Jennifer Nielsen's The False Prince was on the Maine Student Book Award 2013-'14 list and it was (and still is) one of the most popular books in my library. Kids were drawn to the action and intrigue and the extremely sympathetic main characters. I recently read a book that reminded me a bit of Nielsen's False Prince and I am hopeful that it, too, will be wildly popular for middle grade readers.
The Whisperer by Fiona McIntosh is a retelling of The Prince and the Pauper (although one doesn't need to know the original tale to enjoy McIntosh's version). In this telling, Lute is the crown prince who is in grave danger at the hands of his own uncle, who wants the throne. Griff can hear the thoughts of people around him, which feels more like a curse than a gift when his unscrupulous traveling show manager forces him to use this power for profit. The two boys are connected in a surprising way and with the help of Tess and her menagerie of mystical creatures (including a gryphon and a centaur) they must save their lives and the kingdom.
Readers who enjoy fairy tales, action and adventure, and strong protagonists will love The Whisperer!