25 Favourite Middle Grade Book Covers of 2021

Today’s post is sponsored by Candlewick and The Last Mapmaker!

Title The Last Mapmaker
Author Christina Soontornvat
Intended Target Audience Middle Grade
Publication Date April 12th 2022 by Candlewick
Find It On GoodreadsAmazonChaptersThe Book DepositoryBarnes & NobleIndieBound

From Christina Soontornvat, the visionary and versatile author of two 2021 Newbery Honor Books, comes a high-seas adventure set in a Thai-inspired fantasy world.

In a fantasy adventure every bit as compelling and confident in its world building as her Newbery Honor Book A Wish In The Dark, Christina Soontornvat explores a young woman’s struggle to unburden herself of the past and chart her own destiny in a world of secrets.

As assistant to Mangkon’s most celebrated mapmaker, twelve-year-old Sai plays the part of a well-bred young lady with a glittering future. In reality, her father is a conman — and in a kingdom where the status of one’s ancestors dictates their social position, the truth could ruin her. Sai seizes the chance to join an expedition to chart the southern seas, but she isn’t the only one aboard with secrets. When Sai learns that the ship might be heading for the fabled Sunderlands — a land of dragons, dangers, and riches beyond imagining — she must weigh the cost of her dreams.

Vivid, suspenseful, and thought-provoking, this tale of identity and integrity is as beautiful and intricate as the maps of old.

Do! Judge A Book By Its Cover is a regular feature on Pop! Goes The Reader in which I pay tribute to some of the best and brightest the publishing world has to offer in the way of book cover design.

Book cover design can play a critical role in a book’s success or failure. While certainly not the only contributing factor, for the casual reader perusing the shelves of their local library or bookstore, a book’s cover offers one of the earliest introductions to the story contained within its pages and can help differentiate it from the thousands of other titles surrounding it. Book cover design is one of my passions, and given that I spend much of the year celebrating it in its many shapes, forms and iterations in my regular feature, Do! Judge A Book By Its Cover, I thought it might be fun to compose a list of what I thought were some of the most effective, eye-catching and beautiful examples of middle grade book cover design for in 2021. To see my favourite 2021 young adult book covers, click here!

Please Note: I’ve done my best to provide credit for the cover designers, illustrators, artists and photographers responsible for the work below whenever possible, but was unable to find this information for a number of those listed. If you know of an uncredited individual responsible for any of these book covers below or if I’ve made any mistakes, please let me know and I would be happy to include proper attribution in this post. Their work is lovely and deserves to be credited.

The covers below are listed in no particular order.


01. Starfish by Lisa Fipps
Cover design by Kelley Brady, Cover art by Tara O’Brien


02. Flight Of The Puffin by Ann Braden
Cover design by Jessica Jenkins, Cover art by Chanelle Nibbelink


03. Rescue At Lake Wild by Terry Lynn Johnson
Cover design by Kaitlin Yang, Cover art by Maike Plenzke


04. Bea Is For Blended by Lindsey Stoddard
Cover design by Chris Kwon, Cover art by Jen Bricking


05. I Speak Boy by Jessica Brody
Cover design by Katrina Damkoehler, Cover art by Simini Blocker


06. The Gilded Girl by Alyssa Colman
Cover design by Aurora Parlagreco, Cover art by Geneviève Godbout


07. Josephine Against The Sea by Shakirah Bourne
Cover design by Keirsten Geise, Cover art by Ejiwa Ebenebe


08. That Thing about Bollywood by Supriya Kelkar
Cover design by Laura Lyn DiSiena, Cover art by Abigail Dela Cruz


09. A Wolf For A Spell by Karah Sutton
Cover design by Pauliina Hannuniemi, Cover art by Pauliina Hannuniemi


10. Unsettled by Reem Faruqi
Cover design by Molly Fehr, Cover art by Soumbal Qureshi


11. Ten Thousand Tries by Amy Makechnie
Cover art by Abigail L. Dela Cruz


12. Alice Fleck’s Recipes For Disaster by Rachelle Delaney
Cover design by Emma Dolan, Cover art by Morgan Goble


13. The Many Mysteries Of The Finkel Family by Sarah Kapit
Cover art by Alexandra Bye


14. Summer of Brave by Amy Noelle Parks
Cover design by Valerie Hernandez , Cover art by Jensen Perehudoff


15. The Chance To Fly by Ali Stroker and Stacy Davidowitz
Cover art by Maike Plenzke


16. The Bookshop of Dust and Dreams by Mindy Thompson
Cover art by Quang & Lien


17. Lotería by Karla Valenti
Cover design by Dana Sanmar, Cover art by Dana Sanmar


18. Life In The Balance by Jen Petro-Roy
Cover design by Liz Dresner, Cover art by Julie McLaughlin


19. Ghost Girl by Ally Malinenko
Cover design by David DeWitt, Cover art by Maike Plenzke


20. The Last Windwitch by Jennifer Adam
Cover design by Alice Wang, Cover art by Cathleen McAllister


21. Healer of the Water Monster by Brian Young
Cover art by Shonto Begay


22. The Year I Flew Away by Marie Arnold
Cover design by Andrea Miller, Cover art by Geneva Bowers


23. How To Become A Planet by Nicole Melleby
Cover design by Carla Weiss, Cover art by David Curtis


24. Soul Lanterns by Shaw Kuzki
Cover design by Carol Ly, Cover art by Shoko Ishida


25. Karma Moon: Ghost Hunter by Melissa Savage
Cover art by Aleksandar Zolotic

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Hi! I’m Jen! I’m a thirty-something introvert who loves nothing more than the cozy comfort of home and snuggling my two rescue cats, Pepper and Pancakes. I also enjoy running, jigsaw puzzles, baking and everything Disney. Few things bring me more joy than helping a reader find the right book for them!

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