whole family to aliens. Ages 8-12.
Maggie and Abby’s Neverending Pillow Fort by Will Taylor (4/3)
Two girls building a pillow fort discover an international network of magically interconnected pillow forts and wind up on the wrong side of “the authorities.” Ages 8-12.
The Unflushables by Ron Bates (4/10)
A boy and a team of plumber superheroes must protect the city from sewer mutants. Ages 8-12.
The Lifters by Dave Eggers (4/24)
Two girls descend into a world of underground tunnels to stop a mysterious evil force from destroying their town. Ages 8-12.
Endling #1: The Last by Katherine Applegate (5/1)
The last survivor in a species of mythical canines seeks a sanctuary as she flees from those who hunt her. Ages 8-12.
Evangeline of the Bayou by Jan Eldredge (5/1)
An aspiring haunt huntress and her grandmother uncover a terrifying secret on a trip to New Orleans. Ages 8-12.
The Rose Legacy by Jessica Day George (5/1)
In a world where horses have been banned, a girl discovers her ability to communicate with them telepathically. Ages 8-12.
The Haunted Serpent by Dora M. Mitchell (6/5)
The son of a TV ghost hunter meets his dead next door neighbor and begins to investigate the strange goings-on in an abandoned factory. Ages 8-11.
Not So Normal Norbert by James Patterson with Joey Green (7/3)
After getting caught mocking the supreme leader of Earth, a boy is banished to a wacky astronaut camp on another planet. Ages 8-12.
Nightbooks by J.A. White (7/24)
A boy survives his imprisonment by telling a witch scary stories. Ages 8-12.
Making Friends by Kristen Gudsnuk (7/31)
After receiving a magic sketchbook, a sixth grader draws herself a best friend, who comes to life with unexpected consequences. Ages 8-12.
Historical Fiction for Middle Grades
Escape from Aleppo by N.H. Senzai (1/2)
At the start of the Arab Spring, a young girl and her family must flee their home in Aleppo. Ages 8-12.
The Journey of Little Charlie by Christopher Paul Curtis (1/30)
Hoping to pay off his late father’s debts, a boy agrees to track down some fugitive slaves before having a change of heart. Ages 9-12.
The Sound of Freedom by Kathy Kacer (3/13)
A family hopes that auditions for a Jewish orchestra in Palestine will help them escape 1930s Poland. Ages 9-12.
When the Crickets Stopped Singing by Marilyn Cram Donahue (3/20)
A girl must defy the trusting adults in her 1930s community when she realizes the new man in town poses a danger to her and her friends. Ages 10-14.
Hardscrabble by Sandra Dallas (9/15)
In 1910, a girl and her family move west to accept the government’s offer of a free homestead farm. Ages 8-11.
Mystery & Adventure for Middle Grades
Samantha Spinner and the Super-Secret Plans by Russell Ginns (2/13)
A girl’s uncle disappears, leaving her an old umbrella and a mysterious clue that draw her into a super secret adventure. Ages 8-12.
The World Below by Wesley King (3/6)
An eighth grade field trip turns into a survival adventure when students wind up unchaperoned in a lake in the bottom of Carlsbad Caverns. Ages 8-12.
The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson (3/27)
After discovering a letter in the attic, a girl tries to unravel the clues to her family’s dark past. Ages 8-12.
The Elephant Thief by Jane Kerr (3/27)
A young pickpocket-turned-zoo employee must ride an elephant from Edinburgh to Manchester despite opposition from the dubious characters in his past. Ages 8-12.
Realistic Fiction for Middle Grades
TBH, This Is So Awkward by Lisa Greenwald
A story of friendships and cyberbullying told entirely in texts. Ages 8-12.
Funny Kid for President by Matt Stanton (1/2)
A troublemaker once accused of pooping in a school closet runs for class president in this illustrated novel. Ages 8-12.
Just Like Jackie by Lindsey Stoddard (1/2)
A girl tries to figure out how she fits into her family as her grandfather and guardian battles Alzheimer’s. Ages 8-12.
