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. If you would like to listen to booktalks of some of these books, please check out this site and enjoy!

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.                


When it Really Counts August 14, 2014

What do you do when you hurt your best friend? Diamond Willow is struggling to find herself as she grows up in the middle of Alaska, in the middle of her family, in middle of a crisis…a crisis of her own making.

Diamond Willow begs her parents to let her take the sled dogs on the 12 mile trek to her grandparents. It is a trip she’s done plenty of times with imgresher dad, and she thinks of all the reasons they will say no, and has a counter for each. However, when her mom and dad give her permission, she is pleasantly surprised. She takes off with three sled dogs, including their best dog, Roxy, and Diamond Willow’s true best friend. The trip to her grandparents is uneventful and she loves spending time with them. It is the return trip where things go wrong, so quickly. In the blink of an eye, Diamond Willow finds her best friend terribly injured and when her parents talk about making the ultimate and final decision for Roxy, Diamond Willow runs away with her to save her life.

All through Diamond Willow by Helen Frost, relatives of the characters are among them as spirit animals, helping their human relatives to make the better decisions and subtly guiding them. This element to the story lends a feel of fantasy but also a glimpse into the Native American culture of Diamond Willow’s family.

This quick novel in verse read will definitely appeal to animals lovers as well as those who feel a little lost even in a loving family. When Diamond Willow learns of a secret that has been in her family since she was born, it is a chance for her to connect with others in a way she never imagined possible.

Recommended for grades 6th and up.


A Book for Dog Lovers November 26, 2013

My favorite character in the book Road Trip by Gary Paulsen and Jim Paulsen is Atticus the dog. Atticus is the family’s border collie who is very wise.

Ben gets forced into a road trip with his dad to rescue another border collie puppy who needs a home. Ben is not very happy to be riding along in a truck with his dad who just dropped a lot of bad news on Ben. Along the way, their road trip gets into a few sticky situations. They also meet some interesting people who join in on their rescue mission. There were a few things that happened that seem a little stretched but hearing Atticus’ humorous insights are worth the read.

If you are a dog or animal lover, I recommend Road Trip for you. As I listened to the audiobook, I had a few laughs.


The Monster Within October 22, 2013

Filed under: Science Fiction Books — oneilllibrary @ 11:08 am
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What if you had something inside you that was destroying you? Alex has a brain tumor that she and her aunt have been trying to “kill” for almost 2 years. Nothing is working, not special treatments, not chemo, not radiation. Time is almost out for Alex and she knows it, even if her aunt doesn’t.

imgresSo rather than continue with treatments that aren’t working and in fact, make her sick, she ops out. As in no more treatments. As in she knows her life is ending, so she wants it to end on her terms. She has been putting off for years taking her parents ashes and spreading them in Lake Superior, as was their wish. Her parents died in a helicopter crash and it was shortly after this that she was diagnosed with the brain tumor. Alex decides she is going to go hiking and take her parents remains along to finally disperse them in the lake. However, before she can accomplish this mission, something catastrophic happens in the woods and later she realizes, around the world.

A harsh pulsing, dreadfully painful feeling grips Alex while she is in the woods, along with a man who has just come along the trail with his granddaughter, Ellie. The man, Jack, dies very quickly, and now Alex must pull herself together and get her and Ellie out of the woods. However, on their trip to a ranger station, they encounter two other teens, but something is horribly wrong with them. Alex now realizes that whatever that pulse of pain was, it has affected some people in terrible ways.

Alex and Ellie must struggle to survive in a world that appears to have turned upside down and people can’t be counted on at all. How will they make it back to civilization, and the questions becomes, should they even try?

Ashes by Ilsa Bick is a fast paced, what would you do, story that will pull you in. However, be prepared to read more because this book ends with a total cliff hanger. This book is the first book in a trilogy.

Recommended for 8th grade and up.


The Road Less Traveled October 17, 2013

Are things really as bad as they seem? Radley in Safekeeping by Karen Hesse doesn’t know.  She left the orphanage in Haiti she was volunteering at when sheimgres heard the United States was under Marshal Law. Things were falling apart after the assassination of the president, and Radley just wanted to get home to be with her parents.

 The problem is, things are much worse than she anticipated when she arrives back in the states. There are now travel restrictions and she is forced to walk to her home. Upon arrival she is in for more surprises, and not pleasant ones. She becomes afraid of the police who start knocking on her door day and night, and what has happened to her town. Where are all the people? Who can she trust?

 Radley finds herself in a situation none of us want to be in – suddenly forced to grow up without the aide of friends or family, and in a hostile world that feels out of control. This is a journey she must face, at times on her own, and at times with help, but still, she must make life decisions.

 Safekeeping is a quiet book with a ton of punch. Radley moves through her new alien world with grace and strength. A powerful read.

 Highly recommended for grades 7 and up.  


In a War Zone…Hope September 19, 2013

imgresMatt only knows that his best friend has been taken away to live in a detention center. He doesn’t understand why after 6 years living in England, his good friend Aman and Aman’s mother are suddenly considered a threat and must return to Afghanistan. A country they fled in terror years ago.

Turns out, Matt doesn’t really know much about his good friend. As Matt works with his Grandfather to help Aman and his mother out of the detention center, his Grandfather hears the story of how Aman and his mother were forced to live and hide in caves to avoid the Taliban. How a little dog showed up at their cave one night and became Aman’s best friend. This dog, whom he named Shadow, assisted Aman and his mother through enemy areas, always on the look out.

 Shadow by Michael Morpurgo is a quick read, and a great book for animal lovers. Sometimes war stories focus so much on the soldiers, it is easy to forget all the civilians whose lives are changed tremendously because of the conflict.

Recommended for grades 6 and up.