Surviving Middle Grade

Middle school can be tough, so when the tweens in your life need a break, we have a great collection of entertaining books for them to escape to! From art-based school protests, to murder mysteries, to an Indigenous version of Narnia, we have something for everyone.

Aggie Morton Mystery Queen The Body Under the PianoAggie Morton, Mystery Queen: The Body Under the Piano
By Marthe Jocelyn
Illustrated by Isabelle Follath
336 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265462 | Tundra Books
Aggie Morton lives in a small town on the coast of England in 1902. Adventurous and imaginative, but deeply shy, Aggie hasn’t got much to do since the death of her beloved father . . . until the fateful day when she crosses paths with twelve-year-old Belgian immigrant Hector Perot and discovers a dead body on the floor of the Mermaid Dance Room! As the number of suspects grows and the murder threatens to tear the town apart, Aggie and her new friend will need every tool at their disposal – including their insatiable curiosity, deductive skills and not a little help from their friends – to solve the case before Aggie’s beloved dance instructor is charged with a crime Aggie is sure she didn’t commit. Filled with mystery, adventure, an unforgettable heroine and several helpings of tea and sweets, The Body Under the Piano is the clever debut of a new series for middle-grade readers and Christie and Poirot fans everywhere, from a Governor General’s Award-nominated author of historical fiction for children.

Also available as an audiobook – listen to a clip here

Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen: Peril at Owl Park
By Marthe Jocelyn
Illustrated by Isabelle Follath
400 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265493 | Tundra Books
Aspiring writer Aggie Morton is looking forward to Christmas. Having just solved a murder and survived her own brush with death in her small town of Torquay on the coast of England, Aggie can’t wait to spend the holidays with her sister Marjorie, the new Lady Greyson of Owl Park, an enormous manor house in the country, Grannie Jane and her fellow sleuth and partner in crime, Hector Perot. Owl Park holds many delights including Aggie’s almost-cousin Lucy, exciting and glamorous visitors from Ceylon, and disguises aplenty in the form of a group of travelling actors. Not to mention a secret passageway AND an enormous, cursed emerald. Not even glowering old Lady Greyson (the Senior) can interfere with Aggie’s festive cheer. But when Aggie and her friends discover a body instead of presents on Christmas morning, things take a deadly serious turn. With the help of a certain nosy reporter, Aggie and Hector will once again have to put their deductive skills and imaginations to work to find the murderer on the loose. Filled with mystery, adventure, unforgettable characters and several helpings of tea and Christmas pudding, Peril at Owl Park is the second book in a new series for middle-grade readers and Christie and Poirot fans everywhere.

Also available as an audiobook – listen to a clip here

ClanClan
By Sigmund Brouwer
256 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781101918494 | Tundra Books
Part survival story, part animal-human friendship story and part redemption story, Clan follows the journey of Atlatl and the saber tooth cub he rescues from a dire wolf attack. Injured as a child, Atlatl dreams of one day earning his father’s respect as a hunter. But when Atlatl brings the young saber tooth to his Clan, it leads to a devastating moment of torn loyalties between Atlatl and his father – a moment that will change their lives forever. Then an epic disaster strikes, and suddenly Atlatl has to rely on wits, ingenuity and bravery to face his biggest foe yet and try to save what remains of his Clan.

Me and BanksyMe and Banksy
By Tanya Lloyd Kyi
272 Pages | 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266919 | Puffin Canada
Dominica’s private school is covered in cameras, and someone is hacking into them and posting embarrassing moments for the whole school to see. Like Ana picking her nose. When Dominica quickly changes her shirt from inside out in what she thinks is the privacy of a quiet corner in the library, she’s shocked – and embarrassed – to discover a video has captured this and is currently circulating amongst her schoolmates. So mortifying, especially since over the past three years, they’ve had a half-dozen school talks about social media safety. Who has access to the school security cameras and why are they doing this? Dominica and her best friends, Holden and Saanvi, are determined to find out, and in the process start an art-based student campaign against cameras in the classroom.

