middle grade books

HARU, ZOMBIE DOG HERO by author Ellen Oh


Eleven-year-old Luke and his dog, Haru, are the best of friends. Totally inseparable. But when their nasty landlord falsely accuses Haru of biting her, Haru is kidnapped! As Luke and his friends go on a serious mission to find and bring Haru home again, they discover mysterious experiments happening at the old laboratory at Painted Lake, owned by an evil multibillionaire named Mr. Thomas Sinclair. And Luke and his friends soon fear that Sinclair’s scientists could be doing illegal testing that may endanger Haru and their whole town.

As more strange clues emerge, the boys realize their world is changing fast, and soon Painted Lake is plagued by zombie attacks. Is the love and friendship between boy and dog enough to save them?

Review for Haru, Zombie Dog Hero

Publishers Weekly Starred Review

* “Oh (the Spirit Hunters series) centers the relationship between a dog and his human in this spellbinding tale with Frankenweenie vibes. In third-person chapters that follow canine Haru Haru, the pooch recounts how he saves his 11-year-old Korean American–cued human Luke from a rabid raccoon while traipsing through the woods. The event is quickly eclipsed by a chemical fire at Sinclair, a local research laboratory that has been polluting a nearby lake. Stray cat Penelope informs Haru that Sinclair is a “bad place” where “animals go in, but they never come back out.” When Luke and Haru return to Luke’s family deli, racist remarks from their white landlady prompt a physical altercation, and after Haru lunges in Luke’s defense, he’s seized by animal control, which takes him to Sinclair. But even in his dire situation, he remains determined to return to Luke, no matter what. This riveting adventure is not without its melancholy moments, but Oh skillfully balances inexplicit descriptions of animal abuse with adrenaline-fueled action. Tender character relationships between both pup and human, and the myriad fully realized animals Haru meets along his journey, combine for a multilayered and thoroughly heartfelt must-read. Ages 8–12.”


For fans of Inside Out and Back Again and Amina’s Voice, We Need Diverse Books cofounder Ellen Oh creates a breathtaking story of family, hope, and survival, inspired by her mother’s real-life experiences during the Korean War. Faced with middle school racism, Junie Kim learns of her grandparents’ extraordinary strength and finds her voice.

“Filled with unforgettable characters, this profoundly moving story about a girl’s search for self is at once both unique and universal, timely and timeless. A book that should be on every shelf.” —Padma Venkatraman, Walter Award-winning author of The Bridge Home

Junie Kim just wants to fit in. So she keeps her head down and tries not to draw attention to herself. But when racist graffiti appears at her middle school, Junie must decide between staying silent or speaking out.

Then Junie’s history teacher assigns a project and Junie decides to interview her grandparents, learning about their unbelievable experiences as kids during the Korean War. Junie comes to admire her grandma’s fierce determination to overcome impossible odds, and her grandpa’s unwavering compassion during wartime. And as racism becomes more pervasive at school, Junie taps into the strength of her ancestors and finds the courage to do what is right.

Finding Junie Kim is a reminder that within all of us lies the power to overcome hardship and emerge triumphant. 

Reviews for Finding Junie Kim

Booklist (starred review)

* “An obvious labor of love, shedding light on both present-day problems and an often-overlooked war, tackling extremely challenging subjects like racism, depression, suicidal ideation, death, and even gruesome war crimes. But there is also fierce familial love, supportive friendship, and an undercurrent of hope that buoys Junie in her worst times and helps her endure and grow. Junie’s difficult journey is certainly one worth taking.”

School Library Journal (starred review) (Link to the full review)

* “She seamlessly provides insight into Korean history and culture for the unintroduced and captures the human condition during wartime through frank portrayals of Junie’s modern-day struggles…Oh’s powerful novel sheds light on the devastating effect racism can have, and tells a history often overlooked.”

New York Times Book Review (Link to the full review)

“This novel is firmly rooted in real-life events…which gives the book an urgency that speaks to this moment of anti-Asian intolerance. Like Linda Sue Park’s “A Long Walk to Water” and Alan Gratz’s “Refugee,” it will help young readers understand the unfathomable tragedy of being a child trapped in war and also the imperative of never giving up hope — of enduring.

Kirkus Reviews

“An intergenerational tale that highlights a girl’s growing confidence and awareness.”

Publishers Weekly

“Oh conveys the legacy of bravery, tenderness, and forgiveness alongside the fallout of intergenerational trauma in a complex novel that touches on gender discrimination and racism, mental health, and imperialism and civil war…Junie’s healthy and inclusive family dynamic contributes warmth and hopefulness, and her grandparents’ backstories and personal integrity in the face of hardship are thoughtfully drawn.”


“Any reader who has been fortunate enough to hear stories from their grandparents will recognize the power of Junie’s experiences. By listening to her grandparents talk about their choices and bravery during the Korean War, Junie discovers part of where she comes from, and gains the courage to make a difference in the future.”
– Wendy Wan-Long Shang, award-winning author of – The Great Wall of Lucy Wu

“A beautifully moving story that cleverly spans generations and continents and highlights how to find courage and resilience in the face of unspeakable hardship. Junie Kim is a wonderful, thoughtful protagonist who grows as she learns hard truths about the devasting Korean War, about herself and how she relates to challenges in the world today, and about the power of friendship and family.”
– Hena Khan, Award-winning author of Amina’s Voice

The Dragon Egg Princess by author Ellen Oh


In a kingdom filled with magic, Jiho Park and his family are an anomaly—magic doesn’t affect them.

Jiho comes from a long line of forest rangers who protect the Kidahara—an ancient and mysterious wood that is home to powerful supernatural creatures. But Jiho wants nothing to do with the dangerous forest.

