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Updated by Jen Blair on Apr 27, 2020
Headline for Books That Give Joy - Middle School - Spring 2020
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Books That Give Joy - Middle School - Spring 2020

Right now I think we all need a break from dystopia and angst. How about some books that make you laugh out loud with happy endings? Yes. Me too.

Alex and Eliza (Alex & Eliza, #1) by Melissa de la Cruz

Alex & Eliza series: Alex & Eliza, A Love Story / Love & War / All For One - Melissa de la Cruz
Calling all Hamilton fans, these books are a historical fiction/rom-com delight.

From the publisher:
As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society's biggest events: the Schuylers' grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country's founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters.Eliza can barely contain her excitement when she hears of the arrival of one Alexander Hamilton, a mysterious, rakish young colonel and General George Washington's right-hand man. And when Alex and Eliza meet that fateful night, so begins an epic love story that would forever change the course of American history.

Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel by Mariah Marsden

Anne of Green Gables: A Graphic Novel - Mariah Marsden
Your mother and grandmother loved these books for a reason. Anne Shirley is everyone's idol. Read on to see what the fuss is all about.

From the publisher:
When Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert decide to adopt an orphan who can help manage their family farm, they have no idea what delightful trouble awaits them. With flame-red hair and an unstoppable imagination, 11-year-old Anne Shirley takes Green Gables by storm. Anne's misadventures bring a little romance to the lives of everyone she meets: her bosom friend, Diana Barry; the town gossip, Mrs. Lynde; and that infuriating tease, Gilbert Blythe. From triumphs and thrills to the depths of despair, Anne turns each everyday moment into something extraordinary. L.M. Montgomery's classic story finds new expression in the whimsical illustrations of this graphic novel. Perfect for newcomers and kindred spirits alike.

Awkward (Berrybrook Middle School, #1) by Svetlana Chmakova

Berrybrook Middle School series: Awkward / Brave / Crush - Svetlana Chmakova
My favorite graphic novel series, bar none.

From the publisher:
Cardinal rule #1 for surviving school: Don't get noticed by the mean kids.
Cardinal rule #2 for surviving school: Seek out groups with similar interests and join them.
On her first day at her new school, Penelope--Peppi--Torres reminds herself of these basics. But when she trips into a quiet boy in the hall, Jaime Thompson, she's already broken the first rule, and the mean kids start calling her the "nerder girlfriend." How does she handle this crisis? By shoving poor Jaime and running away!
Falling back on rule two and surrounding herself with new friends in the art club, Peppi still can't help feeling ashamed about the way she treated Jaime. Things are already awkward enough between the two, but to make matters worse, he's a member of her own club's archrivals--the science club! And when the two clubs go to war, Peppi realizes that sometimes you have to break the rules to survive middle school!

Bad Best Friend by Rachel Vail

Bad Best Friend - Rachel Vail

From the publisher:
Niki Ames can't wait to start eighth grade, that all-important year before high school. She and her best friend Ava have shared so many plans for the coming year. But then the unthinkable happens: at gym class pair-up, Ava chooses someone else to be her partner. Niki is devastated. It's clear that Ava wants to be part of the popular group, leaving Niki behind. Niki has to decide who her real friends should be, where her real interests lie. Meanwhile, life at home is complicated. Niki's nine-year-old brother Danny continues to act out more and more publicly. Their mother refuses to admit that Danny is somewhere on the autism spectrum, but it's clear he needs help. Niki doesn't want to be like her brother, to be labeled as different. She just wants to be popular! Is she a bad sister and a bad best friend?

The Best Man by Richard Peck

The Best Man - Richard Peck
Touching on some deeper issues of prejudice and anger, you will still find a lot to laugh about in this one.

From the publisher:
Archer Magill has spent a lively five years of grade school with one eye out in search of grown-up role models. Three of the best are his grandpa, the great architect; his dad, the great vintage car customizer,; and his uncle Paul, who is just plain great. These are the three he wants to be. Along the way he finds a fourth--Mr. McLeod, a teacher. In fact, the first male teacher in the history of the school.
But now here comes middle school and puberty. Change. Archer wonders how much change has to happen before his voice does. He doesn't see too far ahead, so every day or so a startling revelation breaks over him. Then a really big one when he's the best man at the wedding of two of his role models. But that gets ahead of the story.

