February 02


16 in ‘18 Every Myers-Briggs Personality Type from This Year’s Book by Janet Dawson

Long a staple of human resources departments and college counseling offices, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) test divides the world into 16 personalities.  As an INFJ, I’m fascinated by this (after all, Katharine Briggs and her daughter Isabel Myers allegedly were INFJ’s), and I can’t help slapping an MBTI label on fictional characters when I’m reading.  Each type was well-represented in 2018 middle grade novels, and I present you with a list of who is what…at least in my opinion. All personality description quotes are from the website 16 Personalities (www.16personalities.com).  Head over there for their quiz if you’re not sure what your own type is.


INTJ:  “Imaginative yet decisive, ambitious yet private, amazingly curious”.  An apt description for Candice in The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson as she and her new friend Brandon solve the mystery of her new hometown of Lambert, South Carolina, while uncovering its racist past.

Contenders: Brilliant but lonely Charlotte and Ben in Erin Entrada Kelly’s You Go First


INTP:  “INTPs pride themselves on their inventiveness and creativity, their unique perspective and vigorous intellect.”  Lucy from The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty is a genius who learns to appreciate her strengths and weaknesses as she goes her own quirky way.

Contender: Young Sherlock Holmes in Sherlock Holmes and the Disappearing Diamond Sam Hearn


ENTJ:  “ENTJs are natural-born leaders. [They] embody the gifts of charisma and confidence, and project authority in a way that draws crowds together behind a common goal.”  In Out of Left Field by Ellen Klage, ENTJ Katy Gordon isn’t afraid to stand up to the Little League officials in her quest to play on a team in 1957.

Contender:  Overachieving fairy Ophelia Delphinium Fidgets in Granted John David Anderson


ENTP: “No one loves the process of mental sparring more than ENTPs, as it gives them a chance to exercise their effortlessly quick wit, broad accumulated knowledge base, and capacity for connecting disparate ideas to prove their points.”  Sam Warren, his sister Sadie, and their lawyer Mr. Kalman all use their ENTP personalities to take their fight against homework all the way to the Supreme Court in Steven B. Frank’s Class Action.

Contender:  Melvin, the crotchety-but-loveable grandfather turned teenager in The Third Mushroom by Jennifer Holm


INFJ:  “[T}hough soft-spoken, they have very strong opinions and will fight tirelessly for an idea they believe in.”  Amal Unbound Aisha Saeed features Amal, a good student and obedient daughter, who is suddenly is forced into indentured servitude in modern-day Pakistan.  Unwilling to accept her fate, she fights for justice for herself and those around her.

Contender:  Byx, possibly the last of the dairns, who goes on a quest in hopes of finding more of his kind in Endling: The Last (Katherine Applegate)


INFP: “While they may be perceived as calm, reserved, or even shy, INFPs have an inner flame and passion that can truly shine.”  Still waters run deep for Flora in Rosetown by Cynthia Rylant, who loves her mother’s bookstore and seems to be gearing up for a classic INFP career as a writer.

Contender:  Langston, the introspective budding poet in Finding Langston by Lesa Cline-Ransome


ENFJ:  “ENFJs are natural-born leaders, full of passion and charisma.”  Betty Sanders in Betty Before X by Ilyasah Shabazz and Renee Watson showed that passion and charisma in her fight for civil rights, starting as a young girl and continuing after she married Malcolm X.

Contender:  Elidee in Breakout by Kate Messner, fighting for justice for herself and her brother who is in prison.


ENFP:  “The ENFP personality is a true free spirit. They are often the life of the party…enjoying the social and emotional connections they make with others.”  Free spirit Louisiana Elefante in Louisiana’s Way Home by Kate DiCamillo creates a new life for herself through her connections with others in her new home town.

Contender:  Felix, another somewhat free spirit, in No Fixed Address by Susin Nielsen


ISTJ:  “Their defining characteristics of integrity, practical logic and tireless dedication to duty make ISTJs a vital core to many families, as well as organizations that uphold traditions, rules and standards.”  ISTJ Francis, the reliable and hardworking shoemaker of Sara Varon’s graphic novel New Shoes has to leave his comfort zone when he ventures into the jungle in search of a lost friend.

Contender:  Jools, the responsible, conscientious older sister in Secret Sisters of the Salty Sea by Lynne Rae Perkins


ISFJ:  “Combining the best of tradition and the desire to do good, ISFJs are found in lines of work with a sense of history behind them, such as medicine, academics and charitable social work.”  Kindness and loyalty are hallmarks of Mason Buttle’s personality in The Truth As Told By Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor.

Contender:  Brodie, the faithful, loving dog in Good Dog by Dan Gemeinhart


ESTJ:  “Embracing the values of honesty, dedication and dignity, people with the ESTJ personality type are valued for their clear advice and guidance, and they happily lead the way on difficult paths.”  And what path could be more difficult than leading the Babysitters Club? Kristy Thomas is up for the task, as she demonstrates in Kristy’s Big Day Gale Galligan.

Contender:  Take-charge Leo in A Dash of Trouble by Anna Meriano


ESFJ:  “People who share the ESFJ personality type are, for lack of a better word, popular.  [They] enjoy supporting their friends and loved ones, organizing social gatherings and doing their best to make sure everyone is happy.”  Mia tries her best to make sure everyone is happy like it’s her job–because it actually is her job, working at her parents’ hotel in Front Desk by Kelly Yang.

Contender:  His name says it all: Sunny in Sunny by Jason Reynolds


ISTP:  “ISTPs love to explore with their hands and their eyes, touching and examining the world around them with cool rationalism and spirited curiosity.”  Julie’s combination of adventurous spirit and mechanical abilities is a lifesaver when she’s lost at sea in Watt Key’s Deep Water.

Contender:  House builder Lou in The House That Lou Built by Mae Respicio


ISFP:  “[ISFPs] use aesthetics, design and even their choices and actions to push the limits of social convention.”  ISFP Ivy’s love of drawing and art help her to figure out her place in the world in Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World by Ashley Herring Blake..

Contender:  Behind-the-scenes aspiring rock star Melly in Drum Roll Please by Lisa Jenn Bigelow.


ESTP:  “ESTPs are the likeliest personality type to make a lifestyle of risky behavior. They live in the moment and dive into the action–they are the eye of the storm.”  And who embraces that spirit of adventure more than Drest in Diane Magras’s The Mad Wolf’s Daughter?

Contender:  Daredevil Aru Shah, whose act-first-think-later personality often land her in hot water in Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi.


ESFP:  “No other personality type is as generous with their time and energy as ESFPs when it comes to encouraging others, and no other personality type does it with such irresistible style.”  And style is the key–the more flamboyant, the better–for Prince Sebastian/Lady Crystallia in The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang.

Contender:  Aspiring actress Izzy (alter ego to ISTJ Brianna) in Terri Libenson’s Positively Izzy.


Janet Dawson is the K-8 librarian for the Hampden-Wilbraham School District in western Massachusetts.  For the last three years, she has reviewed a new book every day on her blog A Kids Book a Day, www.kidsbookaday.com.