The best middle-grade books that will make you laugh

Why am I passionate about this?

I always wanted to be a writer, but as a kid, my teacher told me to write about what I know, and I didn’t know much. I didn’t know much for a long time, but eventually started writing anyway. Today, I’ve written more than thirty books for children including the popular novels Class Dismissed, The Pet War, Field Tripped, and Unschooled. I also write books under a variety of pen names, such as “Fowler DeWitt.” When I’m not writing I’m probably visiting a school or a library. I live with my family outside Chicago. 

I wrote...

The Curse of the Werepenguin

By Allan Woodrow, Scott Brown (illustrator),

Book cover of The Curse of the Werepenguin

What is my book about?

Put The Wolfman, Happy Feet, and a box of fish sticks together, and you might come up with The Curse of the Werepenguin, the novel that best-selling author Chris Grabenstein called “the most hysterically hilarious book I’ve read in years.” Twelve-year orphan Bolt Wattle goes to live with his new family—a Baron in the far-away country of Brugaria. Unfortunately, the evil Baron turns into a sinister penguin every night and plans to take over the entire country with his evil penguin army. As far as families go, it’s pretty much rock bottom. After the Baron bites Bolt, the boy has just three days to figure out a way to break the curse or become an evil werepenguin creature forever. Will Bolt succeed or will Brugaria, and the world, fall under the Baron’s evil webbed feet? (The first of a trilogy). 

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Sideways Stories from Wayside School

Allan Woodrow Why did I love this book?

A series of standalone, but connected stories centered around the strangest elementary school you’re likely to ever see. Louis Sachar is one of my all-time favorite kid writers and I recommend all of work (his Newberry Winning “Holes” is one of my top five favorite books of all time). Wayside School was accidentally built sideways so it stands 30 stories high. Lots of strange things happen at the school, especially on the 13th floor where Mrs. Gorf may be the meanest teacher of all time. There are three more books in this series, and they are all hysterical, but if you’re going to start somewhere, start with the first one.

By Louis Sachar, Tim Heitz (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked Sideways Stories from Wayside School as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

There has been a terrible mistake. Instead of having thirty classrooms side by side, Wayside School is thirty storeys high! (The builder said he was sorry.) Perhaps that's why all sorts of strange and unusual things keep happening - especially in Mrs Jewls's classroom on the very top floor.

There's the terrifying Mrs Gorf, who gets an unusually fruity comeuppance; Terrible Todd, who always gets sent home early; and Mauricia, who has a strange ice-cream addiction. Meanwhile, John can only read upside down, and Leslie is determined to sell her own toes.

From top to bottom, Wayside is packed with…

Book cover of Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures

Allan Woodrow Why did I love this book?

A Newberry Medal winner from the peerless Kate DiCamillo (quick, read all her books!), with comic panels from K.G. Campbell. Flora is a 10-year-old girl and Ulysses is a squirrel with superpowers, who Flora rescues from a vacuum cleaner. You’re already giggling, aren’t you? We follow the pair, and a bunch of other wacky characters, on a series of laugh-out-loud adventures that will keep you turning the page. I bet you’ll read the entire book in one sitting, like I did. 

By Kate DiCamillo, K.G. Campbell (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked Flora & Ulysses as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Holy unanticipated occurrences! A cynic meets an unlikely superhero in a genre-breaking new novel by a master storyteller.

It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw it coming - the vacuum cleaner, that is. As for self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, she has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You! so she is just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight and…

Book cover of Matilda

Allan Woodrow Why did I love this book?

Oh, c’mon. Do you have to ask? Roald Dahl was a genius, and it was hard to pick just one of his books. Honestly, I waffled between this book and three others. But what sets Matilda apart is its heart—and when a book has heart it makes the funny parts funnier, and those grow inside you a little bit (it also makes the suspense parts feel more suspenseful and the sadder parts feel sadder). Matilda is a sweet girl who doesn’t get along with the school’s kid-hating headmistress, Miss Trunchbull. In fact, things look bleak for Matilda until she discovers some exceptional superpowers hidden inside her. 

By Roald Dahl, Quentin Blake (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked Matilda as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Puffin Audiobooks presents Roald Dahl's Matilda, read by Kate Winslet. This audiobook features original music and sound design by Pinewood film studios.

Matilda Wormwood is an extraordinary genius with really stupid parents.

