These are my picks for the BEST books of 2018. A must for every middle grade library. If only there were more awards to go around.
Front Desk by Kelly Yang (Historical)
When Mia’s father loses his restaurant job, they move to Anaheim, CA to manage a motel. At first it seems like a dream job, but the owner, Mr. Yao, cares nothing for their circumstances or livelihood. He only wants to maximize his own profit. Mia works the front desk. When she does the math, she sees how much Mr. Yao is making and is determined to “get off her roller coaster” and onto the good one. Based on the author’s childhood.
No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen (Realistic)
The book opens with Felix and his mom being questioned at the police station. Then it goes back to the beginning with Felix explaining how his life came to the point of living in an old Westfalia VW van. Describes how he and his mom become expert liars and how he cherishes every moment he gets to spend at his friend’s house instead of the van. Honestly describes how toilets are his most valued item in the world.
Small Spaces by Katherine Arden (Mystery)
Halloween is approaching and Ollie’s class takes a field trip to a local farm. Ollie is creeped out and can’t wait to get back to school. Not happening. The bus breaks down. Cell phones don’t work. The teacher leaves to seek help. When help doesn’t arrive, Ollie and two friends head to the woods and are soon stalked by evil scarecrows. Ollie must heed the advice of a crazy lady and find safety in small spaces.
Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo (Realistic)
After Louisiana and her grandmother take off in the middle of the night, she finds herself in a different state with her grandmother wailing in pain. Louisiana must take control of the situation which means taking the wheel, finagling a dentist appointment, and getting a motel room with no money. DiCamillo at her best.
Bob by Wendy Mass (Fantasy)
Livy is visiting her grandmother’s home in Australia for the summer. It’s been 5 years. While investigating the closet, she stumbles on her little green zombie friend, Bob, whose been waiting 5 years for her to return. At first Livy doesn’t remember him, but he begins filling her in on the details, including his reason for being in a chicken suit. The one mystery they can’t figure out is where he came from. Livy wants to help him find his home/family.
The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor (Realistic)
Mason Buttle is an easy target for the school bully. He’s large for his age, sweats like a pig and has dyslexia. Even Lieutenant Baird finds it easy to blame Mason when his best friend dies in a fall from their treehouse. Fortunately, Mason has a family to envy, the best dog, and a knack for building forts.
Denis Ever After by Tony Abbott (Fantasy)
Denis died under dark circumstances when he was 7-years-old. He’s in the afterlife, 5 years later, trying to move on to eternal peace. He can’t until his family lets go. Now his twin brother Matt has uncovered a police report and all his grief is resurfacing. Denis’ ghost returns to help his family retrace the events leading up to his death so they can have closure. Emotionally intense.
Granted by John David Anderson (Fantasy)
Ophelia Delphinium Fidgets is a fairy working a desk job in the Wish Granting Department when she gets assigned her first job. Decked out in full fairy survival gear, she heads to the fountain to get the coin for the wish she’s been assigned. A homeless man grabs it first setting off a disastrous series of events as Fidgets tries to get it back so she can grant a boy’s wish.
Mascot by Antony John (Realistic)
Noah is a former rockstar catcher on his baseball team. Now he’s cynical, sarcastic, and bitter after a car crash left him paralyzed and his dad dead. He’s given up, sitting on the sidelines like a mascot. But there’s a few people who are determined to pick him up, dust him off, and convince him to get back in the game called life. Uplifting story with lessons galore.