Here’s a selection of the many middle-grade books published by our amazing Mixed-Up Files contributors. Look for them in your libraries or independent bookstores next time you and your middle-grade readers need something fabulous to read!
Thirteen-year-old Kit Donovan made a lot of promises to her dying mother, and the most difficult one to keep – the one about being a proper lady – seems downright impossible in a place like Goldfield, Nevada. The corrupt owner the gold mine seems to hold sway over the whole town. When Kit convinces Papa to speak out against the dangers in the mine, trouble finds her family.
Now she must find a way to expose the misdeeds before it’s too late. With help from an unlikely friend, a Shoshone boy, and a newspaperman, she puts her big mouth and all the life skills she’s learned from reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn to work. But is she really brave enough to stand up for what’s right?
What if you could get a do-over—a chance to relive a day in your life over and over again until you got it right? Would you? After finding a mysterious set of paints in her backpack, twelve-year-old Haleigh Adams paints a picture of her last day at the New Jersey shore. When she wakes up the next morning, Haleigh finds that her wish for an endless summer with her new friend Kevin has come true. At first, she’s thrilled, but Haliegh soon learns that staying in one place—and time—comes with a price.
And when Haleigh realizes her parents have been keeping a secret, she is faced with a choice: do nothing and miss out on the good things that come with growing up or find the secret of the time loop she’s trapped in and face the inevitable realities of moving on. As she and Kevin set out to find the source of the magic paints, Haleigh worries it might be too late. Will she be able to restart time? And if she does, will it be the biggest mistake of her life?
Samantha M Clark
When he sees a light shining over the foreboding wall of trees that surrounds the shore, he decides to follow it, in the hopes that it will lead him to answers. The boy’s journey is a struggle for survival and a search for the truth—a terrifying truth that once uncovered, will force him to face his greatest fear of all if he is to go home.
Greg R Fishbone
Thirteen-year-old Tyler Sato has lied, cheated, and scammed his way into the Galaxy Games. Now, on the eve of the galaxy-spanning sports tournament, Tyler’s past is catching up with a vengeance! Earth’s team of international all-stars is at each other’s throats. A shadowy conspiracy is on the move. And a shape-shifting alien assassin has Tyler in his sights.
Can Tyler step up his game to become the leader Earth needs? Or will the world finally discover that Tyler isn’t quite the hero that everyone believes?
Pixie Piper and the Matter of the Batter continues Pixie’s story as she and her best friend, Gray spend the summer at Chuckling Goose Farm, the home of the Goose Ladies. Pixie tries her best to learn the secrets to baking the cakes that make wishes come true. But there are enemies trying to steal those secrets—and Pixie’s writing power, too. And there’s trouble in the Goose family, as well. No matter how hard Pixie tries, she can’t please Esperanza, head of the Goose Aunts. The old grouch has even threatened to keep Destiny in a cage.
As old enemies threaten the Aunts and their mission, Pixie learns to appreciate the rewards of intergenerational relationships. The exciting conclusion to the duology includes courage, magic, and understanding.
Twelve-year-old Joshua Cooper learns the hard way that lightning never strikes by chance when a bolt strikes his house and whisks away his best friend—possibly forever. Armed with only luck and his grandfather’s mysterious crystal, Joshua must save his friend by traveling the Lightning Road to a dark world that steals children for energy. New friends come to Joshua’s aid and while battling beasts and bandits and fending off the Child Collector, Joshua’s mission quickly becomes more than a search for his friend—it becomes the battle of his life.
What’s it like to be 13, trapped inside a fort, and surrounded by a superior enemy? Pedro has been told he is too young to fight. But he has skill and a unique knowledge of the land on his side. When the English attack the Castillo de San Marcos fort in the Spanish stronghold of St. Augustine, he and his friend, Miguel, are thrown into an adventure of a lifetime. A naval blockade, an escaped pirate with detailed knowledge of the fort, woods crawling with the enemy, and a fort with critically low ammunition are just some of the challenges ahead. They realize they must sneak behind enemy lines to help or the town will perish.
Jo Watson Hackl
Eleven days, thirteen clues, and one kid who won’t give up.
Twelve-year-old Cricket and a field cricket named Charlene find adventure in an overgrown ghost town in Electric City, Mississippi. They follow a thirty-year-old clue trail left by an eccentric artist in search of a secret room that may or may not exist–all to try to win back Cricket’s run-away mother. Cricket must use her wits and just a smidgen of luck to live off the land in a Mississippi winter and put together the pieces of an increasingly baffling puzzle. As she works toward uncovering the final clues, Cricket meets the reclusive last resident of the ghost town, enlists the help of a poetry-loving dog, and takes up a touch of grave-robbing.
S. A. Larsen
Forget having a lively after school social life, Ebony Charmed is fighting to keep the entire afterlife alive.
Ebony’s less-than-average spirit tracking abilities are ruining more than sixth grade at Motley Junior High: School for the Psychically and Celestially Gifted. Her parents argue so much her dad’s moved out. And, even though he’s scared of his own shadow and insists on bringing his slimy, legless lizard everywhere they go, Ebony wouldn’t survive without her best friend, Fleishman.
When Ebony’s Deadly Creatures & Relics’ project goes missing she learns her missing project is one of the keys to saving the spirit world.
Now Ebony and Fleishman must battle beasts from Norse mythology to retrieve her project before spirits are lost, the Well of Urd dries up, and Ebony loses all hope of reuniting her family. But someone lies in wait, and he has other plans…including creating a new world of spirits without them in it.
