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Top 5 Finds in 2023 - Middle Grade Novels

As we near the end of the year, I would like to share my top finds from the past twelve months! Browsing thrift stores for middle grade gems is one of my favourite passtimes, and I know I've found some excellent novels this year.

So, without further ado, here are my top five middle grade finds from the past year. These novels are suggested for ages 9-14. Click the titles to read my reviews!

To Becca and Jane, a summer production of Shakespeare's The Tempest seems like the perfect way to raise money for a new sailboat, and a great way to escape Gran's endless list of chores. Between distractions from wildlife and family drama, though, how will they get the play ready in time for their performance date?

This book expertly portrays the thrill of independence and working on a big project. This is a fun read, showing kids as capable of much more than adults like to think. I have rarely read a book that just feels so real.

Noura's family is on their way to start a new life in America. They are refugees from Syria and, though they have left the war behind, the scars and memories still haunt them. Jordyn, a young competitive swimmer from Florida, is excited to help welcome the family of refugees. The two girls quickly become friends, and their bond proves to be important as they fight against racism in their community, and as they support each other through difficult times.

Told through split perspectives of a Syrian refugee and an American competetive swimmer, this book brings important stories to the surface. The writing is beautiful, and left me wanting more!

The new candy competition has kicked off and Logan, Miles, Daisy, and Phillip are eager to start working on their sweet creations. The four of them are competing in a candy contest, the winner of which will have their candy invention distributed in candy stores around the world. Soon, though, a sinister plot begins to surface. It is up to the kids to save the factory - but how can they when they don't know who to trust?

This book was the biggest suprise for me this year. I dove in expecting a sweet, simple story - and oh wow was I mistaken! Somehow, in a story about candy, Wendy Mass wove in believable characters, serious topics, thrilling mysteries, and an overall incredible plot.

August is going into grade five, and for the first time in his life will be attending a mainstream school. Having been born with a facial difference, August is used to the stares and the comments other kids make about his appearance. Nobody seems to get that August is just a normal kid. Join Auggie through his first year at school, as he learns how cruel, but also how kind, middle schoolers can be.

...OK, I know I'm late to this one. It came out a while ago. I am so glad I finally got around to reading Wonder. This story is told so compassionately - every character has a backstory, a motive, and real feelings. Such an important read.

Aven is a middle-schooler who loves soccer and plays the guitar... and also happens to have been born without arms. When Aven's family decides to uproot and move to the desert, she must start at a new school, where everyone simply sees her as 'different'. An unfolding mystery, however, is a great distraction for Aven in this new chapter of her life - maybe it will even lead her to form bonds with new people.

I was honestly blown away by this book. I learned so much while reading, and at the same time was thoroughly engaged by the plot. Bowling's writing never feels preachy, and the characters feel so fun and real. A spectacular read!

Have you read any of these books? Comment your favourite below!


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