Books in the Middle: Reading for Middle School

Our focus is on books middle school students might like to read and topics pertaining to books for these students, and we are giving recommendations. Teachers, librarians and middle school students are the contributors to this blog. Enjoy!

What Could Possibly Go Wrong? June 22, 2017

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 2:59 pm

We’ve all had those moments, when we either think everything will be just fine, and thendownload-1 it all falls apart, or conversely, we keep waiting for what looks like an inevitable tragedy lurking on the horizon.

What about your plane breaking apart over a jungle and you falling through the air in your seat, only to survive but have no idea where you are and if you have the skills to make it out alive? Or being trapped at your job – because you work in a mine and there has been a cave in? Or someone on your ship thinks there is a fire, and most of the crew jump out onto floating icebergs including your family, only to watch your ship sail away, NOT on fire?

All of the above harrowing stories really happened to young people. When the Worst Happens: Extraordinary Stories of Survival by Tanya Lloyd Kyi will give you story after story of some amazing feats that humans have done to survive the precarious situations they have found themselves in – sometimes through no fault of their own.

If you like any kind of survival or adventure stories, this is the nonfiction read for you. Packed full of stories you’ve never heard of before and a few you might have, it will give you insight into what to do if you were to ever find yourself in such a position and how you might be able to actually survive!

Recommended for 6th grade and up.

 

To Eat, or Not to Eat? June 19, 2017

Filed under: Historical Fiction,Novels in Verse — oneilllibrary @ 2:41 pm

downloadMany know of the story of the doomed Donner party, a group of travelers who were trying to make it to California from the East, but were trapped in the Sierra Nevada mountains when snowfalls kept them from moving on. As the supplies ran out, and people died, some began to look at the dead as a source of food. While many wagon trains West all had their own sources of torment and tragedy, the Donner group remains in the mythology of these travels and is told in hushed tones as the ultimate horror story of what can happen when time runs out…and you are still in the mountains.

Mary Ann Graves, who was nineteen when her parents packed up the family and headed West for the promise of California with her eight siblings, had no true understanding of the sacrifices she and her fellow companions were going to make in the months to come. Part of the Graves’ misfortune was to join with the wagon train that included the Reed family. John Reed had heard of a supposed short cut, called the Hastings cutoff, which was to reduce the amount of time they had to travel. However, it turned out the cutoff was passable on horseback, but for a wagon train, it was horrible. Much time was wasted trying to make a trail and as a result, it put them weeks behind where they should have been heading into the mountains.

To Stay Alive by Skila Brown is a novel in verse that shows the gritty, boring, horrifying and desperate journey of these hopeful settlers and reveals in those awful moments what it really takes to stay alive.

Recommended for mature 6th graders and up.

 

The Mad Boy June 15, 2017

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 5:13 pm

When he started going through the junk yard across the street from the school he’d been kicked out of because his family couldn’t pay the tuition, kids started saying he was crazy. And while there were times when William got discouraged, he never lost sight of his vision – to bring electricity to his home in Malawi, Africa and to eventually build a windmill that would bring water up from the ground.

For William, it all started in fits and leaps. He became interested in how some bikes that people rode around his town had a light come on when the rider peddled and then it went out when they stopped. How was this possible? Since he could no longer attend school, he went to visit the library at his old school and found some amazing books that he poured over until he was able to figure out how to create electricity.

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamb and Bryan Mealer is an AMAZING read and will give many people more perspective on their own lives as well as how much we can take for granted. The discussion of what life was like to live through a famine and to have to make so many sacrifices was incredibly poignant and heartbreaking. This is a great look at the will of the human spirit to find a way toward fulfilling a dream.

Highly recommended for all 7th grade social studies students and a great read for science classes as well. Overall, just a wonderful and inspiring read!

 

Thirteen and a half years of memories– wiped out in one instant! June 4, 2017

Chase Ambrose wakes up in a hospital bed, with no recollection of who he is, why he is there, or what happened in his life leading up to this point. He is told that he fell off of his roof and the resulting injury to his head caused amnesia. Thirteen and a half years of life– wiped out in one instant! While he doesn’t remember

anything about his life, Chase thinks he has a pretty good idea of who he is from pictures he finds on his phone– he’s a football star, a popular student with lots of friends, and a brother. However, as he begins to pick up on other people’s reactions to him (his four-year-old half sister is terrified of him; students at school cower in fear when he walks down the hallway; a girl dumps a whole bowl of frozen yogurt over his head), he realizes that he might have been a bully. “New Chase” doesn’t feel like a bully though. He truly enjoys his (court ordered) community service at the senior center, hanging out with the video club, and creating a relationship with his arch-enemy Shoshanna. Now Chase is torn– can he go back to his old life now that he has seen the person he could be? Even though this book’s topic is serious, it is executed in Korman’s signature hilarious style. Crazy stunts meant to turn viral on YouTube, pranks, a cranky Korean War veteran, and more will keep middle school students laughing until the happy ending.

