When Nimra joins public school after years in Islamic school, she’s not expecting to become 1/4th of Barakah Beats, a popular boy band in her school. But that’s what happens. When her BFF (at least to Nimra) stops acting so BFF-y after Nimra decides to wear her hijab to public school, Nimra is desperate to keep their friendship. Even if it means joining a boy band when it conflicts with her Islamic beliefs. Can Nimra find a way to use her voice without going against her values or hurting her new friends and bandmates?
12-year-old Wren lives with her mom after her parents’ divorce. Her dad has moved to New York City and married his lover (with whom he was unfaithful to her mother) who is now expecting twins. Wren is also a special effects makeup aficionado. Caught up in a new school, navigating new friendships, and balancing her relationships with her parents — whose relationship with each other is strained — Wren notices her mom has begun behaving strangely.
Big Apple Diaries is Alyssa Bermudez’s graphic memoir detailing her life experiences in New York City between the 7th and 8th grades. Her middle school years also coincide with the attack on 9/11 and the book documents the impact on her and her circle. Prior to that, though, Alyssa is an average tween who attends a Catholic co-ed school, likes doodling, and has a crush on a schoolmate named Alejandro. Her parents are also divorced, so she spends time between each of their apartments in New York.
Jubilee and her Nan are always moving, on the search for their perfect place, and this time Jubilee has her heart set on Hope Springs, Texas. The small town is where her crafting heroine Arletta Paisely is from, and Jubilee is sure that if it’s good enough for Arletta, Hope Springs will immediately feel like home for them, too — because she’s honestly tired of moving and saying (or not saying) goodbyes.
Rule of Threes is Marcy Campbell’s debut middle grade novel. Maggie and her two BFFs share a love for design and decorating. They’ve entered a school contest to redecorate a section of the school. Maggie’s life at home is also fairly stable — until one visit changes everything. All of a sudden, there’s a new stepbrother named Tony who is moving in with Maggie and her parents. On top of that, one of her best friends is withdrawing because Maggie refuses to call her by her preferred name, Rakell (not Rachel as she’s previously gone by).
The Shape of Thunder follows two former best friends Quinn and Cora whose lives have been altered by a tragic event. Quinn’s brother Parker killed Cora’s sister in a school shooting. Understandably, this created a rift between both girls, even though they still deeply care for each other and have been friends since kindergarten. As they approach the first anniversary of the shooting, Quinn thinks she’s found a way to undo what happened and reaches out to Cora to work with her.
Clues to the Universe follows Ro and a boy in her school Benji. In this debut middle grade book told from two points of view, Ro and Benji become lab partners and form a pact to help each other achieve their goals. For Ro, that’s building the rocket she and her dad always meant to build before he died a year ago. And for Benji, it’s not getting a failing grade in science by tacking on to Ro’s science project. But when Benji discovers that a popular comic artist is his estranged father, Ro insists on helping Benji reunite with his father.
As a huge fan of art and a photographer myself, finding these best middle grade books about art, crafting and photography made me squeal. Many of the middle grade books about art are art-related mysteries, but I’m happy that several…
Thirteen-year-old Olivia is excited about going on a road trip back to California with her sister and their uncle and aunt. Their family moved to Tennessee from California three years ago, and the girls had buried a time capsule before their move. Olivia’s big sister Ruth is now 16 and clinically depressed. She has good and bad days and is on medication to manage her depression. Olivia feels responsible for Ruth’s happiness and has a plan to recover their time capsule, while doing a photo project during their trip to remind Ruth of good times and make her just a little happier. But she soon finds out that with mental illness, it’s not always so simple.
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.
Georgia’s father was a renowned fine artist in New York before he died from cancer while only in his fifties. It’s been two years since he died, and her mom seems to be absorbed in managing his estate and trying to keep the family afloat financially. Georgia is still deeply grieving and dealing with several complicated feelings about her father, the world’s view of him, and her friendship with her oldest and best friend, Theo, who was also close to her dad.