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!

Ms. Spring’s Review of The Detour by S.A. Bodeen January 25, 2018

The DetourWhen I first picked up The Detour, by S.A. Bodeen, I was skeptical. The cover shows a bunker-like scene: concrete walls and ceiling, curtains and rod framing a cement wall, empty plate and half full glass on the floor. (Can you tell I’m a positive person? “Glass half full” rather than “Glass half empty”?) I do try to give most things the benefit of the doubt, and I’m glad I did in this instance. The tagline of “She’s Rich. She’s Famous. And She’s Trapped,” hits it dead center. The main character leaves a lot to be desired in personality when you start the book. Livvy displays a self-centered, unappealing monologue of thoughts – all about how her predicament is not her fault.

Throughout the story, layers of her inward-facing shell soften to reveal how she has come to this point. The unfortunate circumstances she faces – being a captive of a vindictive former writer – show the reader and the character that nothing is ever as it seems on the surface. Not only does poignant and descriptive language invite the reader to continue to turn pages, but a few plot twists, as well. In the end, there are lessons to be acknowledged regarding our own paths and how we influence others. I highly recommend diving into this book. Be sure to allow a couple hours’ freedom to spend with Livvy in the padlocked, basement room.


Famous Fakes January 22, 2018

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 8:37 pm

We’ve all heard about Washington, Shakespeare and Confucius! But do we know the real Screenshot 2018-01-02 at 10.33.22 AMstory behind them, or only the legends that have grown up around them? Famous Phonies: Legends fakes and frauds who changed history by Brianna DuMont looks at all the stories we think we know, and pokes holes right through them.

For example, did William Shakespeare really write everything, or was it someone else? How can we find out? Or did Pythagoras really come up with the theorem we learn in school? This book will have you looking at all those stories, and thinking, maybe you should do some research for yourself and not believe the legend just because!

Recommended for 6th grade and up.


Lost Everywhere January 16, 2018

Filed under: Novels in Verse,Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 7:17 pm

Screenshot 2018-01-02 at 7.16.14 PMMoving yet again. This is the 10th move since she was young and frankly, Callie is sick of it. But she knows what it means when she comes home and can’t find her clothes. It means her mom has already packed up the V.W. Bug and is ready to move on. It also means that the latest boyfriend hasn’t panned out, so that is why it is time to go. Callie wishes that just for once, whether a boyfriend comes or goes, her mom can stay in one place. After all, Callie has never had a friend because they move around all the time. And because Callie has a secret that makes her seem very strange. Callie has a neurological disorder called Tourette syndrome.

When they arrive at the new apartment complex, Callie meets a boy who ends up going to her school. At first, she is hopeful they will be good friends, but when her “tics” start to show up at school, Jinsong isn’t sure he wants everyone to know he likes her, when everyone else thinks she’s a freak. Soon though, Jinsong and Callie are friends, at least outside of school. Until an incident at school shows how you either have to be friends all the time, or not at all.

Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry is a quick read and you will find yourself rooting for both Callie and Jinsong in the hopes they can figure out how to be friends.

Recommended for grades 6th and up.


The Woods are Bleeding January 12, 2018

Filed under: Fantasy Books,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 11:10 am

Screenshot 2018-01-02 at 10.37.04 AMWinter isn’t your typical teenager. She does well in school, has a good friend, but that is where normal stops and strange begins. Winter has a destiny bequeathed to her on her birth. Her father and his father before him and so on, have been guardians of the Wood dating back to the 1200s. This means they roam their part of the magical wood and send anyone who might accidentally walk through a portal back to their own time. Winter has been training for her “job” since she was ten. However, two years ago, her training was brought to an abrupt halt. Her father disappeared and never came out of the Woods. It has been told Winter and her mother that her father stepped off the path. But Winter knows better. That isn’t possible. So what could have really happened to her father.

When Winter comes across a determined a young man traveler who keeps coming into the Woods, she makes a drastic decision. Never are travelers allowed into the guardians current time and place. That could have devastating impacts on history and change things in ways no one can begin to understand. However, this young man, Henry, says his own parents have disappeared, and he thinks that Winter’s missing father might be the key to finding his own. As much as Winter knows she is breaking all the rules, she can’t pass up the opportunity to learn more about what really happened to her father.

Not only that, but something is happening to the Woods. They are dying. Winter knows she only has a limited amount of time to figure out what is happening before everything she knows is destroyed. Can Henry be the one to help her? Can she trust him?

The Woods by Chelsea Bobulski is an interesting read in the fantasy genre and felt fresh.  Recommended for mature 6th graders and up.


And They Ran and Ran and Ran January 8, 2018

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 10:30 am

Fugitive. What does the word mean? Someone who typically is fleeing from something. Screenshot 2018-01-02 at 10.33.02 AMMaybe the law, maybe a relative, maybe a conflict? This book, Fantastic Fugitives: criminals, cutthroats, and rebels who changed history  by Brianna DuMont takes the reader on a romping adventure through time to look at many of the individuals that you might have heard about, and others you never have.

For instance, you’ve probably heard of Spartacus, but do you know what he did that made a mark on history? Or Harriet Tubman who is famous for her work with the underground railroad, but do you know what she did during and after the Civil War? Ever heard of Emmeline Pankhurst? Probably not, but she had a huge impact on the Women’s Suffrage movement. Even John Dillinger gets his place in this book as one of America’s most wanted men, ever, and how he unwittingly helped make the F.B.I. what it is today.

If you are looking for an interesting, fact filled, informative and often times funny book about some well known and some not so well known famous fugitives in history, then this is the book for you.

Recommended for 6th grade and up.


Trapped January 2, 2018

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — oneilllibrary @ 10:22 am

Screenshot 2018-01-02 at 10.20.10 AMWorld famous Livvy Flynn is living the dream. The dream of a world class author, all before she’s even left high school. She has a boyfriend that she will hopefully meet in the future – since she’s so busy and so is he, they’ve had to interact over the internet – and she’s heading to college in the fall. So what could possibly go wrong?

Cruising along in her sports car on her way to another author event, Livvy has a car crash. And the only witness, a girl playing a flute, doesn’t seem inclined to help her. Instead, Livvy wakes up in a basement bedroom with the girl and her mother. A mother who seems to think that Livvy owes her something. It becomes clear to Livvy that she is being held prisoner and that she just might not make it out…alive.

The Detour by S.A. Bodeen is a chilling kidnapping story with a twist or two thrown in for good measure.

Recommended for 7th grade and up.


OCD, a missing millionaire, and more December 12, 2017

Filed under: Realistic Fiction/ Contemporary Fiction — lpitrak @ 12:45 pm

Aza is in many ways a typical sixteen-year-old girl. She worries about saving for college, studies and hangs out at Applebee’s with her best friend Daisy, alternately loves and feels suffocated by her overprotective mother, and misses her father who passed away eight years ago. However, Aza’s Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) wracks her with unrelenting thoughts about germs, disease, and death, to the point that she feels that existing inside her body is like being inside an ever-tightening spiral. When Daisy concocts a crazy scheme to find a missing billionaire who is wanted for embezzlement in order to collect a $100,000 reward, Aza finds herself caught up in a twisted mystery with the billionaire’s lonely, poetic son Davis at the center. None of these distractions is enough, however, to stop the interior voices that threaten to take over her life. John Green’s latest is a sensitive, authentic portrayal of chronic mental illness.