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!

Ever Feel Like a Puppet on a String? December 2, 2013

Filed under: Fantasy Books — oneilllibrary @ 3:17 pm
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imgresSo, this book, Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz, has a bit for everyone. A witch, orphan children, a con man, a kidnapping, dogs and magic.

First we meet the witch, who is in agony because of a stone, a fire opal to be exact. It is the source of most of her power but it has also been draining away her life for years. She decides that she must get rid of the stone, but she is unable to destroy it herself. The stone will burn her ultimately, but how can she get rid of it?

Parsefall and Lizzie Rose are two children who are living with a man named Grisini in London in 1860. He is a masterful puppeteer. Parsefall is very good with the puppets as well, and has been with Grisini ever since Grisini took him from the work house at a young age. Lizzie Rose has only been with the small group for a little over a year, ever since her parents died. While Grisini provides a roof over the orphans heads’ and some food from time to time, not much else is given to Lizzie Rose and Parsefall.

Enter Clara, a young girl who is tormented by the ghosts of her four dead siblings and by a mother who can’t let the dead siblings go long enough to be thankful for the one she still has left, and a father who is just trying to make the best of his life. Clara’s family is a wealthy one, and she begs for her 12th birthday for Grisini to bring his puppet show to her house.

It is this puppet show that puts into motion events that reach all the way up to the witch in her tower in Northern England.

Splendors and Glooms is a magnificent book, filled with intrigue, mystery, unscrupulous people and stand up ones. Just when you aren’t sure where it will take you, it all makes sense.

Highly recommended for grades 7 and up. Fine for 6th graders, but should be a good reader.


A Gloomy book that might have a happy ending…. January 21, 2013

Filed under: Fantasy Books — kbradley123 @ 11:49 am
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Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz is a book about magic, puppets and two orphans trying to survive in London in 1860.WARNING: It starts out as not a happy book. Lizzie Rose and Parsefall are assistants to the great puppet master Grisini. He is not a nice man and does not treat them well. He also has a very shady past. When Clara, the sole surviving daughter of the rich doctor, disappear after her birthday puppet show,

all eyes turn to the three puppeteers. However, there is more to this tale then just kidnapping. Far away there is a dying witch who is trying to get rid of her curse before it is too late. When these two separate threads come together, there will be more than just magic, there will be death and destruction!

This book has gotten rave reviews but it is not the type of book that I would usually read. It sounds like a downer. However, it was so action packed and so different than other books I have read that I flew through it! The characters are well developed and the story is uniquely different. Although this book seemed a bit bleak, it has a huge heart that makes you care about the characters and the ending. I really enjoyed this book and loved the shifting perspectives that really created a memorable story!



What’s the Harm in a Tiny Little Lie….? November 15, 2012

What if you were asked to lie, about something fairly small; a lie that really didn’t make your life worse, or anyone else’s, but brought you wonderful things? This is the dilemma Maud faces in A Drowned Maiden’s Hair: A Melodrama by Laura Amy Schlitz. Maud is an orphan living the not so happy life of one around the turn of the century. In fact when we first meet Maud she is locked in the outhouse because she has been bad, again. While in the privy, she has a conversation with a woman outside the door, who, to Maud’s utter amazement and delight chooses to adopt her minutes later. Maud is taken back to live with the woman, whose name is Miss Hyacinth, and Hyacinth’s two sisters. Quite quickly Maud is asked to conceal her existence from anyone outside of the sisters’ house. While Maud enjoys the new perks of her life – pretty clothes, lots of food and quite a bit of freedom – she realizes quickly that the sisters’, and Hyacinth in particular want something from Maud. Maud has to decide if she can play along with what they want, or find out if she does have a conscience after all.

Maud is one of those characters you just begin to pull for right away. She has tons of street smarts and knows right away something is off about these old women – after all they adopted her! She knows she isn’t a good catch! So why have they done this? However, even Maud can’t figure out just how bizarre their plan is until she is right smack in the middle of it, and wondering how she can get out. This book has lots of twists and just when you think you have it figured, BAM, something jumps out at you.

Recommended for 6th grade and up.