I haven’t read as much in recent months due to an Epstein Barr flare-up (hello, brain fog and naps!) but I do have some gems that I think you’ll want to know about. Your kids and students will be excited to know about these new middle grade choices!
A Seed in the Sun by Aida Salazar
A tender and poignant middle-grade novel in verse showing an important time in history, the power of collective voices against injustice, and a girl finding her strength. Lula’s family are migrant workers. When Lula’s mom gets sick from pesticides, they can only get her medical care if they join the worker strikes started by Phillipino migrant workers. Eventually, the kids convince her violent dad who drinks too much to join the strike. This transforms their family, gives the girls hope, and helps Lula’s mom get the health care she needs. A beautiful coming-of-age story.
Rain Rising by Courtne Comrie (ages 10+)
RAIN RISING is a multilayered story about mental health, racism, family, friendship, and self-love — with a main character that you’ll cheer on through her tricky and beautiful growing-up journey. Rain’s older brother Xander always has taken good care of her; he helps her on her saddest days, especially after their dad left and their mom is gone at work most of the time. But, when Xander gets brutally attacked, he’s a shell of himself and barely speaks…and Rain can barely cope. In an after-school group, she starts to make new friends, and slowly finds her way back to health through the group and therapy. I literally couldn’t put this novel in verse down for one second! (Sensitive readers: this story contains cutting.)
This is a story about complicated characters, a rabbit named Quincy and a girl named Fleurine, who both make bad decisions– and have to live with the consequences of their actions. In a world where rabbits cultivate cabbages that grow human babies, Quincy sneaks out to find carrot seeds for his starving family. What he finds is a girl who steals a baby in a cabbage. Fleurine wants a sister so she picks a Chou illegally…but she can’t make it grow, and Quincy is hot on her trail. Their actions open their eyes to the bigger wold around them and the plight of rabbits and humans who are hungry and poor.
Sisterhood of Sleuths by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman, illustrated by Vesper Stamper
Maizy’s best friendship isn’t going well, and their school video project is a disaster — so she quits the new group. But, with her new group and friends, the group is inspired by a donated box of Nancy Drew books with a mysterious photograph of her grandmother. They research Nancy Drew for their project and try to reunite two old friends. I loved learning with Maizy more about the somewhat complicated history of Nancy Drew who was such a strong presence in my own childhood. (I was SO jealous of my classmate Rachel Papadopolous who had the entire collection of yellow books.) Interesting and entertaining.