11 Middle Grade Series Updates for Eager Fans

From beloved protagonists to endless quests, these middle grade series entries keep the action coming for eager fans.

Amari is back, creating even more waves in her magical world. So is Trouble, who’s busy saving their whole galaxy. From beloved protagonists to endless quests, these series entries keep the action coming for eager fans.

Alston, B.B. Amari and the Great Game. 432p. (Supernatural Investigations: Bk. 2). HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray. Aug. 2022. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062975195.
Gr 3-7–Following the mighty battle at the end of the series opener, Amari has become famous in the supernatural world, with people both fearful and in awe of her talents as a magician. When a new Prime Minister speaks out against Magicians, Amari finds herself more controversial than ever among her peers. Then the mysterious League of Magicians asks her to be their new leader. She declines at first, until a dangerous competitor steps forward to take the job, and she reluctantly agrees to participate in the Great Game, a competition to decide who will become the Night Brothers’ successor and determine the future of Magicians. VERDICT Fans of the first book will jump at the opportunity to immerse themselves once again in the delights and surprises of this magical world, filled with equal parts wonder and suspense.

Arden, Katherine. Empty Smiles. 288p. (Small Spaces Quartet: Bk. 4). Putnam. Aug. 2022. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780593109182.
Gr 5 Up–The terror continues for Ollie, Coco, Brian, and Phil in this frightening series finale. It’s been three months since Ollie disappeared after making a deal with the Smiling Man to save her friends and family. But as time passes, her friends start to lose hope. When a boy goes missing from a carnival and then reappears, traumatized and rambling about a scary man who took him, the three friends know he is talking about the Smiling Man and that their moment to save Ollie has finally come. Arden never disappoints with her thrilling, spine-tingling scenes, and this book is full of them. First came scarecrows, ghosts, and monsters, but she has saved the best for last: evil clowns! VERDICT Fans of the series won’t be disappointed.

Boyer, Crispin. The Epic Escape From the Underworld. 208p. (Zeus the Mighty: Bk. 4). National Geographic. Mar. 2022. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9781426371783.
Gr 2-5–Zeus and the gang are back for another adventure at the Mount Olympus Pet Center, where the inhabitants have taken on the characteristics of various figures from Greek mythology. Human owner Artie (Artemis) and her friend Callie (Calliope) are suspicious of the mess they keep finding in the mornings and have installed Cerberus, a motion sensor camera that barks whenever it detects movement. Undeterred by the new security system, the animals investigate a mysterious portal that leads to the Underworld. Journeying through, they meet Charon (an Armadillo), Hypnos (a Snake), Persephone (a Mole Cricket), Atlas (a ­Turtle), and Hades in the form of a mole. Engaging illustrations and a character guide are included. VERDICT Young fans of animal stories will love this hilarious romp that offers a fun spin on Greek mythology.

Graves, Luna. Thriller Night. 160p. (Witches of Peculiar: Bk. 2). S. & S./Aladdin. Jul. 2022. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781665906258.
Gr 2-5–Twin witches Bella and Donna (Dee) Maleficent can’t wait to attend their first dance at the human school. As students at Yvette I. Koffin’s Exceptional School for Supernatural Students (YIKESSS), the girls attend classes with other monsters, including vampires, werewolves, and goblins. The friends dress up and attend the dance only to find themselves laughed at by the human middle schoolers. Undaunted, Bella and her friends dance to their hearts' content, while Dee struggles with her desire to fit in. While many familiar tropes and topics are explored in this humorous series, young readers will enjoy the topsy-turvy magical world of Peculiar, PA. VERDICT Great for fans of ­"Monster High" and "Hotel Transylvania."

Hapka, Catherine. Nowheresville. 160p. (American Horse Tales: Bk. 5). Penguin Workshop. Mar. 2022. pap. $7.99. ISBN 9780593225295.
Gr 3-7–This cheerful, positive story follows 10-year-old “city girl” Natalie after she moves from Philadelphia to a small town in rural Pennsylvania called Daisy Dell. Friendly and outgoing, Natalie adores graphic novels and hopes to write her own one day. When she spots her new neighbor at the horse farm next door, she is delighted that he resembles the hero of her favorite book, The Boy Next Door. As she gets to know him better, she finds herself growing attached to his latest “project” horse, Ghost, whom he hopes to train and sell. VERDICT This gentle story will appeal to young fans of realistic fiction and animal stories.

