Pop! Goes The Reader’s 50 Most-Anticipated Middle Grade Novels: January-June 2020

Please Note: If you’re a middle grade author with a novel being published in 2020 and you don’t see your book on this list, please don’t be hurt or upset! This list is entirely subjective and based on my own personal reading taste. My favourite genres are contemporary fiction and historical fiction, which is why you won’t see many books outside of these two genres on this list. While I try my best to remain up-to-date about upcoming releases, it’s also entirely possible that I simply haven’t heard of your book yet! If you’re the author of a 2020 middle grade novel that you think might make a good fit for me and Pop! Goes The Reader, please don’t hesitate to reach out – I would love to hear from you!

For even more wonderful middle grade novels being published in 2020, please check out this Goodreads list which includes over 300 MG novels being published this year for you to choose from. Hopefully you’ll be able to find the perfect book for you. Happy reading!


Publication Date January 7th 2020 by Crown Books For Young Readers
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From New York Times bestselling author Nic Stone comes a middle-grade road-trip story through American race relations past and present, perfect for fans of Jacqueline Woodson and Jason Reynolds.

How to Go on an Unplanned Road Trip with Your Grandma:
• Grab a Suitcase: Prepacked from the big spring break trip that got CANCELLED.
• Fasten Your Seatbelt: G’ma’s never conventional, so this trip won’t be either.
• Use the Green Book: G’ma’s most treasured possession. It holds history, memories, and most important, the way home.

What Not to Bring:
• A Cell Phone: Avoid contact with Dad at all costs. Even when G’ma starts acting stranger than usual.

Set against the backdrop of the segregation history of the American South, take a trip with New York Times bestselling Nic Stone and an eleven-year-old boy who is about to discover that the world hasn’t always been a welcoming place for kids like him, and things aren’t always what they seem – his G’ma included.




Publication Date January 7th 2020 by Sterling Children’s Books
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In this bighearted middle-grade debut, Martin McLean struggles to find his voice — and his inner diva — as he navigates friendship, family, first crushes, and a whole lot of glitter.

Seventh-grader Martin McLean has always been surrounded by people who can express themselves. His mother is an artist, his colorful Tío Billy works in theater, and his best friends Carmen and Pickle are outgoing and don’t care what other people think. But Martin can only find the right words when he’s answering a problem at a Mathletes competition — until his tío introduces him to the world of drag. In a swirl of sequins and stilettos, Martin creates his fabulous drag queen alter ego, Lottie León. As Lottie, he is braver than he’s ever been; but as Martin, he doesn’t have the guts to tell anyone outside of his family about her. Not Carmen and Pickle, not his Mathletes teammates, and definitely not Chris, an eighth-grader who gives Martin butterflies. When Martin discovers that his first-ever drag show is the same night as the most important Mathletes tournament, he realizes that he can only pull off both appearances by revealing his true self to his friends — and channeling his inner drag superstar.




Publication Date January 7th 2020 by Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
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Meet the Plain Janes – artist activists on a mission to wake up their sleepy suburban town. This cult classic graphic novel is perfect for fans of The LumberJanes and Awkward.

When artsy misfit Jane Beckles is forced to leave her beloved city life behind for the boring suburb of Kent Waters, she thinks her life is over. But then she finds where she belongs: at the reject table in the cafeteria, along with fellow misfits Brain Jayne, Theater Jane, and sporty Polly Jane. United by only two things – a shared name and frustration with the adults around them – the girls form a secret club dedicated to fighting suburban apathy with guerrilla works of art scattered around their small town.

But for Main Jane, the group is more than simple teenaged rebellion; it’s an act of survival. She’s determined not to let fear rule her life like it does her parents’ and neighbors’ lives. Armed with her sketchbook and a mission of resistance, the PLAIN Janes are out to prove that passion, bravery, and a group of great friends can save anyone from the hell that is high school.

With each installment printed in its own distinct color, this volume includes the original two stories – The Plain Janes and Janes In Love – plus a never-before-seen third story, Janes Attack Back. The Janes are back, and better than ever.


Publication Date January 14th 2020 by Roaring Brook Press
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From award-winning author Angela Dominguez comes the novel Stella Diaz Never Gives Up, a story about a shy Mexican-American girl who becomes an environmental activist and makes a difference in her community.

Stella gets a big surprise when her mom plans a trip to visit their family in Mexico! Stella loves marine animals, and she can’t wait to see the ocean for the first time…until she arrives and learns that the sea and its life forms are in danger due to pollution.

Stella wants to save the ocean, but she knows she can’t do it alone. It’s going to take a lot of work and help from old and new friends to make a difference, but Stella Díaz never gives up!

This is the second middle-grade novel from award-winning picture book author and illustrator Angela Dominguez. Based on the author’s experiences growing up Mexican-American, this infectiously charming character comes to life through relatable story-telling including simple Spanish vocabulary and adorable black-and-white art throughout.




Publication Date January 14th 2020 by Aladdin
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Fresh Off The Boat meets Junie B. Jones in this first novel in an adorable new chapter book series about Mindy Kim, a young Asian American girl who is starting a snack business!

Mindy Kim just wants three things:
1. A puppy!
2. To fit in at her new school
3. For her dad to be happy again

But, getting all three of the things on her list is a lot trickier than she thought it would be. On her first day of school, Mindy’s school snack of dried seaweed isn’t exactly popular at the lunch table. Luckily, her new friend, Sally, makes the snacks seem totally delicious to Mindy’s new classmates, so they decide to start the Yummy Seaweed Business to try and raise money for that puppy!

When another student decides to try and sabotage their business, Mindy loses more than she bargained for — and wonders if she’ll ever fit in. Will Mindy be able to overcome her uncertainty and find the courage to be herself?




Publication Date January 14th 2020 by Katherine Tegen Books
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From debut author Janae Marks comes a captivating mystery full of heart, as one courageous girl questions assumptions, searches for the truth, and does what she believes is right — even in the face of great opposition. A perfect book for fans of Front Desk and All Rise For The Honorable Perry T. Cook!

