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 →

Wrenched from her childhood home in Memphis and from a father she loves, sixteen-year-old Skye Rogers has been transplanted to New York City’s Upper West Side to reside with the ultra-wealthy—the American Royalty.  Calling The Monmouth School, which she attends with her twin brother Red, her personal hell, Skye lives with her mother, Deidre Allen, whom she despises, and a detached stepfather who tolerates her. While Red makes friends effortlessly, Skye (aka Blue) struggles to make tentative connections. However, she does befriend Jenny Johnson, with whom she bonds over a mutual wrist-slitting suicide attempt.   Both girls are also ambitious, with Jenny hoping to be aRead More →

A story of resilience, Isaiah Dunn Is My Hero by Kelly J. Baptist addresses the issue of homelessness from a child’s perspective. The Dunn family’s homelessness is brought on by the death of Isaiah’s and Charlie’s father, Gary Dunn, on November 24 due to a heart attack. Gary’s wife, Lisa subsequently falls into a debilitating depression accompanied by a bout with alcoholism. While his mother is incapacitated by grief, Isaiah is expected to watch and entertain his four-year-old sister and to keep up in school at Woodson Elementary.  This ten-year-old young man is forced to accept other responsibilities, as well.  Hoping to get the fundsRead More →

With Heartstopper, Alice Oseman has created a heart-warming story of friendship that grows beyond those simple bounds, and the pictures in this graphic novel are as telling as its words. A drummer and mathematics wizard who is better at virtual sports than real ones, Charlie Spring is a sophomore at Truham School for Boys in England.  With the start of the new school year, he is seated next to a young man who is a year older and a star of the rugby team: Nicolas Nelson. When Nick sees the speed at which Charlie can run, he invites him to join the rugby team.  However,Read More →

Targeting ‘tweens, How to Disappear Completely by Ali Standish is an interesting novel about difference, not only about how we treat others who are different but the ways our own differences can empower us and even transform us into more than we thought we could be. It is also a book about navigating junior high school and about coping with death. Set in Lanternwood, a town with the feel of stepping back in time, the plot revolves around twelve-year-old Emma Talbot who has just lost her grandmother, who is also her best friend. With Gram, Emma had lived in a world “made of old booksRead More →

In his newest book The Other Better Me, Antony John writes about fifth grader Lola Harmon and the emptiness she feels by not having her dad in her life.  As this inquisitive and energetic people-person navigates life with her classmates at Shoreline Elementary school in North Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, she learns some important lessons about identity and about bullying behavior and bullies. Lola’s best friends are Nick Merlo and Kiana Richards.  Both live more affluent lives than Lola, who resides in a mobile home with her single mother who battles a thyroid condition.  Lola describes Nick as igneous rock since he resembles cooled lava. Read More →

October has been designated as National Bullying Prevention Month. While we should always focus on the prevention of bullying, this may be a good month for readers to read books to begin conversations about bullying, and You Don’t Know Everything, Jilly P! by Alex Gino is a good place to start.  Through dialogue, we hopefully can dispel some of the myths and misperception about diverse cultures and identities. Intentionally chosen literature can also serve as a catalyst for sparking conversations on complex social issues like bullying, diversity, and the effects of prejudice. An activist and advocate for LGBTQ communities since 1997, Gino uses the singular-theyRead More →

The protagonists in Stewart Foster’s recent release, All the Things That Could Go Wrong are enemies.  Alex Jones is a germophobe with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).  His specialty subject is worrying.  His classmate in Year 7, Dan Curtis is a curious young man with an active imagination who asks questions that sometimes irritate his teachers.  He’s also angry and releases his anger by bullying people like Alex who don’t seem quite normal. Alex’s days are spent wondering how much longer Dan, Sophie, and the two Georges will go on bullying him and how much longer he will have to look for places to hide.  Dan, Sophie,Read More →

Fitting in or finding a sense of belonging is of critical importance during one’s junior high years.   To be branded a freak or to not be part of the social construct is a curse capable of derailing the course of one’s destiny.  Just as the Greeks voted politically dangerous citizens into exile, ostracism is a genuine fear for Janey Silverman, the protagonist of J.S. Puller’s inaugural novel Captain Superlative.  Given her fears, Jane blends in and doesn’t step beyond her comfort zone.  Content with being Plain Jane, she floats along under the radar of detection, ensuring she is not the target of notice. Then, CaptainRead More →