Friday, December 12, 2014


Graphic Novel.
Collects the adventures of Superhero Girl, a young woman trying to make a living as a superhero, but things like poor finances, an overshadowing superhero brother, a desire to be her own person, and the lack of an archnemesis keep getting in her way. 
Entertaining and fast-paced. Perfect for grade 6-8.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

SOUL SURFER by Bethany Hamilton

A True Story of Faith, Family, and Fighting to Get Back on the Board

Narrative Nonfiction; Survival; Courage

"Bethany Hamilton shares the story of her lifelong love of surfing, and tells how she was able to recover and return to competition with the help of her family, friends, and faith after losing her arm in a shark attack at the age of thirteen." (
This was published in 2004, but is still a popular book with my middle school students. I finally read it. Now I know why it's a keeper. Bethany's wisdom, faith, and love are remarkable. Her persistence and perspective on life are an example for all ages. Highly inspiring.

"What about sharks?" That question is asked countless times to surfers, especially by those whose sports rarely take them near the ocean....I'd usually just shrug and try not to think about it.....Life is full of what-ifs. You can't let it hold you back. If you do, you're not really living at all...just kind of going through the motions with no meaning." (page 122-123)

Friday, August 15, 2014

THE MAZE RUNNER by James Dashner

Dystopian; Science Fiction; Horror

Kirkus Reviews (September 15, 2009)
Boys come to the Glade via an empty freight elevator with no memory of how they got there or of their prior lives. This disorientation is made more frightening when they realize that to survive they must lock themselves in every night to avoid the horrors of the Grievers, beings that are part machine, part animal--and altogether deadly. The boys in the Glade send out Runners each day to find a way out through the Maze that surrounds their one patch of safety, with no success. Life goes on until one day the elevator delivers a girl. She brings a message: She is the last child to be sent, and there will be no more deliveries of food or supplies. Now the Glade is cut off, and as the Grievers gather for an all-out attack it's clear that it's now or never--the Maze must be solved. Dashner knows how to spin a tale and make the unbelievable realistic. Hard to put down, this is clearly just a first installment, and it will leave readers dying to find out what comes next. (Science fiction. 12 & up)

Great recommendation for those who like the Hunger Games and Divergent. Not for the timid - a scenario similar to Lord of the Flies with lots of gore and creepy 'grievers'! A page turner.

Okay, just finished  book 2 and 3: The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure. Now I see that there is a prequel - The Kill Order! Full disclosure: I am a chicken with horror; cannot read Stephen King or watch horror films. I would definitely classify this as horror, but I couldn't stop reading and made it to the end. This has been such a big hit with my middle school students for years and I knew I had to read it. I am exhausted (kept wanting a quick happy ending!) but it was well worth it. Great series! Just make sure your reader likes a little horror! Thanks James Dashner. Twitter: jamesdashner and #dashnerarmy

Check out the movie! "Based upon the best-selling novel by James Dashner. The Maze Runner, coming to theaters September 19, 2014.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014


Science Fiction; Humor; Satire

"One Thursday lunchtime, the Earth is unexpectedly demolished to make way for a new hyperspace bypass. For Arthur Dent, who has only just had his house demolished that morning, this seems already to be more than he can cope with. Sadly, however, the weekend has only just begun, and the galaxy is a very strange and startling place."

ALA Notable Books 1995; multiple starred reviews; a classic - Yes!

How could I have waited so long to read this book? My kids, my husband, and other family members loved it and quoted it for years. This goes down as a favorite. I listened to part of it and read the rest. The audio version is fantastic and brings out the Monty Python-isc humor slant; the text version is as good. I am hooked on Douglas Adams and will recommend this book with great enthusiasm to both middle and high school readers.

Douglas Adams Quotes
"Flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss."

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I intended to be."

"To give real service you must add something which cannot be bought or measured with money, and that is sincerity and integrity."

For more information on Douglas Adams and his books, go to

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

THE 5 WAVE by Rick Yancey

Science Fiction; Survival Stories; YA Horror. Book 2: The Infinite Sea
Best Books 2013; Notable Children's Book 2013; YALSA Top 10, etc., etc!
Horn Book starred (Fall 2013)
Cassie, sixteen, prepares herself for the fifth wave of aliens, the final takeover, fearing that she may be all that's left of humanity. She's alone until she meets "very good-looking" Evan Walker, and together they must figure out how to fight back. Yancey vividly portrays Cassie's existential crisis in a broken world: how to live, why to live, and what to care about.

