middle grade fiction

What's New: And the winner is NOT...

YMA logoYesterday, the American Library Association announced the winners of the 2020 Youth Media Awards, including the Newbery and Caldecott Medals, the Coretta Scott King Awards, the Pura Belpré Awards, and the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature. The announcement of these awards is an important event for children’s librarians and other members of the children’s literature world--any author or illustrator who receives one of these prestigious honors is just about guaranteed a readership for the rest of their career! Check out the list of the 2020 winning titles as well as those that won honor awards here and place holds on those that might interest you or your child! 

new books signBut what about all the fantastic books that were released in 2020 that didn’t win awards? It’s been quite a while since we have been able to invite you inside the Oakland Public Library buildings to browse our New Books shelves and sadly, many of the books that were published in 2020 will get overlooked because of that. Below, I highlight 14 of my favorite non-award-winning middle grade novels that came out last year

If you’d like to see an exhaustive list of 2020 children’s fiction, you can use the Advanced Search feature in our catalog: just search “J FIC” and fill in the year starting 2020. You can limit the format to books, e-books, or e-audiobooks, or whatever you prefer.

You can also keep on top of the latest children’s fiction as we get new titles: use this link to access our “Featured Lists” within our Classic Catalog. Children’s book lists are at the bottom and include new fiction, new graphic novels, new picture books, new early readers, and new nonfiction. All of these lists are updated monthly.

Book Me logoAnd don’t forget: even though you can’t browse, you can still get personalized recommendations from a librarian! Just fill out a Book Me form and you’ll receive an email list of books custom-picked for you or your child!

Click on any of the book covers or titles below to get to our catalog, where you can place a hold.

Brave Like That CoverBrave Like That by Lindsey Stoddard

Cyrus isn’t brave like his firefighter/former football player dad, but he pretends to be. He also pretends to like football and reading and not to mind that the stray dog he found and fell in love with has to be put up for adoption. But when his friends start bullying another boy, Cyrus has to learn to be brave enough to say--or even shout--how he really feels.

Chirp by Kate Messner

During the summer after seventh grade, Mia gets involved in helping her grandma with her cricket farm while trying to suppress the memories of her former gymnastics coach and the way his attention to her made her feel uncomfortable—so much so that she quit the team. With new friends, new activities, and a mystery to solve, Mia gains the confidence to speak up about what happened. 

Fly on the Wall by Remy Lai

In this follow-up to Lai’s debut Pie in the Sky (the attentive reader will notice it’s loosely related), twelve-year-old Henry Khoo’s family is so overprotective he decides the only way to break free is to have the biggest adventure everrrr, and he secretly buys an airplane ticket to visit his father in Singapore. During his journey, he reflects on his lack of friends at home, meets some potential new allies, and learns the importance of expressing himself to people he cares about.

From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Markszoe washington cover

Twelve-year-old Zoe loves baking and hopes her summer internship at a local bakery will help her be chosen for a baking reality TV show. When she gets a letter from her estranged incarcerated father and learns that he’s innocent, she sets out to prove his case with her grandmother as her only confidante.

home for goddesses coverA Home for Goddesses and Dogs by Leslie Connor

After her mother dies, thirteen-year-old Lydia moves in with her aunt and her wife in the country. Trying not to be any trouble, Lydia hides her grief but is helped through it by a dog that finds his way into her broken heart.

The List of Things That WIll Not Change by Rebecca Steadlist of things cover

When Bea’s parents got divorced, they helped Bea start the reassuring List of Things That Will Not Change. Now that her dad is marrying his longtime boyfriend Jesse, a change is coming that Bea looks forward to: Jesse’s daughter will be her new sister! But Bea’s anxiety kicks in when her sister she realizes she’s going to have to tell her parents about a secret she’s been keeping.

mananaland coverMañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Max loves futbol and the stories he’s grown up hearing from his abuelo and father about the mysterious “Mañanalad,” where everything is perfect. When Max discovers the story is a code for his family’s generations-long work of helping refugees get to a safe place, he must weigh his beloved futbol dreams against the reality of helping someone whose freedom is at stake. 

Once Upon an Eid: Stories of Hope and Joy by 15 Muslim Voicesedited by S.K. Ali and Aisha Saeedonce upon an eid cover

This charming short story collection focuses on celebrations of Eid around the world, giving Muslim and non-Muslim readers alike a chance to share in this joyful holiday and the many ways that families celebrate it.

one and only bob coverThe One and Only Bob by Katherine Applegate

Fans of The One and Only Ivan will definitely want to read the story of Bob the dog, as told by Bob himself. Reuniting with Ivan the gorilla and Ruby the elephant, Bob sets out on a journey to find his sister, who he hasn’t seen since they were puppies.

The Only Black Girls in Town by Brandy Colbertonly black girls cover

When twelve-year-old Alberta learns a new family has moved in across the street and she will no longer be the only Black girl in their small beachside town, she’s ecstatic. Although new-girl Edie misses the urban life of Brooklyn, Alberta and Edie ultimately bond with each other over their shared interest in solving a town mystery. 

saucy coverSaucy by Cynthia Kadohota

Being one of a set of quadruplets can make it hard to feel special, but when Saucy comes along, eleven-year-old Becca decides her special thing is pigs! Eventually even Becca has to admit it’s not practical to keep a pig who’s going to weigh 600 pounds. What Becca decides to do about Saucy ultimately helps her decide who to be, with or without a pig.

Something to Say by Lisa Moore Raméesomething to say cover

Eleven-year-old Jenae doesn’t have any friends, and she wants to keep it that way. When Aubrey pushes himself into her life anyway, she ends up enjoying his friendship despite herself. But when the two join up for a class project that involves speaking in public, Jenae might just have to let Aubrey down, in a big way.

stand up yumi chung coverStand Up, Yumi Chung! by Jessica Kim

Shy, eleven-year-old Yumi longs to be a stand-up comedian, but her parents are already making plans for her Ivy League college career. When Yumi stumbles into a comedy camp and is mistaken for a camper, she goes with it and loves the camp--until the lies she has been telling start to catch up with her.

Ways to Make Sunshine by Renée Watsonways to make sunshine cover

Ten-year-old Ryan always tries to lead the way in “making sunshine” whenever things don’t go as planned. In episodic chapters, Ryan cheerfully does her best to navigate the changes that come when her dad loses his job and the family moves to a smaller house.