Tween Chapter Books: 21 New Titles for 8-12 Year Olds (Part 2)

2015 tween chapter books a book long enough

A couple of months back, I shared seven new tween chapter books, perfect for boys and girls roughly ages 8 to 12. I'm finally back to introduce Part 2 of this series. Here are seven more brand new chapter books you don't want your tween to miss!

pieces and players 2015 tween preteen chapter books kids a book long enough

Pieces and Players by Blue Balliett

If you know a tween who likes logic puzzles, learning about famous works of art, and a good mystery, middle grade author Blue Balliett is not to be missed. Balliett introduced readers to several engaging, thoughtful pre-teen characters in her previous critically acclaimed novels, in which they solved mysteries involving famous art works. This time 13 pieces of art are missing after a heist. Although the suspenseful pace keeps Pieces and Players interesting, Balliett is particularly adept at developing quirky, deeply intelligent, and thoughtful tween characters. If you use phrases like "still water runs deep" to describe an "old soul" kiddo, please be sure to hand them this series. 

fish in a tree new 2015 tween preteen chapter books a book long enough

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Librarians are all aflutter in their praise of this new chapter book, which features a middle school girl trying to survive and thrive under difficult circumstances. Ally is a talented 12-year-old artist and excellent at math, but she has a dark secret ... she can barely read. As a sixth grader, she's entering her seventh school in seven years, and plans to keep her difficulty hidden. But her new teacher Mr. Daniels sees right through the protective wall Ally's built around herself. Kids will enjoy Mr. Daniels' warmth and perception as he helps Ally understand her dyslexia. Besides her difficult learning disability, Ally deals with other issues that will resonate with young preteens, including a parent overseas in the military, a bunch of (realistic) mean girls at school, and coping with being the new kid on the block. Hunt has a way of writing that rises above the sometimes schmaltzy tone of middle school realistic fiction, producing a novel that is beautifully thoughtful.

gone crazy in alabama new 2015 tween preteen chapter books a book long enough

Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia

My 12-year-old daughter loves the previous two books featuring the Gaither sisters, a trio of African-American girls growing up in the 1960s. Kids will want to read One Crazy Summer and P.S. Be Eleven (each garnered awards like the Newbery Honor, National Book Award finalist, and the Coretta Scott King Book Award), before picking up this third in the series. This time out, the Gaither girls are headed from Brooklyn to spend the summer with their grandmother in Alabama. Williams-Garcia's books are hard to put down because her characters are so endearing. The sisters squabble, just as expected, but their love for family runs deeper than their temporary irritations with each other. Readers will learn more of the Gaither family history, from slavery to segregation, all couched in humor, warmth, and a fine depiction of the resilience required to survive difficult circumstances. 

jack true story of jack and the beanstalk new 2015 tween preteen chapter books a book long enough

Jack: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk by Liesl Shurtliff

Readers of Shurtliff's outstanding debut Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin, will be thrilled to learn she has just published a second fantasy novel. This time, Shurtliff broadens another well-known fairy tale. A terrible giant causes an uproar in Jack's hometown, stealing most everything, including Jack's father. Of course Jack travels up the beanstalk, and is immersed in a fantastical land in which he must adjust to being as small as a mouse. Fortunately, Jack's sister Annabella sneaks along behind him and is able to get help from animals and pixies. Kids who enjoy fantasies and fractured fairy tales will eat this book up! 

roller girl new 2015 preteen tween chapter books a book long enough

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

My 10-year-old daughter is a graphic novel fanatic, so I'm always on the lookout for new graphics featuring female main characters. I bought Roller Girl to add to her collection when it was published in March, and I'm pretty sure she's read it (along with El Deafo), at least a dozen times since. Astrid is almost a middle schooler, and unlike her best friend Nicole, who is into boys, dance, and clothes, Astrid's singular fascination is roller derby. Even though Astrid's hard work skating is the premise of the story, this graphic novel is really about navigating the often rocky transition from childhood friendships to adolescent relationships. Female friendships become a minefield around fifth through seventh grade, and Jamieson handles this common experience deftly. Roller Girl is perfect not just for fans of Raina Tagelmeier's Smile, but for all girls navigating the rocky waters of peer pressure and "fitting in."

case of the missing moonstone new 2015 tween preteen chapter books a book long enough

