With his novel Falling Short, Ernesto Cisneros writes a motivational book for middle grade readers. Taking inspiration from his own life and from a quote by Michelangelo, Cisneros concurs that “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.” To convey this moral, Cisneros creates Isaac Castillo and Marco Honeyman, two sixth graders at Mendez Middle School, who are looking for approval from their absent fathers. A talented basketball player, Isaac is dedicated to the sport and to the idea of teamwork. His best friendRead More →

Sixth grader Bea Embers is a bright, competitive, and strong-willed girl. She and her mother have always been a team of two, but their quiet mornings eating Corn Pops and sharing the ritual of their “three things they’re grateful for, big or small” come to an abrupt end when Mom gets pregnant and decides to marry Wendell Valentine, who has three sons: Cameron, Tucker, and Bryce and multiple pets. Her mother’s marriage also means moving away from Aunt Tam with whom they share a wall in their condominium in Vermont.  It further means not living in the same neighborhood as Maximilian, Bea’s best friend whoRead More →

Featuring illustrations by Robin Boyden, Get Me Out of Here! by Andy McNab and Phil Earle is a humorous novel written for middle grade readers.  The plot revolves around eleven-year-old Danny Mack’s desire to attend what he believes will be an epic, adventure-filled school field trip with mountaineering, kayaking, and zip-lining.  However, the trip costs more than his mother can afford. So, in order to raise the $150.00 participation fee, Danny undertakes a series of “get rich quick” schemes. His best friend Thomas Jefferson Raffles (aka Giraffles), who is always willing to stick his neck out for a pal, helps Danny to realize he’s notRead More →

1957 is the year that Frisbees soared, postage stamps cost three cents, and the Russians launched Sputnik.  It was also a time when women were typically kitchen-bound and wore skirts and aprons.  However, Kathleen Curie Gordon’s mom is not a Betty Crocker mom; she’s a professor of nuclear chemistry.  With a woman who resists convention as a mom and two older sisters playing from that same playbook, ten-year-old Katy, the protagonist in Out of Left Field by Ellen Klages, has learned to keep asking questions and to never settle for being ordinary. And Katy, who is more comfortable in cleats and a ball cap, isRead More →

Maximum racing is dangerous; one out of ten cars doesn’t make it to the finish line.  But race car driver Cassica Hayle is fast, flighty, and full of fierce life.  Possessing an addictive, restle ss energy and delighted by chaos and speed, Cassica craves life in the fast lane and wants to escape Coppermouth,  a barely surviving, backwater town where the stars at night are actually “restless orbital weapons moving steadily, left over from the Omniwar”(30) when death machines  “destroyed whole cities with lances of fire from space” (31). Now, in Coppermouth ,  people die from dust lung, a respiratory affliction resulting from dust blowingRead More →

Whether you’re vying for a spot on Jeopardy, studying for an exam, wanting to impress someone with your trivia smarts, or simply hoping to learn more about sports or geography, My Weird School, Fast Facts Sports/Geography by Dan Gutman is for you! This two-in-one book features as narrators: Arlo, a.k.a. “Professor AJ, the professor of awesomeness” (4), and Andrea Young, who is in the gifted and talented program at school and is going to Harvard someday (6).  Although the two tweens do overuse the word weird, they share with readers many interesting and esoteric facts, such as how the tradition of the seventh inning stretchRead More →

Upheaval.  That one word sums up Josh LeBlanc’s life.  His father, a minor league baseball player turned coach, has accepted a job with Crosby College in Florida.  Gary LeBlanc hopes to turn Crosby into a training ground for the majors, but Josh isn’t happy because the job means he will be leaving behind his home in Syracuse, New York; his team, the Syracuse Titans; and his friends.   He’ll also be saying goodbye to any hopes that his mother and father will get back together since his mother and baby sister Laurel aren’t planning to move.  On the trip south, thirteen-year-old Josh is overcome by sadness, worry,Read More →

Written by daughter of baseball legend Jackie Robinson, The Hero Two Doors Down by Sharon Robinson, recounts the historical fiction tale of tumultuous times of global, racial, cultural, and religious unrest in the late 1940s.  Because of its inspirational message about the need to depend on faith, family, and friends during the worst of times, contemporary readers will find this story of friendship and unity especially relevant as Martin Luther King, Junior’s 87th birthday approaches. In 1948, Steven Satlow is eight years old, and a train ride to Ebbets Field costs five cents each way.  Because Steve is the shortest kid in his class andRead More →

Twelve year old Peter Lee and his family are avid baseball fans. Even his strict Chinese immigrant father Ba -who has Peter do homework on the way to games- has some regard for the sport. However, once tragedy strikes, and takes with it a cherished loved one, no one talks about baseball anymore. Peter’s mom stops talking altogether. Convinced that what brought them together before can keep them together now, Peter joins a Little League team. The only problem? The league is short one coach. Ba steps in to seemingly save the day, but his methods rub Peter and his teammates the wrong way. Now whatRead More →