The Dogs by Allan Stratton (2015)

DogsQuick, creepy, and twisty, this is a solid choice for hungry horror fans.

Recommended grade level: 7 and up

Pages:  272 (for ISBN 9781492609384)

Genre(s) and keywords: thriller, horror, mystery, reluctant readers

Tone/Style: dark, unreliable

Pace: moderate to fast

Topics: ghosts, stalking, rural setting, parents dating

Themes: family, trust, absent parents, secrets

Summary: Cameron and his mom are being hunted by his dad. In their isolated farmhouse, Cameron sees and hears things that aren’t possible. Soon he’s questioning everything – including his sanity. What’s hiding in the night? Buried in the past? Cameron must uncover the secrets before they tear him apart. (Source) Continue reading

2018 Favorite Books for Middle Schoolers

And now, I present to you… my favorite books for middle school readers published in 2018!

(…that I’ve read so far.  I’ll get back to you on the rest.)

 

Click a book cover to see its Goodreads page.

 

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor

This is showing up on all the award prediction lists, and it’s not hard to see why. It’s an honest, vulnerable piece of realistic fiction with an engaging voice. I want to give Mason a huge hug. Recommended for grades 4 and up.

 

 

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi

This funny, inventive adventure is full of powerful young women, growing friendship, and best of all, fascinating Hindu mythology. It’s sparked a big interest in the subject for me. I love that Rick Riordan is supporting Own Voices authors telling stories based in their own mythology to complement his Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Norse ones. Recommended for grades 4 and up.

 

Game Changer by Tommy Greenwald

This title has a ton of potential for reluctant readers.  It’s a loving examination of football that also takes a serious look at some serious problems with the sport and its culture.  And since it’s written in verse, it flies by. Recommended for grades 6 and up. (There is some mention of underage drinking, though it doesn’t occur “onscreen” and isn’t condoned.) Continue reading

Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell (2016)

frozenAtmospheric horror with a wide age-range appeal and creepy dolls.

Recommended grade level: 6 and up

Pages:   298 (for ISBN 9780545941082)

Genre(s) and keywords: horror

Tone/Style: bleak, scary

Pace: moderate to fast

Topics: curses, ghosts, dolls, possession, death

Themes: aftermath of tragedy, grief, family

Summary: Dunvegan School for Girls has been losed for many years. Converted into a family home, the teachers and the students are long gone. But they left something behind… Continue reading

Unstoppable: True Stories of Amazing Bionic Animals by Nancy Furstinger (2017)

unstoppableCute, inspiring, and photo-heavy, this feel-good title is great for browsing.

Recommended grade level: 4 and up

Pages:  128 (for ISBN 9780544879669)

Genre(s) and keywords: nonfiction, science, reluctant readers

Tone/Style: positive, encouraging

Pace: fast

Topics: medical technology, prosthetics

Themes: different abilities, innovation, helping others, overcoming challenges

Summary: In Unstoppable, animals are both benefiting from and helping out the world of prosthetic science – including all species, situations, and science backgrounds. From the high-tech science of 3D printing, to inflatables, to toy wheels, this title has it all. Unstoppable is a perfect fit for science enthusiasts and animal lovers alike. (Source) Continue reading

Program – Build to Battle

What is it?

Using office supplies and instructions from the Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction book series by John Austin, create tiny catapults, bows and arrows, and other “weapons” then compete in challenges with them.

 

Price

You may be able to find what you need among you existing office supplies, or solicit donations of materials.  In this case, you could potentially run the program without buying anything.  I had a healthy budget to work with and ended up spending about $50 on building materials.

 

Why do it?

There’s a little bit of every STEAM element—science, technology, engineering, art, and math—in this program.  Not many activities hit on all that, particularly not ones with this high appeal for pre-teens and teens.  It’s a great program for disguising educational elements behind a ton of fun elements. Continue reading