Stick with Me by Jennifer BlecherFeaturing: lonely artist Izzy, who feels left behind by her former best friend, and ambitious figure skater Wren, whose family has to move so her little sister can get medical care.
What happens: When Wren's family rents Izzy's house, Izzy and her cash-strapped family move into the garage apartment, and the girls cautiously begin to bond.
Read it for: an honest look at middle school friendship, as well as the frustration of being too old to whine but too young to make important choices.
What Breathes Through Its Butt? Mind-Blowing Science Questions Answered by Emily Grossman; illustrated by Alice BowsherWhat it is: a silly yet straightforward collection of science questions and answers.
Questions answered: How much does the internet weigh? Could you escape a crocodile's jaws? What part of your body can't feel pain? Do humans and giraffes really have the same number of bones in their necks?
Why you might like it: it's packed with gross-out jokes and comic book-style artwork, and short sections make it easy to read a little bit at a time.
Girl Giant and the Monkey King by Van HoangWhat it's about: As if moving and starting a new school isn't bad enough, Vietnamese American middle schooler Thom also has to be super-careful to hide her uncontrollable super-strength. So when she meets the legendary Monkey King, Thom makes a deal with him to help her fit in.
For fans of: books from the various Rick Riordan Presents series, or other funny page-turners in which modern kids learn that their culture's mythology is more real than they'd ever guessed.
The Lion of Mars by Jennifer L. HolmWelcome to: the planet Mars, where curious, cat-loving 11-year-old Bell is the youngest member of America's settlement.
What happens: When all the adults in the settlement get sick, the kids have to get help, even if it means breaking the settlement's strictest rule: no contact with foreign settlements, ever.
You might also like: Sophia McDougall's Mars Evacuees, another smart, exciting science fiction story about human kids fending for themselves on Mars.
You Don't Know Everything, Jilly P! by Alex GinoFeaturing: Jilly, who's 12 years old, white, and obsessed with fantasy books; her online friend and fellow fan Derek, who's Black and Deaf; and her baby sister Emma, who's hearing impaired.
What happens: While trying to stick up for the people share cares about, confident Jilly begins to realize how much she doesn't know.
Why you might like it: Author Alex Gino's first book, George, encourages you to be yourself; Jilly's story will inspire you to understand others.
You Go First by Erin Entrada KellyWhat it's about: Charlotte and Ben live far apart, yet over the course of one week, their online Scrabble rivalry turns into a friendship that helps each of them deal with painful situations at home and at school.
Why you might like it: You get the inside scoop on the thoughts and feelings of both smart, awkward characters as they fumble their way towards friendship.
About the author: Erin Entrada Kelly won the 2018 Newbery Medal for her book Hello, Universe.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 8-11!