Today we bring you part two of librarians’ picks for the best middle-grade fiction of 2022. Each year, the School Library Journal names its top books. We share four more of their selections for readers eight through twelve with your today.
The books are presented in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. Descriptions come from Amazon Listings.
The Last Adventure by Ryan Dalton. Grades 5-8.
When Archie’s beloved grandpa is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Archie desperately wants to slow the progression of his grandpa’s memory loss.
Using Grandpa’s old journal entries as inspiration, he creates shared role-playing fantasies with epic quests for them to tackle together, allowing him to live in the present and stay in touch with his fading memories. But as Grandpa’s condition gradually worsens, Archie must come to terms with what’s happening to his hero. The limits of the fantasies, revelations about Grandpa’s past, and a school project about the future force Archie to grapple with what it truly means to live a life worth remembering.
Haven Jacobs Saves the Planet by Barbara Dee. Grades 3-8.
A School Library Journal Best Book of 2022
Twelve-year-old Haven Jacobs can’t stop thinking about the climate crisis. So when her social studies teacher urges her to find a specific, manageable way to make a difference to the planet, Haven focuses on the annual science class project at the local Belmont River, where her class will take water samples to analyze. Students have been doing the project for years, and her older brother tells her that his favorite part was studying and catching frogs.
But when Haven and her classmates get to the river, there’s no sign of frogs or other wildlife—but there is ample evidence of pollution. The only thing that’s changed by the river is the opening of Gemba, the new factory where Haven’s dad works. It doesn’t take much investigation before Haven is convinced Gemba is behind the slow pollution of the river.
She’s determined to expose Gemba and force them to clean up their act. But when it becomes clear taking action might put her dad’s job—and some friendships—in jeopardy, Haven must decide how far she’s willing to go.
Chester Keene Cracks the Code by Kekla Magoon. Grades 3-7.
Cracking the code isn’t all it’s cracked up to be in this scavenger hunt adventure from a Coretta Scott King Honor-winning author.
Chester Keene takes great comfort in his routines. But Chester has one other extraordinary thing—he gets secret spy messages from his dad, who must be on covert government assignments, which is why Chester has never met him. Then one day, Chester’s classmate, Skye, approaches him with a clue. They’ve been tasked with a complex puzzle-solving mission. Skye proves to be a useful partner and good company, even if her free-wheeling ways are disruptive to Chester’s carefully built schedule.
As Chester and Skye get closer to their final clue, they discover the key to their spy assignment: they must stop a heist! But cracking this code may mean finding out things are not always what they seem.
Northwind by Gary Paulsen. Grades 4-8.
From Gary Paulsen comes another high-stakes survival story about a young boy on the knife-edge between life and death, where the raging seas meet a coastal wilderness.
When a deadly plague reaches the small fish camp where he lives, an orphan named Leif is forced to take to the water in a cedar canoe. He flees northward, following a wild, fjord-riven shore, thrown from one danger to the next, unsure of his destination. Yet the deeper into his journey he paddles, the closer Leif comes to his truest self as he connects to the heartbeat of the ocean, the pulse of the sea.
A stunning historical adventure with hints of Nordic mythology and an irresistible narrative pull, Northwind is Gary Paulsen at his captivating, adventuresome best.
Find more top books at the School Library Journal’s website.