Kaye, Marilyn. Kiara Fights Back. 208p. (Spyglass Sisterhood: Bk. 3). Holiday House. Apr. 2022. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780823446117.
Gr 3-7–Kiara and her three best friends take on a bully in this latest installment of the “Spyglass Sisterhood.” With the help of their magic spyglass that offers visions and provides insight into someone’s feelings, the girls track down a cyberbully who’s targeting classmates. Kiara, typically a loner who has trouble understanding social norms, narrates this story in a slightly detached and judgmental way that matches her personality and worldview, for which she is unapologetic. That said, she does make an effort to be more understanding of other people’s feelings and less literal. With the help of her father, her friends, and several classmates, Kiara uses her knowledge of courtroom dramas to host a trial for the bully in question. VERDICT Young readers who enjoy low-stakes realistic fiction and friendship drama with just a touch of magic will appreciate this entry.

Mone, Gregory. Brink of War. 304p. (Atlantis: Bk. 2). Abrams/Amulet. Apr. 2022. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781419738555.
Gr 3-7–After The Accidental Invasion, humans Lewis and Hanna and their Atlantean comrade Kaya find themselves torn between competing interests on the surface and in Atlantis. Frustrated by the somewhat hostile, strange culture of the “sun people,” Kaya is desperate to return home and rescue her father, who risked himself for their escape. Lewis is determined to accompany her and reunite with his own father, who remains held captive in the underwater nation. Atlantis issues a warning that war will be declared if the warship the kids used to escape is not returned. In the meantime, a conniving tech billionaire hijacks the ship and demands access to more Atlantean technology before letting the kids go. A humorous yet informative “Science of Atlantis” section is appended. VERDICT Fans of the first book will enjoy the mix of adventure, humor, and science fiction gadgetry in this action-packed sequel that leaves room for more stories from this world.

Prineas, Sarah. Asking for Trouble. 288p. (Trouble in the Stars: Bk. 2). Viking. Mar. 2022. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780593204306.
Gr 3-7–The adventures of shape-shifter Trouble and their adopted family continue in this highly engaging sequel that offers just as much humor and heart as its predecessor. When Trouble’s crewmate and best friend Electra finds out she has a long-lost sister, she decides to leave her found family and infiltrate the Star League Military Academy to rescue her. Unwilling to stay behind, Trouble joins the Academy too, pretending to be a human cadet. Soon a mysterious entity from the edges of space threatens everything in the Galaxy and just so happens to be searching for Trouble. This series continues to be a pitch-perfect space thriller ideal for sci-fi lovers, Star Wars fans and reluctant readers. VERDICT While the story feels finished, there is room for more tales featuring the many endearing characters.

Stowell, Louie. The Wizard in the Wood. illus. by Davide Ortu. 224p. (Kit the Wizard: Bk. 3). Candlewick/Walker. Jun. 2022. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781536214956.
Gr 2-4–After a summer of magical adventures, Kit, Josh, and Alita are ready to start school and excited to learn that they will be getting a new library. In this world, librarians are wizards, and a proper library must have a dragon underneath to imbue it with magic, so the friends meet the council of wizards to procure a dragon egg for their new library. On the first day of school, they are excited to meet their new school librarian, Ben, and to check on the dragon egg—only to find that it’s gone missing! Kit and her friends will have to rely on their friendship and self-confidence to defeat this big bad threat to the wizarding world. VERDICT A pleasing combination of humor and peril, along with Ortu’s plentiful illustrations, make this a great starter fantasy series.

Wight, Tamra. Mystery of the Lost Lynx. illus. by Carl DiRocco. 247p. (Cooper & Packrat: Bk. 5). Islandport. Jun. 2022. pap. $14.95. ISBN 9781952143380.
Gr 3-6–An engaging mystery for wildlife lovers. Cooper and his best friends Packrat, Roy, and Summer are looking forward to a fun-filled week of outdoor adventures during the winter break in Maine. But after they spot a baby lynx in the woods and learn about reports of an illegal poacher in the area, the kids start investigating suspicious activities on their own. Facts about lynxes open each chapter, and animal-loving kids will appreciate all of the additional Maine wildlife details woven into this plot, not to mention the description of winter activities. VERDICT A great choice for collections where mysteries are popular.

Yun, Erin. Crush at First Sight. 288p. (Pippa Park: Bk. 2). Fabled Films. Sept. 2022. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781944020804.
Gr 4-7–Pippa explores the highs and lows of friendships and first crushes in this well-crafted sequel to Pippa Park Raises Her Game. As Christmas approaches, Pippa is busier than ever juggling basketball, homework, hanging out with her friends, and working at her sister’s laundromat. When she accidentally agrees to host her new friends’ annual Christmas party and her sister volunteers her to help out with the church pageant, Pippa’s responsibilities increase. Throw in money troubles, a grumpy cat, and confusing feelings for both her math tutor, Eliot, and an old friend from church, and Pippa finds herself in over her head. VERDICT This warm-hearted, feel-good series continues to realistically explore one Korean American girl’s middle school experience in a relatable way.

Kristy Pasquariello, Westwood P.L., MA

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