The Golden Hour

Niki Smith

Kirkus's Best Middle Grade Books of 2021 Pick

From the author of The Deep & Dark Blue comes a tender graphic novel, perfect for our time, that gently explores themes of self-discovery, friendship, healing from tragedy, and hope for a better tomorrow.

Struggling with anxiety after witnessing a harrowing instance of gun violence, Manuel Soto copes through photography, using his cell-phone camera to find anchors that keep him grounded. His days are a lonely, latchkey monotony until he's teamed with his classmates, Sebastian and Caysha, for a group project.

Sebastian lives on a grass-fed cattle farm outside of town, and Manuel finds solace in the open fields and in the antics of the newborn calf Sebastian is hand-raising. As Manuel aides his new friends in their preparations for the local county fair, he learns to open up, confronts his deepest fears, and even finds first love.

This title will be simultaneously available in paperback.

Dust & Grim

Chuck Wendig

From a bestselling author: Miss Peregrine meets The Graveyard Book in this middle grade adventure about rival siblings running a monster mortuary.

Thirteen-year-old Molly doesn't know how she got the short end of the stick—being raised by her neglectful father—while Dustin, the older brother she's never met, got their mother and the keys to the family estate. But now the siblings are both orphaned, she's come home for her inheritance, and if Dustin won't welcome her into the family business, then she'll happily take her half in cash.

There's just one problem: the family business is a mortuary for monsters, and Molly's not sure she's ready to deal with mysterious doors, talking wolves, a rogue devourer of magic, and a secret cemetery. It's going to take all of Dustin's stuffy supernatural knowledge and Molly's most heroic cosplay (plus a little help from non-human friends) for the siblings to figure it out and save the day...if only they can get along for five minutes.

Bestselling author Chuck Wendig's middle grade debut is equal parts spooky, funny, and heartfelt—perfect for Halloween and year-round reading!

Borders

Thomas King

A People Magazine Best Book Fall 2021

From celebrated Indigenous author Thomas King and award-winning Métis artist Natasha Donovan comes a powerful graphic novel about a family caught between nations.

Borders is a masterfully told story of a boy and his mother whose road trip is thwarted at the border when they identify their citizenship as Blackfoot. Refusing to identify as either American or Canadian first bars their entry into the US, and then their return into Canada. In the limbo between countries, they find power in their connection to their identity and to each other. 

Borders explores nationhood from an Indigenous perspective and resonates deeply with themes of identity, justice, and belonging.

Pity Party

Kathleen Lane

Discover an "absurd, funny, and thought-provoking" book perfect for "anyone who has ever felt socially awkward or inadequate" (Louis Sachar, author of Holes and the Wayside School series).

Dear weird toes, crooked nose, stressed out, left out, freaked out

Dear missing parts, broken hearts, picked-on, passed up, misunderstood,

Dear everyone, you are cordially invited, come as you are, this party's for you

Welcome to Pity Party, where the social anxieties that plague us all are twisted into funny, deeply resonant, and ultimately reassuring psychological thrills.

There's a story about a mood ring that tells the absolute truth. One about social media followers who literally follow you around. And one about a kid whose wish for a new, improved self is answered when a mysterious box arrives in the mail. There's also a personality test, a fortune teller, a letter from the Department of Insecurity, and an interactive Choose Your Own Catastrophe.

Come to the party for a grab bag of delightfully dark stories that ultimately offers a life-affirming reminder that there is hope and humor to be found amid our misery.

Forever This Summer

Leslie C. Youngblood

The second book from critically acclaimed author Leslie C. Youngblood, about family, identity, and learning to stand up for what's right -- now in paperback!
 
Georgie has no idea what to expect when she, Mama, and Peaches are plopped down in the middle of small town USA--aka Bogalusa, Louisiana--where Mama grew up and Great Aunt Vie needs constant care.
 
Georgie wants to help out at the once famous family diner that served celebrities like the Jackson 5 and the Supremes, but everyone is too busy to show her the ropes and Mama is treating her like a baby, not letting her leave her sight. When she finally gets permission to leave on her own, Georgie makes friends with Markie--a foster kid who'd been under Aunt Elvie's care--who has a limb difference and a huge attitude.
 
Then Markie asks Georgie to help her find her mom, and suddenly summer has a real purpose. But as Georgie and Markie's histories begin to entwine, Georgie becomes more desperate to find the truth. But words spoken cannot be taken back and once Georgie knows the truth, she may even find a way to right past wrongs and help Aunt Vie and Markie out after all.