Today’s pick is a much-loved chapter book series about a lovable pig and the humans who love her. With easy-to-read text for beginning readers, full-color illustrations on each page, and a funny animal protagonist, this series is a joy to read.
Review | Dear Student
Socially anxious sixth-grader Autumn is having a rough start to middle school. Her best friend Prisha has moved to California and her father has left their family to serve in the Peace Corps in Ecuador (I know, I know). It’s just her mother and little sister living in their tiny apartment up the stairs of the veterinary hospital where her mother works.
Somehow, she makes two new friends in the first week of school — one boy named Cooper and a girl named Logan. But Logan thinks Cooper is weird, so Autumn has to navigate the fact that her friends don’t get along. On top of that, she really wants to write for the Dear Student column in her school’s newspaper — and she does! But when Autumn gives advice that polarizes her friends even more, she’s not sure how she’ll ever make it work.
Review | Just Harriet
Just Harriet is a new chapter book/young middle grade book by Elana K. Arnold who wrote the A Boy Called BAT series. This new title features young Harriet whose family is undergoing a change. Her mom is pregnant and has been placed on bed rest until the baby is born. Harriet, an energetic child has been sent to Marble Island where her grandmother lives and runs a bed and breakfast. She’s understandably frustrated, feeling abandoned by her parents. Thankfully, she takes her cat, Matzo Ball with her. When she arrives at Marble Island, Harriet starts to learn more about her father’s childhood and discovers that they have more in common than she expects.
Review | Alpaca My Bags
In Alpaca My Bags, Amelia is relieved when her parents decide to pause their life on the road for a short while so they can work and earn more money to continue their adventures. She’s trying hard to think about her family’s next daredevil adventure plans which involve skiing a black diamond slope. Amelia has been homeschooled most of her life and has major anxiety, so adjusting back to public school is not as easy as she expects. She’s also struggling with being the most scared person in her family of adventurers and feeling like she’s holding them back. But when she finds a farm with a herd of alpacas (animals known for their anxious, fearful tendency), Amelia discovers that being brave goes beyond physically challenging adventures.
Review | Rescue at Lake Wild
Madi and her friends Jack and Aaron make a rescue at Lake Wild, saving two beaver kits, but they have a problem. Madi’s parents have said she cannot bring home any more strays. In fact, if she does, she’ll lose her trip to see acclaimed primatologist Jane Goodall. But neither Aaron nor Jack can take in the kits and their local shelter is full. Besides, the kids find that the kits’ parents have been shot dead. Madi takes them, hiding them in a shed on her parents’ property until she can figure out her next steps.
Best Middle-Grade Books About Animals
I’ve chosen books where animals are the main characters, not just books where animals feature. Most of these stories are narrated from the perspective of the animals. So if that’s your jam, you’ll love this list. You’ll find in this list middle-grade books about dogs, cats, mice, foxes, birds, and a few other interesting animals.
Review | Where We Used to Roam
In this story, we meet Emma whose ordinary life is upended when her beloved older brother Austin develops an addiction to opioids. In the midst of her brother’s health issue, Emma is also dealing with a strained friendship with her BFF, Becca from whom she seems to be growing apart. So she is half-relieved when her parents send her off to Wyoming to be with family friends while they get Austin to a rehab facility.
Review | 365 Days to Alaska (Giveaway Closed)
Rigel has 365 days to Alaska. After her parents split up, her mom moves Rigel and her two sisters from their Alaskan bush living to Connecticut where their grandmother lives. At first, Rigel hates it in the Connecticut suburbs, even though her sisters seem to be having a better time. They’re excited about the comforts of running water, a television, and malls, among other things. But Rigel yearns for the quiet of bush life, wants to return to the simplicity of hunting animals for food, and being with her dad. So her father promises her that in a year, when he’s earned a bit of money from working, Rigel can return to live with him in Alaska.
Review | Brave Like That by Lindsey Stoddard
Cyrus Olson does not think he’s “brave like that.” He’s not brave like his adoptive firefighter father who was also a star football player in his day. Although he plays football for his school team, he does not enjoy it, and would much rather be doing something else, but he’s afraid to let his dad (and the town that knows him to be an Olson) down. But Cyrus gets some motivation to stand up for himself and his desires when a dog is abandoned at the fire station (just like Cyrus was).
7 Books Like The One and Only Ivan
Today’s pick is a popular (and loved) book about a gorilla, that is also now a movie. If you love middle-grade books about animals, you’ll likely enjoy the books on this list. If you or your kids loved this book, here are more books like The One and Only Ivan.
Review | Twig and Turtle 1: Big Move to a Tiny House
Twig and Turtle are two sisters whose parents have just moved into a tiny house! The family has done some major downsizing — the kids even had to choose just five toys they could keep, and now they have to clean up after playing with their toys. Both girls are also adjusting to a new neighborhood and new school.
Turtle, the younger girl, seems to be adjusting well at school, making friends and having a good time. But for the older girl, Twig, things are a bit harder. She’s self-conscious about having few clothes in rotation and being new in general. Twig is also missing their Great Dane, Bo, whom they had to leave at their Grandma’s because of the tiny house. Twig decides that the she will convince her mother to let Bo move in with them again.
Review | The Amelia Six
The Amelia Six is the story of six clever girls who are invited to spend a night in Amelia Earhart’s home because of their achievements in STEM (specifically flying and aeronautics). Although all big-time Earhart fans, each of the girls are different. There’s shy, anxious Amelia (Millie) whose mom left her to go be a pilot. Then there are twins Robin and Wren who run a YouTube channel, Thea who builds things, like the side car she arrives in with her aunt’s motorcycle, Nathalie and her pet rat and Cassie whose parents work at NASA.