 

 

Sloan has been bra-napped! May 24, 2017

In this light and funny novel, sixth-grade Becca Birnbaum thinks her life is over when a wild volleyball serve breaks the arm of the coolest, most popular eighth-grade girl. Sloan “Selfie” St. Clair has a huge group of friends, a walk-in closet of designer clothes, a country club membership, and a vacation home in Switzerland. Rumors are that getting on her bad side is social suicide. But, as Becca is soon to find out, Selfie is friendly, kind, and fun– and sometimes more than a little irresponsible. When Becca and Sloan are caught in a hilarious mix-up involving the principal’s missing bra, they have to work as a team to stop the school year’s biggest prank. Complementary illustrations in the style of hand-drawn doodles add a laugh-out-loud component to this endearingly off-the-wall beach read.

 

 

Unwind – a Book Review by Chase H. May 22, 2017

Do you know what Unwound means? Unwound means to have a surgery of getting your body parts removed but you’re still alive and you’re able to feel everything even once someone else gets that body part. So say your parents didn’t want you anymore, or there wasn’t enough room for you in the world then people would take you to Happy Jack to get Unwound.  What is Happy Jack? Happy Jack is a place where you get Unwound, they will treat you like animals and detain you there until you’re ready to go to the Chop Shop. The Chop Shop is the inner part of where the surgery of the Unwinding is. Guards would drag you into the Chop Shop and that’s where you would become Unwound. Do you know what Tithe means? Tithe means that you believe in god so much that you are giving your body to others to get Unwound. You would either get this from your parents because they have either taught you to believe in god. Even to give your own body up.

Connor, Risa, and Lev are all tied together, stuck in this one huge hole. They first met from an accident that Connor started, traffic, highway, and then disaster. Lev doesn’t want Connor and Risa to take him, he wants to be Tithe. That all goes away once Connor and Risa kidnap him, then he is stuck with two AWOL Unwinds. As they go through a bust of trouble with the Juvey-cops, High School, a Baby, the Parents, and even getting betrayed they end up splitting apart. When they get to the safety of the Graveyard, they meet new AWOL Unwinds, including the Admiral, leader of the Graveyard. As the book closes to the end, Connor, Risa, and Roland get sent to Happy Jack farm to get Unwound, the thing is, they don’t know when they will get Unwound.

 

Unwind by Neal Shusterman is a great book that I really enjoyed. It had me on end, I never wanted to set the book down. I’ve realized that I like to read Science Fiction, so I’d have to say that this is one of my favorite books. I have to point out that it did give you goose bumps and a part where you may just be disgusted, and maybe even want to just not think about it. I For sure would recommend this book.

 

When is the Right Time to Leave? May 15, 2017

Filed under: Historical Fiction,Novels in Verse — oneilllibrary @ 8:05 am

Grace has been told a thousand times to keep her mouth shut around white folks. And typically it isn’t hard, but when she leaves her family’s slave cabin for the “big house,” she finds that while she always knew things were unjust for her family, the contrast with how the white folks live is too much for her. Grace is told she must work in the kitchens with a woman named Aunt Tempie. The work is hard in the kitchen and Gracdownloade can’t understand why the Master and Missus need so many people to clean up after them and even dress them!

As Grace settles into life at the big house, she misses her two younger brothers and her parents. Grace often curses her lighter skin, from the father she never knew and her mother won’t talk about, because it seems it is her lighter skin that has gotten her placed in the Missus’s crosshairs. When another enslaved person runs away, Grace is forced to serve in the dinning room where she overhears something that makes her blood run cold.

Unbound by Ann E. Burg tells of a complex story between wanting to just go along for the sake of safety and realizing that when you can’t.

Recommended for any students 6th grade and up interested in events leaving up to the Civil War, slavery, or just a really good story.