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!

Return to Salem February 3, 2017

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 11:58 am

Mather. That is Sam’s last name. Not a big deal in any city in the country, except for Salem Massachusetts. Because in Salem, during the witch trials, Sam’s ancestor played a large role in the hanging and deaths of many of the people living in Salem. And to this day, the name is not popular.

Sam had never been to Salem, even though her grandmother had lived there till she died. Sam’s father never wanted to go back to that place after Sam’s mom died. So Sam never knew or even met her grandmother. But now Sam finds herself not only in Salem but in the house that her dad grew up in, and the house her grandmother had owned when she died. However, the reason they are back isn’t a happy one. Sam’s dad is in a coma and has been for the last three months. For some reason he won’t wake up, but Vivian, Sam’s stepmother, says they have to move to Salem because the hospital bills in New York were way too high to keep their apartment and care for her father.

Right away, students in school have a problem with Sam, and a group called the 514rynizsl-_sx329_bo1204203200_Descendants (who are ancestors of people who were killed during the witch trials) make it very clear they want Sam gone, and are willing to do almost anything to make her go.

Things get more
complicated  when a spirit named Elijah shows up and begins demanding she also leave. However, Sam is trapped in more ways than one, and slowly she comes to the realization that not only her family has suffered, but all the Descendants as well. Could it be that they are all caught up in a curse? A curse that only Sam can solve and break?

How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather is an interesting look at how the past of a place can totally impact the present and what happens when old bad habits repeat and repeat. Can a cycle truly ever really be broken?

Recommended for 8th grade and up.

 

 

Frenimes January 19, 2017

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 12:55 pm

Can a friend ultimately be an enemy or an enemy, a friend? Can you really ever truly be friends with someone you compete with?

Grace is friends with Leigh, or as much as she can let herself be friends with anyone, and Leigh believes she and Grace are true friends. But both of them want a spot on the USA Gymnastics team for the Olympics and only five girls will be picked to be on the team. For Grace this is the moment that her whole life has been moving toward. For her, she has to make this team, there is no other option. Her father is her coach and pushes her till she feels she might break. Her only friend is Leigh, the girl who leads a pretty normal life. Her parents insist that she attend high school. Leigh, however, wishes she could have Grace’s life where she could focus 100% of her time on gymnastics. Both girls have a secret; but only Leigh has shared hers with Grace. Grace has a hard time even admitting her own secret to herself.

And then there is Camille, returning to another Olympic Trials at the age of 20 for her imgresmother and feels the pull from her boyfriend to quit gymnastics completely. Camille isn’t sure what she wants herself. Wilhemina is going for her first Trials at the age of 19 because she was too young four years previous and has had to try to keep her body strong and injury free for the past 4 years. But to keep her body whole she hasn’t trained  the way the Head of the Women’s Gymnastics team believes the girls should train. The could come back to haunt Wilhemina in the end.

Finally, little Monica, still excited and thrilled to be at her first Olympic Trials with no dreams of going to the actual Olympics because she doesn’t think she has a chance. It turns out she might have the biggest chance of all.

And how can all these top competitors support each other, even as they hope to beat each other? Tumbling by Caela Carter is a fantastic books about what it REALLY means to be friends with someone. How can you care and want the best for someone when you want that same thing, and only one of you can have it? The complexities of the characters, under the pressure cooker of the Olympic Trials, makes for an amazing read, cover to cover.

You’ll find yourself wanting all the girls to win, but at times intensely disliking one and then changing your mind. Each
girl has their own story, and each one is just as important as the other. This is a book you don’t want to end.

Recommended for mature 6th graders and up.

 

Founding Fathers and Slaves January 12, 2017

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 10:17 am

Lots of political arguments begin and end with the phrase “our founding fathers…” and yet, while we know a lot about these founding fathers (who were also some of our first presidents) not much is mentioned about how the majority of them owned enslaved imgrespeople.

In fact, four out of the first five presidents of the United States owned people they considered their “property.” From George Washington to Andrew Jackson, these men we often revere thought that owning a person was okay for most of, if not all of their lives.

In the Shadow of Liberty: The hidden history of slavery, four presidents and five black lives by Kenneth C. Davis is a powerful look at a part of our history we are still trying to make sense of and come to terms with – often without any success.

Davis looks at what it was like to live with and be owned by these powerful men in American history, and how many enslaved people played a large, but silent role in contributing to that image. From Billy Lee Williams who served with Washington for his whole life and perhaps played a large role in Washington granting freedom to his enslaved people after Martha’s death to Alfred Jackson, who was owned by Andrew Jackson and later his son ,until Alfred was freed due to the Civil War. Andrew Jackson considered abolitionists to be “monsters” and what they wrote “unconstitutional and wicked,” yet when Alfred was brought up on murder charges, Andrew Jackson paid for his defense.

