22 Titles to Make Middle Graders LOL | Summer Reading 2021

Warning: These 22 titles may induce hearty chuckles, grossed-out giggles, or milk-out-the-nose laughing. 


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These diverse titles span tone and genre to tickle readers' funny bones. Warning:  may induce hearty chuckles, grossed-out giggles, or milk-out-the-nose laughing.

Middle School Bites by Steven Banks. illus. by Mark Fearing. Holiday House. ISBN 9780823445431.

When 11-year-old Tom Marks is bitten by a bat, a wolf, and a zombie, his plans to survive middle school by flying under the radar are dashed. This new novel by the head writer of SpongeBob SquarePants combines typical middle school angst with a hilariously over-the-top monster movie premise.

The Best of Iggy by Annie Barrows. illus. by Sam Ricks. Putnam. ISBN 9781984813305.

Iggy isn’t a bad kid—he just lives by the motto “It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time.” He blames his friends, his parents, his teacher, but will he ever take responsibility for his actions?

New Kid by Jerry Craft. illus. by author. HarperCollins. ISBN 9780062691200.

Jordan Banks is anxious about being the new kid at Riverdale, especially since he'd rather be going to art school. He's even more nervous when he realizes that one of the few kids of color. This Newbery winner is more than a story about being the new kid, it's a complex examination of the micro- and macroaggressions that Jordan endures from classmates and teachers—with ample doses of humor and smart observations throughout. 

Ghosted by Michael Fry (text) & illus. by Michael Fry. HMH. ISBN 9780358269618.

After Larry’s best friend Grimm dies, he returns as a ghost. The duo get along almost like old times,  working through the list of silly things they wanted to do but didn’t have the chance, and working through Grimm's unfinished business in the process.  This is a unique middle grade approach to the death of a friend that makes sense of loss through humor.

Apocalypse Taco by Nathan Hale. illus. by author. Abrams/Amulet. ISBN 9781419733734.

On a late-night food run for their mother's high school theater group, middle schoolers Axl and Ivan, accompanied by high schooler Sid, grab Mexican fast food from a disturbing drive-through and find that they're in a new dimension.

Wink by Rob Harrell. illus. by author. Penguin. ISBN 9781984815149.

Ross Maloy is a middle schooler with bigger problems than most. Diagnosed with a rare eye tumor, he is challenged to maintain normalcy despite taxing cancer treatments. Witty comic panels and other art are interspersed throughout this highly recommended story.

Homer’s Excellent Adventure by P.J. Hoover. CBAY. ISBN 9781944821869.

An origin story for the ages takes readers on an epically hilarious adventure. Meet Homer, a lackluster 11-year-old student in ancient Greece. He’s on the brink of flunking out of school, which for him is more than just embarrassing. For fans of Percy Jackson, epic stories, and mythology, or anyone looking old stories with a new twist.

Night of the Living Ted by Barry Hutchison. illus. by Lee Cosgrove. Delacorte. 9780593174289.

What do zombies, teddy bears, and two children have in common? Much more than one would think when it comes to this story.

Stand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim. Kokila. ISBN 9780525554974.

Yumi Chung hates her prestigious prep school in L.A., but her Korean-immigrant parents think attendance there will increase her chances of admission to an Ivy League college and a better life. Middle grade readers will find Yumi’s first-person narrative utterly appealing.

Fly on the Wall by Remy Lai. Holt. May 2020. ISBN 9781250314116.

Henry Khoo is tired of being babied by his family and invisible at school. Trying to declare independence from both, he starts the infamous “Fly on the Wall” blog, which spreads gossip about his schoolmates, and is currently on his way to the airport for an unauthorized trip from Perth, Australia, to Singapore for a surprise visit to his dad. Near-misses and laugh-out-loud moments abound in this illustrated novel, which will endear it to readers who like “Big Nate” and “Wimpy Kid."

Planet Omar: Accidental Trouble Magnet by Zanib Mian. illus. by Nasaya Mafaridik. Putnam. ISBN 9780593109212.

