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Favourite Middle Grade of 2021

You need to read more middle grade. Whatever age or type of reader you are, I highly encourage you to add middle grade titles into your yearly reading goals for 2022. To help you in your selection, here are ten of my favourite Middle Grade stories from 2021!  You can also find many more excellent Middle Grade titles on this site here.

Tomorrow, I’ll be sharing some of my most anticipated Middle Grade releases for the first half of 2022 … talk to you then! 

Oh, one final note: If you’re looking for more middle grade in your life this year, or wanting to help along a reluctant reader, or celebrate a little bookworm, sign up for an OwlCrate Jr. subscription! A monthly book subscription box that sends you a vetted, newly released, hardcover Middle Grade story along with a box full of carefully curated goodies – toys, games, stationery and bookish merchandise – to help celebrate that story. Use code TALES15 and you can save 15% at checkout! 

So my favs of 2021, in no particular order:

Kiki Kallira Breaks a KingdomKiki Kallira Breaks a Kingdom

Written by Sangu Mandanna

Published by Viking Books for Young Readers

Smart, funny, smoothly written, and perfectly plotted, this incredibly imaginative middle grade follows along an entirely relatable main character who grapples with anxiety, who finds solace in sketching. But that calming effect is lessened when the characters from her imagination come alive from her pages and draw her into the kingdom of her own making, and she alone is tasked with its salvation. My favourite combination of heart, entertainment, and humour.

Full review HERE.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Root MagicRoot Magic

Written by Eden Royce

Published by Walden Pond Press

Oh I wish I knew the words to make you jump up right now and go read this story. The Black novel that talks about the Black experience living in America in a strong way that kids (and the adults reading it) can physically feel, Eden writes so exceptionally you’re at the edge of your seat throughout this story. While centred in the past, it completely parallels the realities of racism today, while bringing to life family, Black magic, and the Southern Carolina Swampland. Root Magic is an exceptional story slowly told.

Full review HERE.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Wilderlore The Accidental ApprenticeWilderlore: The Accidental Apprentice

Written by Amanda Foody

Published by Margaret K. McElderry Books

While the concept of magical schools for children is well trodden ground, somehow Amanda Foody has created an entirely comforting, joyous yarn, that feels fresh and new. A story that follows a young orphan who lives in an itty bitty village in which all citizens must abide by one rule: never enter the darkly enchanted wood that surrounds them. When Barclay accidentally does so, and bonds with a magical beast, he must journey deeper into said woods to find the town of Lore Keepers to help break that bond. All the makings of a classical middle grade are here: magic, comforting cups of cider, friendships, and anthropomorphic animal companions.

Full review HERE.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy

Written by Jeanne Birdsall

An oldie but a goodie, if you haven’t read this one yet, I highly recommend setting aside a day or two sometime in the summer to drink some lemonade and escape to a happy, lovely, charming, “bring on the cottage core” vibes, and true childhood joys of this escapist, joyous story. Following along a family of four sisters and their father as they venture to a wealthy estate to rent the small cabin upon it for the summer and all the shenanigans that entail.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Snow & Rose

Written by Emily Winfield Martin

Published by Random House Books for Young Readers

Okay, so I may have recommended this story ad nauseam last year, but my friends, you simply must read it! A beautifully illustrated fairytale, that while it is technically a retelling, feels fresh and entirely its own. Curl up and escape with this charming tale of two sisters and their quest to find their beloved father as they survive in an eery, enchanted wood. Perfect for autumn or wintertime.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

The In-Between book coverThe In-Between

Written by Rebecca K.S. Ansari

Published by Walden Pond Press

My love for this contemporary, magical realism story holds no bounds and I have a difficult time articulating exactly why … but I’ll repeat what I stated in my favourite reads of 2021 article and add in an extra – you should read this! nudge. The In-Between is a simple story about a boy dealing with conflicting emotions after his father abandons the family and works with his sister to solve a 100 year old mystery. But this book rises so far above with its strong emotional pull and how deeply Ansari made me care for her characters.

Full review HERE.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Amari and the Night Brothers book coverAmari and the Night Brothers

Written by B.B. Alston

Published by Balzer + Bray

Have you not heard about this one yet? If so, how? Topping most “Best of The Year” lists, this highly addictive, highly entertaining story feels classic, familiar, and altogether new as we follow along Amari’s journey as she tries to find out what happened after her brother’s mysterious disappearance. Which lands her in a magical school … yes, another magical school … but Amari’s story lands solidly on its own two feet in the popular canon as she is alive with grit, ferocity, and real girl Black magic. Loved it.

Full review HERE.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org


Written & drawn by Sean Rubin

Published by Archaia

This graphic novel surrounding a dinosaur living in plain sight, completely unseen by all except one girl, is pure magic. And you must go read it now … because, dinosaurs. Oh, and of course the poignant tale of how disconnected we are from our world is pretty exceptional too. But, also, cute dinosaur.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Cinders & Sparrows

Written by Stefan Bachmann

Published by Greenwillow Books

I’m so grateful to receive OwlCrate Jr. boxes, because not only are they a constant source of joy every month, I’m exposed to middle grade stories I wouldn’t have known about. Such as this little gem that snuck in at the end of 2020. This witchy, spooky-but-not-scary, haunted house, finding your true self, coming of age story just had the right balance of everything for me – in a stand alone to boot! 12-year-old orphan Zita, makes the journey to the eery Blackbird Castle after a scarecrow delivers the message that she has inherited said Castle. A magical and creepy journey ensues …

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

Eva Evergreen: Semi-Magical Witch

Written by Julie Abe

Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Better late than never! This middle grade has made the rounds on bookstagram and I’m so happy I decided to give it a go because this charming (how many times did I use that word in this article? And no, please don’t go count!) novel combines my favourite middle grade pieces: magic, a character in which things don’t come easy, adorable animal companions, friendships, little cozy cabins, and of course witches! My daughter and I buddy-read this one in October and it was a favourite read for us both!

Full review HERE.

You can find it here: Bookshop.org

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