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The Best at It

Maulik Pancholy

From award-winning actor Maulik Pancholy comes a hilarious and heartfelt middle grade debut about a gay Indian American boy coming into his own. One of Time Out's "LGBTQ+ books for kids to read during Pride Month," this is perfect for fans of Tim Federle's Nate series. A Stonewall Honor Book!

Rahul Kapoor is heading into seventh grade in a small town in Indiana. The start of middle school is making him feel increasingly anxious, so his favorite person in the whole world, his grandfather, Bhai, gives him some well-meaning advice: Find one thing you're really good at and become the BEST at it.

Those four little words sear themselves into Rahul's brain. While he's not quite sure what that special thing is, he is convinced that once he finds it, bullies like Brent Mason will stop torturing him at school. And he won't be worried about staring too long at his classmate Justin Emery. With his best friend, Chelsea, by his side, Rahul is ready to crush this challenge.... But what if he discovers he isn't the best at anything?

Funny, charming, and incredibly touching, this is a story about friendship, family, and the courage it takes to live your truth.

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While I Was Away

Waka T. Brown

Named one of New York Public Library's & Bank Street's Best Books of the Year!

The Farewell meets Erin Entrada Kelly's Blackbird Fly in this empowering middle grade memoir from debut author Waka T. Brown, who takes readers on a journey to 1980s Japan, where she was sent as a child to reconnect to her family’s roots.

When twelve-year-old Waka’s parents suspect she can’t understand the basic Japanese they speak to her, they make a drastic decision to send her to Tokyo to live for several months with her strict grandmother. Forced to say goodbye to her friends and what would have been her summer vacation, Waka is plucked from her straight-A-student life in rural Kansas and flown across the globe, where she faces the culture shock of a lifetime.

In Japan, Waka struggles with reading and writing in kanji, doesn’t quite mesh with her complicated and distant Obaasama, and gets made fun of by the students in her Japanese public-school classes. Even though this is the country her parents came from, Waka has never felt more like an outsider.

If she’s always been the “smart Japanese girl” in America but is now the “dumb foreigner” in Japan, where is home...and who will Waka be when she finds it?

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So Done

Paula Chase

When best friends Tai and Mila are reunited after a summer apart, their friendship threatens to combust from the pressure of secrets, middle school, and the looming dance auditions for a new talented-and-gifted program.

Fans of Renée Watson’s Piecing Me Together will love this memorable story about a complex friendship between two very different African American girls—and the importance of speaking up.

Jamila Phillips and Tai Johnson have been inseparable since they were toddlers, having grown up across the street from each other in Pirates Cove, a low-income housing project. As summer comes to an end, Tai can’t wait for Mila to return from spending a month with her aunt in the suburbs. But both girls are grappling with secrets, and when Mila returns she’s more focused on her upcoming dance auditions than hanging out with Tai.

Paula Chase explores complex issues that affect many young teens, and So Done offers a powerful message about speaking up. Full of ballet, basketball, family, and daily life in Pirates Cove, this memorable novel is for fans of Ali Benjamin’s The Thing About Jellyfish and Jason Reynolds’s Ghost.

"Chase vividly conjures the triumphs, tensions, and worries percolating in the girls’ low-income neighborhood." (Publishers Weekly, "An Anti-Racist Children's and YA Reading List")

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Dress Coded

Carrie Firestone

In this debut middle-grade girl-power friendship story, perfect for fans of Moxie, an eighth grader starts a podcast to protest the unfair dress code enforcement at her middle school and sparks a rebellion.


Molly Frost is FED UP...

Because Olivia was yelled at for wearing a tank top.

Because Liza got dress coded and Molly didn't, even though they were wearing the exact same outfit.

Because when Jessica was pulled over by the principal and missed a math quiz, her teacher gave her an F.

Because it's impossible to find shorts that are longer than her fingertips.

Because girls' bodies are not a distraction.

Because middle school is hard enough.

And so Molly starts a podcast where girls can tell their stories, and before long, her small rebellion swells into a revolution. Because now the girls are standing up for what's right, and they're not backing down.

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Partly Cloudy

Tanita S. Davis

From award-winning author Tanita S. Davis comes a nuanced exploration of the microaggressions of middle school and a young Black girl named Madalyn who learns that being a good friend means dealing with the blue skies and the rain—and having the tough conversations on days that are partly cloudy. Perfect for fans of A Good Kind of Trouble and From the Desk of Zoe Washington.