Crying Laughing by Lance Rubin

Crying Laughing - Lance Rubin

From the publisher:
Winnie Friedman has been waiting for the world to catch on to what she already knows: she's hilarious. It might be a long wait, though. After bombing a stand-up set at her own bat mitzvah, Winnie has kept her jokes to herself. Well, to herself and her dad, a former comedian and her inspiration. Then, on the second day of tenth grade, the funniest guy in school actually laughs at a comment she makes in the lunch line and asks her to join the improv troupe. Maybe he's even . . . flirting? Just when Winnie's ready to say yes to comedy again, her father reveals that he's been diagnosed with ALS. That is . . . not funny. Her dad's still making jokes, though, which feels like a good thing. And Winnie's prepared to be his straight man if that's what he wants. But is it what he needs? Caught up in a spiral of epically bad dates, bad news, and bad performances, Winnie's struggling to see the humor in it all. But finding a way to laugh is exactly what will see her through.

Dog Man (Dog Man, #1) by Dav Pilkey

Dog Man series - Dav Pilkey
Dog Man / Dog Man Unleashed / A Tale of Two Kitties / Dog Man and Cat Kid / Lord of the Fleas / Brawl of the Wild / For Whom the Ball Rolls / Fetch-22 [Book 9: Grime and Punishment 9-1-2020]
Whenever I am down, I pick up a Dav Pilkey book. He never fails to make me laugh out loud.

From the publisher:
The creator of the bestselling Captain Underpants series has created a new hero, Dog Man, who digs into deception, claws after crooks, and rolls over robbers. When Greg the police dog and his cop companion are injured on the job, a life-saving surgery changes the course of history, and Dog Man is born. With the head of a dog and the body of a human, this heroic hound has a real nose for justice. But can he resist the call of the wild to answer the call of duty?

Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging (Confessions of Georgia Nicolson, #1)

Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series- Louise Rennison
Angus, Thongs & Full Frontal Snogging / On the Bright Side, I'm Now the Girlfriend of a Sex God / Knocked Out By My Nunga-Nungas / Dancing in My Nuddy-Pants / Away Laughing on a Fast Camel / Then He Ate My Boy Entrancers / Startled By His Furry Shorts / Love is a Many Trousered Thing / Stop in the Name of Pants! / Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me?
This series has given me so much joy over the years. Laughing until I wept at the trials and tribulations of Georgia N. Even the glossary is hilarious. Read them all. Thank me later.

From the publisher:
In her outrageously funny and angst-filled diaries British teen, Georgia Nicolson, deals with the Elderly Mad (aka "parents"), tries to prevent her Scottish wildcat Angus from eating Mr. Next Door's poodles, organizes emergency meetings with her friends, the Ace Gang, and does everything within her power to finally get off the rack of romance and into the cakeshop of love once and for all.

Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly

Hello Universe - Erin Entrada Kelly

From the publisher:
In one day, four lives weave together in unexpected ways. Virgil Salinas is shy and kindhearted and feels out of place in his crazy-about-sports family. Valencia Somerset, who is deaf, is smart, brave, and secretly lonely, and she loves everything about nature. Kaori Tanaka is a self-proclaimed psychic, whose little sister, Gen, is always following her around. And Chet Bullens wishes the weird kids would just stop being so different so he can concentrate on basketball. They aren't friends, at least not until Chet pulls a prank that traps Virgil and his pet guinea pig at the bottom of a well. This disaster leads Kaori, Gen, and Valencia on an epic quest to find missing Virgil. Through luck, smarts, bravery, and a little help from the universe, a rescue is performed, a bully is put in his place, and friendship blooms.

It Wasn't Me by Dana Alison Levy

It Wasn’t Me - Dana Levy

From the publisher:
The Breakfast Club meets middle school with a prank twist in this hilarious and heartwarming story about six very different seventh graders who are forced to band together after a vandalism incident.

When Theo's photography project is vandalized, the five students nearby all claim it was not them, so Theo's favorite teacher suggests they all spend vacation week together and get to the truth.

