It’s almost September, which means we’ll get a ton of new middle-grade books to knock our socks off! Check out this slideshow to find the ones we’re excited about here at Let’s Fox About It! You can also check out previous months’ roundups in our Lists category!
Lalani of the Distant Sea – Erin Entrada Kelly
There are stories of extraordinary children who are chosen from birth to complete great quests and conquer evil villains.
This is no such story.
Sometimes, you are an ordinary child.
Sometimes, you have to choose yourself.
This is the story of Lalani Sarita, a twelve-year-old girl who lives on the island of Sanlagita in the shadow of a vengeful mountain. When she makes a fateful wish that endangers her already-vulnerable village, she sets out across the distant sea in search of life’s good fortunes. Grown men have died making the same journey. What hope does an ordinary girl have?
Inspired by Filipino folklore, Lalani of the Distant Sea introduces readers to a landscape of magical creatures, such as Bai-Vinca, the enormous birdwoman; Ditasa Ulod, part woman, part eel; the mindoren, a race of creatures modeled after the water buffalo; and the whenbo — trees that eat the souls of the dead. (Goodreads)
Out September 3 from Greenwillow Books
Stargazing – Jen Wang
Moon is everything Christine isn’t. She’s confident, impulsive, artistic . . . and though they both grew up in the same Chinese-American suburb, Moon is somehow unlike anyone Christine has ever known.
When Moon’s family moves in next door to Christine’s, Moon goes from unlikely friend to best friend―maybe even the perfect friend. The girls share their favorite music videos, paint their toenails when Christine’s strict parents aren’t around, and make plans to enter the school talent show together. Moon even tells Christine her deepest secret: that she sometimes has visions of celestial beings who speak to her from the stars. Who reassure her that earth isn’t where she really belongs.
But when they’re least expecting it, catastrophe strikes. After relying on Moon for everything, can Christine find it in herself to be the friend Moon needs?
New York Times–bestselling author-illustrator Jen Wang draws on her childhood to paint a deeply personal yet wholly relatable friendship story that’s at turns joyful, heart-wrenching, and full of hope. (Goodreads)
Out September 10 from First Second Books.
Owl’s Outstanding Donuts – Robin Yardi
After Mattie Waters loses her mother, she goes to live with her aunt, the owner of a roadside donut shop in Big Sur, California. When an owl taps on Mattie’s window one night, Mattie looks out to see something suspicious taking place nearby. With help from her friends–and from Alfred, a stuffy but good-hearted owl–she’ll set out to find the culprits, facing fears that have followed her since her mother’s death. (Goodreads)
Out September 3 from Carolrhoda Books
Sauerkraut – Kelly Jones, Paul Davey
A new quirky-funny book from the author of Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer about a boy whose plans for the summer go sideways when the ghost of his great-great-grandmother demands his attention.
HD Schenk is a maker–an inventor, a builder of things. He wants to show everyone what he can do, and his plan is to build his own computer and enter it in the county fair. To earn money for the parts, HD has promised to clean out his uncle’s basement. Simple enough–until a voice starts talking to him about cabbage.
Funny thing–it seems that the ghost of his great-great-grandmother is haunting a dusty old pickling crock. And she has a grand plan, too. She wants HD to make her famous recipe for sauerkraut and enter it in the county fair so that she can be declared pickle queen.
After some initial shock, HD is willing enough to help. This ghost is family, after all. But a person can only enter one thing at the fair–and only HD can really see and hear his grandmother, which is going to make it hard for her to enter on her own. . . .
Kelly Jones spins a wonderfully goofy ghost tale that celebrates creative problem solving, family ties, and makers of every variety. (Goodreads)
Out September 10 from Knopf Books for Young Readers
The Light in the Lake – Sarah R. Baughman
A remarkable debut novel that takes readers on a journey of discovery, magic, science, and hope.
Twelve-year-old Addie should stay away from Maple Lake. After all, her twin brother, Amos, drowned there only a few months ago. But its crisp, clear water runs in Addie’s veins, and the notebook Amos left behind — filled with clues about a mysterious creature that lives in the lake’s inky-blue depths — keeps calling her back.
