Showing posts with label Middle Grade Realistic Fiction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Middle Grade Realistic Fiction. Show all posts

Sunday, July 7, 2024

The Bully Book by Eric Kahn Gale

Genre: Elementary and Middle Grade Realistic Fiction

Source: I own a copy.


This book is loosely based on bullying the author faced when he was in elementary school. His main character represents so many kids today. Erick Haskins was looking forward to his last year in elementary school. He hasn’t seen his best friend Donovan all summer. When his best friend walks past him and sits with the bullies he doesn’t know what to think. When the Jason calls him the “grunt” he isn’t sure why. He has always tried to stay out of trouble. He has managed to stay out of the way of the school bullies. This year they have decided he is low man on the totem pole, the grunt. As we go through the year with Erick we see his journal of thoughts and learn that there is a “Bully Book”. The book is about his hunt for it. If he can just find it and read it then maybe he will know why he was chosen as the grunt, how to stop being the grunt, and maybe, just maybe prevent this from happening to someone else. If there is one thing he has learned this year is that leaving elementary school as a grunt, can carry over into the next year.

I think this was a eye opener for me. I am a teacher so not necessarily the target audience for this book. However, some of the subtle things I saw happening in the book are things that often happen in today. I had a couple of students who were the target of bullies. I tried my best to stop it in the classroom. Once they left my room I was often unable to protect them. As a teacher this is very disturbing. At one point one of my students stood up for the weak child. She called out the bullies on an issue I had not seen. They work under the radar I have learned. She then looked at this kid and said, “You have got to start standing up for yourself.” He chose to take whatever they gave out and just live with it. Talking to admin. Doesn’t always help.  I now know why my students passed this book around and when they finally put it on my desk, told me I needed to read it. It has characters and situations they can identify with, which makes them feel like they are not alone


Thursday, July 4, 2024

Chester and the Magic 8 Ball by Lynn Katz


Genre: Middle Grade Realistic Fiction.
Source: I received a copy from BookBub. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Middle school is tough. I know this because I’m a middle school teacher. Sixth graders are trying to grow up yet they face so many new challenges. This is often the first time they face the death of a family member or friend for the first time. They face bullying, illnesses, changes in friendship. I guess that is why I know middle school kids will be able to identify with this story.

Georgia has wanted a dog as long as she can remember. She asks her Magic 8 Ball if she will get a dog today and the answer comes back, ‘It is certain’. Georgia puts her plan into effect and by the end of the day she has a dog in her life. Chester isn’t just any dog. He was a well loved dog whose elderly owner fed him candy which rotted his teeth. He had to have all his teeth pulled. Everyone loves Chester.  When Georgia’s father comes home from the hospital and sees the dog he argues with his wife and leave the house. Georgia knows her parents have been fighting a lot lately. But now she believes getting Chester caused her dad to move out.

As we read through the book we see how Chester’s presence has such a surprising effect on people.  Will he bring people together?  Is he psychic? After all he plays with the Magic 8 Ball and so far all his predictions to questions Georgia has asked have been correct.  A charming book full of hope and wishing for better things. A book that shows you that sometimes what you need is right in front of you.  Looking forward to sharing this with my students at school and recommending it to our media specialist.

Thursday, June 27, 2024

The Snow Games by Darren Greninger


Genre:  Middle Grade, Young Adult, Realistic Fiction
Source:  I won a copy from LibraryThing. The opinions expressed here are my own.

I absolutely loved the premise of this story and the characters.  Francesca’s school has sent out a message they are going to vote on having year-round school to battle the learning slump. Francesca and her friends decide to find a way to keep this from happening. When her brother Liam tells her about the Snow Games, she sees a way she may be able to save the day.

