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!

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: , ,



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



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.


Lies We Tell Ourselves

Filed under: Historical Fiction — debrawisch @ 1:21 pm
lwto-high-resIn February 1959, Sarah and 9 of her friends brace themselves for their first day of high school at a new school in Virginia. Rule #1: Ignore anything the white people say to you and keep walking. Rule #2: Always sit at the front of the classroom, near the door, so you can make a quick getaway if you need to. And Rule #3: Stay together whenever you possibly can. Why do they need these rules? Because they’re the first black students to ever attend this high school, and are about to be endure a year of harassment, violence, and hatred simply because of the color of their skin. This fictional work is told through the eyes of Sarah as well as Linda, a popular white teen who doesn’t want her school to be integrated and wants nothing to do with Sarah or the other new students. Forced into the same classes and to work on a project together, Sarah and Linda butt heads with each other and each other’s opinions. But as the year goes on, they realize they may have more in common than they first thought. 
Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley is a heart-wrenching look at the fight for integration in the late 1950s and the bravery it took to soldier on amidst extreme racism and hate.

If She Only Knew October 12, 2016

Filed under: Historical Fiction,Mystery and Ghost Stories — oneilllibrary @ 9:08 pm

imgresWhen the Benevolent Home for Necessitous Girls burns down, Katie is sent off into the world, with little more than the clothes on her back, and a few small possessions.  She is also given an old newspaper clipping of a photograph taken at least fifteen years before by the woman who runs the orphanage in Canada. Katie knows nothing about the parents who gave her up when she was an infant, but she is sure this newspaper clipping can’t have anything to do with her. In fact, she almost throws it away.

Katie dreams of becoming a big time newspaper journalist. Her only problem – it is the 1960s and making it as a woman journalist is a difficult proposition. When Katie gets turned down and told she would need to have a great story to get a good job, she decides to investigate the newspaper clipping – hoping it will lead her to a great story. It leads her to an old murder, and to the grave of the supposed murderer. However, as Katie begins to question events of the past in this sleepy little Indiana town, people get worried Katie is turning over secrets best left alone.

My Life Before Me by Norah McClintock is some of her finest writing. As always, McClintock is a master at drawing the reader in and weaving complex themes and ideas into a fabulous, accessible story that will have you turning pages as fast as you can. While the story is set close to sixty years in the past, current events will show you how much and how little has changed.

Recommended for 7th grade and up. A truly remarkable book and a great mystery.


Who is the Prince of Mist? October 4, 2016

It is 1943, and Max and Alicia Carver are growing up in Spain while World War II is raging around them.  For the family’s protection, their father decides to relocate from the city in which they live to a small coastal town.  From the first day they move into their new home, however, Max and Alicia can sense an eerie, ghost-like presence.  Their younger sister finds a cat with giant golden eyes who seems to have a connection with the house.  Max discovers an overgrown sculpture garden made up of statues of creepy-looking circus performers that form a circle around a terrifying stone clown- a stone clown whose position changes overnight and who Alicia saw in her dreams before the family moved.  In addition, Max and the prince of mist cover.jpgAlicia see the dreamlike outline of a ship in the mist over the ocean… but it seemingly appears and disappears at random.  After Max and Alicia meet a friend in town named Roland, the three start to uncover a horrifying mystery involving the spirit of Jacob Fleishman- a young boy who drowned off the coast of their house, a boat which capsized almost thirty years earlier that was full of traveling carnival performers, and a legendary figure known as the Prince of Mist- a man capable of granting wishes, but demanding horrible payments in return.  This novel is part mystery, party ghost story, part horror… and will keep you creeped out and looking over your shoulder the whole time you are reading!





It Wasn’t an Accident July 8, 2016

Filed under: Historical Fiction,Mystery and Ghost Stories,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 1:58 pm

Shocked from her casual life of privilege, Jo Montfort learns quickly when she finds out her father has died in an accident that her entire world can come crashing down. In the late 1800s in New York, the upper society prided itself on being discrete and young ladies doing what was expected of them. Writing for a newspaper and having thoughts for oneself were NOT what was expected OR accepted if you were a young woman. Your only goal in life was to marry and marry well.

Jo knows all of this, but can’t help feeling that she will be missing out on many things if imgres-1she just goes along with the accepted conventional wisdom and marries Bram, a friend of the family. It isn’t until she learns of her father’s death that she really begins to question everything in her life.

After her father’s funeral, Jo goes on an errand and overhears a newspaper reporter, by the name of Eddie, who insists that her father’s death was no accident. He says that Charles Montfort killed himself. At first, Jo can’t even wrap her mind around this idea, but it makes better sense than an accident with his gun. However as she begins to delve deeper in the mystery surrounding her father’s death and in turn his shipping business with Eddie’s help, she starts to wonder if she really wants to know the truth.

These Shallow Graves by Jennifer Donnelly is a fabulous historical fiction book with a nice dash of romance and mystery. The seedier side of New York is exposed and it will make girls very glad of the opportunities we have now, as opposed to the limited life lead just over 100 years ago.

Recommended for 8th graders.