Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Best Middle Grade Book Releases 2023

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There are so many fun middle grade books coming out in the first half of 2023! Today, I have a list of new releases for tweens that caught my attention. I can't wait to read these books.

Note: The release dates may change or be different in your part of the world. Publishing is notorious for delays.

🏫  Best Middle Grade Book Releases  🎒

Figure It Out, Henri Weldon by Tanita S. Davis


January 17, 2023

Seventh grader Henrietta Weldon gets to switch schools—finally! She'll be "mainstreaming" into public school, leaving her special education school behind. She can't wait for her new schedule, new friends, and new classes.

Henri's dyscalculia, a learning disability that makes math challenging to process and understand, is what she expects to give her problems. What she doesn't expect is a family feud with her sister over her new friends, joining the girls' soccer team, and discovering poetry. Henri's tutor and new friend, Vinnie, reminds her to take it slow. One problem at a time.

If Henri Weldon has twenty-four hours in a day, and she has two siblings who dislike her four new friends, two hours of soccer practice, seven hours of classes, and three hours of homework . . . she has:

A. No free time

B. No idea how to make everyone happy

C. No time to figure it out, Henri Weldon!

Why it caught my attention: It's about special ed kids! I was in special ed classes until 7th grade, and I don't remember ever reading a book about a kid like me. Special ed kids can be main characters too!

Buy it on Amazon

Artemis Sparke And The Sound Seekers Brigade by Kimberly Behre Kenna


February 2, 2023

When Artemis Sparke has had it with humans, she heads to the nearby salt marsh to hang out with the birds, plants, and mollusks who don’t make a big deal of her stutter. The shoreline sanctuary is predictable, unlike her family and friends, and the data in her science journal proves it. But one day that data goes haywire, and her bird friend RT confirms it: the salt marsh is dying. Artemis discovers that the historic hotel where she lives with her mom may be part of the problem, but speaking up would mean confronting the cranky hotel owner who happens to be her mom’s boyfriend and boss. Artemis conjures up help from deceased ecologists, and as she works to untangle their clues, she finds family secrets that could be the key to saving the salt marsh but also may destroy her life as she knows it.

Why it caught my attention: I love the cover! And I hope this is a nuanced look at the tradeoffs that need to happen in order to protect the environment. I hope Artemis has to find the balance between saving the salt marsh and keeping her family's hotel in business. That would be an interesting book!

Buy it on Amazon

The Town With No Mirrors by Christina Collins

Dystopia (?)

February 21, 2023

Zailey has never seen her own face. She's never seen her reflection, or a photo of herself, or even a drawing. In the special community of Gladder Hill, cameras and mirrors are forbidden: it's why everyone's happier here. Nobody talks about anyone else's appearance. You're not supposed to even think about what other people look like, or what you look like.

But Zailey does.

She knows her superficial thoughts are wrong, and her sketchbook, filled with secret portraits of her classmates and neighbors, could get her in trouble. Yet she can't help but think those thoughts, and be curious about the outside world where she once lived, years ago. Most of all, she wonders what it's like to see herself―her own face.

When Zailey suddenly finds herself beyond the gates of her town, she has a chance to see if what she's been taught about the outside world is true and search for the mother she barely remembers. Only then will she find out the real story about Gladder Hill. But is she prepared for the truth?

Why it caught my attention: Christina Collins wrote After Zero, which is one of my favorite middle grade books. It's well-researched, beautifully written, and full of vivid imagery. I'm hoping for more of the same with her new novel.

Buy it on Amazon

A Bit Of Earth by Karuna Riazi


March 14, 2023

Growing up in Pakistan, Maria Latif has been bounced between reluctant relatives for as long as she can remember—first because of her parents’ constant travel, and then because of their deaths. Maria has always been a difficult child, and it never takes long for her guardians to tire of her. So when old friends of her parents offer to “give her a better life” in the United States, Maria is shipped to a host family across the world.

When Maria arrives on Long Island, things are not quite what she was expecting. Mr. Clayborne has left on an extended business trip, Mrs. Clayborne seems emotionally fraught, and inexplicable things keep happening in the Claybornes’ sprawling house. And then Maria finds a locked gate to an off-limits garden. Since she’s never been good at following rules, Maria decides to investigate and discovers something she never thought she’d find: a place where she feels at home.

Why it caught my attention: Normally, I'd say "No" to a Secret Garden retelling because I loathe the original, but this one sounds like it has complex characters and a lot of drama. Goodreads says, "evocative prose is interspersed with poetic verses, illuminating each character’s search for a place they can truly call home." Sounds promising.

Buy it on Amazon

Good Different by Meg Eden Kuyatt

Contemporary Novel-In-Verse

April 4, 2023

Selah knows her rules for being normal.

She always, always sticks to them. This means keeping her feelings locked tightly inside, despite the way they build up inside her as each school day goes on, so that she has to run to the bathroom and hide in the stall until she can calm down. So that she has to tear off her normal-person mask the second she gets home from school, and listen to her favorite pop song on repeat, trying to recharge. Selah feels like a dragon stuck in a world of humans, but she knows how to hide it.