Tyler Young is the billionaire creator of the games.  Using snowballs and their wits, the contestants must capture a flag and then cross the finish lines.  In exchange he will provided support for the teams school.  Unfortunately, no school has ever won. That doesn’t deter Francesca. She agrees to be on her brother’s team. The team consists of her brother Liam, who suffers from severe asthma. Then there is Priya, her best friend. The only way she can get Ethan, the school’s hockey player, and who she’s had a crush on forever to join the team is to convince the new girl Lindsay to join. Each member has their own reason for being on this team and working to win. Their chaperone on this televised event is none other than Claire, the school psychologist.  Throughout the book we get a deeper look at each of these characters, their motives, and what truly drives them.

This book is a book of hope, of going for the brass ring, and not listening to those who would put you down. Most importantly it is about believing in yourself and your strengths and learning that sometimes what you think you know about yourself and what you think you want is just a small part of what you actually want and who you are. 

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Student Saturday: Restart by Gordon Korman

Genre:  Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction

Student Reviewer:  Olivia S.  

In the book “Restart” Chase Ambrose is a 13-year-old boy whose has forgotten his whole life and the people in it. Chase gets amnesia after falling off his house's roof and wakes up surrounded by total strangers. He doesn’t remember his family, his friends, or even who he is. When Chase gets well enough to go back to school, he is greeted by various reactions. Some of the kids think he is a hero, others are afraid of him, and some clearly hate him. Chase has no idea who the real Chase was and does not know why people clearly dislike him. Will Chase get his memories back and become who he used to be, or will he decide that who he used to be is not who he wants to be anymore? 

Chase Ambrose is a big kid with brown hair and is very athletic. When Chase gets amnesia, he is athletic, intelligent, and funny and he gains a moral compass from his injury. Chase becomes more empathetic to other people and becomes nicer to the people surrounding him. This book reminds me of the book “Masterminds.” Both Chase and the Masterminds go on a journey to discover who they truly are. In both books, the protagonists must solve a mystery. I would recommend this book to ages 10 and up, since it teaches kids good morals. This book teaches people that you decide what choices you make and that you can decide to change your actions.  

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Student Saturday: Listen, Slowly by Thanhhà Lại


Genre: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction 4/6
Student Reviewer: Jason G.

Mai, A Twelve-year-old girl who finished 6th grade, got hit with the news that she would go to Vietnam for six weeks. She did not appeal to this idea and attempted to counter-argue it with her parents but got madder. On the plane, her grandmother, Bà, tried to get Mai to stop resisting by saying, “Mai, try to understand that this trip is for you too. To see where you are from...” Mai, still in resistance, screams into the airplane pillow. As Mai and Mua, her father, discuss the importance of her going, Mua hisses, “Bà thinks Õng might be alive; that’s why.” Õng is Mai’s grandfather, and Bà seeks to uncover during their trip to Vietnam. Mua says, “As soon as she accepts that Õng is truly gone, you both can go home. Mai, I would just like you to be with her until she accepts.”

I can relate to Mai because, like Mai stated, “What’s so important? All her children and grandchildren are in California. Her life is there. My life is there.” I would also be short-tempered if I went on a trip for the sole purpose of learning more about family. This book is well-crafted for its ability to engage with readers who have encountered similar cultural challenges. I recommend this book to people who find the complexities of adolescence in a multicultural world stimulating. This book is well-written and shows a heartfelt and insightful exploration of cultural identity and the complexities of family heritage.

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Student Saturday: Rodrick Rules by Jeff Kinney


Genre: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction
Student Reviewer: Kahlen S.

The book Diary a Wimpy Kid Rodrick Rules is a great read by the author Jeff Kinney. This book is a lot about Greg and Rodrick Heffley also Rowley Jefferson and Holly Hills its surrounded a lot in a pool are and middles school the grade Greg, Rowley, and Holly are in. Greg Heffley has a certain personality that most people would call a follower and wants to be like everyone else. But his friend Rowley Jefferson is not and is his own self does not care what other people think. Then there is Rodrick Heffley which he loves rock music and has his own band called loaded diaper.

