I read a lot less middle grade this year than I have in years past – I think it had more to do with my mood and personal tastes this year than anything else – but of the ones I did read, there were a few stand-outs.
Here are my picks for the Best Middle Grade Books of 2017:
I’m a huge fan of the Marvel Universe in general, but I admit, I didn’t know much about Squirrel Girl going into this book. But I fell in love hard and quickly, and I can’t sing the praises of this book enough. The character is a delight already, but the Hales really give her some charming depth in this adaptation. I don’t know what part was funnier: the 3+ pages of squirrel names, or the various cameos of assorted Avengers. Rocket Raccoon’s is particularly notable. (Full review here.)
This book is so sweet, and so moving, and promises to be something special to a lot of readers. It’s the sweet and simple story about one boy on the autism spectrum, and the unlikely bond he forms with a baby skunk. Arnold offers up a simple yet in-depth portrayal of the world as seen through Bat’s eyes, with both research and personal experience guiding her narrative. I’m very much looking forward to the next book in this charming series. (Full review here.)
I’m a big fan of Frank Cottrell Boyce – whether he’s writing for an episode of Doctor Who, or crafting a whimsical and wild middle grade book like Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth. The events of the book are outrageous and comical and unbelievable, and so over-the-top that young readers will be hard-pressed to resist. But woven into the ridiculous are some truly heartfelt, and grounded messages about life and love and family. (Full review here.)
Middle school is hard enough, but when you’re going to real school for the first time and work in a Renaissance Faire with your family, it poses a whole new set of challenges. Once again, Victoria Jamieson captures some of the most essential, emotional challenges of middle school and tells it with wit, heart, and humor. Her illustrations throughout this graphic novel bring everything to life – often standing alone without any text, and conveying the full breadth of emotions. (Full review here.)
The cover is what first drew me into this book, but seeing Eager’s name attached sold me that it was a must-read. (I adored her debut, Hour of the Bees.) Race to the Bottom of the Sea is a whimsical story about one orphan’s adventure with a band of pirates, in which she must solve a scientific challenge and come to terms with her parents death. It’s an unexpected story about love and loss, and I truly loved it. (Full review here.)
I know this is pretty unprecedented, but I haven’t yet read The Sea of the Dead as it doesn’t come out until December 12th (and while I did receive my copy early, it only JUST came & I haven’t had a chance to dive in yet). That said, I have loved both previous books in this trilogy and anticipate much love for the third and final installment. I’ll update this post once I’ve had a chance to read it officially – but for now, I’m anticipating it will make the cut.
For the comments: What are the best middle grade books you read this year?