Zoe Washington isn’t sure what to write. What does a girl say to the father she’s never met, hadn’t heard from until his letter arrived on her twelfth birthday, and who’s been in prison for a terrible crime?

A crime he says he never committed.

Could Marcus really be innocent? Zoe is determined to uncover the truth. Even if it means hiding his letters and her investigation from the rest of her family. Everyone else thinks Zoe’s worrying about doing a good job at her bakery internship and proving to her parents that she’s worthy of auditioning for Food Network’s Kids Bake Challenge.

But with bakery confections on one part of her mind, and Marcus’s conviction weighing heavily on the other, this is one recipe Zoe doesn’t know how to balance. The only thing she knows to be true: Everyone lies.




Publication Date February 1st 2020 by Capstone Editions
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Twelve-year-old Abigail Hensley is a socially awkward aspiring anthropologist who has always had trouble connecting with her peers. Abigail is hopeful that a week at sleepaway camp is the answer to finally making a friend. After all, her extensive research shows that summer camp is the best place to make lifelong connections. Using her tried-and-true research methods, Abigail begins to study her cabinmates for friendship potential. But just when it seems that she is off to a good start, her bunkmate’s phone gets stolen, and Abigail is the main suspect. Can she clear her name, find the real culprit, and make a friend before the week is done?


Publication Date February 4th 2020 by Fabled Films Press
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Readers will cheer on Korean American Pippa Park in this compelling middle grade reimagining of Great Expectations. Navigating friendships and cyberbullying at a new school, Pippa reinvents herself and discovers who she really is.

Life is full of great expectations for Korean American Pippa Park. It seems like everyone, from her family to the other kids at school, has a plan for how her life should look. So when Pippa gets a mysterious basketball scholarship to Lakeview Private, she jumps at the chance to reinvent herself by following the “Rules of Cool.”

At Lakeview, Pippa juggles old and new friends, an unrequited crush, and the pressure to perform academically and athletically while keeping her past and her family’s laundromat a secret from her elite new classmates. But when Pippa begins to receive a string of hateful, anonymous messages via social media, her carefully built persona is threatened.

As things begin to spiral out of control, Pippa discovers the real reason she was admitted to Lakeview and wonders if she can keep her old and new lives separate, or if she should even try.


Publication Date February 11th 2020 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books For Young Readers
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In this heartfelt and hilarious new novel from Greg Howard, an enterprising boy starts his own junior talent agency and signs a thirteen-year-old aspiring drag queen as his first client.

Twelve-year-old Mikey Pruitt – president, founder, and CEO of Anything, Inc. – has always been an entrepreneur at heart. Inspired by his grandfather Pap Pruitt, who successfully ran all sorts of businesses from a car wash to a roadside peanut stand, Mikey is still looking for his million-dollar idea. Unfortunately, most of his ideas so far have failed. A baby tornado ran off with his general store, and the kids in his neighborhood never did come back for their second croquet lesson. But Mikey is determined to keep at it.

It isn’t until kid drag queen Coco Caliente, Mistress of Madness and Mayhem (aka eighth grader Julian Vasquez) walks into his office (aka his family’s storage/laundry room) looking for an agent that Mikey thinks he’s finally found his million-dollar idea, and the Anything Talent and Pizzazz Agency is born!

Soon, Mikey has a whole roster of kid clients looking to hit it big or at least win the middle school talent show’s hundred-dollar prize. As newly out Mikey prepares Julian for the gig of a lifetime, he realizes there’s no rulebook for being gay – and if Julian can be openly gay at school, maybe Mikey can, too, and tell his crush, dreamy Colton Sanford, how he feels.

Full of laughs, sass, and hijinks, this hilarious, heartfelt story shows that with a little effort and a lot of love, anything is possible.




Publication Date February 11th 2020 by Clarion Books
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A delightfully creepy novel from a Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award winner imbued with magic and seafaring mythology. Lemony Snicket and Jessica Townsend meet Greenglass House, with a hint of Edward Gorey thrown in.

When twelve-year-old Rory applies for a job at a spooky old mansion in his gloomy seaside town, he finds the owner, Lord Foxglove, odd and unpleasant. But he and his mom need the money, so he takes the job anyway. Rory soon finds out that his new boss is not just strange, he’s not even human — and he’s trying to steal the townspeople’s shadows. Together, Rory and his friend Isabella set out to uncover exactly what Foxglove and his otherworldly accomplices are planning and devise a strategy to defeat them. But can two kids defeat a group of ancient evil beings who are determined to take over the world?

Another delightfully creepy tale from Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award–winning author Ronald L. Smith.


Publication Date February 25th 2020 by Dial Books
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In this perfectly pitched novel-in-letters, autistic eleven-year-old Vivy Cohen won’t let anything stop her from playing baseball – not when she has a major-league star as her pen pal.

Vivy Cohen is determined. She’s had enough of playing catch in the park. She’s ready to pitch for a real baseball team.

But Vivy’s mom is worried about Vivy being the only girl on the team, and the only autistic kid. She wants Vivy to forget about pitching, but Vivy won’t give up. When her social skills teacher makes her write a letter to someone, Vivy knows exactly who to choose: her hero, Major League pitcher VJ Capello. Then two amazing things happen: A coach sees Vivy’s amazing knuckleball and invites her to join his team. And VJ starts writing back!

Now Vivy is a full-fledged pitcher, with a catcher as a new best friend and a steady stream of advice from VJ. But when a big accident puts her back on the bench, Vivy has to fight to stay on the team.




Publication Date March 3rd 2020 by Bloomsbury Children’s Books
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From the highly acclaimed author of Caterpillar Summer comes a heartfelt story about the sweetness and stings of middle-school friendship.

Meg has always found comfort in her best friend Beatrix’s shadow. Self-assured Beatrix is the one who makes decisions, and the girls have been a pair since kindergarten. But middle school has brought some changes in Beatrix, especially when Meg tries to step outside her role as sidekick.