All Three Stooges by Erica S. Perl (1/9)
When his grief-stricken best friend shuts him out, a boy tries to rekindle their friendship and the sense of humor they once shared. Ages 8-12.
Ellie, Engineer by Jackson Pearce (1/16)
A young aspiring engineer hopes to build an elaborate gift for her friend’s birthday. Ages 8-12.
The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor (1/23)
A boy becomes the victim of bullying when his best friend is found dead on his family’s property. Ages 8-12.
Smart Cookie by Elly Swartz (1/30)
Hoping to repair the hole that her mom’s death left in their family, a girl secretly posts a dating profile for her dad online. Ages 8-12.
Strongheart: Wonder Dog of the Silver Screen by Candace Fleming (2/6)
An illustrated novel based on the true story of a 1920s canine actor. Ages 8-12.
The Heart and Mind of Frances Pauley by April Stevens (2/6)
An aspiring anthropologist who prefers to be an observer struggles to find a place with the other people in her community. Ages 8-12.
Like Vanessa by Tami Charles (3/13)
Inspired by her idol, Vanessa Williams, a middle school girl enters a beauty pageant and discovers her own self-worth. Ages 10 & up.
A Possibility of Whales by Karen Rivers (3/13)
Hoping to find her estranged mother, a girl embarks on a journey of self-discovery. Ages 8-12.
Without Refuge by Jane Mitchel (4/1)
A young teen and his family flee the war in Syria and seek refuge in Turkey. Ages 9-12.
My Life In Smiley: It’s All Good by Anne Kalicky (4/3)
A boy uses a journal full of smiley faces to chronicle his life in middle school abroad. Ages 9-12.
Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes (4/17)
After being killed by police officers who thought he was holding a weapon, a boy’s ghost meets Emmett Till and together they try to process the racism that led to their deaths. Ages 8-12. [Technically fantasy due to the ghosts, but the subject matter and interest is clearly realistic fiction.]
Storm Chasers by Ginger Zee (4/24)
A young aspiring meteorologist gets caught out on a horse ride during a dangerous storm. Ages 9-12.
Secret Sisters of the Salty Sea by Lynne Rae Perkins (5/15)
Two sisters make an unforgettable first trip to the beach in this illustrated novel. Ages 8-12.
Just Under the Clouds by Melissa Sarno (6/5)
A girl searches for hope when her family becomes homeless. Ages 8-12.
The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell (6/5)
A group of kids build a small civilization out of cardboard and use their big imaginations to explore big issues in their real lives. Ages 8-12.
Where the Watermelons Grow by Cindy Baldwin (7/3)
While her father struggles to keep the farm going in the midst of a drought, a girl struggles with her mother’s mental illness. Ages 8-12.
Rising Above Shepherdsville by Ann Schoenbohm (8/28)
After her mother’s suicide, a girl find peace and healing at her aunt’s home in rural Ohio. Ages 8-12.
A bored giraffe asks a bored pelican to deliver a letter for him to the first animal he meets on the other side of the horizon. The first animal that Pelican meets is a mail seal who takes the letter to a penguin who is studying abroad on Whale Island. Thus an unusual friendship begins. Since Giraffe has never seen a penguin, he tries to imagine what Penguin might look like based on Penguin’s descriptions of himself. And eventually, the two friends will meet to see if their expectations were correct.
A simple yet thought provoking story with both humor and heart. This book is a quick read, but an enjoyable one. It will appeal most to elementary-aged readers.
Inspector Flytrap is a BIG DEAL detective. He only takes big deal cases. Missing pickle paper weight? Not a big deal. A caper at the art gallery? Now that sounds more like it! With his trusty skateboard and his assistant goat, there’s no case too big for this plant! So why don’t his clients seem grateful?…
This very quick, very silly read features short chapters, comical illustrations, and a ridiculous plot that will most likely appeal to readers in grades 2 and 3. It may grab some reluctant readers. It is unlikely, however, to appeal as much to older readers or the established Origami Yoda fan base. Although nominally a mystery, it is really just humor. If you’re looking for a humorous noir-style mystery series for younger readers, I would recommend the Chet Gecko series–noting that the reading level on Chet Gecko is slightly higher.
