Once again I am late posting this traditional Saturday morning post. My day was filled with rain which led to reading (nothing better than coffee and a good book on a rainy day) and a lunch visit with a student from last semester to check over her personal essay for a psychology graduate  program application.  Fortunately, she is a good writer, and it was a simple job of proofreading.  Our visit was fun, and this is definitely a young woman I will make an effort to keep in touch with.

Today’s recommendation is for several middle school level fiction choices that I read for the Cybil’s judging that deserve at least a mention of excellent reads for this age group.

The first, How High the Moon by Karyn Parsons is a heart-tugging story of a young girl in the Jm Crow South who pays a visit to  New York to meet family she has never known. The difference between the two environments and the people who live in them is highlighted, and the girl learns answers to family secrets which cause her to learn about herself.

Tina Athaide’s Orange for the Sunsets also deals with family secrets for an Indian girl and an African boy who are best friends. So many books nominated for this award dealt with diversity, the theme for this year, and so many portrayed over-protective parents who do their kids a disservice by assuming they are not mature enough to handle “the truth-”  things in their own pasts which become big “secrets” that change the kids’ lives in massive ways when the truth is finally revealed. Most of the kid-protagonists feel by the ends of the books that, “Honesty is the best policy.”

To Night Owl from Dogfsh by Holly Goldberg is an epistolary tale, one told in the form of letters, or in this case emails. It is cleverly formatted as such, and the opening email is from one boy who contacts another, stating that the two boys fathers are lovers. The boy on the receiving end of this message has no idea his father is gay, much less contemplating moving in with his partner, the boy who initiated the conversation’s father. It is witty, touching and problematic in family relationships, all in one great read.

Paula Chase’s Dough Boys is about boys who like to bake well enough and do so well enough that they decide to open a business. Also funny and warm, the overarching theme is “Friendship Over All.”

These were just a few books  read as a Cybils First Round Reader that deserve at least a mention on Saturday Morning for Kids, middle grades edition.

Author: Rae Longest

This year (2019) finds me with 50 years of teaching "under my belt." I have taught all levels from pre-K "(library lady" or "book lady"--volunteer) to juniors, seniors, and graduate students enrolled in my Advanced Writing class at the university where I have just completed 30 years. My first paying teaching job was junior high, and I spent 13 years with ages 12-13, the "difficult years." I had some of the "funnest" experiences with this age group. When I was no longer the "young, fun teacher," I taught in an elementary school setting before sixth graders went on to junior high, teaching language arts blocs, an assignment that was a "dream-fit" for me. After completing graduate school in my 40s, I went on to community college, then university teaching. Just as teaching is "in my blood," so is a passion for reading, writing, libraries, and everything bookish. This blog will be open to anyone who loves books, promotes literacy and wants to "come out and play."

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