The middle grade books in March are overloading my bookshelf, but so far I’ve only found these ten books that stand out. However, I haven’t read all of the books that came out in March – at least 6 others look great. If these are good, you’ll see these on the list next month.

See which books stand out to you and can be given to readers in your life.If you only buy one book, buy cress watercress. This is the heartwarming book we need in our lives right now.

cress watercress
Gregory Maguire, illustrated by David Litchfield
With beautiful figurative language and thoughtful word choices, this is a beautiful story about family, community, grief, and a story that needs to be read aloud. Kress and her family left their cozy cave after her father died. They moved to Broken Arm Oak, ruled by a grumpy owl and a rowdy neighbor squirrel family. Kress helps her mom collect moths to pay her rent, gives her mom time to work, and helps her gather ingredients for special teas for her sick brother. In a beautiful character arc, Kress navigates her new environment, the natural world, and the stories around her, which also helps her understand her inner world, especially how grief ebbs and flows like the cycles of the moon. Filled with very endearing characters, a gentle storyline of adventure and discovery, and lavish illustrations, I loved everything about this book. In fact, this is one of my favorite middle grade books.

Kelsey Murphy and the Unbreakable Art Institute
by Erica Lewis
Fast-paced with a fun premise, this middle grade book with Celtic mythology tells the story of a foster child with dangerous magical powers who enters a wizarding school and searches for answers about her legacy. Kelsey is a foster child who has been living in the human world. When she arrives at the academy, she finds herself a Saiga, an untrusted element whose legacy includes a dangerous traitor. The friends she makes help her learn about her unique abilities, and together they fight the monsters that continue to attack the school, seemingly looking for Kelsey. This first book was punchy and got us ready for the second book – I can’t wait to read it. I love the elements of Celtic mythology and how the rhythm changes with action and intrigue. highly recommended!

Jennifer Ziegler
To make matters worse, his mother’s stroke left her unable to speak while his energetic artistic aunt was tending to them, putting him in a bind. He still finds solace in language and grammar, but it wouldn’t be the same without his mom. Wasser invites a literary club run by a girl he has a crush on to meet at a used bookstore. Slowly, he began to share his love of words with other word-loving children. As he forms friendly bonds with other group members, he finds himself enjoying being a part of something and making friends. Jealousy then leads him to a terrible decision that changes everything – but maybe the lesson learned will be what he and others need.

Wong Fei Hung
Stuart Gibbs
Funny, illustrated and perfect for fantasy and adventure lovers! Tim and his sister Belinda are both farmers and they want to improve their lives, so they sign up as knights for a not-so-brave prince and his so-called magician buddy to find and rescue Princess Grace from monsters . This book brings readers more than useful foreshadowing, strong narrative voice and humor, it also includes Belinda’s useful life lessons on patriarchy and great vocabulary (helpfully pointed out so your parents will know the benefits of IQ) .

Honestly Elliott
by Gillian McDunn
Elliott shuttles between his dad’s and mom’s houses. He is often overwhelmed with emotions, especially the anger and sadness since his parents divorced and his stepmother became pregnant, not to mention that his ADHD makes it difficult for him to concentrate. Also, his father’s constant criticism didn’t help. (I really disliked my father for most of this story.) Worst of all, his father wouldn’t let Elliott do what he loves most — cook. For a project to buy a local school, Elliott was paired with a girl with celiac disease. Not only did they become good friends, but Elliott’s rigid black-and-white thinking softened as he opened up to different perspectives, including those of his new friends. I love how the writer normalizes therapy, ADHD and celiac disease and gives the characters great arc. (Dad is back, and Elliott grows into a new way of seeing the world.)

The Beast of Buckingham Palace
David Williams
Already popular in the UK, this exciting adventure now follows a sick Prince Alfred in the US, who notices his father’s strange, alienating behavior and links it to the sinister actions of the protector who reigns in place of the king’s cruelty . After the Guardian throws the Queen into the Tower of London, the prince discovers that the Guardian is practicing black magic circles to awaken dangerous fantasy monsters. When Prince Alfred was arrested, he was also sent to the Tower of London. To save his father and protect the kingdom from evil beastPrince Alfred escaped the tower with the help of a group of elderly women and a new civilian friend. very interesting! *Sensitive readers, this story contains violence.

Dionysus: The New God
by George O’Connor
Get ready for the final book in the wildly popular Olympian series! This final graphic novel is about another (strange) Greek myth — Dionysus, who was born from his thighs after the long and complicated consequences of yet another Zeus event. He started as a girl, then turned into a boy to avoid Hera. Eventually, through many crazy adventures and finding a loyal follower, Dionysus ascended Mount Olympus, where he became one of the gods. As usual, it’s brilliantly written and illustrated, and teaches you all about the debauched god.

short-term decline
Author: Ernesto Cisneros
When neighbors and best friends Marco and Issac were in middle school, the differences between them—one being short and academic, the other tall and athletic, didn’t affect their loyalty to each other. Another thing they have in common is an absent father. But at least Issac’s father wanted to be a part of Issac’s life—except when he was drinking. Issac’s new basketball friend mistakenly thinks Marco is as good at basketball as Issac and encourages Marco to try for the team. Marco will be watching videos and practicing with Issac soon, but he’s a terrible player who can’t dribble or shoot. In the end, a high-stakes basketball game and a serious car accident showed these friends and their teammates that friendship matters.

dream, anne, dream
Waka T. Brown
Annie is a Japanese-American girl who loves theater and basketball. Due to racism and influential parents, she didn’t get the roles she deserved in summer productions and now in school shows. Anne was amazed by what was going on, and she began to see prejudices she never noticed. She almost gave up on her dream until she got a chance to write her own script.

start here
Kaili Yang
When the coronavirus hit Asia, Knox’s mother took him and his two siblings to California and safety, leaving his father to work in Hong Kong. In California, Knox battled ADHD and adjusted to a new school. He befriended another child whose parents, the restaurateurs, were facing racism and declining customers. His mother was also unemployed and money was tight. Well written with lots of dialogue showing siblings, parents and other relationships, Read this if you want to hear about a close family’s experience with Asian-led racism during quarantine.

New Middle Grade Books, March 2022

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