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!

Far From Home July 26, 2017

Filed under: Fantasy Books — oneilllibrary @ 4:24 pm

Tess and her little brother Max (although he’s only a year younger so not by much) are living with their Aunt Evie in England. Their mother is sick at home and has to get a lot of treatments and with their father being a photojournalist who is often sent to war torn areas, it was decided that the children would be sent off to boarding school. In Switzerland. While Tess and Max accept all this with relative ease, Tess is befuddled by a downloadboy that she meets when Tess and Max go stay with their Aunt in England after school lets out for the year.

At first Tess thinks he’s ordinary, but the more she really thinks about it, nothing about her entire encounter with William seemed right. First there was the long walk up to the castle, and then there was the gate, that couldn’t be walked around, even though there was no fence on either side of it. And lastly was the key Tess found which appeared old and rusted – just like the gate which seemed to have no keyhole either – until she moved the key close to the gate. That’s just the beginning of the magic!

The Castle in the Mist by Amy Ephron is a quick and easy read that doesn’t really give us anything new in the fantasy world. Still, it is an okay introduction for anyone looking to escape for a few hours one afternoon by dipping their toes into fantasy.

For grades 6th and up.


Lightning Made Her, Or Did It? July 20, 2017

Filed under: Historical Fiction,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 7:05 am

Nothing much happens on the The Hill of Dust, the name of Teo’s town in Mexico. His family of indigenous people, the Mexteco, are used to being marginalized in all areas of their life. So when a caravan of roaming Romani (more commonly known as Gypsies) download-1show up, it is cause for everyone in Teo’s town to sit up and take notice. Everyone except for his mother however, who has been lost in her own world ever since Teo’s twin sister died the year before. Teo understands. After seeing his father killed years before, and not being able to save his sister, Teo feels like being sucked under with grief as well. Only his grandfather seems to be able to keep him afloat.

Until he meets Esma. Esma is a force unto herself. She is a Romani girl with a personality to light up the night sky! She has the most amazing voice and Teo finds his life linked with hers over a fortune read one night.

Teo and Esma know theirs is an improbable friendship. The Romani doesn’t trust outsiders and Teo’s people don’t understand the Gypsy way of life. However, something draws Esma and Teo together, despite these differences. The only question is, how can their friendship thrive in such a difficult world?

The Lightning Queen by Laura Resau is a powerful read on life beyond our borders and a glimpse into a time and way of life almost lost.

Recommended for anyone who likes powerful, quiet reads. Appropriate for grades 6th and up.


All Your Secrets OUT, for the World to See July 17, 2017

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 6:46 am

Sammy has the typical concerns. She’s worried about the four AP exams she’ll be taking in a few months, along with her driver’s license test and the SAT. PLUS, the prom is coming up, and she’s desperate for a promposal (the over the top prom proposals that get downloadrecorded for the world to see – although after seeing one in the cafeteria she decides she’d prefer the old fashion way of someone just asking her in private) from Jamie, the star lacrosse player at her school. She thinks he likes her, but it could be he only likes to copy her math homework. It’s all so much pressure on a girl. Plus, even though she’s always been a “good kid” her parents won’t let her go into the city to see her favorite band because a parent isn’t going along.

She decides that the concert is too important and devises a way to sneak with her best friends to see the show. But of course, it doesn’t all go as planned. She’s worried how she’ll cover up the fact that her mom’s sweater got vomit on it and how to clean it without her knowing!

All that changes when her father, who runs a world famous bank, divulges to the family that some protesters have hacked into secure information not only from the bank, but from their family. All their texts, emails, and to Sammy’s horror, her personal journal that she kept on her computer, are all about to become public for the world’s amusement. Sammy knows that she’s said some not so nice things about a lot of people in the journal, including her best friends, her infatuation with Jamie, AND the fact that she snuck out to the concert. She’s terrified of the consequences of her journal becoming public.

It turns out she has more than just her journal to worry about though, as a secret her parents have been keeping from her and her brother becomes public.

In Case You Missed It by Sarah Littman takes an honest look at all the pressures parents and society put on teens these days, from SATs to prom proposals, and lets the reader see what truly matters.

