Tuesday, August 25, 2015

The Wednesday Wars 
by Gary Schmidt

This is another great book for middle school students. I can see why districts have this book as a novel study. The main character Holling Hoodhood enters seventh grade in 1967, and the book follows his very unique year. He grows and changes significantly while the world around him is as well. I appreciated his character and found myself always rooting for him during his many challenges like bullying, his father's idea that Holling would follow in his footsteps no matter what, his religious difference from his peers, etc. The story was funny and very heartwarming! I'm glad I finally took the time to read it as it was well worth it.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Counting by 7s
by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Grade 6 and up
Realistic Fiction

Counting By 7s is the story of Willow Chance, a twelve-year old girl who has been identified at an early age as ‘gifted’. Willow lives in Bakersfield, California and comes home from school one day to the news that her parents have been killed in a traffic accident.
What follows is Willow’s search to find a place where she belongs.
In equal parts an exploration of the pain of loss and of the triumph of moving forward, the novel looks at how one person can change the lives of many, often without even trying.
A Fish in a Tree
by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Grade 6 and up
Realistic Fiction

This uplifting novel will speak to anyone who’s ever thought there was something wrong with them because they didn’t fit in.

“Everybody is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid."

Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions. She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there’s a lot more to her—and to everyone—than a label, and that great minds don’t always think alike.
A Long Walk To Water
by Linda Sue Park
Grades 5-8
Realistic Fiction

A Long Walk to Water is a novella (only 128 pages) that tells the tale of two characters, Salva and Naya. It is based on a true story of the struggles of children in war torn Sudan.  Salva's journey starts in 1985 as he is suddenly separated from his family. He travels by foot through refugee camps to Ethiopia. Salva encounters many obstacles for an 11 year old boy, but despite this his drive to survive is inspiring. Naya's story starts in 2008 and her families ongoing struggle to survive in this third world country.  In the end the two lives will cross in an amazing and uplifting finale.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The View from Saturday

by E.L. Konigsburg
Realistic Fiction/ Middle School

I just finished reading The View from Saturday which I was excited to read since I loved From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. Honestly, it was a tough start. I did though enjoy the book and really appreciated the message it offers. E.L. Konigsburg took four unique characters and related them through their experiences/ journeys. Students who understand and appreciate gifted students with remarkable amounts of knowledge would appreciate this story. It is great for teaching about character traits because these four have so many different qualities from one another, but yet they connected to become a team called The Souls.
by Gordon Korman
Realistic Fiction/ Middle School

WOW! Ungifted by Gordon Korman was a great read! The main character, Donovan, is an eighth grade boy who enjoys pulling pranks with his buddies. He has a reputation for getting in trouble. His most recent prank that went wrong and destroyed school property and interfered with a big basketball game lands him in a gifted academy. He does his best to hide out in this new school, but it can't last forever. In the meantime, Donovan learns responsibility and builds lasting friendships. This was one of those books I didn't want to put down.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Lost in the Sun 

by Lisa Graff

Realistic Fiction/ Middle School

Earlier in July I read Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff. This novel is about a boy, Trent, who experiences a traumatic event in his life which he feels responsible for causing. However, he is not to blame, but he suffers from PTSD and has tremendous difficulty coping and getting his life back to normal. At the moment his book of thoughts is his crutch. He is dealing with divorced parents and one has since remarried and is expecting a child. He is a so called model of the middle child syndrome and feels no love from his father. The people in his life see his anger issues and fear it. Trent must find a way to start over. He reluctantly becomes friends with a girl whose strong personality teaches Trent so much! This novel helps middle school students learn how to cope with so many changes, being true to yourself and others, and learning life lessons sometimes the hard way.