Going on there is Holly Hills, which Greg has a huge crush on and can never hangout or ever get her number there is always a blockade. I really liked this book and I think most people do. Its more of a comedy comic book lots of illistration. But its simple but good enough to under stand. This would be a good read for someone that can relate to Greg. Or some of the other characters in the book. 

 I really enjoyed this book. I think I am gonna read farther into the series and can't wait to see whats in the other books. Overall this is a great book by the author Jeff Kinney and can't wait to read more of his content.

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Student Saturday: Escaping the Giant Wave by Peg Kehret


Genre:  Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction
Student Reviewer: Jillianna H.

Kyle is a thirteen year old boy that had goals to raise his allowance and stop Daren from bullying him. Kyle had always been pushed around and poked by Daren and didn’t like him at all. But when they got stuck together on a family vacation Kyle planned to finish his goal and stop Daren.

Kyle’s dad got awarded the salesman of the year, because of this they got offered a free trip to Oregon. Kyle found out that Daren's parents work for the same company as his and that they would be staying at the same hotel. They had plans to stay at a new hotel in Fisher Beach, but it was unfortunately closed due to construction. So, the family got moved to an older hotel that was closer to the beach. The sign on the beach had a warning that said that the beach is in danger of a tsunami. The family read the direction to go uphill as far as you could once an earthquake happens so you would have a better chance of surviving the tsunami. The next day the parents went on a cruise to celebrate the dad's award and left Kyle and his sister alone at the hotel. An earthquake happens and Kyle makes the decision to go uphill. They ended up at the top of the hill with a couple named Norm and Josie, with their dog pansy.

I thought this was a great book and I was even scared for them while reading. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes suspense and books that will make you feel like you are with the characters.

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Student Saturday: Unschooled by Allan Woodrow


Student Reviewer: Mako C.
Genre: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction

This book was very enjoyable for me, as it wasn't too wordy and kept me interested. The book has 270 pages, and the two main characters are Lilly and George. Lilly and George are best friends in the book. Lilly is described as a happy, go-lucky, energetic girl. While George, on the other hand, is described as very neat and a germaphobe, he is constantly applying hand sanitizer in the book. The time during the book is never clearly stated, but the setting is clearly described; it takes place at Lilly and George’s school; they are in the 5th grade. It also sometimes takes place at Lilly’s and George’s house, but their school is the main setting. 

The main plot of the story is a 5th grade spirit week, where each day is something new and the final day is a field day with games. The 5th grade is split into two teams: the red team and the blue team. Each day the students compete to win that specific day, and the team with the most points at the end of spirit week is awarded a special prize. That prize, however, isn't revealed to the students until the end of the book, which arouses many wacky and weird ideas of what the prizes could possibly be.

This book reminds me of when I was in 5th grade, and we had a spirit week and field days. There weren't any prizes or teams, however. Each day was something new, and Friday was a field day; one of the days was a pajama day, and I wore a monkey onesie. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants a lighthearted, good read. This book is very interesting and has a good plot. It is also really funny at times. I didn’t really have any expectations for this book, because I’ve never read any other book by this author, but if I did have an expectation for this book, it definitely would have exceeded my expectations

Saturday, December 30, 2023

Student Saturday: Tales From a Not-So-Smart Miss- Know-It-All by Rachel Renee Russell


Student Reviewer:  Sabrina S.
Genre:  Middle Grade Realistic Fiction

This is a great series and overall a good bookThe author Rachel Renee Russell does an amazing job of making you feel like you're involved with the drama.

The main character, Nikki J. Maxwell, is a teenage girl who has two best friends, Chloe and Zoey, and her biggest enemy Mackenzie, who is a snobby rich girl that thinks she's better than everyone. Her crush, Brandon, is popular and nice but Mackenzie likes him too! Nikki and Makenzie have a big rivalry against each other. They are always trying to outdo one another. In this book, Nikki wants to join a newspaper club for her school, mostly to get closer to Brandon but also for fun. All goes well until her position in the news crew has no action and no one writing messages to it, so she makes it better and gets very well-known across the school. Then comes Brandon's birthday party and Nikki has waited forever to get him his gift but a few problems happen while trying to afford his present. This book is good for anyone who likes high school drama and plot twists. Rachel Renee has written a very good series. 

