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High reader, low motivation

The Invention of Hugo Cabret

In retrospect, I realize now that I have been extremely lucky. My students have always been highly motivated to read. Obviously, I’ve encountered the spectrum when it comes to low to excellent readers, but nonetheless, my students needed only minimal encouragement to read. When students lost interest, a graphic novel always did the trick (I’m […]

Review of The Best Man

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The Best Man by Richard Peck Intermediate, Middle School     Dial     232 pp. 9/16     978-0-8037-3839-3     $16.99     g e-book ed. 978-0-698-18973-7     $10.99 Rise and toast The Best Man, Peck’s story about Archer Magill, a boy growing from a raw dollop of kindergarten id into a functional middle-school kid, a budding citizen of the world. As a participant […]

Review of Summerlost

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Summerlost by Ally Condie Intermediate, Middle School    Dutton    253 pp. 3/16    978-0-339-18719-3    $17.99    g A local theater festival sets the stage for YA author Condie’s (Matched and sequels) first middle-grade novel. Twelve-year-old Cedar Lee, her little brother Miles, and their mother settle into their new summer home in Iron Creek, “a small town in a […]

The power of the image: photographs in biographies

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Striking photographs in biographies can draw in, engage, and inform young readers on a deep level. In addition, they can serve as outstanding primary sources. Whether the photographs are current, colorful, high quality prints, or old, sepia, grainy shots, they reveal much about the subject, the setting, and the social/historical context. The two books below […]

Five questions for Tim Federle

Photo: Beowulf Sheehan

Tim Federle, well known for his middle-grade novels Better Nate Than Ever and its sequel Five, Six, Seven, Nate! (both Simon, 8–12 years), recently published his YA debut The Great American Whatever (Simon, 14 years and up). We asked the versatile writer and Broadway veteran about his reading past and his characters’ futures, and we […]

Review of Every Single Second

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Every Single Second by Tricia Springstubb; illus. by Diana Sudyka Middle School    Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins    360 pp. 6/16    978-0-06-236628-3    $16.99    g e-book ed.  978-0-06-236630-6    $9.99 Nella Sabatini’s life is largely centered on her tight-knit Italian American family, including her harried mother, her cemetery-groundskeeper father, her four unruly younger brothers, and her crotchety great-grandmother, Nonna. But […]

Fathers, sons, and grandfathers

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The bonds between a son and his father or grandfather can be strong yet complicated. The following books offer middle schoolers a glimpse into some tricky, loving family relationships. In Kwame Alexander‘s verse novel Booked (a companion in structure and theme to his 2015 Newbery Award–winning The Crossover), eighth grader Nick Hall is quite a […]

YA with pride

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June is LGBT Pride Month. Before, during, and after the parades have been attended and the rainbow cakes baked, readers can find queer-centric tales of love, struggle, and discovering one’s identity in the following books. It’s Pride Week in San Francisco in Nina LaCour and David Levithan’s You Know Me Well, and high-school seniors Mark […]

Review of We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler

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We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler by Russell Freedman Intermediate, Middle School    Clarion    104 pp. 5/16    978-0-544-22379-0    $17.99 Freedman’s latest photohistory is an excellent overview of the White Rose resistance movement, a group of university students who, beginning in June 1942 in Munich, Germany, risked their […]

2016 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: Middle School

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Need suggestions for beach reading or books to bring to summer camp? Here are our top ten books for different age ranges — including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry — all published 2015–2016 and ideal for the season. Grade levels are only suggestions; the individual child is the real criterion. For a handy take-along list of […]