Toppsta's Top Ten Middle-Grade Books 2018


There’ve been sooooo many great middle-grade books this year but we’ve whittled them down to our Top Ten. Whether you’re looking for adventure, comedy, sci-fi, drama or just a REALLY good read, there’s something for every 8-12 year-old in this selection.

Toppsta's Top Ten Middle-Grade Books 2018
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Boy Underwater

Liz Binks from Team Toppsta absolutely adored this book. Heart-breaking yet heart-warming, this novel for ages 10 and over is guaranteed to make you laugh and will almost certainly make you cry.

Cymbeline Igloo (yes, really!) has NEVER been swimming. Not ever. Not once. But how hard can it be? He's Googled front crawl and he's found his dad's old pair of trunks. He's totally ready.

What he's not ready for is the accident at the pool - or how it leads his mum to a sudden breakdown. Now, with the help of friends old and new, Cymbeline must solve the mystery of why his mum never took him near water - and it will turn his whole life upside down...

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The Big Cash Robbery

We've all fallen in love with detective Rory Branagan and devoured the first three books in this hilarious comedy-crime series. This is the third instalment and we can't wait for Book 4, out February 2019! 

Hello. I am Rory Branagan. I am ACTUALLY a detective.

This week, my school put on the BIGGEST, BEST school fete the world has ever known. We are raising money to make St Bart's BOOMTASTIC, with adventure playgrounds and even a DRAGON.

But now the cash has GONE, and my Accomplice Cassidy 'the Cat' Callaghan has been BLAMED for stealing it. I'm thinking... I must use my detectiving to find the real thief and RESCUE the Cat!

Check out this mini trailer to whet your appetite for this awesome new series: 

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Max Einstein: The Genius Experiment

I mean James Patterson teaming up with Albert Einstein, the world's most famous genius - what's not to love?! 

Max Einstein is a typical 12-year-old. She...

Goes to college every day
Plays speed chess in the park
Builds inventions that help the homeless
And talks to Albert Einstein

All normal stuff, right?

Until one day when Max is recruited by a mysterious organisation! Their mission: solve some of the world's toughest problems using science. She's helped by a diverse group of young geniuses from around the globe as they invent new ways to power the farthest reaches of the planet.

But that's only if the sinister outfit known as The Corporation doesn't get to her first...

Check out the video reviews from our Toppsta readers:

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Head Kid

David Baddiel has done it again - Head Kid is one of those books that you start reading and can't put down! Funny, fast-paced and frightfully entertaining, we give it 5 stars!

Strictest head + naughtiest boy = chaos!

Bracket Wood is about to be visited by the school inspectors. But there's one big problem: Ryan Ward.

The maestro of practical jokes, Ryan has played so many tricks that in the end the Head Teacher just walks out. And then the new Head Teacher, Mr Carter, arrives. A man so strict even the teachers are scared of him. So imagine his surprise - and Ryan's - when they swap bodies.

Now Ryan is Head Teacher - and his mortal enemy is one of his pupils. It's every naughty kid's dream! But soon Bracket Wood School is in a total mess - and only its worst ever pupil can fix it...

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Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow Book 2

Georgina, Founder of Toppsta, was a HUGE fan of Nevermoor and could not wait to get her hands on the much-anticipated sequel, Wundersmith. She literally could not put it down and missed several tube stops as she was so engrossed in the story of Morrigan Crow. Perfect for fans of the Harry Potter series and His Dark Materials, this series takes readers into an extraordinary world, setting hope and imagination alive.

Imagination, discovery and friendship await Morrigan Crow when she escapes her deadly curse and joins the Wundrous Society. It promises her protection and belonging for life - but then Morrigan doesn't receive the welcome she hoped for...

Morrigan is a much-feared Wundersmith. So, instead of the Society helping Morrigan to embrace her power, she is only taught that all Wundersmiths are evil and she must suppress her mysterious ability at all costs.

To make things worse, Nevermoor is quickly turning from a place of safety into one of danger. Society members are going missing, someone is blackmailing Morrigan's new friends, turning them against her. And Ezra Squall, the evillest man who ever lived, is determined to lure Morrigan from the Society by promising to reveal the true nature of the Wunder that calls to her, which is becoming ever harder to resist...

