May 29, 2018 Middle Grade New Releases

Happy release week to these middle grade books making their rounds through our reviewers!


Thank you to @kidlitexchange for providing the review copies of these books. All opinions are our own.


From You to Me by K.A. Holt
(Scholastic Press ~ May 29, 2018)

img_5987Review and Photo by Caitlyn B. ~ Originally on Instagram @missbsbooks

Oh. My. Word. This. Book. Amelia is an eighth grader struggling with the death of her older sister from three years ago. She finds a letter her sister wrote to herself. This letter has a list of goals she wanted to accomplish, but never did. Amelia attempts to accomplish everything on the list to help herself feel more at peace.

This book beautifully portrays long term grief in a way that I don’t think I’ve seen in a middle grade/YA book. Amelia often cries without realizing it, and she can tell that the constant grief is beginning to naturally wear on her best friend, Taylor. The first person point of view gets the reader in Amelia’s head as both a grieving sister and a regular middle schooler dealing with friendship and trying to find where she fits in her school and community. The everyone-is-looking-at-me-and-judging feeling Amelia can’t shake is incredibly relatable. I also love how Amelia eventually finds her support group of people who “get it,” while maintaining her old friendships.

From a teacher perspective: this would be a “safe” choice (no swearing, sex, or drugs) for any middle grade or YA classroom library (and falling under just two hundred pages, could be a fantastic class novel). This fact doesn’t diminish the novel’s realistic vibe.


Front Desk by Kelly Yang
(Scholastic/Arthur A. Levine ~ May 29, 2018)

img_5992

Review and Photo by Laura ~ Originally on Instagram @librarianmsg

Mia Tang is a recent immigrant to the United States from China in the 1980s. Her parents and she manage a motel; Mia works the front desk…at ten years old. Her parents hide immigrants who need a place to stay in extra rooms in the motel, but at great personal risk.

This book has rocketed into my top 5 for 2018! Mia’s story is loosely based on Kelly Yang’s own childhood and the connection really pays off. Mia is spunky, smart and determined…determined to get better at English, determined to help others who need it and determined to help lift her family out of poverty. I completely fell in love with her and you will, too. Mia’s ability to bring people together and win over strangers is really special. FRONT DESK is full of heart! Put this on ALL the pre-order lists now and plan to read it aloud in upper elementary and lower middle classrooms, too. I would love to see this one on a future summer reading list here at DMS.


Confusion is Nothing New by Paul Acampora
(Scholastic Press ~ May 29, 2018)

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Review and Photo by Laura ~ Originally on Instagram @petriespicks

“Ellie,…. Why did you ever think that doing the right thing would cost nothing?” Confusion is Nothing New tells the story of Ellie, a girl trying to figure out who she is and where she comes from. When she learns that her mother, whom she has never met before, has died from cancer, Ellie is left searching for answers. Since her dad is unwilling to provide her with any information, Ellie sets off on a fact-finding mission of her own. The adventure that ensues is what makes it a perfect middle grade novel. Eventually Ellie learns that the answers to who she is lie with the people that surround her and care for her. Although Ellie is a high school aged character, her story is one that reads younger. This story is full of laugh out loud humor, an unfortunate glockenspiel band incident, a wise nun, a loyal sidekick best friend, and plenty of musical references. I am anxious to add this to my classroom library when it is released on 5/29/18!


The Spirit of Cattail County by Victoria Piontek
(Scholastic ~ May 29, 2018)

img_5989Publisher’s Summary: Sparrow doesn’t have many friends. Some kids believe her house near the swamp is haunted. Others think there’s something “unusual” about her.

But Sparrow’s not lonely — she has a best friend who’s always with her. He sits with Sparrow on her porch swing. He makes her smile by playing pranks in church. Yet Sparrow is the only one who can see him . . . because the Boy is a ghost.

So when her mama passes away, Sparrow doesn’t give up hope. After all, if the Boy can linger after death, then surely Mama can return as well.

But the Boy has a secret of his own, one that Sparrow will need to uncover before the ghost will lead her to Mama. To solve the mystery, Sparrow joins forces with some unlikely allies — Maeve and Johnny, siblings from a family of town outcasts –and Elena, a visiting child fortune-teller.

With its loving depiction of small town life, and characters who feel like old friends, this magical debut will enchant you, dazzle you. . . and make you feel at home.

Look for a review soon on #kidlitexchange!


Mason Jar Science by Jon Adolph
(Storey Publishing, LLC ~ May 29, 2018)

mason jarGood Reads Summary:

Heatproof, transparent, and durable, the mason jar is a science lab just waiting to be discovered. Unlock its potential with 40 dynamic experiments for budding scientists ages 8 and up. Using just a jar and a few ordinary household items, children learn to create miniature clouds, tiny tornadoes, small stalactites, and, of course, great goo and super slime! With a little ingenuity, the jar can be converted into a lava lamp, a water prism, a balloon barometer, and a compass. Each fun-packed project offers small-scale ways to illustrate the big-picture principles of chemistry, botany, biology, physics, and more. 

Look for a review soon on #kidlitexchange!


Fly to the Rescue (Tiny Geniuses #1) by Megan E. Bryant
(Storey Publishing, LLC ~ May 29, 2018

img_5990Review and Photo by Bonnie ~ Originally on Instagram @bvgrover

Jake Everdale is a struggling fourth-grader who has to pass science or his mom will force him to quit baseball. Who better to come to his rescue than Sir Isaac Newton and Amelia Earhart. At first I thought this might be the ideal book for younger readers, but it is so much more. Curiosity, questioning, taking chances and crazy shenanigans are part of this story. I can see lots of cross-curricular tie ins for teachers. I noticed a number one on the spine; I hope that means more to come.


Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Go to School by Julie Falatko
(Scholastic ~ May 29, 2018)

img_5991Review and Photo by Bonnie ~ Originally on Instagram @bvgrover

This is a goofy story that will definitely appeal to younger readers. Sassy and Waldo are two comical dogs on a mission to save their owner, Stewart, from the boring place called school. Disguised in a trench coat, the two dogs learn that school is a great place to be, especially the cafeteria. Kids will love reading about their silly shenanigans and their efforts to help Stewart with his big project.


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2 thoughts on “May 29, 2018 Middle Grade New Releases

Add yours

  1. Mom blogger here that loves including book options with our projects – so I love finding great book reviews. My oldest is 8 but reads at a 5th grade level – is the content of these safe for a younger reader that is reading up?

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    1. Thank you for your question! In this list, only the last two books would be good for an eight year old. Please check our weekly posts to find some safe choices for your son. The Vanderbeekers books are great choices, as are Jodi Kendall’s books and the Beatrice Zinker books. Although, they may not be 5th grade reading level, they are wonderful stories with some good messages. They are also fun family read alouds. We hope you find some new favorites!

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