HomeFeaturesBook ListsAnticipated Middle Grade Reads of Early 2021

Anticipated Middle Grade Reads of Early 2021

Most Anticipated Middle Grade Reads 2021

I think the fact that it was, at least, twice as hard to find upcoming middle grade releases says something about how much they are undervalued in literature. Even with access to the publishing house’s catalogues it was difficult to comb through, requiring me to separate Young Adult, early chapter books, and pictures books from Middle Grade.

Middle Grade is a fantastic genre – not just because it seems to have a great handle on the concept of genuine inclusivity, diverse stories, perspectives and voices, but it packages it in highly entertaining, completely imaginative worlds. Eliminating the need to dedicate space to the standard romance that is forced into the Young Adult genre, Middle Grade leaves room for the other big emotions and discussions: love (in all its forms), acceptance, friendship, curiosity, racism, prejudices, fear, anxiety, mental health. I learn so much from Middle Grade, not the least of which is empathy and understanding for my own daughter and the challenges/pressures she faces. But mostly, I read Middle Grade because it gives me hope and, for the most part, is so dang delightful!

So here are some of the middle grade titles on my radar for the first half of 2021:

Root Magic

Root MagicWritten by Eden Royce

In stores January 5, from Walden Pond Press.

This debut historical fiction ghost story is going to travel us back to the 1960s South Carolina and enchant us with a read full of friendship and Black Girl Magic. School integration has arrived in South Carolina and twins, Jezebel and Jay Turner, will be starting the school year at a new school with completely new faces. But the biggest change is to come on their eleventh birthday, when their Uncle Doc tells them it is time for them to learn Root Magic. As evil – human and inhuman – surrounds her town, Jez will find she needs every bit of magic she has to get through.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Amari and the Night Brothers

Amari and the Night Brothers book coverWritten by B.B. Alston

In stores January 19, from Balzer & Bray.

If magical schools and supernatural beings of all kinds are your jam, you’ll want to grab this one! When Amari Peters’ older brother Quinton disappears, she is shocked to discover no one really cares and that the police assume he was up to something illegal. Then she discovers a ticking briefcase in his closet meant for her and a nomination form for a summer tryout at the Secretive Bureau of Supernatural Affairs. Determined to find out what happened to Quinton, Amari sets out to compete for a spot … it’s just going to be a bit strange getting used to her Weredragon roommate and the fact that mermaids, dwarves, yetis, and magicians are, in fact, real.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

The Accidental Apprentice (Wilderlore #1)

Wilderlore the Accidental Apprentice book coverWritten by Amanda Foody

In stores March 30, from Margaret K. McElderry Books.

Magic, animal companions, and dark forests are all Middle Grade buzzwords I’m drawn to. I’m especially excited to see Amanda Foody’s foray into the Middle Grade genre after enjoying her Young Adult books – especially the Ace of Shades series. Barclay Thorne was warned – never go into the woods, for therein lies evil magical beasts. When he accidentally breaks this rule, he finds himself unwittingly bonded to a Beast and is run out his village. To break the bond he must travel to the town of Lore Keepers, a group of fellow magically bonded folk. As he makes friends and learns more of his magic, will he decide to break his bond and return home … or face a whole new life of adventure? (I know which path I’m rooting for!)

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

The Nightmare Thief

The Nightmare Thief book coverWritten by Nicole Lesperance

In stores January 12, from Sourcebooks Young Readers.

My ten year old was especially drawn to the premise of this Middle Grade story centring around dreams and nightmares. Maren Partridge works in her family’s dream shop, where she can handcraft any dream. The only rule is you cannot force a dream on an unwilling recipient. But when her sister Hallie is left in a coma, Marin is certain she can heal her by delivering Hallie dreams. When a customer realizes what Maren has done, the stranger blackmails her into creating custom nightmares for a dangerous purpose …

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

The Gilded Girl

The Gilded Girl book coverWritten by Alyssa Colman

In stores April 6, from Farrar, Straus & Giroux.

We are heading off to another magical school, but of the proper, refined variety at Miss Posterity’s Academy for Practical Magic. Here, wealthy twelve year old Emma Harris’ world is turned upside down when her father suddenly dies, leaving her penniless and working off her debts at the school. She befriends Izzy, a servant with whom she forms a pact: Emma will teach Izzy magic and Izzy will teach Emma how to survive as a servant. This definitely gave me major The Little Princess vibes and I’m hoping it will be as touching and sweet as the cover promises.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls

Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls book coverWritten by Kaela Rivera

In stores April 13, from HarperCollins.

