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!

A Mighty Friend April 22, 2013

Three words that come to mind when I describe the book The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate are: friendship, art, and promises.

Cover of The One and Only Ivan

Ivan is a gorilla living at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall. He is the only gorilla there and grew up around humans after his owner Mack bought him for the Big Top Mall. The billboard posted at the mall’s exit advertises the main attraction – “The One and Only Ivan, The Mighty Silverback!” Unfortunately Ivan and the other animals are not attracting visitors.

Besides showing off his gorilla moves for the visitors, Ivan has a talent – he draws. Mack sells Ivan’s drawings in the gift shop to help make some extra money. When the visitors and Mack are gone, Ivan spend his time with Stella, an older elephant, and Bob, a stray dog.

Because business is slow at the Big Top Mall, Mack adds Ruby, a baby elephant, to the show. Ruby was separated from her family and bonds with Stella. Stella gets sick and asks Ivan to promise to take care of Ruby and help Ruby escape the mall -aka prison. Ivan knows there are zoos out there that take care of animals instead of making them work and be away from others like them. Ivan, with the help of Julia, another artist, try to keep that promise to Stella.

This book is a good read for anyone. It a heart warming story of what true friends will do for each other.

Author Katherine Applegate based this story on a real gorilla named Ivan who now lives at Zoo Atlanta. Read about the real Ivan on the authors web site:


What if you could create the Adam to your Eve? December 6, 2012

UnknownThis engrossing sci-fi book, Eve & Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate, hooked me from the first line. I would drop anything that I was doing in the past two nights just to sneak a peek and read through the very quick chapters! The story alternates perspectives from the female lead of Eve, who we see get into a bad accident at the start of the novel. Her mom just so happens to be a part of a hospital/company that helps people recover in a variety of ways. And she sure does that for Eve. As she tries to distract her daughter from the secretive past of her company and workers, she creates a simulation of sorts where Eve can create her perfect man. A lot of thought goes into his features, besides just his appearance. She is able to think about and see how certain qualities and traits would thus alter this piece of perfection. And thus, Eve has created Adam. Yet, Eve’s male counterpart is a gentlemen named Solo, both of which take turns narrating the various chapters, whom is completely bitter towards Eve’s mom and knows the truth of what’s really going on, as has been for some time. As the story unfolds, romances begin, loyalties are tested, and the truths that we thought were out there, well were potentially underdeveloped. This book was an amazingly fast read that definitely kept me wanting more in it’s 300 pages! I’d recommend this to anyone looking to uncover secrets, fascinating plot lines within plot lines, and one that keeps you on the edge of your seat!

Novel written by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate-

husband and wife right?