Saturday, November 11, 2023

Student Saturday: Breakout by Kate Messner


Genre: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction
Student Reviewer:  Lam T.

Breakout is a cool book for middle school kids like me. This is because it tells a story in a different way, like with letters, text messages, and things so it's not just words on a page. The story is about a prison break in a small town and how it affects everyone there.

The three main characters are called Nora, Lizzie, and Elidee, and we get to see what they think and feel with bubbles. It feels like you're right there with them. The book also talks about important things like being kind to others and standing up for what's right. It's a good book for school discussions.

So, if you want a book that's easy to read and makes you think about being a good person, Breakout is a good choice since it reminds us how important it is to be kind and help each other when things get tough, also the book is based on a true story so it’s not just fake.

Saturday, October 28, 2023

Student Saturday: Up From the Sea by Leza Lowitz


Genre: Realistic Fiction
Student Reviewer: Aliyah S.

This story takes place in a small town in Honshu Japan. In this town lives a biracial teen named Kai with his mother and grandparents.His best friend in the story is Keiko,a girl in the town his age.Kai’s father lives in New York and Kai hasn’t heard from him in years.

In the story a tsunami hits Kai’s town and you follow the characters through the recovery of the town. After the tsunami Kai is offered a trip to New York to talk to kids who’s lives were changed by 9/11 and while he is in New York he also attempts to find his father.Kai returns from New York to help rebuild his town and encourage others in the town.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes the poetry set up of the book and likes an inspiring story. I thought the book was very inspiring because Kai could make good of a devastating situation and keeps hope throughout the book.

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Shelve Under C: A Tale of Used Books and Cats by Jenny Kalahar


Genre:  Middle Grade, Young Adult, Adult, Realistic Fiction
Source:  I own a copy

This is a wonderful book. I love cats and books and thought, why not.?  Mr. and Mr. O'Malley own and run a used bookstore. They buy and sell used books. With no children of their own they welcome orphaned cats into their bookstore. These aren't just any cat's. They work with the local animal shelter and foster cats where they would have a great chance of interacting with the public and then become adopted. This bookstore has two cats ready for adoption. Stomper who reminded me in personality of Garfield.  He was grumpy, wanted to be left alone and learned how to steal food from the small fridge inn the front room.  Buglit is the most recent addition. She had belonged to an older lady who had passed away. She hated the shelter. When brought to the shelter, she felt a connection to Mrs. O'Malley. Both cats have their own personality.  There are a variety of humans who play a big part in this book as well. You have the man who owns the music store down the street. There is young Kris who loves spending time in the bookstore. His love of books is obvious. It seems to go beyond the normal love of reading. He and Mr. O'Malley become very close. Like Buglit and Stomper he is a foster kid. Read this book to see how the three of them, Stomper, Buglit, and Stomper help each other through the ups and downs of everyday life.

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Student Saturday: Alone by Megan E. Freeman



Student Reviewer:  Alicia M.
Genre:  Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction

     Maddie was a 12-year-old girl. She was normal and had a great relationship with her stepparents and her parents. She adored her siblings. Everything was fine, her routine was the same, her friendships were good. She lived in a town called Millerville.

    Unfortunately, something occurred causing everyone to evacuate. Maddie planned something with her best friends, but they couldn’t go. While Maddie was at her grandparents alone, everyone left without informing her. Maddie was left to take care of herself and thrive through major weather and disasters. In the end of evacuation, Maddie sought shelter at her mother's house and noticed her neighbor’s dog, George, was left behind unattended. She took him with her as a friend and for protection. They went through different obstacles together. At the end, something unexpected came. She finally reached her successful conclusion after 3 years of surviving alone.

