I purchased Young Man with Camera by Emil Sher for the library after reading a review that seemed to indicate that the main character T----, who has visible burn marks on his face, was bullied in school. However, reading the story, I discovered that this isn't really the story of your typical middle school bully; it's the story of a middle school socio-path. T---- copes with the difficulties in his world by seeing the truth through the lens of a camera, but will anyone ever believe the truth?
The Trouble in Me by Jack Gantos is a semi-autobiographical novel about Jack Gantos' troubled childhood and the beginning of his slide into juvenile delinquency. I felt some sympathy for the main character, but it is easy for the reader to tell that Jack's admiration for the delinquent next door is not going to end well for him. I'm not sure I can say that I "liked" this book, but it is a realistic portrait of the struggles of young adults to find find their own identity in a difficult world.
Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff is a realistic fiction novel about a middle school athlete who, through a terrible accident, causes the death of another hockey player. The novel follows Trent as he learns to deal with the anger of the small town as well as his anger at himself. This is an excellent novel about friendship and learning to deal with the difficulties of life.
This novelization of Malcolm X's boyhood gives the reader a great deal of insight into the Civil Rights leader's childhood challenges and the motivations he had for becoming a great, if controversial, leader. The novel is well written by his daughter Ilyasah Shabazz and must contain family insights that a stranger would not be able to include. An excellent read!
2016 RI Teen Book Award nominee
The Story of Owen is exactly what the title says it is, the story of a young man named Owen growing up in Canada with many of the problems of any young adult, trouble with math and with girls. There is one large twist to Owen's world though: he is also the Dragon Slayer of Trondheim because in this alternative universe, dragons are attracted to carbon emissions. In a not-very-thinly-veiled allusion to industrial greed, the author tells the story of a familiar sounding recent history: World War II, the Persian Gulf War, and the Industrial Revolution especially in terms of the automobile industry. Using a young music student as a narrator, Johnston's addition of the dragons to this history makes for a very interesting read. While not my favorite of the RITBA this year as I tended to agree with the NY Times Book Review, I think this book will definitely appeal to students who like fantasy and good story telling.
Mrs. Carlino: librarian, technology teacher, intrepid reader, armchair (and real when I can swing it) traveler, vegetable gardener, and outdoor lover!
Some other sites where I have reviewed books:
Other lists of great reads:
A .pdf File from the MA Department of Eduction that outlines suggested reading for grade level. The authors that will help you be "well-read":
I found this nice list of classics for middle schoolers thanks to a teacher in New York. Thanks to Mr. Shapiro wherever you are!