New Middle School Stand-alone Fiction


Jones, Kelly. Illustrated by Katie Kath. Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer.  New York: Knopf, 2015. 978-0-385-75552-8. 216 p. $16.99 Gr. 3-6.

Moving from the city to her late-great-uncle’s house has changed 12-year-old Sophie Brown’s life. She finds a flyer in the barn from a farm supply catalog and writes them  letters. The novel is told through letters, lists, full page illustrations, newspaper clippings, broken typewriter like telegraph messages and even a comic and recipe.  Will Sophie and her family adjust to a new lifestyle? The novel can serve as a bridge to chapter novels for younger readers.  Thoughts: Moving presents a challenge to many students as Sophie learns to embrace her new situation demonstrating to readers that not all changes are terrible.

Realistic Fiction   Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School


Leck, James. After Dark. Toronto, ON: KCP Fiction, 2015. 97801-77138-1109. 252 p. $16.95 Gr. 5-8.

Charlie’s school year at a posh and private school ends differently than in the past. Instead of oversleeping and embracing a lazy summer, his summer shifts into restoring an old inn with his mother, sister, and movie star brother that will also serve as their home. All of a sudden Charlie notices that locals are becoming oddly sick and present with sunglasses. As much as he wishes to disregard beliefs from Mile Van Helsing, the local “conspiracy crackpot,” Charlie finds truth in the thoughts that either an unexplained epidemic or hybrid mashups of zombies and vampires will completely overtake the town. Will Charlie be able to help the town or will he succumb to the mystery?  Thoughts: Like Paolo Bacigalupi’s Zombie Baseball Beatdown readers are presented with a terrifying mystery that has ramifications beyond fear.

Supernatural; Mystery     Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School



Messner, Kate. All the Answers. New York: Bloomsbury, 2015. $16.99 978-1-61963-374-2.  248 p. Gr. 5-8.

In need of a pencil, Ava finds a basic blue pencil in the junk drawer at home. Normally, Ava struggles with test anxiety, but she notices when she takes her math test that the pencil can answer the questions. Ava later learns that the pencil will address fact based questions, and she shares this with her best friend Sophie.  The questions go beyond school questions and move onto crush questions and topics related to family members. Why is it that her mother calls her own father by his first name? In All the Answers, Ava learns that a magical pencil is not the way to find every answer. Ava learns more about friendship, family, love and trust, while discovering information about the pencil that she never dreamed to be possible. With a little bit of magic and a lot of heart, readers will connect to Ava and  her parents of opposite political belief, her academic goal setting brother, her sister who changes her name on a name tag since there are some many Emma’s in her classroom, her grandmother ready to pray for all in need, and her best friend with a zest for shopping, fashion and latest trends. Thoughts: With the increase use of technology and even lead pencils, students tend not to use a traditional wooden pencil outside of state testing exam. The book allows readers to ponder what they would do if they found a pencil with the qualities from the story.

Realistic Fiction; Magic    Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School



Myer, Andy. Henry Hubble’s Book of Troubles.  New York: Delacorte, 2015. 978-0-385-744393. $15.99. 151 p.  Gr. 5-8.

Henry Harrison Hubble writes an old fashion journal and adds his clever cartooning skills, poetry and photography to the entries.  He has plenty to reflect upon from his days at Orville Crumb Middle School.  The journal entries range from missing the whale on their school field trip to trick-or-treating mishaps, getting sick at school, a misguided science presentation, and dancing difficulties. This book has humor and a fast pace to encourage the most reluctant of all readers to take delight in reading. Thoughts: Having students learn more about their family history can tie into this novel as Henry is named after President Harrison. Another topic could be  family heirlooms as Henry’s sure is unique.  Another topic of discussion can be social media awareness. At the end of the novel we learn that his journal was stolen and posted online for all to view leading to unwanted situations. A conversation about uses of social media can be linked to meaningful discussions.

Realistic Fiction   Beth McGuire, Wendover Middle School


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