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!

Do YOU Believe in Fairies? October 30, 2013

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 8:36 am
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Almost a hundred years ago, two girls, one 9 and one 15, began an adventure together. Frances, who was 9, went with her mother to live with her aunt and uncle while her father was offimgres fighting in the Great War (World War I). Her older cousin, Elsie, showed her the beck, or glen behind the house they were living. As the weather got nicer, Frances would spend more and more time investigating the flowers, trees and animals that lived around the little waterfall and stream that ran through the area behind the cottage.

At one point, Frances began to notice little men around the trees, and later, she saw fairies. At one point she mentioned this to her mother, and aunt and uncle, who immediately said she was making things up and began to tease her. When Frances asked Elsie if she ever saw fairies, Elsie said she had. One day, Elsie asked if she and Frances could borrow father’s camera to take a picture of the fairies. Her father reluctantly agreed, and only gave one plate for them to use. When Elsie and Frances were far away from the house, Elsie brought out little paper fairies she had drawn on paper, painted and carefully cut out. They used long hatpins and gum to keep the fairy pictures up. Thus began one of the longest running hoaxes in modern times…all perpetrated by young girls.

The Fairy Ring or Elsie and Frances Fool the World by Mary Losure is a great little book showing how one afternoon changed the lives of many people in England and even in America. What is amazing is how the whole story didn’t come up for so many years.

Recommended for 6th grade and up.


The Monster Within October 22, 2013

Filed under: Science Fiction Books — oneilllibrary @ 11:08 am
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What if you had something inside you that was destroying you? Alex has a brain tumor that she and her aunt have been trying to “kill” for almost 2 years. Nothing is working, not special treatments, not chemo, not radiation. Time is almost out for Alex and she knows it, even if her aunt doesn’t.

imgresSo rather than continue with treatments that aren’t working and in fact, make her sick, she ops out. As in no more treatments. As in she knows her life is ending, so she wants it to end on her terms. She has been putting off for years taking her parents ashes and spreading them in Lake Superior, as was their wish. Her parents died in a helicopter crash and it was shortly after this that she was diagnosed with the brain tumor. Alex decides she is going to go hiking and take her parents remains along to finally disperse them in the lake. However, before she can accomplish this mission, something catastrophic happens in the woods and later she realizes, around the world.

A harsh pulsing, dreadfully painful feeling grips Alex while she is in the woods, along with a man who has just come along the trail with his granddaughter, Ellie. The man, Jack, dies very quickly, and now Alex must pull herself together and get her and Ellie out of the woods. However, on their trip to a ranger station, they encounter two other teens, but something is horribly wrong with them. Alex now realizes that whatever that pulse of pain was, it has affected some people in terrible ways.

Alex and Ellie must struggle to survive in a world that appears to have turned upside down and people can’t be counted on at all. How will they make it back to civilization, and the questions becomes, should they even try?

Ashes by Ilsa Bick is a fast paced, what would you do, story that will pull you in. However, be prepared to read more because this book ends with a total cliff hanger. This book is the first book in a trilogy.

Recommended for 8th grade and up.


The Road Less Traveled October 17, 2013

Are things really as bad as they seem? Radley in Safekeeping by Karen Hesse doesn’t know.  She left the orphanage in Haiti she was volunteering at when sheimgres heard the United States was under Marshal Law. Things were falling apart after the assassination of the president, and Radley just wanted to get home to be with her parents.

 The problem is, things are much worse than she anticipated when she arrives back in the states. There are now travel restrictions and she is forced to walk to her home. Upon arrival she is in for more surprises, and not pleasant ones. She becomes afraid of the police who start knocking on her door day and night, and what has happened to her town. Where are all the people? Who can she trust?

 Radley finds herself in a situation none of us want to be in – suddenly forced to grow up without the aide of friends or family, and in a hostile world that feels out of control. This is a journey she must face, at times on her own, and at times with help, but still, she must make life decisions.

 Safekeeping is a quiet book with a ton of punch. Radley moves through her new alien world with grace and strength. A powerful read.

 Highly recommended for grades 7 and up.  


