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Posts Tagged «middle school»

The Thing About Jellyfish

Friday, January 29th, 2016

24396876by Ali Benjamin, 343 pages, Grades 6-8

You know that moment when you and the best friend you have had all the way through elementary school just don’t seem to be seeing eye to eye anymore? This had just happened to Suzy at the end of the school year last June. Suzy was fed up with Franny and her clique and they had not seen each other all summer. Sometimes friends just grow apart, sometimes friends just need a little break; Suzy knew that. But then her mother got the phone call; Franny drowned. Her best friend was dead, really dead. And, now Suzy cannot understand how this can be true; Franny knows how to swim after all. Suzy is convinced it must have been some kind of freak Jellyfish sting accident, and she is determined to prove it.

If you enjoy sad books that are also about friendship you might also enjoy: Counting by 7s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan, Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erskine, or Fish in a Tree, by Lynda Mullaly Hunt.

The Fourteenth Goldfish

Monday, January 5th, 2015

fourteenthgoldfishby Jennifer L. Holm, 195 pages, Grades 5-7

 

Life does not go on forever normally, though it seems like Ellie’s goldfish is hanging on a lot longer than her friends’ goldfishes. Her grandfather also has an aging problem; he has become an adolescent boy again. It is pretty weird watching a pimply 7th grader bossing around her mom, but it is kind of nice to have someone around to talk to about science. Melvin, Ellie’s grandfather, is a scientist. He is mostly concerned with retrieving his research from his office; he cannot very well waltz into the lab as a 13-year-old boy without arousing suspicion.

 

Click here to see if the book is available.

 

If you like science fiction with a little humor, you might also enjoy: Boom, by Mark Haddon or The Doom Machine, by Mark Teague. If you enjoy books about friendships between the young and old you might also enjoy: Curveball:The Year I Lost My Grip, by Jordan Sonnenblick, or The Cardturner, by Louis Sacher

Wonder

Monday, September 17th, 2012

121009_DX_WonderBook.jpg.CROP.article250-mediumby R.J. Palacio, 315 pages, Grades 5-8

CYRM NOMINEE 2014

Going to a new school is always hard, especially if you have to be the new kid in a middle school, but for Augie it is even more difficult than that.  August has never attended school before; he has been home-schooled because he could not attend consistently since he was busy having so many surgeries.  

He had to have surgeries because he was born with several different facial malformations.  His face does not look like everyone else’s; he is used to being around people who know him and love him, but to suddenly find himself in a school with a bunch of adolescents he doesn’t know is pretty scary.  He is not sure if he will find a place to fit in, and if everyone will get to know who he is beyond his outward appearance.  

Who is the real Augie and can he manage to get known for something other than his unusual face?

If you enjoy reading books about kids who overcome obstacles, you might also enjoy Mockingbird, by Kathryn Erksine,  Anything But Typical, by Nora Raleigh Baskin, or Out of My Mind, by Sharon Draper.

 

Click here to see if the book is in the library.

Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom

Monday, February 7th, 2011

george clooneyBy Susin Nielsen,  229 pages,  Grades 6-8

Violet is having a hard year.She almost poisons her step-sisters (unintentionally, of course), she breaks a classmate’s nose (less than unintentionally), she crashes into a movie star’s car (honestly by mistake), only to name a few of the mishaps of her seventh grade year.Really, Violet is only tying to make it through middle school, survive visits with her dad and Jennica (her dad’s new wife, who is fake in more ways than one), and make sure her mom doesn’t fall for the wrong guy again, but somehow nothing seems to go as planned.If only she could get George Clooney to write her back, she is sure he will love her mom and make her real sister’s and her life much better.

If you enjoy realistic fiction with a bit of humor like Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging, by Louise Rennison, orAbsolutely Normal Chaos, by Sharon Creech, then Dear George Clooney… might be for you.

Smile

Sunday, November 28th, 2010

smileBy Raina Telgemeier, 213 pages  Grades 5-8

The author, Raina Telgemeier, was just racing her friends to the front door after a Girl Scout meeting when she tripped, fell and knocked out her two front teeth.  From that moment, middle school became a blur of surgeries and dentist/orthodontist appointments mixed with the more typical crushes, teasing and embarrassments.  This graphic memoir vividly depicts the mixed bag of middle school.  Will high school be better?