So despite her parents’ fears, Addie accepts a Young Scientist position studying the lake for the summer, promising she’ll stick to her job of measuring water pollution levels under adult supervision. Still, Addie can’t resist the secrets of Maple Lake. She enlists the lead researcher’s son, Tai, to help her investigate Amos’s clues. As they collect evidence, they also learn that Maple Lake is in trouble — and the source of the pollution might be close to home. Addie finds herself caught between the science she has always prized and the magic that brings her closer to her brother, and the choice she makes will change everything. (Goodreads)
Out September 3 from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pavi Sharma’s Guide to Going Home – Bridget Farr
A foster kid with a can-do attitude teaches the value of family and home.
Twelve-year-old Pavi Sharma is an expert at the Front Door Face: the perfect mix of puppy dog eyes and a lemonade smile, the exact combination to put foster parents at ease as they open their front door to welcome you in. After being bounced around between foster families and shelter stays, Pavi is a foster care expert, and she runs a “business” teaching other foster kids all she has learned. With a wonderful foster family in mom Marjorie and brother Hamilton, things are looking up for Pavi.
Then Pavi meets Meridee: a new five-year-old foster kid, who is getting placed at Pavi’s first horrendous foster home. Pavi knows no one will trust a kid about what happened on Lovely Lane, even one as mature as she is, so it’s up to her to save Meridee.
With help from Hamilton, brooding eighth grader Santos, and Hamilton’s somewhat obnoxious BFF Piper, they set off on an important mission with life-changing stakes. Pavi will stop at nothing to keep Meridee from the home that still haunts her nightmares. (Goodreads)
Out September 17 from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
The Green Children of Woolpit – J. Anderson Coats
An eerie, spine-tingling fantasy about a young girl who discovers two otherworldly children—and an ancient bargain that threatens to destroy them all.
It is the autumn of 1160, and twelve-year-old Agnes is helping with the harvest when she hears a frightened voice calling from the nearby woods. When she goes to investigate, Agnes can’t believe what she sees. There, at the bottom of the deep wolf traps, are two children. They are shouting in a language no one understands—and their skin is bright green.
Agnes soon discovers that these are no ordinary children; in fact, they aren’t even human. They are of the Fair Folk, and they are here to take Agnes home to their world. Trusting that the Fair Folk cannot lie, Agnes agrees to venture underground. But she soon learns just how dangerous their world is—and what it will take to break the ancient bargain meant to keep her there.
Based on a classic British legend, this deliciously creepy novel from acclaimed author J. Anderson Coats is perfect for fans of Doll Bones and Coraline. (Goodreads)
Out September 10 from Atheneum
The Star Shepherd – Dan Haring, MarcyKate Connolly
Neil Gaiman meets How to Train Your Dragon in this beautifully illustrated middle-grade novel about a boy, his trusted dog, and his best friend, as they race to save the stars before their light is extinguished for good.
When the world first formed, the night was black and filled with dark creatures. The Elders knew their people couldn’t survive under such a threat. So they gave their hearts to the sky in the form of stars to keep evil away.
Now, eleven-year-old Kyro is a Star Shepherd like his father. He’s spent his life tucked away in the small town of Drenn. There, the family watches the night sky for falling stars―and rushes to rescue them when they do.
When too many stars start falling at once, and disappearing before they can be saved, Kyro’s father journeys to report the threat. But when he doesn’t return, Kyro, with the help of his best friend, Andra, and his trusty dog, Cypher, must find a way to save the stars before the dark creatures make a terrifying return. (Goodreads)
Out September 10 from Sourcebooks Jabberwocky
Indian No More – Charlene Willing McManis, Traci Sorell
Regina Petit’s family has always been Umpqua, and living on the Grand Ronde reservation is all ten-year-old Regina has ever known. Her biggest worry is that Sasquatch may actually exist out in the forest. But when the federal government signs a bill into law that says Regina’s tribe no longer exists, Regina becomes “Indian no more” overnight–even though she was given a number by the Bureau of Indian Affairs that counted her as Indian, even though she lives with her tribe and practices tribal customs, and even though her ancestors were Indian for countless generations.
