Quote of the Month

When love and skill work together, expect a miracle. John Ruskin




Middle School New New Top 20 Favorites 2009 selected by Xena's Mom

Applet, Kathi, The underneath, Lexile 830, Reading level 5.6

Three separate stories which are interwoven and eventually brought together unfold in an East Texas bayou. Ranger a hound tied to a porch by his cruel owner, Gar Face befriends a stray cat and her two kittens, Puck and Sabine. An ancient shape-shifter, Grandmother Moccasin has been lying dormant in a jar beneath a tree for more than 100 years. Gar Face has lived in the bayou for more than 25 years when he escaped from an abusive father. He barely makes enough money trapping wildlife to sustain him. His goal is to trap the ancient gator in the bayou that is the only living being that knows the shape-shifter’s story other than the tree. Magic and love are the tie that brings all these tales to their end. 2009 Newbery Honor winner


Campbell, Eric, The place of lions, Lexile 850, Reading level 7.3

Chris and his father crash in their airplane on the Serengeti Plain in Africa. Chris must set off alone to get help for his father journeying across the home of a pride of lions. His journey is paralleled with that of an old lion also making his way to the mountains. This novel is based on historical fact turned into legend.


Bloor, Edward, Tangerine, Lexile 680, Reading level Young Adult

When Paul and his family move to Tangerine County, Florida, natural disasters are everyday occurrences. Paul has been legally blind since an accident, the details which are fuzzy in his mind. He has always lived in the shadow of his older brother, a football hero, who he fears due to his treatment of him when their parents are not around. Paul builds friendships with unlikely classmates and finds his place on a soccer team.


Brooks, Bruce, Everywhere, Lexile 880, Reading level 6.3

What do you do when your best friend, your grandfather, has had a heart attack and might die? Turley finds the answer when a nurse’s grandson, Dooley, tells him about soul switching which he read of in a comic book.

Will taking the life of an animal save his grandfather?


Collins, Suzanne, Gregor the Overlander, Lexile 630, Reading level 6.0

Gregor’s two-year-old sister disappears down an air shaft in their apartment building’s laundry room. When Gregor also goes down the shaft to find her he lands in a new world, Underland, populated by giant cockroaches, spiders, rats and bats with humans that are not quite human. The writing style of cliff hanger chapter endings moves the story right along. This is fantasy at its finest. This is the first in a series.


Collins, Suzanne, The hunger games, Lexile 810, Reading level Young Adult

Katniss takes her younger sister’s place in the annual Hunger Games of this futuristic new “United States”. Of the 24 contestants, a boy and a girl from each district, only one will survive alive. This book defines the term page-turner with plot twists, true mental and physical survival skills, political intrigue and romance.


Conrad, Pam, Stonewords: a ghost story, Lexile 810, Reading level 6.3

Two girls both named Zoe share more than a name. Although their lives are more than 100 years apart they are tied together by the home that each occupies one as the living; the other as the dead. The present Zoe is drawn into the past as the 11 year old that tragically died tries to change what happened in the past. Touching, tragic and terrifying this ghost story will be remembered.


D’Lacey, Chris, The fire within, Lexile 630, Reading level 4.6

College bound David rents a room from potter, Liz, and her daughter Lucy. The dragons that Liz makes have a secret. Are they alive? As a story within a story Lucy asks David’s help in saving neighborhood squirrels through his writing of a book. His writing seems to come to life. This is a fine fantasy as the first in a series of four.


Fleischman, Paul, Whirligig, Lexile 760, Reading level Young Adult

After causing the death of a young woman, Brent at the request of her mother builds four whirligigs in her likeness. He is to place them in the four corners of the United States. Through his travels he finds atonement and forgiveness.


Gaiman, Neil, The graveyard book, Lexile 820, Reading level 5.1

A small child escapes certain death in the neighborhood graveyard. Its ghostly occupants agree to raise and protect the child. The childless, deceased Owens become his parents. With the help of the neither dead nor completely alive Silas who can leave the graveyard, Bod, or Nobody Owens, grows up among the dead from all time periods having many an adventure which culminates in a deathly duel with the man who murdered his family. This book richly deserved the 2009 Newbery Award for its portrayal of love and family in a distinctly unique setting.