Contradictions between how these early presidents felt about the idea of liberty for themselves from Britain, yet couldn’t quite see it extend to people who lived and worked for them shows how complicated and intertwined slavery was in the fabric of American life.

Recommended for all 7th graders and up to read as it is an important part of our history and one we can’t afford to ignore.

 

 

Torn Between Angels and Monsters January 6, 2017

Filed under: Fantasy Books — lpitrak @ 2:45 pm
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In this amazing fantasy novel, there are two parallel universes– the one our Earth is a part of, and then the one that holds the planet of Eretz, where the monsters live. Karou appears to be a normal high school art student, but in reality, she works for a chimera named Brimstone, in a workshop that is a portal between the two worlds. As long as she daughter-of-smoke-and-bone.jpgcan remember, Brimstone has sent Karou to collect teeth– sometimes from animals and sometimes from humans. These teeth are often given willingly, and sometimes she knows they have been procured by grave robbery, museum theft, or acts even more sinister. Karou never questions what Brimstone does with these teeth, until the day she tries to enter the portal to his shop and finds the door permanently locked, with a scorched black handprint on the front. Now, she is on the run to find her monster friends, battle an army of murderous avenging angels, and discover what the connection between teeth and wish magic really is. This first in an amazing trilogy will keep you up reading all night long!

 

 

Keys to the Kingdom January 5, 2017

Filed under: Fantasy Books — lpitrak @ 4:39 pm
Tags: , ,

Arthur Penhaligon has terrible, dangerous asthma. He has to keep an inhaler with him at garth-nixall times, and has been warned to not engage in physical that will make him breathe too hard. However, on his first day at a new school, the gym teacher yells at him for not keeping up with the rest of the class during a run. He tries, and collapses when his throat begins to close! Arthur is sure he is going to die and experiences a dream or hallucination in which an old, stooped man is pushing a young, handsome man in a wheelchair. The handsome man hangs Arthur a key fashioned to look like the minute hand on an antique clock, and tells him it will help him breathe. When Arthur comes to after this strange dream, he is still clutching the key, a mysterious locked book, and is now able to control his breathing. Weirder things begin to happen… a plague seems to be spreading, and Arthur is being hunted by men with the faces of dogs and blood-covered wings who want the key he was given back. They have been sent by the dark Mister Monday who still has the Hour Hand key and needs the Minute Hand key back in order to keep ruling a mysterious old house that might contain a universe within itself… Can Arthur, along with his two best friends, steal the other key from Mister Monday and save the universe? This exciting book for fans of Harry Potter will keep you guessing until the very end!

 

A Shocking Discovery

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 8:11 am

All her life this is what Olivia believed – that her father killed her mother, then took Olivia imgres-1to a Walmart and left her there to be found hours later. That is what the police believed after her mother’s body was discovered in the woods where her family had gone to cut down a Christmas tree. And since only her mother’s body had been found, and her father’s truck was later found in an airport parking lot, what other conclusion could there be?

Except, now, fourteen years later, Olivia, living on her own after many failed foster homes and a disrupted adoption, gets a visit from the police. A bone has been found and it has been identified as that of her father through DNA testing. So, this changed everything. Her father clearly didn’t kill her mother if he was dead too. The question is, who did? And who took a three year old Olivia to a store and left her there for someone to find?

Olivia wants answers. She heads down to her father’s funeral, but doesn’t tell anyone who she really is. She decides she is going to look into the murder of her parents on her own, and see if she can’t put together what the police haven’t been able to…who killed her parents 14 years ago, but spared her. And why?

The Girl I Used to Be by April Henry is a haunting book with lots of turns as the reader and Olivia try to figure out what happened all those years ago. Another fabulous mystery from master mystery writer April Henry.

Recommended for 7th grade and up.

 

Ghost by Jason Reynolds December 28, 2016

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — debrawisch @ 7:44 pm
ghost
7th grader Castle Crenshaw can’t seem to make it more than 17 straight hours without getting into some kind of trouble. Honestly, he can’t help it! He just has a lot of anger built up inside. He’s been calling himself Ghost ever since the night his dad got drunk and threatened Castle and his mom with a gun.  Ghost learned to run that night, and he’s been running ever since. When a coach for a track league called the Defenders sees him run one day,  Ghost decides to join the team and give it a try. The running is way harder than anything Ghost has ever experienced before. But no matter how fast he is, Ghost can’t run away from trouble. And if he’s not careful, it’s going to follow him right onto the track.