The best middle grade books with brave girls

Anne O'Brien Carelli Author Of Skylark and Wallcreeper
By Anne O'Brien Carelli

The Books I Picked & Why

Under the Broken Sky

By Mariko Nagai

Book cover of Under the Broken Sky

Why this book?

Under the Broken Sky is a powerful story of twelve-year-old Natsu in Manchuria near the Soviet border in 1945. Natsu sets out on a desperate quest to rescue her younger sister. She refuses to quit under dangerous conditions and exemplifies tenaciousness and clever thinking. A heartwarming novel written skillfully in verse.


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The Canyon's Edge

By Dusti Bowling

Book cover of The Canyon's Edge

Why this book?

The Canyon’s Edge is a riveting story of a young girl exploring a canyon with her father and finding herself on a desperate survival mission. The author does a remarkable job of blending prose and verse, and you will constantly hold your breath in anticipation of what’s around the corner.


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A Good Kind of Trouble

By Lisa Moore Ramée

Book cover of A Good Kind of Trouble

Why this book?

A Good Kind of Trouble is a relevant and heartfelt story with dashes of humor and thought-provoking themes. Shayla has no desire to cause any trouble until she attends a protest with her family and decides to take a stand. This book is a perfect example of how girls can be brave just by asking questions and taking on difficult challenges.


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Just Under the Clouds

By Melissa Sarno

Book cover of Just Under the Clouds

Why this book?

Just Under the Clouds is a beautifully written story about tough yet gentle Cora, who fiercely protects her younger sister as the family struggles with homelessness. This story shows how bravery comes in many forms, including as a quiet, loving strength. This book stayed with me well after I finished it. The author managed to capture a serious issue in a magical, compelling story. The tree imagery is wonderful.


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Wolf Hollow

By Lauren Wolk

Book cover of Wolf Hollow

Why this book?

Lies and secrets, courage and compassion in this masterfully written Newbery Honor book about a bully in a small town and a girl who stands up for justice and kindness. I use this book with young writers to show them how every word counts in a story. You’ll want to read everything this author has written and then read the books again. 


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