41 Books for Tweens

Call them middle-grade, call them YA, call them a cab. These are the books I’ve read in the last year (or so) that I push on people whenever asked. And even when I’m not if I’m feeling gregarious and you look lost in the library or bookstore. Some you’ve heard of, some you haven’t. Take a look and maybe a buy a few for your kids. Or yourself.

I’m posting this with incomplete commentary on the books, but I’ll pop-in to add more. For realz. Maybe even add some celebrity-author photos.

Alan Silberberg
Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze

It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I think Milo is mine. It’s hilarious and heartbreaking. I also love the mix of comics and text that brilliantly controls the pacing and heightens the emotional impact. It’s a work of art.

Tom Angleberger
Origami Yoda
Darth Paper Strikes Back

These are the books I’m most likely to push on the frantic mom at the library begging her son to get off the computer and pick out a book. Works every time. And he told me he’s read my blog when I met him this summer. How cool is that?

Dan Santat
Sidekicks Graphic Novel

Super-heroic adventure with funny animals? Sign me up! I’m a Fantat (I’m going to make that catch on, I swear!) He also makes the best book trailers out there. Check this out:

Suzanne Collins
Gregor the Overlander

Confession time: I haven’t read this one, but it’s been highly recommended to me by people I trust. And the author wrote a little series called the Hunger Games you may have hear of, so she knows what she’s doing. Favorite Suzanne Collins Trivia: She wrote several episodes of Wow, Wow, Wubbzy.

Guys Read Anthologies, ed. by by Jon Scieszka
Guys Read: Thriller
Guys Read: Funny Business
Guys Write for Guys Read: Boys’ Favorite Authors Write About Being Boys

I grew up reading short stories in science-fiction anthologies. I love the short story approach they’re taking with this series. I’d kill (metaphorically) to be included in it someday.

Lisa Yee
Milicent Min Girl Genius
Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time
So Totally Emily Ebers
Warp Speed

Jonathan Auxier
Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes

Brian Selznick
The Invention of Hugo Cabret

Olugbemisola Rhuday Perkovich
Eighth-Grade Superzero

This book made me want to be a better person. Seriously. The main character works through a lot of teen issues and comes out a community leader. Funny, spiritual (yes, spiritual…) and written with a style that just flows into your brain. Love it. And I’m not just saying this because the author commented here either. Really.

Adam Rex
The True Meaning of Smekday
Fat Vampire

Mac Barnett
The Case of the Case of the Mistaken Identity (Brixton Brothers series)
The Ghostwriter Secret (Brixton Brothers series)
It Happened on a Train (Brixton Brothers series)

Rita Williams-Garcia
One Crazy Summer

Matt Myklusch
The Accidental Hero (A Jack Blank Adventure)
The Secret War (A Jack Blank Adventure)

Jaqueline West
The Shadows: (The Book of Elsewhere; Volume 1)
Spellbound: (The Book of Elsewhere; Volume 2)

Clete Barrett Smith
Aliens on Vacation

Barry Deutsch
Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword

Carl Hiaasen

Patrick Ness
The Knife of Never Letting Go (Chaos Walking Book One)
The Ask and the Answer (Chaos Walking Book Two)
Monsters of Men (Chaos Walking Book Three)

Orson Scott Card
Ender’s Game

Lloyd Alexander
The Book of Three
The Black Cauldron
The Castle of Llyr
Taran Wanderer
The High King

Raina Telgemeir

Neil Gaiman
The Graveyard Book

Rebecca Stead
When You Reach Me


  1. olugbemisola says:

    Wow, thank you so much for including Superzero on this list! Count me as another Gregor the Overlander fan — *love* it. You have some of my super-favourites from Lisa Yee, Rebecca Stead, Dan Santat, and Rita Williams-Garcia there too. I also lovedloved Anne Ursu’s gorgeous Breadcrumbs this year.

    • Jim says:

      You’re super welcome! Wait until I add I my comments about your book, then you’ll really be grateful. 😉

      Breadcrumbs is on my TBR list starting in January. Looks great. Thanks for dropping by.

  2. Ooooh! This is a GREAT list. Thank you thank you thank you! I’ve read maybe half of them, and loved them all. Excited to try the rest.

    I loved Peter Nimble so much I can barely stand it some days.

    • Jim says:

      I’ve spent far too much time thinking about Peter Nimble. Savoring, de-constructing, decoding, re-reading. It’s great.

      Glad you liked the list. it’s fun to see what other people are reading that might be off the radar. Hope you found a few here.

  3. This is a great list, Jim. We have some overlapping favorites (e.g. Smile, Hoot, Wonderstruck, One Crazy Summer) and others I haven’t read yet but will now (Eigth-Grade Superzero, Sidekicks). Apparently I also need to add Breadrumbs.

    I, too, can often be found in my local library or Indie bookstore suggessting books to random strangers. It’s hard not to when you love books!

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