2021 Finalist: Middle Grade Fiction


A Place to Hang the Moon
by Albus, Kate
Margaret Ferguson Books
Nominated by: AGW

It’s 1940 and Anne , Edmund and Will have just lost the only family they have. With no one left to take care of them they join hundreds of other kids in England evacuating from the war into the country side. The hope is that they find a family that is willing to adopt them. Full of ups and downs, cruel tricks and mean people, they find happiness in the countryside library and librarian. Nora is everything they want in a mom, and she needs them just as much as they need her. Together they can find happiness and healing – because she things they hung the moon! A Place To Hang the Moon is full of heartbreak and hope for a better tomorrow. Fans of historical middle grade will cherish this long after they turn the last page!

Shannon Griffin, Magical Wonder of Books

Finding Junie Kim
by Oh, Ellen
Nominated by: Laura Gardner

Like most middle schoolers Junie Kim just wants to fit in and stay under the radar. Keeping her head down has worked, until racist graffiti starts to appear all over her school. Now Junie is torn. Her friends want her to stand up, but she just wants to stay quiet. Then through a school assignment Junie interviews her grandparents about living through the Korean War as children. Learning about the courage and strength of her grandparents Junie finds her own courage to stand up and speak out.

Katie Bruechert, mrsb_reads

Flight of the Puffin
by Braden, Ann
Nancy Paulsen Books
Nominated by: Katie B

Ann Braden’s FLIGHT OF THE PUFFIN reminds readers that kindness and hope and love can literally save lives. If you need a good cry or need to believe in humanity and goodness again, this book will help.

Laura Gardner, librarianmsg

by Korman, Gordon
Nominated by: Julie Williams

Michael, Link, and Dana, and the rest of their community are shocked when the school is vandalized with a swastika. Who would do such a thing? And it doesn’t just happen once… it keeps happening. As the students at school try to make sense of the events, they learn about their own family history. Dana is Jewish and the vandalism impacts her greatly and Link finds out his grandmother was rescued as a baby by being placed in a nunnery. The students decide to create an art project that will draw attention to what is going on and as a remembrance of the Holocaust. With the help of a YouTuber, their paper chain project goes viral. Can they create a chain with 6 million links? Can they figure out who the vandal was? And more importantly, can they learn from the past to create a better future?

Julie Williams, Middle Grade is Lit

Many Points of Me
by Gertler, Caroline
Greenwillow Books
Nominated by: Cliff Burke

Georgia Rosenbloom’s father was a famous artist, particularly known for his “asterism” paintings. The abstract portraits, made using star patterns, depicted three subjects: a bird, Georgia’s father, and Georgia’s mother. Although her dad died before he made the planned fourth asterism painting, it is assumed it would have been of Georgia. Georgia, who’s beginning to doubt her own artistic ability, isn’t sure. And she NEEDS to be sure. Her hunt for proof leads to frustration with herself, her father, and her best friend, Theo, who Georgia sometimes thinks her father loved more than herself. Will her obsessive search for evidence of her father’s love drive her away from those who care most about her? And what about her own supposed talent? Is Georgia really the great artist everyone expects her to be? As she works through her crippling grief, she comes to realize what—and who—really matters in her life. A poignant and ultimately hopeful story, MANY POINTS OF ME will resonate with anyone who’s grappled with trying to find themselves again in the wake of great loss.

Susan Jensen, Bloggin’ ’bout Books

Thanks a Lot, Universe
by Lucas, Chad
Harry N Abrams
Nominated by: Joanne R. Fritz

Middle school is hard enough; feeling like you don’t belong makes it even harder. Erza seems to have it all; he’s on the basketball team and popular. Brian his friend is pulling away, and Ezra doesn’t know why. Brian and his brother have lost everything they know and are now being placed into the foster care system. Brian takes matters into his own hands, and he and his brother run away. Erza has no choice but to help his friend, even if it means the kids at school find out he has a crush on Brian. A tale of taking leaps of faith and having friends who love and accept us for being who we truly are. A bittersweet tale that will have you cheering on Ezra and Brian and hoping they find their place world!

Shannon Griffin, Magical Wonder of Books

Violets Are Blue
by Dee, Barbara
Nominated by: Haley Shaffer

Wren loves to use makeup to transform herself into fanciful creatures. When she’s lost in painting her face, she doesn’t have to think about the new family her father’s creating without her, drama with her best friend, or the strange ways her mom has been behaving lately. With encouragement from a new friend, Wren joins the crew of the school musical as a makeup artist. While using her new skills makes her happy and helps her become more involved in school, her mom is becoming more and more distant. What is her mom hiding behind her locked bedroom door? Why is her mother’s best friend so worried about her? What is going on? Just as Wren is fitting in better at school, her home life is falling apart. Can Wren help her mom get it together before she self-destructs? Or will the world implode once again? Poignant but hopeful, VIOLETS ARE BLUE is a relatable and touching novel about finding your true self even in the midst of life’s struggles. Wren’s plight will resonate with middle-graders who also struggle with anxiety and difficult situations at home.

Susan Jensen, Bloggin’ ’bout Books