Books

28 Canadian middle-grade books coming out in spring 2021

Here are the Canadian middle-grade books we are excited to read in the first half of 2021!

Here are the Canadian middle-grade books we are excited to read in the first half of 2021!

Oh My Gods! by Stephanie Cooke and Insha Fitzpatrick, illustrated by Juliana Moon

Oh My Gods! is the first in a new middle grade graphic novel series. (HMH Books for Young Readers)

Oh My Gods! is the first in a series of middle-grade graphic novels involving comedy and Greek mythology. The book is about a New Jersey teen named Karen who moves to Mt. Olympus — and discovers that all the students are actually gods and creatures from myth. Karen has to navigate growing up and finding her own identity around immortal beings.

Oh My Gods! is for ages 9 to 12.

When you can read it: Available now

Stephanie Cooke is a Toronto-based comic book writer and editor. Her writing work is featured in Mark Millar's Millarworld AnnualWayward Sisters: A Monstrous AnthologyThe Secret Loves of Geek Girls and Toronto Comics Anthology.

Insha Fitzpatrick is a New Jersey-based writer and editor. She's the founder and co-editor-in-chief of DIS/MEMBER and co-editor-in-chief of Rogues Portal.

Juliana Moon is a Brazilian digital artist and illustrator.

Trip of the Dead by Angela Misri

Trip of the Dead is a middle-grade book. (Cormorant Books)

Trip of the Dead is a middle-grade book about the adventures of a crafty raccoon named Trip within an ongoing zombie apocalypse. Trip seems to be the last raccoon in his neck of the woods — but he soon discovers that being a raccoon just might be the answer for getting rid of zombies forever. 

Trip of the Dead is for ages 9 to 12.

When you can read it: Available now

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 debut middle-grade series is called Tales from the Apocalypse. 

Angela Misri on her lifelong affection for Sherlock Holmes and London, and the latest installment of her Portia Adams detective series, The Detective and the Spy. 16:24

Treaty Words by Aimée Craft, illustrated by Luke Swinson

A nonfiction book by Aimée Craft, illustrated by Luke Swinson. (Annick Press)

Treaty Words is a book for ages 10 and up about the importance of understanding an Indigenous perspective on treaties. The book looks at the first treaty, the one between the earth and the sky. Sitting on the riverbank, a man sits with his granddaughter to teach her the power of silence in nature — so that she might learn her standing in the world. 

Treaty Words is for ages 10 and up.

When you can read it: Available now

Aimée Craft is an Anishinaabe-Métis lawyer and author from Treaty 1 territory in Manitoba. She is an associate professor at University of Ottawa and a leading researcher on Indigenous laws, treaties and water.

Luke Swinson is a visual artist and illustrator with Anishinaabe roots from Kitchener, Ont. He is a member of the Mississaugas of Scugog Island First Nation.

The Fabulous Zed Watson! by Basil Sylvester & Kevin Sylvester

The Fabulous Zed Watson! is a middle-grade novel by Basil Sylvester and Kevin Sylvester. (HarperCollins, Laura Carlin)

The Fabulous Zed Watson! features a non-binary lead character who embarks on "the literary scavenger hunt and road trip of a lifetime."

When lead character Zed discovers a mystery surrounding an unpublished novel called The Monster's Castle, they become a member of a small but dedicated legion devoted to finding the long-buried text. When a breakthrough discovery leads Zed to the route that they are sure will take them to the treasure, they embark on a road trip with their shy, flora-loving neighbour, Gabe, and his sister, Sam, a geologist who is driving back to college in Arizona.

The Fabulous Zed Watson! is for ages 9 to 12.

When you can read it: Available now

Basil Sylvester is a non-binary writer based in Toronto. Their father, Kevin Sylvester, is a broadcaster and the award-winning illustrator and writer of middle-grade books such as the Neil Flambé Capers series and the MiNRS space adventure series.

My Best Friend Is Extinct by Rebecca Wood Barrett, illustrated by Cornelia Li 

A Canadian middle-grade book by Rebecca Wood Barrett, illustrated by Cornelia Li. (Orca Book Publishers)

In My Best Friend Is Extinct, a boy named Henry and his mother move to a wintery resort town. While there, Henry encounters a strange, prehistoric-like creature who is badly hurt. Henry helps to nurse the creature back to health — but soon discovers that there might be more creatures lurking about.

My Best Friend Is Extinct for ages 9 to 12.

