In We Are Not Eaten By Yaks by C. Alexander London, London does a great job of having the kids do most of the rescuing, but sometimes parents, monks, spirits, yaks swoop in to save the kids. He'd proven the kids could do it, empowered them and then had their mom show up and save them princess-in-a-tower style. I was frustrated, the kids were smart enough to do it themselves.
In The Clockwork Three by Matthew Kirby, the kids are empowered the whole book until in the very end, the automaton swoops in and saves Giuseppe. Giuseppe! I was mad. I'm verclipped.
In Harry Potter, Harry and friends always saved the day. No matter how frustrated you were with Harry that he didn't run to Dumbledore for help (seriously you would have thought he learned something at Hogwarts), Harry was left to figure it out even if it meant wandering way way way too long in the last book. But this is how it should be in the world of Middle Grade. (I guess if I think about it, even Harry had a bunch of adult team help. Is it impossible to empower the kids completely?)
When I pitched a MG story last year to an agent, my story had a magical element to it. The agent stopped me and said, "You have a great character why are you letting the magic save the day instead of him." At first I thought, well because the whole story is based on this magical realism. But the more I thought about it, I saw his point. I changed my story from magical realism to contemporary and I think it's loads stronger because the protagonist can't rely on what he believes will save him but must work to save himself.
These are my thoughts. Who do you think should save the day in a middle grade novel? And is it okay to have other people or things do some of the saving? What about working together with adults/things?