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!

You Can Run, BUT Can You Hide? January 20, 2015

Growing up in Honolulu in the late 1930s is a good life for Zenji. He is surrounded by good friends and a great family. The only dark spot on his life is the fact his father was killed in an accident at Pearl Harbor before he was 10. It was hard growing up without a father, but his older brother Henry is always there for him.

imgresZenji has just finished high school and is trying to decide what to do with his life when he gets an unexpected visit from his high school JROTC officer. Colonel Blake says he has a proposition for Zenji because Zenji is so good with speaking and reading Japanese and being very proficient in English as well. While Zenji’s mother is totally against him going into the army, Zenji isn’t, and wants to see the world beyond the islands. After exhaustive testing, Zenji is admitted into the army as a CIP or member of the Corps of Intelligence Police. Basically, he will become a spy for the army.

His first assignment is to go by boat to the Philippines and stay at a hotel in Manila where a lot of Japanese business men like to stay. At first, Zenji isn’t sure how he’ll be able to help his country by spying in a hotel on Japanese businessmen. But as he spends more time in the city, he begins to realize that the tensions between the United States and Japan aren’t going away, and war might be coming faster than anyone expected.

Hunt for the Bamboo Rat by Graham Salisbury is a fascinating look at the spying involved in World War II in the pacific theater. Zenji knows if he is captured by the Japanese they will look at him as a traitor to their country, even though he isn’t a Japanese citizen. If they know he is a spy, he’ll be killed. Zenji has to walk a fine line to stay live.

Recommended for students who enjoy reading books about World War II and a look at something other than combat. Due to torture scenes in the book, it is recommended for mature 8th graders.

Advertisements
 

New Best Friend Needed January 12, 2015

What do you do when your best friend disappears…right before what was supposed to be the best summer of your imgreslife? Emily goes on a quick vacation with her family and upon her return sends message after message to her friend, Sloane. Only to realize Sloane isn’t answering, even after a week of phone messages and texts. Nothing. After going to Sloane’s house and seeing that no one is there anymore, Emily is almost to the point of desperation.

Right before she is going to tell her parents that her best (pretty much only friend) has disappeared, Emily receives a letter in the mail from Sloane. It is much like other lists that Sloane has sent her over the last two years they’ve been friends. Emily becomes convinced if she does the things on the list, she’ll figure out what has happened to her friend. She’s not sure how “kiss a stranger,” or “ 55 S. Ave. Ask for Mona,” will help her, but she decides she will spend the summer completing all thirteen things on the list.

Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson is a book you’ll want to make sure you have plenty of time to read because once you start you won’t want to stop. As the summer goes on, Emily finds help for her list in some unlikely places and with some unlikely people!

Recommended for 8th grade and up.

 

Bad Time for a Walk in the Woods December 9, 2014

When the three of them met up, they had no idea this would end that way it does. After all, Alexis, Ruby and Nick are teen volunteers for the Portland County Search team and don’t have much experience. They are still taking the classes and haven’t become certified yet. Even so, when they meet up to look for an autistic man who has gotten lost in one of the many area forested parks, they don’t think they’ll be in the middle of anything much.

imgres-1It is Alexis who finds the girl’s body. Even though they were all instructed to stay together, Alexis, Ruby and Nick all get spread out along the trail. Alexis thinks at first it is the man they are searching for, but when she gets closer, she realizes it is a teenage girl and she’s dead. Ruby and Nick come at her whistle, and Ruby confirms the girl is indeed dead.

Without realizing it, they have all stumbled upon a murder, a murder they all want to help the police solve. They realize they might have seen the killer on the trail, and if they did, could he be coming after one of them next?

April Henry‘s newest mystery, The Body in the Woods won’t disappoint her fans. Told from multiple perspectives, including the killer, this book will have you up reading late at night to finish.

Recommended for grades 7 and up.