Miss Trunchbull is her terrifying headmistress who thinks all her pupils are rotten little stinkers.

But Matilda will show these horrible grown-ups that even though she's only small, she's got some very powerful tricks up her sleeve . . .

Kate Winslet's award-winning and varied career has included standout roles in Titanic, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Finding Neverland, Revolutionary Road and The Reader, for which she…

Book cover of The Terrible Two

Allan Woodrow Why did I love this book?

Miles Murphy has always been his school’s star prankster, a position he assumes will continue when he moves to a new school. Wrong. He quickly discovers the school already has a prankster, and Miles has a lot to learn about successful pranking if he’s going to keep up with his new rival. The outrageous and ingenious pranks, combined with great characters and hilarious writing, make this book by Mac Barnett and Jory John a fall-on-the-floor delight. 

By Jory John, Mac Barnett, Kevin Cornell (illustrator)

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Terrible Two as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 9, 10, 11, and 12.

What is this book about?

Miles Murphy is not happy to be moving to Yawnee Valley, a sleepy town that's famous for one thing and one thing only: cows. In his old school, everyone knew him as the town's best prankster, but Miles quickly discovers that Yawnee Valley already has a prankster, and a great one. If Miles is going to take the title from this mystery kid, he is going to have to raise his game.

It's prankster against prankster in an epic war of trickery, until the two finally decide to join forces and pull off the biggest prank ever seen: a prank…

Book cover of The Adventures of Captain Underpants

Allan Woodrow Why did I love this book?

Oh, really, do you have to ask “why this book?” I mean, how can I make a list of funny middle school books and not include Captain Underpants? Frankly, this list could just consist of Dav Pilkey books and I’d be fine with it, from Dog Man to Super Diaper Baby. The whimsical yet simplistic drawings make his absurd stories that much funnier. And really, any book featuring drawings of an adult in diapers is going to be funny. 

By Dav Pilkey,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Adventures of Captain Underpants as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 7, 8, and 9.

What is this book about?

Laugh out loud with the first Captain Underpants,
the #1 New York Times bestselling series
from Dav Pilkey, the creator of Dog Man!

This edition is a full-colour graphic novel

Fourth graders George Beard and Harold Hutchins are a couple of
class clowns.

The only thing they enjoy more than playing practical jokes is
creating their own comic books.

And together they've created the greatest superhero in the history
of their elementary school: Captain Underpants!

His true identity is SO secret, even HE doesn't know who he is!

The critics are CRAZY about UNDERPANTS!

"Irresistible." - Entertainment Weekly

"Call Pilkey...…

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Nemesis and the Vault of Lost Time

By PJ Davis,

Book cover of Nemesis and the Vault of Lost Time

PJ Davis

New book alert!

What is my book about?

Featured in "Best Middle Grade Fantasy Books" - Reedsy Discovery

"Fun & Fast Paced, This is Middle Grade Fantasy at its Best!" — Shaun Stevenson

"If you know any middle-grade readers who enjoy science fiction/fantasy with a mix of action, danger, and humor - recommend this book to them, or just go ahead and give them a copy." — The Fairview Review

“With elements of adventure, exploration, other worlds, and fantastical science, Nemesis and the Vault of Lost Time is an exciting middle-grade novel with plenty of suspense… Behind the adventure are important messages about believing in oneself and finding inner strength.” — The Children's Book Review

"The plot of Nemesis and The Vault of Lost Time is a tapestry of surprises characterized by its unforeseen twists and turns. It’s this element of suspense that grips the readers, while the vivid descriptions create immersive visual experiences. Beyond its adventurous core, this mystery novel delves into themes of friendship and the nuanced dynamics of father-son relationships, offering a multi-layered reading experience." — The Literary Titan

Nemesis and the Vault of Lost Time

By PJ Davis,

What is this book about?

Thirteen-year-old Max is a daydreamer. It gets him into trouble at school, but his restless curiosity really turns problematic when he runs into a mysterious professor at his uncle's bookstore.

The old man informs Max that time is being sucked out of the planet by invisible bandits, stolen from unsuspecting people one breath and one sneeze at a time, and is being stored in a central vault. Once full, the vault will fuel a hungry horde of invaders looking to cross into earth, and cross out all its people.

What's more, the professor claims he knew Max's missing scientist father.…

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