Middle-grade Fantasy Novels On My Class TBR

As a teacher for 9 to 11 year-olds, middle-grade novels hold a special place in my heart, even though I rarely review them. In addition to the books my students read by themselves, we always start the day with me reading a chapter from a novel to them, to ensure every one of them enjoy it, even those for whom reading a 300-pages-long book is hard. This way, we can talk about it together, and it’s one of my – and their – favorite moment of the day! Lately we’ve been reading Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi and they’re loving it! It made me want to read more middle-grade Fantasy novels, so today I’m bringing my list to you. This said – I could have renamed this list Middle-Grade Novels That Need To Be Translated Into French ASAP, really, because none of them is translated (YET, hopefully) and well… my students are French, so.

But without waiting more, here’s my list! (covers are linked to Goodreads)

About Dragon Pearl

Author : Yoon Ha Lee | Publisher : Rick Riordan Presents | Pages : 312

THIRTEEN-YEAR-OLD MIN comes from a long line of fox spirits. But you’d never know it by looking at her. To keep the family safe, Min’s mother insists that none of them use any fox-magic, such as Charm or shape-shifting. They must appear human at all times.

Min feels hemmed in by the household rules and resents the endless chores, the cousins who crowd her, and the aunties who judge her. She would like nothing more than to escape Jinju, her neglected, dust-ridden, and impoverished planet. She’s counting the days until she can follow her older brother, Jun, into the Space Forces and see more of the Thousand Worlds.

When word arrives that Jun is suspected of leaving his post to go in search of the Dragon Pearl, Min knows that something is wrong. Jun would never desert his battle cruiser, even for a mystical object rumored to have tremendous power. She decides to run away to find him and clear his name.

Min’s quest will have her meeting gamblers, pirates, and vengeful ghosts. It will involve deception, lies, and sabotage. She will be forced to use more fox-magic than ever before, and to rely on all of her cleverness and bravery. The outcome may not be what she had hoped, but it has the potential to exceed her wildest dreams.

About Race to the Sun

Author : Rebecca Roanhorse | Publisher : Rick Riordan Presents | Pages : 306

Lately, seventh grader Nizhoni Begay has been able to detect monsters, like that man in the fancy suit who was in the bleachers at her basketball game. Turns out he’s Mr. Charles, her dad’s new boss at the oil and gas company, and he’s alarmingly interested in Nizhoni and her brother, Mac, their Navajo heritage, and the legend of the Hero Twins. Nizhoni knows he’s a threat, but her father won’t believe her.

When Dad disappears the next day, leaving behind a message that says “Run!”, the siblings and Nizhoni’s best friend, Davery, are thrust into a rescue mission that can only be accomplished with the help of Diné Holy People, all disguised as quirky characters. Their aid will come at a price: the kids must pass a series of trials in which it seems like nature itself is out to kill them. If Nizhoni, Mac, and Davery can reach the House of the Sun, they will be outfitted with what they need to defeat the ancient monsters Mr. Charles has unleashed. But it will take more than weapons for Nizhoni to become the hero she was destined to be…

About Maya and the Rising Dark

Author : Rena Barron | Publisher : HMH Books for Young Readers | Pages : 304

Twelve-year-old Maya’s search for her missing father puts her at the center of a battle between our world, the Orishas, and the mysterious and sinister Dark world.

Twelve-year-old Maya is the only one in her South Side Chicago neighborhood who witnesses weird occurrences like werehyenas stalking the streets at night and a scary man made of shadows plaguing her dreams. Her friends try to find an explanation—perhaps a ghost uprising or a lunchroom experiment gone awry. But to Maya, it sounds like something from one of Papa’s stories or her favorite comics.

When Papa goes missing, Maya is thrust into a world both strange and familiar as she uncovers the truth. Her father is the guardian of the veil between our world and the Dark—where an army led by the Lord of Shadows, the man from Maya’s nightmares, awaits. Maya herself is a godling, half orisha and half human, and her neighborhood is a safe haven. But now that the veil is failing, the Lord of Shadows is determined to destroy the human world and it’s up to Maya to stop him. She just hopes she can do it in time to attend Comic-Con before summer’s over.

About Paola Santiago and the River of Tears

Author : Tehlor Kay Mejia | Publisher : Rick Riordan Presents | Pages : 350

Space-obsessed 12-year-old Paola Santiago and her two best friends, Emma and Dante, know the rule: Stay away from the river. It’s all they’ve heard since a schoolmate of theirs drowned a year ago. Pao is embarrassed to admit that she has been told to stay away for even longer than that, because her mother is constantly warning her about La Llorona, the wailing ghost woman who wanders the banks of the Gila at night, looking for young people to drag into its murky depths.

Hating her mother’s humiliating superstitions and knowing that she and her friends would never venture into the water, Pao organizes a meet-up to test out her new telescope near the Gila, since it’s the best stargazing spot. But when Emma never arrives and Pao sees a shadowy figure in the reeds, it seems like maybe her mom was right…

Pao has always relied on hard science to make sense of the world, but to find her friend she will have to enter the world of her nightmares, which includes unnatural mist, mind-bending monsters, and relentless spirits controlled by a terrifying force that defies both logic and legend.