Also available as an audiobook

Pine Island HomePine Island Home
By Polly Horvath
240 Pages | Ages 9-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735268623 | Puffin Canada
From Newbery Honor and National Book Award-winning author Polly Horvath comes a story of four sisters searching for home. Fiona, Marlin, Natasha, and Charlie McCready are left on their own when their missionary parents are washed away in a tsunami. Fortunately, their great aunt Martha volunteers to have them live with her on her farm in British Columbia. But while they are traveling there, Martha dies unexpectedly, forcing Fiona, the eldest, to come up with a scheme to keep social services from separating the girls – a scheme that will only work if no one knows they are living on their own. Fiona approaches their grouchy and indifferent neighbor Al and asks if he will pretend to be their live-in legal guardian should papers need to be signed or if anyone comes snooping around. He reluctantly agrees, under the condition that they bring him dinner every night. As weeks pass, Fiona takes on more and more adult responsibilities, while each of the younger girls finds their own special role in their atypical family. But even if things seem to be falling into place, Fiona can’t help but worry that it is only a matter of time before they are caught. What she needs to do is find them a real guardian.

Also available as an audiobook – listen to a clip here

Red Fox Road
By Frances Greenslade
248 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735267817 | Puffin Canada
Francie and her parents are on a spring road trip: driving from British Columbia, Canada, to hike in the Grand Canyon. When a shortcut leads them down an old logging road, disaster strikes. Their truck hits a rock and wipes out the oil pan. They are stuck in the middle of nowhere. Francie can’t help feeling a little excited – she’d often imagined how she’d survive if she got stranded in the bush, and now here they are. But will her survival skills – building fires, gathering dandelion leaves and fir needles for tea – be enough when hours stretch into days?

Also available as an audiobook – listen to a clip here

The Barren GroundsThe Barren Grounds
By David A. Robertson
256 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266100 | Puffin Canada
Morgan and Eli, two Indigenous children forced away from their families and communities, are brought together in a foster home in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They each feel disconnected, from their culture and each other, and struggle to fit in at school and at their new home – until they find a secret place, walled off in an unfinished attic bedroom. A portal opens to another reality, Askí, bringing them onto frozen, barren grounds, where they meet Ochek (Fisher). The only hunter supporting his starving community, Misewa, Ochek welcomes the human children, teaching them traditional ways to survive. But as the need for food becomes desperate, they embark on a dangerous mission. Accompanied by Arik, a sassy Squirrel they catch stealing from the trapline, they try to save Misewa before the icy grip of winter freezes everything – including them.

Also available as an audiobook – listen to a clip here

The Gryphon’s Lair
By Kelley Armstrong
352 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735265387 | Puffin Canada
Rowan is now the Royal Monster Hunter, and her twin brother, Rhydd, is destined to be king. But her mother’s cousin Heward is still determined that his children be the ones to inherit the titles, and will stop at nothing to show that Rowan and Rhydd are too immature to properly lead. After the gryphon that Rowan captured in Book One gives birth but then dies, Rowan is left with a baby gryphon she knows she cannot keep. And it grows faster than anyone can imagine. . . . In order to save face after an accident involving the troublesome gryphon, Rowan, with the help of her friends Dain and Alianor, along with an entourage of monstrous companions, must make a journey to the mountains to release the gryphon back into the wild. What starts off as a simple enough task soon becomes a dangerous quest, as the group encounters numerous rare and deadly monsters along the way, including wyverns and ceffyl-dwrs. Nothing is easy when you’re a “monster magnet” like Rowan. Can she prove herself worthy of the title of Royal Monster Hunter? Find out in this exciting second book in the Royal Guide to Monster Slaying duology!

Also available as an audiobook

Make sure to pick up these books from your favourite local bookstore and check out our Book Extras page for discussion guides!

Join Us at Camp Penguin 2020!

Camp Penguin 2020 bannerWe’re back with an all-new summer reading list and activity program for kids ages 6-9 and 9-12. This year we’re thrilled to offer a week of author presentations held on Zoom at 2:00 pm ET/11:00 am PST. Attendance is free, but everyone must register through Eventbrite:

Monday, July 13, 2020: Magical Objects & Mythical Beasts with Zetta Elliott (Dragons in a Bag)
Magic happens everywhere, and everyone has a story to tell. Learn how to develop an inclusive magical story that takes place right in your own community! Bring a favourite object, toy, or stuffie to write about!
Register here: https://camp-penguin-zetta-elliott.eventbrite.ca

Tuesday, July 14, 2020: Problems at the Pickle Factory with Tanya Lloyd Kyi (Mya’s Strategy to Save the World)
In Mya’s Strategy to Save the World, Mya’s always writing letters. In this slightly silly writing workshop, we’ll work together on our own protest letter about the problems at Mr. Pickwick’s Pickle Factory. Bring a paper and pen, a sense of humour, and a steady supply of imagination.
Register here: https://camp-penguin-tanya-lloyd-kyi.eventbrite.ca