A special science elective is Meg’s first step away, but when she’s paired with quirky new girl Hazel, Beatrix steps in to stake her claim on Meg. Meg is taken aback at how mean Beatrix can be – and how difficult it is to stand up to her friend. But as Meg gets to know Hazel while working on their backyard beehive project, she starts to wonder: Is being Beatrix’s friend worth turning down the possibility of finding her own voice?

This pitch-perfect exploration of middle-school friendship dynamics brims with heart and hope, and will resonate with readers of all ages.




Publication Date March 3rd 2020 by Clarion Books
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Prairie Lotus is a powerful, touching, multilayered book about a girl determined to fit in and realize her dreams: getting an education, becoming a dressmaker in her father’s shop, and making at least one friend. Acclaimed, award-winning author Linda Sue Park has placed a young half-Asian girl, Hanna, in a small town in America’s heartland, in 1880. Hanna’s adjustment to her new surroundings, which primarily means negotiating the townspeople’s almost unanimous prejudice against Asians, is at the heart of the story. Narrated by Hanna, the novel has poignant moments yet sparkles with humor, introducing a captivating heroine whose wry, observant voice will resonate with readers.


Publication Date March 10th 2020 by Candlewick
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Newbery Medalist Avi brings us mud-caked, tent-filled San Francisco in 1848 with a willful heroine who goes on an unintended — and perilous — adventure to save her brother.

Victoria Blaisdell longs for independence and adventure, and she yearns to accompany her father as he sails west in search of real gold! But it is 1848, and Tory isn’t even allowed to go to school, much less travel all the way from Rhode Island to California. Determined to take control of her own destiny, Tory stows away on the ship. Though San Francisco is frenzied and full of wild and dangerous men, Tory finds freedom and friendship there. Until one day, when Father is in the gold fields, her younger brother, Jacob, is kidnapped. And so Tory is spurred on a treacherous search for him in Rotten Row, a part of San Francisco Bay crowded with hundreds of abandoned ships. Beloved storyteller Avi is at the top of his form as he ushers us back to an extraordinary time of hope and risk, brought to life by a heroine readers will cheer for. Spot-on details and high suspense make this a vivid, absorbing historical adventure.




Publication Date March 10th 2020 by HarperCollins
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Readers who love Leslie Connor and Ann M. Martin will adore this story of a citywide scavenger hunt and a girl who learns that family — and weirdness — is relative.

Summer Coding Camp

Incoming 7th graders only

Eight-week session begins June 28

This is it, my summer plan.

Hoping to ditch two months of chicken coops, kale, and her parents’ antiscreen rules, Mac MacLeod sets out to win a citywide food cart scavenger hunt and the money she needs for the summer coding camp of her dreams.

But Mac discovers more than just clues during her cross-city sprint — like how her weird parents might not be the worst thing compared to the circumstances of those around her.

With the same humor and hope of her debut novel, Mostly The Honest Truth, Jody J. Little gives readers another spunky, unforgettable character to root for.




Publication Date March 10th 2020 by Viking Books For Young Readers
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Like Ruta Sepetys for middle grade, Anne Blankman pens a poignant and timeless story of friendship that twines together moments in underexplored history.

On a spring morning, neighbors Valentina Kaplan and Oksana Savchenko wake up to an angry red sky. A reactor at the nuclear power plant where their fathers work – Chernobyl – has exploded. Before they know it, the two girls, who’ve always been enemies, find themselves on a train bound for Leningrad to stay with Valentina’s estranged grandmother, Rita Grigorievna. In their new lives in Leningrad, they begin to learn what it means to trust another person. Oksana must face the lies her parents told her all her life. Valentina must keep her grandmother’s secret, one that could put all their lives in danger. And both of them discover something they’ve wished for: a best friend. But how far would you go to save your best friend’s life? Would you risk your own?

Told in alternating perspectives among three girls – Valentina and Oksana in 1986 and Rifka in 1941 – this story shows that hatred, intolerance, and oppression are no match for the power of true friendship.


Publication Date March 17th 2020 by Kokila
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One lie snowballs into a full-blown double life in this irresistible story about an aspiring stand-up comedian.

On the outside, Yumi Chung suffers from #ShyGirlProblems, a perm-gone-wrong, and kids calling her “Yu-MEAT” because she smells like her family’s Korean barbecue restaurant. On the inside, Yumi is ready for her Netflix stand-up special. Her notebook is filled with mortifying memories that she’s reworked into comedy gold. All she needs is a stage and courage.

Instead of spending the summer studying her favorite YouTube comedians, Yumi is enrolled in test-prep tutoring to qualify for a private school scholarship, which will help in a time of hardship at the restaurant. One day after class, Yumi stumbles on an opportunity that will change her life: a comedy camp for kids taught by one of her favorite YouTube stars. The only problem is that the instructor and all the students think she’s a girl named Kay Nakamura – and Yumi doesn’t correct them.

As this case of mistaken identity unravels, Yumi must decide to stand up and reveal the truth or risk losing her dreams and disappointing everyone she cares about.




Publication Date March 17th 2020 by Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
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Move over, Nancy Drew – there’s a new sleuth in town! Inspired by the beloved comic series, Goldie Vance is ready to sleuth her way through never-before-seen mysteries in this original novel series by Lilliam Rivera featuring 16 full-color comic pages!

Marigold “Goldie” Vance lives and works at the Crossed Palms Resort Hotel in Florida with a whole slew of characters: her dad, Art, the manager of the joint; Cheryl Lebeaux, the concierge and Goldie’s best friend; and Walter Tooey, the hired hotel detective. Her mom, Sylvie, works nearby at the Mermaid Club.

While life at the Crossed Palms is always busy, the resort is currently overrun with Hollywood-types filming the hottest new creature feature, and tensions are at an all-time high. Even Goldie’s mom is in on the movie act, doing what she does best: playing a mermaid. Just when Goldie thinks the movie biz couldn’t get any more exciting, a diamond-encrusted swimming cap goes missing, and all fingers point to Goldie’s mom as the culprit. Can Goldie uncover the true thief before it’s too late?

