Books·Spring Preview

25 Canadian middle-grade books to watch for in spring 2022

Here are the Canadian middle-grade books we can't wait to read this season.

Here are the Canadian middle-grade books we can't wait to read this season.

Beatrice and Croc Harry by Lawrence Hill

Beatrice and Croc Harry is a middle-grade novel by Lawrence Hill. (HarperCollins Canada, Beatrice Freedman)

In Beatrice and Croc Harry, a young girl wakes up all alone in a treehouse in the woods. She doesn't know how she got there — or who she even is. But as she follows a trail of surprising and magical clues, she uncovers the story of the forest, of her family and of herself, thanks in no small part to an unlikely friend and ally, King Crocodile Croc Harry.

Beatrice and Croc Harry is for ages 9 to 13.

Lawrence Hill is the acclaimed author of novels such as The Book of NegroesThe IllegalSome Great Thing and Any Known Blood and the memoir Black Berry, Sweet Juice. He also delivered the 2013 Massey Lectures, Blood: The Stuff of LifeHis novel The Book of Negroes won CBC's Canada Reads in 2009 and was adapted into a six-part miniseries, which can be streamed on CBC GemThe Illegal also won Canada Reads in 2016, making Hill the only author to win CBC's battle of the books twice.

Eight Days by Teresa Toten

Eight Days is a middle-grade novel by Teresa Toten. (Scholastic Canada, Matthew Wiley)

Eight Days follows a girl named Samantha who discovers that the mother she thought died years ago only recently passed away. It's a story about family secrets and lies by way of an eight-day trip from Toronto to Chicago that helps Samantha learn who is really is.

Eight Days is for ages 9 to 13.

Teresa Toten is a Toronto author. She won the Governor General's Literary Award  for The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B, which also won the American Library Association's Schneider Family Book Award, and was chosen by the International Board on Books for Young People as one of its Outstanding Books for Young People With Disabilities in 2015.

The Witch's Apprentice by Zetta Elliott, illustrated by Cherise Harris

The Witch's Apprentice is a book by Zetta Elliott, right, illustrated by Cherise Harris, not pictured. (Random House Books For Young Readers)

The latest book in the Dragon's Bag series is The Witch's Apprentice. The middle-grade novel continues the adventures of Jaxon who is faced with new challenges and secrets now that the baby dragons have been returned to the magical realm. Not only has the summer been strangely cold, a sleeping sickness has spread across the city. It's up to Jax to help his friends and solve the magical mystery.

The Witch's Apprentice is for ages 8 to 12.

Zetta Elliott is a Canadian children's writer and poet now based in the U.S. The books in her Dragon's Bag series includes Dragons in a Bag and The Dragon Thief.

Cherise Harris is an illustrator living in Barbados. She enjoys creating narratives with her work, and making sculptures and building puppets

Forever Birchwood by Danielle Daniel

Forever Birchwood is a book by Danielle Daniel. (HarperCollins)

Forever Birchwood is the story of adventurous, trail-blazing Wolf. She is the great-granddaughter of a tree talker, lives in a northern mining town, and spends her days exploring the mountains and wilderness with her three best friends Penny, Ann and Brandi. Forever Birchwood is a story of destiny as Wolf works with her friends to save her hometown from forces who are trying to harm the environment. 

Forever Birchwood is for ages 8 to 12.

Danielle Daniel is a writer and artist of settler and Indigenous ancestry living in the traditional territory of the Atikameksheng Anishnawbek (Sudbury, Ont.). Her other books include The Dependent, which was shortlisted for the 2017 Northern Lit Award, and the picture books Once in a Blue Moon and Sometimes I Feel Like a Fox, which won the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award and was a finalist for the Blue Spruce Award and First Nation Communities Read Awards. She also illustrated the 2018 Marilyn Baillie Award-shortlisted picture book You Hold Me Up, written by Monique Gray Smith.

The Overwood by Gabrielle Prendergast

The Overwood is a book by Gabrielle Prendergast. (Orca Book Publishers)

The Overwood is the third book in the Faerie Woods series, following The Crosswood and The Wherewood. Main character Blue Jasper has a stronger grasp on the power of magic and resides in "the Overwood"—the name the Faeries have for the human world. But with the evil Faerie queen Olea from Faerieland in hiding, the magic is more unstable than ever. It's up to Blue and his Faerie friends to find the queen and rescue his mother before it is too late. 

