The best middle-grade novels with a sprinkle of magic

The Books I Picked & Why

The Seventh Wish

By Kate Messner

Book cover of The Seventh Wish

Why this book?

Kate Messner’s story of a girl who catches a magical wish-granting fish beautifully shows the unintended—and often hilarious—consequences that can come from trying to fix problems with magic. But what I most love about this book is how it explores the types of real-world issues, such as addiction, that are hard to fix—with or without magic. This is a story of wishes gone wrong, but it’s also a story about family, healing, and hope.

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Midsummer's Mayhem

By Rajani LaRocca

Book cover of Midsummer's Mayhem

Why this book?

This story of a girl whose goal to win a baking competition is derailed by some mischievous fairies is a delightful blend of humor, adventure, and magical shenanigans. The Shakespeare fans out there will recognize the impish fairies inspired by A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and what I particularly enjoy about this book is how the real-world setting makes the fantastical elements feel believable—and makes the magical mischief all the more fun!

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11 Birthdays

By Wendy Mass

Book cover of 11 Birthdays

Why this book?

If Groundhog Day-like stories are your preferred type of magic, then this book is for you. This story about two former friends who are forced to relive their birthdays because of a family curse was a huge inspiration to me early on in my writing career. It motivated me to try writing stories that mix reality with magic, and it continues to be one of my absolute favorite middle-grade reads to this day. Not only is it a story about magic gone wrong, but at its core, it’s a story about friendship, family, and second chances.

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Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble

By Anna Meriano, Mirelle Ortega

Book cover of Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble

Why this book?

More magic and baking? What can I say, it really is a winning combination! Anna Meriano’s charming tale is about a girl who discovers that her family members are brujas—i.e. witches of Mexican ancestry—who infuse the foods in their bakery with magic. When the girl sets out to do magic of her own, what ensues is a heartwarming tale of hijinks, friendship, and family.

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The Witch Boy

By Molly Knox Ostertag

Book cover of The Witch Boy

Why this book?

This is probably the most fantastical of the books on this list, but I wanted to include it because it’s one my favorite middle-grade graphic novels and also because I love how the magical and real worlds collide in this story. The main character comes from a magical family in which girls become witches and boys become shapeshifters. Aster dreams of being a witch, even though it goes again his family’s rules. Not only is this a high-stakes adventure, but it’s also a story about family, identity, and redemption. 

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