Kimberley Griffiths Little
When Larissa Renaud starts receiving eerie phone calls on a disconnected old phone in her family’s antique shop, she knows she’s in for a strange summer. A series of clues leads her to the muddy river banks, where clouds of fireflies dance among the cypress knees and cattails each evening at twilight. The fireflies are beautiful and mysterious, and they take her on a magical journey through time, where Larissa learns secrets about her family’s tragic past — deadly, curse-ridden secrets that could harm the future of her family as she knows it. It soon becomes clear that it is up to Larissa to prevent history from repeating itself and a fatal tragedy from striking the people she loves.
With her signature lyricism, Kimberley Griffiths Little weaves a thrilling tale filled with family secrets, haunting mystery, and dangerous adventure.
Kai knows just wast to do when the first rumbles shake the earth. But he does the exact oppostie: he runs. And the the tsunami hits Japan. On the other side of the Pacific, Kai’s cousin Jet sets sail off the coast of Oregon. She knows she should check the tide—she always checks the tide. Except this one time she didn’t. Brought together by the biggest mistakes of their lives, Jet and Kai are about to find something they never thought they’d have again—hope.
“This affecting work of realistic fiction is one to be savored.” School Library Journal, starred review
“A touching heartwarming story that reaffirms the idea that for anyone, second chances are possible.” Booklist, starred review
Nina Simmons’ song would be “You Can’t Always Eat What You Want.” (Peanut allergies, ugh). But that’s okay, because as her best friend Brianna always said, “We’re All in This Together.”
Until the first day of the seventh grade, when Brianna dumps her to be BFFs with the popular new girl. Left all alone, Nina is forced to socialize with “her own kind”–banished to the peanut-free table with the other allergy outcasts. As a joke, she tells her new pals they should form a rock band called EpiPens. (Get it?) Apparently, allergy sufferers don’t understand sarcasm, because the next thing Nina knows she’s the lead drummer.
Now Nina has to decide: adopt a picture-perfect pop personality to fit in with Bri and her new BFF or embrace her inner rocker and the spotlight. Well..
Call Me a Rock Star, Maybe.
Twelve-year-old Devin Dexter has a problem. Well, actually, many of them. His cousin, Tommy, sees conspiracies around every corner. And Tommy thinks Devin’s new neighbor, Herb, is a warlock―but nobody believes him. Even Devin’s skeptical. But soon strange things start happening. Things like the hot new Christmas toy, the Cuddle Bunny, coming to life.
That would be great because, after all, who doesn’t love a cute bunny? But these aren’t the kind of bunnies you can snuggle with. These bunnies are dangerous. Devin and Tommy set out to prove Herb is a warlock and to stop the mob of bunnies, but will they have enough time before the whole town of Gravesend is overrun by the cutest little monsters ever?
Eleven-year-old Kat Greene has a lot on her pre-rinsed plate, thanks to her divorced mom’s obsession with cleaning. When Mom isn’t scrubbing every inch of their Greenwich Village apartment, she’s boiling the silverware or checking Kat’s sheets for bedbugs. It’s enough to drive any middle schooler crazy! Add friendship troubles to the mix, a crummy role in the class production of Harriet the Spy, and Mom’s decision to try out for “Clean Sweep,” a competitive-cleaning TV game show, and what have you got? More trouble than Kat can handle. At least, without a little help from her friends.
Most kids would dread the start of middle school and the year-long Explorations project that comes with it, but Ana knows that her + her best friend Lily + their plan to write and sell their own cookbook is a recipe for success. Lily’s not just the perfect partner in culinary crime—she’s also the only person in the world who understands Ana’s need to wash her hands five times before picking up a spatula, and would never make fun of her for it.
But Ana and Lily’s plan for edible entrepreneurship turns into one big baking disaster when they’re assigned to different partners for their projects. As if it wasn’t bad enough that Lily seems more excited to get to know her new partner than bummed about being separated, Lily and her new friend plan to use the cookbook idea for themselves—and they didn’t even ask! Worse, Ana’s partner is Dasher, the strange new girl from Alaska, and she wants to do their project on the weirdest thing imaginable: sled dog racing.
Dasher’s dogs are scary, slobbery, and decidedly not germ-free, but Ana thinks she’s found a loophole when she agrees to bake pancakes for spectators while Dasher mushes in a local race. That is, until Dasher sprains her ankle and has to drop out of the running. Can Ana learn to mush—and overcome her anxiety—in time to save her friendships, finish her project, and compete in the big race?
Twelve-year-old Ollie Oxley is moving-again. His mom is starting another new job, this time at the Bingham Theater in Granite City, California. Moving all the time means Ollie has struggled in the making friends department, but he quickly connects with a boy named Teddy. To Ollie’s surprise, though, his first friend in town is a little more . . . unique than those he’s made in the past. Teddy is a ghost.
Befriending someone who lived during the famous California Gold Rush sure does make things interesting for Ollie. But when the school bully, Aubrey, targets Ollie and it looks like the Bingham Theater might close, the stakes couldn’t be higher. Can Teddy and Ollie work together to take down Aubrey, save his mom’s job, and solve a mystery years in the making?
Nella and Angela are such close friends they pretend they’re sisters, but they’ve begun to grow apart. Much bigger changes lie ahead, including one that changes them, their families and their neighborhood forever.
“With an engaging protagonist, a fast-moving story, important themes subtly conveyed, and touches of humor, this is a richly layered story that will have wide appeal.”–Kirkus, starred review
Space and the ocean. If you don’t think they go together, think again! Both deep sea and space explorers have to worry about pressure, temperature, climate, and most importantly, how to survive in a remote and hostile environment. Join us on an amazing journey as we go up in space with astronauts and dive deep down in the ocean with aquanauts to explore the far-off places of our planet and the solar system.
With a strong tie into STEM topics–such as making connections, making comparisons, and recognizing patterns across content areas–readers will discover the amazing science and incredible innovations that allow humans (and sometimes only machines) to survive in these harsh environments.