42 Stellar Middle Grade | SLJ 2024 Stars So Far

This year has gone above and beyond with its middle grade offerings! From powerful historical fiction to hilarious magical mayhem, this list features our top titles so far.

ABENDANON, Lucille. The Songbird and the Rambutan Tree. Jolly Fish.
Gr 5 Up–Offering a new perspective for readers who clamor for WWII stories, this title is an absolute must-have for middle grade collections.

APPLEGATE, Katherine. The One and Only Family. HarperCollins.
Gr 4-6–A cherished character enjoys the heartfelt and uplifting closure he, and his fans, richly deserve.

BADUA, Tracy & Alechia Dow. The Cookie Crumbles. HarperCollins/Quill Tree.
Gr 5 Up–This book features a diverse cast of characters for readers who like cooking, mysteries, and realistic fiction; it will circulate well in libraries where mysteries and friendship stories are popular.

BEHAR, Ruth. Across So Many Seas. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen.
Gr 3-7–This powerful historical fiction novel will appeal to fans of Jane Yolen’s Briar Rose and is recommended for all collections.

BRADLEY, Kimberly Brubaker. The Night War. Dial.
Gr 4-7–Bradley’s latest masterpiece features a determined and daring heroine and details that bring the past to life. Readers will be wholeheartedly rewarded.

BRENNAN, Linda Crotta. The Selkie’s Daughter. Holiday House.
Gr 4-8–Expertly told in poetic fashion, this book will hook its readers from sentence one. Highly recommended for all who love fantasy, tragedy, history, and folklore.

CARTER, Caela. The World Divided by Piper. HarperCollins/Quill Tree.
Gr 4-7–A sensitive, comprehensive look at growing up. Carter deftly creates a world that is both unique and universal and, perhaps most importantly, applicable to young readers.

CHEN, Justina. With Twice the Love, Dessie Mei. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen.
Gr 3-7–This moving novel carries a powerful message about the meaning of family and the importance of community.

CHOLDENKO, Gennifer. The Tenth Mistake of Hank Hooperman. Knopf.
Gr 5 Up–Hank’s story will break readers’ hearts before putting them back together again. Highly recommended for all middle grade collections.

COCHRAN, John. Breaking into Sunlight. Algonquin.
Gr 5-8–An important novel for every library. Readers will find they’re not alone in facing a loved one’s addiction, as an estimated one in eight children have a parent dealing with substance abuse.

DEE, Barbara. Unstuck. S. & S. /Aladdin.
Gr 3-7–A top choice for middle school libraries and a great handsell for young adults with younger siblings.

FARUQI, Saadia. The Partition Project. HarperCollins/Quill Tree.
Gr 3-7–A heartwarming exploration of history of the 1947 Partition of India through personal narrative.

GIDWITZ, Adam. Max in the House of Spies: A Tale of World War II. Dutton.
Gr 3-7–Highly recommended for all collections serving middle grade and older readers who enjoy smartly written historical novels.

GOW, Robin. Gooseberry. Abrams/Amulet.
Gr 4-8–B’s struggle to find home and acceptance will have readers rooting for them and Gooseberry the dog. A must-purchase realistic fiction title for all middle grade collections.

GRANILLO, Ashley. Cruzita and the Mariacheros. Carolrhoda.
Gr 5-7–Mariachi, family, and pan dulce are the ingredients for this perfect middle grade novel.

HEADEN, Sandra W. Warrior on the Mound. Holiday House.
Gr 5-8–A home run of historical fiction that is brave enough to speak the hard truths.

HESSE, Monica. The Brightwood Code. Little, Brown.
Gr 8 Up–An evocative novel that seamlessly blends elements of mystery, history, and psychology, this is a must-read for anyone looking for a thought-provoking puzzle that explores the lasting impacts of war, and fans of Alan Gratz or Elizabeth Wein.

IRELAND, Meredith. Emma and the Love Spell. Bloomsbury.
Gr 4-7–Sophisticated yet approachable, this fast-paced fantasy focusing on Emma’s journey of self-discovery will be appreciated by readers of all ages.

ISLER, Emily Barth. The Color of Sound. Carolrhoda.
Gr 3-7–A top pick for any middle school collection; a perfect book club choice and a reminder to all that patience and understanding can change lives.

KAHAKAUWILA, Kristiana. Clairboyance. HarperCollins.
Gr 4-7–Providing necessary AANHPI representation, humor, and instant middle school appeal, this novel is a first purchase.