Based on Hope Larson and Brittney Williams’s critically acclaimed Goldie Vance comic, this thrilling novel explores a never-before-seen caper and features 16 full-color comic pages essential to unraveling the mystery.


Publication Date March 24th 2020 by Little, Brown Books For Young Readers
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Award-winning YA author Brandy Colbert’s debut middle-grade novel about the only two black girls in town who discover a collection of hidden journals revealing shocking secrets of the past.

Beach-loving surfer Alberta has been the only black girl in town for years. Alberta’s best friend, Laramie, is the closest thing she has to a sister, but there are some things even Laramie can’t understand. When the bed and breakfast across the street finds new owners, Alberta is ecstatic to learn the family is black-and they have a 12-year-old daughter just like her.

Alberta is positive she and the new girl, Edie, will be fast friends. But while Alberta loves being a California girl, Edie misses her native Brooklyn and finds it hard to adapt to small-town living.

When the girls discover a box of old journals in Edie’s attic, they team up to figure out exactly who’s behind them and why they got left behind. Soon they discover shocking and painful secrets of the past and learn that nothing is quite what it seems.




Publication Date March 24th 2020 by Amulet Books
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A highly illustrated middle-grade series that celebrates new friendships, first crushes, and getting out of your comfort zone.

Ever since they can remember, fifth-graders Kenzie (aka Kenzilla) and Shelly (aka Bomb Shell) have dreamed of becoming roller derby superstars. When Austin’s city league introduces a brand-new junior league, the dynamic duo celebrates! But they’ll need to try out as a five-person team. Kenzie and Shelly have just one week to convince three other girls that roller derby is the coolest thing on wheels. But Kenzie starts to have second thoughts when Shelly starts acting like everyone’s best friend…Isn’t she supposed to be Kenzie’s best friend? And things get really awkward when Shelly recruits Kenzie’s neighbor (and secret crush!) for the team.

With lots of humor and an authentic middle-grade voice, book one of this illustrated series follows Kenzie, Shelly, and the rest of the Derby Daredevils as they learn how to fall — and get back up again.




Publication Date March 24th 2020 by Random House Books For Young Readers
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For anyone who has ever felt like a potato in middle school, this hilarious story about a boy forced to become the dorkiest school mascot ever will have readers cheering!

Ben Hardy believes he’s cursed by potatoes. And now he’s moved to Idaho, where the school’s mascot is Steve the Spud! Yeah, this cannot be good.

After accidentally causing the mascot to sprain an ankle, Ben is sentenced to Spud duty for the final basketball games of the year. But if the other kids know he’s the Spud, his plans for popularity are likely to be a big dud! Ben doesn’t want to let the team down, so he lies to his friends to keep it a secret. No one will know it’s him under the potato suit…right?

Life as a potato is all about not getting mashed! With laugh-out-loud illustrations throughout, hand to fans of James Patterson, Gordan Korman, Jeff Kinney, and Chris Grabenstein!




Publication Date April 7th 2020 by Scholastic Press
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Coco meets Stranger Things with a hint of Ghostbusters in this action-packed supernatural fantasy.

For Lucely Luna, ghosts are more than just the family business.

Shortly before Halloween, Lucely and her best friend, Syd, cast a spell that accidentally awakens malicious spirits, wreaking havoc throughout St. Augustine. Together, they must join forces with Syd’s witch grandmother, Babette, and her tubby tabby, Chunk, to fight the haunting head-on and reverse the curse to save the town and Lucely’s firefly spirits before it’s too late.

With the family dynamics of Coco and action-packed adventure of Ghostbusters, Claribel A. Ortega delivers both a thrillingly spooky and delightfully sweet debut novel.




Publication Date April 7th 2020 by Wendy Lamb Books
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Bea’s family may change, but their love for each other does not in this soon-to-be classic by the Newbery Award-winning author of When You Reach Me.

“Things are changing, Bea. But there’s still a lot you can count on. Okay? Things that won’t EVER change.”

After her parents’ divorce, Bea’s life became different in many ways. But she can always look back at the list she keeps in her green notebook to remember the things that will stay the same. The first and most important: Mom and Dad will always love Bea, and each other.

When Dad tells Bea that he and his boyfriend, Jesse, are getting married, Bea is thrilled. Bea loves Jesse, and when he and Dad get married, she’ll finally (finally!) have what she’s always wanted – a sister. Even though she’s never met Jesse’s daughter, Sonia, Bea is sure that they’ll be “just like sisters anywhere.”

As the wedding day approaches, Bea will learn that making a new family brings questions, surprises, and joy, and readers will discover why the New York Times called Rebecca Stead a “writer of great feeling.”




Publication Date April 7th 2020 by Amulet Books
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Inspired by Joan of Arc, a girl builds and pilots a submarine to prove just what girls can do in this masterful middle-grade debut.

Mary Murphy feels like she’s drowning. Her violent father is home from prison, and the social worker is suspicious of her new bruises. An aunt she’s never met keeps calling. And if she can’t get a good grade on her science project, she’ll fail her favorite class.

But Mary doesn’t want to be a victim anymore. She has a plan: build a real submarine, like the model she’s been making with Kip Dwyer, the secretly sweet class clown. Gaining courage from her heroine, Joan of Arc, Mary vows to pilot a sub across the Chesapeake Bay, risking her life in a modern crusade to save herself.

Mary Underwater is an empowering tale of persistence, heroism, and hope from a luminous new voice in middle-grade fiction.


Publication Date April 14th 2020 by Knopf Books For Young Readers
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The best mysteries can only be solved with your best friends. The perfect summer read for fans of Stuart Gibbs.

