The kids at school think Emma-Jean is weird. Emma Jean thinks the kids at school are weird. The other kids are overly emotional and unpredictable and a lot of the time, what they do just doesn’t make sense to Emma-Jean! Sometimes, the kids are mean to each other on purpose. Sometimes, the kids don’t tell the truth about what they think or what they feel. For a practical mind like Emma-Jean, Middle Schoolers are just plain crazy.
At school Emma-Jean studies the kids from afar. She doesn’t really have any friends herself, until the day she comes across a classmate crying in the bathroom and decides to take action against the craziness. Emma-Jean doesn’t really understand the events that have lead up to the tears, but fixing the problem seems easy enough. Beware when things seem easy! Rather than keeping herself detached from the kids at school, Emma-Jean’s actions instead put her right smack in the middle of their emotional mess. The kids have a lot to learn about friendship, including Emma-Jean. Author: Lauren Tarshis
Middle School is Worse Than Meatloaf is a different sort of book. It’s a scrapbook full of stuff that 7th grader Ginny Davis collects all year: diary entries, post-it notes, instant messages, e-mails, report cards, candy wrappers, sales receipts and more. The scrapbook pages are a collage of all of this. As you turn the pages you read and look at all of this stuff…and it’s the stuff that tells Ginny’s story. There are things to read, like diary entries and e-mails, but the rest of the things on the pages are more like clues to look at and the clues really do help you understand who Ginny is and what is going on with her. In a lot of ways Ginny is typical. She wants her school picture to look good and she wants friends, clothes and maybe even a boyfriend. She also has problems just like everybody. She’s having trouble getting used to a new step-dad and her older brother is making bad choices that cause problems for the whole family. All of this happy, sad, funny stuff in Ginny’s life you figure out by looking at the pages in this scrapbook. After reading this book, try making a scrapbook page or a collage of yourself. There is more than one way to make a self-portrait – as you can tell by reading Ginny’s story. Author: Jennifer L. Holm
We first met Adam Canfield in Adam Canfield of the Slash, and Adam’s still got a lot going on. He’s a good student, he plays sports and he is co-editor of his school’s newspaper, The Slash, with his friend Jennifer. In Adam Canfield Watch Your Back!, Adam becomes one of the stories he usually writes about. Happy about an unexpected snow day, Adam heads out to shovel snow to make some extra spending money. On his way home, he is mugged by some high school kids and his money is stolen. At school the next day, Adam, Jennifer, and their favorite reporter Phoebe decide to do a story exposing bullies and this time, people are naming names. And if that isn’t enough controversy, they also tackle the unfairness in the school’s science fair and a plan to bulldoze a poor African-American section in their town to build mansions for the rich. These kids are no fluff reporters. They take on serious topics and really try to be journalists who dig out the truth in every situation while trying to be fair to all the parties involved. And they’re funny. Two thumbs up. Author: Michael Winerip
Knucklehead: Tall Tales and Mostly True Stories about Growing up Scieszka. That’s right, Scieszka – Jon Scieszka, the guy who wrote The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, The Stinky Cheese Man and the Time Warp Trio books. Jon is also the very first National Ambassador for Young People’s LIterature. It’s hard to believe he started out a knucklehead!
This is Jon’s story growing up with the other knuckleheads: Jim, Tom, Gregg, Brian and Jeff – his FIVE brothers. And their story is pretty funny. The boys fight, break furniture (and each other’s bones), blame each other, fight over the seat in the car by the window, and pretty much have a great time growing up. There are so many of them, Dad Scieszka doesn’t call them by name, he just refers to all of them as “knucklehead” or “you knuckleheads!” Author: Jon Scieszka
Meet Ally. Ally lives in the middle of picturesque, but isolated Utah. Her family lives at least an hour’s drive from any town. They spend their time tending the campground and star watching. Ally loves her life that follows the patterns of campers and constellations as each pass through. But Ally’s parents have dropped a bombshell – this is the family’s last summer at the campground. After the upcoming, once in a lifetime solar eclipse, the family is moving to the city so that Ally and her brother can have friends and go to a regular school.
Now meet Bree. Bree loves the movies, the mall, fashion and her friend Candace. She has a summer job lined up at the mall, her outfits and accessories are color coordinated and ready to go. But then Bree’s parents drop a bombshell – the family is moving….to nowhere Utah to run a star gazer’s campground! They leave in just one week so that they can arrive in time to see a once in a lifetime solar eclipse.
Ally and Bree meet at the campground, one freaking out at the thought of leaving, the other freaking out at the thought of staying. The two forge an unlikely but necessary friendship. Bree needs to learn the chores at the campground. Ally needs to learn how to survive middle school.
Add in a few more campers…Michael, David, Olivia and Dan, to round out an unlikely but affective team of friends who find out that change can be a good thing, a very good thing. But it isn’t easy. Author: Wendy Mass