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 http://www.buzzsprout.com/229361 and enjoy!

Soldier Boys Book Review by 7th Grader Brodey May 10, 2018

Filed under: Historical Fiction,Student Book Reviews — bhomel @ 8:07 am
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SBSoldier Boys by Dean Hughes is a book about two boys on the opposite sides of WWII. Spence is an American boy that struggles with school. After Pearl Harbor was bombed, his brother went into the Navy and Spence wants to become a paratrooper. He did and he meets Ted in training camp. Ted was much like Spence and they were the same age. They went into Germany to fight the Germans after they both passed basic training. On the other side, Deiter is a german boy who is 15 and is a leader in the Hitler Youth. He catches other Hitler Youth messing around and decides to let them go free. Soon after one of the boys gets shot by a French spitfire and dies. Then Deiter goes and meets Hitler and wants to go fight on the front lines. When he gets sent, he is extremely excited and meets Schaefer who guides Deiter through the war. At the bottom of a hill, the Americans run down and most get killed. The next day the Germans run up the hill and most die from artillery or gun fire. In the mists of the chaos, Deiter gets hit. Later that night Spence puts his life on the line even when he had strict orders not to.

I loved the book but the end is very sad. I liked it for the suspense and the reality of it. I would recommend this to someone who wants a good book on WWII.

 

How Well Can You Keep a Secret? January 28, 2014

She doesn’t understand at first, why she must keep certain things a secret. Growing up in Paris with a loving mother and father, Odette’s life is wonderful. She gets to stay after school with her godmother and father, who dote on her endlessly. However, even as Odette’s life seems perfect, the outside world isn’t. Often, her father and mother whisper into the night about Germany and Hitler and the Nazis. Odette isn’t sure at all what these things mean, being a little girl.

imagesHowever, one day her father says he is going to join the French army to stop the German forces from taking over France. He is captured, and Odette and her mother go visit him in prison. But that is the last time they are able to see him. Not long after that, Odette’s mother tells her they must begin to keep secrets. One of those secrets is Odette must go live in the French countryside with other people. The biggest secret Odette must keep is one that could lead to her death if she doesn’t. The fact that she is a Jew must never come out, or it could mean capture for her and the people sheltering her. Can she keep this incredible secret?

Odette’s Secrets by Maryann MacDonald shares the story of a little girl caught up in the terrifying events of World War II. This story is based on the real life of a woman who was sheltered during WWII in France, and actual photos of her and her family add to the story. This novel in verse is a great book for anyone looking to learn more about the war and another Holocaust survival story.

Recommended for 6th grade and up.

 

Spies…Everywhere! July 9, 2013

I had no idea. Seriously, none, till I read Bomb: The Race to Build – And Steal – The World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin just how many spies wereimgres running around during World War II. It was crazy! Americans were spying on Germans, British were spying for Russians, Russians were trying to spy on everyone, and what cracked me up is most of the spying happened between allies!

This all started when it was discovered by a German physicist that a uranium atom could be split. It wasn’t thought possible at the time. That any atom could be split. And when it split, it gave off energy. So what if a bunch of uranium was put in a situation where it was splitting all over the place – that could produce a lot of energy. Energy could equal a bomb. Soon it was a race. The Germans and the rest of the world were engaged in a massive world war. One that if either side got a serious bomb, could change the course of humanity.  The Germans were limited in the resources available to them as well as not many scientists (many had fled before the war began), lack of a material they needed from Norway – heavy water – and the sabotage of the plant that produced it, as well as the fact that physicists stopped publishing their findings, meant Germany had several handicaps.

The United States created a special program lead by Robert Oppenheimer in the desolate area of Los Alamos, New Mexico. Here scientists from all across the country were recruited to help figure out how to take the fact that uranium atoms could split and produce energy and make bombs out of it all before the Germans. For years these people labored to create something with the massive power of destruction, all before “the other guys.” In the process though, many secrets from the United States made it to the Soviet Union.

The amount of spying and who was doing it is staggering. Truly amazing. There were many Americans who spied for the Soviet Union for years. All the clandestine things you think of happening when people spy – really did!

This is a fabulous look at, and explanation of, how humanity harnessed an awesome power and the people who were responsible for creating it.

Recommended for 7th grade and up.