On her first day at her new school, Penelope (Peppi) Torres pushes a boy so she will not be labelled his nerdy girlfriend. But soon she discovers that Jaime may be just the friend she needs. Can she overcome her embarrassment to apologize? And can the two them find a way to unite their opposing clubs–art and science? One thing is certain. Middle school is never dull. A stunning story about making mistakes and making amends.
Brave by Svetlana Chmakova
Jensen thinks of middle school as a video game. He just has to pass each monster in order to win the level and survive the day. But school is getting harder and harder. His art club friends do not want to seem to hang out with him anymore. And his new friends in the school paper keep telling him he’s a victim of bullying. But…he’s not, is he? His friends are just teasing, right? A moving and sympathetic depiction of middle school life that also gives a not-so-subtle dig at books that make bullying look funny (*cough*DiaryofaWimpyKid*cough*).
Jordan Banks wants to attend art school, not the fancy prep school his mom is in love with. And he’s a little worried about the lack of diversity. It’s difficult to be the new kid in general, but Jordan also has to deal with stuff like the teacher never getting his name right and always looking at him when financial aid is discussed. He’s not sure he’ll ever fit in. Or that he can keep his old friends if he does. A a brilliant, compelling graphic novel about the struggles of middle school–especially when one is attending a new school.
Best Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham
It’s the start of sixth grade and Shannon is looking forward to being one of the biggest kids in the school. And, now that she’s told mean Jenny that she can’t be in the group anymore, Shannon thinks her friendship troubles are over. But having friends and keeping friends are two different things. What happens when your friends just don’t seem like a good fit anymore?
Shannon and Adrienne met on the first day of school and have been friends ever since. But Adrienne is beautiful and popular and soon she is hanging out with The Group. Shannon is allowed to hang on the edges, but soon grows tired of the way the girls back stab each other. She wants to leave, but she does not have the courage. And would Adrienne leave with her, or would she lose her best friend forever?
Sunny Side Up by Jennifer L. Holm, Matthew Holm, Lark Pien
Sunny expected to spend the summer at the beach with her best friend. Instead, she finds herself in Florida visiting her grandfather, who lives in a retirement community. It’s a far cry from Disney World–and really difficult to find someone her own age–but Sunny eventually makes friends with a local boy. But she’s still running from the family tragedy that brought her to Florida in the first place.
Imogene is ready to become a squire at the Renaissance Faire where her mother runs a shop and her father always plays the villain. But first she has to prove her bravery by going on the ultimate quest–middle school. Unfortunately, middle school is more difficult than Imogene imagined. Mean girls, scary teachers, potential love interests–it’s all too much. Will Imogene find her way through? A sympathetic look at how it feels to enter a new school and attempt to navigate the unspoken rules.
Astrid and her friend Nicole have always done everything together. But now Astrid is off to roller derby camp while Nicole goes to dance camp. As the two girls begin to drift apart, Astrid hopes that toughening up in roller derby will help her face her fears off the rink, as well. A a sympathetic depiction of two friends growing apart as they grow up.
Just Jaime by Terri Libenson
Jaime never imagined that she would spend the last day of seventh grade watching her friendships fall apart. Her BFF since forever, Maya, no longer seems to like her, now that their new friend Celia is pulling the strings. And, because Jaime is known as a mean Gossip Girl herself, she’s not sure she can even make new friends. This is about to be the worst summer ever.
Positively Izzy by Libenson
Izzy has trouble focusing in school, but never when she’s in front of a crowd. In contrast, Brianna would rather avoid the spotlight, though she wishes people could see her as more than just studious. Then Brianna has a chance to help the school drama club. Will she pass out or could this be the start of something new?
The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell, Et Al
Over the summer, sixteen kids will create a kingdom–and costumes–out of cardboard, making friends, dealing with family issues, and confronting their fears. In the Cardboard Kingdom, your imagination, and your friends, give you strength.
The March sisters are facing a Christmas without presents as their mom works late shifts as a nurse and their father serves overseas. But they soon realize that others have it worse than they do, and that there is still plenty in life to appreciate. Together, they will face whatever life throws at them and come out stronger. A graphic novel retelling of Little Women set in modern-day New York City. A re-imagining that promotes inclusion, diversity, and feminism.