The Overwood is for ages 9 to 12.

When you can read it: Feb. 15, 2022

Gabrielle Prendergast is a B.C.-based author who has written a number of books for young people, including Audacious, winner of the Westchester Award; Zero Repeat Forever, winner of the Sheila A. Egoff Prize for Children's Literature and The Crosswood, the first title in the Faerie Woods series.

Willpower by Marty Chan

Willpower is a book by Marty Chan. (Orca Book Publishers)

In the middle-grade book Willpower, a girl named Jennifer has superhuman abilities. When an accident happens and her secret is discovered, Jennifer's father is taken away by the authorities. Jennifer must figure out a way to save him before it is too late.

Willpower is for ages 9 to 12.

When you can read it: Feb. 15, 2022

Marty Chan is a children's book author based in Edmonton. His other books include Kung Fu Master, Haunted Hospital, the Ehrich Weisz Chronicles and the Keepers of the Vault series.

The Gift of the Little People by William Dumas, illustrated by Rhian Brynjolson

The Gift of the Little People is a book by William Dumas, left, illustrated by Rhian Brynjolson. (HighWater Press)

The Gift of the Little People is a middle-grade book about a Rocky Cree Elder named Kakakiw and a quest to find a medical cure before lives are lost. Kakakiw's journey is based on his traditional teachings of the Asiniskaw Ithiniwak and he must learn to trust in the gift of the Little People.

The Gift of the Little People is for ages 9 to 11.

When you can read it: Feb. 22, 2022

William Dumas is an educator and Rocky Cree Storyteller who was born in Manitoba. Dumas is the author of The Six Seasons of the Asiniskaw Ithiniwak series and uses the power of storytelling to teach Indigenous youth about identity and belonging. 

Rhian Brynjolson is a visual artist, author, book illustrator and art educator who lives and works on the edge of Treaty 3 territory in eastern Manitoba. Brynjolson is the illustrator of over 15 children's books and author of Teaching Art: A Complete Guide for the Classroom

The Grave Thief by Dee Hahn

The Grave Thief is a book by Dee Hahn. (Puffin Canada)

In The Grave Thief, a pre-teen named Spade spends his life digging up graves to find treasure. But the life of a thief is fraught with danger and soon Spade gets caught up in a dangerous plan to rob the grave of a royal person. 

The Grave Thief is for ages 9 to 12.

When you can read it: March 1, 2022

Dee Hahn is a Calgary-based author who began writing when her three children begged for bedtime stories — and she never stopped.

Operation Do-Over by Gordon Korman

Operation Do-Over is a book by Gordon Korman. (Scholastic Canada)

The latest by Gordon Korman follows seventh-grader Mason and and his best friend Ty, who make a pact to avoid their crush, Ava, in order to save their friendship. But when a freak storm brings Mason and Ava together, Mason breaks the pact and loses his best friend. Five years later, Mason is lonely and friendless — until he gets the magical chance to change the past.

Operation Do-Over is for ages 9 to 12.

When you can read it: March 1, 2022

Gordon Korman famously wrote his first book This Can't Be Happening at Macdonald Hall — a Grade 7 English assignment — at the age of 12. The middle-grade novel was the start of an iconic Canadian series about best friends Bruno and Boots and their hilarious antics at boarding school. Korman, now 54, has written over 80 books for young readers, including UngiftedRestart and I Want to Go HomeKorman's books have been translated into 32 languages and sold over 30 million copies worldwide.

Korman grew up in Toronto and now lives in Long Island.

Haunted Canada 11 by Joel A. Sutherland

Haunted Canada 11 is a book by Joel A. Sutherland. (Scholastic Canada)

The newest edition of the popular Haunted Canada series features more chills, thrills and things that go bump in the night. The collection of ghost stories are set in real-life locations across Canada and make for a spooky read for middle-graders. 

Haunted Canada 11 is for ages 9 to 11.

When you can read it: March 1, 2022

Joel A. Sutherland is a Ontario author of thriller, horror and fantasy short stories and novels, anthologies and children's books. His work includes Haunted Canada 10 and Haunted: The House Next Door.