When Omar’s family moves to a new house, the 10-year-old must start the year at a new school. Omar is nervous because he thinks he will stand out as the new kid and because he is Muslim.

Dear Sweet Pea by Julie Murphy. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray.  ISBN 9780062473073.

Thirteen-year-old Patricia, or “Sweet Pea,” is still adjusting to life after her parents’ divorce. She doesn’t know how to feel about her new normal; her mom and dad are basically pretending nothing has changed, and are living on the same block in almost identical houses.

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Ghost Squad by Claribel A. Ortega. illus. by author. Scholastic. ISBN 9781338280128.

Looking for a Halloween read? Look no further. Something strange is happening to Lucely’s ghost family of fireflies, known as cocuyos—they are fading away. Lucely’s adventure gives readers paranormal thrills akin to Ghostbusters and the Goonies, from a refreshingly different cultural perspective.

The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez. Viking. ISBN 9780425290408.

A fun romp through the awkward years of middle school that examines themes of identity and culture. When Malu has to move away from her dad and everything she knows, she takes her love of punk music with her. Following the rules of punk, she embarks on a new school journey, full of misadventures and hilarious life lessons.

Anti/Hero by Kate Karyus Quinn & Dimitria Lunetta. illus. by Maca Gil. DC Comics. ISBN 9781401293253.

Two polar-opposite, superpowered 13-year-old girls get in each other’s way as they attempt to complete a mission.

The Incredibly Dead Pets of Rex Dexter by Aaron Reynolds. Little, Brown. ISBN 9781368051835.

Sixth-grader Rex Dexter desperately wants a dog, but his parents have deemed him too irresponsible, and the evidence is against him. Use where funny books are popular–that’s everywhere, right?

Wayside School Beneath the Cloud of Doom by Louis Sachar. HarperCollins. ISBN 9780062965387.

A delightful case of well-written nonsense. Mrs. Jewls’s class is back and as wacky as ever.

Trouble with a Tiny t by Merriam Sarcia Saunders (text) & illus. by Frances Castle. Capstone. Mar. 2021. ISBN 9781684462810.

With his ADHD, a missing Uncle Marty, and his divorced parents' quarreling, fifth-grader Westin has more than his share of trouble. Then he finds a magical pouch in his uncle's belongings that conjures a miniature T. rex! Young readers will enjoy the fantastical and humorous components of the novel as Westin tries to hide his tiny secret, but there is plenty of friendship and family development that will resonate, as well.

Leonard (My Life as a Cat) by Carlie Sorosiak. Walker. Apr. 2021. ISBN 9781536207705.

On a helium planet far, far away, an unembodied species has the opportunity, on their 300th birthday, to travel to Earth and experience life as a human—but getting distracted while traveling via energy beam causes him to end up as a cat, rescued from a tropical storm in South Carolina by Olive, who names him Leonard. As the girl helps him on his quest to return home, their budding friendship Leonard’s commentary on life in a cat’s body are spot-on and hilarious.

The Humiliations of Pipi McGee by Beth Vrabel. illus. by Billy Yong. Running Pr. ISBN 9780762493395.

Eighth-grader Penelope (Pipi) McGee seems to be cursed. In kindergarten, she drew a portrait of herself as a piece of bacon with breasts, and in fourth grade she peed her pants on a field trip (earning the nickname Pee-Pee).

This Is Just a Test by Wendy Wan-Long Shang & Madelyn Rosenberg. Scholastic. ISBN 9781338037722.

It's 1983, and David's got worries: his impending bar mitzvah, his constantly competing Chinese and Jewish grandmothers, the cute girl who makes him nervous, and his popular new friend, who dislikes David's longtime best friend—plus, it's the height of the Cold War, and nuclear annihilation could hit at any second.

Alien Superstar by Henry Winkler & Lin Oliver. Abrams/Amulet. ISBN 9781419733697.

The first book in a funny new sci-fi series that will circulate well in elementary and middle school libraries, and have readers watching the cosmos for the second book to arrive.

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