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MG Holiday Book Gift Guide

This is next week's Top Ten Tuesday topic, but it inspired me to do a bigger one. I haven't made one in a couple of years and so will feature books published in the past several years but the categories are inspired by my favorites from this year. I've added a "tried and true" recommendation for each category that is a bit older. These are books I've recommended over and over with success.

I by no means intend to be reductive with the categories. No child fits just one and the books could all straddle several as well. It is just meant to be a guide. Links are to my reviews. Feel free to comment, email, or tweet at me if you have questions about any particular book.

I will post a YA one tomorrow!

For MG Readers (ages about 9 to about 12)

For the Introspective Kid

Some Kind of Happiness by Claire Legrand (realistic fiction; 2016)
The Firefly Code by Megan Frazer Blakemore (science fiction; 2016)

Tried and True Rec:

The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt (historical; 2007)

For the Kid Who Loves Adventure

Rebel Genius  by Michael Dante DiMartino (fantasy; 2016)
When The Sea Turned to Silver by Grace Lin (fantasy; 2016

Secrets of the Dragon Tomb by Patrick Samphire (science fiction/fantasy; 2016)
The Left-Handed Fate by Kate Milford (historical fantasy; 2016)


The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands (historical fiction; 2015)
Jinx's Fire by Sage Blackwood (fantasy; 2014; third in trilogy that makes a great gift together; all out in paperback)

Tried and True Rec:

Holes  by Louis Sachar (defies genre placement; 1998)

For Kids Who Enjoy Mystery and Intrigue

A Pocket Full of Murder by R.J. Anderson (fantasy; 2015)
A Little Taste of Poison by R.J. Anderson (fantasy; 2016)

Murder is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens (historical; 2015)
Poison is Not Polite by Robin Stevens (historical; 2016)

 The Secret of Dreadwillow Carse by Brian Farrey (fantasy; 2016)
Greenglass House by Kate Milford (fantasy; 2014)

The Magic Thief: Home by Sarah Prineas (fantasy; 2014; fourth in a series that makes a great gift together; all out in paperback)

Tried and True Rec:

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (historical; 1978)

For Kids Who Like Sibling Stories

 The Seventh Wish by Kat Messner (contemporary fantasy/magical realism; 2016)
The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Estrada Kelly (contemporary realistic; 2016)

Two Naomis by by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich and Audrey Vernick
A Nearer Moon by Melanie Crowder (fantasy; 2015)

Dream on Amber by Emma Shevah (contemporary realistic; 2015)
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander (contemporary realistic; 2014)

Tried and True Rec:

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall (contemporary realistic; 2005)

For Kids Who Like School Stories

Ghost by Jason Reynolds (contemporary realistic; 2016)
Save me a Seat by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan (contemporary realistic; 2016)

Unidentified Suburban Object by Mike Jung (science-fiction; 2016)
Fuzzy by Tom Angleberger and Paul Dellinger (science-fiction; 2016)

 Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead (contemporary realistic;
Blackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly (contemporary realistic; 2015)

Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper (historical; 2015)
All the Answers by Kate Messner (contemporary fantasy/magical realism; 2015)


Always Abigail by Nancy J. Cavanaugh (contemporary realistic; 2014)
The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson (contemporary realistic; 2014)

My Year of Epic Rock by Andrea Pyros (contemporary realistic; 2014)

Tried and True Rec:
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger (contemporary realistic; 2010)

For Kids Who Like Creepy Books

Dr. Fell and the Playground of Doom by David Neilsen (fantasy; 2016)
The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste (fantasy; 2015)

 Cuckoo Song by Frances Hardinge (fantasy; 2015)
The Hollow Boy by Jonathan Stroud (fantasy; 2015; 3rd in a series; great to buy in a set)

Tried and True Rec:

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (fantasy; 2008)

Remember, feel free to ask me questions or do to a more customized recommendation list for your kid!


Brenda said…
Really like your list Brandy, quite a few of my favorites too.
Katy K. said…
Such a great list, Brandy! Thank you!
Kim Aippersbach said…
Hmmm, you've reminded me of a host of books I've been meaning to read this year. I'm so behind on my TBR, particularly with middle-grade. Must get my hands on some of these!
Betsy said…
Awesome list! I heartily second the ones I've read (many of them) and will be tracking the others down :-).
Brandy said…
It seemed like it would be so easy when I got the idea, then took a looonnnggg time. I'm glad people appreciate it!
Brandy said…
I'm ALWAYS behind on my TBR. (particularly Adult)
Anonymous said…
You may notice me not putting up a gift guide list. I may also just have spent almost an hour looking at other people's lists, just to see if I could muster up the time and energy to put one together. Hats off to you - I know it's a heck of a lot of work.

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