Step by Deborah Ellis

Step is a book by Deborah Ellis. (Groundwood Books)

Step is a short story collection featuring children who are all about to turn 11-years old — and how that event changes them. The series of stories are about children from all over the world and feature magical and mysterious themes.

Step is for ages 9 to 11.

When you can read it: March 1, 2022

Deborah Ellis is a Canadian writer of children's books, including The Breadwinner. The award-winning book tells the story of Parvana, an 11-year-old living in war-torn Kabul, who must pretend to be a boy after her father is sent to prison so she can earn money for her family. The Breadwinner was praised by Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai and adapted into an Academy Award-nominated film produced by Angelina Jolie. In 2000, Ellis' adventure novel Looking for X won the Governor General's Literary Award for young people's literature — text. Her other books include the children's short story collection Sit and nonfiction book Kids of Kabul. She is a member of the Order of Canada.

Metatron's Children by Chy Ryan Spain, illustrated by Sydney Kuhne 

Metatron's Children is a book by Chy Ryan Spain, left, illustrated by Sydney Kuhne. (Flamingo Rampant)

The first in a series of books, Metatron's Children is set in a world of magic. The book introduces readers to Yren, a pre-teen, non-binary Black child who has special extra-sensory powers. But Yren is coping with grief and guilt in the aftermath of their parent's untimely death. Yren, with their sibling Augi, must use their powers to navigate a perilous new world.

Metatron's Children is for ages 9 to 11.

When you can read it: March 1, 2022

Chy Ryan Spain is a multi-disciplinary artist, activist and educator based in Toronto. Metatron's Children is Spain's debut book.

Sydney Kuhne is an artist, actor and activist based in Toronto. Kuhne's work centres around self-love, claiming identity, visibility, finding connection within the African diaspora and celebrating the sacred feminine. 

Fresh Air, Clean Water by Megan Clendenan, illustrated by Julie McLaughlin

Fresh Air, Clean Water is a book by Megan Clendenan, left, illustrated by Julie McLaughlin. (Orca Book Publishers)

The nonfiction middle-grade book Fresh Air, Clean Water takes a look at how the health of people and the world around us are connected. The book features real-life accounts of people who are working to ensure that we all live in a healthy, clean and protected environment.

Fresh Air, Clean Water is for ages 9 to 11.

When you can read it: March 15, 2022

Megan Clendenan is a B.C.-based author who has worked for women's rights, mental health and youth empowerment nonprofits as well as for an environmental law group. She is the co-author of Design Like Nature and the author of Offbeat, a novel for young readers. 

Julie McLaughlin is the B.C.-based artist and illustrator of several books, including Little Cloud and The Art of the Possible. Her books have been nominated for several awards, and she won the 2015 Norma Fleck Award for Why We Live Where We Live.

For the Record by Monique Polak

For the Record is a book by Monique Polak. (OwlKids Books)

For the Record is a middle-grade book about kids coping with the divorce of their parents. A young pre-teen named Justine must deal with the break-up of her mother and father — and all the anxiety that comes with it. As Justine is shuttled back and forth between her parents' homes in Montreal, For the Record explores themes of parental alienation and its impact on children.

For the Record is for ages 8 to 12.

When you can read it: March 15, 2022

Monique Polak is a Montreal-based author of books for children and young adults. Two of her YA novels, What World Is Left and Hate Mail, both won Quebec Writers' Federation Award for children's and young adult literature awards in 2009 and 2014.

On the Line by Eric Walters and Paul Coccia 

On the Line is a book by Eric Walters, left, and Paul Coccia. (Orca Book Publishers)

The middle-grade book On the Line is a middle-grade book about a 13-year-old basketball player named Jordan Ryker. When Jordan's parents separate and his father announces he's gay, Jordan feels lost and abandoned. But his new family situation also presents new ways at looking at the world. And with a championship game coming up — Jordan will need family more than ever. 

On the Line is for ages 9 to 12.

When you can read it: March 15, 2022

Eric Walters is one of Canada's most prolific and successful writers for young people. Inspired by reluctant readers when he was a grade five teacher, he decided to write them a story they couldn't put down. Since then, he's penned almost 100 books, including Camp XThe Power of Three and Run. He's reaching more readers than ever: his 2006 novel We All Fall Down came in at #88 on the list of the bestselling 150 Canadian books of the past 10 years

Paul Coccia is a YA author from Toronto. His debut YA novel Cub was published in 2019. 

