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!

When the Ball Hits, Hard January 27, 2015

imgresLuke Wallace is the kind of kid you want to hate, because he’s so good at everything. He makes friends easily, the teachers all love him (even though he isn’t the greatest student) and he is fantastic at any sport he tries. Football, basketball, and especially, baseball. But here’s the deal – you might want to hate him but you can’t, BECAUSE he’s such a good guy.

Wallace and his team from Oak Grove High School are starting early in the season against their rivals – Compton – and everyone is excited to be getting into the game. Compton has a fabulous pitcher, one who is so good that a scout from a college is in the stands watching the game.

But something goes horribly wrong at the game. Wallace’s life and those around him are changed forever. Beanball by Gene Fehler takes a look at how people’s lives can change in an instant and the way different people react to a tragedy.

Recommended for readers 6th grade and up who enjoy a fast paced book, told from multiple perspectives about the game of baseball.

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You Can Run, BUT Can You Hide? January 20, 2015

Growing up in Honolulu in the late 1930s is a good life for Zenji. He is surrounded by good friends and a great family. The only dark spot on his life is the fact his father was killed in an accident at Pearl Harbor before he was 10. It was hard growing up without a father, but his older brother Henry is always there for him.

imgresZenji has just finished high school and is trying to decide what to do with his life when he gets an unexpected visit from his high school JROTC officer. Colonel Blake says he has a proposition for Zenji because Zenji is so good with speaking and reading Japanese and being very proficient in English as well. While Zenji’s mother is totally against him going into the army, Zenji isn’t, and wants to see the world beyond the islands. After exhaustive testing, Zenji is admitted into the army as a CIP or member of the Corps of Intelligence Police. Basically, he will become a spy for the army.

His first assignment is to go by boat to the Philippines and stay at a hotel in Manila where a lot of Japanese business men like to stay. At first, Zenji isn’t sure how he’ll be able to help his country by spying in a hotel on Japanese businessmen. But as he spends more time in the city, he begins to realize that the tensions between the United States and Japan aren’t going away, and war might be coming faster than anyone expected.

Hunt for the Bamboo Rat by Graham Salisbury is a fascinating look at the spying involved in World War II in the pacific theater. Zenji knows if he is captured by the Japanese they will look at him as a traitor to their country, even though he isn’t a Japanese citizen. If they know he is a spy, he’ll be killed. Zenji has to walk a fine line to stay live.

Recommended for students who enjoy reading books about World War II and a look at something other than combat. Due to torture scenes in the book, it is recommended for mature 8th graders.

 

New Best Friend Needed January 12, 2015

What do you do when your best friend disappears…right before what was supposed to be the best summer of your imgreslife? Emily goes on a quick vacation with her family and upon her return sends message after message to her friend, Sloane. Only to realize Sloane isn’t answering, even after a week of phone messages and texts. Nothing. After going to Sloane’s house and seeing that no one is there anymore, Emily is almost to the point of desperation.

Right before she is going to tell her parents that her best (pretty much only friend) has disappeared, Emily receives a letter in the mail from Sloane. It is much like other lists that Sloane has sent her over the last two years they’ve been friends. Emily becomes convinced if she does the things on the list, she’ll figure out what has happened to her friend. She’s not sure how “kiss a stranger,” or “ 55 S. Ave. Ask for Mona,” will help her, but she decides she will spend the summer completing all thirteen things on the list.

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson is a book you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of time to read because once you start you won’t want to stop. As the summer goes on, Emily finds help for her list in some unlikely places and with some unlikely people!

Recommended for 8th grade and up.

 

The Bridge From Me to You January 6, 2015

Filed under: Novels in Verse,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — bhomel @ 2:34 pm

bColby is a small town high school football star. Everyone is counting on him to win the big game and go off to college to play ball. Colby isn’t so sure that’s what he sees in his future. He’s tired of football being his entire life.

Lauren’s entire life is up for question as she is forced to move into this small town to live with her aunt and uncle. After something bad happened at home, Lauren’s mom “needed a break” from her.

In a small town where football is life, Colby struggles with finding someone to understand his feelings about his future…until Lauren moves in.

The Bridge From Me to You by Lisa Schroeder is a unique book. Told from the perspectives of both characters, each chapter alternates between Colby and Lauren. Some chapters are novel in verse and some are regular chapters.

I loved this book, So much that I finished it in one day!!! it’s about friendship, family, growing up, football, the future, decisions, falling in love – there’s something for every reader.

 

A Phone Call You Can’t Ignore…

imgresAt first Eric didn’t pay much attention to the call. It was strange and vague and didn’t make much sense. It was the email that really got his attention. An email that showed part of his room. How did someone get a picture of his room? Suddenly, the voice on the phone made Eric sit up and pay attention. The voice wanted him to do something that would get him into trouble, but for Eric, what the voice had on him was way worse if it should get out.

Cold Calls by Charles Benoit looks at three teens whose lives are changed by a voice on the phone. Each has a secret they want to hide, one that will change their lives if it gets out.

By a chance encounter, the three realize they are being harassed by the same person. They only have a limited amount of time to figure out who has their secrets before the secrets are exposed to the world. Can they stop the person before it is too late?

Recommended for 8th grade and up.