Wednesday, July 15, 2020: The Science of Monsters & Magic with Kelley Armstrong (A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying)
Kelley Armstrong will explore the link between magic and science and give a brief history of the unexplained, and then a deeper dive into the “magic” of science-based monsters. Plus we’ll create our own science-based monsters!
Register here: https://camp-penguin-kelley-armstrong.eventbrite.ca

Thursday, July 16, 2020: Story Ninjas Rule with Sigmund Brouwer (Innocent Heroes)
Sigmund Brouwer talks about how to use the power of story to have fun messing with all the people in your lives. Make sure you have a four-digit secret password ready and get ready to create an amazingly fun story!
Register here: https://camp-penguin-sigmund-brouwer.eventbrite.ca

Friday, July 17, 2020: Drawing Creatures with Hatem Aly (The Unicorn Rescue Society: The Creature of the Pines)
The Unicorn Rescue Society series introduces us to creatures from mythology. Join illustrator Hatem Aly for a drawing demonstration and make your own mythological creatures together!
Register here: https://camp-penguin-hatem-aly.eventbrite.ca

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the books on our Camp Penguin list!

Camp Penguin 2020 Titles

Camp Penguin 2020 Titles 9-12

Downloadables:

For a list of participating bookstores in Canada and for more information, please visit our official Camp Penguin page.

Camp Penguin: Problems at the Pickle Factory with Tanya Lloyd Kyi

Please register here: https://camp-penguin-tanya-lloyd-kyi.eventbrite.ca

In Mya’s Strategy to Save the World, Mya’s always writing letters. In this slightly silly writing workshop, we’ll work together on our own protest letter about the problems at Mr. Pickwick’s Pickle Factory. Bring a paper and pen, a sense of humour, and a steady supply of imagination.

Tanya Lloyd Kyi, author of the MYRCA-nominated Mya’s Strategy to Save the World, will guide young readers through a letter writing workshop.

Intended for kids aged 6-12.

This is one of five virtual Camp Penguin events held July 13-17. To find out more about Camp Penguin and other Camp Penguin activities, visit Tundra Books.

The #7SillyPrompts Revealed

At the end of March, we introduced the #7SillyPrompts from seven of our authors to help spark your creativity. If you missed them when they were revealed live on social media, we’ve compiled them all here for you:

We’d love to see what you can do with these #7SillyPrompts – submit your work to YoungReaders@penguinrandomhouse.com and we’ll collect them in our gallery!

Audiobooks for Kids

Take storytime to another level with these family-friendly audiobooks that your kids will love!

Ages 8-12

Chase
By Linwood Barclay
Read by Adam Sims
4 hours 47 minutes | Ages 8-12
ISBN 9780735268111 | Puffin Canada

Chipper is a very special dog. He’s part of a multi-million-dollar experiment at a secret organization known only as The Institute. The Institute has been experimenting with dogs, melding them with state-of-the-art computer technology. But there’s a problem with Chipper. His natural dog instincts often overrule his computer side. No matter what he’s doing, if he sees a squirrel or a mouse, he’ll drop everything to chase it. So The Institute has decided it’s time to pull the plug on Chipper. Chipper manages a daring escape with a destination in mind, but a team from The Institute, led by the cold-hearted Daggert, is hot on his heels.

Escape
By Linwood Barclay
Read by Adam Sims
5 hours 11 minutes | Ages 8-12
ISBN 9780735268333 | Puffin Canada

Twelve-year-old Jeff and genetically engineered spy dog Chipper are on the run from the mysterious and sinister organization known only as The Institute, with help from Harry, the summer guest at Jeff’s aunt’s fishing cabins. Due to a combination of bravery, luck and some of Chipper’s more useful modifications, they’ve managed to evade their pursuers so far. But The Institute is closing in and Chipper and Jeff will have to keep one step ahead if they want to stay alive. . . . Harry seems to have a plan to keep them hidden, but now even he seems to be acting suspiciously. Can Jeff and Chipper trust him?

Knock About with the Fitzgerald-Trouts
By Esta Spalding
Illustrated by Sydney Smith
Read by Caitlin Kelly
5 hours 36 minutes | Ages 8-12
ISBN 9780735264755 | Tundra Books

Welcome to the further adventures of the plucky Fitzgerald-Trout siblings, who live on a tropical island where the grown-ups are useless, but the kids can drive. In this second installment, the delightfully self-reliant siblings continue their search for a home. This time, their pursuit will bring them face-to-face with a flood, illegal carnivorous plants, and the chance to win an extraordinary prize at a carnival. Will they finally find the place they truly belong?