 

Clockwork Prince September 19, 2014

Filed under: Fantasy Books,Romance — oneilllibrary @ 2:36 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Nimira feels stuck. She came to this new country to escape her old one where she had nothing but a broken father after the death of her mother. Her father, who used to be high up in rank within the structure of their society,  began losing all their money because of his sorrow.

Nimira however, has not found the great escape she was hoping for when she left her father and her old country behind. In fact, she struggles toimgres make ends meet as a young dancing and singing girl, commonly referred to as a trouser girl. Yet one night, a young, wealthy sorcerer comes to see her performance and asks her to come meet with him to discuss a business proposition. Nimira is hesitant at first, not sure she wants to become involved with sorcerers and the magic they can wield, but as she considers her circumstances, she realizes she needs to hear what this man, Hollin, has to say.

It turns out Hollin needs a singer to accompany his automaton – a clockwork man – who plays the piano. Hollin says he has hired other girls to sing, but they all ran away, saying the automaton was haunted. Intrigued, Nimira decides to take a chance and go to Hollin’s house to meet with the automaton. After just a little bit of time with this strange clockwork man, Nimira knows there is something living about this man, and she must do whatever it takes to help him.

Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore gives us glimpses of what life would be like if fairies flew and sorcerers staffs really could have magic in them. This book gives you just the right amount of fantasy and romance as Nimira has to make hard choices that will ultimately impact the rest of her life.

Recommended for 7th graders and up who likes a bit of fantasy and romance.

 

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.

 

Bodies and Tweets, piling up! July 10, 2014

Filed under: Mystery and Ghost Stories — oneilllibrary @ 1:07 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Thinking this new school will be her chance to break free of her old self, Brianna heads back to MacHale after winter break with mixed feelings. She thought going to the private arts boarding school would allow her to finally get out from under her mom’s thumb and get into acting. However, after the fall session, she isn’t sure anyone will take her seriously as an actress or even as a friend.

When she gets to her room for the beginning of the Winter session, she is surprised to find it full, of not only her roommate but some of the most influential upper classmen guys on campus. Including, Eric, the guy she’s been secretly crushing on since her arrival months ago. Eric is an amazing actor, and Brianna hopes her try out for Hamlet will land her a starring role, opposite Eric.

However, her hopes are quickly dashed when the old director dies, and a new teacher comes in. His style is very different and Brianna gets a role of being the play’s imgressocial media person. The new director wants her to tweet about the show and all the happenings. Very quickly though, the production is plagued by bad luck, and some cast members actual die! Brianna grows more paranoid as tweets from a mysterious person seem to predict these dire events. More and more of her classmates seem to think Brianna is the one behind these awful events.

Can Brianna figure out who is really behind the tweets and the murders before she finds herself caught in the murderer’s sights?

Followers by Anna Davies is a mystery that will leave you with some questions at the end, but if you want a mystery, grab this one for a quick read.

 

Mother Knows Best…or Does She? June 9, 2014

imgresGrowing up helping her mother run a porcelain doll shop in a coastal town in California might not be the most exciting life, but it is the only one Caymen knows. Now that she is starting her senior year of high school, she is having to make some decisions about her future. She knows her mother relies on her to help run the store, which always struggles to make enough money to keep them afloat. All her life, Caymen has heard the story of how a rich boy ran out on her mother, leaving her pregnant with Caymen and little else.

So when a rich boy comes in to pick out a doll for a relative, Caymen instantly recognizes his “type.” The type her mom has always said is no good. Quickly though, and without Caymen even realizing it, the rich kid, Xander, is working his way into Caymen’s life, and slowly, into her heart.

However, how can she talk to her mom about this “rich” kid who stands for everything her mother can’t?

Caymen looks for a way to keep her mom happy, herself, and at the same time begins to dream of a future that doesn’t include working full time in a doll shop. The question is, can she make that dream a reality, or does life always get in the way?

The Distance Between Us  by Kasie West is a great romance that shows how what you want and what your parent(s) might want can make for a pretty rough road to travel.

Recommended for grades 7 and up.