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 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.

 

Forget Me Not May 14, 2017

0f36d-forget2bme2bnot_cover

This novel about a girl trying to hide her Tourette Syndrome is written mostly in verse, with short prose vignettes interspersed throughout. Calliope Snow hates her last name– her father died in a car accident during a snowstorm, so being called “Snow” seems like a cruel joke. Because her grief-stricken mother has spent the last few years in a whirlwind of failed relationships, moving after every breakup, Calli is forced to begin at a new school each time and never has time to make a real friend. But this time (the TENTH!) might be a little bit different. Calli meets a kind, friendly boy named Jinsong, who might actually like her. However, because her mother and pediatrician told her not to tell anyone about her Tourette Syndrome, she can’t explain why she is often compelled to make strange noises, faces, and jerky movements. She quickly becomes the joke of her new middle school. Jinsong, who is more interested in this intelligent, quirky, kind girl every day, is torn between wanting to stand up for Calli and wanting to remain friends with the popular students who are bullying her. Terry writes intelligently and creatively, and though the ending is bittersweet, middle schoolers will love seeing Calli and Jin learn to stand up for themselves and each other.

 

Face that Can’t Lie May 10, 2017

Caverna is an opulent, gigantic underground city, and her residents are not ever allowed above ground. They know secrets– how to bake pastries that invoke colors and music, how to mull wines to make a person hallucinate or forget painful memhttps://i2.wp.com/www.franceshardinge.com/images/book_covers/afacelikeglass.jpgories, how to mix perfumes to induce sleep or trust or love– and these secrets cannot leave the city. Caverna has another dark, dangerous secret; her residents do not have natural facial expressions. Facial expressions, displays of anger, fear, sympathy, and more, must be learned. The wealthiest members of Caverna’s high society are taught hundreds of facial expressions, while the lower castes are taught only a handful– and usually ones of submission. One day, a five-year-old girl appears in the depths of Caverna’s tunnels. She has no memory of who she is or where she came from, and her face registers all of her internal emotions naturally. Re-named Neverfell, this girl is dangerous, and though she is unaware, could cause the internal workings of Caverna to crumble. Teens who love dark, lengthy fantasies and dystopian novels will fall in love with A Face Like Glass.

 

A Fast Horse Can Only Take You So Far May 8, 2017

Filed under: Novels in Verse,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 10:45 am

downloadHer mother dying left a hole in Raesha that nothing seems to be able to fill. However, if she can ride her horse, Fancy, in the coming rodeo season and place high enough to maybe win Nationals, like her mother did, maybe that will bring her closer to filling that hole up.

Rae knows that everything counts when you are racing the clock in barrels, and anything she can do to help her horse be faster and lighter will make all the difference. That is when she starts thinking about how she can be lighter. So much lighter that Fancy will have to be able to go faster.

Rae’s best friend, Asia, is the first to notice that Rae isn’t eating much of anything, if at all. Rae’s boyfriend, Cody, doesn’t seem to have any idea of what is going through his girlfriend’s mind, and things between them are only complicated when a new girl moves into town, named Kierra, and seems to threaten their once stable relationship.

The Sky Between You and Me by Catherine Alene is a novel in verse that will capture your heart as you see how much Rae struggles to move beyond this growing despair she has in her life. The issue of eating disorders is portrayed in such a way that students will begin to understand how all encompassing this disease can become and how its impacts can be felt far and wide. An author’s note at the end will give readers even more perspective on how damaging and life threatening this can be to people.

Recommended for 8th grade readers and up due to the inferencing and text complexities of the text.

 

Across the Universe May 3, 2017

In the future, colonization of other planets is possible. Amy, a normal high school girl with friends, a boyfriend, and a spot on the cross country team, is not into space travel. But, her mother is a leading genetic scientist, and is chosen to be part of a special mission called “Project Ark Ship”. This mission seeks to colonize a brand new planet called CentauriEarth– a planet that is not very hospitable. The best of Earth’s scientists, engineers, mathematicians, artists, and writers are all gathered to travel to this new world, and essentially will recreate Earth. Amy, her mother, her father, and 2,312 other chosen passengers are cryogenically frozen and placed on board a space craft that will travel three hundred years into the future. When they land on CentauriEarth, they will be unfrozen by the chosen “Eldest” and won’t have aged at all. But, strange things start happening almost immediately. As Amy is being frozen, she overhears lab techs talking about how the project is going to be delayed a year or more—but none of the passengers were made aware of that. They will all be frozen and stored in a facility going nowhere for a whole year. Then, Amy horrifically realizes that she hasn’t lost consciousness like she was supposed to. Worst of all, Amy is woken early, while her family and all of the other passengers still sleep. Someone tried to kill her! But who else is even awake on the ship? This intriguing blend of science fiction, dysoptian, mystery-thriller will alternately intrigue and terrify readers.

 

 

Locked Up as a Madwoman April 17, 2017

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 2:17 pm

As a young girl growing up in Pennsylvania, not many would have guessed Elizabeth imgresJane “Pink” Cochran would become one of the most famous journalists of her time. The was even more impressive because up until that time and even for long after, journalism was considered to be a man’s world – one that women didn’t belong in and certainly weren’t welcome in. However, this didn’t stop Elizabeth, who quickly took up a new name – Nellie Bly. After working in some small newspapers in Pittsburg, at the age of 23, Bly decided to try New York City. However, no editors seemed willing to take on a young woman as an investigative reporter. After all, you couldn’t ask a woman to go to the morgue to follow up on a story, or stay up all night chasing down a lead. At least that was the conventional thought of the day.

Nellie Bly however, was set to turn that conventional thought upside down. Finally, one editor decided that if she could get herself locked up in an insane asylum, he would get her out after a week and she could write up her story. If it was good enough, she’d have a job. That was all Nellie needed to hear. Off she went to begin making herself appear unstable. It didn’t take much. Just acting depressed was what got her taken in front of a judge who said that she could be committed.

Ten Days a Madwoman by Deborah Noyes is a great look into one of the United States first truly investigative reporters and how she had to overcome many hurdles to get to the place where she could write about the stories she wanted. However, things didn’t always work out for Nellie as she would have liked, and the road she picked wasn’t an easy one.

Recommended for anyone looking for a quick biography about an interesting person. Recommended for mature 6th graders and up.

 

Spirits Attracted to Art? April 11, 2017

Sierra is an artist, and looking forward to a summer break of painting and parties in her New York City neighborhood. Sierra doesn’t paint on canvas or paper though; she creates fantastic, huge murals on the walls of the city. Her latest creation is a five-story fire breathing dragon that towers over the local junk lot, as well as the new luxury condo development. But, right as Sierra is about to kick summer break off with a huge party with all her classmates, strange things begin to happen. Her grandfather Lazaro, a very recent stroke victim, begins speaking again… but just very short fragments, saying he is sorry and mentioning a woman named Lucera. Then, her grandfather’s friends come to visit her, urging her to finish her dragon mural quickly, but won’t say what the rush is. Then, other neighborhood murals, once so brightly colored and vibrant, seem to wash out and fade overnight. Finally, a zombie-like creature chases Sierra and her crush through the neighborhood asking for Lucera– the same name her grandfather mentioned. What is going on in Brooklyn? Is it possible that rumors of spirits who have died there– some innocent and some intent on evil– have stayed around? And is it further possible that they are drawn to art, murals, music, and stories, that are connected to the city? And if all of these things are possible, what do they have to do with a highschool girl who just wants a fun summer?