When you can read it: Available now

Rebecca Wood Barrett is a Canadian writer and filmmaker. She has made more than 35 short films and her short fiction has been published in Room, The Antigonish Review and Pique Newsmagazine.

Cornelia Li is an illustrator and storyteller from Toronto. She also illustrated the books Voyage Through Space, Animals at Night and Nature's Light Spectacular.

Firefly by Philippa Dowding

Firefly is a novel for middle-grade readers. (Cormorant Books)

Middle-grade novel Firefly is about the titular character who is looking for a place to call home. Firefly lives in the park — but one day she is forced by social services to move in with her Aunt Gayle, who just happens to own a costume shop. While Firefly gets used to having a roof over her head, she suffers from PTSD and embarks on a journey to find her true identity.

Firefly is for ages 9 to 12.

When you can read it: Available now

Philippa Dowding is a Canadian children's author, a poet, musician and copywriter. Based in Toronto, her book Myles and the Monster Outside was a nominee for the 2017 Silver Birch Express Award and her chapter book Oculum was a finalist for the 2020 Silver Birch Fiction Award.

Birdspell by Valerie Sherrard

Birdspell is a middle-grade book by Valerie Sherrard (Cormorant Books)

In the middle-grade novel Birdspell, Corbin is a boy who suffers from loneliness — but when a talking bird enters his life, he is overjoyed. When his home life goes from bad to worse, Corbin is faced with a decision that he just might regret. 

Birdspell is for ages 9 to 12.

When you can read it: Available now

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 and Speechless.

Like a Duck by Deborah Kerbel

Deborah Kerbel is a children's book author from Ontario. (Scholastic Canada)

Like a Duck is the story of Sarah, her mother and a duck named Webster. Sarah's father disappeared a decade ago, but she still hasn't gotten over the loss. And when she is sent away to camp, Sarah must learn hard truths about love, loss and identity.

Like a Duck is for ages 8 to 12.

When you can read it: Available now

Deborah Kerbel is a children's book author from Ontario. Her other books include the picture books Before You Were Born and Sun Dog, both illustrated by Suzanne Del Rizzo, the middle-grade books Feathered and Bye-Bye Evil Eye and the YA books Mackenzie, Lost and Found and Girl on the Other Side.

Finding Home by Jen Sookfong Lee, illustrated by Drew Shannon

Finding Home is a nonfiction middle-grade book. (Orca Book Publishers)

Finding Home explores the nature of human migration and how it has shaped the modern world. This middle-grade book is a nonfiction look at the past and present issues affecting immigrants and refugees — and author Jen Sookfong Lee offers a first-hand account of her experience as a second-generation Canadian.

Finding Home is for ages 9 to 12.

When you can read it: Available now

Jen Sookfong Lee is a Chinese Canadian broadcaster, novelist and author. Lee is the author of the novel The Conjoined and the nonfiction book Gentleman of the Shade. The Vancouver-born writer has been a past CBC Short Story Prize juror, Canada Reads panellist and The Next Chapter columnist.

Drew Shannon is a Toronto illustrator and artist. His freelance work has been featured in New York Public Radio, NPR Music, and The Globe and Mail.

The Crosswood by Gabrielle Prendergast

The Crosswood is the first book in the Faerie Woods series by Gabrielle Prendergast. (Orca Book Publishers)

The latest middle-grade book by bestselling author Gabrielle Prendergast is The Crosswood, the first title in the Faerie Woods series. It's about a teen named Blue Jasper and what happens when his twin siblings go missing one day. This event sets in motion an adventure involving a magical forest, a being who calls herself the Faerie Queen Olea of Nearwood, and a mystery about the true identity of the lost twins. 

The Crosswood is for ages 9 to 12.

When you can read it: Available now

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 and Zero Repeat Forever, winner of the Sheila A. Egoff Prize for Children's Literature.

Cuckoo's Flight by Wendy Orr

Wendy Orr is an author based in Edmonton. (Pajama Press)

Cuckoo's Flight is the story of Clio, a girl who loves to raise and ride horses in her home island of Crete. But when Clio has an accident that prevents her from riding her beloved horses — and evildoers are causing destruction across the island — a literal sacrifice must be made to deliver the town from disaster. 

Cuckoo's Flight is for ages 10 to 14.

When you can read it: Available now

Wendy Orr is a bestselling Edmonton-born author of children's books including Dragonfly Song and Swallow's DanceDragonfly Song was a finalist for the $50,000 2018 TD Canadian Children's Literature Award.  