Lightning couldn’t strike twice, could it? After a terrible year, Madalyn needs clear skies desperately. Moving in with her great-uncle, Papa Lobo, and switching to a new school is just the first step.

It’s not all rainbows and sunshine, though. Madalyn discovers she’s the only Black girl in her class, and while most of her classmates are friendly, assumptions lead to some serious storms.

Papa Lobo’s long-running feud with neighbor Mrs. Baylor brings wild weather of its own, and Madalyn wonders just how far things will go. But when fire threatens the community, Madalyn discovers that truly being neighborly means more than just staying on your side of the street— it means weathering tough conversations—and finding that together a family can pull through anything.

Award-winning author Tanita S. Davis shows us that life isn’t always clear, and that partly cloudy days still contain a bit of blue worth celebrating.

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Still a Work in Progress

Jo Knowles

In a return to middle-grade fiction, master of perspectives Jo Knowles depicts a younger sibling struggling to maintain his everyday life when his older sister is in crisis.

Noah is just trying to make it through seventh grade. The girls are confusing, the homework is boring, and even his friends are starting to bug him. Not to mention that his older sister, Emma, has been acting pretty strange, even though Noah thought she’d been doing better ever since the Thing They Don’t Talk About. The only place he really feels at peace is in art class, with a block of clay in his hands. As it becomes clear through Emma’s ever-stricter food rules and regulations that she’s not really doing better at all, the normal seventh-grade year Noah was hoping for begins to seem pretty unattainable. In an affecting and realistic novel with bright spots of humor, Jo Knowles captures the complexities of navigating middle school while feeling helpless in the face of a family crisis.

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Ciel

Sophie Labelle

Ciel is excited to start high school. A gender non-conforming trans kid, Ciel has a YouTube channel and dreams of getting a better camera to really make their mark. Ciel can always rely on their best friend, Stephie, a trans girl who also happens to be a huge nerd. But their friendship begins to feel distant when Stephie makes it clear she wants the fact that she’s trans to be less visible now that they’re in high school. While navigating this new dynamic with Stephie, Ciel is also trying to make a long-distance relationship work with their boyfriend Eiríkur, who just moved back to Iceland. Add to the mix a cute swim star named Liam, and Ciel’s life is becoming more complicated by the minute!

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The Last Boy at St. Edith's

Lee Gjertsen Malone

A seventh grade prankster is determined to escape the all-girls academy where he’s the only boy—by getting expelled—in this “spectacular debut” (Kirkus Reviews) that’s perfect for “fans of Jerry Spinelli’s Crash and Loser” (Booklist).

Seventh grader Jeremy Miner has a girl problem. Or, more accurately, a girls problem. 475 of them to be exact. That’s how many girls attend his school, St. Edith’s Academy.

Jeremy is the only boy left after the school’s brief experiment in co-education. And he needs to get out. But his mother—a teacher at the school—won’t let him transfer, so Jeremy takes matters into his own hands: he’s going to get expelled.

Together with his best friend Claudia, Jeremy unleashes a series of hilarious pranks in hopes that he’ll get kicked out with minimal damage to his permanent record. But when his stunts start to backfire, Jeremy has to decide how far he’s willing to go and whom he’s willing to knock down to get out the door.

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Knightley Academy

Violet Haberdasher

Henry Grim is a servant boy at the Midsummer School—until he passesthe elite Knightley Academy exam and suddenly finds himself one of the first commoners at the Academy, studying alongside the cleverest and bravest—and most arrogant—young aristocrats in the country. But someone is out to sabotage him from becoming a full-fledged Knight of the Realm, and soon Henry uncovers a conspiracy that violates the Hundred Years’ Peace treaty—and could lead to war! Full of (bloodless) battles and nonstop action, this page-turner will captivate readers as they root for Henry to save his school and country from their enemies.

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Broken Strings

Eric Walters

A violin and a middle-school musical unleash a dark family secret in this moving story by an award-winning author duo. For fans of The Devil's Arithmetic and Hana's Suitcase.

It's 2002. In the aftermath of the twin towers -- and the death of her beloved grandmother -- Shirli Berman is intent on moving forward. The best singer in her junior high, she auditions for the lead role in Fiddler on the Roof, but is crushed to learn that she's been given the part of the old Jewish mother in the musical rather than the coveted part of the sister. But there is an upside: her "husband" is none other than Ben Morgan, the cutest and most popular boy in the school.
Deciding to throw herself into the role, she rummages in her grandfather's attic for some props. There, she discovers an old violin in the corner -- strange, since her Zayde has never seemed to like music, never even going to any of her recitals. Showing it to her grandfather unleashes an anger in him she has never seen before, and while she is frightened of what it might mean, Shirli keeps trying to connect with her Zayde and discover the awful reason behind his anger. A long-kept family secret spills out, and Shirli learns the true power of music, both terrible and wonderful.

