The House That Wasn't There by Elana K. ArnoldStarring: 11-year-olds Alder and Oak, who become neighbors, classmates, and enemies (at least from Alder's point-of-view) when Oak's family moves in next door to Alder's and cuts down a beloved tree between their houses.
What happens: Though they clash at first, Alder and Oak are drawn together by unusual events involving teleporting kittens, a mysterious house, and a taxidermied possum named Mort.
Read it for: a down-to-earth friendship story with a hint of fantasy.
A Shot in the Arm! by Don BrownWhat it is: a graphic novel introduction to the science and history of vaccines -- how they were invented, how they work, and how they've changed the world.
Including: the real-life stories behind vaccines for smallpox, rabies, measles, polio, the flu, and COVID-19.
Why you might like it: Fascinating facts and detailed artwork make A Shot in the Arm! an easy and entertaining way to understand a topic that's more important now than it's ever been before.
Rivals by Tommy GreenwaldWelcome to: Walthorne, a town obsessed with the basketball rivalry between the two local middle schools.
What happens: Team captains Austin and Carter face pressure and tough decisions on and off the court, while school reporter Alfie breaks a story that could cause a season-disrupting scandal.
Why you might like it: Told through interviews, social media, newspaper articles, flashbacks, and more, this tense sports story will leave you wondering if winning is always worth the cost.
All You Knead Is Love by Tanya GuerreroWhat it's about: When her troubled parents send her to stay with her Abuela Lola in Barcelona, Spain, 12-year-old Alba reluctantly begins to bond with her grandma, as well as a family friend who encourages her to pursue her passion for baking.
Is it for you? Although Alba's memories of her abusive dad may be upsetting, she finds hope through a caring, multicultural community (and a lot of delicious food).
Try this next: Margaret Dilloway's Summer of a Thousand Pies.
The Many Mysteries of the Finkel Family by Sarah KapitFeaturing: sisters Lara and Caroline Finkel, both in middle school, both autistic, both frustrated.
Frustrated about what? Caroline feels excluded when Lara launches her own detective agency, while Lara gets suspicious when Caroline starts using her tablet not just to talk, but also to text a shady new friend.
Who it's for: fans of the funny, loving family in Karina Yan Glaser's Vanderbeekers series, as well as readers looking for authentic stories by and about Jewish and autistic people.
The Stolen Prince of Cloudburst by Jaclyn MoriartyWhat it's about: As an ordinary kid in a magically gifted family, Esther Mettlestone-Staranise is easily overlooked. But when her boarding school is threatened by strange and supernatural events, it falls to Esther to prove that ordinary people can be extraordinarily heroic.
Read it for: a brave heroine with a dry, quirky sense of humor.
Series alert: This clever, exciting standalone story is the 3rd in the Kingdoms and Empires series.
Finding Junie Kim by Ellen OhStarring: Korean American seventh-grader Junie Kim, who's feeling worn down and depressed by racist bullying at her middle school.
What happens: Junie's friends are fired up, but it's not until Junie starts talking to a therapist -- as well as her grandparents, who share their experiences during the Korean War -- that she begins to understand who she is and how strong she can be.
Try this next: Thanhhà Lai's Listen, Slowly and Lisa Moore Ramée's A Good Kind of Trouble.
Trouble in the Stars by Sarah PrineasWhat it's about: Shape-shifter Trouble can't remember much about their past, but they know enough to hide from the StarLeague soldiers who are chasing them through space. That's how they end up as a human-shaped stowaway on the ramshackle cargo ship Hindsight, where they begin to bond with the misfit crew.
For fans of: the sweeping adventures, outer space setting, and colorful characters of the Star Wars universe.
Cece Rios and the Desert of Souls by Kaela RiveraWhat it's about: In the desert town of Tierra del Sol, everyone fears the lurking criaturas -- everyone but Cece Rios, who suspects that the powerful spirits might be misunderstood. After her sister is kidnapped by the dark criatura El Sombrerón, Cece puts her suspicions to the test in a risky magical rescue mission.
You might also like: J.C. Cervantes' Storm Runner series or Ryan Calejo's Charlie Hernandez books, two other exciting series inspired by Latin American myths and folklore.
Contact your librarian for more great books for ages 10-13!