Some of the Year's Best Middle Grade Books, 2017

These titles were featured in our 2017 Winter Newsletter, recommended by Bookshop Santa Cruz staff.

Clayton Byrd yearns to be, like the grandfather he misses, “a true bluesman among bluesmen.” Musical in its language, this novel is both an homage to the blues and an exploration of familiar territory for Williams-Garcia, asking (as she did in the just-about-perfect One Crazy Summer) if a person can be singularly devoted to their art and still be a responsible and loving parent. An interesting examination of an artist’s life and choices. Grades 4–7. - Ga

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Clayton Byrd Goes Underground Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062215918
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Amistad - May 9th, 2017

This blend of historical fiction and selkie mythology packs a punch even greater than its cinematic adaptation, John Sayles’s film The Secret of Roan Inish. Young Fiona McConville has returned to the small cluster of Scottish islands to stay with her grandparents. When she sees Jamie—her younger brother who was lost at sea years before—alive and running about the abandoned island of Ron Mor, she is determined to reconnect with him. In language both poetic and practical, Fry captures the mystery and magic of the sea and the voice of the Scottish fishing families who call it home. Perfect for fans of Anne of Green Gables or Sarah, Plain and Tall. Ages 8–11. - Molly

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Secret of the Ron Mor Skerry Cover Image
By Rosalie K. Fry, Rosalie K. Fry (Illustrator)
$15.95
ISBN: 9781681371665
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: NYR Children's Collection - October 24th, 2017

Young Cora is queen-in-training and her parents are diligent. Dull academic exercises followed by dull physical exercises and three baths a day leave Cora fervently wishing for a dog and a day off (to roam and ponder). Her fairy godmother grants her a crocodile instead. When the princess and the crocodile swap places, the crocodile behaves wholly inappropriately and the princess learns wisdom (and how to assert herself) in this sly, well-written, amusing, and very inviting early chapter book. Grades 1–3. - Ga

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Princess Cora and the Crocodile Cover Image
By Laura Amy Schlitz, Brian Floca (Illustrator)
$16.99
ISBN: 9780763648220
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Candlewick - March 28th, 2017

Sometimes we need something sweet and earnest. I highly recommend the gentle mischief and hijinks of two young brothers, Charlie and Mouse, in this charming early chapter book. With the irrepressible logic of childhood, they draw out the neighborhood for an unplanned block party and evade bedtime with their semi-clever wiles. And for a read-aloud for visiting grandparents, the sequel Charlie & Mouse & Grumpy pokes gentle fun at intergenerational friendship. Ages 6–8. - Tera

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Charlie & Mouse Cover Image
By Laurel Snyder, Emily Hughes (Illustrator)
$14.99
ISBN: 9781452131535
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Chronicle Books - April 11th, 2017

A smart, environmentally conscious underdog story with a lot of heart and a little sci-fi…rewardingly complex. Grades 4–7.  —Horn Book Magazine, starred review

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Me and Marvin Gardens Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780545870740
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Arthur A. Levine Books - January 31st, 2017

This sea salt-skinned, sun-limned historical novel (1920s Cape Cod) is comforting and dangerous in equal measure. Crow’s contentment living on the island with the painter Osh (and neighbor Miss Maggie) is unmistakable. Osh rescued Crow when she skiffed ashore as a newborn 12 years prior, and only recently is Crow asking herself, “From where?” An abandoned leper colony, a treasure, and an unconscionable thief are all part of the answer in this possible Newbery contender. Grades 4–8. - Ga

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Beyond the Bright Sea Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781101994856
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dutton Books for Young Readers - May 2nd, 2017

A plane crashes in the Amazon rainforest, and four children pull together to survive in this lush world, utterly alien to them. The flora and fauna, along with the smells, tastes, and sounds of the jungle, are vivid and sometimes terrifying. A secondary theme, winding like the river the children raft, examines the nature of curiosity, exploration, and imperialism. An environmentally aware, Amazonian adrenaline story for fans of Hatchet. Grades 4–8. - Ga

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The Explorer Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781481419451
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - September 12th, 2017

Through the San Francisco fog, clear-eyed 11-year-old Marin navigates the foster care system while waiting for her mother (who left years earlier) to return. When Dr. Lucy Chang steps up as a loving adoptive mother, tectonic plates shift and so does Marin’s understanding of family. An element of magical realism whisks through the fog in this old-fashioned, completely modern, short, tender novel. Grades 4–6. - Ga

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Three Pennies Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9781481471879
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Atheneum Books for Young Readers - May 2nd, 2017

Ten stories, edited by Ellen Oh, cofounder of We Need Diverse Books, begin with Matt de la Peña’s terrific, subtle basketball story “How to Transform an Everyday Ordinary Hoop Court Into a Place of Higher Learning and You at the Podium.” This unusually strong collection of short stories for 4th- to 7th-graders continues with authors you know, like Grace Lin and Jacqueline Woodson (her story broke my heart, she keeps doing that), and others you may not know yet. Ages 9–13. - Ga

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Flying Lessons & Other Stories Cover Image
By Ellen Oh (Editor)
$16.99
ISBN: 9781101934593
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Crown Books for Young Readers - January 3rd, 2017

The Newbery Honor book The War That Saved My Life, one of the best children’s books I’ve ever read, does not need a sequel, but this turns out to be a most pleasing one all the same. Grades 5–8. - Ga

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The War I Finally Won Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780525429203
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dial Books - October 3rd, 2017

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