Tag Archives: middle school

As You Wish by Chelsea Sedoti

3 Jul

asyouwishAs You Wish

By: Chelsea Sedoti
Publisher:  Sourcebooks Fire
Publication Date:  January, 2018

Eldon is a high school senior in Madison.  It’s a dusty, desert town on Nevada State Road 375.  His afternoon job is to man the full service gas station and charm people into thinking the town is ordinary and unimportant.  But Madison has a secret.

There is a secret cave where everyone on the day and hour of their eighteenth birthday gets to make a wish.  One wish.  And that wish will come true.  You can wish to be thin, popular, rich, the football star or anything else.  But most of the people in Madison seem to regret their decisions.  His birthday is coming up.  What will Eldon wish for?

Honestly, I wondered at the start of the book if Eldon would wish for what eventually happened.  The premise was set in the first three chapters.  Eldon is the book’s narrator and while you want to like him, all of his encounters with other high school students seem rude or offensive.  At the end of the book, he admits he needs to grow up, but I was waiting for it much earlier.  Then there’s the premise that any magical cave would hand over the power of a wish to an 18 year old.  Or that the townsfolk, with years of experience in bad wishes, doesn’t keep a chart and explain to students what they should wish for and how to word it.  Or even how large an effect it can be.

I do think the title needs changing.  As You Wish by Carey Elwes is a favorite (as is the movie The Princess Bride) and this is just so far removed from that humorous story.

Mildly recommended: Grades 6-8 (middle school only); I don’t think high school students would enjoy this.

 

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before I let go by Marieke Nijkamp

2 Jul

before I let go

By: Marieke Nijkamp

Publisher: Sourcefire Books

Publication Date: 2018

Corey and Kyra are best friends in the very small town of Lost Creek, Alaska, pop. 246.  Corey’s mom moves the family to Winnipeg and days before she comes back to see her best friend, Kyra is dead.  It seems impossible for the bright, bipolar friend to be gone and Corey keeps her plane reservation and flies to Lost.  Gone just a few months, Lost is different.  Instead of the social outcast that Kyra had always been, Corey finds her honored.  Over and over Corey is told that she’s an outsider and that Kyra was loved by Lost.  Corey can’t believe that Kyra would be loved by everyone and she sets out to investigate her friend’s “murder”.

This is an incredible psychological thriller that will take you on a trip.  What really happened to Kyra? Who is to blame and why is Corey suddenly an outsider in this small community.  Kyra paints during her manic depression periods and then tears them up.  But suddenly her pictures are everywhere.  Will Corey find the truth?  Will anyone believe her?  Or will Kyra’s picture of her inside a burning building be a real prophecy?   No matter what anyone says, Kyra didn’t survive her town. “We call them hero days,” Kyra said, “because that is when we fight fear itself. And we win.”

The story bounces from the moment to any period in the last two years.  The girls conversations bounce to the action of the moment.  The story races along, back and forth in time, trying to give glimpses of what happened to Kyra and what danger Corey is in.

Highly recommended: Grades 8 & up.

Flying Lessons

29 Jan


24561496Flying Lessons and Other Stories

Edited by: Ellen Oh
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Compilation Copyright 2017 by We Need Diverse Books

How often do you actually stop and read the book’s Forward first?  Sometimes I do but often I may or may not come back to it.  How much does it really add, when I just want to dive into the book?!  But for some reason, maybe because it was short or maybe because it started with “Dear Reader,” I started with the Forward that editor Ellen Oh wrote.  In two short pages, I saw her with a mangy kitten and, … well, you read it.  Suffice it to say that this short little story set the tone for me.

Flying Lessons and Other Stories visits little pockets of society or groups and shares a piece of the American pie.  Matt de la Pena, Newberry award winning author, tells the story of a young man wanting to play basketball at the highest levels. And learning to listen to advice that a quiet man gives.  I know Tim Federle’s Secret Samantha personally. And, I certainly know the feeling of sneaking into the library to get away from life.

At the ALA Midwinter Convention in Atlanta, I heard several of the authors talk about this book.  I chanted a Choctaw phrase with the rest of the audience.  I knew that the organization We Need Diverse Books was behind this anthology, but I didn’t really know what that meant.  Apparently it means that there are many, many stories out there to tell and listen to and to share.  After all, we all need something to look forward to.

Recommended: Grades 4 & up

 

Review: Simon Thorn & the Wolf’s Den

21 Dec

   Simon Thorn and the Wolf’s Den

By Aimee Carter

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Children’s Publishing

Publication Date: 2 February 2016

It’s the first day of school for Simon.  Simon is a scrawny seventh grader with a bully problem, a dead father, a missing mother and pigeons who talk to him mostly about food.  Besides this weird ability to talk to animals – including his buddy Felix, a mouse – seventh grade is shaping up as the worst year ever. His best friend is hanging with the bullies.  Even the 6th graders have no respect.  Simon won’t defend himself, but when another is threatening, he jumps in, no matter the consequences. The first day does not end with Simon being chased by a wolf, his mother arriving, and the swarms of rats trying to carry him off.  There are still hours to go and what Simon discovers on his first day will blow his mind forever.  

Boy discovers at twelve, he can turn into an animal.  I’ve read books like this before.  The difference is the author.  Ms. Carter takes us on a journey to the various Animal kingdoms where the betrayals come fast and furious.  Do you trust your parents? Do you trust the authority figures? Do you trust your friends? Do you trust your enemies?  

The only false note in the book comes at the end where Simon is dealing with Winter.  The emotions don’t add up in my view.  But the reality is that Simon Thorn is a who we want to be with a little extra something.  I think the boys in my school will enjoy it and the girls will too!

Recommended: Grades 5 & up

Video

7 Tips To Help You Succeed in Middle School

8 May

Here’s a recent example of Animoto.

http://animoto.com/play/0Dav0ipMMKfop81QfHMLxQ