Hi. I haven’t posted any recommendations in a while, and I thought middle grade was an easy one to post as I’ve been reading quite a bit of it. I don’t think I need to say it, but in case I do – everyone can read and appreciate middle grade, no matter the age. Oftentimes the books are beautifully written and whimsical and a tonne of fun.
These are in no particular order, by the way!
Starting off strong, with an oldie – Anne of Green Gables. This series was one of my absolute favourites growing up and I identified with Anne as a character. I think it’s a great series to grow up with, as it starts off as middle grade and ages slowly with each and every book. The writing is beautiful and lyrical, and I find it to be a great cosy read for the autumn months. I can’t explain why it suits that season the most, but it does.
If you somehow don’t know what Anne of Green Gables is about – it’s a story of a red headed orphan, Anne, who mistakenly gets adopted by two elderly siblings – Marilla and Matthew. She’s a peculiar little child, with a huge imagination and a penchant for the dramatic. It’s just a story of her life, of finding a place where she belongs, of friendships and heartbreak. It’s honestly beautiful, and definitely my favourite off this list.
It’s been a while since I read Nevermoor and I’ve to yet continue with the series (and no doubt I will), but it is still quite fresh in my mind. This one follows Morrigan, a girl born on the unluckiest day of the year and cursed to die at midnight on her eleventh birthday. That is until she’s whisked away by a peculiar gentleman into Nevermoor – a magical and secret city; but to stay there, she has to join a prestigious society and compete with other children to do so.
Nevermoor was one of the books that gave me the idea to post middle grade recommendations. I don’t see it talked about nearly as much as it should be. I think it’s the perfect read for those of us who were raised on and loved Harry Potter, but decided against supporting it any further because of the obvious reasons (but let’s not get into that for now). I think there’s a few similarities plot wise, but mostly Nevermoor gave me THAT feeling I had while reading the aforementioned series. The cosy, whimsical, “warm blanket” feeling. I think for younger readers it could be that series they keep coming back to for nostalgia reasons. It’s really well written and structured, and a great engaging story.
This one is definitely one I think younger readers will enjoy a lot more than people my age. I know I said middle grade can be read by anyone, and I stand by it, but there is a reason some books are written and marketed for a younger audience. I find that to be the case with The Land of Roar.
This book follows 2 siblings who, although really close in the past, slowly start to drift apart. When they’re visiting their grandad, they remember a game they used to play when they were younger – a game where they visited Roar – an imaginary world in which they had many adventures. But when their grandad goes missing they realise that Roar might not be so imaginary after all. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and it was a very quick read. The blurb compares it to Narnia and Neverland and I honestly think that’s spot on. Roar is truly a vivid and magical world. If you have a young reader in your life – this is THE perfect gift. Or it’s a good read if you enjoy middle grade, or need a palate cleanser.
I needed to include this one on the list even though I think with Schwab’s name attached to it, it’s pretty popular as it is. City of Ghosts is a story of Cassidy Blake – a girl who can see ghosts. Add in the fact her parents are somewhat obsessed with the paranormal and have a TV show where they visit most haunted cities and you have the plot laid out clear as day. Each installment takes place in a different city, where Cassidy gets to solve a ghost related mystery.
These books are really fun, atmospheric and a tad bit spooky at times. I’ve yet to read book 3 – apparently the last book in the series, at least for now, but I’ve enjoyed the fist two installments thoroughly. This definitely reads different from all of the other Schwab books I’ve read (all of them, minus the Everyday Angel series), as the writing is age group appropriate, but it’s still very well done.
Staying in the paranormal genre is a book I recommended already last Halloween. I haven’t seen it talked about so I’m doing it again. The Witches of Willow Cove follows 2 best friends, Abby and Robby, as on Halloween night they embark on an adventure and discover magic and witches. There is a mystery those two need to solve, and Abby has a great deal to learn about her own identity.
I loved how perfectly friendships, mystery, magic and history were blended in this one, with also a lot of attention being focused on the atmosphere and pacing of the story. It’s not often you see a book that can do all of those simultaneously, and keep the reader engaged. It was quite a page turner and definitely a must read for people who like witchy stories. As far as I know, it’s a standalone, but the ending did hint on a possibility of it being a series.
My last middle grade read (worth mentioning that is), was also a magical/witchy story. A Pinch of Magic follows three sisters, three magical objects and a family curse. It is also a trilogy, although I haven’t read anything past book one.
I am a sucker for familial relationships done right, and the bond these three sisters have was lovely and well done. The book features a story within a story, which was lot of fun and added more depth without feeling info dumpy. A Pinch of Magic is full of adventure and a perfect blend of seriousness and humour. It’s fun and fast paced for most of it, although the beginning is quite slow.
This one was a total surprise for me. The Beast and the Bethany follows two very unlikeable characters – Bethany and Ebenezer. Bethany is an orphan and Ebenezer a 511 year old man with a beast who gives him an anti aging potion every time he feeds it something yummy (be it rare birds or even children). They’re both quite selfish, but when stuck together, they develop and unlikely relationship and learn from each other.
This book was probably one of the funnest, most original middle grades I’ve ever read. It was strange and whimsical and laugh out loud funny. Everything about it was ridiculous in the best way possible. The Beast and the Bethany gave me big Lemony Snickett vibes and I think a reader of any age will enjoy it – I can’t see why they wouldn’t.
I could gush about this book for a really long time, because it was everything I want from a middle grade. The Ship of Shadows follows Aleja, who always wanted to travel but is told that girls can’t be explorers. But her dream comes true when due to some false accusations she finds refuge on a ship. It’s not any ship either – it’s a pirate ship, and a legendary one, as well called The Ship of Shadows. And it’s crewed by females only!
This is book is brim full of adventure and greatness. It’s rich and addictive and written in such a way that evokes your imagination. Honestly, thinking back on it, I got confused whether things happened in the book or if for some reason I’ve seen something super similar on TV. My overactive imagination plays a movie in my head whenever I read, but it’s rarely ever written in a way when I confuse it with a movie. I am sad I couldn’t have read this book as a child – the crew of the ship stole my heart and I think the women in the book would be super inspirational to young girls to read about.
And lastly we have this absolute gem of a book written by an Irish author and set in Ireland. The Storm Keeper’s Island follows Fionn who goes to visit his old and eccentric grandad on the island of Arranmore. The island is full of magic and Fionn finds out his grandad is the Storm Keeper. As the story progresses, Fionn finds out about magic and discovers a lot about himself and his family’s past.
Everything about this book is magical, from the setting, to the story line and, obviously, the magic itself. The last one is super unique. Once again, there’s some great familial relationships, both between Fionn and his sister, and Fionn and his somewhat estranged grandfather. I’ve yet to continue with the series, but it shapes up to be a great one and one worth growing up with, Too bad I’m almost 28.
And that is it for my recommendations post. Have you read any of these? Do you like middle grade?
Thank you for reading.