    I didn’t expect to like this book a lot because of how thick the booked looks but it’s interesting. I recommend this book to anyone who feels discouraged when they feel alone. This book made me surprised when I read the big events that occurred. I really enjoyed reading this and I will be more than happy to read this again.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

Stoneway by Christopher Francis


Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Supernatural, Realistic Fiction
Source: Purchased

For the first time reading a book by Christopher Francis, I found myself crying. This was probably one of my favorites of all of his books. Maybe it is because I am a teacher and see the effects of bullying at school. This last year was particularly hard on a couple of students. I tried really hard to be there for some of them. It is one thing to have a teacher in your corner and another to have true friends stand up for you. That is what this book is truly about. Yes there is a ghost in this story. He is there because his ties the bullied to the bully. He makes an appearance to get help. This is not a ghost story. I have read reviews about this book that thought the "ghost story" was lacking. Because a ghost appears it doesn't mean it is a scary ghost story.

The author did a great job of keeping the story flowing and letting us see how the characters changed over time. Does everyone change? No, just like in real life not everyone changes. I read this as an ebook. I have since purchased it for my classroom. That is how good I feel this book and its message is. Well don Mr. Francis, Well done!

Saturday, April 8, 2023

Student Saturday: Other Words For Home by Jasmine Warga

Student Reviewer Alicia M.
Genre: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction, Novel in Verse

Jude is a girl from Syria. She was very interested in American songs, actors, and movies. She has black hair and black eyes. She had a very close relationship with her friend Fatima. they have close birthdays and similar intersts. She also shares interests with her older brother Issa.

Violence starts to breakout in her city, Allepo. Her family begins to worry when Issa, Jude's older brother moves to a violent city. Jude finds out her mother is pregnant. Soon after, her mother tells Jude they are going to move to America. Jude struggles to adjust to the "American way" of living. She feels left out and weird when she goes to school. She tries to build a relationship with her cousin Sarah. Jude started her period so she had to wear a hijab. She feels prouder and she feels included in school. Her younger sister is born and that was a sign of hope to her.

If I was Jude I would have felt the same, but I would've handled things differently. If I was homesick I would have told someone so I could have comfort. I recommend this book to anyone who feels bad  about their culture, looks, and religion. Being different shouldn't be a bad thing. This book shows the struggle of a teenage girl trying to fit into a new environment. It encourages people to do things that intersets them no matter looks and culture.


Saturday, April 1, 2023

Student Saturday: To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han


Student Reviewer: Andrea J
Genre: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Realistic Fiction

Jean, a young girl has loved lots of people. I'm not going to lie. She reminds me of myself. There's one part of the book where she wrote notes to the boys. One of the lines was "I miss you. It's only been five days, but I miss you like it's been five years."
I know I might be young and all but boys are dumb. I've only dated two people and I haven been able to get over one. Then we stopped talking. I felt like one week of talking felt like a month and the month kept getting longer and longer. I think this is important ot the book because there coul dbe lots of girls out there that felt the same way so this book is a great example o to show how Lara Jean dealt with it.

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Student Saturday: My Cousin's Keeper by Simon French


Sttudent Reviewer: Humberto G.

Genre: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction

The characters in "My cousin's Keeper" are Benn,Kieran, Renee, and Gina The setting takes place at his home and school.

Kieran, and Ben are related. At the start of the school year a boy shows up, which is Kieran ' cousin he doesn't know. Ben is in a really bad conditiona at home and at school. There are people at school who bully him. Kieran wants to be in a popular group with teh popular kids. When seh found out that they were relatedhe feels embarassed because of the way Ben looks. At home Ben has a mom who doesn't take good care of him. Ben has long braids, a babyish hat, and has a funny voice. Ben has an only friend which is Julia who likes Kieran.