The remote town of Tierra del Sol is dangerous, especially during the criatura months when powerful spirits break away from Devil’s Alley and capture humans. Only brujas can control these spirits, however Brujia is illegal in Tierra del Sol. When Cecelia Rios’ older sister is captured by a powerful criatura, she will have to become a bruja herself to get her back – hiding her secret quest from her family.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

The Last Fallen Star (Gifted Clans #1)

The Last Fallen Star book coverWritten by Graci Kim

In stores May 4, from Rick Riordan Presents.

Knock-on-wood, I have yet to read a Riordan Presents novel that hasn’t blown me away … so I’m eagerly anticipating both The Last Fallen Star and City of the Plague God. The exploration of numerous cultures and their mythology is fascinating to me! In The Last Fallen Star we will get a glimpse of Korean mythology as we follow Riley Oh, a Korean-American adopted girl, who discovers on her thirteenth birthday she is the only family member in a line of powerful witches to not possess powers. In an attempt to solve this, her older sister Hattie offers to share her own magic with Riley, but the ceremony does not go as planned and Hattie’s life is now in jeopardy. To save her, Riley must fulfill an impossible task – find the last fallen star.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Ophie’s Ghosts

Ophie's Ghosts book coverWritten by Justina Ireland

In stores May 18, from Balzer & Bray.

This sounds like an amazing read to devour in the fall and knowing Justina Ireland’s writing from Dread Nation … she could really pack a spooky punch. Taking us back to 1922, we follow Ophelia Harrison, a young Black girl living in a small house in the Georgia countryside. Until one night her home and her father are taken from her. This is also the night she discovers she can see ghosts. Now, living in Pittsburgh with her mother and distant relatives, she and her mom get a job at a wealthy manor house. Here Ophie will encounter the numerous ghosts of Daffodil Manor – some good, some bad – learning this manor has many buried secrets.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Of a Feather

Of a Feather book coverWritten by Dayna Lorentz

In stores February 9, from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

When an orphaned great horned owl named Rufus meets Reenie, a young girl who’s given up on adults, on her aunt’s falcon farm, they form a powerful friendship. Learning from each other to trust – both the world outside and those within it. I’m thinking tissues will be necessary with this one!

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

The Last Shadow Warrior

The Last Shadow Warrior book coverWritten by Sam Subity

In stores April 6, from Scholastic Press.

Here we go again, me and mythology! This time returning to Norse mythology as we follow twelve-year old Abby Beckett, a proud descendant of the elite Viking warriors, the Aesir, who are responsible for protecting the world from their ancient foe, the Grendels. Because Grendels haven’t been spotted in generations, the Viking Council is threatening to disband the Aesir. After an attack leaves Abby’s father in a coma, she must take refuge at Vale Hall in Minnesota where she discovers she is being hunted by a Grendel … however, no one will believe her.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

The Elephant in the Room

The Elephant in the Room book coverWritten by Holly Goldberg Sloan

In stores March 2, from Dial Books.

Sila hasn’t seen her mother in almost a year, since she traveled to Turkey to secure paperwork that would allow her to immigrate to the United States. One night, while accompanying her mechanic father on a service call, Sila meets a grandfatherly man who just won the state lottery. Together they form a friendship and decide to save a circus elephant named Veda. A story about familial separation and the bond between humans and animals, this looks like a genuinely touching story for our times.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

The In-Between

The In-Between book coverWritten by Rebecca K.S. Ansari

In stores January 26, from Walden Pond Press

Mysterious and full of heart, this is the novel that is speaking to my inner twelve year old. Cooper is struggling – his father left, his sister annoys him, he has withdrawn from his friends, and there is a girl next door who keeps staring at him. When his little sister stumbles across a hundred year old mystery involving a deadly train accident and an unidentified boy who is only known for the strange insignia symbol on his coat … a symbol never seen since, until Cooper sees it on the jacket of the girl next door. What is this girl’s connection to the tragedy?

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Any purchases made via retailer links provided in this article may result in this site receiving a share of that sale.

Welcome to And other tales. The little corner of the interweb where we don’t count cups of coffee, believe cancelling plans to stay home & read is just good life advice, refuse to acknowledge the calories in baked goods and will never judge you on the number of marshmallows in your hot chocolate or the size of your TBR piles. Curl up, get comfy and click through for book reviews, life chats, playlists, vegan & gluten free baking recipes, gift guides and more.

Newest Articles