Connections:  For other humorous autobiographies/memoirs, try reading John Sciezka’s Knucklehead or How Angel Peterson Got His Name by Gary Paulsen.  For other graphic memoirs/biographies with a much more serious tone, check out Maus by Art Spiegelman or Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Mockingbird

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

mockingbird-by-kathyrn-erskine-book-cover-1By Kathryn Erskine, 235 pages, Grade 6-8

Caitlin and her father are feeling broken after tragedy strikes their family a second time.  Caitlin’s mother died of cancer three years before and now her brother, Devon, is dead after a violent incident at school.   On “the day their lives fell apart”, as Caitlin calls it, Devon’s door was slammed shut and Caitlin doesn’t feel like she can open it.  She misses her brother, and his  room and all it holds especially a special place next to his bed where she used go for comfort.  It was Devon who used to help her cope with the worlds of the town, the classroom and the playground.   He  always said Caitlin was brave; he even liked to call her Scout after the character in To Kill a Mockingbird.  Now that Caitlin’s dad spends a lot of time crying  and Caitlin, who has Asperger’s syndrome, has to be especially brave.  She would like to help her family put the pieces back together, but she is not sure how to do that.  After talking to the school counselor one day, she decides what they need is  “closure” and she is on a mission to get it.  But, first she has to find out what it is and how you get a hold of  it.

For other stories about how families find closure try Mick Harte Was Here by Barbara Park, or The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon.

Totally Joe

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

totallyjoeBy James Howe, 189 pages  Grades 6-8

<!–[if gte mso 9]> <![endif]–>“Being who you are isn’t a choice.”Although he had always lived this life lesson, it wasn’t until his favorite aunt gave him a button printed with these words that thirteen, year-old Joe really thought about what it meant for him, as a gay 7th grader, as well as for his schoolmates.Joe’s family and friends have always encouraged him to be himself (including dressing-up in dresses, playing with Barbies and cooking in an Easy-Bake oven) and he has always embraced his originality even when it led to teasing. Through an alphabiography project for his teacher, Joe shares his growing awareness of himself and his friends.

Connection:  Joe and the other characters were first introduced in Howe’s novel, The Misfits.  For other stories where characters share their life experiences through school writing assignments, try reading Love That Dog or Absolutely Normal Chaos by Sharon Creech, Shakespeare Bats Cleanup by Ron Koertge, or Ways to Live Forever by Sally Nicholls.

Bystander

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

bystander-james-preller-paperback-cover-artby James Preller   p. 226   Grades 5-8

Bully?  Accomplice?  Bystander?  Victim? Upstander? Which will Eric be?  As a new student at Central Middle School, he quickly sizes up the situation and recognizes immediately that pudgy David is a victim and that good looking, charming Griffin is at the top of the pecking order.  At first, Eric is drawn in by Griffin’s charisma and attention but soon sees the creep beneath the smile.  When ulitmately Eric refuses to do what Griffin demands, he becomes the target.   Eric, however, is not a victim, and with the help of Griff’s ex-girlfriend, he devises a plan.

Connections:  Other books with this theme are Shredderman: Secret Identity by Wendelin Van Draanen, Schooled by Gordon Korman, and  Stepping on the Cracks by Mary Downing Hahn.  Young adult titles for mature readers include The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier, Don’t Call Me Ishmael by Michael Gerard Bauer, and Inventing Elliot  by Graham Gardner.  For nonfiction, try Bullying : How to Deal with Taunting, Teasing, and Tormenting  by Kathleen Winkler, Sticks and Stones by Karen L. Maudlin or Bullies Are a Pain in the Brain written and illustrated Trevor Romain.

