MAKING IT IN MIDDLE SCHOOL.
MacLachlan, Patricia. ]ust Dance. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2017. 116p. $15.99. ISBN:9781481472524. Grades 3-5. Ten-year-old Sylvie does not understand why her mother, an internationally famed opera singer, gave up her career when she met and fell in love; how can she be content to live on their Wyoming farm and sing to the animals? Sylvie thinks their lives are pretty boring - she wants adventure. Are Sylvie and her brother holding their mom back from her destiny? How can Mom be happy only singing to the animals and her family? Then, when her mom's former duet partner comes to the area to sing, Sylvie fears her mom will leave and go back to the stage. Meanwhile, Sylvie is given a writing assignment for the summer and learns to write haiku and write about her feelings, which helps her express her fears and work out her thoughts. Contains many examples of haiku and other poems by Sylvie. This novel could be a good lead-off to a poetry unit.
Medina, Meg. Merci Suarez Changes Gears. Candlewick Press, 2018. 355p. $16.99. ISBN:9780763090496. Grades 4-7. Merci Suarez, a sixth-grade scholarship student at Seaward Pines Academy, lives with her large Cuban family in a group of little houses. At school this year, she has to be a new student's sunshine buddy-to introduce him to the school-and also has to do extra community service, to make up for her tuition. She already has a lot on her mind, though--Lolo, her beloved grandfather and closest family member, has begun acting strangely, forgetting people's names, falling off his bike, and losing his temper for no apparent reason. Merci knows something is wrong, but no one will tell her what is going on with him. Then, she finds out he has Alzheimer's disease and that it will get worse. What is she going to do without Lolo? Contains a back-of-book note from the author about her relationship with her own grandparents and simple information about Alzheimer's disease, as well as Spanish words and phrases that are sprinkled throughout the book. 2019 Newbery medal winner.
Korman, Gordon. The Unteachables. Harper-Collins, 2019. 279p. $16.99. ISBN: 9780062563880. Grades 3-7. What happens when the worst class in the middle school, Room 117 (kids with anger management issues, kids who can't read, kids who terrify the other kids) is paired up with a burned-out teacher who was unfairly blamed for a long-ago cheating scandal, causing him to lose interest in being a good teacher? The administration is trying to drive Mr. Kermit into early retirement and is sure that putting him with the class everyone thinks is unteachable will do it. But in the end, the kids inspire Mr. Kermit to care about teaching again, and he inspires the kids to actually learn.
Korman, Gordon. Whats His Face. Scholastic Press, 2018. 231. P. $16.99. ISBN: 9781338200164. Grades 3-7. After his Army family moved for the third time in a year, Cooper Vega and his sister Veronica were given state-of-the-art phones in consolation, so they can stay in touch with old friends. Cooper's phone doesn't seem to work as well as his sister's, and he soon finds out that it's haunted by Roderick, the ghost of a young boy from Shakespeare's time, who died of the plague and who claims to be the real author of Romeo and Juliet. He starts appearing to Cooper at inopportune moments, getting him in trouble, but he also helps Cooper succeed in his role as understudy to Romeo, opposite the girl of Cooper's dreams, Jolie. Discusses bullying, crushes, and popularity, and contains references to Shakespearean plays and many lines from Romeo and Juliet.