BEST OF 2012: Middle Grade/Tween Books

Sorry for the long wait between Best of 2012 posts. We’ve been frantically reading books that we somehow missed last year, books we felt needed to be considered for our Best of 2012 list. And our reading certainly paid off—otherwise, we would have missed out on the fabulous The One and Only Ivan, winner of the 2013 Newbery Medal. (But more on that tomorrow…)

So, without further ado, here are our favorite 2012 books for middle-grade readers and tweens:


The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Ascendance Trilogy #1

In the country of Carthya, a devious nobleman
engages four orphans in a brutal competition to be selected to
impersonate the king’s long-missing son in an effort to avoid a civil
war. –NoveList

The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy
The four princes erroneously
dubbed Prince Charming and rudely marginalized in their respective fairy
tales form an unlikely team when a witch threatens the whole kingdom.  –Provided by publisher.

Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger
At age twelve, Sophie learns that the remarkable abilities that have
always caused her to stand out identify her as an elf, and after being
brought to Eternalia to hone her skills, discovers that she has secrets
buried in her memory for which some would kill.  –NoveList

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead
Seventh-grader Georges adjusts to moving from a
house to an apartment, his father’s efforts to start a new business,
his mother’s extra shifts as a nurse, being picked on at school, and
Safer, a boy who wants his help spying on another resident of their
building.  –NoveList

The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis
With love and determination befitting the “world’s greatest family,” twelve-year-old Deza Malone,
her older brother Jimmie, and their parents endure tough times in Gary,
Indiana, and later Flint, Michigan, during the Great Depression.  –NoveList
My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece by Annabel Pilcher
With his family still grieving over his sister’s death
in a terrorist bombing seven years earlier, twelve-year-old Jamie is far
more interested in his cat, Roger, his birthday Spiderman T-shirt, and
keeping his new Muslim friend Sunya a secret from his father. –NoveList

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate
When Ivan, a gorilla who has lived for years in a
down-and-out circus-themed mall, meets Ruby, a baby elephant that has
been added to the mall, he decides that he must find her a better life.  –NoveList

The Second Life of Abigail Walker by Frances O’Roark Dowell
Bullied by two mean girls in her sixth-grade class, a lonely, plump girl
gains self-confidence and makes new friends after a mysterious fox
gently bites her.  –NoveList

See You at Harry’s by Jo Knowles
Twelve-year-old Fern feels invisible in her family, where grumpy eighteen-year-old Sarah is working at
the family restaurant, fourteen-year-old Holden is struggling with
school bullies and his emerging homosexuality, and adorable,
three-year-old Charlie is always the center of attention, and when
tragedy strikes, the fragile bond holding the family together is
stretched almost to the breaking point.  –NoveList
Read Tracy’s Review

Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker
A foster child named Angel and eleven-year-old Stella, who are living with Stella’s great-aunt Louise at the Linger Longer Cottage Colony on Cape Cod, secretly assume responsibility for the vacation rentals when Louise unexpectedly dies and the girls are afraid of being returned to the foster care system.

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
Washed ashore as a baby in tiny Tupelo
Landing, North Carolina, Mo LoBeau, now eleven, and her best friend Dale
turn detective when the amnesiac Colonel, owner of a cafe and co-parent
of Mo with his cook, Miss Lana, seems implicated in a murder.

The Unfortunate Son by Constance Leeds
Luc, a youth born with one ear and raised by a
drunken father in fifteenth-century France, finds a better home with
fisherman Pons, his sister Mattie, and their ward Beatrice, the daughter
of a disgraced knight, and even after being kidnapped and sold into
slavery in Africa, he remains remarkably fortunate.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio
Ten-year-old Auggie Pullman, who was born with extreme facial
abnormalities and was not expected to survive, goes from being
home-schooled to entering fifth grade at a private middle school in
Manhattan, which entails enduring the taunting and fear of his
classmates as he struggles to be seen as just another student.


Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin
Recounts the scientific discoveries that
enabled atom splitting, the military intelligence operations that
occurred in rival countries, and the work of brilliant scientists hidden
at Los Alamos.

We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March by Cynthia Y. Levinson
Discusses the events of the 4,000 African American students who marched to jail to secure their freedom in May 1963