KESSLER, Liz. Code Name Kingfisher. S. & S. /Aladdin.
Gr 4-8–With World War II books perennially in demand, especially Shoah stories, this one is highly recommended for elementary and middle school libraries.

KHAN, Hena, ed. The Door Is Open: Stories of Celebration and Community by 11 Desi Voices. Little, Brown.
Gr 3-7–A monumental achievement and exquisite testament to the power of collaboration and community, this book moves beyond the reality of diversity into the necessity of it.

LAPERA, Anna. Mani Semilla Finds Her Quetzal Voice. Levine Querido.
Gr 5 Up–A powerful look at collective action that shows when we raise our voices together, we don’t just make noise—we sing. Not to be missed.

LAROCCA, Rajani. Sona and the Golden Beasts. HarperCollins/Quill Tree.
Gr 3-7–A compelling read set in a richly developed world with two young characters who discover family secrets and make their beloved country better for the people living there.

LEWERS, Nedda. Daughters of the Lamp. Putnam.
Gr 3-7–Highly recommended, this book encapsulates unique characters, mystery, and fairy tales in a novel that readers will devour.

MATAS, Carol. Zevi Takes the Spotlight. Orca.
Gr 4-7–This hi-lo title excels in the genre, packaging an accessible, dyslexia-friendly text with a compelling plot and likable protagonist whose journey readers will happily follow.

MELLEBY, Nicole. Winnie Nash Is Not Your Sunshine. Algonquin.
Gr 3-7–While it’s not a perfect summer at the beach, Winnie’s feelings are perfectly real, and the resolution is satisfying and hopeful.

MILLER, G.F. Not If You Break Up with Me First. S. & S. /Aladdin.
Gr 5 Up–This coming-of-age story is perfect for middle school romance sections; a must-buy.

MOULTON, Deke. Benji Zeb Is a Ravenous Werewolf. Tundra.
Gr 5 Up–Highly recommended for readers looking for a unique take on the werewolf trope. Readers will root for the gentle and introspective protagonist.

ORR, Wendy. Out of the Valley of Horses. Pajama Pr.
Gr 3-7–Orr’s latest will delight middle grade readers searching for escape and home simultaneously.

QUIGLEY, Dawn. Red Bird Danced. HarperCollins/Heartdrum.
Gr 4 Up–A high-impact story about discovering how to declare oneself proudly and bring awareness to one’s community; this opens an important window into modern-day Native American culture that has yet to be fully explored in middle grade literature.

SALAZAR, Aida. Ultraviolet. Scholastic.
Gr 5 Up–Yet another heartfelt and accessible tale of growing up from one of the best in modern children’s literature.

SCHU, John. Louder Than Hunger. Candlewick.
Gr 5 Up–Jake’s struggle with anorexia isn’t easy to read, but his ultimate steps toward health provide hope, as does this much-needed and underrepresented male perspective on eating disorders.

SIDDIQUI, Maleeha. Any Way You Look. Scholastic.
Gr 3-7–Give this story to children everywhere. A powerful story of finding your voice and using it to advocate for yourself.

STECHER, Leah. The Things We Miss. Bloomsbury.
Gr 5 Up–A compelling story about self-acceptance and showing up for life that should be put in the hands of all middle school readers.

URSU, Anne. Not Quite a Ghost. HarperCollins/Walden Pond.
Gr 4-8–Compulsively readable and relatable, Ursu’s twisty middle grade novel is highly recommended.

VICKERS, Elaine. Half Moon Summer. Peachtree.
Gr 5-8–A sensitive, heartfelt story of friendship and growing up. Highly recommended.

VILLANUEVA, Gail D. Lulu Sinagtala and the City of Noble Warriors. HarperCollins.
Gr 4-7–A solid magical thriller that will leave readers anxiously awaiting Lulu’s next adventure.

WILLIAMS, Alicia D. Mid Air. illus. by Danica Novgorodoff. Atheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy.
Gr 5-8–A quietly stunning novel in verse about grief and learning to accept yourself.

WINSTON, Sherri. Shark Teeth. Bloomsbury.
Gr 5 Up–A must-buy for every library, this belongs in the hands of young readers and those who care for them.

WOLO, Mamle. Flying Through Water. Little, Brown.
Gr 3-7–Readers will devour Sena’s searing and eye-opening story in a day.

YANG, Kelly. Finally Heard. S. & S.
Gr 4-6–A recommended first purchase that tackles tweenhood and technology woes head-on.



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