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!

A Father Changes Everything February 22, 2017

Connor understands that his father is very depressed after the death of his mom. What he doesn’t realize is that his dad is thinking about a lot of things. It turns out that when his mother died, she left him with something that shook the foundation of Connor’s father’s life. In a letter, Connor’s grandmother tells his dad that the man he thought was his father all thes9780803733053e years wasn’t. At least not biologically. Turns out that when she was in Italy during World War II she met an American pilot and he is really Connor’s father’s dad.

When Connor’s dad shares this news with the rest of the family they react quite well. However, it is the ring and set of wings that came with the letter that captivate Connor and his dad’s interested. Could these be the key to finding out more about Connor’s biological grandfather? And is this something they should be digging into? What if it leads them down a path they realize they aren’t quite ready to tread?

American Ace by Marilyn Nelson is a quick and powerful read about a family coming to terms with learning biology can be a powerful thing, but not everything. And what if you find out something that you didn’t expect?

This is a great novel in verse story. I loved how the information was interwoven and felt the reactions to the revelations were authentic to real life. Recommended for mature 6th graders and up.

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Survivor by 7th Grader Christopher M. December 9, 2016

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles,Student Book Reviews — bhomel @ 2:59 pm
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A man named Louie Zamperini, an Olympic runner that can run a mile in 4:06 seconds became a military Air Force pilot. He flew to the Atlantic Ocean on this B-24 called the Green HImage result for unbroken by laura hillenbrand young adult versionornet. The  Japanese military Air Force attacked the Green Hornet and his crew mates got stranded but some died in an accident in the Pacific Ocean. They tried to survive the several months and tried to get to land but the Japanese captured Louie and Phil. They took Louie and Phil to a POW prison camp. Louie survived and escaped the prison camps that made him suffer, the ones that tortured him and hit him and also the guards that kept him captive, so he can see His family again during the years he had been away.

 

Unbroken By Laura Hillenbrand is a good and adventurous book for anybody who like survival stories to read this book that was a really emotional story about history of World War II and Olympic Runners and I’ll rate it a 5 star book.

 

One Wrong Note…Could Mean Death May 20, 2015

What happens when something you love, has the potential both to save you and possible be the cause of your death? Hanna is imgres
faced with this after she is pulled for an audition for the Commandant of the work camp, Birkenau. She has already been taken from her home where she had a lovely life with her older sister, Erika, and her parents. Hanna was excited before the Nazis invaded her country of Hungary because she had been planning to got to the Budapest Conservatorium of Music. Hanna has a gift for playing the piano and when she is forced with her family to leave, it is her piano she misses and the time to play.

Once in the work camp of Birkenau, Hanna realizes quickly that she and her sister and mother must learn new ways to exist. With her father taken away from them at the gates of the camp, Hanna can only hope they will all be reunited at the end of the war, if they can last that long.

An opportunity comes for Hanna to play for the Commandant of the camp and while she doesn’t think she’ll get picked, when the Commandant’s son, Karl, specifically singles her out, she gets the job. Only later does she learn that her time may be precarious, since one wrong move, or note, can be the end of her time playing and possibly her very life.

Playing for the Commandant by Suzy Zail takes the reader on a journey to explore not only what it might have been like to have your life hang in the balance every day, but how would you have felt if you realized you were beginning to have feelings for the enemy? Hanna faces this dilemma as she finds herself failing in love with Karl, the Commandant’s son.

Good Holocaust book with a different perspective than others. Recommended for 8th grade and up.

 

What if the Nazis…Won? April 4, 2015

Filed under: Science Fiction Books — oneilllibrary @ 1:03 pm
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imgresZara has always known a world with the Nazis in it, because they won World War II, along with the Japanese and the Italians. As a result, the United States has been divided up by the three winning countries, and the rest of the world that wasn’t parceled up by the Axis Powers just tries to stay out of their way.

That is hard for Zara to do though. She’s lost her mother and her best friend to the Nazis; her mother because she was fighting in the Alliance to push the Nazis out, and her best friend because it was discovered a distant relative was Jewish. Zara wants more than anything to join in the fight with the Alliance, but her uncle is extremely hesitant. After her mother died, her uncle went from being a fighter to terrified about anything that could put him or Zara on the radar of the Nazis. And Zara has something very powerful that could indeed put her on the radar, and get her instantly killed as well!