Paul Marconi has always thought that Bellwood was a strange town, but also a boring one. Not much for an eleven-year-old to do. Fires are burning nearby, Paul’s parents are obsessed with winning a bratwurst contest, and his best friend, one of the founding members of their only-child detective club, the One and Onlys, is about to acquire a younger sister, sort of undoing their whole reason for existing. But then! Hundreds of rubber duckies have appeared on the lawn of poor Mr. Babbage without any explanation. Finally! There is something that Paul and his friends can actually investigate.

In the face of all these bizarre occurrences, Paul is convinced that uncovering who deposited the duckies will finally bring some sense to what has become an upside-down world. Soon the three friends have a long list of suspects, all with their own motives, but no clear culprit. When everything comes to a head at the town’s annual Bellwood Bratwurst Bonanza, Paul discovers that some things don’t have an easy explanation and not every mystery can be solved.

A perfect summer story about friends, amateur sleuthing, and a whole lot of rubber duckies.




Publication Date April 14th 2020 by Candlewick
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When a publicity stunt goes terribly wrong, twelve-year-old Darleen Darling, star of the silent film era, must defeat villains both on screen and off in this edge-of-your-seat adventure.

Lights! Camera! Kidnapping?

It’s 1914, and Darleen Darling’s film adventures collide with reality when a fake kidnapping set up by her studio becomes all too real. Suddenly Darleen finds herself in the hands of dastardly criminals who have just nabbed Miss Victorine Berryman, the poor-little-rich-girl heiress of one of America’s largest fortunes. Soon real life starts to seem like a bona fide adventure serial, complete with dramatic escapes, murderous plots, and a runaway air balloon. Will Darleen and Victorine be able to engineer their own happily-ever-after, or will the villains be victorious?




Publication Date April 14th 2020 by Atheneum Books For Young Readers
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A girl with a passion for science and a boy who dreams of writing fantasy novels must figure out how to get along now that their parents are dating in this lively, endearing novel.

Sutton is having robot problems. Her mini-bot is supposed to be able to get through a maze in under a minute, but she must have gotten something wrong in the coding. Which is frustrating for a science-minded girl like Sutton — almost as frustrating as the fact that her mother probably won’t be home in time for Sutton’s tenth birthday.

Luis spends his days writing thrilling stories about brave kids, but there’s only so much inspiration you can find when you’re stuck inside all day. He’s allergic to bees, afraid of dogs, and has an overprotective mom to boot. So Luis can only dream of daring adventures in the wild.

Sutton and Luis couldn’t be more different from each other. Except now that their parents are dating, these two have to find some common ground. Will they be able to navigate their way down a path they never planned on exploring?




Publication Date April 14th 2020 by Roaring Brook Press
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A must-read for young feminists, The Prettiest is an incisive, empowering novel by Brigit Young about fighting back against sexism and objectification.

The Prettiest: It’s the last thing Eve Hoffmann expected to be, the only thing Sophie Kane wants to be, and something Nessa Flores-Brady knows she’ll never be…until a list appears online, ranking the top fifty prettiest girls in the eighth grade.

Eve is disgusted by the way her body is suddenly being objectified by everyone around her.

Sophie is sick of the bullying she’s endured after being relegated to number two.

And Nessa is tired of everyone else trying to tell her who she is.

It’s time for a takedown. As the three girls band together, they begin to stand up not just for themselves, but for one another, too.


Publication Date April 21st 2020 by Algonquin Young Readers
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Introducing Brie Hutchens: soap opera super fan, aspiring actor, and so-so student at her small Catholic school. Brie has big plans for eighth grade. She’s going to be the star of the school play and convince her parents to let her go to the performing arts high school. But when Brie’s mom walks in on her accidentally looking at some possibly inappropriate photos of her favorite actress, Brie panics and blurts out that she’s been chosen to crown the Mary statue during her school’s May Crowning ceremony. Brie’s mom is distracted with pride — but Brie’s in big trouble: she has not been chosen. No one has, yet. Worse, Brie has almost no chance to get the job, which always goes to a top student.

Desperate to make her lie become truth, Brie turns to Kennedy, the girl everyone expects to crown Mary. But sometimes just looking at Kennedy gives Brie butterflies. Juggling her confusing feelings with the rapidly approaching May Crowning, not to mention her hilarious non-star turn in the school play, Brie navigates truth and lies, expectations and identity, and how to — finally — make her mother really see her as she is.




Publication Date April 21st 2020 by Imprint
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Nicole C. Kear’s Foreverland is a big-hearted coming-of-age story about being lost, and finding your way back home again.

Margaret is tired of everything always changing. Middle school has gone from bad to worse. Her best friend is becoming a stranger. And her family ― well, it’s not even a family anymore.

So Margaret is running away to Foreverland, her family’s favorite amusement park. She’s no outlaw, but luckily, she meets another runaway hiding there. Jaime, a thrill-seeking, fast-thinking rule breaker, teaches Margaret how to stay one step ahead of the captain of security.

At first, this after-hours, all-access pass to the park is a dream come true: sleepovers in the Haunted House, nonstop junk food, and an unlimited ticket to ride. But as the runaways learn each other’s secrets, they must face the reasons they left their normal lives behind. With the Captain closing in and Jaime’s future on the line, can Margaret finally take control?

Foreverland is an exhilarating story about riding life’s rollercoaster ― figuring out how to hang on and learning when to let go.




Publication Date April 21st 2020 by Disney-Hyperion
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Kazu Jones, scrappy fifth grade detective, is back on the case!

Fresh off their first successful investigation, Kazu and her friends – March, CindeeRae, and Madeleine – are hungry for their next case, which comes when a vandal begins targeting local comic book stores with anti-comic graffiti. March is especially desperate to unmask the villain before his beloved shop, The Super Pickle, gets hit. But when March takes over, the gang starts butting heads.

It doesn’t help that Kazu is distracted by another mystery at home: Her mom is bedridden and her grandmother has come from Japan to help out, but no one will tell Kazu what’s going on. Juggling two investigations is not easy!