The Case of the Missing Moonstone by Jordan Stratford

I'm very excited about this new title, the first in the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency series, which I think will greatly appeal to readers of Lemony Snicket and Pseudonymous Bosch. Stratford takes two real life historical characters and introduces them as girls in the 1820s. Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, and Ada Lovelace, considered the world's first computer programmer, join forces to catch a jewel thief. A witty, charming mix of mystery, history, and fantasy. 

echo new 2015 tween preteen chapter books a book long enough

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan 

I truly believe Echo will be an award winner for 2015. It's a beautifully drawn story of three children living in terrible times (the Holocaust, World War II, and the Great Depression), who are able to flourish despite painful circumstances. Although the children live in different years and places, each is tied together by a single harmonica. Here's what Kirkus had to say about this stunning novel:

Sweeping across years and place, Ryan's full-bodied story is actually five stories that take readers from an enchanted forest to Germany, Pennsylvania, Southern California and finally New York City. Linking the stories is an ethereal-sounding harmonica first introduced in the fairy-tale beginning of the book ... In Nazi Germany, 12-year-old Friedrich finds the harmonica in an abandoned building; playing it fills him with the courage to attempt to free his father from Dachau. Next, the harmonica reaches two brothers in an orphanage in Depression-era Pennsylvania, from which they are adopted by a mysterious wealthy woman who doesn't seem to want them. Just after the United States enters World War II, the harmonica then makes its way to Southern California in a box of used instruments for poor children; as fifth-grader Ivy Lopez learns to play, she discovers she has exceptional musical ability. Ryan weaves these stories together, first, with the theme of music ... and its ability to empower the disadvantaged and discriminated-against, and then, at the novel's conclusion, as readers learn the intertwined fate of each story's protagonist. A grand narrative that examines the power of music to inspire beauty in a world overrun with fear and intolerance, it's worth every moment of readers' time.

Ryan masterfully executes a mystical tale that will leave young readers deeply touched and inspired with hope. I highly recommend that parents and teachers consider it as a book discussion choice for kids ages 10 and up. 

I'll be back soon to share with you seven more 2015 chapter books for tweens!

Link disclosure: A Book Long Enough is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. That means if you purchase a book through an Amazon link that appears on my site, I receive a commission.


2015 Non-Fiction Picture Books for Kids: Sports, Science, Bios, History and More!

2015 non-fiction picture books for kids a book long enough

It seems like I get a lot of interest in non-fiction picture books for kids, so I'm happy that 2015 is proving to be a great year for this genre! Science, sports, and history are all important subject areas, but it sure is nice to be able to get kids interested in non-fiction a fun way, which these books provide. If you share these with your kids, I promise they'll never know they learned anything ... they'll be too busy having a great time!

new 2015 kids nonfiction books sweep up the sun a book long enough

Sweep Up the Sun by Helen Frost and Rick Lieder

ages 2-8

I'm a bit of a backyard bird fanatic, but I promise that even if avian creatures usually remind you of Alfred Hitchcock, your kids are going to love this beautiful picture book. Rick Lieder has managed to photograph everyday birds in flight, while award-winning author Helen Frost wows us with her simple, gorgeous poetry.  The book is supplemented with endnotes that identify and give more scientific information about each bird. You and your kids will look at these creatures with renewed wonder and appreciation. 

Courtesy of  Candlewick Press .

Courtesy of Candlewick Press.

new 2015 kids non-fiction picture books a book long enough

Tricky Vic: The Impossibly True Story of the Man Who Sold the Eiffel Tower by Greg Pizzoli

ages 7-11

Award-winning picture book artist Greg Pizzoli morphed a fascination with tricksters and con artists into this fantastic book about the mysterious Robert Miller, a man who was crafty enough to trick people into buying pieces of the Eiffel Tower. If you're looking for a children's book that spends lots of time moralizing about a life of crime, this one isn't it. At the same time, Pizzoli is careful not to celebrate Miller's illegal activities. Rather, he ties Vic's activities to historical topics like Prohibition, the construction of the Eiffel Tower, Alcatraz, and counterfeiting. A glossary or terms and extensive bibliography are also presented. Most importantly, Pizzoli's dynamic illustrations make the book. He uses "pencil, ink, rubber stamps, halftone photographs, silkscreen, Zipatone, and Photoshop" to create them. The artwork in Tricky Vic has a noir feel that reminds me of a cross between Get Smart and my favorite Humphrey Bogart/Sam Spade movies. Both of my girls, ages 10 and 12 pronounced this book fascinating. It's perfect for kids who like history-mysteries, mysterious characters, or books about strange places. That's just about every third through sixth grader I've met!