The Only Thing to Fear by Caroline Tung Richmond will keep you on the edge of your seat as you follow Zara beginning to realize if she wants to make something happen to change her life and her world, she will need to do it herself, rather than waiting for someone to come along. The idea of what might have happened if the war didn’t end as it did will have you thinking for a long time after you finish this book.

Recommended for 8th grade and up due to violence.

 

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.

 

He Hid, But Was Found August 14, 2014

Filed under: Nonfiction Titles — oneilllibrary @ 4:26 pm
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After World War II and the Nuremberg Trails, not ALL the major Nazis were captured and tried. Some escaped justice for a time and some for all time. One major person of interest was Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi official who was in charge of removing Jews from Germany and ultimately, all of German occupied Europe. This meant he was the one responsible for rounding up the Jews, and transporting them to concentration camps all over Europe where they faced unimaginable horrors trying to survive. Many had no chance of survival, as they were killed immediately.

imgresAs the war drew to a close, and it became evident Germany was losing, Eichmann was told to stop killing Jews, but he didn’t. He began moving them out of the camps on long torture filled walks in terrible weather where more and more died.

However, at the end of the war, Eichmann wasn’t on trail. He wasn’t to be found. Some didn’t even know his role in the war, and others, once they found out, didn’t even have a picture to know who they were looking for.

Thus it wasn’t until a girl named Sylvia, living in Argentina in 1956 brought home her new boyfriend to meet her family. His name was Nick Eichmann. During dinner he admitted his father had been a high ranking Nazi official who was instrumental in eliminating Jews in Europe. Many former Nazi found a haven in Argentina after the war, and anti Jewish sentiments were high even after the war in Argentina. For that reason, Sylvia’s father, who was half Jewish, had never admitted to anyone in Argentina his heritage. It made for a very uncomfortable dinner.

It wasn’t until months later, after Sylvia had broken up with Nick Eichmann, that she and her father read an article naming the notorious Nazi, Adolf Eichmann. They realized they might have been having dinner with one of his sons.

Thus began the secret spy operation by Israel to bring to justice one of the most hated and feared men from the Nazi organization. The Nazi Hunters by Neal Bascomb tells the tale of how one of the most infamous men of World War II was kidnapped, drugged and ultimately taken to trail for his crimes.

Highly recommended for anyone who is interested reading about World War II or a good spy story in grades 7th and up.

 

Looking for 60-year-old Skeletons? Fun! July 29, 2014

After his father died two years ago covering the conflict in Darfur as a photojournalist, Dylan can’t seem to connect with anyone or anything. He is hostile, angry, and just plain unpleasant to be around. His mom doesn’t seem to know what to do with him, and that is just fine with Dylan. After all, she doesn’t seem to blame his dad for going off and getting killed in some far off place hardly anyone even thinks about, so Dylan will be ticked off at the whole world enough for her too. One night he lands in jail after joy riding through a field in a stolen car. He doesn’t see what the big deal is, but his mom and the courts sure seem to have a problem with him.

imgresEnter his dad’s brother, Uncle Todd. Uncle Todd has some crazy idea to go find the Bomber plane his dad, Dylan’s grandfather, flew in during World War II. It was shot down in Papua New Guinea (PNG), and his grandfather was the only one of the crew who made it out alive, two weeks after the plane went down. For some reason, Uncle Todd thinks he can find the plane in the jungle after over 60 years, and that Dylan will become enlighten by the journey through bug infested foliage! Dylan thinks his uncle is nuts. No way does he want to tramp through some stupid jungle looking for a plane no one will be able to find anyway.

Contrary to all of Dylan’s best plans, he does end up in the jungles of PNG, and not long after arriving, he finds himself fighting for his very life, all because of his own actions.

Jungle of Bones by Ben Mikaelsen takes a kid who hates the world and gets set down in a situation where the world couldn’t care less. It is up to Dylan to decide if he really doesn’t care, or if there is something more to life.

Recommended for readers who enjoy survival stories and reading about characters who get their just deserts! For grades 6th and up.