When Kazu and the gang trace the vandal’s secret identity to one of the most popular superhero characters in the nation, they realize the vandal’s revenge plot is way more explosive then they thought. But can they put aside their differences in time to catch this criminal – or will both of Kazu’s cases fall apart?


Publication Date April 28th 2020 by Aladdin
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From the acclaimed author of Just Add Magic — now a hit streaming original series — comes a story of two sisters, one summer vacation, and one big mystery for them to solve.

Stella and Josie live for their summers at the boardwalk — each one a carbon copy of the last. Josie lives in Australia most of the year; her half-sister, Stella, lives in New Jersey. But every year, they come together for a beach vacation with their dad, and to make more memories. The real excitement for them is their secret special place under the boardwalk, where they hide their sister scrapbook, adding memories from each summer.

But this summer feels different. Josie isn’t the same — she’s turned into one of the popular girls that Stella can’t stand. Despite the rocky start to their vacation, they still go to their secret, special place under the boardwalk, adding memories to their sister scrapbook once again.

That is, until their place is discovered by the owners of the newest store — the Smoothie Factory, which replaced Josie’s favorite sweet spot. Not only have the owners of the Smoothie Factory discovered the cove, they are exploiting the natural habitat, and endangering marine life and everyone at the beach! It’s up to Josie and Stella to figure out how to stop their beloved boardwalk from disappearing for good.




Publication Date April 28th 2020 by Bloomsbury Children’s Books
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From Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Author Award winner Renée Watson comes the first book in a young middle grade series about Ryan Hart, a girl who is pure spirit, kindness, and sunshine.

Ryan Hart has a lot on her mind – school, self-image, and especially family. Her dad finally has a new job, but money is tight. That means some changes, like selling their second car and moving into a new (old) house. But Ryan is a girl who knows how to make sunshine out of setbacks. As her brother says when he raps about her, she’s got the talent that matters most: it’s a talent that can’t be seen, she’s nice, not mean!

Ryan is all about trying to see the best in people, to be a good daughter, a good sister, a good friend. But even if her life isn’t everything she would wish for, when her big brother is infuriating, her parents don’t quite understand, and the unexpected happens, she always finds a way forward, with grace and wit. And plenty of sunshine.

Acclaimed author Renée Watson writes her own version of Ramona Quimby, one starring a Black girl and her family, in this start to a charming new series.




Publication Date May 1st 2020 by Sourcebooks Young Readers
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From the author of the award-winning This Journal Belongs To Ratchet comes a new kind of journal by a girl on a madcap road trip, featuring a karaoke-loving grandma, a cute boy, and a wild summer of memories that will last a lifetime.

Samantha is not exactly excited to spend what was supposed to be an awesome summer vacation with her grandma all the way in Florida. Or to be testing out her mom’s “Dear Me” Journals ― writing to her future self just feels weird. But it turns out Gram has some not-so-boring plans up her sleeve…

Gram and her friend Mimi are going to audition for the Seniors Have Got Talent Karaoke Contest!

A road trip in Gram’s new Mustang turns into a series of hilarious mishaps that flip Samantha’s summer on its head. And to make things more awkward, Brandon, Mimi’s totally handsome grandson, is also along for the ride.

It looks like those journals just might be worth keeping after all. Because this summer will be one Samantha will never want to forget.


Publication Date May 5th 2020 by Scholastic Press
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Fans of Lauren Myracle and Wendy Mass are sure to fall head-over-heels for this sweet story about first crushes, friendship drama, and finding the courage to stand up for yourself.

Seventh grade is supposed to be a game changer. And Keiko thinks she’s got it covered, especially with Audrey and Jenna by her side to shop for a new look, pick out a prime lunch spot, and even hit up that cute new bubble tea place after school. Her trio is ready to tackle life as they always have…together.

But when Audrey decides they need boyfriends before Fall Ball, it looks like things may be changing in all the wrong ways. Jenna is sick of caving in to Audrey’s demands, and soon Keiko’s besties are barely talking, leaving her caught in the middle. While she’s been dreaming about triple-dates, first kisses, and a boy she really shouldn’t have a crush on, the friendship she’s always thought was rock-solid is beginning to crumble.

Keiko feels pulled in two directions. Should she try to help her friends – even if it means losing one of them – or follow her heart? When it comes to flirting, friendships, and fallouts, how is Keiko supposed to keep it all together?




Publication Date May 5th 2020 by Margaret Ferguson Books
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Eleven-year-old Rick Rusek is determined to improve the traffic conditions in Los Angeles – his parent’s failing delivery catering service, Smotch, depends on it.

Rick Rusek’s stomach has a lot to say. It’s got opinions on tasty foods, not-so-tasty foods, and how driving in traffic-jammed Los Angeles makes it roil, boil, gurgle, and howl. It never meant to earn its owner the nickname Carsick Rick or make him change schools for fifth grade. It’s doing the best it can.

Rick has a lot to say back to his stomach. In fact, his stomach is the only one he can talk to about his favorite subject: the mighty power of road signs. Rick sees how shifting these bold, beautiful signs announcing STOP, LEFT TURN ONLY, SPEED LIMIT 35, and ROAD WORK AHEAD could improve all the traffic problems in Los Angeles. Too bad his talent for sketching maps that show how to fix everything doesn’t seem to interest or impress anyone else.

When his parents’ catering business teeters on the verge of ruin, Rick wants to prove his talent for noticing small details can make a big difference. He’ll need help from his unicorn-loving Girl Scout neighbor, the Department of Transportation, a renowned street artist, plus the best driver in LA. He’ll have to fight back against snarled streets, graffiti vandals, and other people’s very wrong ideas about traffic.

If Rick can successfully move the 330,000 slow-moving cars standing in the way of his family’s future, maybe everyone will see that he’s not Carsick Rick. He’s one of the seven wonders of Los Angeles. He’s the Colossus of Roads.




