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Some of the Year's Best Middle Grade Recommendations from our 2020 Winter Newsletter

These titles were featured in our 2020 Winter Newsletter.

The Land of the Cranes by Aida Salazar

Babita knew that one day she, Papi, and Mami would fly to El Norte like the cranes, then “bad men could not harm them, and Abuelita would not worry.” Years later in the US, Papi is swept up in an ICE raid. When Babita and Mami are held in detention, Babita uses her picture stories to help her family find one another. This powerful novel in verse is affirming for immigrant children and those wanting to grow their worldview.  — Noreen

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ISBN: 9781338343809
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scholastic Press - September 15th, 2020

Becoming Muhammad Ali Written by James Patterson & Kwame Alexander Illustrated by Dawud Anyabwile

“Boxing was his way out and his way up.” This biographical novel focuses on the early years of the famous boxer Cassius Clay, later known as Muhammad Ali. The story is told in prose by Cassius’s “best friend” Lucky and supported by the boxer’s own voice in poetic form. Strong family values, Black pride, and the determination to never give up are all themes effectively displayed. Sensitive and fast-paced, this book is engaging for even the most reluctant reader. — Noreen

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ISBN: 9780316498166
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: jimmy patterson - October 5th, 2020

Cinders & Sparrows by Stefan Bachmann

This is the perfect fall read, arriving just in time for Halloween but great for any time of year! Fantasy lovers will immediately devour Zita’s journey from neglected orphan to powerful magic user. Zita is fierce and determined, with a big heart, and no matter what any devious witches and wizards say, there is much more power in being kind than there is in darkness and cruelty. I hope to see more from this little Sparrow! — Jae

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ISBN: 9780062289957
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Greenwillow Books - October 13th, 2020

Fly on the Wall by Remy Lai

Henry Khoo, who is NOT a baby, is on a mission to prove his independence. His proof? He’s going on a long-distance trip by himself without telling his family. What follows is a series of mishaps worthy of a farce. This graphic novel/prose hybrid is hilarious, fun, and inspiring. I related so much to Henry and was charmed by his successes and mistakes. Great for fans of Jerry Craft’s New Kid and Shannon Hale’s work. — Ivy

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By Remy Lai, Remy Lai (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781250314116
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) - September 15th, 2020

Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron

Maya doesn’t know what to think when time stops and all the colors drain from the world. Surprise! All the stories about Orishas that her dad has told her are true (and her dad himself is more than he seems). When her dad literally disappears, it’s up to Maya and her friends to save the day. This is a winner for any fantasy fan (like me!) who likes magic rooted in our world: buckle up for a wild ride full of #BlackGirlMagic! — Stephanie

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ISBN: 9781328635181
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HMH Books for Young Readers - September 22nd, 2020

Serena Says by Tanita S. Davis

This wonderful middle-grade novel perfectly captures what it means and feels like to watch the friends you grew up with start to change and drift away. Serena is a vibrant and engaging protagonist, and I loved watching her grow past jealousy and shyness into herself both at school and in her videos. Great for any kid who might be facing a tough transition time or is just looking for a story about relatable, creative kids and their friends.
— Jocelyn

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ISBN: 9780062936974
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Katherine Tegen Books - November 3rd, 2020

When Life Gives You Mangos by Kereen Getten

After her island is hit by a hurricane, Clara loses her memory. She’s teased about it and hates how it sets her apart from the other children. But this summer, Clara is determined to make the best of her time. There’s a sense of mystery in this book, and I couldn’t put it down. The descriptions of Clara’s island are lush and delicious. I also found it very easy to invest in the characters. Great for precocious middle graders. — MJ

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ISBN: 9780593173978
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Delacorte Books for Young Readers - October 20th, 2020

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