Heads up - Scary, Scary!..... but loved this book! Great for both middle and high school students who love horror.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Romance. Identity. Decision-Making. Book one in a trilogy: The Selection; The One; The Elite
Notes: "Sixteen-year-old America Singer is living in the caste-divided nation of Illea, which formed after the war that destroyed the United States. America is chosen to compete in the Selection--a contest to see which girl can win the heart of Illea's prince--but all she really wants is a chance for a future with her secret love, Aspen, who is a caste below her"--Provided by publisher.
From the Publisher: For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in a palace and compete for the heart of gorgeous Prince Maxon.
But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.
Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself—and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined. (Follett's Titlewave)

Grade 7 book club choice. Loved it! Reminded me a bit of The Hunger Games.  Good middle school recommendation.


Fantasy. "The international bestselling series with over 5 million copies sold in the U.S. alone!
They have always scared him in the past—the Rangers, with their dark cloaks and shadowy ways. The villagers believe the Rangers practice magic that makes them invisible to ordinary people. And now 15-year-old Will, always small for his age, has been chosen as a Ranger's apprentice. What he doesn't yet realize is that the Rangers are the protectors of the kingdom. Highly trained in the skills of battle and surveillance, they fight the battles before the battles reach the people. And as Will is about to learn, there is a large battle brewing. The exiled Morgarath, Lord of the Mountains of Rain and Night, is gathering his forces for an attack on the kingdom. This time, he will not be denied. . . .

Perfect for fans of J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, T.H. White's The Sword in the Stone, and Christopher Paolini's Eragon series
Matt D's recommendation from grade 8 book club....and he is a reader beyond compare! I agree that it has a great plot and portrays admirable qualities of a true Ranger. Highly recommend for elementary and middle school readers. Good choice also for reluctant readers.


  Fantasy. "Ged was the greatest sorcerer in all Earthsea, but once he was called       Sparrowhawk, a reckless youth, hungry for power and knowledge, who tampered  with long-held secrets and loosed a terrible shadow upon the world. This is the tale  of his testing, how he mastered the mighty words of power, tamed an ancient dragon, and crossed death's threshold to restore the balance." (from the publisher).
I enjoyed rediscovering this classic fantasy. My grade 8 students did not share my enthusiasm and felt that it is geared towards a younger audience. I thought this opinon interesting because I believe that there are some very advanced concepts. I read them the following quote from the ending:
"...Ged had neither lost nor won but, naming the shadow of his death with his own name, had made himself whole; a man: who, knowing his whole true self, cannot be used or possessed by any power tother than himself, and whose life therefore is lived for life's sake and never in the service of ruin, or pain, or hatred, or the dark. In the Creation of Ea, which is the oldest song, it is said, "Only in silence, only in dark the light, only in dying life: bright the hawk's flight on the empty sky."
So, I loved this book and Le Guin's beautiful writing, but will take into account my grade 8 book club's opinion when recommending this to others.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

WONDER by R.J. Palacio

315 pages.Bullying; Self Perception; Overcoming Adversity; Kindness; Friendship; Middle School. 

NY Times Bestseller

Description from"Notes: Ten-year-old Auggie Pullman, who was born with extreme facial abnormalities and was not expected to survive, goes from being home-schooled to entering fifth grade at a private middle school in Manhattan, which entails enduring the taunts and fear of his classmates as he struggles to be seen as just another student.
From the Publisher: I won't describe what I look like. Whatever you're thinking, it's probably worse."

Horn Book (Fall 2012)
"Born with a severe facial deformity, formerly homeschooled Auggie is starting fifth grade. We learn how desperately he wants friends but little of what he might offer in return, as he seems to be defined by his disability. Still, this novel is a heartbreaker, and one that for many readers may provide a new definition of bravery in the face of adversity."

This a perfect choice for summer reading lists and classrooms. It will provide much material for discussion. Fair Warning: Readers will most likely cry! The message of friendship, love, and kindness is much needed today. Thank you R.J. Palacio.