Publication Date May 5th 2020 by Algonquin Young Readers
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Twelve-year-old Myrtle Hardcastle has a passion for justice and a Highly Unconventional obsession with criminal science. Armed with her father’s law books and her mum’s microscope, Myrtle studies toxicology, keeps abreast of the latest developments in crime scene analysis, and Observes her neighbors in the quiet village of Swinburne, England.

When her next-door neighbor, a wealthy spinster and eccentric breeder of rare flowers, dies under Mysterious Circumstances, Myrtle seizes her chance. With her unflappable governess, Miss Ada Judson, by her side, Myrtle takes it upon herself to prove Miss Wodehouse was murdered and find the killer, even if nobody else believes her — not even her father, the town prosecutor.

With sparkling wit and a tight, twisty plot, Premeditated Myrtle, the first in a series from an award-winning author, introduces a brilliant young investigator ready to take on hard cases and maddening Victorian rules for Young Ladies of Quality in order to earn her place among the most daring and acclaimed amateur detectives of her time or any other.


Publication Date May 12th 2020 by Aladdin
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An Indian American girl navigates prejudice in her small town and learns the power of her own voice in this brilliant gem of a middle grade novel full of humor and heart, perfect for fans of Front Desk and Amina’s Voice.

As the only Indian American kid in her small town, Lekha Divekar feels like she has two versions of herself: Home Lekha, who loves watching Bollywood movies and eating Indian food, and School Lekha, who pins her hair over her bindi birthmark and avoids confrontation at all costs, especially when someone teases her for being Indian.

When a girl Lekha’s age moves in across the street, Lekha is excited to hear that her name is Avantika and she’s Desi, too! Finally, there will be someone else around who gets it. But as soon as Avantika speaks, Lekha realizes she has an accent. She’s new to this country, and not at all like Lekha.

To Lekha’s surprise, Avantika does not feel the same way as Lekha about having two separate lives or about the bullying at school. Avantika doesn’t take the bullying quietly. And she proudly displays her culture no matter where she is: at home or at school.

When a racist incident rocks Lekha’s community, Lekha realizes she must make a choice: continue to remain silent or find her voice before it’s too late.




Publication Date May 12th 2020 by Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
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In Fly On The Wall, a moving and hilarious illustrated novel from the critically-acclaimed author of Pie In The Sky, a twelve-year-old boy goes on a (forbidden) solo journey halfway around the world to prove his independence to his overprotective family.

Henry Khoo’s family treats him like a baby. He’s not allowed to go anywhere without his sister/chaperone/bodyguard. His (former) best friend knows to expect his family’s mafia-style interrogation when Henry’s actually allowed to hang out at her house. And he definitely CAN’T take a journey halfway around the world all by himself!

But that’s exactly his plan. After his family’s annual trip to visit his father in Singapore is cancelled, Henry decides he doesn’t want to be cooped up at home with his overprotective family and BFF turned NRFF (Not Really Friend Forever). Plus, he’s hiding a your-life-is-over-if-you’re-caught secret: he’s the creator of an anonymous gossip cartoon, and he’s on the verge of getting caught. Determined to prove his independence and avoid punishment for his crimes, Henry embarks on the greatest adventure everrr…hoping it won’t turn into the greatest disaster ever.

Remy Lai takes readers on an adventure filled with humor, heart, and hijinks that’s a sure bet for fans of Jerry Craft, Terri Libenson, and Shannon Hale!




Publication Date May 12th 2020 by Clarion Books
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A timely, accessible, and beautifully written story exploring themes of food, friendship, family and what it means to belong, featuring sixth graders Sara, a Pakistani American, and Elizabeth, a white, Jewish girl taking a South Asian cooking class taught by Sara’s mom.

Sixth graders Sara and Elizabeth could not be more different. Sara is at a new school that is completely unlike the small Islamic school she used to attend. Elizabeth has her own problems: her British mum has been struggling with depression. The girls meet in an after-school South Asian cooking class, which Elizabeth takes because her mom has stopped cooking, and which Sara, who hates to cook, is forced to attend because her mother is the teacher. The girls form a shaky alliance that gradually deepens, and they make plans to create the most amazing, mouth-watering cross-cultural dish together and win a spot on a local food show. They make good cooking partners…but can they learn to trust each other enough to become true friends?


Publication Date May 19th 2020 by Kathy Dawson Books
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From award-winning author K. L. Going comes a happily-ever-after story of a girl who discovers the true secret to all good writing – through an unlikely friendship, some well-intentioned matchmaking, and little bit of science.

Jane Brannen wants nothing more than to become a famous author like Jane Austen – she just needs to figure out the key to literary success! Her chance to uncover the secret arrives when bestselling author J. E. Fairfax visits her tiny town of Whickett Harbor. Unfortunately, a hurricane rolls in and Jane gets stuck with the author’s snobbish son, Devon, instead. But when the skies clear, Jane realizes the wind has blown in something worse than annoying boys: Her mother, Susan, and Susan’s new fiancé, Erik, have flown all the way from Hollywood to file for custody and bring Jane back to California. Now she needs to find a mate for her marine biologist father and figure out what’s truly important about Whickett Harbor, so she can prove to her mother that this is where she’s meant to stay.




Publication Date May 19th 2020 by HarperCollins
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From the author of A Kind of Paradise comes a beautiful and heartfelt middle grade novel for fans of Ali Standish and Sally J. Pla, about a girl who finds comfort in the warm traditions and unexpected friendships of summer camp.

Vic Brown did not want to go to camp this summer.

Even though it’s nice being back with her friends at Meadow Wood, Vic still can’t forget about the secret reason her mom wanted her and her brother out of the house — or how much her family is going to change. When her home life is blowing up, it can be hard to focus on campfires and canoeing.

But there is something about summer and surprises that go together like blueberry pancakes and maple syrup. And soon, Vic starts to feel like — just maybe — a summer at Meadow Wood was exactly what she needed.




Publication Date May 19th 2020 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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Josephine Cameron’s A Dog-Friendly Town is a delightful middle-grade cozy caper sure to excite dog-lovers and gentle mystery readers alike!