Things I would do in this situation would be stand up for family. As we know Kieran and Ben are relatives and Kieran feels embarrassed to be Ben's cousin. Kieran lets people bully his cousin. I I was in this situation I would stand up and not be embarrassed over family and the way they look. This story has a big meaning to it and would recommend it to people who dealt with this tough time. I would also recommend this book to people who love drama.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

Genre: Middle Grade, Realistic Fiction
Source: I own this book

I think I am drawn to books with characters who are on the autism spectrum because I have a grandson who is on the spectrum. I have taught many students that fell somewhere on the spectrum and it has been a pleasure. I was even more thrilled to see that I can keep this book on my shelf.  If you don’t know what I am talking about go back and read my posts for January 19 and March 20.

I love the main character in this story. Rose has what I call autism quirks. She loves homophones. If you don’t remember what they are they are words that sound alike but have different spellings and different meaning. An example would be “write/right, or the title rain/reign”.   I have met parent’s like Rose’s dad who don’t understand or want to understand their child’s “condition”. Often they are in denial that their child is different, or they blame someone else for their child’s condition. In Rose’s case she is often left at home while her dad goes out drinking.  Then there is her teacher.  I wanted to scream at her and ask why she was a teacher.  I have loved teaching every autistic child I have had. I have learned so much from them.  Rose has an ally, her Uncle Weldon. He is more like a father to her than her on dad. Of course she has her best friend in the world her dog Rain, who goes missing. Rain was a stray her dad brought home to her. This book is emotional and hard to put down. I would definitely recommend it to my students if for no other reason to help create empathy in them. 

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Missing Okalee by Laura Ojeda Melchor


Genre: Mddle Grade, Realistic Fiction
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

This is one of those stories that will tug at your heart strings. This book is an emotional roller coaster. It deals with death, grief and how each person handles it differently. Phoebe and her sister have a ritual they have secretly performed for years crossing the river. This time things go wrong and Okalee drowns. What happens after that is terrible. Phoebe feels guilty about it. Her mother becomes very depressed. A kid at school spreads rumors about the drowning that push Phoebe deeper into her guilt. We see the toll it takes on her. She stops singing, she doesn’t report the bullying. At some point Phoebe decides to talk to get some help. If this book does nothing else but reach out to a student reading it and teach them that it is okay to talk to someone when they have a problem, then it has done more than provide a good read. We need more books like this in our schools and on our classroom shelves. Unfortunately, this is a book I can recommend to students, but can’t have on my classroom shelves. Our media specialist has not read and approved it and is no where else in out district’s schools. It therefore had to be pulled from my shelves. Don’t think I won’t tell my kids what a wonderful book it is

Monday, February 13, 2023

Red Kayak by Priscilla Cummings


Genre: Middle Grade, Realilstic Fiction
Source: I own a copy

One of my students invited me to reread this book. I am so glad she did. I purchased this book many, many years ago and didn't remember the story. We have three middle school boys, Brady, J.T., and Digger. They have been best friends all of their life. J.T. helps his father with their chicken farm. Digger often helps his dad haul gravel or run heavy equipment. Brady is a crabber like his father.

When the farm next door to Brady is sold, a lot changes. Digger become angry. His ailing grandfather had to get rid of his farm and he sees the new family as rich people who don't care about anyone or anything. It is this anger that  will come to haunt them all.

Mr. and Mrs. D'Angelo and their young son Ben have built a large mansion on the property once owned by Digger's grandfather.  Brady has babysat Ben and thinks he is an awesome kid. Ben loves his hampster Tiny Tim and his lego's. He is a very bright young child and Brady loves this about him.

While at school one day, Brady is called to the office with all of his things. His father is there to meet him and tells him he needs his help. Mrs. D'Angelo and her son are missing out on the water. Brady is very familiar with these waters and goes to help. He finds young Ben and keeps him alive all the way back to where the rescuers are. But did he do enough.

This book is about tragedy, about finding yourself after a tragedy. It is about family and coping with family issues.  It is about friendship.  Most importantly it is about doing the right thing.  I don't want to say anymore as it will give away too much. I do highly recommend this book along with a box of tissues.