Hey There! So I’ve been in a middle grade space with my [ARC] TBR off and on over the last two weeks & I will be in it for a hot minute (I’ve got 4 in the cue so I’m not lyin’)…then I realized that it’s been a little while since I’ve written about any MG books *insert shocked face here*! The last was a few weeks ago with my Pilar Ramirez post (that book is PHENOMENAL and you should read it, btw) and I’ve read so many MGs since then (shame on me for not sharing)!
I think part of what I love about Middle Grade is that it makes me feel seen as this age range was a time in my own life where I felt very misunderstood and overlooked in a way. I was going through A LOOOOOOT at that time and didn’t have the outlet to understand those things. I know there FOR SURE weren’t books out that would’ve helped me to process my experiences. If there were & I was told about them, I know I would’ve eaten them up because I didn’t know other kids like me dealing with the emotions & situations I was, especially kids who looked like me…
With my preteenhood in mind, there are four middle grades that I read fairly recently that I really enjoyed and figured that I would share with you all (I also had to hold myself accountable in sharing more of what I’ve read as I said in my bookish intents for this year). So let’s get into this short list!
Sir Fig Newton And The Science Of Persistence by Sonja Thomas: One of the things that is guaranteed to draw me to a book is when there is an intelligent Black Girl at it’s center (Mira is Biracial but she’s still capital B Black). This book not only gave me that but Mira let everyone know why she’s magic throughout the story. She also dealt with things I did as a kid with the loss & gain of friends and what I deal with now having a pet with a condition & making a way out of no way. I talk a little about this book in this Bookmail live I did. I feel like there aren’t enough books out that show kids being impacted by parental financial insecurity & unemployment, mental health concerns and seeking larger support systems; Sonja tackled all these things brilliantly. I did a live with Sonja about her book, here is the link to it!
Shinji Takahashi And The Mark Of The Coatl by Julie Kagawa: From the moment Shinji’s voice emerged, I was like “I like this kid”. He’s super funny, snarky, sarcastic, cynical and resourceful…traits that I love in a main character, especially in the MG & YA genre (it just hits different from adult characters that are like that). Shinji felt special to me and as the story continued to unfold, I just kept being proven right! Who doesn’t love a kid who righteously and rightfully calls out adults?! I know I do! He asks the questions that needs to be asked, the ones that folx will avoid at all costs and isn’t one for being gaslit. Shinji found himself in so many situations but somehow, found his way out by either his wit, unexpected backup and/or the grace of whatever divine being that you believe in…he had me very anxious at times. I seriously cannot wait to see what is next for him because he was a character that I was hesitant to read the final chapter for. Uncle Rick got it right with this book (and really all the ones I’ve read from his series).
The Second Chance Of Benjamin Waterfalls by James Bird (out 4/19/22): Like so many of my other favorite reads, I found this one on netgalley and then it started popping up in other places…it was the moment that one of my Fav authors, Nic Stone, raved about it that I KNEW that I would really love Benjamin Waterfalls (Nic doesn’t ever lie and I will fight anyone who ever says she does). Like Shinji, Benjamin is hilarious, snarky, sarcastic, cynical and resourceful (maybe a little tooooooo resourceful, y’all gotta watch his hands) but on top of that, what really connected me to him, was his anger. I understood his anger on so many levels because I remember being that angry as a kid (and as an adult). I thought so many times “let the anger flow through you” because sometimes you just have to let it out before it implodes. I really didn’t want to put this book down because there was so much to learn from it (there were LAYERZ to this book y’all). Honestly, I wished we got to hangout with Benny longer but here’s to hoping that we get more time with him through Niimi, whom I also loved. I can’t wait for everyone to meet them both while reading!
Unfadeable by Maurice Broaddus (out 4/19/22): I actually held off writing this post so I could finish this book because I knew I couldn’t have this sort of list without a magical Black Girl like Bella Fades AAKA (Artist Also Known As) Unfadeable (She’s also Biracial but see what I said above)! For One, she possesses all the qualities of the characters mentioned above but she’s also bout it bout it in a way that I haven’t seen a MG character be in a minute. She told it like it was, how it would be and wouldn’t let anyone alter the reality she knew (homegirl was dealing with a lot but she handled it like a G). When she said she wanted her things, she was going to get them, showing and proving why her tag name is Unfadeable. Bella wasn’t one to mince words and would stare down anyone who attempted to get in her way, adult and kid alike…she was an equal opportunity reader and I lived for it. Like Benny’s book, it felt like it was over too soon but I appreciated every moment that I had with her. I feel like readers everywhere will too!
If you are looking for a MG to read, I would absolutely stand 10 toes on my rec of these books. Each one had their respective struggles but what they all had in common were really strong characters who always found a way to accomplish what they needed to and spoke their mind. I fully believe in our youth being shown how powerful their voices are and the various ways in which they can use them in order to effect change. It’s also really important to note that change doesn’t have to be big, it can be within one’s self and that will eventually spread to those around them & their communities at large.
There is so much to learn from Middle Grade Books, no matter what age you are so if you aren’t into this genre, change that! Like I said earlier in the post, I have quite a few that I’ll be reading so I know I will have more to talk about soon and I can’t wait, honestly!
Do you have any fav MGs? What do you look for in a MG character? What draws you to their voice? Share them and let’s talk about it here in the comments or on social media! Holla at me on Instagram @bookishgirlmagic, Twitter @bookishgrlmagic and Clubhouse @bookishgrlmagic where you can find me mostly in book centered clubs/rooms (primarily on Tuesdays and Fridays). Also please subscribe to this blog if you haven’t already because it makes me feel like I just read an MG that my Preteen self would connect to! Until the next post, I’m sending y’all bookish love & wishing you happy reading!