Twelve-year-old Epic McDade isn’t ready for middle school. He’d rather help out at his family’s dog-friendly bed n’ breakfast all summer, or return to his alternative elementary school in the fall, where learning feels safe. But change comes in all shapes and fur colors. When Carmelito, California is named America’s #1 Dog-Friendly Town, all the top dogs and their owners pour into Epic’s sleepy seaside neighborhood for a week of celebration.

The McDades are in dog heaven with all the new business until a famous dog’s jewel-encrusted collar goes missing. Every guest is a suspect, and Epic will have to embrace new friends and new ideas to sniff out the culprit before the week is through.




Publication Date May 19th 2020 by Disney-Hyperion
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Maddy Gaines sees danger everywhere she looks: at the bus stop, around the roller rink, in the woods, and (especially) by the ocean. When Maddy meets a mysterious boy setting booby traps in the North Carolina woods, she suspects the worst.

Maddy is certain she’s found Billy Holcomb – the boy who went missing in the fall. Except, maybe it’s not him. It’s been six months since he disappeared. And who will believe her anyway? Definitely not her mom or her stepdad…or the chief of police.

As Maddy tries to uncover the truth about Billy Holcomb, ghosts from her own past surface, her best friend starts to slip away, and Maddy’s world tilts once again. Can she put the pieces of her life back together, even if some of them are lost forever?


Publication Date May 26th 2020 by Owl Hollow Press
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It’s not easy being a teenage witch. Seventh grader Abby Shepherd is just getting the hang of it when weird stuff starts happening all around her hometown of Willow Cove. Green slime bubbling to life in science class. Giant snakes slithering around the middle school gym. Her best friend suddenly keeping secrets and telling lies.

Things only begin to make sense when a stranger named Miss Winters reveals that Abby isn’t the only young witch in town and that Willow Cove is home to a secret past that connects them all. Miss Winters, herself a witch, even offers to teach Abby and the others everything she knows about witchcraft.

But as Abby learns more about Miss Winters past, she begins to suspect her new mentor is keeping secrets of her own. Can Abby trust her, or does Miss Winters have something wicked planned for the young witches of Willow Cove?




Publication Date June 2nd 2020 by Scholastic Inc.
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For fans of The Land of Stories comes an adventure that reveals the secret warnings hidden inside all classic tales – beware fairyland at all costs.

Eleven-year-old Danny Monteverde believes in magic. He knows that pixie dust is real, that wardrobes act as portals, and that rabbit holes lead to Wonderland. Most of all, he believes that his older sister, Pili, is waiting for him somewhere in Rio Luna, the enchanted land in their favorite book of fairy tales.

Danny doesn’t care what the adults say. He knows that Pili isn’t another teen runaway. When the siblings were placed in separate foster homes, she promised that she’d come back for him, and they’d build a new life together in Rio Luna.

Yet as the years pass, Danny’s faith begins to dim. But just when he thinks it might be time to put foolish fairy tales behind him, he finds a mysterious book in the library. It’s a collection of stories that contain hints about how to reach another world. A map to Rio Luna…and to Pili.

As his adventure takes him from New York to Ecuador to Brazil, Danny learns that meeting your favorite characters isn’t always a dream come true. But nothing will stop him from finding his sister…even if it means standing up to the greatest threat the magical realm has ever known.


Publication Date June 9th 2020 by Balzer + Bray
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From Margaret Dilloway, author of Summer Of A Thousand Pies, comes a heartfelt and funny story about a shy eleven-year-old who learns to manage her anxiety through improv classes — and discovers her activist voice. Perfect for fans of Sharon Draper, Lynda Mullaly Hunt, and Holly Goldberg Sloan.

Eleven-year-old Ava Andrews has a Technicolor interior with a gray shell. On the inside, she bubbles with ideas and plans. On the outside, everyone except her best friend, Zelia, thinks she doesn’t talk or, worse, is stuck-up. What nobody knows is that Ava has invisible disabilities: anxiety and a heart condition.

Ava hopes middle school will be a fresh start, but when Zelia moves across the country and Ava’s Nana Linda pushes her to speak up about social issues, she withdraws further. So Ava is shocked when her writing abilities impress her classmates and they invite her to join their improv group, making up stories onstage. Determined to prove she can control her anxiety, she joins — and discovers a whole new side of herself, and what it means to be on a team.

But as Ava’s self-confidence blossoms, her relationship with Zelia strains, and she learns that it isn’t enough just to raise your voice — it’s how and why you use it that matters.


Publication Date June 23rd 2020 by Random House Books For Young Readers
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Celebrate the centennial of the Nineteenth Amendment with another historical novel about women’s suffrage from the author of The Hope Chest!

Bridie’s life has been a series of wrongs. The potato famine in Ireland. Being sent to the poorhouse when her mother’s new job in America didn’t turn out the way they’d hoped. Becoming an orphan. And then there’s the latest wrong – having to work for a family so abusive that Bridie is afraid she won’t survive. So she runs away to Seneca Falls, New York, which in 1848 is a bustling town full of possibility. There, she makes friends with Rose, a girl with her own list of wrongs, but with big dreams, too. Rose helps Bridie get a job with the strangest lady she’s ever met, Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Mrs. Stanton is planning a convention to talk about the rights of women. For Bridie and Rose, it’s a new idea, that women and girls could have a voice. But they sure are sick of all the wrongs. Maybe it’s time to fight for their rights!


3 responses to “Pop! Goes The Reader’s 50 Most-Anticipated Middle Grade Novels: January-June 2020”

  1. Ms. Yingling says:

    Thanks for putting this great list together. There were a couple that hadn’t been on my radar, so I’m glad to know about them!

  2. Thank you for this list! I tend to forget to look up MG and this helps a lot.

  3. So many great reads on this list! I am hoping to read a few of them this year! Thanks, as always, for putting together such fantastic lists Jen!
    Jamie @ Books and Ladders recently posted…#Discussion: 2020 Releases I Can’t Wait to Read!My Profile

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