We first met Lucky in The Higher Power of Lucky, the book that won the Newbery Medal in 2007. Lucky still lives smack in the middle of the desert in tiny Hard Pan, population: 43. She’s got her best friend Lincoln, her new mom Bridgitte and all the other people in Hard Pan that love her…all 42 of them. Still, Lucky’s feeling restless and bored. It’s almost her eleventh birthday, a day Lucky counts on to, well, to change her luck.
What Lucky finds out is that you make your own luck, and you don’t do it by betraying your best friend or ignoring the good advice of the grown-ups that care about you. Just when she’s feeling the most unlucky, Lucky celebrates an eleventh birthday that is sure to turn her luck around.
Groovy Robinson has a dream and a plan to go with it. She’s a foodie and she loves to cook. She helps out at a local restaurant and hopes to go to culinary (cooking) school someday with an inheritance left to her by her great-grandma.
Much to Groovy’s surprise, her own father is arrested right in front of her. His crime? Taking her inheritance and gambling it away. How did he get caught? Groovy’s exasperated mother turned him in herself. Groovy is hurt, mad and confused. And then there’s Groovy’s friend Frankie. He’s got his own parent problems. He lives with his stepbrother because his mother ran off and only sends him an occasional postcard.
Aren’t the grown-ups supposed to act right? Groovy and Frankie are left with each other to try to figure out how to love these grown-ups – these parents – that are far from perfect. A really powerful story of two real families with real problems and two friends that help each other learn to forgive. Author: Kathryn Fitzmaurice
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