Yesterday got away from me. Here I have been reading over one hundred middle grade (5th, 6th, 7th & 8th) books for a new project, and I didn’t post a single recommendation of a middle grades book to read. My bad. Here, a day late are some EXCELLENT reads for kids in 5th grade and junior high. They are all 2019 publications.
Each Tiny Spark by Pablo Cartaya–This story about Emilia Rosa (NOT Emi Rose as her nemesis, Clarissa, insists on) has “Inattentive ADH,” a condition which limits her ability to focus. She has special considerations in school, but still struggles at times. Especially challenging is Mr. Richt’s social studies project, a tour guide for her home town. Instead of touting the glories of Merryville, Emilia focuses on how the town is divided along class lines, where people from the “wrong side of the track” are treated differently. The resources list (help for veterans, civil rights laws and issues, etc.) provided at the end is very helpful.
Planet Earth Is Blue by Nicole Panteleakos introduces Nova, a 13 year old Asburger’s , middle school student who is obsessessed with the stars. When she learns that the junior high she will attend has a planetarium, she is ecstatic. She is anxiously awaiting the event of the Challenger Flight, which of course, ends in tragedy and reveals to Nova a personal tragedy if her own. Interestingly enough the author is on the spectrum, and thus offers an insider’s look into the autistic mind.
The Next Great Paulie Fink by Ali Benjamin describes how someone “becomes legend.” Caitlyn, the “new girl” at a small, private school in Vermont , must deal with not only being new to a class that has been together since kindergarten, but with the mystery of who in the world was the glorious, missing student, Paulie Fink. I will review this book at a later date on PWR.
All of these books were a delight to me, and adult, because they included inclusion, bullying, ethnic differences, “keeping up appearances” and so much more than “just” a good plot. Characterization on these three and the development of it due to overcoming obstacles made these three books the deliverers of life lessons middle schoolers will not soon forget. All three receive 5 out of 5 stars.