Until the day she explodes and hits a fellow student.

Selah's friends pull away from her, her school threatens expulsion, and her comfortable, familiar world starts to crumble.

But as Selah starts to figure out more about who she is, she comes to understand that different doesn’t mean damaged. Can she get her school to understand that, too, before it’s too late?

Why it caught my attention: I love novels-in-verse! I like how they strip away all the unnecessary stuff and get right to the heart of the story. I'm also envious of anyone who can write poetry because I was always the worst student in my college poetry workshops.

Buy it on Amazon

Far Out! by Anne Bustard

Historical Mystery

April 18, 2023

It’s 1964, the Space Race is well underway, and eleven-year-old Magnolia Jean Crook and the other residents of Totter, Texas, are over the moon about UFOs.

The whole town is gearing up for the First Annual Come on Down Day—in just one week, they are hoping to host any and all space aliens who would like to visit Earth. But right before the kick-off party, a meteorite goes missing—and MJ’s beloved grandmother Mimi, who is the vice president of the Totter Unidentified Flying Object Organization, is the prime suspect.

MJ is desperate to show the town that this Crook is not a thief. The only problem is that there is a lot of evidence against her, and Mimi herself isn’t helping things. She’s acting suspiciously, pulling disappearing acts, and worst of all, can’t seem to answer any questions about where she was or what she was doing.

But much like UFOs, extraterrestrial visitations, and sending people to space, the impossible has been known to happen.

Why it caught my attention: A quirky historical setting and a mystery? What's not to like? The Space Race is one of my favorite time periods to read about. I guess I like the blend of science and paranoia.

Buy it on Amazon

Nightmare Island by Shakirah Bourne

Fantasy / Horror

June 6, 2023

Twelve-year-old Serenity Noah has never told anyone about her recurring nightmares—the haunting images of silver butterflies who lead her to a silent, shadowy monster. Her parents already favor her "perfect" younger brother, Peace, and she doesn't want to be seen as the "problem" child.

Instead, Serenity's found a productive way to channel her fears: creating a horror movie as scary as her nightmares.

When Peace suddenly becomes afraid of the dark and refuses to sleep alone, their parents take him away for "treatment" on Duppy Island. Serenity has a very bad feeling about the mysterious island and the facility's creepy leader, Dr. Whisper. And when she sees a silver butterfly from her nightmares in the forbidden forest she realizes that something is seriously, dangerously awry.

But nothing could've prepared Serenity for the truth: the island is home to douens—faceless children with backward feet who are trapped in limbo between the world of the living and the land of the dead. And unless Serenity acts soon, her brother is going to join their ranks.

Why it caught my attention: As a horror loving tween, I would have been obsessed with the premise of this novel. The main character loves horror movies as much as I did. Then she has to go to an island full of creepy demon children. Sign me up.

Buy it on Amazon

Which 2023 book releases are you looking forward to reading?


  1. I'm not really looking forward to any new book releases. but for middle grades authors, I'm looking forward to a conference with Katherine Paterson (author of "Bridge to Terabithia") in March.

  2. Figure It Out, Henri Weldon sounds fantastic.

    My post, if you’d like to take a look: https://readerbuzz.blogspot.com/2023/01/its-new-year-so-shall-we-try-for-happy.html

  3. Rick Riordan has a new book coming out later this year, not sure if that would count as middle grade!

  4. Figure It Out, Henri Weldon sounds so good! I wasn’t a special education kid, but a couple of my closest friends in school were. It’s wonderful to see more representation these days.

    My post: https://lydiaschoch.com/top-ten-tuesday-bookish-confessions/

  5. Aw, this post makes me miss reading Middle Grade with my daughter.

  6. The first thing I thought when I saw the cover for Artemis was great cover. Funny you mentioned it. Sounds like it has a bit of mystery in with, what sounds like, educational bits.

  7. There are so many wonderful books for middle graders! Great list!

  8. There are so many cute middle grades coming out...

  9. I love middle-grade books and these all sound so good! Tanita S. Davis is on my list today because she's an author I would like to read this year. I hope you enjoy all these.

    Happy TTT!

  10. I haven't read middle grade since my kids where in middle grades but these look good! Hope you enjoy them.

  11. I don't read a lot of middle grade, but I'm super excited for Don't Want to Be Your Monster by Deke Moulton, and the one about the kid mainstreaming from Special Ed classes sounds so interesting! I love the way that books are becoming so much more inclusive and representing people from a wider range of experiences and backgrounds - it would be so nice to have had books that represented my own background and experiences growing up. I hope you enjoy these!

  12. The Town with No Mirrors sounds very good.

  13. I have A Bit of Earth on my agenda already.. but oh my..I now have 6 more books on that same list after reading your post..
    Here is my TTT

  14. Middle grade is my favorite age group for books in the younger world. Far out sounds amazing since I love history and mystery. I really need to read more middle grade novels. Thanks for sharing these and for visiting my blog on Tuesday.

  15. I love middle grade and I already read the first one on your list!