31 Days, 31 Lists: Day Thirty – 2017 Middle Grade Novels
Not a particularly complete list, or a very long one. Yet for 2017 these were the books that left a lasting impression on my little noggin. I read ’em. I liked ’em, every last one. I think they’re the bee’s knees. And I hope you like them too. Fiction for the masses!
2017 Middle Grade Novels
Auma’s Long Run by Eucabeth Odhiambo
To start us off today I think it best to direct you elsewhere. Specifically to the blog educating alice where Monica Edinger will lay down for you precisely why this is a good book, a necessary book, and an #ownvoices book as it pertains to African historical fiction. It is not a particularly cheery or uplifting book, but it is valuable and heartrending. There’s a reader for that.
Beyond the Bright Sea by Lauren Wolk
The book I picked up this year and then was able to sigh, “Ahhhh. Now THAT is good writing.”
A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold, ill. Charles Santoso
Falls on the younger and shorter end of the novel spectrum. Bat is on the spectrum and he immediately bonds with the baby skunk his mom brings home temporarily. I like my main characters to be complex, interesting people that you grow very fond of, in spite of their shortcomings. Bat fits that mold.
Bronze and Sunflower by Wenxuan Cao, ill. Helen Wang, translated by Helen Wang
Swear to howdy, if this book was eligible it would be the frontrunner for the Newbery this year.
The Ethan I Was Before by Ali Standish
Maybe the best first chapter of any novel I read this year. As I said in my review of it, this is Southern gothic children’s literature at its very best. Give or take a hurricane.
Felix Yz by Lisa Bunker
Science fiction is more fun when it breaks not just the usual rules of physics, but rules about what characters and people can and cannot be. Apparently this was a Smashwords novel back in 2015. Well played, Bunker.
The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Perez
Zines, punk, and worry dolls. Everything old is new again, only it’s a lot more interesting than it ever was the first time.
Funny Girl: Funniest. Stories. Ever, edited by Betsy Bird
What’s it called when it’s like nepotism but for yourself? I’ll think of it. Don’t tell me.
Grandfather and the Moon by Stephanie LaPointe, ill. Roge
You go out. You find yourself the most philosophical, day dreamy, weirdo kid you know. You hand them this book. You done good. Have a cookie.
Last Day on Mars by Kevin Emerson
Because if the entire universe is going to end, it should at least have the decency to go down with some witty banter. That’s what I always say.
Orphan Island by Laurel Snyder
The Pax of 2017. That’s a good thing, by the way. Big time Pax fan over here.
Patina by Jason Reynolds
I think I may need to reread this a couple more times. Lucky Newbery committee. They get to do that over and over and over again. This book, I could go back to yearly. It’s just that fun.
Posted by John David Anderson
A rather delightful surprise. A rather good companion to Brave by Svetlana Chmakova (which you’ll find conveniently located on the comics list) but it stands on its own as pretty dang original.
The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine by Mark Twain and Philip Stead, ill. Erin Stead
Well, heck. I didn’t know if they’d pull it off or not, but full credit to Stead. I think they got away with it. Just erase that “Mark Twain” on the cover (and in the interstitial parts of the novel) and I’d still happily read this. It stands on its own.
Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Other Planets by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Any time there’s a new book by Frank Cottrell Boyce, that is when you rejoice. Add in five-year-olds with real, working, deeply deadly lightsabers and I’m yours, baby.
Stef Soto, Taco Queen by Jennifer Torres
Because life is too short to spend it wondering if your hair smells like taco meat.
The Wizard’s Dog by Eric Kahn Gale
Merlin + dog = amazing. And I don’t even like dogs.
York: The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby
Still my favoritest favorite (to purloin a phrase). Ruby, you got something here. Now about the fact that the library hasn’t made a cameo yet . . .
Interested in the other lists of the month? Here’s the schedule so that you can keep checking back:
December 1 – Board Books
December 2 – Board Book Reprints & Adaptations
December 3 – Wordless Picture Books
December 4 – Picture Book Readalouds
December 5 – Rhyming Picture Books
December 6 – Alphabet Books
December 7 – Funny Picture Books
December 8 – CaldeNotts
December 9 – Picture Book Reprints
December 10 – Math Picture Books
December 11 – Bilingual Books
December 12 – Translated Picture Books
December 13 – Books with a Message
December 14 – Fabulous Photography
December 15 – Fairy Tales / Folktales
December 16 – Oddest Books of the Year
December 17 – Poetry Books
December 18 – Easy Books
December 19 – Early Chapter Books
December 20 – Comics for Kids
December 21 – Older Funny Books
December 22 – Fictionalized Nonfiction
December 23 – American History
December 24 – Science & Nature Books
December 25 – Transcendent Holiday Picture Books
December 26 – Unique Biographies
December 27 – Nonfiction Picture Books
December 28 – Nonfiction Chapter Books
December 29 – Fiction Reprints
December 30 – Middle Grade Novels
December 31 – Picture Books
Filed under: Best Books, Best Books of 2017
About Betsy Bird
Betsy Bird is currently the Collection Development Manager of the Evanston Public Library system and a former Materials Specialist for New York Public Library. She has served on Newbery, written for Horn Book, and has done other lovely little things that she'd love to tell you about but that she's sure you'd find more interesting to hear of in person. Her opinions are her own and do not reflect those of EPL, SLJ, or any of the other acronyms you might be able to name. Follow her on Twitter: @fuseeight.
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