Tae Keller’s newest middle grade book, Jennifer Chan Is Not Alone, opens with new girl Jennifer Chan declared missing at her middle school. As whispers begin, her next-door neighbor Mallory Moss worries that Jennifer may have been abducted by aliens (which Jennifer believed existed). Mallory reunites with two former friends begging them to help her find Jennifer following clues from her time with Jennifer and the diary Jennifer left behind. The story alternates between past and present as readers discover that Mallory’s search is also motivated by an ulterior motive: the need to prove that she and her popular friends didn’t run Jennifer Chan out of town with their bullying.
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.
Sofia Acosta Makes a Scene follows fifth grader Sofia Acosta who feels like the black sheep of her ballet-loving family. Her parents were professional dancers who emigrated from Cuba to the United States. Her sister, Regina is a ballet prodigy whose eyes are set on the American Ballet Theater (ABT) and even their little brother Manuel is an excellent ballet dancer. Sofia, though? She can’t stop stepping on people’s toes when she dances. What she loves the most is sewing the costumes for the dancers and hanging out with her best friend Tricia. But when a family friend visiting from Cuba hints at staying in the US long-term to dance for the ABT, Tricia’s response hints at prejudice that Sofia never saw coming. Will Sofia stand up for what’s right?
Meg and Riley’s lives change when the two girls meet at the nurse’s office and bond over jelly beans. But the road to friendship isn’t without bumps. Meg’s mom has not been herself since Meg’s father died. She hardly gets out of bed and can’t hold a job or do food shopping. Meg wears slippers to school and a ratty t-shirt. Riley on the other hand has Type 1 Diabetes and has an insulin pump. She also has to check her sugar and track how much sugar she’s consuming so that her pump can supply enough insulin for her needs.
Magic Pointdexter is her family’s “ugly duckling.” Her father is an ex-NBA player, her sister a famous cheerleader, and her late grandmother was also a ceiling-shattering cheerleader. Magic is awkward, chubbier than your typical cheerleader, and loves sweets more than anything else. But she’s decided: she’s going to cheer camp to try her hand out at becoming a Honeybee. Her best friend and child star Capricorn is coming with her (mostly for moral support — Cappie is an athletic, talented dancer). But once they arrive at camp and get sorted into teams by ability, Magic and Cappie’s friendship starts to show cracks.
In The Kate in Between, Kate McAllister’s life is in need of a refresh. Her mother has left town chasing the highest tier in an MLM scheme and Kate is living with her cop dad and getting driven to school in his police car. When a bunch of popular kids seems to welcome Kate into their clique, she is torn about ditching her longtime best friend, Haddie. Haddie marches to the beat of her own drum and could care less about being accepted. Things get complicated, however, when Kate is a passive participant in a bullying incident that leads to Haddie sinking on thin ice. Then, Kate is captured on camera saving Haddie, and the video goes viral
Calliope (Callie), her brother Jax, and her parents have moved across the pond to Scotland after they inherited a castle from an older woman whose small cottage they lived in as university students. Callie is hoping for a fresh start after a falling out with her friends back in the States. However, she quickly realizes that fresh starts aren’t automatic, even when you move countries.
Vera feels like the outsider with her American friends who are more well-to-do and have slumber parties in their larger houses.
When she tries and fails to fit in repeatedly, she decides that she will go to summer camp just as her friends do. This way, she’ll have something to say when they’re all sharing summer plans and experiences. However, the Russian Scout camp she and her brother are sent to is not at all like the American summer camp she envisioned. Gross toilets, snobby older kids, a lot of reading in Russian and tough outdoor conditions teach Vera much about life and friendships.
Fourth grader Mya Tibbs is excited for Spirit Week! She has made plans to partner with her best friend Naomi Jackson. Mya’s life seems pretty good with her brother Nugget, his best friend affectionately known as Fish, and her other friends, identical twins Starr and Skye. The one scary part is Mean Connie Tate, who everyone knows is the biggest fourth-grade bully. So, you can imagine Mya’s terror when she’s partnered with Connie and Connie refuses to trade partners. On top of that, Naomi is mad at Mya for not trying harder to trade partners. Even the twins who agree on everything are getting torn apart because Skye wants to stay friends with Mya, while Starr is on Naomi’s side.
But as Mya works with Connie, she realizes that things aren’t as she’s thought.
Real Friends is Shannon Hale’s graphic memoir of her middle school experience with real friends — and girls who weren’t quite friends. Shannon and Adrienne have been best friends since Shannon came out of her shell in early elementary school. She had earlier been the shy middle child who never felt like she quite fit in anywhere. But with Adrienne, it was like she could finally exhale. But when Adrienne starts hanging out with the popular girl, Jen, Shannon suddenly doesn’t know where she fits in anymore.
In The Queen Bee and Me, Beatrix and Meg have always been a package deal — best friends since kindergarten! Lately though, things have changed between the girls. Meg can’t forget the time Beatrix froze her out when she annoyed her and she’s also noticed that Beatrix can’t stand it when she disagrees with any of her opinions. Still, Meg loves science and when she’s invited to join a special advanced science class, she can’t say no.