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Huda F Are You?

Huda Fahmy

From the creator of Yes, I'm Hot In This, this cheeky, hilarious, and honest graphic novel asks the question everyone has to figure out for themselves: Who are you?

Huda and her family just moved to Dearborn, Michigan, a small town with a big Muslim population. In her old town, Huda knew exactly who she was: She was the hijabi girl. But in Dearborn, everyone is the hijabi girl.

Huda is lost in a sea of hijabis, and she can't rely on her hijab to define her anymore. She has to define herself. So she tries on a bunch of cliques, but she isn't a hijabi fashionista or a hijabi athlete or a hijabi gamer. She's not the one who knows everything about her religion or the one all the guys like. She's miscellaneous, which makes her feel like no one at all. Until she realizes that it'll take finding out who she isn't to figure out who she is.

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Class Act

Jerry Craft

New York Times bestselling author Jerry Craft returns with a companion book to New Kid, winner of the 2020 Newbery Medal, the Coretta Scott King Author Award, and the Kirkus Prize. This time, it's Jordan's friend Drew who takes center stage in another laugh-out-loud funny, powerful, and important story about being one of the few kids of color in a prestigious private school.

Eighth grader Drew Ellis is no stranger to the saying "You have to work twice as hard to be just as good." His grandmother has reminded him his entire life. But what if he works ten times as hard and still isn't afforded the same opportunities that his privileged classmates at the Riverdale Academy Day School take for granted?

To make matters worse, Drew begins to feel as if his good friend Liam might be one of those privileged kids. He wants to pretend like everything is fine, but it's hard not to withdraw, and even their mutual friend Jordan doesn't know how to keep the group together.

As the pressures mount, will Drew find a way to bridge the divide so he and his friends can truly accept each other? And most important, will he finally be able to accept himself?

New Kid, the first graphic novel to win the Newbery Medal, is now joined by Jerry Craft's powerful Class Act.

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Everything Sad Is Untrue

Daniel Nayeri

Winner of the Michael L. Printz Award
Christopher Award Winner
Middle East Book Award Winner
National Indie Bestseller
NPR Best Book of the Year
New York Times Best of the Year
Amazon Best of the Year
Booklist Editors' Choice
BookPage Best of the Year
NECBA Windows & Mirrors Selection
Publishers Weekly Best of the Year
Wall Street Journal Best of the Year
Today.com Best of the Year
Walter Awards Honor Book

A modern masterpiece.--The New York Times Book Review

Supple, sparkling and original.--The Wall Street Journal

Mesmerizing.--TODAY.com

This book could change the world.--BookPage

Like nothing else you've read or ever will read.--Linda Sue Park

It hooks you right from the opening line.--NPR

SEVEN STARRED REVIEWS

* A modern epic.--Kirkus Reviews, starred review

* A rare treasure of a book.--Publishers Weekly, starred review

* A story that soars.--The Bulletin, starred review

* At once beautiful and painful.--School Library Journal, starred review

* Raises the literary bar in children's lit.--Booklist, starred review

* Poignant and powerful.--Foreword Reviews, starred review

* One of the most extraordinary books of the year.--BookPage, starred review

A sprawling, evocative, and groundbreaking autobiographical novel told in the unforgettable and hilarious voice of a young Iranian refugee. It is a powerfully layered novel that poses the questions: Who owns the truth? Who speaks it? Who believes it?

A patchwork story is the shame of the refugee, Nayeri writes early in the novel. In an Oklahoman middle school, Khosrou (whom everyone calls Daniel) stands in front of a skeptical audience of classmates, telling the tales of his family's history, stretching back years, decades, and centuries. At the core is Daniel's story of how they became refugees--starting with his mother's vocal embrace of Christianity in a country that made such a thing a capital offense, and continuing through their midnight flight from the secret police, bribing their way onto a plane-to-anywhere. Anywhere becomes the sad, cement refugee camps of Italy, and then finally asylum in the U.S. Implementing a distinct literary style and challenging western narrative structures, Nayeri deftly weaves through stories of the long and beautiful history of his family in Iran, adding a richness of ancient tales and Persian folklore.