Courtesy of  School Library Journal . 

Courtesy of School Library Journal

new kids nonfiction picture books mesmerized ben franklin a book long enough

Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved a Mystery that Baffled All of France by Mara Rockliff and Iacopo Bruno

ages 7-11

Oh, I am so excited about this fabulous new book which melds history, science, and pure entertainment very effectively! Mesmerized has received starred reviews across the board from the children's book review journals, and it certainly deserves lots of accolades. It's the true story of Dr. Mesmer, an 18th-century Frenchman who took Paris by storm with his ability to heal people with the wave of his "magic" wand. Enter Ben Franklin, a regular Parisian visitor, who sets out to find exactly what's behind Mesmer's success. Kids will learn about the scientific method, the placebo affect, and hypnotism (we get the word "mesmerized" from Mesmer's name), as well as a little-known aspect of the always-fascinating Ben Franklin's life. Besides all that, the pencil and digital artwork adds an air of comedic excitement, and the irreverent tone of the storytelling provides even more laughs! ("Dr. Mesmer was as different from Ben Franklin as a fancy layered torte was from a homemade apple pie.") I love when a great book is so much fun that kids associate learning with a good time. Don't pass this one by!

Courtesy of  Junior Library Guild .
hippos are huge new 2015 kids non-fiction picture books a book long enough

Hippos Are Huge! by Jonathan London and Matthew Trueman

ages 5-9

The animal section of any children's library is always one of the most popular areas, and Jonathan London (of Froggy Gets Dressed fame) has just penned an excellent addition. This book cleverly combines short sentences with offset type in small informational paragraphs so that it can be used as a simple read-aloud, or for more in-depth research. It's a fascinating look at hippo behavior, including how they use dung to fight with each other. (My son LOVED that part of the book, needless to say.) The large-scale illustrations are awesome, too. I expect to see Hippos Are Huge on awards lists for 2015.

families a book long enough

Families by Shelley Rottner and Sheila M. Kelly

ages 2-5

This lovely photographic picture book is a perfect introduction to the many types of families that preschoolers and kindergarteners encounter. Kids meet families that look alike, families that don't, families with one mom and dad, and families raised by two same-sex parents or by extended relatives. They also learn about families that live close to each other, and those that are separated by distance. Readers see families playing together, working together, and loving each other. The book ends with a great conversation starter: "There are many different kinds of families. What about yours?" A warm non-fiction picture book that will help kids learn that not all families are the same, as well as feel like their own families are perfect, just as they are. 

Queen of the Diamond: The Lizzie Murphy Story by Emily Arnold McCully

Growing Up Pedro by Marr Tavares

ages 7-10

I'm reviewing these two books together because they're both about America's favorite spring and summer pastime, baseball. Queen of the Diamond introduces kids to Lizzie Murphy, a young girl born at the turn of the 20th century. Despite her natural talent as a pitcher and catcher, she was laughed off the baseball field as a kid for being a girl. Determined to play, she showed the boys what she could do, and won their acceptance. As a young woman, she made it onto a semipro team as a publicity stunt. When the manager withheld her pay, Lizzie played "hard ball" and banked on the manager's need for her talent. She got her money and 17 more years playing pro ball. 

Matt Tavares is known for his outstanding baseball biographies, and this time he takes on the story of Pedro Martinez, who pitched the Red Sox to the World Series championship, in Growing Up Pedro. Like Lizzie, Pedro encountered many obstacles on his way to success, including growing up in poverty in the Dominican Republic and being considered too short to play pro ball. Martinez' loving relationship with his big brother and commitment to his hometown are also highlighted. Tavares' large-scale paintings beautifully complement this inspiring story.

These two titles will of course appeal to sports enthusiasts, but my nearly-10 year old, who doesn't give two hoots about baseball praised them both, and I think most kids will enjoy them. I think this is because both of these non-fiction picture books feature people overcoming great barriers to achieve impossible dreams. Every kid can enjoy learning about the relationship between perseverance and success.

Image courtesy of  MacMillan Publishers .

Image courtesy of MacMillan Publishers.

Image courtesy of  Smart Books for Smart Kids .

Image courtesy of Smart Books for Smart Kids.

Link disclosure: A Book Long Enough is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. That means if you purchase a book through an Amazon link that appears on my site, I receive a commission.