With no good jobs available in Oregon, Regina’s father signs the family up for the Indian Relocation program and moves them to Los Angeles. Regina finds a whole new world in her neighborhood on 58th Place. She’s never met kids of other races, and they’ve never met a real Indian. For the first time in her life, Regina comes face to face with the viciousness of racism, personally and toward her new friends.
Meanwhile, her father believes that if he works hard, their family will be treated just like white Americans. But it’s not that easy. It’s 1957 during the Civil Rights Era. The family struggles without their tribal community and land. At least Regina has her grandmother, Chich, and her stories. At least they are all together.
In this moving middle-grade novel drawing upon Umpqua author Charlene Willing McManis’s own tribal history, Regina must find out: Who is Regina Petit? Is she Indian? Is she American? And will she and her family ever be okay? (Goodreads)
Out September 24 from Tu Books.
More to the Story – Hena Khan
From the critically acclaimed author of Amina’s Voice comes a new story inspired by Louisa May Alcott’s beloved classic, Little Women, featuring four sisters from a modern American Muslim family living in Georgia.
When Jameela Mirza is picked to be feature editor of her middle school newspaper, she’s one step closer to being an award-winning journalist like her late grandfather. The problem is her editor-in-chief keeps shooting down her article ideas. Jameela’s assigned to write about the new boy in school, who has a cool British accent but doesn’t share much, and wonders how she’ll make his story gripping enough to enter into a national media contest.
Jameela, along with her three sisters, is devastated when their father needs to take a job overseas, away from their cozy Georgia home for six months. Missing him makes Jameela determined to write an epic article—one to make her dad extra proud. But when her younger sister gets seriously ill, Jameela’s world turns upside down. And as her hunger for fame looks like it might cost her a blossoming friendship, Jameela questions what matters most, and whether she’s cut out to be a journalist at all… (Goodreads)
Out September 3 from Salaam Reads.
Some Places More than Others – Renee Watson
Newbery Honor author Renée Watson explores a family’s relationships and Harlem—its history, culture, arts, and people.
All Amara wants is to visit her father’s family in Harlem. Her wish comes true when her dad decides to bring her along on a business trip. She can’t wait to finally meet her extended family and stay in the brownstone where her dad grew up. Plus, she wants to visit every landmark from the Apollo to Langston Hughes’s home.
But her family, and even the city, is not quite what Amara thought. Her dad doesn’t speak to her grandpa, and the crowded streets can be suffocating as well as inspiring. But as she learns more and more about Harlem—and her father’s history—Amara realizes how, in some ways more than others, she can connect with this other home and family.
This is a powerful story about family, the places that make us who we are, and how we find ways to connect to our history across time and distance. (Goodreads)
Out September 3 from Bloomsbury Children’s Books
The Everything I Have Lost – Sylvia Aguilar-Zeleny
12-year-old Julia keeps a diary about her life growing up in Juarez, Mexico. Life in Juarez is strange. People say its the murder capital of the world. Dad’s gone a lot. They can’t play outside because it isn’t safe. Drug cartels rule the streets. Cars and people disappear, leaving behind pet cats. Then Dad disappears and Julia and her brother go live with her aunt in El Paso. What’s happened to her Dad? Julia wonders. Is he going to disappear forever? A coming-of-age story set in today’s Juarez. (Goodreads)
Out September 3 from Cinco Punto Press
Strange Birds: A Field Guide to Ruffling Feathers – Celia C. Perez
From the award-winning author of The First Rule of Punk comes the story of four kids who form an alternative Scout troop that shakes up their sleepy Florida town.
When three very different girls find a mysterious invitation to a lavish mansion, the promise of adventure and mischief is too intriguing to pass up.
Ofelia Castillo (a budding journalist), Aster Douglas (a bookish foodie), and Cat Garcia (a rule-abiding birdwatcher) meet the kid behind the invite, Lane DiSanti, and it isn’t love at first sight. But they soon bond over a shared mission to get the Floras, their local Scouts, to ditch an outdated tradition. In their quest for justice, independence, and an unforgettable summer, the girls form their own troop and find something they didn’t know they needed: sisterhood. (Goodreads)
Out September 3 from Kokila Books
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