Ms. Nyman’s Top Middle Grade Picks for January 2021

Becoming Muhammad Ali: A Novel

Written by James Patterson & Kwame Alexander

“Before he was a household name, Cassius Clay was a kid with struggles like any other. Kwame Alexander and James Patterson join forces to vividly depict his life up to age seventeen in both prose and verse, including his childhood friends, struggles in school, the racism he faced, and his discovery of boxing. ” – Jimmy Patterson Books, Little, Brown and Company (publisher)

The Girl and the Ghost

Written by Hanna Alkaf

“A Malaysian folk tale comes to life in this emotionally layered, chilling middle grade debut, perfect for fans of The Book of Boy and The Jumbies. Fans of Holly Black’s Doll Bones and Tahereh Mafi’s Furthermore series will love this ghostly middle grade debut that explores jealousy, love, and the extraordinary power of friendship.” – Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers (publisher)

The Inkberg Enigma

Written by Jonathan King

“Miro and Zia live in Aurora, a fishing town nestled in the shadow of an ancient castle…The day they meet, they uncover a secret. The fishing works, the castle, and the town council are all linked to an ill-fated 1930s Antarctic expedition. But the diary of that journey has been hidden, and the sea is stirring up unusual creatures. Something has a powerful hold over the town. With Zia determined to find out more, Miro finds himself putting aside his books for a real adventure.” – Gecko Press (publisher)

Beyond Me

Written by Annie Donwerth-Chikamatsu

“In the spirit of A Place to Belong, this “moving” (Kirkus Reviews) novel-in-verse examines the aftershocks of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan in 2011 through the eyes of a young girl who learns that even the smallest kindness can make a difference.” – Atheneum Books (publisher)

My Life as a Potato

Written by Arianne Costner

“For anyone who has ever felt like a potato in middle school, this hilarious story about a boy forced to become the dorkiest school mascot ever will have readers cheering! Life as a potato is all about not getting mashed! With laugh-out-loud illustrations throughout, hand to fans of James Patterson, Gordan Korman, Jeff Kinney, and Chris Grabenstein!” – Yearling (publisher)

Becoming Brianna

Written by Terri Libenson

“National bestselling author Terri Libenson returns with another endearing, relatable story of friendship and finding confidence. Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeier and Jennifer L. Holm. Middle school is full of challenges…Told in alternating past and present chapters, Bri’s heartwarming story unfolds over the eight months leading up to her bat mitzvah–as well as over the course of the big day itself.” – Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers (publisher)

The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel

Written by Sheela Chari

“Based on the Peabody Award-winning podcast, this tech-filled adventure series pits intrepid Mars Patel and his outcast friends against a brilliant, enigmatic billionaire as they race to figure out why kids are disappearing from their school…Slick science, corporate conspiracies, and an endearingly nerdy protagonist make this first book in the series a fresh, exciting sci-fi adventure.” – Walker Books US (publisher)

National Geographic Kids Almanac 2021

Written by National Geographic

“The latest installment of the New York Times best-selling almanac features brand-new amazing animal stories, explorer profiles, and outrageous attractions that kids know and love, plus more of the incredible inventions, awesome games, and fresh challenges for curious kids who want to learn all about the world and everything that’s in it.” – National Geographic (publisher)

Bill Nye’s Great Big World of Science

Written by Bill Nye

“Science educator, TV host, and New York Times–bestselling author Bill Nye is on a mission to help kids understand and appreciate the science that makes our world work. Featuring a range of subjects—physics, chemistry, geology, biology, astronomy, global warming, and more—this profusely illustrated book covers the basic principles of each science, key discoveries, recent revolutionary advances, and the problems that science still needs to solve for our Earth.” – Abrams Books for Young Readers (publisher)

The Disaster Days

Written by Rebecca Behrens

Hatchet meets The Babysitters Club in this epic and thrilling survival story about pushing oneself to the limit in the face of a crisis.” – Sourcebooks Young Readers (publisher)