Water, Water by Cary Fagan, illustrated by Jon McNaught

Water, Water is a book by Cary Fagan, left, illustrated by Jon McNaught, not pictured. (Tundra Books)

In Water, Water, a boy named Rafe wakes up one morning to find that his bedroom is floating out to sea. Forced to fish for food, Rafe finds himself stuck a wet and otherworldly adventure involving a strange young girl and a strange new world.

Water, Water is for ages 9 to 12.

When you can read it: March 22, 2022

Cary Fagan is an Ontario author of books for adults and children. His children's books include the popular Kaspar Snit novels, the two-volume Master Melville's Medicine Show and the picture book Mr. Zinger's Hat. He is also the author of the novel A Bird's Eye, which was a finalist for the Rogers Trust Fiction Prize and an Amazon.ca Best Book of the Year. In 2014, Fagan received the Vicky Metcalf Award for Literature for Young People for his body of work. His 2019 novel, The Student, was a finalist for both the Toronto Book Award and the Governor General's Literary Award.

 Jon McNaught is a London-based illustrator, printmaker and lecturer.

Me Three by Susan Juby

Me Three is a book by Susan Juby. (Puffin Canada)

A pre-teen named Rodney is the star of the middle-grade book Me Three. Rodney's life is upended when he moves to a new neighbourhood and starts at a new school. Something his professional poker player father did in Las Vegas has separated the family and now Rodney lives with his mother and older sister. Rodney must cope with his new life — while learning the truth about his old one. 

Me Three is for ages 10 and up.

When you can read it: March 22, 2022

Susan Juby is a Nanaimo, B.C.-based writer who has published books in several genres. Her first novel was the YA book Alice, I Thinkthe first in a popular series about a lovable oddball teenager named Alice MacLeod. Other books include the memoir Nice Recoverywhich chronicles Juby's battle with alcoholism, and Republic of Dirt, winner of the Leacock Medal for Humour.

Juby's YA novels include The Fashion Committee, a book set in a competitive arts-focused secondary school. She is also a columnist for CBC Radio's The Next Chapter.

Rabbit Chase by Elizabeth LaPensée, illustrated by KC Oster, translated by Aarin Dokum

Rabbit Chase by Elizabeth LaPensée, left, illustrated by KC Oster, right, translated by Aarin Dokum, not pictured. (Annick Press)

Rabbit Chase is a middle-grade book that incorporates Anishinaabe culture with an Alice in Wonderland-type story. Aimée is an non-binary Anishinaabe student who travels on a school trip to meet with water spirits known as  Paayehnsag. Aimée soon finds themself in an adventure featuring an alternate dimension, a Trickster and a Queen with robot guards who are trying to claim the land. 

Rabbit Chase is for ages 8 to 12.

When you can read it: March 29, 2022

Elizabeth LaPensée is an Anishinaabe, Métis and Irish writer and illustrator whose work appears in Moonshot: The Indigenous Comics Collection series, Deer Woman: An Anthology and more.

KC Oster is an Ojibway-Anishinaabe comic artist and illustrator. They live in the Rainy River District of Northwestern Ontario.

Last Week by Bill Richardson, illustrated by Emilie Leduc

Last Week is a book by Bill Richardson, illustrated by Emilie Leduc. (Groundwood Books)

In Last Week, a child copes with dying and anger when their grandmother is close to death. The book explores, through the child's eyes, what death and dignity can mean for children and their families.

Last Week is for ages 8 to 12.

When you can read it: April 1, 2022

Bill Richardson is an author and former television and radio presenter based in Vancouver. His previous books for children include The Bunny BandWaiting for GertrudeAfter Hamelin, and The Alphabet Thief. He has won a host of awards including the Leacock Medal for Humour, the Silver Birch Award, a B.C. Book Award and a Manitoba Book Award.

Emilie Leduc is a Quebec-based graphic designer, animator and illustrator for various television series. In 2010, Emilie received the Michèle Lemieux Award for Illustration.