The Georges and the Jewels

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

the georges andby Jane Smiley   p. 232  Grades 5-8

If you own a horse or wish you did, this is the book for you.  Famous adult author Jane Smiley, who wrote Horse Heaven, seems to have written this book with middle school girls in mind.  Seventh grader Abby Lovitt lives on a horse ranch in California.  It sounds like a perfect situation for a girl who loves horses, but it isn’t.  Her father buys and trains horses to sell.  He doesn’t want the family, especially Abby to become attached to the horses, so he won’t allow her to name them.  The geldings are all called George and the mares are Jewel.   But each horse has its own personality, and Abby adds an adjective to each name.  Ornery George becomes her challenge.  Her dad can’t sell the horses until they are tame enough for a girl to ride them.  Ornery George has bucked Abby off so many times that she defies her strict father and refuses to ride him  . . . until one day when a stranger arrives at the ranch.

Connections:  Here are some other good horse stories:  Dairy Queeen by Catherine Murdock; Willow King by Chris Platt; and Hero by S. L. Rottman.  Two short story collections are Horse & Pony Stories compiled by Christine Pullein-Thompsonand Horse Stories edited by Felicity Trotman.  Classics include King of the Wind by Margerite Henry, National Velvet, and My Friend Flicka.

Cricket Man

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

cricket manby Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.  p. 196  Grade:  Young Adult

During the summer before eighth grade, Kenny Sykes has begun each morning rescuing the hundreds of crickets that keep jumping into his backyard swimming pool.  As an inside joke with his little brother, Kenny assumes the super-hero identity Cricket Man and creates a t-shirt that he wears to school concealed under his regular shirt.  The rest of his time he spends skateboarding or spying on and trying to get the attention of his beautiful sixteen-year-old neighbor, Jodie Poindexter.  When Jodie appears to have fallen into a deep depression, it’s Cricket Man to the rescue.

Connections:  These novels for young adults also focus on special and unusual friendships:  Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes; The Wild Kid; Stoner and Spaz and Define Normal.

Zen and the Art of Faking It

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2009

zen and the art of faking itby Jordan Sonnenblick.   p. 264   Grades 6-8

It’s tough being the new kid especially in January of the eighth grade.  San Lee has moved around and changed schools a lot, and this time it’s because his dad has gone to prison for fraud.  His mom’s short on money because of his dad’s legal fees, and even though it’s the middle of the winter in Pennsylvania, San heads off for his new middle school in sandals and the light windbreaker that were fine in Texas.  Adopted from China as a baby, San is the only Asian American at his new school.  When he discovers that his social studies class is studying Buddhism, which he studied last year, he pretends to be  a Zen master.   This deception wins him the attention of a beautiful girl but spins out of control in both serious and comical ways as more and more kids believe he’s the real thing.

Connections:  Books where a new kid makes a big impact on the other students in a school are Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, The Gypsies Never Came by Stephen Roos, Schooled by Gordon Korman and, for mature readers, Jake Reinvented by Gordon Korman as well as Inventing Elliot by Graham Gardner.  If you’d like to know more about Zen Buddhism, try browsing the 294.3 section of the library.

Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree and Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell in Love

Monday, July 20th, 2009

Emma-jean-lazarus-fell-out-tree-lauren-tarshisby Lauren Tarshis.  p. 169 Grades 5-8

Emma-Jean Lazarus is different from the other seventh graders at William Gladstone Middle School.  She’s super smart and super logical and finds the social interactions among her peers interesting but totally irrational.  Yet she is drawn to use her super problem solving skills to help sweet, hypersensitive Colleen when Emma-Jean discovers her crying in the girls’ bathroom.  Emma-Jean’s meddling not only leads to some hilarious situations but also to her beginning to make friends.  In the sequel, Emma Jean Lazarus Fell in Love, Emma Jean develops a crush herself while trying to help Colleen discover the secret admirer who left a note in Colleen’s locker.  If you enjoy quick, humourous reads about quirky characters, you’ll love Emma Jean Lazaus!

emma-jean

 

 

 

Connection:  Other good novels with quirky characters include The London Eye Mystery by Siobhan Dowd, Word Nerd by Susin Nielsen, Susan Patron’s Higher Power of Lucky, Way Down Deep by Ruth White and the adult novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon.