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!

Across the Years July 22, 2018

Filed under: Historical Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 9:01 am

Two sisters who couldn’t be more different, a mother who never seems satisfied, and a father just trying to make his way in this big wide world. Sonia and Tara are used to moving – from India, to Ghana to Britain and finally to America.  It is there that many changes happen in their family. Sonia is finally able to confront their mother about how she treats their father, and Tara fully gets into her characters to help her fit in and realizes she can act like no one has ever seen before and well, life goes on.

downloadYou Bring the Distance Near by Mitali Perkins looks at a family in transition from their initial roots in India to their final settling place of America and all the trauma and triumphs that go with it. How do you fit in, and still feel like yourself? Is it even possible? And not only are the girls having their own issues, but their mother must find her own way to be herself in all these new and strange countries. And when the girls grow up and have their own girls, what challenges do the children of immigrants face that are different from their own mothers?

This book can be confusing at times and I would recommend sitting down and reading it for long periods of time, otherwise you will loose the thread of the story. There are a lot of nicknames for each of the characters in the book, which can also be daunting if you stop and start the story. As a reader, I was able to connect mostly with the last part of the book, which I enjoyed immensely. The book encompasses many years and as a result does jump in time so be prepared for that to happen.

Recommended for 8th grade and up because of the complexity of the story, not due to content. Really interesting look at the immigrant experience from many different perspectives.

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Blood in Kansas May 22, 2018

Filed under: Historical Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 11:36 am

Not much in Kansas, except for wind and cows. Yet this is where Carly’s family has moved, three years ago, when her father felt that life out East had become too complicated. He was a defense lawyer and too many people thought he shouldn’t be representing people they felt were clearly guilty.

Carly has struggled to make friends and not feel like the complete outsider that everyone in the small town of Holcomb treats her as. She desperately wants to be friends,

downloadbest friends, with Nancy Clutter, a popular vivacious girl with an adorable boyfriend. But Nancy has made it pretty clear that Carly isn’t best friend material. Still, Carly holds out hope when Nancy asks her to secretly tutor her in Math. Carly keeps her fingers crossed that soon, Nancy will see her as a good friend.

Before that can happen though, tragedy strikes the small town of Holcomb. All members of the Clutter family still living at home, including Nancy’s younger brother and both parents, are found brutally murdered in their home on a November Sunday morning in 1959. Now Carly has lost all chance of becoming better friends with Nancy, and she grieves for what could have been. Everyone in town begins to suspect everyone, but especially Nancy’s boyfriend, Bobby. Carly can’t believe Bobby could have done such a horrible act, and decides she will set out to clear his name. Only nothing goes as hoped or planned.

No Saints in Kansas by Amy Brashear is a fictionalized account of a real murder that happened in 1959 of a family in Holcomb, KS. While the reader can feel for Carly as the outsider, the story tends to jump around and it is often unclear why Carly has such a strong motivation for doing what she does. It would have been nice for the author to include a more detailed author’s note – with more about the crime rather than focusing on why the author felt compelled to write about the incident. It could have been an interesting read for students beginning to get into the genre of True Crime or other fictionalized accounts of real events. Still, some students might be drawn to it simply because of the topic.

Recommended for students in 7th grade and up.

 

Soldier Boys Book Review by 7th Grader Brodey May 10, 2018

Filed under: Historical Fiction,Student Book Reviews — bhomel @ 8:07 am
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SBSoldier Boys by Dean Hughes is a book about two boys on the opposite sides of WWII. Spence is an American boy that struggles with school. After Pearl Harbor was bombed, his brother went into the Navy and Spence wants to become a paratrooper. He did and he meets Ted in training camp. Ted was much like Spence and they were the same age. They went into Germany to fight the Germans after they both passed basic training. On the other side, Deiter is a german boy who is 15 and is a leader in the Hitler Youth. He catches other Hitler Youth messing around and decides to let them go free. Soon after one of the boys gets shot by a French spitfire and dies. Then Deiter goes and meets Hitler and wants to go fight on the front lines. When he gets sent, he is extremely excited and meets Schaefer who guides Deiter through the war. At the bottom of a hill, the Americans run down and most get killed. The next day the Germans run up the hill and most die from artillery or gun fire. In the mists of the chaos, Deiter gets hit. Later that night Spence puts his life on the line even when he had strict orders not to.

I loved the book but the end is very sad. I liked it for the suspense and the reality of it. I would recommend this to someone who wants a good book on WWII.

 

Lions of Little Rock Review by 7th Grader Litzy May 9, 2018

LIn the book The Lions Of Little Rock By Kristin Levine, Marlee is at school when a new student named Elizabeth comes to her school. Elizabeth is African American but everyone thinks that she is white because her skin was lighter. Then Sally, one of their classmates, tells everyone Elizabeth’s secret that she is not white. Now almost everyone does not like Elizabeth except Marlee and Little Jimmy. They can’t hang out together because their parents won’t let them and it could be dangerous. They send letters to each other and hide being friends.

In honesty I liked the book –  it is very good and it has good parts and sad parts. At times when the good parts happen, it gets boring. So it goes on and off so it is good at times and boring at parts for me. But over all the book is very good. What I liked about this book is that no matter what got between them or what tried to separate Marlee and Elizabeth, they still are friends.

 

Dogs of War Book Review by 7th Grader Juan April 13, 2018

DogDog’s of War by Sheila Keenan and Nathan Fox is a graphic novel with three different stories about three dogs – Boots, Loki, and Sheba. These dogs are based on real dogs that were used in war against the Nazis or other threats.

My favorite story was about Loki and Cooper. They were in a base during World War II. Cooper would share his food with Loki and stay with him. Another part I liked was when Cooper and Loki fought off three Nazis and end up overpowering them and meet up with the sarge. They all head to the base greeting each other.

People should read this book. I recommend this to people who like dogs or are really interested in history.                

 

Just a Girl on Her Own March 31, 2018

Filed under: Historical Fiction,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 7:27 pm

downloadAll she has ever wanted for as long as she can remember, is to be allowed to pursue her art. Vicky doesn’t think that is too much to ask. But it is, if you are a young lady of means living in London in 1909.

Vicky has found herself ostracized from society when she makes the unpardonable sacrifice for her art – posing in the nude – for other artists. A classmate of her finishing school in France happens to see this and wastes no time in reporting it to any and everyone who will listen. Vicky returns to London to a furious father and a disappointed mother. Not only is her own life in turmoil, but the city appears to be overrun with women suffragists. At first, Vicky can see no way that those women might have something to do with her situation, but as her ability to do her work is taken away from her, she realizes her limitations because of her gender, and the suffragists fighting for the right to vote are all really hoping to gain the same thing – some amount of control over their own lives.

Vicky comes to believe her only way out is to marry a man of her parents choosing – believing that once she is married she’ll be able to attend the Royal Collage of Art or the RCA. What she doesn’t see coming is a young police constable who seems to be turning up everywhere she looks and who she feels a pull towards she can’t explain. Before she knows it, the two worlds Vicky is trying to exist in are headed on a collision course and she isn’t sure how to stop it.

A Mad, Wicked Folly by Sharon Biggs Waller is a wonderful period piece looking at a time when women were trying to find not only their voice but prove they had the ability to have vocations outside of the home.

Highly recommended for anyone interested in the feel of London at the turn of the 20th century and for anything related to the struggle for women’s rights. Grades 7th and up.

 

Ghosts in the Graveyard… November 29, 2017

Filed under: Historical Fiction,Mystery and Ghost Stories — oneilllibrary @ 2:47 pm

It can be difficult moving to a new house and a new school. So Annie is worried when she starts school in September of 1918 that she might not make any friends right away. It turns out, she makes a friend too fast and that creates problems. After all, have you ever had someone want to be your friend and you don’t think you want to be theirs? A girl named Elsie immediately grabs Annie for herself and won’t let Annie go on the very first day. Annie doesn’t know quite what to think, only that the other girls in the class clearly don’t like Elsie and Elsie despises them right back.

When Elsie invites herself to Annie’s house the first night after school, Annie is horrified to realize that her new “friend” is very mean spirited, even without the other girls from school around. Elsie continues to dog her at school, and won’t let Annie have a moment free to chat with anyone until one week Elsie is sick and Annie is able to break free and forge new friendships. Much to Elsie’s dismay when she returns to school. When tragedy strikes, Annie feels shame in her role but it isn’t until one terrifying night in the graveyard that she realizes just how truly sorry Elsie will make her.

One for Sorrow by Mary Downing Hahn is set during the horrible fall of 1918 when just as the Great War was ending, a terribly plague was racing around the world – the Spanish flu – which killed millions of people world wide, and took a huge toll on the United States as well.

This book is great for anyone who is a fan of ghost stories and of Mary Downing Hahn, who is true to form in this work.

Recommended for grades 6 and up.