Recommended for 7th grade and up.


Recruited in 8th Grade! July 13, 2017

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 1:53 pm

downloadTravis thinks the only thing worth anything in the world is football. He spends all his time thinking about it and playing it. His older brother has set a great example by getting a scholarship to a Florida college to play football for their team. Travis is stoked when the coach comes and talks to Carter, Travis’ older brother about the offer. And Travis can’t pass up the opportunity to show off a bit for the coach – who is impressed!

Taking the coach’s offer up to send him some of his game footage, Travis is completely floored and shocked when the coach offers him a verbal commitment to Travis for when he graduates from high school to come play at the Florida school. Travis can’t believe it! After all, he’s only in 8th grade.

After getting the verbal offer, Travis sees his life change. His brother Carter, has a hard time seeing all the attention that his little brother is getting, especially as he’s trying to make it himself in the college scene.

But all that changes after one event brings things into perspective for Carter and later for Travis.

Top Prospect by Paul Volponi tells of an unusual situation, although not unheard of, where students as young as middle school have been made offers by colleges that are looking to have them in their sports program when they are older. The question is, does this put unreasonable pressure on these student athletes and their families? Can kids really keep performing at that level for so long?

This book is a great read for anyone interested in the world of football and some of the pitfalls of being really good at any sport.


Mystery Close to Home July 10, 2017

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 3:54 pm

She didn’t even really know him, at least not until she was asked to get him out of his downloadbasement laboratory in the school during a fire drill. That is when Mori meets Lock. Sherlock Holmes to be exact. His parents had a wicked sense of humor. Mori has enough at home to deal with, to not get too involved in Lock’s eccentric ways, but when he approaches her with a murder mystery, she is intrigued. After all, since her mom died, there certainly hasn’t been anything to get interested about there.

Things take a strange turn however, when Mori and Lock attend the memorial of the man who was killed, and Mori sees a picture of her own mother with a few other people and the deceased. What could her mother possibly have had in common with the man who was stabbed in the park? Mori doesn’t mention the picture to Lock, and instead begins to do some of her own investigating.

Lock and Mori by Heather W. Petty takes place in England, but the writer appears to be American and at times it seems some of the English jargon is a bit jarring and out of place. As a reader, I struggled a bit with connecting to both Mori and Lock, and felt that sometimes things that should have been explained a bit more, or made more clear.

Overall, if you are looking for a fairly decent suspense book – the mystery isn’t that big of one since the reader and Mori figure it out pretty quickly who the murderer is – take a look at this title.

Recommended for 8th grade and up just because it tends to jump around a bit.



The Saboteurs July 5, 2017

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 9:23 am

After the Nazis invaded Norway, many of the citizens wanted to fight back. Some began small scale sabotage against the occupiers, while others fled to Britain to get trained in becoming serious spies as well as soldiers who could do real damage to the Nazi operations in their country.

In Sabotage by Neal Bascomb, we are introduced to a group of serious and committed men who wanted to take down the Germans in their country of Norway. At the same time there was a race on – a race to see who could take what had been learned in physics download-4about the power of splitting atoms and the energy that could be generated as a result. Whoever could harness this process in a way that would allow for a massive and destructive bomb could win World War II. The Germans were experimenting with a process that needed something called heavy water in which the hydrogen molecule carried a neutron in its nucleus as well as a proton. This is very rare in nature. However, a hydro power plant in Vermork, Norway created some of this water during the process of making electricity. At first, no one could really find a use for it, but with World War II and the Germans realizing heavy water could help them with their process for developing a bomb, the need for heavy water became intense. So did the Allies desire to stop the Nazis from getting this water because it could mean they would get a bomb before the Manhattan Project in the United States could be successful.

Thus begins a series of events that cost the lives of quite a few soldiers as well as civilians in an attempt to change the course of the war, all in a remote part of Norway.

This is a fascinating book, and anyone interested in World War II, or the creation of the first atomic bomb must read. Recommended for 8th grade and up due to scientific terms and historical context.