New Middle Grade Books

Happy Holidays! It’s the gift giving season and I recently learned about the Icelandic tradition of the “Christmas book flood”. It’s this amazing tradition where most of the country gives one another books at Christmas time. In fact, most the the book sales for the whole country happen in the last two months of the year. Wow!

Giving books as gifts happens often with my family and friends. I’m always on the look out for good ones to share. So! I want to tell you about 3 recently published middle grade books that I think are worth gifting to the young people in your life (or maybe yourself–there’s no shame!).

3 covers of middle grade books designed by Abby Dening

While creating the interior designs of the these books, I fell in love with them. They are all examples of amazing storytelling. I recommend picking up: Tamarind and the Star of Ishta by Jasbinder Bilan, Coming Up Cuban by Sonia Manzano (she’s “Maria” from Sesame Street!), and Moonflower by Kacen Callender.

Take a peek inside Tamarind and the Star of Ishta. Travel to India to meet Tamarind’s mother’s family and unravel a family mystery. There’s magic and adventure!

Check out Coming Up Cuban:

Four characters, Ana, Miguel, Zeluma, and Juan, are trying to escape the brutal rein of Fidel Castro in the late 50’s and early 60’s in Cuba. Their stories, build, overlap, and intertwine to create of one narrative of hope and resilience.

And now here’s Moonflower. This is a story that deals with severe depression and death. I know, I know. What? Depression at this time of year. It may seem like a strange choice, but I also realize that many of us know someone struggling. I do believe books can help us heal and make connections at any age. It’s a beautiful, poetic story. The main character, Moon, is struggling with her depression and therapy isn’t helping. Her only escape is to travel to a spirit world in her dreams, where she wants to remain always. In this magical world, Moon and her spirit friend, Wolf, battle monsters and shadows and learn that love and acceptance can also exist in the living world, too.


This holiday season please consider passing on a good book to a loved one. It may potentially be a gift that keeps on giving. Wishing you a warm, calm, and joyful December!