Has Morrigan's dream of escaping her cursed life ended before it truly began?

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Dork Diaries: Birthday Drama!

Liz Binks is a massive Dork Diaries fan and squeee'd when she heard the thirteenth instalment was out! I mean Nikki Maxwell, a birthday party and a whole load of drama, what more could you want?!

OMG! Nikki's birthday party is going to be beyond awesome! Her BFFs are planning a SUPERcool pool party, with a cake, a DJ, and the perfect invitations. Organizing a big party for one hundred people is easy, right? UMMM wrong!

When Mom says it's too expensive, soon it's looking like Nikki's dream party will be a total dorky disaster - cringe! Can Nikki and her BFFs come up with a plan to save the day, or will there be major birthday drama?!

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Secret Seven: Mystery of the Skull

Team Toppsta were overjoyed when they found out their favourite detective club was back! This brand-new action-packed Secret Seven adventure by prizewinning author Pamela Butchart is an absolute must-read!

When Peter discovers an old skull hidden in his bedroom, it's time for an urgent meeting of the Secret Seven. Setting off to investigate, the friends see a gigantic hole in the grounds of a local hotel. Could there be any connection between the two strange events? The Secret Seven are determined to solve the mystery.

Set in the same world and time as the original stories, this fantastic new mystery satisfyingly extends the series for fans old and new. The story is brought to life by Tony Ross's brilliant illustrations throughout. Join the Secret Seven for more mystery, excitement, friendship and FUN than ever before!

We can't wait for Pamela Butchart's next Secret Seven mystery ...

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Pages & Co: Tilly and the Bookwanderers

What a beautiful debut about the magic of books and the power of the imagination. It's no wonder readers voted for this book to be discussed at our #ToppstaBookClub Twitter chat - it's just SO good! We love the concept of bookwandering and felt like we were stepping into Tilly's adventures with her. We 100% recommend!

Since her mother's disappearance, eleven-year-old Tilly has found comfort in stories at Pages & Co., her grandparents' bookshop. But when her favourite characters, Anne of Green Gables and Alice from Wonderland, appear in the shop, Tilly's adventures become very real. Not only can she follow Anne and Alice into their thrilling worlds, she discovers she can bookwander into any story she chooses.

Tilly's new ability could even help her solve the mystery of what happened to her mother all those years ago. But danger may be lurking on the very next page...

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Alienated: Grounded at Groom Lake

This book has it all - action, adventure, sci-fi, comedy and a little bit of a love story. It's perfect for anyone who has ever felt like a misfit or an outsider. It literally is OUT OF THIS WORLD!

Think your school is strange? Feel like you don't quite fit in?

Fourteen-year-old Sherman Capote is an Air Force brat used to moving schools. But he's never been to a place like Groom Lake High, the high school for aliens at Area 51.

It's a totally alien environment filled with cliques and bullies, but he makes friends with a gang of galactic misfits: Octo, a quick-witted Ventitent (a twenty-tentacled "octopus"), Houston, a moody robot, Sonya, a rebellious lizard, and Juliet, an omnipotent goddess. But when the school bully, Ned, initiates a War of the Worlds, Sherman and his new friends must set aside homework, first crushes and high school proms to save the world.

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The Night I Met Father Christmas

We wanted to end on not just a brilliant middle-grade read but a Christmas classic in the making. This magical story is a delight for all kids, both big and small. It's written by actor and comedian Ben Miller and has beautiful illustrations throughout from emerging new talent Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini. It will remind everyone of the true spirit of Christmas and prove once and for all that Father Christmas really does exist!

Jackson knows all about the flying reindeer, he knows about the elves and the secret North Pole workshop, he knows about the magic that allows Father Christmas to deliver presents around the world in just one night, but there's one thing he doesn't know... how did Father Christmas become Father Christmas?

That all changes when, one Christmas Eve, Jackson meets Father Christmas and hears his incredible story. 

So begins an enchanting fairy-tale into a magical snowy landscape where Torvil, a mean-spirited and miserly elf, is about to discover the true meaning of Christmas. This might not have been the story Jackson was expecting but, as Father Christmas tells him, no good story ever is... 


First published


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