As of the posting of this, I have read 165 books, 13 of which were middle grade. I know it’s not a lot, and barely constitutes writing out a top 5 list, but I’ve loved a lot of the middle grade that I’ve read this year, and none of them are being highlighted on my top 10 overall, so I thought it’d be fun to give them a little chance to shine. As always, a few rules:
- It doesn’t have to be published in 2019, just read in 2019.
- Rereads don’t count, and only one book per author.
- Only one book per series, as well!
They’re arranged alphabetically, each will contain a Goodreads link so you can read the summaries if you’re intrigued on the why they made this list, and then I’m going to try to hook you with one sentence.
What: The Last Life of Prince Alastor by Alexandra Bracken
Why: This was such a lovely conclusion to this duology. Unlike most of the rest of the world, I think, I discovered Bracken through her middle grade first before venturing into her YA, and it’s been such a joy. Prosper & Alastor are a delightful little pair, and I love the snippy way they have with each other. I was really pleased to be able to see the demon realm this time, and to get to watch Alastor really come into his own. Of course, that ending had me sniffling a little, and it was very cool to see all the Reddings come together to kick some butt. A satisfying end, and definitely something that will make me keep reading more by Bracken.
Hook: A young boy finds himself the unexpected host to a whiny demon, and must discover why their worlds are colliding.
What: Wildwood Imperium by Colin Meloy & Carson Ellis
Why: Oh, I quite love the Wildwood series. I loved all of them, really, and while I read the last two this year, the finale was definitely my favorite. The stakes felt higher, the story was finally weaving together, and the characters had me on the edge of my seat, unsure of what they might do next. I don’t normally include anything but the first in a series on these types of lists because spoilers make it hard to talk about why I loved them so much, but if for the artwork alone, you should pick this up. It’s gorgeously illustrated, and Meloy has such a unique way of storytelling. I love how real his kids are, how he incorporates the struggles a twelve-year-old would definitely be facing, and doesn’t let them be anything but what they truly are–sometimes clever, sometimes homesick, and always brave.
Hook: When Prue’s baby brother is kidnapped by crows, she must adventure into the Impassible Wilderness to get him back.
What: The Extremely Inconvenient Adventures of Bronte Mettlestone by Jaclyn Moriarty
Why: I’m finding that, on each of these lists, there’s usually a book where I slap it down and say, “If I had to choose only one, it would be this one.” Hi, that’s this book! This is, hands down, my favorite middle grade of the year. The title and cover art alone should tell you that it’s going to be a whimsical, adorable adventure, and if it doesn’t, rest assured, it’s way more than you’re even expecting. I love how it’s written in sometimes short, sometimes long, always rambling chapters because it’s told from a ten-year-old’s perspective. I love, love, LOVE the characters so much, and I was so pleased when the sequel finally arrived at my house. Both of these were such a joy, and I would continue reading in this universe forever.
Hook: After her parents are killed by pirates, they leave Bronte a will done in faery cross-stitch that outlines explicit instructions on how to save the world.
What: Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab
Why: I love Edinburgh, and I was so happy to be able to wander its spooky streets, but there’s something about the Parisian catacombs that get me. I’ve always told friends that I have one stipulation for a future France trip–if they refuse to come into the catacombs with me, I’m taking someone else along. I don’t want to go in alone, but I do desperately want to go in. And this only made that want more apparent! It was such a spooky, wonderful tale of history and ghost lore all wrapped up in skulls, and I loved it so much. It was so fun to be back with Cassidy & Jacob, to meet a few new friends along the way, and to learn more about the ghost world, which meant learning more about Jacob, too. Ugh, I just love the way Schwab writes characters, and I can’t wait for the next installment in this. Heck, I just can’t wait to find out what city the next one takes place in.
Hook: You’d think there’s nothing worse than talking about ghosts while surrounded by bones, but you’d be wrong–an angry poltergeist hellbent on murdering you surrounded by bones is infinitely worse.
What: City of Islands by Kali Wallace
Why: Gosh, I think so fondly of this book every single time. It’s so full of pure wonder and awe, and the magic in it is so unique and beautiful. The writing, as always with Wallace, is phenomenal, but it’s her characters that sink their hooks in and keep me reading. I was desperate to find out how Mara’s story ended, but I also kept hoping for scenes surrounded by other people because Wallace populates her books with incredible side characters that yank at your attention nearly as much as the MC. In the end, though, it’s the magic that really sits with me. I’ve never read anything quite like it, and I’m so sad there isn’t more.
Hook: Mara is determined to prove that the bones lost at the bottom of the sea sing their magic to her, but she never expected to uncover a murderous conspiracy along the way.