Hesse, Karen, Aleutian sparrow, Reading level 6.0

The narrator of this story recounts the lives of the natives on the Alaskan Aleutian Islands when they are moved from their homes to camps in Alaska during World War II. They are told that they were moved to protect them from the Japanese but their lives as displaced persons are horrific in every detail. This is historic fiction at its finest reminding us not to repeat the mistakes of the past but to learn and make sure that they never happen again.


Horvath, Polly, Everything on a waffle, Lexile 950, Reading level 5.9

Primrose’s parents appear to be lost at sea; first her father disappeared and then her mother, who went to find him, vanishes. Primrose believes that they will return. The only people in town who help her to hold on to that hope are her Uncle Jack and Miss Bowzer, the owner of The Girl on the Red Swing, a café that serves everything on a waffle. What should be a sad book is a delightful comedy. This is one of my favorite books of all time.


Law, Ingrid, Savvy, Lexile 1070, Reading level 6.5

It seems that each member of the Beaumont family develops a special supernatural ability when they turn 13 years old. Just before Mibs turns 13 her father is critically injured in an automobile accident. Mibs believing that her “savvy” is the ability to restore life sets off to help her father only to experience along the way new adventures, friends and a different “savvy”.


Mass, Wendy, Every soul a star, Lexile 740, Reading level 4.7

Told in alternating chapters the lives of three middle school students are changed by witnessing a total solar eclipse. Each one of them breaks free from their stereotyped image of themselves to be more than they thought they could be. Each of them learns to adjust to their lives’ changing situations by their friendship with one another and by being a part of this extraordinary astronomical event.


Meyer, Stephanie, Twilight, Lexile 720, Reading level Young Adult

Bella Swan, wanting to give her mother space with her new husband, moves to Forks, Washington to live with her sheriff father. There she meets Edward Cullen, a vampire. Their ensuing romance lights the pages with tension and excitement due to its very nature. The writing of Meyer is exceptionaly good. This is the first of a series of four and is not to be missed. Recommended for eighth grade only because of book four.


Pfeffer, Susan Beth, Life as we knew it, Lexile 770, Reading level Young Adult

When an asteroid hits the moon bringing it closer to the Earth natural disasters completely change life for Miranda and her family. Journal entries document their day to day struggles as life deteriorates around them a little at a time. This is a top notch science fiction survival story.


Pratchett, Terry, Nation, Lexile 790

Mau, a boy of the islands, is spared from the destruction brought by a tidal wave while traveling in his canoe on a quest to becoming a man. Back at his village everything is gone. Soon a young English woman is found there as the survivor of her ship. As others arrive all struggle to rebuild not only their lives but to create another community in which they can all live. This goes beyond your typical survival tale in all respects touching upon deeper issues in the midst of true sadness and laugh out loud funny.


Sandell, Lisa Ann, The song of the sparrow, Reading level Young Adult

For those older readers familiar with the stories of King Arthur this will be a new fresh take on the characters in their youth. The main character is Lady Elaine of Ascolat. Romance, history and adventure collide to make for memorable reading.


Sanderson, Brandon, Alcatraz versus the evil Librarians, Lexile 730, Reading level 5.6

Imagine if you will receiving a bag of sand for your 13th birthday and meeting your grandfather for the first time. The home of your foster parents is soon destroyed by agents of the evil Librarians who are intent on taking over the world. You must use your newly discovered talents to save civilization. This fantasy is heavy on humor and moves at lightning speed to a well crafted conclusion. It is the first in a series.


Scieszka, Jon, Knucklehead: tall tales & mostly true stories about growing up Scieszka, Lexile 750, Reading level 4.6

As the second of six sons growing up in the 1950s Jon Scieszka writes an autobiography hilarious every step of the way. Written in short chapters peppered with illustrations in scrapbook style we the readers become part of the family.