Like Scheherazade of One Thousand and One Nights in a hostile classroom, Daniel spins a tale to save his own life: to stake his claim to the truth. EVERYTHING SAD IS UNTRUE (a true story) is a tale of heartbreak and resilience and urges readers to speak their truth and be heard.

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Bad Best Friend

Rachel Vail

Rachel Vail's powerful middle-grade novel proves once again that no one does tween better than she does!

Niki Ames can't wait to start eighth grade, that all-important year before high school. She and her best friend Ava have shared so many plans for the coming year. But then the unthinkable happens: at gym class pair-up, Ava chooses someone else to be her partner. Niki is devastated. It's clear that Ava wants to be part of the popular group, leaving Niki behind. Niki has to decide who her real friends should be, where her real interests lie. Meanwhile, life at home is complicated. Niki's nine-year-old brother Danny continues to act out more and more publicly. Their mother refuses to admit that Danny is somewhere on the autism spectrum, but it's clear he needs help. Niki doesn't want to be like her brother, to be labeled as different. She just wants to be popular! Is she a bad sister and a bad best friend?

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Streetball Crew Book One Sasquatch in the Paint

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

Theo Rollins is starting eighth grade six inches taller, and his new height is making everyone expect more from him. Coach Mandrake wants to transform him from invisible science geek into star basketball player, even though Theo has little experience with the game. When Theo tries to hone his skills by playing pick-up ball in the park, kids are eager to include him at first; then they quickly see that he has no control of his gangly body. A girl named Rain even dubs him "Sasquatch." To make matters worse, all his time spent on training is starting to hurt his science club's chances of winning the "Aca-lympics," the school's trivia competition. Just when Theo thinks he can't handle any more pressure, he's accused of stealing. Can he find the real thief before he is kicked off the basketball and science club teams, or will his attempt at sleuthing be yet another air ball?
Loosely based on challenges that NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar faced while growing up, Sasquatch in the Paint is a slam dunk for fans of basketball action and absorbing mysteries.
Praise for Sasquatch in the Paint

"A crisp tale of sports, smarts and what it means to be your own man or woman-or boy or girl, if you happen to be 13...It seems to be an embarrassment of riches to be, say, one of the best basketball players in history and also write tightly entertaining novels for kids, but there you have Abdul-Jabbar. Fearless, caring sports fiction."
--Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"A humorous novel that delivers a heartwarming story about growing up, facing down bullies, and learning what true friendship is all about."
--School Library Journal
"The depth and realism Abdul-Jabbar and Obstfeld bring to the novel keep it from being a run-of-the-mill sports story...Readers will feel a kinship with Theo as he maneuvers through tough but realistic choices."
--Publishers Weekly
"This smart, sensitive novel is full of simple truths that extend far beyond the court."
--Booklist
"This funny and inspirational novel based on Kareem's sudden growth spurt as a middle-schooler captures the excitement of playing basketball and the anxiety of growing up--while growing tall, which I know a little something about. Kids will learn about the wonderful world of basketball and the importance of friendship and following your dreams."
--Magic Johnson

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In Honor of Broken Things

Paul Acampora

Three unlikely friends become partners in heartbreak and hope during a middle school pottery class in this powerful, poignant novel—perfect for fans of Gordon Korman and Lynda Mullaly Hunt.

At West Beacon Middle School, eighth graders Oscar Villanueva, Riley Baptiste, and Noah Wright become unlikely friends during Introduction to Clay class. Oscar, a football star, just lost his little sister to cancer. Riley's been dragged away from Philadelphia by her single mom to a new life in West Beacon, a tiny Pennsylvania coal town that's smaller than Riley's old school. Noah's spent his whole life as a homeschooler and just started West Beacon Middle School as a result of his parents' train wreck of a divorce. Through art, football, failure, faith, and trust, the friends help one another to piece things back together again. In true friendship, they also discover that some injuries may never heal, some things can never be unbroken—and that's okay too.

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A Month of Mondays

Joëlle Anthony

This can’t be good! Suddenly Suze’s mom wants back into her life, and her teacher wants her to “try harder”?!

As if middle school wasn’t hard enough, Suze Tamaki's life gets turned upside down when her mother reappears after a ten-year absence. Once Suze gets over her shock, she thinks it might be cool to get to know her mom. But her older sister Tracie is determined not to let her back into their lives.
 

At school things aren’t much better. One of her teachers decides the way to cure Suze’s lack of motivation is to move her into Honors English – a development Suze finds both inspiring and distressing. When she's paired with straight-A student Amanda on an English assignment, she finds herself caring about people’s expectations like she’s never done before.

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