Keep It Together, Keiko Carter by Debbi Michiko Florence

Keep It Together, Keiko Carter - Debbi Michiko Florence

From the publisher:
Fans of Lauren Myracle and Wendy Mass are sure to fall head-over-heels for this sweet story about first crushes, friendship drama, and finding the courage to stand up for yourself.Seventh grade is supposed to be a game changer. And Keiko thinks she's got it covered, especially with Audrey and Jenna by her side to shop for a new look, pick out a prime lunch spot, and even hit up that cute new bubble tea place after school. Her trio is ready to tackle life as they always have... together.But when Audrey decides they need boyfriends before Fall Ball, it looks like things may be changing in all the wrong ways. Jenna is sick of caving in to Audrey's demands, and soon Keiko's besties are barely talking, leaving her caught in the middle. While she's been dreaming about triple-dates, first kisses, and a boy she really shouldn't have a crush on, the friendship she's always thought was rock-solid is beginning to crumble.Keiko feels pulled in two directions. Should she try to help her friends -- even if it means losing one of them -- or follow her heart? When it comes to flirting, friendships, and fallouts, how is Keiko supposed to keep it all together?

Layoverland by Gabby Noone

Layoverland - Gabby Noone

From the publisher:
Beatrice Fox deserves to go straight to hell.

At least, that's what she believes. Her last day on Earth, she ruined the life of the person she loves most--her little sister, Emmy. So when Bea awakens from a fatal car accident to find herself on an airplane headed who knows where, she's confused, to say the least.

Once on the ground, Bea receives some truly harrowing news- she's in purgatory. If she ever wants to catch a flight to heaven, she'll have to help 5,000 souls figure out what's keeping them from moving on.

Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali

Love from A to Z - S.K. Ali

From the publisher:
Zayneb, the only Muslim in class, isn't bad. She's angry.
When she gets suspended for confronting her teacher, and he begins investigating her activist friends, Zayneb heads to her aunt's house in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to spring break.
Fueled by the guilt of getting her friends in trouble, she resolves to try out a newer, "nicer" version of herself in a place where no one knows her.
Then her path crosses with Adam's.

Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist

Love and F1rst Sight - Josh Sundquist

From the publisher:
On his first day at a new school, blind sixteen-year-old Will Porter accidentally groped a girl on the stairs, sat on another student in the cafeteria, and somehow drove a classmate to tears. High school can only go up from here, right?

Lions and Liars by Kate Beasley

Lions and Liars - Kate Beasley

From the publisher:
Fifth grade is off to a terrible start when Frederick is sent to a disciplinary camp for troublesome boys. His fellow troop mates--Nosebleed, Specs, The Professor, and little-yet-lethal Ant Bite--are terrifying. But in between trust-building exercises and midnight escape attempts, a tenuous friendship grows between them. Which is lucky, because a Category 5 hurricane is coming and everyone will have to work together--lions and fleas alike--to survive!

More to the Story by Hena Khan

More to the Story - Hena Khan
An updated version of Little Women.

From the publisher:
When Jameela Mirza is picked to be feature editor of her middle school newspaper, she's one step closer to being an award-winning journalist like her late grandfather. The problem is her editor-in-chief keeps shooting down her article ideas. Jameela's assigned to write about the new boy in school, who has a cool British accent but doesn't share much, and wonders how she'll make his story gripping enough to enter into a national media contest. Jameela, along with her three sisters, is devastated when their father needs to take a job overseas, away from their cozy Georgia home for six months. Missing him makes Jameela determined to write an epic article--one to make her dad extra proud. But when her younger sister gets seriously ill, Jameela's world turns upside down. And as her hunger for fame looks like it might cost her a blossoming friendship, Jameela questions what matters most, and whether she's cut out to be a journalist at all...

The Next Great Paulie Fink by Ali Benjamin

The Next Great Paulie Fink - Ali Benjamin
As much as this book made me think about life's choices, there are plenty of moments that made me laugh. See: goats.

From the publisher:
When Caitlyn Breen begins her disorienting new life at Mitchell School--where the students take care of real live goats and study long-dead philosophers, and where there are only ten other students in the entire seventh grade--it seems like nobody can stop talking about some kid named Paulie Fink.
Depending on whom you ask, Paulie was either a hilarious class clown, a relentless troublemaker, a hapless klutz, or an evil genius. One thing's for sure, though: The kid was totally legendary. Now he's disappeared, and Caitlyn finds herself leading a reality-show-style competition to find the school's next great Paulie Fink. With each challenge, Caitlyn struggles to understand a person she never met...but it's what she discovers about herself that most surprises her.

To Night Owl from Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan

To Night Owl from Dogfish - Holly Goldberg Sloan
A modern day version of Parent Trap, this is one of my favorite books from last year.

From the publisher:
Unhappy about being sent to the same summer camp after their fathers start dating, Bett and Avery, eleven, eventually begin scheming to get the couple back together after a break-up. Told entirely through emails.

