The Missing Piece of Charlie O'Reilly by Rebecca K.S. AnsariWhat it’s about: Charlie’s little brother Liam is not imaginary -- it’s just that ever since Liam went missing, Charlie is the only person who can remember he exists.
What happens: A puzzling note in Liam’s handwriting sends Charlie and his friends on a supernatural search for answers in this twisty, heart-wrenching tale.
Who it’s for: readers looking for fantasy that’s both adventurous and deep.
New Kid by Jerry CraftStarring: seventh-grade cartoonist Jordan Banks, who wants to go to a special art school, but is sent instead to Riverdale Academy, where he’s one of only a few African American kids...and no one will let him forget it.
Art alert: What better way to tell a story about a cartoonist figuring out where he fits in than through energetic cartoon art?
For fans of: Sharon Draper, Gene Luen Yang, and Raina Telgemeier.
The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan GemeinhartWhat it’s about: After her mom and sisters were killed in an accident, Coyote and her dad, Rodeo, hit the road in a converted school bus and never looked back…until now.
Why you might like it: The journey is equal parts quirky and bittersweet as 12-year-old Coyote – joined by an unforgettable collection of fellow travelers -- sneakily nudges Rodeo toward revisiting their old home for the first time in years.
Song for a Whale by Lynne KellyWhat it’s about: As the only Deaf kid in her class, sixth-grade tech whiz Iris can relate to Blue 55, a whale who sings on a different frequency than other whales. That’s why Iris decides to compose a song for Blue 55 and travel to Alaska so she can play it in person.
For fans of: Ali Benjamin’s The Thing About Jellyfish, another moving story about a girl’s obsession with an aquatic animal.
A Good Kind of Trouble by Lisa Moore RaméeWhat it’s about: Smart, rule-following, seventh-grader Shayla doesn’t like to make waves -- just the thought of trouble makes her itchy. But when her formerly rock-solid friendships crumble and a police shooting prompts her to attend a Black Lives Matter protest with her family, Shay begins to wonder: are some kinds of trouble worth starting?
Read it for: an honest look at middle school life starring relatable, real-sounding characters.
Nikki on the Line by Barbara Carroll RobertsStarring: 13-year-old Nikki, whose dream of playing basketball for an elite club team just came true. The only problem? All the other girls are taller and more talented than she is, and with the pressure already on at school and at home, Nikki’s not sure she can handle it all.
Who it’s for: With vivid basketball action and plenty of family and friendship drama, Nikki on the Line will grab readers looking for sports stories as well as slice-of-life stories.
The Moon Within by Aida SalazarWhat it’s about: Celi Rivera might be confused about her crush on Iván, and about her best friend Mar being genderfluid, but she’s sure she doesn’t want a traditional Mexica moon ceremony after her first period, no matter what her mom says.
Is it for you? The mature, poetic talk about puberty in The Moon Within might not be for everyone, but if you’ve ever felt like you’re between cultures, between genders, or between kid and teen, you might relate to Celi’s story.
Pay Attention, Carter Jones by Gary D. SchmidtWhat it’s about: After Mr. Bowles-Fitzpatrick arrives at the Jones family’s door, Carter Jones -- who’s struggling in the wake of his brother’s death and his dad’s overseas deployment -- is surprised to find himself bonding with the British butler.
Read it for: witty British/American culture clashes, genuine emotion, and a thrilling middle school cricket match.
Don’t miss: cameos from characters in popular author Gary D. Schmidt’s other books.
The Owls Have Come to Take Us Away by Ronald L. SmithWhat it’s about: To 12-year-old Simon, the evidence is clear: aliens exist, they abduct humans, and the U.S. government is covering it up. But because Simon is an imaginative fantasy fan, no one believes his claims about the alien threat -- not even after Simon himself is abducted.
Why you might like it: Simon speaks directly to you, the reader, adding extra intensity to this eerie, multi-layered tale that will keep you intrigued all the way to the end.