Middle school students have reading interests that run the gamut from Diary of a Wimpy Kid to Twilight. Sometimes as a parent it is hard to know what is age appropriate for your child. Through this blog, I will try to help parents make informed decisions about what is available in our library. I am hoping that this blog will be a resource for our parents, and that we can all work together to make our students life-long readers!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Good Night, Mr. Tom

Good Night, Mr. Tom
by Michelle Magorian
From the publisher:
"London is poised on the brink of World War II. Timid, scrawny Willie Beech -- the abused child of a single mother -- is evacuated to the English countryside. At first, he is terrified of everything, of the country sounds and sights, even of Mr. Tom, the gruff, kindly old man who has taken him in. But gradually Willie forgets the hate and despair of his past. He learns to love a world he never knew existed, a world of friendship and affection in which harsh words and daily beatings have no place. Then a telegram comes. Willie must return to his mother in London. When weeks pass by with no word from Willie, Mr. Tom sets out for London to look for the young boy he has come to love as a son."

I discovered this book when I saw it listed in the BBC's 100 Favorite Books list.  It had been sitting on one of our school's library shelves for years and had rarely been checked out.  How sad that makes me now, because this book is beautiful.  I have so many students who read  A Child Called It  and ask for other books like it.  I try to get them to check out this one because it deals with a lot of the same issues, but in a more hopeful way.  Unfortunately the stigma of historical fiction and an older book always talks them out of it, because while this book is both heart-breaking and disturbing, it is also lovely and uplifting.  I highly recommend this book for middle school and up.  It's the kind of book that makes you feel truly grateful for the blessings in your own life, and you just want to hug the book when you finish it.

Areas of concern:  There are some very disturbing allusions to and scenes of abuse. 
Two boys have a frank (but pretty tasteful) discussion about sex.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


by Amy Tintera
From the publisher:
"Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes she came back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return. Wren 178 is the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas. Now seventeen years old, she serves as a soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation).

Wren’s favorite part of the job is training new Reboots, but her latest newbie is the worst she’s ever seen. As a 22, Callum Reyes is practically human. His reflexes are too slow, he’s always asking questions, and his ever-present smile is freaking her out. Yet there’s something about him she can’t ignore. When Callum refuses to follow an order, Wren is given one last chance to get him in line—or she’ll have to eliminate him. Wren has never disobeyed before and knows if she does, she’ll be eliminated, too. But she has also never felt as alive as she does around Callum.

The perfect soldier is done taking orders."

This book has a really interesting premise, a lot of action, fun characters and a uniqueness to it that sets it apart from other dystopian books. And yet, I didn't love it. I enjoyed reading it and it kept me entertained, but not enough to read a sequel. However, it does have the best book trailer EVER.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=adUV6q.... In fact, rewatching the book trailer made me think that I liked the book better than I did :) . They'll probably make it into a movie that I'll love. And maybe the reason I didn't love it is because I just re-read The Hunger Games series, and let's face it, most dystopians are just trying for the greatness of that series (except Mockingjay of course).

Areas of concern:
The main character kills many people and it doesn't phase her.
There several sexual discussions, but the main character stops making out before anything happens because she is nervous.
The *s* word is used 3 times on the same page and then more than a handful of swear words are scattered throughout the rest of the book.

Suggested Ages:
Publisher's Weekly - Ages 13+
School Library Journal - Grade 7+

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Champion (Legend #3)

by Marie Lu
From the publisher:
"The explosive finale to Marie Lu's New York Times bestselling LEGEND trilogy—perfect for fans of THE HUNGER GAMES and DIVERGENT!

He is a Legend.
She is a Prodigy.
Who will be Champion?

June and Day have sacrificed so much for the people of the Republic—and each other—and now their country is on the brink of a new existence. June is back in the good graces of the Republic, working within the government's elite circles as Princeps Elect while Day has been assigned a high level military position. But neither could have predicted the circumstances that will reunite them once again. Just when a peace treaty is imminent, a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic's border cities. This new strain of plague is deadlier than ever, and June is the only one who knows the key to her country's defense. But saving the lives of thousands will mean asking the one she loves to give up everything he has. With heart-pounding action and suspense, Marie Lu's bestselling trilogy draws to a stunning conclusion."

Finally, a last book in a trilogy that I loved! Thank you, Marie Lu, and get started writing the next trilogy, please. I read a lot of reviews that absolutely hated the ending of this book, but I thought it was perfect and really a brilliant way to handle everything. I could read the epilogue over and over. When I read Prodigy , I found it annoying in some ways because Day and June never seemed to trust each other and their attraction seemed purely physical. However, in this book they trust each other and even make great sacrifices for each other. It was also good to get to know Eden better and see his growth and eventual strength. I loved having Tess and Ollie back. It was so interesting to see Anden go through his struggles and try to be strong while not becoming his father. There was a lot of action and more looks into the world outside of the Republic. All very intriguing. Ahhhh, I will miss Day and June.

Areas of concern: 2 characters spend the night together and while it wasn't terribly graphic, it definitely wasn't "fade to black".
There are a handful of cuss words, and the slang word Day always uses for anything bad - "goddy". There is violence, but not on par with things like The Hunger Games or The Maze Runner (or else I'm just becoming de-sensitized to the violence in these dystopian books).

Suggested Ages:
Booklist - Grades 7-12
Publisher's Weekly - Ages 12+