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 21, 2016

The Girl Who Drank the Moon

The Girl Who
Drank the Moon
by Kelly Barnhill
From the publisher:
"Every year, the people of the Protectorate leave a baby as an offering to the witch who lives in the forest. They hope this sacrifice will keep her from terrorizing their town. But the witch in the forest, Xan, is kind and gentle. She shares her home with a wise Swamp Monster named Glerk and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, Fyrian. Xan rescues the abandoned children and deliver them to welcoming families on the other side of the forest, nourishing the babies with starlight on the journey. 

One year, Xan accidentally feeds a baby moonlight instead of starlight, filling the ordinary child with extraordinary magic. Xan decides she must raise this enmagicked girl, whom she calls Luna, as her own. To keep young Luna safe from her own unwieldy power, Xan locks her magic deep inside her. When Luna approaches her thirteenth birthday, her magic begins to emerge on schedule--but Xan is far away. Meanwhile, a young man from the Protectorate is determined to free his people by killing the witch. Soon, it is up to Luna to protect those who have protected her--even if it means the end of the loving, safe world she’s always known.
The acclaimed author of The Witch’s Boy has created another epic coming-of-age fairy tale destined to become a modern classic."

I loved this book! I could take everything I said about Kelly Barnhill's The Witch's Boy and use it for this book as well (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...).   The Girl Who Drank the Moon is also a magical, lyrical fairy tale that promotes love, family, courage and forgiveness. There were parts of this book that sang, there were parts that wept, and there were parts that made my heart pound with excitement. I want to turn around and start reading it all over again. 

The characters were all so alive and real. There are quite a few that are intrinsically important to the story, but we don't know why until things all get wrapped up in the end. I loved them all so much and for such differing reasons. Fyrian was hysterical; Xan was loving and kind and good; Luna was adorably mischievous but spread such love; Antain was wise beyond his years; the poor, mad mother was so tortured; Glerk, the wise poet of the swamp, reminded me of Aslan. Around all of these characters were magic, sorrow, love and hope, all swirled together in a delicious way.

As with  The Witch's Boy, this one would make a wonderful read-aloud as a family or classroom. I highly, highly recommend it for middle grade on up through adults. 

Areas of concern:
*Babies are taken away from their families and "sacrificed" to the witch (nothing bad actually happens to the babies - they are given to good families who love them).
*There is a villain who is quite evil, but masks it with supposed goodness.
*A character is disfigured during an attack by magical creatures.

Suggested Ages:
Booklist - Grades 5-8
Publisher's Weekly - Ages 10+

Friday, December 16, 2016


by Gordon Korman
From the publisher:
"From bestselling author Gordon Korman comes a thrilling new middle grade trilogy about a group of kids living in a Pleasantville-type town who discover a dark secret that connects them to some of the greatest criminal masterminds of their time.

Eli Frieden lives in the most boring town in the world: Serenity, New Mexico. Only thirty kids live in the idyllic town, where every lawn is perfectly manicured and everyone has a pool and a basketball hoop. Honesty and kindness are the backbone of the community. There is no crime in this utopia.

Eli has never left town…. Why would he ever want to? But everything changes the day he and his friend Randy bike to the edge of the city limits. Eli is suddenly struck with a paralyzing headache and collapses. Almost instantly, a crew of security—or “Purple People Eaters,” as the kids call them—descend via helicopter. Eli awakens in the hospital, and the next day, Randy and his family are gone.

As Eli convinces his friends Tori and Malik to help him investigate Randy’s disappearance, it becomes clear that nothing is as it seems in Serenity. As the clues mount to reveal a shocking discovery, the kids realize they can trust no one—least of all their own parents. So they hatch a plan for what could be the greatest breakout in history—but will they survive? And if they do, where do they go from there?

This first book in a thrilling new series from the middle grade “mastermind” Gordon Korman is sure to be a hit with his myriad fans..

This is a very fun and exciting book. It is told from the different perspectives of five 13 year olds who live in the most perfect town in all of the land. They discover some terrible secrets about their perfect little town and their perfect lives that changes everything for them. It has a very gripping story line, and makes you want to grab the next book as quickly as you can the second you finish. The characters are all likable, but more than that they are interesting . Once you know their secret, it is fascinating to look at them in a different light. I can definitely see why my students love this one. I will be recommending it to everyone.

Areas of concern:
*Possible death of a main character.
*Parents and all adults end up being the enemy. (One of my pet peeves, however in this one it is very understandable and necessary.)\

Suggested Ages:
Booklist - Grades 5-8
Publisher's Weekly - Ages 8-12
*I think 8 and 9 are a little young for this one.  I would say at least 10 and up.*

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Six of Crows

Six of Crows
by Leigh Bardugo
From the publisher:
"Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can't pull it off alone...

A convict with a thirst for revenge
A sharpshooter who can't walk away from a wager
A runaway with a privileged past
A spy known as the Wraith
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes

Kaz's crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don't kill each other first."

Whew, this one is quite the roller coaster ride! My breathlessness may have been accentuated by the abrupt ending. I read it on my Kindle, and I was only at 87% and something VERY BIG had just happened, I scrolled to the next page and it said, "Acknowledgments". What?! There was a big excerpt from Shadow and Bone after the acknowledgments - thus the 87% ending. If you read the large hard copy of this book, the ending won't be quite as much of a shock as it was for me. 
I loved these characters! They had all been through SO much at such a young age. I liked hearing their stories from their own point of view, you could feel their pain and anger and so many other emotions. The plot was ridiculously intricate and intriguing, and the action intense. This book can be read without reading the author's other Grisha series, but I think I would have understood some things better if I had re-read Shadow and Bone (I read it years ago) and the rest of the series (which I never read). However, I still loved it and took what I read at face value instead of having back stories for things. 
One of my 8th graders told me last year that this had become her favorite book. I hesitated ordering it for our middle school library because some of the reviewers were recommending it for 9th grade and up. There are definitely areas of concern, but it is really good and I think our 8th graders will love it.

Areas of concern:
*A lot of fighting and violence, but nothing terribly graphic (although there is talk of main characters slitting throats and breaking necks).
*A main character is captured by slavers at a young age and sold into prostitution. She manages to escape the brothel after a few years, but is naturally very traumatized by that experience. Nothing graphic is described.
*There are only about 6 or 9 instances of bad language, but one of those is the "f" word. 
*Intense situations abound.
*A drug that is being given to a certain group of people is one of the main story lines.

Suggested Ages:
Publisher's Weekly - Ages 12+
School Library Journal - Grades 7+