Nothing by Annie Barrows

Nothing - Annie Barrows
The author's daughter dared her to write a story about everyday life where nothing happened. So she did.

From the publisher:
Charlotte and Frankie think their lives are much more boring than the teen novels they read, but when Charlotte decides to write about their experiences, they realize much more is happening than meets the eye.

Of Curses and Kisses (St. Rosetta's Academy, #1) by Sandhya Menon

Of Curses and Kisses - Sandhya Menon

From the publisher:
For Princess Jaya Rao, nothing is more important than family. When the loathsome Emerson clan steps up their centuries-old feud to target Jaya's little sister, nothing will keep Jaya from exacting her revenge. Then Jaya finds out she'll be attending the same elite boarding school as Grey Emerson, and it feels like the opportunity of a lifetime. She knows what she must do: Make Grey fall in love with her and break his heart. But much to Jaya's annoyance, Grey's brooding demeanor and lupine blue eyes have drawn her in. There's simply no way she and her sworn enemy could find their fairy-tale ending...right?

Geekerella (Once Upon a Con, #1) by Ashley Poston

Once Upon a Con series: - Ashley Poston
Geekerella / The Princess and the Fangirl / Bookish and the Beast

From the publisher:
Cinderella goes to the con. Part romance, part love letter to nerd culture, and all totally adorbs, Geekerella is a fairy tale for anyone who believes in the magic of fandom.
Geek girl Elle Wittimer lives and breathes Starfield, the classic sci-fi series she grew up watching with her late father. So when she sees a cosplay contest for a new Starfield movie, she has to enter. The prize? An invitation to the ExcelsiCon Cosplay Ball, and a meet-and-greet with the actor slated to play Federation Prince Carmindor in the reboot. With savings from her gig at the Magic Pumpkin food truck (and her dad's old costume), Elle's determined to win...unless her stepsisters get there first.

Pie in the Sky by Remy Lai

Pie in the Sky - Remy Lai

From the publisher:
Knowing very little English, eleven-year-old Jingwen feels like an alien when his family immigrates to Australia, but copes with loneliness and the loss of his father by baking elaborate cakes.

Prince Charming (Royals, #1) by Rachel Hawkins

Royals series- Rachel Hawkins
Prince Charming / Her Royal Highness
I don't have words to describe how delightful both of these books are. Just perfection.

From the publisher:
Meet Daisy Winters. She's an offbeat sixteen-year-old Floridian with mermaid-red hair, a part time job at a bootleg Walmart, and a perfect older sister who's nearly engaged to the Crown Prince of Scotland. Daisy has no desire to live in the spotlight, but relentless tabloid attention forces her join Ellie at the relative seclusion of the castle across the pond. While the dashing young Miles has been appointed to teach Daisy the ropes of being regal, the prince's roguish younger brother kicks up scandal wherever he goes, and tries his best to take Daisy along for the ride. The crown--and the intriguing Miles--might be trying to make Daisy into a lady . . . but Daisy may just rewrite the royal rulebook to suit herself.

The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon

The Season of Styx Malone - Kekla Magoon

From the publisher:
Caleb Franklin and his big brother Bobby Gene are excited to have adventures in the woods behind their house. But Caleb dreams of venturing beyond their ordinary small town. Then Caleb and Bobby Gene meet new neighbor Styx Malone. Styx is sixteen and oozes cool. Styx promises the brothers that together, the three of them can pull off the Great Escalator Trade--exchanging one small thing for something better until they achieve their wildest dream. But as the trades get bigger, the brothers soon find themselves in over their heads. Styx has secrets--secrets so big they could ruin everything.

Squirm by Carl Hiaasen

Squirm - Carl Hiaasen

From the publisher:
Some facts about Billy Dickens:

  • He once saw a biker swerve across the road in order to run over a snake.
  • Later, that motorcycle somehow ended up at the bottom of a canal.
  • Billy isn't the type to let things go.

Some facts about Billy's family:

  • They've lived in six different Florida towns because Billy's mom insists on getting a house near a bald eagle nest.
  • Billy's dad left when he was four and is a total mystery.
  • Billy has just found his dad's address--in Montana.

This summer, Billy will fly across the country, hike a mountain, float a river, dodge a grizzly bear, shoot down a spy drone, save a neighbor's cat, save an endangered panther, and then try to save his own father.