12 middle grade books from 2020 for all kinds of readers (Canadian Edition)

There were some great books published in 2020 by Canadian authors. Here are 12 titles that I read, enjoyed, and would recommend for middle grade readers in a wide variety of genres.

If you like funny books, try...

Meow or Never by Deanna Kent, illustrated by Neil Hooson. The third installment in the Snazzy Cat Capers series send Ophelia and Oscar on a search for the most valuable item they can find, and the team that returns with the best item wins the M.E.O.W. competition. The duo is happy with their find…until they see what their rival, Pierre, has returned with. Now it becomes their mission to prove Pierre’s treasure is a fake. Filled with humor and lots of excellent illustrations, this is a great new addition to this series.

If you like mysteries, try

The Body Under the Piano by Marthe Jocelyn, illustrated by Isabelle Follath. This Agatha Christie inspired novel find Aggie and her friend, Hector, trying to solve a murder at Aggie’s dance school when the prime suspect becomes her beloved teacher. This is a great introduction to a mystery that’s not overly graphic, but gives readers the chance to use their detective skills and see if they can solve the identity of the suspect before Aggie and Hector. Readers who enjoy the intrigue can look forward to the next the duo’s adventure, Peril At Owl Park, which came out September 22nd.

If you like books about resilient kids, try…

The King of Jam Sandwiches by Eric Walters. This upper middle grade story focuses on Robbie, a 13 year old boy trying to hide his dysfunctional home life and his dad’s instability from everyone around him. When he meets Harmony, a new girl at school, for the first time he’s able to let down his defenses and share what’s really going on. But Harmony has her own struggles, and trust is as difficult for her as it is for Robbie. It’s an emotional story about two young teens trying to cling to hope while coping with their parents’ struggles with mental health and addiction issues.

If you like books about world issues, try…

Crossing the Farak River by Michelle Aung Thin. Set in Myanmar, this story explores the civil war that is forcing Rohingyas from the country. We see the story through the eyes of Hasina, a girl who is separated from her family when violence erupts in their community. Along with her younger brother and cousin, Hasina must find a way to avoid the invading soldiers, keep the three of them alive, and hold on to hope that they can find and reunite with their family. It’s a fast-paced story that explores the impact of war and persecution of an ethic group appropriate for an upper middle grade audience.

If you like books set in a magical world, try…

The Barren Grounds by David A. Robertson. The first book in The Misewa Saga, The Barren Grounds reimagines the land of Narnia using traditional Indigenous stories as its inspiration. Morgan and Eli pass through artwork in the attic of their foster home into a barren land trapped in an everlasting winter. There they meet a hunter named Ochek, who is trying to keep his community alive, and teaches the pair about traditional ways of life. They embark on a journey to restore natural order to Askî. Not only is this wonderful fantasy, it also touches on important issues such as connecting to culture, finding community, and colonialism.

If you like historical fiction, try…

Trapped in Hitler’s Web by Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch. This is the companion novel to Don’t Tell The Enemy. It tells the story of Maria, Krystia’s sister, and what happens to her after she leaves Viteretz in Ukraine with her friend Nathan to work in Austria and help support their families. After the pair are separated, Maria ends up doing farm labour and witnesses the injustice shown to different types of people, all while trying to find Nathan and figure out how they might get home again.

If you like books with STEAM content, try…

Me and Banksy by Tanya Lloyd Kyi. Dominica’s school is filled with cameras, and someone hacks into them and starts posting embarrassing photos of students on the school forum. When Dominica and her friend approach the administration, they receive little support; the school values security over student privacy. As the situation escalates, Dominica and her friends decide to use art to draw attention to the issue. It’s an enjoyable read that combines both technology and art, and will lead to some excellent classroom discussion with young readers.

If you like books about magical creatures, try…

The Gryphon’s Lair by Kelley Armstrong. In this sequel to The Royal Guide to Monster Slaying, Rowan is the Royal Monster Hunter, but there are those who believe she’s not old enough to be capable of the position. When the gryphon they have in captivity dies while giving birth, Rowan is responsible for the baby gryphon, Tiera, who imprints on her. Rowan and her entourage must eventually take Tiera into the mountains to live with other gryphons for everyone’s safety, but deadly monsters seem drawn to Rowan. She needs to keep herself, and everyone around her, out of harm’s way. Stay tuned for Book Three, The Serpent’s Fury, coming in June 2021.

If you like creepy books, try…

Bloom by Kenneth Oppel. This is the story of a strange rain, after which black stalks start to grow from the ground. The invasive species spreads quickly, and before long, the entire world is reporting black plants that are difficult to kill. But there’s more going on in this story than weird plants. Three kids (Anaya, Petra and Seth), all with unusual health issues, discover they are immune to the effects of these plants. It’s a race against time to figure out what’s causing these deadly plants before they completely take over, and readers are left with a cliffhanger suggesting the invasion and its impact on the three teens has only just begun. Book 2 in this series, Hatch, came out in September, and the final book, Thrive, is set for release in Spring 2021.

If you like books with mental health representation, try…

Sara and the Search for Normal by Wesley King. We meet the protagonist, Sara, in OCDaniel, but this story is a prequel that focuses on her experiences and wanting to feel “normal” after she discover she has multiple mental health diagnoses. She reluctantly joins group therapy, where she befriends a girl named Erin. Sara wants nothing more than to live a life doing things that other teens seem to effortlessly do, but Erin accepts being different and wants to embrace it. When Sara discovers Erin has a secret, she has to decide if she’s willing to lose the only friend she’s ever had to help her.

If you like books about animal conservation, try…

Music for Tigers by Michelle Kadarusman. Louisa is shipped from Canada to her family’s bush camp in the Tasminian rainforest for the summer while her parents are busy with work. It doesn’t take long until she discovers a secret; her family has protected a species that is considered extinct, but the impending destruction of their camp to make way for logging in the area puts the animals in jeopardy. Louisa must help her uncle and his friends trap and relocate a Tasmanian tiger out of harms way, and connects to her family history in the process.

If you like stories about dogs, try…

Harvey Holds His Own by Colleen Nelson. In this sequel to Harvey Comes Home, Maggie is trying hard to forgive Austin for keeping Harvey for a couple of weeks when he was lost. When she finds out she has to get volunteer hours for a school project, she chooses Brayside Retirement Villa, the senior residence where Austin’s grandpa works and where Austin and Harvey are already friends with the residents. Maggie befriends a resident, Mrs. Fradette, who tells her about her childhood learning to work on cars with her grandfather when her family had to evacuate their home in Manitoba during a flood in 1950. When she lets Austin take Harvey on a walk one day, Harvey discovers a puppy that’s been left in an alley. Though they take the puppy to a shelter, his fate is uncertain, as is the future of someone whom Austin cares about.

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