Leo feels that he is not good at anything. His parents seem so proud of his siblings for their intelligence and skills at sports, but all Leo is good at is daydreaming and being laughed at by the cool kids. When a class presentation gone wrong causes Leo to accidentally injure his teacher, the coolest kid in the class, Warren, suddenly wants to be his friend. Trying to impress Warren and his friends, Leo participates in their pranks. But when the boys chase a little dog to the edge of a pond, Leo feels like their mischief has gone too far. He loses control of his bike and winds up in the pond, and the other boys abandon him. But the little dog helps to pull him out. Not wanting to admit to what he was doing, Leo makes up a story about how he rescued the dog from the pond. The story travels around town and Leo becomes a local hero. But in a real emergency, will Leo have the courage he needs to do the right thing?
This simple story about friendship is on a middle grade reading level, but will likely appeal to younger kids as well. The plot is not very high stakes or suspenseful, and the characters are largely archetypal, but those who enjoy realistic fiction, especially books about animals, will find it a quick and enjoyable read.
Hal has always longed for a dog. His wealthy parents give him all of the toys and games a little boy could ever dream of, but a dog is all Hal has ever wanted. Reluctant to allow a pet into their perfect home, Hal’s parents instead arrange to rent one for a weekend. They tell Hal he can pick out any dog he wants and can keep it for as long as he likes (certain that he’ll be tired of it by the end of the weekend anyway). But when Hal lays eyes on Fleck, an adorable mutt that the kennel maid snuck into the pure bred pet rental shop, he falls instantly in love–and Fleck feels the same. When Hal’s mother takes Fleck back to the shop, Hal decides to steal Fleck back and flee to his grandparents’ house by the sea. At the pet rental shop, he runs into the kennel maid’s little sister, Pippa, who decides that they should rescue all of Fleck’s friends, too. And so, two humans and five dogs begin an epic adventure across England with a team of private detectives hot on their trail.
This is a sweet, funny adventure story that will especially appeal to animal lovers (many scenes are described from the point of view of the dogs). I would recommend it to children in grades 3-4. The audiobook is also very good (performed by Steve West, reader of the Odyssey Award winning Scorpio Races audiobook).
Gryllus was once a man, a soldier on the ship with Odysseus. But when he and the famed hero wound up on Circe’s island Gryllus found himself transformed into a pig. Although the rest of his comrades were changed back when Circe was defeated, Gryllus chose to remain a pig, leading a fairly happy life of eating, sleeping, eating, and eating. But when his ability to speak is discovered, Gryllus finds himself abducted by traders and his wild adventures begin. After a brief career in show business, Gryllus winds up on a quest with a junior prophetess named Sybil and a grubby goat boy who speaks only in nonsense syllables. Sybil seems to believe that Gryllus and the goat boy (who Gryllus affectionately dubs “Bumscruff”) are the keys to saving the gods from captivity and preventing the world’s descent into chaos. But as their adventures get increasingly absurd and dangerous, Gryllus grows increasingly eager to give up on the whole “saving the world” business and instead start a quest for some delicious pie.
This book is incredibly silly and funny. There are lots of puns and Greek mythology-related humor that will be particularly accessible to readers who are interested in Greek mythology or the Percy Jackson books. There is some action and suspense in this story, but it is much heavier on the humor so not an exact read-alike for Rick Riordan—though some of the same readers may be interested. I’d recommend The Pig Scrolls to middle grade readers who like humorous books such as How to Train Your Dragon.
I don’t blog every new Bad Kitty book, but I think Nick Bruel’s latest deserves a special shout-out. Bad Kitty: Drawn to Trouble follows in the metaliterary tradition of stories like Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) where the author reaches into the story and messes with the actions of his self-aware characters. In this case, Bruel uses the humorous scenario to teach readers about literature and the art of writing–and to encourage them to become writers themselves. Elementary school teachers hoping to introduce their classes to concepts like “conflict,” “protagonist,” or “the difference between plot and theme” should definitely check this book out!