Not Your Typical Cancer Book October 9, 2013





Hazel Grace is a sixteen-year-old with terminal lung cancer.  She is content with a quiet existence spent reading, watching America’s Next Top Model, and attending the occasional cancer support group meeting.  Then she meets Augustus Waters.  Energetic, witty, sensitive Augustus, aching to leave a permanent mark on the world, will show her that every day can be filled with an astonishing amount of magic and heartbreak.  Interwoven with mythology, poetry, and video games, this is not what Hazel refers to as “the typical cancer book”.


When Tests Turn Deadly October 7, 2013

Can’t get enough of The Hunger Games? Well then the next book on your list should be The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau.  I have to admit I was so involved with this book that I stayed up  late to finish it because I just could not wait.  Now that I have said that, I’m ready to be a little bit critical.  This is another YA dystopian novel- I’m not sure how original you can get, but this one is very similar to The Hunger Games (they aren’t even trying to hide it- just check out the cover!).  This can be looked at as a positive or negative thing, because after all, THG was a huge success.  The Testing is a well written fast paced read; so get past the cover and give it a chance.

The main character Cia is chosen upon graduating for the privilege of taking the test to go to university in the capitol, Tosu City.  She has dreamed of following her father’s footsteps and going to university for her entirelife, but when she is accepted her father tells that his specific memories were erased but lingering nightmares from his own testing still haunt him.  These words foreshadow the rest of the novel as the stakes could not be higher- her life.



Holmes and Stoker team up in an amazing mystery adventure!!!


This first book in the new Stoker & Holmes series is an addicting read!!! In 1889 London, beautiful and wealthy young women have been turning up dead, their bodies arranged to look like suicides. But a few things aren’t adding up- namely that each is found to be carrying an intricate scarab dedicated to the Egyptian goddess Sekhmet. Infamous Miss Irene Adler (one of the few people to ever outsmart Sherlock Holmes) is requested by Princess Alexandra to get to the bottom of these murder/suicides by any means necessary. Miss Adler commissions Evaline Stoker, vampire hunter, socialite, and sister to Bram Stoker, as well as Mina Holmes, brilliant scientist, observer, and niece to Sherlock, to infiltrate the upper circles of London society to discover how all of these young women are linked, and who would want them dead. What follows is a hilarious, action-packed adventure filled with opium dens, steampunk gadgets, time travel and a dangerous goddess cult. Best of all, readers get to see a real partnership develop between the vivacious but headstrong Evaline and the brilliant but overly blunt Mina. I can’t wait for book two!!!


Can a 2 Year Old be a Murderer…Twice? October 6, 2013

imgresIn the book If the Witness Lied by Caroline B. Cooney, a family has been torn apart by the youngest member. First, when Tristan was in-utero, their mother found out she had cancer. She made the decision to forgo treatment until after his birth, leaving her little time to fight the cancer, and ultimately to her death. The older three siblings have varying feelings about Tris, however, they all pitch in and try to help their father keep life going on.

Enter Aunt Cheryl, who isn’t really anyone’s aunt, but their mother’s halfhearted stepsister for about two years. However, Aunt Cheryl is determined to find her way into the heart of the family, or the house, since she seems more concerned with how things look than how things are. Unfortunately for the children in this family, another tragedy befalls them as their father is killed, and it appears by the very son who, in some ways, is responsible for the death of their mother.

Each child reacts in a different way. The youngest daughter, Smith, removes herself completely from the family by going off to boarding school. The oldest sibling, Madison, goes to live in another town with her godparents. Jack is the only one to stay with Tris and Aunt Cheryl, doing his best to keep things normal for the little boy the newspapers say is a double murderer.

The anniversary of their father’s birthday, or what would have been his birthday has all the siblings thinking, and one makes a startling discovery. Something that has her replaying her father’s death and looking at it with a new light. What did happen in the driveway that day?

As all three of the older children come back together, they begin to put aside their own troubles and focus on the youngest member of the family. Is he really responsible for the deaths of both of their parents? Or might someone else have had a hand in at least one?

Fast paced suspense story good for students grades 6th and up.