The Egyptian Mirror by Michael Bedard

Michael Bedard is a children's writer from Toronto. (Pajama Press)

The Egyptian Mirror is a middle-grade mystery novel about a teen named Simon, an eccentric neighbour named Mr. Hawkins and an ancient Egyptian artifact. When Simon falls ill, Mr. Hawkins fears a prophecy involving dark forces just might become real. 

The Egyptian Mirror is for ages 9 to 12.

When you can read it: Available now

Michael Bedard is a Canadian children's writer. He began writing when his former high school teacher showed him works of Emily Dickinson and T. S. Eliot. 

Unplugged by Gordon Korman

Gordon Korman is a bestselling Canadian American author. (Scholastic Canada)

Set in Silicon Valley, Unplugged is a middle-grade novel about money, technology and friendship. Jett is the troubled son of a wealthy tech genius and has everything he could ever want in life. But when Jett is sent off to Oasis Mind and Body Wellness centre, where no technology or social media is allowed, he is forced to adjust. While there, he encounters new friends, crocodiles and a strange mystery about the facility.

Unplugged is for ages 9 to 12.

When you can read it: Available now

Gordon Korman is a bestselling Canadian author of more than 80 middle-grade and young adult books. Korman famously wrote his first book This Can't Be Happening at Macdonald Hall — a Grade 7 English assignment — at the age of 12. Korman's books have been translated into 32 languages and sold over 30 million copies worldwide.

Call Across the Sea by Kathy Kacer

Kathy Kacer is a Canadian author of fiction and non-fiction for children about The Holocaust. (Annick Press)

Call Across the Sea, the latest book in the Heroes Quartet series, shines a light on the many heroic acts and deeds that happened during the Second World War. The book is about a girl named Henny, a boat named Gerda III, and a harrowing story about survival. When Hitler starts rounding up all Jewish citizens, Henny joins the resistance and uses Gerda III as the means of escape for her and her neighbours. 

Call Across the Sea is for ages 9 to 12.

When you can read it: Available now

Kathy Kacer is a prolific Toronto-based author whose parents were both survivors of the Holocaust. Her books, including Hiding Edith and Masters of Silence explore the lives of young Jewish people who lived during that time.

Jacob and the Mandolin Adventure by Anne Dublin

Anne Dublin is an author and former teacher-librarian based in Toronto. (Second Story Press)

Inspired by a real story, Jacob and the Mandolin Adventure is a story about an orphaned boy named Jacob living in Poland in the 1920s. Life is hard but Jacob finds happiness playing in the orphanage mandolin orchestra. When Jacob and his friends are introduced to an American who promises to take them to a new school in Canada, they embark on a perilous journey by train and ship. Jacob must overcome all odds to realize his dream of playing at the famous Carnegie Hall in New York City. 

Jacob and the Mandolin Adventure is for ages 9 to 12.

When you can read it: Available now

Anne Dublin is an author and former teacher-librarian based in Toronto. She is also the author of two historical fiction novels for young readers, The Orphan Rescue and 44 Hours or Strike!.

What's in it for Me? by LS Stone

LS Stone is an author based in British Columbia. (Rebel Mountain)

In What's in it for Me, fifteen-year-old Nick Bannerman has big dreams of making it in the music business but things just aren't working out. When his best friend wants him to spend the summer with him overseas building a school with a changemaker organization, Nick finds himself volunteering at an elephant refuge. There he deals with extreme animal rights activists, drugged tigers, and rampaging elephants, all while on a journey to discover himself and who he wants to be.

What's in it for Me? is for ages 10 to 14.

When you can read it: Available now

LS Stone is a B.C.-based author. What's in it for Me is her debut novel. Stone's previous publications include Breaking Boundaries: LGBTQ2 Writers on Coming Out and into Canada

Elvis, Me, and the Lemonade Stand Summer by Leslie Gentile

Leslie Gentile is a singer-songwriter of Indigenous and settler heritage. (Cormorant Books)

It's summer in the late 1970s and Truly Bateman is a young girl who believes that Elvis Presley is still alive and lives next door in her reservation on Vancouver Island. While dealing with an absent mother, Truly supports herself running a lemonade stand. Seeking support, Truly finds it with the Salish woman who runs the trailer park — all while trying to convince others that the cool new person on the rez is actually Elvis himself.

Elvis, Me, and the Lemonade Stand Summer is for ages 9 to 12.

