With alternating stories, Just Like That by Gary D. Schmidt (Clarion Books, 2021) tells the story of two 14-year-olds in 1968 who are coming to terms with something big that happened, which changed their lives completely “just like that.” Meryl Lee Kowalski (a name familiar to those who have read The Wednesday Wars) has been

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Meesha Makes Friends by Tom Percival (Bloomsbury, 2021) is a delightful picture book with a play on the word “makes” in the story. Meesha feels very shy, and does not always understand social clues of those around her. In order to not feel lonely, she makes things out of cardboard and other materials to be

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Dory Fantasmagory by Abby Hanlon (Dial Books, 2014) perfectly captures the thought process and imagination exaggeration of a super creative first grader. With a mix of text and comical illustrations, Hanlon puts together a fantasmagory (“a shifting melody of real or imagined characters”) of any imaginary play time. My very imaginative eight-year-old loved the mix

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Ginny is used to moving. Even at age 11, this is fifth move. That’s what happens when your dad is military. But her dad’s surprise deployment throws off Ginny’s confidence. Now, in Ginny Off the Map by Caroline Hickey (Christy Ottaviano Books, June 2023), Ginny faces a new house and neighborhood and a long summer

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In the middle grade graphic novel Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (Dial Books, March 2015), Astrid finds her interests differing from that of her best friend Nicole for the first time. Although Astrid wants to try an exciting new hobby the summer before sixth grade, Nicole wants to keep it safe by going to ballet

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A First Time for Everything by Dan Santat (First Second, February 2023) is a middle grade graphic novel memoir of Dan’s experiences when he was 13 years old and had the opportunity to explore Europe. Set in 1989, a different era for traveling, the novel captures the essence of that time. The story revolves around

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Most kids would be happy when their parents don’t make them eat their broccoli. But ten-year-old Charlie wants his parents to care for him. As is, they care more than the endangered animals they travel the world to help. It’s only when his parents leave him with his TV-obsessed grandparents and Charlie solves a small-town

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When Katie and her family return home after an out-of-town funeral, they find themselves evicted from their apartment. To Katie’s dismay, her mother then settles into an Extended Stay hotel as their for-now home while she searches for a new job and an affordable apartment. A middle-grade memoir written in verse, The In-Between by Katie

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Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina (Candlewick, 2018) was a great first novel to read this year. Merci’s story of the first half of sixth grade is a sweet, fun, and tender book. It deals with the realities of growing up and watches as Merci comes to a new understanding and place of growth.

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The Cool Code by Deirdre Langeland, illustrated by Sarah Mai (Clarion Books, 2022), is an amusing graphic novel about a formerly homeschooled eighth-grader who creates an app to help her be “cool” in her new school. Zoey enters school worried about how to make friends, and in the end, she finds the true meaning of

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