This is the last post in our three-part series on 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. Visit our previous posts to see more selections.
The books are presented in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. Descriptions come from Amazon Listings.
Shine On, Luz Véliz! by Rebecca Balcárcel. Grades 3-6
Have you ever been the best at something . . . only to lose it all?
Luz Véliz is a soccer star―or rather, she was a soccer star. With her serious knee injury, it’s unlikely she’ll be back on the field anytime soon. But without soccer, who is she? Even her dad treats her differently now—like he doesn’t know her or, worse, like he doesn’t even like her. When Luz discovers she has a knack for coding, it feels like a lifeline to a better self. If she can ace the May Showcase, she’ll not only skip a level in her coding courses and impress Ms. Freeman and intriguing, brilliant Trevor—she’ll have her parents cheering her on from the sidelines, just the way she likes it.
But something—someone—is about to enter the Vélizes’ life. And when Solana arrives, nothing will be the same, ever again.
Drew Leclair Gets a Clue by Katryn Bury. Grades five and up.
In this modern take on Harriet the Spy, twelve-year-old Drew uses her true crime expertise to catch the cyberbully in her school—only to discover that family, friendship, and identity are the hardest mysteries to solve.
Drew Leclair knows what it takes to be a great detective. She’s pored over the cases solved by her hero, criminal profiler Lita Miyamoto. She tracked down the graffiti artist at school and even solved the mystery of her neighbor’s missing rabbit. But when her mother runs off to Hawaii with the school guidance counselor, Drew is shocked. How did she miss all of the clues?
Drew is determined to keep her family life a secret, even from her best friend. But when a cyberbully starts posting embarrassing rumors about other students at school, it’s only a matter of time before Drew’s secret is out.
Step by Deborah Ellis. Grades 3-7.
In this powerful collection of short stories, children turn eleven and take a step into their futures. Each child has the opportunity to see through the eyes of another and is changed in ways both big and small.
Annoyed at having to walk his sister’s dog on his birthday, Connor heads into an undeveloped subdivision, where he comes across chilling evidence of a stranger’s unhappiness. A girl sneaks away from her class camping trip to a local conservation area and experiences, for the first time, the terror and joy of fending for herself for the first time. Dom’s brother gives him a special crystal to boost his confidence, and the gift conjures up a child laborer from the impoverished area of Madagascar where the stones were mined. Mysterious voices at the local county fair prompt Aislynn to think twice after her older sister dumps her for her high-school buddies. While volunteering at his local soup kitchen, Len discovers that there are bigger shames than having the class bully see you in a hairnet. And on a bridge in Budapest, Lazlo’s dream of the perfect father-son birthday outing becomes a nightmare when his father introduces him to his Neo-Nazi friends.
A companion to the critically acclaimed Sit.
Those Kids from Fawn Creek by Erin Entrada. Grades 4-7.
Every day in Fawn Creek, Louisiana, is exactly the same—until Orchid Mason arrives. From Erin Entrada Kelly, the winner of the Newbery Medal for Hello, Universe and a Newbery Honor for We Dream of Space, this contemporary school story set in small-town Louisiana is about friendship, family, deception, and being true to yourself and your dreams.
There are twelve kids in the seventh grade at Fawn Creek Middle School. They’ve been together all their lives. And in this small factory town where everyone knows everything about everyone, that’s not necessarily a great thing.
There are thirteen desks in the seventh-grade classroom. That’s because Renni Dean’s father got a promotion, and the family moved to Grand Saintlodge, the nearest big town. Renni’s desk is empty, but Renni still knows their secrets; is still pulling their strings.
When Orchid Mason arrives and slips gracefully into Renni’s chair, the other seventh graders don’t know what to think. Orchid—born in New York City but just moved to Fawn Creek from Paris—seems to float. Her dress skims the floor. She’s wearing a flower behind her ear.
Fawn Creek Middle might be small, but it has its tightly knit groups—the self-proclaimed “God Squad,” the jocks, the outsiders—just like anyplace else. Who will claim Orchid Mason? Who will save Orchid Mason? Or will Orchid Mason save them?
Find more top books at the School Library Journal’s website.