When you can read it: March 27, 2021

Leslie Gentile is an author and singer-songwriter of Northern Salish, Tuscarora and Scottish heritage. Based on Vancouver Island, she performs with her children in The Leslie Gentile Band. Elvis, Me, and the Lemonade Stand Summer is her debut book.

The Case of the Burgled Bundle by Michael Hutchinson

A middle-grade book by Michael Hutchinson. (Second Story Press)

The Mighty Muskrats of Windy Lake First Nation — Cousins Sam, Otter, Atim and Chickadee — are back for another middle-grade adventure. In the third book in the series, the kids gather to find out what happened to a missing e treaty bundle — and how to get it back to protect the reputation of Windy Lake. Along the way, the cousins learn more about themselves and their history.

The Case of the Burgled Bundle is for ages 9 to 12.

When you can read it: April 6, 2021

Michael Hutchinson is a novelist and member of the Misipawistik Cree Nation. He currently lives in Ottawa and works at the Assembly of First Nations. He is the author of The Case of Windy Lake and The Case of the Missing Auntie.

Michael Hutchinson talks about his Mighty Muskrats Mystery series for middle grade readers. 3:44

The Great Cookie War by Caroline Stellings

Caroline Stellings is an Ontario author and illustrator. (Second Story Press)

The Great Cookie War is a middle-grade book about Beth, her Mennonite community and a cross-border cookie war. Beth is a budding artist who works with her parents at the local farmer's market. When an American lawyer demands to obtain the family's cookie recipe to win a lawsuit, Beth learns more about herself, her faith and what it means to be true to yourself.

The Great Cookie War is for ages 9 to 12.

When you can read it: April 6, 2021

Caroline Stellings is an Ontario author and illustrator of children's books, including The Contest and the Nicki Haddon Mystery Series. She has been nominated for various literary prizes and has won both the Foreword Book of the Year and the Hamilton Literary Award for Fiction.

The Sun Will Come Out by Joanne Levy

Joanne Levy is a Canadian author. (Orca Book Publishers)

The Sun Will Come Out is a tale of a girl and her first summer away from home. Sleep-away camp promises to be a new experience — and the best summer ever — for Bea Gelman and her best friend Frankie. But Bea is painfully shy, and the mean pranks the other girls play on her isn't helping one bit. When Bea meets a boy named Henry, she realizes that we all have our own challenges —and that it can take strength and a positive outlook on life to overcome them.

The Sun Will Come Out is for ages 9 to 12.

When you can read it: April 13, 2021

Joanne Levy is an Ontario author of books for young people, including Double Trouble and Fish Out of Water. She is also the author of the middle-grade novels Crushing It and the Red Maple Award-nominated Small Medium At Large.

Camp Average: Away Games by Craig Battle

Camp Average: Away Games is the final book in the popular series set in Camp Avalon. (OwlKids)

Camp Average: Away Games is the final book in the popular series set in Camp Avalon. While a boy named Miles tries to keep the peace between the campers and a new kid named Garth, a series of events leads to the ultimate ball hockey showdown. Miles and the rest of the campers are forced to work together in order to secure the final victory. 

Camp Average: Away Games is for ages 8 to 12.

When you can read it: April 15, 2021

Craig Battle is a Canadian journalist, coach and author of books for young readers, including the Camp Average series. He is the former editor of Owl Magazine and is currently an editor at Sportsnet.

Rescue at Lake Wild by Terry Lynn Johnson

Terry Lynn Johnson is the author of Rescue at Lake Wild. (HMH Books for Young Readers)

Rescue at Lake Wild is a middle-grade novel about twelve-year-old Madison "Madi" Lewis, a girl with a passion for animals. Her parents forbid her from bringing home any more stray pets but Madi soon finds herself in an adventure involving orphaned baby beavers and a mystery around who is harming the innocent creatures. 

Rescue at Lake Wild is for ages 8 to 12.

When you can read it: April 27, 2021

Terry Lynn Johnson is an Ontario-based author and animal lover. She is also a writer of outdoor adventures inspired by her own team of eighteen Alaskan huskies.

The Frog Mother by Brett D. Huson, illustrated by Natasha Donovan

The Frog Mother is a book for middle-grade readers. (HighWater Press)

The Frog Mother is a story about prey and predators in the wild. It's a story about survival, as the tiny tadpoles birthed to Nox Ga'naaw, the frog mother must fend for themselves in a pond — and continue the circle of life by growing to adulthood and having tadpoles of their own.

The Frog Mother is for ages 9 to 11.

