In these recent novels for preteens—by some of the best children's authors of our time—grandparents give kids the inspiration, strength, and love they need to navigate a perilous world.

In these recent novels for preteens—by some of the best children’s authors of our time—grandparents give kids the inspiration, strength, and love they need to navigate a perplexing world. 

A Handful of Stars

Lily’s mother disappeared from their tiny Maine town a decade ago, and her grandparents are all she has. But one summer day, Lily meets Salma, whose family has migrated north to work the blueberry harvest. Suddenly, Lily’s world brightens—but at the same time, it threatens to crack.

By Cynthia Lord (Rules; Touch Blue) • Scholastic, 2017 • 192 pages • Ages 9 to 12

Bob

It’s been five years since Livy, now 10, last visited her grandma in Australia, and there’s not much about the trip that she remembers. But shortly after she returns to Gran’s farm, memories come flooding back. And, in the closet where she left him, she finds Bob, a green, chicken-sized zombie who’s dying to go back home.

By Wendy Mass (A Mango-Shaped Space; Willow Falls series; Twice Upon a Time series) and Rebecca Stead (When You Reach Me; Liar & Spy) • Feiwel & Friends/Square Fish, 2018 • 208 pages • Ages 8 to 12

The Parker Inheritance

A decade ago, when Candice was a baby, her grandma, Abigail, made an awful mistake. Or so people thought. Now 12 and grieving her death, Candice sets out to unravel her family’s secrets—and the secrets of the whole town of Lambert, South Carolina—in a quest to right the wrongs of the past.

By Varian Johnson (The Great Greene Heist, To Catch a Cheat) • Arthur A. Levine Books/Scholastic, 2018 • 368 pages • Ages 8 to 12

When the Sea Turned to Silver

Pinmei lives high on Never-Ending Mountain with her beloved grandmother, Amah, the Storyteller. When the evil emperor kidnaps Amah, Pinmei must harness her wits, her courage, and the power of story to vanquish him and set her free.

By Grace Lin (Where the Mountain Meets the Moon; Starry River of the Sky) • Little, Brown, 2016 • 400 pages • Ages 8 to 12

The Fourteenth Goldfish and The Third Mushroom

Eleven-year-old Ellie has never been close to her grandpa, Melvin, a prickly scientist who’s always criticizing her artsy mom. But when Melvin discovers a cure for aging and transforms himself into a 13-year-old boy, Ellie realizes they have more in common than she thought.

Ellie and Melvin’s hilarious and poignant adventures continue in a sequel, The Third Mushroom.

By Jennifer L. Holm (Turtle In Paradise, Babymouse series) • Random House, 2014 and 2018 • 240 pages (both books) • Ages 8 to 12

Looking for picture books about kids and grandparents? My picks are here.