These Are Not the Words by Amanda West Lewis

These Are Not the Words is a book by Amanda West Lewis. (Groundwood Books)

Set in 1960s New York City, These Are Not the Words is a story about a girl named Missy who realizes that her parents are flawed and human. Based on the author's own childhood, the book explores what happens when Missy's father grapples with drugs and addiction. Missy's mother decides to make a fresh start and Missy's life will never be the same. 

These Are Not the Words is for ages 9 to 12.

When you can read it: April 1, 2022

Amanda West Lewis is an Ontario writer, theatre director, calligrapher and drama teacher. Lewis is the author of seven books for young readers, including September 17, which was nominated for the Silver Birch Award, the Red Cedar Award and the Violet Downey IODE Award. 

The Not-So-Uniform Life of Holly-Mei by Christina Matula

The Not-So-Uniform Life of Holly-Mei is a book by Christina Matula. (Inkyard Press)

The Not-So-Uniform Life of Holly-Mei is a middle-grade book about Holly-Mei Jones, a young girl from Toronto who is moving to Hong Kong when her mother gets a new job there. But moving means a new life — and leaving the old one behind. It takes determination and a positive attitude for Holly-Mei to adjust to her new world.

The Not-So-Uniform Life of Holly-Mei is for ages 8 to 12.

When you can read it: April 5, 2022

Christina Matula is an author raised in Ottawa. She has an MFA in creative writing from the University of Hong Kong and now lives in Finland with her husband, two children and puppy.

Same Here! by Susan Hughes, illustrated by Sophie Casson

Same Here! is a book by Susan Hughes, left, illustrated by Sophie Casson. (OwlKids Books)

Same Here! is a nonfiction middle-grade book that examines the differences and similarities we all share. Written with young readers in mind, the book looks at how education, family and daily life can change depending on where one is in the world. 

Same Here! is for ages 8 to 12.

When you can read it: April 15, 2022

Susan Hughes is a Toronto editor and author who has written more than 30 books for children of all ages, including Off to Class, What Happens Next and Carmen and the House That Gaudí Built

Sophie Casson has illustrated a number of children's books, including The Artist and Me, a finalist for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award and Helen's Birds

A Bend in the Breeze by Valerie Sherrard

A Bend in the Breeze is a book by Valerie Sherrard. (DCB)

A Bend in the Breeze is a middle-grade book filled with mystery and intrigue. A young girl named Pascale is drifting in a lifeboat towards an island— and has no memory of what happened and how she got there. A Bend in the Breeze is about love, fate and the power of compassion.

A Bend in the Breeze is for ages 8 to 12.

When you can read it: April 16, 2022

Valerie Sherrard is a children's book author from New Brunswick. She has written more than a dozen books for young people, including the Shelby Belgarden mystery series, The Glory Wind, Kate, Speechless and 2022 Red Maple Award finalist Birdspell.

Spirit of Summerwood By Vivien Gorham

Spirit of Summerwood is a book by Vivien Gorham. (Nimbus)

The middle-grade book Spirit of Summerwood is a coming-of-age story set at Summerwood Farm, an all-girl horse camp. Aislinn loves the camp, the people around her and most of all her Arabian horse named Firefly. But a magical mystery involving a ghost and strange visions mean that things are growing tense at the camp. Along the way, Aislinn learns more about herself and the world around her.

Spirit of Summerwood is for ages 8 to 12.

When you can read it: May 10, 2022

Vivien Gorham is an author based in Nova Scotia. Gorham's first novel, Touch of Gold, won the 2017 Hackmatack Children's Choice Book Award and was featured in the Canadian Children's Book Centre's Best Books for Kids and Teens 2016. Raised in Minnesota, Gorham has worked in the Northwest Territories, Alaska's Denali National Park, and on a dude ranch in Montana. 

Valhamster by Angela Misri

Valhamster is a book by Angela Misri. (DCB)

The latest book in the Tails from the Apocalypse series is Valhamster. Emmy the hamster is a terrific zombie fighter and embarks on a journey to defeat the undead creatures once and for all. But when Emmy is betrayed, she sets out on a solo mission and learns the meaning of courage and friendship along the way.

Valhamster is for ages 9 to 12.

When you can read it: May 14, 2022

Angela Misri is a Toronto-based journalist and author of detective fiction and children's books. Her detective series, called The Portia Adams Adventures, is set in the 1930s, and her middle-grade series is called Tales from the Apocalypse. 

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