Look Out for the Fitzgerald-Trouts
By Esta Spalding
Illustrated by Sydney Smith
Read by Caitlin Kelly
4 hours 12 minutes | Ages 8-12
ISBN 9780735264748 | Tundra Books

Meet the Fitzgerald-Trouts, a band of four loosely related children living together on a lush tropical island. They take care of themselves. They sleep in their car, bathe in the ocean, eat fish they catch and fruit they pick, and can drive anywhere they need to go–to the school, the laundromat, or the drive-in. If they put their minds to it, the Fitzgerald-Trouts can do anything. Even, they hope, find a real home.

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster
By Jonathan Auxier
Read by Sarah Coomes
8 hours 14 minutes | Ages 8-12
ISBN 9780735269194 | Puffin Canada

For nearly a century, Victorian London relied on “climbing boys”–orphans owned by chimney sweeps–to clean flues and protect homes from fire. The work was hard, thankless and brutally dangerous. Eleven-year-old Nan Sparrow is quite possibly the best climber who ever lived–and a girl. With her wits and will, she’s managed to beat the deadly odds time and time again. But when Nan gets stuck in a deadly chimney fire, she fears her time has come. Instead, she wakes to find herself in an abandoned attic. And she is not alone. Huddled in the corner is a mysterious creature–a golem–made from ash and coal. This is the creature that saved her from the fire.

Ages 10+

A Royal Guide to Monster Slaying
By Kelley Armstrong
Read by Caitlin Driscoll
7 hours 48 minutes | Ages 10-14
ISBN 9780735269132 | Puffin Canada

Twelve-year-old Rowan is destined to be Queen; her twin brother, Rhydd, to be Royal Monster Hunter. Rowan would give anything to switch places, but the oldest child is always next in line, even if she is only older by two minutes. She resigns herself to admiring her monster hunting aunt’s glorious sword and joining her queen mother for boring diplomatic teas. But tragedy shatters the longstanding rule, and Rowan finds herself hunting the most dangerous monster of all: a gryphon.

Aggie Morton, Mystery Queen: The Body Under the Piano
By Marthe Jocelyn
Illustrated by Isabelle Follath
Read by Sarah English
8 hours 13 minutes | Ages 10+
ISBN 9780735268791 | Tundra Books

Filled with mystery, adventure, an unforgettable heroine and several helpings of tea and sweets, The Body Under the Piano is the clever debut of a new series for middle-grade readers and Christie and Poirot fans everywhere, from a Governor General’s Award–nominated author of historical fiction for children.

Me and Banksy
By Tanya Lloyd Kyi
Read by Veronica Hortiguela
6 hours 15 minutes | Ages 10+
ISBN 9780735268777 | Puffin Canada

Dominica’s private school is covered in cameras, and someone is hacking into them and posting embarrassing moments for the whole school to see. Like Ana picking her nose. When Dominica quickly changes her shirt from inside out in what she thinks is the privacy of a quiet corner in the library, she’s shocked — and embarrassed — to discover a video has captured this and is currently circulating amongst her schoolmates. So mortifying, especially since over the past three years, they’ve had a half-dozen school talks about social media safety.

No Fixed Address
By Susin Nielsen
Read by Nissae Isen
5 hours 35 minutes | Ages 10+
ISBN 9780735265875 | Tundra Books

Felix Knuttson, twelve, is an endearing kid with an incredible brain for trivia. His mom Astrid is loving but unreliable; she can’t hold onto a job, or a home. When they lose their apartment in Vancouver, they move into a camper van, just for August, till Astrid finds a job. September comes, they’re still in the van; Felix must keep “home” a secret and give a fake address in order to enroll in school. Luckily, he finds true friends. As the weeks pass and life becomes grim, he struggles not to let anyone know how precarious his situation is. When he gets to compete on a national quiz show, Felix is determined to win — the cash prize will bring them a home. Their luck is about to change! But what happens is not at all what Felix expected.

The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen
By Susin Nielsen
Read by Ashleigh Ball
5 hours 52 minutes | Ages 10+
ISBN 9780735265301 | Tundra Books

Thirteen-year-old Henry’s happy, ordinary life comes to an abrupt halt when his older brother, Jesse, picks up their father’s hunting rifle and leaves the house one morning. What follows shatters Henry’s family, who are forced to resume their lives in a new city, where no one knows their past. When Henry’s therapist suggests he keeps a journal, at first he is resistant. But soon he confides in it at all hours of the day and night.

Need more suggestions? Check out this list on the Penguin Random House Canada website!