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 Can Save Her? August 11, 2017

Filed under: Historical Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 11:49 am

Orphaned after both Russia and Germany invade her country of Ukraine, Lida is hopeful that she and her sister can stay together, with their grandmother. But what Lida doesn’t know is that the Nazis are always looking for slave labor, and young people are perfect for that. Larrisa and Lida are rounded up by Germans one day, and their wonderful grandmother has surely been killed. Lida is determined to keep Larrisa with her, but during a medical examination by the Nazis, Larrisa is taken away as well. Lida is shoved with other Ukrainian children into a cattle car and taken to Germany.

There, a woman says to the children, be useful or they will die. Lida has no idea how she can be useful until she notices a loose button on a commander’s shirt. Lida is a seamstress and a good one at that. She is able to escape hard labor by workidownloadng in the laundry and cleaning sheets as well as mending clothing from the officers and others.

However, this time doesn’t last, and Lida knows that her life and the lives of all the other captured children are in danger all the time. The war is coming to an end, and the Allies are constantly bombing. When Lida gets taken from the laundry and sent to make bombs, she wonders if she’ll have the nerve to sabotage them in some way.

Making Bombs for Hitler by Marsha Jkrypuch tells the story of a little known fact that civilianchildren and adults were taken from countries that the Germans invaded during WWII to work as slaves in their factories and in other locations. With so many people dying during the war, human labor became a premium needed to keep the war going. Very young children, generally under the age of 12, were often killed rather than put to work. It was believed they were too young to do much help. Many children lied about their ages to protect their lives.

Recommended for ages 6th grade 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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

Hijacked! November 29, 2016

Filed under: Historical Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 2:39 pm

She was having a hard enough time leaving her family and going back to boarding schoolimgres after Winter Break, without having to worry about all the news of hijacked planes. Not that it would happen to her, right? What were the chances after all?

Turns out, the chances were pretty good. Anna is fifteen years old and traveling back to England from Bahrain where her father has been stationed as a soldier. When she gets on board the plane, nothing seems out of the ordinary. However, not long into the flight a hijacker with a gun emerges and it turns out there are three hijackers on the plane, with one of them strapped to a brief case filled with explosives. They are Palestinians who are trying to raise awareness of their situation in the Middle East. Of course Anna and the two boys sitting on either side of her know nothing about this and are just terrified.

The plane is diverted to a remote airstrip in the Jordan desert where two other hijacked planes are also sitting. There is a deadline. A Palestinian hijacker who is being held by the British must be released in four days time, or the plane with everyone on board will be blown up.

Anna goes through a range of emotions and finds herself at times struggling to comprehend that these might be the last days of her life.

Girl on a Plane by Miriam Moss is a fast paced, intense read and even more impactful when you read the author’s note and find out that the author was on a plane that was hijacked when she was fifteen.

Recommended for mature 6th graders and up.

 

Fighting to be Free November 1, 2016

Filed under: Historical Fiction — lpitrak @ 4:22 pm
Tags: , ,

 

chains_novel_cover

This novel begins in 1776, at the start of the Revolutionary War. Although the novel opens with a funeral, this actually seems to be a positive occurrence for two sisters named Isabel and Ruth. Isabel and Ruth are slaves, owned by Miss Mary Finch, who long ago confided in them that she was sick, and close to death… and planning to free both of them in her will. Their hope, however, is destroyed because Miss Finch’s lawyer is in Boston, trying to calm an uprising that will eventually blow up into the Revolutionary War. With no documents and no one to support their claim that they were to be freed, Isabel and Ruth are sold to a cruel, heartless couple in New York who pretend to be American Patriots but who truly are loyal to Britain. When Isabel overhears them plotting with other local families to assassinate George Washington, she decides to risk her life to become a Patriot spy. She is hopeful that she will eventually trade enough secrets to buy her and her sister’s freedom… until the unthinkable happens to Ruth. Read this amazing book, and the sequel Forge, to find out what happens to this brave young woman fighting for control of her life.

 

WWI Steampunk Style

 

leviathan_westerfeld

This alternate history, steampunk novel is set when the world is about to plunge into World War I. The Austro-Hungarian and German forces have manufactured war machines they call Clankers. These giant machines are powered entirely by steam, and are fitted with giant machine guns and reloadable ammunition—the world has seen nothing like them before! In retaliation, British forces having been breeding animals to become machines. The pride of their air force is a giant machine called the Leviathan—it is a whale crossed with a plane, deadly and with a mind of its own.

The prince of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Aleksander Ferdinand, who has no royal blood on his mother’s side, has been forcibly removed from his palace and is on the run from being murdered by members of his own court. At the same time, British Devyn Sharp, a young woman with a passion for flying, has disguised herself as a boy to join the British Air Service. With war looming, the two should be enemies, but when their paths cross, they might decide to become heroes together.