Goodreads always releases its Choice Awards around the beginning of November, even if there are still two months left in the year. So of course that’s gotten me thinking about my favorite reads this year and what I would nominate if I were Queen of All the Bookish Things (QABT).
Note that this is not a summary of all the middle-grade books I’ve read this year because, as usual, I’m still catching up on 2016 (and 2015 too, if I’m honest). But here are my favorite 2017 releases. Please feel free to add yours in the comment section below because there are still two months left! I have time to read a few more.
This gorgeous dual-POV story is told part in prose, part in poetry. The whole thing is absolutely gorgeous and heart-wrenching.
From IndieBound: Astronomy-loving Calliope June has Tourette syndrome, so she sometimes makes faces or noises that she doesn’t mean to make. When she and her mother move yet again, she tries to hide her TS. But it isn’t long before the kids at her new school realize she’s different. Only Calliope’s neighbor, who is also the popular student body president, sees her as she truly is–an interesting person and a good friend. But is he brave enough to take their friendship public?
As Calliope navigates school, she must also face her mother’s new relationship and the fact that they might be moving–again–just as she starts to make friends and finally accept her differences.
Ellie Terry’s affecting debut will speak to a wide audience about being true to oneself.
I couldn’t get enough of Karma’s voice in this touching coming-of age debut.
From IndieBound: “Kristi Wientge deftly captures the turmoil of adolescence.” –Us Weekly
Debut author Kristi Wientge tackles the uncomfortable–but all too relatable–subject of female body hair and self-esteem with this sweet and charming novel in the tradition of Judy Blume.
Karma Khullar is about to start middle school, and she is super nervous. Not just because it seems like her best friend has found a newer, blonder best friend. Or the fact that her home life is shaken up by the death of her dadima. Or even that her dad is the new stay-at-home parent, leading her mother to spend most of her time at work. But because she’s realized that she has seventeen hairs that have formed a mustache on her upper lip.
With everyone around her focused on other things, Karma is left to figure out what to make of her terrifyingly hairy surprise all on her own.
This story of a middle-school boy overcoming extreme bullying in order to be true to himself had me alternating between laughter and tears.
From IndieBound: Perfect for fans of Tim Federle and Gary Schmidt, this is a hilarious and poignant tale about the trials of middle school when you’re coming of age–and coming out.
Alan Cole can’t stand up to his cruel brother, Nathan. He can’t escape the wrath of his demanding father, who thinks he’s about as exceptional as a goldfish. And–scariest of all–he can’t let the cute boy across the cafeteria know he has a crush on him.
But when Nathan discovers Alan’s secret, his older brother announces a high-stakes round of Cole vs. Cole. Each brother must complete seven nearly impossible tasks; whoever finishes the most wins the game. If Alan doesn’t want to be outed to all of Evergreen Middle School, he’s got to become the most well-known kid in school, get his first kiss, and stand up to Dad. Alan’s determined to prove–to Nathan, to the world, to himself–that this goldfish can learn to swim.
May the best Cole win.
I know this one came out in hardback in 2016, but it came out in paperback this year and was hands-down my favorite read this year. So I’m counting it (see above, where I declared myself QABT? So there!).
From IndieBound: What does it mean to be fully alive? Magic blends with reality in a stunning coming-of-age novel about a girl, a grandfather, wanderlust, and reclaiming your roots.
Things are only impossible if you stop to think about them. . . .
While her friends are spending their summers having pool parties and sleepovers, twelve-year-old Carolina — Carol — is spending hers in the middle of the New Mexico desert, helping her parents move the grandfather she’s never met into a home for people with dementia. At first, Carol avoids prickly Grandpa Serge. But as the summer wears on and the heat bears down, Carol finds herself drawn to him, fascinated by the crazy stories he tells her about a healing tree, a green-glass lake, and the bees that will bring back the rain and end a hundred years of drought. As the thin line between magic and reality starts to blur, Carol must decide for herself what is possible — and what it means to be true to her roots. Readers who dream that there’s something more out there will be enchanted by this captivating novel of family, renewal, and discovering the wonder of the world.
This one was the perfect mix of scientific facts about birds and heartbreaking story of losing hope and finding it again. So touching!
From IndieBound: The Someday Birds is a debut middle grade novel perfect for fans of Counting by 7s and Fish in a Tree, filled with humor, heart, and chicken nuggets.
Charlie’s perfectly ordinary life has been unraveling ever since his war journalist father was injured in Afghanistan.
When his father heads from California to Virginia for medical treatment, Charlie reluctantly travels cross-country with his boy-crazy sister, unruly brothers, and a mysterious new family friend. He decides that if he can spot all the birds that he and his father were hoping to see someday along the way, then everything might just turn out okay.
Debut author Sally J. Pla has written a tale that is equal parts madcap road trip, coming-of-age story for an autistic boy who feels he doesn’t understand the world, and an uplifting portrait of a family overcoming a crisis.
Now tell me your favorites from 2017 so I can add them to my list before the year is out!