From School Library Journal: Best Middle Grade Books 2019
The Line Tender by Kate Allen. Dutton.
Gr 5-8 –Lucy’s mother, a shark expert, died five years ago, and now Lucy has also lost her best friend Fred. She emerges from her grief with a project that fuses her artistic talent with a new interest in sharks. Allen pens a sensitive depiction of a transitional time where friends become romantic prospects, hobbies become professional aspirations, and loss can upend but also focus.
A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying by Kelley Armstrong. Puffin Canada.
Gr 4-6 –Royal twins Rowan and Rhydd are the children of the Queen and a famed Monster Hunter. It’s expected that Rhydd will follow in his father’s footsteps while Rowan takes the throne—despite her dream of being a monster hunter herself. When tragedy strikes, Rowan embarks on a dangerous quest for a gryphon and gathers a misfit troupe to help. Tweens will flock to this emotionally resonant fantasy full of action, humor, and mythical beasts.
I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day. HarperCollins/Harper.
Gr 3-7 –Edie is quite happy with her life, until she realizes her mother hasn’t been telling the truth about her past. Edie knew her mother, who is Suquamish and Duwamish, was adopted into a white family, but never knew the details. Readers follow Edie on her path of discovery and heartache as she learns both her mother’s and grandmother’s stories, all while navigating changing friendships. Day illuminates a story rarely depicted in middle grade literature with insight and grace.
The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemenhart. Holt.
Gr 5-8 –Coyote Sunrise and her father, Rodeo, have traversed the country in a school bus for five years since the death of Coyote’s mother and sisters, collecting a quirky ensemble of companions. The imminent destruction of a park in her old neighborhood sends her on a mission to return in time to collect treasured mementos. Coyote is a unique character whose authentic voice shines.
Lalani of the Distant Sea by Erin Entrada Kelly. HarperCollins/Greenwillow.
Gr 5-8 –When her mother falls critically ill and her island is devastated by unstoppable rain after extended drought, Lalani travels to the fabled island of Isa to find help. Dozens of men have sailed toward it, but none return. Lalani’s story is woven with that of other islanders’ as they rise together and prove that success isn’t rooted in brute force. This is a lyrical, engrossing, and timely commentary on power, faith, and love.
For Black Girls Like Me by Mariama J. Lockington. Farrar.
Gr 3-7 –Makeda, 12, is a transracial adoptee who’s having trouble adjusting to life in a new town. She endures racist microaggressions from classmates, teachers, and even her own white parents. Her mom might be on the brink of another bipolar episode while dad is away on tour. In hauntingly beautiful prose and verse, Lockington offers an unflinching look at racism and the experiences of having a parent with a mental illness.
Read on for the full list of Best Middle Grade Books 2019 on School Library Journal.
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