Middle Grade Monday Celebration (Post 1000!)

Title in white on blurred colourful book spines

Today is my 1000th post, so I thought I’d do something special. As it’s also a Monday, that means it’s time to highlight some of my favourite UK and Irish Middle Grade. Here are four series I love and recommend to anyone who asks me for recommendations.

Adventures on Trains, by M. G. Leonard and Sam Sedgman, illustrated by Elisa Paganelli

Book cover for THE HIGHLAND FALCON THIEF: a red steam engine with two kids hanging off the side

Starting with THE HIGHLAND FALCON THIEF, this modern mystery series is a bit like Murder on the Orient Express, but in MG and with illustrations. I love it to bits, gobbling down each book as soon as they arrive. Each is a gripping mystery, full of red herrings and clues.

The illustrations are so key to the story, full of clues and very good for keeping track of the cast, as only Nat and Hal return in each book (one character has been in two book so far.) There are new friends to make, and new people to suspect.

There are now four books out, with another to come next year (and hopefully more!) The order is:

Dragon Realm, by Katie and Kevin Tsang

On the slightly younger end of the MG spectrum, Dragon Realm is an action packed series about four children who go to China for a holiday camp, and then find themselves bonded to dragons. The evil Dragon of Death is out to rule the world, so it’s up to the children to save them.

This is a series about friendship and courage, and full of wonder because who wouldn’t want to find dragons in the mountains and then bond with them? There are few punches pulled in this series.

There are five books currently planned, with three published:

The Storm Keeper Trilogy, by Catherine Doyle

This completed trilogy (the only completed series on the list!) is stunning and so magical. Fionn’s Grandfather is the storm keeper of a magical island off Ireland, able to capture magic and time in candles. But an evil magician is rising, and it’s time for the mantle to be passed onto Fionn.

At times heart-breaking and epic, the use of magic in this series is stunning, and the finale pulls together so many hints laid in the earlier books. It has the scope of a thousand years behind it, aided by the time-travelling nature of the magic system, but also an immediacy leant by the small location.

The books in the trilogy are:

Circus Maximus, by Annelise Gray

Book cover for RACE TO THE DEATH: Title in black on a purple and yellows image of a girl on a horse looking over a landscape with a stadium rising in the background

This series only has one book as present (RACE TO THE DEATH), but it became an instant favourite on reading, and I cannot wait for the next instalment. I keep recommending this to people of all ages.

It’s a historical, set in Ancient Rome, about a girl whose father works at the Circus Maximus. When he’s murdered, she has to flee, leaving her beloved horse behind, but fate will bring her back to face down those who killed her father.

The pacing is incredible, feeling so much shorter than it is – and the fact that it covers several years doesn’t pull the pacing back either. The attention to detail is also really good (the author is a Latin teacher.)

What are your favourite Middle Grade books?

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