About The Serpent’s Secret

Author : Sayantani DasGupta | Publisher : Scholastic | Pages : 351

MEET KIRANMALA: INTERDIMENSIONAL DEMON SLAYER (Only she doesn’t know it yet.)

On the morning of her twelfth birthday, Kiranmala is just a regular sixth grader living in Parsippany, New Jersey… until her parents mysteriously vanish and a drooling rakkhosh demon slams through her kitchen, determined to eat her alive. Turns out there might be some truth to her parents’ fantastical stories-like how Kiranmala is a real Indian princess and how she comes from a secret place not of this world.

To complicate matters, two crush-worthy princes ring her doorbell, insisting they’ve come to rescue her. Suddenly, Kiran is swept into another dimension full of magic, winged horses, moving maps, and annoying, talking birds. There she must solve riddles and battle demons all while avoiding the Serpent King of the underworld and the Rakkhoshi Queen in order to find her parents and basically save New Jersey, her entire world, and everything beyond it…

About Ghost Squad

Author : Claribel A. Ortega | Publisher : Scholastic | Pages : 288

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.

About Sal & Gabi Break the Universe

Author : Carlos Hernandez | Publisher : Rick Riordan Presents | Pages : 382

How did a raw chicken get inside Yasmany’s locker?

When Sal Vidon meets Gabi Real for the first time, it isn’t under the best of circumstances. Sal is in the principal’s office for the third time in three days, and it’s still the first week of school. Gabi, student council president and editor of the school paper, is there to support her friend Yasmany, who just picked a fight with Sal. She is determined to prove that somehow, Sal planted a raw chicken in Yasmany’s locker, even though nobody saw him do it and the bloody poultry has since mysteriously disappeared.

Sal prides himself on being an excellent magician, but for this sleight of hand, he relied on a talent no one would guess . . . except maybe Gabi, whose sharp eyes never miss a trick. When Gabi learns that he’s capable of conjuring things much bigger than a chicken–including his dead mother–and she takes it all in stride, Sal knows that she is someone he can work with. There’s only one slight problem: their manipulation of time and space could put the entire universe at risk.

A sassy entropy sweeper, a documentary about wedgies, a principal who wears a Venetian bauta mask, and heaping platefuls of Cuban food are just some of the delights that await in this mind-blowing novel gift-wrapped in love and laughter.

About City of the Plague God

Author : Sarwat Chadda | Publisher : Rick Riordan Presents | Pages : 400

Thirteen-year-old Sik wants a simple life going to school and helping at his parents’ deli in the evenings. But all that is blown to smithereens when Nergal comes looking for him, thinking that Sik holds the secret to eternal life.Turns out Sik is immortal but doesn’t know it, and that’s about to get him and the entire city into deep, deep trouble.

Sik’s not in this alone. He’s got Belet, the adopted daughter of Ishtar, the goddess of love and war, on his side, and a former hero named Gilgamesh, who has taken up gardening in Central Park. Now all they have to do is retrieve the Flower of Immortality to save Manhattan from being wiped out by disease. To succeed, they’ll have to conquer sly demons, treacherous gods, and their own darkest nightmares.

Now, tell me : have you read one of those books? What did you think? What are your favorite middle-grade novels?

17 thoughts on “Middle-grade Fantasy Novels On My Class TBR

    1. Ikr!! I think I would love to be in your class as well alienor!! And I might be in my senior year but all my teachers encourage is all those classics and Shakespeare 😭😭😭😭😭😭 and yess!! Uncle Rick! Gosh he was like my entire childhood haha

      1. omg 😭😭 you’re too nice!!! And I’m so sorry, I hate that!!! I mean, classics are important, but I hate that it’s the only thing some teachers recommend reading, because for some students they will never be enjoyable and so they associate reading with “some old boring dude” when it’s everything but that!!

  1. Middle grade fantasy novels are fantastic! I really like the diverse list you’ve compiled here. One of my first middle grade reads was Hanna Alkaf’s The Girl and The Ghost set in Malaysia and I loved it. I recently grabbed Katie Zhao’s The Dragon Warrior and the second novel The Fallen Hero. I’m looking forward to reading the Aru Shah books and Maya books.

  2. When I was younger I was OBSESSED with both Dragon Pearl and The Serpent’s Secret, and I’m sure your students will love them. As someone who went/is still going to French immersion I can totally agree that there aren’t many French MG novels. Some other MG novels I have loved and read more recently are The Wolf Wilder and Amina’s Voice. Lovely post!

    1. Aww I’m so glad you loved them!!! I hope my students will, too (when they finally translate them ugh). There are MG here but mostly it’s french books, and unfortunately it’s harder to find ownvoices ones (there are “diverse” ones, but mostly they’re written by white french people ugh). Thank you, I’ll look into those twos as well!

  3. A lot of these are on my tbr as well! I love reading MG and its nice to find some for my daughter I can read to her or start collecting for the future.

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