The Midnight War of Mateo Martinez

  • Interest Level: Grade 3 - Grade 6
  • Reading Level: Grade 4

Life is confusing for Mateo Martinez.

He and Johnny Ramirez don’t hang out anymore, even though they used to be best friends. He and his new friend Ashwin try to act like brave, old-time knights, but it only gets them in trouble. And last night, two skunks stole Mateo’s old trike.

Wait—two skunks stole his trike?

Mateo is too big for that rusty kid toy. He has a cool, shiny new bike anyway. But Mateo also has a neighborhood to protect. And he’s about to begin a big, stinky quest to catch the thieves in the middle of the night!

As Mateo protects his neighborhood, he also learns a few things about growing up and letting go.

“Take this oath: I, [state your name], will do good, fight for those in need, and read The Midnight War of Mateo Martinez.”—Adam Rex, author of the Cold Cereal Saga

Format Your Price Add
Interest Level Grade 3 - Grade 6
Reading Level Grade 4
Category Diverse Books: Race & Ethnicity, Diversity, SEL: B Self-Management, SEL: D Relationship Skills, SEL: E Responsible Decision-Making, Social Emotional Learning
Copyright 2016
Publisher Lerner Publishing Group
Imprint Carolrhoda Books ®
Language English
Number of Pages 184
Publication Date 2016-03-01
Reading Counts! Level 4.4
Text Type Fiction
BISACS JUV037000, JUV039060, JUV002360
Dewey [Fic]
Dimensions 5.375 x 8.25
Lexile 720
Guided Reading Level S
ATOS Reading Level 4.7
Accelerated Reader® Quiz 181027
Accelerated Reader® Points 5.0
Features Author/Illustrator biography, Awards, Reviewed, and Starred Reviews

Author: Robin Yardi

Robin Yardi is a children's book author and a California credentialed teacher. She lives in the hills of Santa Barbara with too many pets and just the right number of children.


  • New York Public Library Best Books for Kids, Winner, 2016
  • Kirkus Best Middle-Grade Books of the Year, Winner, 2016


The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

“This is an odd but satisfying little story with an endearing hero and perhaps even more endearing skunks. . . . Yardi deftly reins in some of the goofiness in exchange for dramatic tension and emotional heft.”—The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books


“[A]n imaginative backyard adventure with light touches of fantasy. . . . Mateo is an admirable character striving to live by a knight’s code of honor. . . . His gallantry . . . and antics with the neighborhood wildlife make for quite the charming tale.”—Booklist

School Library Journal

“In this debut novel, Yardi draws parallels between the fantasy world of talking animals and Mateo’s reality of growing up and finding himself. . . . A fun, action-filled tale whose protagonist has a distinct and sincere young voice. Recommended for collections and libraries that serve a lower middle grade population.”—School Library Journal

Publishers Weekly

“Picture book author Yardi . . . in her first novel, delivers an entertaining story of sibling loyalty, friendship struggles, and the sometimes vexing passage into adolescence.”—Publishers Weekly

Kirkus Reviews

“Utilizing a gentle sense of humor and incisive insight, the author negotiates Mateo’s developing identity with aplomb, especially his Mexican-American heritage. . . . A magnificent novel that defines what it is to be an older brother, a friend, and, yes, even a knight.”—starred, Kirkus Reviews