When you can read it: April 27, 2021

Hetxw'ms Gyetxw, also known as Brett D. Huson, is a writer from the Gitxsan Nation of the Northwest Interior of British Columbia.

Natasha Donovan is a Métis illustrator originally from Vancouver. Her sequential work has been published in the This Place: 150 Years Retold comic anthology and the Wonderful Women of History anthology.

The Street Belongs to Us by Karleen Pendleton Jiménez

Karleen Pendleton Jiménez is an American-Canadian writer and academic. (Arsenal Pulp Press, Hilary Cellini Cook)

The Street Belongs to Us is a middle-grade book featuring two best friends in 1980s Los Angeles. When 'tomboy' Alex and troubled kid Wolf find that their street is under construction one hot summer, they see an opportunity to start a street war with the rival kids in the neighbourhood. But Alex and Wolf find themselves in over their head when the friendly battles start to get out of control.

The Street Belongs to Us is for ages 8 to 12.

When you can read it: May 4, 2021

Karleen Pendleton Jiménez is an American-Canadian writer and academic. She is a professor of education at Trent University and is the creator of Tomboya film about a young tomboy who is bullied.

Alice Fleck's Recipes for Disaster by Rachelle Delaney

Rachelle Delaney is a Canadian author. (Puffin Canada)

When Alice appears on a popular reality cooking show with her dad, she finds herself caught up in a case of mystery and sabotage.

Alice and her father are contestants on Culinary Combat, a new reality TV show hosted by Tom Truffleman — but the cooking competition forces Alice to work with new friends and find out who is trying to ruin the show before it's too late.

Alice Fleck's Recipes for Disaster is for ages 10 to 14.

When you can read it: May 11, 2021

Rachelle Delaney is a Canadian author of several middle-grade novels. Her debut novel, The Ship of Lost Souls, was shortlisted for the Sheila A. Egoff Children's Literature Prize, the Chocolate Lily Book Award and the Red Cedar Award.

The Shaman's Apprentice by Zacharias Kunuk, illustrated by Megan Kyak-Monteith 

The Shaman’s Apprentice is a middle-grade book inspired by short film of the same name. (Inhabit Media)

Based on a short film of the same name, The Shaman's Apprentice is a tale of a young shaman learning their craft. When someone becomes sick in the village, the shaman in training must face and defeat the spiritual and physical challenges before them.

The Shaman's Apprentice is for ages 9 to 12.

When you can read it: May 11, 2021

Zacharias Kunuk is a Canadian Inuk producer, director and author. He is notable for his film Atanarjuat: The Fast Runner, the first Canadian dramatic feature film produced entirely in Inuktitut.

Megan Kyak-Monteith is an Inuk illustrator and painter based in Halifax. Growing up in Nunavut, in a community and family grounded heavily in art and traditional crafts, Kyak-Monteith's interest in art started from a young age.

Once Upon an Iceberg by Sheilah Lukins, illustrated by Laurel Keating

A middle-grade book by Sheilah Lukins, illustrated by Laurel Keating. (Breakwater Books)

Once Upon an Iceberg is the latest adventure in the middle-grade book series featuring a small mouse named Errol. When Errol and his new friend Gus go searching for Gus's father, they travel to the beach and even icebergs on the hunt for clues. While they meet new creatures along the way, time is running out to find Gus's dad.

Once Upon an Iceberg is for ages 7 to 12.

When you can read it: May 15, 2021

Sheilah Lukins is a Newfoundland writer of nonfiction and books for children. Her debut children's book, Full Speed Ahead: Errol's Bell Island Adventure, won the 2018 Bruneau Family Children's/Young-Adult Award.

Laurel Keating is a Canadian artist and illustrator. Her work has been featured in the children's books Yaffle's Journey, Moose's RoofElliot and the Impossible Fish and Flying Ace: Errol's Gander Adventure.

The Serpent's Fury by Kelley Armstrong

The Serpent's Fury is a book in the Royal Guide to Monster Slaying series. (Puffin Canada)

In the third book in the Royal Guide to Monster Slaying series, Rowan embarks on her most challenging adventure when she encounters new monsters. The Serpent's Fury is a story about Rowan's continuing growth as a Royal Monster Hunter — and whether she is up to the task of slaying a new set of fearsome beasts.

The Serpent's Fury is for ages 10 to 14.

When you can read it: June 8, 2021

Kelley Armstrong is the author of several young adult books. Her standalone novels include Aftermath and Missing, but she is best known for her Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising series as well as her Cainsville and Otherworld series.

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