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!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Open Road Summer

Open Road Summer
by Emery Lord
From the publisher:
"After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own.

Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence.

This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking.

A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes."

I enjoyed this book, but I didn't love it as much as the author's other book, The Start of Me and You. I think it is because I never really liked the main character. Even though she improved throughout the book, and even though there were extenuating circumstances for her behaviors, I just never liked her. That always makes it hard for me to really love the book. However, I loved most of the secondary characters, and the plot itself was fun and interesting. 

Areas of concern:
*The main character was trying to become a better person and to improve her life, but there were many references to her past bad behaviors and she would still sneak out to smoke.
*There are multiple uses of all cussing words with the exception of the "f" word.
*The main character's best friend is a country/pop music star and she is caught up in an erroneous sex scandal. 
*Very little adult supervision of these teenagers. 

Suggested Ages:
Booklist - Grades 7-10
Publisher's Weekly - Ages 12+

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Connect the Stars

Connect the Stars
by Marisa de los Santos
From the publisher:
"From Saving Lucas Biggs authors Marisa de los Santos and David Teague comes another heartwarming middle grade adventure about two misfits who discover the importance of just being themselves.

When thirteen-year-olds Aaron and Audrey meet at a wilderness camp in the desert, they think their quirks are enough to prevent them from ever having friends. But as they trek through the challenging and unforgiving landscape, they learn that they each have what it takes to make the other whole. 

Luminous and clever, Connect the Stars has Marisa de los Santos and David Teague’s trademark beautiful prose, delicate humor, swooping emotions, and keen middle grade friendships. This novel takes on the hefty topics of the day—bullying, understanding where you fit in, and learning to live with physical and mental challenges—all in a joyous adventure kids will love!"

This was an enjoyable book about some misfit teenagers whose parents think that sending them to a wilderness camp will help them with all of their various problems.  The thing that stuck with me the most about this book is that these wilderness camps need to be vetted by parents a lot better than the parents in this book did.  Not that I'm against these kinds of camps, but only one adult out in a wilderness area outside of range of communication with a bunch of teenagers?   I don't think so.  However, that isn't the point of the book.  The point of the book is that these kids all had issues and were sent to the wilderness to try to work through them.  They all have life-changing experiences and all end up better and stronger because of those experiences.   I loved the friendships that formed.  The characters were very diverse and interesting.  There was action and suspense, and fun and laughter.  The core group of Audrey, Aaron, Kate and Louis was very strong and I liked them all.  I have a member of my family who is a combination of Louis and Aaron, so it was interesting to read about their difficulties and think of my close relative and his struggles.  It's always nice to feel a connection like that to a book.  I think middle schoolers will really like this one.  I know the students at my school who have read it really recommend it to their peers.

Areas of concern:
*All of the campers have different issues, so there are things talked about like a grandparent's death, parental abandonment, foster homes.....  Nothing too graphic for a middle schooler.
*There is some massive bullying going on - a lot of it coming from an adult directed towards kids.
*I don't remember any bad language, and there were no sexual situations.

Suggested Ages:
Booklist - Grades 4-7
Kirkus Reviews - Ages 8-12
*Mrs. Duke thinks those ages are a little on the young side because there are some serious issues discussed and dealt with.  I wouldn't suggest it for elementary age, but definitely for middle school.