Five years ago, his father walked into the Kidahara and disappeared. Just like the young Princess Koko, the only daughter of the kingdom’s royal family. Jiho knows better than anyone else the horrors that live deep in the magical forest and how those who go in never come back.

Now the forest is in danger from foreign forces that want to destroy it, and a long-forgotten evil that’s been lurking deep in the Kidahara for centuries finally begins to awaken. Can a magic-less boy, a fierce bandit leader, and a lost princess join forces and save their worlds before it’s too late?

Reviews for The Dragon Egg Princess

“Filled with strange terrains, creatures, and magic, this is an enthralling read!”
– Soman Chainani, author of the New York Times bestselling School for Good and Evil series

By drawing inspiration from Korean lore and culture, Ellen Oh is helping to reinvigorate the fantasy genre. Readers will love The Dragon Egg Princess for its humor, inventive magic, and thrilling action!”
– Linda Sue Park, Newbery Medalist and New York Times bestselling author

Spirit Hunters 3 - Something Wicked by author Ellen Oh

Spirit Hunters 3: Something Wicked

The riveting conclusion to the acclaimed Spirit Hunters series!

We Need Diverse Books cofounder Ellen Oh delivers the final book in her middle grade series Spirit Hunters, a gripping mystery and thrilling adventure, starring a Korean-American heroine and a diverse cast of characters.

Harper is dealing with too many new changes in her house. Her cousin, Leo, is now living with them; her sister, Kelly, has started working at a local makeup store, Jeune; and Harper’s spirit hunter abilities have grown increasingly more powerful and uncontrollable, making her a target for possession.

But when Harper and Dayo uncover a dangerous plot to steal youth from millions of innocent people, Harper must use all her powers to destroy an ancient evil and save her sister.

Can our intrepid spirit hunters rescue Kelly before it’s too late?

A spellbinding, spooky, middle grade series, perfect for Halloween!

Don’t miss the first two thrilling books in this series from Ellen Oh:

  • Spirit Hunters
  • Spirit Hunters #2: The Island of Monsters
Spirit Hunters 2 - The Island of Monsters by author Ellen Oh


The thrilling sequel to the Texas Bluebonnet Award-nominated Spirit Hunters! We Need Diverse Books founder Ellen Oh delivers the next haunting tale in her acclaimed middle grade series Spirit Hunters, a mix of captivating mystery and chilling ghost story. The perfect spooky read for Halloween, this pulse-pounding adventure will leave you shocked at every twist. Harper Raine faces new challenges ahead when her parents take the whole family to a remote tropical island for vacation. As Harper starts to have visions of the resort’s history of disappearances and discovers more about the island’s dark and fabled past, she must use her newly acquired spirit hunting talents to save everyone on the island from murderous spirits on the attack. An exciting and spooky middle grade series, perfect for Halloween reads.

Spirit Hunters by author Ellen Oh


Harper Raine doesn’t like her new house from the moment she steps inside. It makes her skin crawl and her hair stand on end. There’s an energy to the house that just doesn’t feel right…. There are rumors that the Raine family’s new house is haunted. Unexplainable events and tragedy seem to have befallen every family who’s lived there before. Harper isn’t sure she believes those rumors until her younger brother, Michael, starts acting strangely. The whole atmosphere gives Harper a sense of déjà vu, but she can’t remember why. Harper knows that the memories she’s blocking will help make sense of her brother’s behavior and the strange and dangerous sensations she feels in the house, but will she be able to put the pieces together in time?

Reviews for Spirit Hunters

★ “Even more impressive than the shiver-factor is the way the author skillfully uses the compelling premise to present a strong, consistent message of not rejecting what you don’t understand.”
– Booklist  (starred review)

★ “Oh has crafted a truly chilling middle grade horror novel that will grab readers’ imaginations.”
– Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Like all of my favorite ghost stories, Spirit Hunters is a pulse-pounding read, filled with nonstop thrills, shocking twists, and-most important-heaps of heart!”
– Dan Poblocki, author of The Ghost of Graylock

“This mystery thriller infused with diverse characters and intriguing themes will appeal to horror fans and to reluctant readers who enjoy a good scare.”
– School Library Journal

“Balancing fear and humor and heartache, Spirit Hunters is a page-turning, spine tingling delight. I absolutely loved it.”
– Kelly Barnhill, Newbery Award winning author of The Girl Who Drank the Moon

“Combining Korean-American experience with ancient cultural traditions for a new twist on exorcism, this tale’s for beginning horror fans and readers looking for a decent scare.”
– Kirkus Reviews

Flying Lessons by author Ellen Oh


Whether it is basketball dreams, family fiascos, first crushes, or new neighborhoods, this bold anthology—written by the best children’s authors—celebrates the uniqueness and universality in all of us. In a partnership with We Need Diverse Books, industry giants Kwame Alexander, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Peña, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Tim Tingle, and Jacqueline Woodson join newcomer Kelly J. Baptist in a story collection that is as humorous as it is heartfelt. This impressive group of authors has earned among them every major award in children’s publishing and popularity as New York Times bestsellers. From these distinguished authors come ten distinct and vibrant stories.

Reviews for Flying Lessons

“Inclusive, authentic, and eminently readable, this collection of short stories is an excellent addition for libraries and classrooms.”
– School Library Journal, starred review

“The collection as a whole highlights the importance of perspective, perseverance, wonder, courage, and creativity during the middle school years. . . . Thought-provoking and wide-ranging, this first anthology from WNDB should not be missed.”
– Publishers Weekly, starred review

“There’s plenty of magic in this collection to go around.”
– Booklist, starred review

“A natural for middle school classrooms and libraries, this strong collection should find eager readers.”
– Kirkus Reviews, starred review

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