These 10 standout middle-grade books, reviewed in Booklist from July 2016 to March 1, 2017, heavily feature animals as
characters, companions, or narrators, and sometimes all three
at once. —Sarah Hunter
Armstrong: The Adventurous Journey of a Mouse to the
Moon. By Torben Kuhlmann. Illus. by the author. Tr. by David
Henry Wilson. 2016. North-South, $19.95 (9780735842625).
Armstrong’s fellow mice mock him when he claims the moon
isn’t made of cheese, so there’s only one thing to do: build a
spacecraft and see for himself. Detailed illustrations bring Armstrong’s journey to life.
The Girl Who Drank the Moon. By Kelly Barnhill. 2016. Algonquin, $16.95
(9781616205676). Gr. 5–8.
In this Newbery-winning fantasy, Xan raises Luna, a baby gifted with magic, with the
help of a swamp monster and a tiny dragon. As powerful Luna grows older, Xan worries
whether her charge will be skilled enough to face coming challenges.
The Goat. By Anne Fleming. 2017. Groundwood, $14.95 (9781554989164). Gr. 4–7.
There’s a mountain goat living on the roof of Kid’s building, and she and her neighbors
must help it get home. Chapters from the goat’s point of view are particularly charming.
Gorilla Dawn. By Gill Lewis. Illus. by Susan Meyer. 2017. Atheneum, $16.99
(9781481486576). Gr. 5–8.
Imara, a child soldier, rescues a baby gorilla her captors hope to sell. Alternating chapters from the perspectives of Imara and the gorilla reveal a tense but moving story of
corruption and conservation in the Congo.
Hercufleas. By Sam Gayton. 2016. Clarion, $16.99 (9780544636200). Gr. 5–8.
When Greta seeks out a hero to save her village, she ends up with naive but eager
Hercufleas. Humor, thrills, and a colorful supporting cast flesh out this tale of a diminutive
Miss Ellicott’s School for the Magically Minded. By Sage Blackwood. 2017.
HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, $16.99 (9780062402639). Gr. 5–8.
With the help of a few friends, a dragon called Lightning, and her familiar (a snake
named Japheth), Chantel Goldenrod must bend the rules of her school in order to rescue
the sorceresses who run it.
The Poet’s Dog. By Patricia MacLachlan. 2016. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, $14.99
(9780062292629). Gr. 4–7.
Teddy, an Irish wolfhound, narrates this tale, in which siblings Nickle and Flora seek out
safety in a storm. In spare, precise lines, MacLachlan gently touches the deepest place of
loss and love.
The Secret Horses of Briar Hill. By Megan Shepherd. Illus. by Dan Burgess. 2016.
Delacorte, $16.99 (9781101939758). Gr. 3–5.
During WWII, Emmaline, living in a TB ward, sees winged horses in the hospital mirrors. When one of those horses appears after escaping danger in the mirror world,
Emmaline’s life takes on new purpose.
Storm Horse. By Nick Garlick. 2017. Scholastic/Chicken House, $16.99 (9780545904148).
After 12-year-old Flip’s father dies, he goes to live with a distant relative on a small island. During a storm, Flip rescues a horse, but will he be able to keep the animal?
Word of Mouse. By James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein. Illus. by Joe Sutphin. 2016.
Little, Brown/JIMMY Patterson, $13.99 (9780316349567). Gr. 3–6.
Isaiah, a genetically engineered blue mouse, is on the run, and brown mouse Mikayla
takes him in. Meanwhile, Isaiah hatches a daring plan to free his family from its lab
TOP 10 MIDDLE-GRADE ANIMAL NOVELS
The Secre TS We Keep
“A short and fast-paced
[mystery] . . . well suited to
“Captures the angst and
emotion of adolescence, while
highlighting the increasing
isolation of the digital age.”
— National Reading Campaign
LoyaLTy, GuiLT, Be TrayaL
— Who can cLem TruST?