21 Underhyped Middle Grade Books Worth Reading
I recently realized it’s been a while since I shared a list of the books that I loved that just didn’t seem to get the hype they deserved. Some of these middle grade books were published during the early days of Covid, when authors canceled book signings, school visits, and other bookish events. A few of these underhyped middle grade titles are from the ancient days before the pandemic changed life as we knew it. Others were published more recently– perhaps a victim of Barnes & Noble’s switch to carrying mostly paperbacks? I’m not sure what the deal is, but I am sure these books deserve more attention than they received thus far.
In any case, all of these books are ones I absolutely loved and have continued to champion in the months and years since they were published. If you haven’t read them, please use the links to add them to your reading list or shopping cart. If you have read them, please take a moment and leave a rating and/or review to help these authors out!
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21 Underhyped Middle Grade Books Worth Reading
Double the Danger and Zero Zucchini by Betsy Uhrig
What you need to know: A reluctant reader critiques his aunt’s book, testing the stunts, discovering ghosts, and making new friends along the way. Hilarious and heartfelt.
Published September 22, 2020 | 209 Goodreads ratings.
Six Feet Below Zero by Ena Jones
What you need to know: OMG. This book is hilarious and so sweet. I can’t say it any better than this clip from Goodreads: A dead body. A missing will. An evil relative. The good news is, Great Grammy has a plan. The bad news is, she’s the dead body.
Published April 20, 2021 | 221 Goodreads ratings.
Lotus Bloom and the Afro Revolution by Sherri Winston
What you need to know: A talented violinist with a gorgeous ‘fro she calls “the wooly mammoth” faces discrimination in her music program and finds a way to speak up about it. I loved the music references and relationships in this book.
Published: September 6, 2022 | 119 Goodreads ratings.
The Other Side of the River by Alda P. Dobbs
What you need to know: The follow-up to THE BAREFOOT DREAMS OF PETRA LUNA. A young Mexican girl building a new life in America in the early 1900s. Beautifully written and engaging.
Release Date: September 6, 2022 | 100 Goodreads ratings.
The Vanquishers by Kalynn Bayron
What you need to know: Inspired by BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and THE WATCHMEN. Vampires were supposed to be vanquished decades ago… but it looks like they’re back. Looks fantastic.
Release Date: September 20, 2022 | 279 Goodreads ratings.
Cattywampus by Ash Van Otterloo
What You Need to Know: The cover copy calls this one “folksy” and “fresh” and it totally is! I loved the southern feel of the town and characters, and the exploration of identity and magic in this book.
Published August 4, 2020 | 399 Goodreads ratings.
The Prince of Nowhere by Rochelle Hassan
What you need to know: Anonymous letters lead a girl and a shapeshifting boy/crow on a journey to save their world in a mysterious place called Nowhere. This one totally blew me away. I loved Roda and Ignis so much.
Published: May 3, 2022 | 267 Goodreads ratings
Upstander by James Preller
What You Need to Know: Bullying. Secrets. An older brother’s drug use. A girl’s heartfelt quest to find her voice and speak up. A fierce, moving read that deserves way more than 55 ratings.
Published May 11, 2021 | 55 Goodreads ratings.
The Science of Being Angry by Nicole Melleby
What You Need to Know: Identity issues and mental health challenges. A girl’s desperate quest to understand why she’s so angry all the time and how to be herself safely. Powerful storytelling by an incredible author.
Published May 10, 2022 | 329 Goodreads ratings.
Eleanor, Alice, and the Roosevelt Ghosts by Dianne K. Salerni
What You Need to Know: Roosevelt cousins uncover family secrets in a world in which ghosts exist and can become deadly. A hauntingly perfect blend of fantasy and historical fiction. I devoured this one.
Published September 1, 2020 | 178 Goodreads ratings.
Nowhere Better Than Here by Sarah Guillory
What You Need to Know: A girl desperate to save her small Louisiana town torn apart by coastal flooding. Sweet southern fiction blended with bold activism. One of my favorite recent reads.
Published September 20, 2022 | 109 Goodreads ratings.
Flip Turns by Catherine Arguelles
What You Need to Know: A girl dealing with unwanted attention from a boy, an attack against her family’s business, and the pressure of competition on her swim team. Adventurous, family-oriented, and fun.
Published September 13, 2022 | 86 Goodreads ratings.
The Plentiful Darkness by Heather Kassner
What you need to know: I read this book earlier in the year, and can’t stop thinking about it. It’s got some spooky magic, unforgettable characters, and possibly the best exploration of grief I’ve ever seen in a novel.
Release Date: August 3, 2021 | 237 Goodreads ratings.
Elsie Mae Has Something to Say by Nancy Cavanaugh
What You Need to Know: A vibrant deep south setting in the Okefenokee Swamp. A family business in jeopardy. Brilliant summer friendships. One of my all-time favorite middle grade books.
Published September 5, 2017 | 242 Goodreads ratings.
What are your favorite underhyped middle grade books?
Have you read any of the underhyped middle grade books on my list? Are any of these your favorites, too? What are your favorite middle grade books that deserve a lot more hype than they received? Leave a comment and let me know!
If you’ve read any of the books on this list, please take a moment and leave a rating and/or review on Goodreads or Amazon. This really helps authors, especially authors like these, whose books have been out for a bit.