VIEWS: 7 PAGES: 11 POSTED ON: 3/5/2012
2006-2007 Virginia Readers’ Choice Middle Al Capone Does My Shirts by: Gennifer Choldenko When his father gets a job as an electrician at Alcatraz, Moose's family moves to the famous prison island. Against this vividly evoked setting, Moose butts heads with the warden's scheming daughter and gets help from a surprising source for his older sister, who exhibits the symptoms of autism (the book is set in 1935, before the disease was identified). The solid novel concludes with a historical note. Classifications: Fiction Reading Level: 3.5 Subjects: United States Penitentiary, Alcatraz Island, California Fiction. Alcatraz Island (Calif.) History Fiction. Autism Fiction. Family problems Fiction. Brothers and sisters Fiction. Historical fiction. Becoming Naomi Leon by: Pam Ryan Eleven-year-old Naomi's long-absent mother shows up at the trailer park where Naomi, her brother, and their great-grandmother have been happily living for the past seven years. With its quirky characterizations and folksy atmosphere, this engrossing family drama resembles a Sharon Creech novel on the surface, but it has its own uniquely affecting emotional core. Classifications: Fiction Reading Level: 5.4 Subjects: Great-grandmothers Fiction. Brothers and sisters Fiction. Family problems Fiction. Mexican Americans Fiction. Mexico Fiction. Blue Fingers: A Ninja’s Tale by: Cheryl Whitesel In this adventure story set in feudal Japan, young Koji is kidnapped by ninjas and trained to become one of them. Fans of the genre will appreciate the action, though the book is slow moving at times. A parallel plot, about Koji's family, is less smoothly related than the intriguing ninja story. A historical note is appended. Classifications: Fiction Reading Level: 5.2 Subjects: Japan History Period of civil wars, 1480-1603 Fiction. Ninja Fiction. Samurai Fiction. Historical fiction. Chasing Vermeer by: Blue Balliett Sixth-grade classmates Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay are drawn into a mysterious claim that some of the works attributed to Johannes Vermeer were not, in fact, painted by that seventeenth-century Dutch artist. The protagonists are smart and appealing, the prose style is agreeably quirky, and fans of puzzle-mysteries will enjoy cracking the codes presented within the text and hidden in the illustrations. Classifications: Fiction Reading Level: 5.4 Subjects: Art Fiction. Vermeer, Johannes, 1632-1675 Fiction. Mystery and detective stories. Last Shot: A Final Four Mystery by: John Feinstein As winners of a writing contest, eighth-graders Steven Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson travel to the NCAA Final Four as journalists. In addition to meeting college basketball celebrities, the two also uncover a plot to fix the championship game. As the fast-moving mystery takes off, the book becomes the reader's own press pass to a behind-the-scenes look at the Final Four. Classifications: Fiction Reading Level: 4.8 Subjects: Journalists Fiction. NCAA Basketball Tournament Fiction. Basketball Fiction. Gambling Fiction. Extortion Fiction. Mystery and detective stories. Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place by: E.L. Konigsburg Margaret Rose Kane spends the summer with a pair of great-uncles who have devoted their lives to building three sculpture towers in their backyard. When a local group plans to have the structures demolished, Margaret Rose rallies a group of kindred spirits to save the towers. Konigsburg tackles some big themes without sacrificing her usual incisive characterizations and inventive storytelling. Classifications: Fiction Reading Level: 5.5 Subjects: Social action Fiction. Individuality Fiction. Uncles Fiction. Hungarian Americans Fiction. Camps Fiction. Sea Of Trolls by: Nancy Farmer Drawing upon history, Norse and Celtic myth, and Farmer's own abundant imagination, this story is long but engrossing, a cruel tale with a merry heart about a Saxon boy and what befell him upon his and his younger sister's capture by marauding Northmen (and, later, trolls). The book is effectively sparing in its use of fantasy elements, but when Farmer pulls out all the stops, she does so with aplomb and assurance. Classifications: Fiction Reading Level: 4.7 Subjects: Mythology, Norse Fiction. Druids and druidism Fiction. Vikings Fiction. Bards and bardism Fiction. Saxons Fiction. Brothers and sisters Fiction. Trolls Fiction. Teacher’s Funeral by: Richard Peck Within days of his teacher's (unlamented) passing, fifteen-year-old Russell finds himself an unwilling pupil of her replacement: his older sister Tansy. Set in 1904 rural Indiana, the novel recounts events at the one- room Hominy Ridge School in a highly comic style, but beneath the humor there are clear emotional currents that make the final chapter particularly moving. Classifications: Fiction Reading Level: 4.7 Subjects: Education Fiction. Teachers Fiction. Country life Indiana Fiction. Indiana History 20th century Fiction. Humorous stories. Historical fiction. The Trial by: Jennifer Bryant The Bruno Hauptmann trial might not seem a likely focus for middle-school historical fiction, but Bryant has a capable witness in twelve-year-old Katie, a nascent journalist. The free- verse novel succeeds in drawing together the events of the kidnapping trial and its attendant media storm with Depression-era events and both of those with Katie's own life; its picture of celebrity and justice offers contemporary resonance as well. Classifications: Fiction Reading Level: 6.1 Subjects: Lindbergh, Charles A. (Charles Augustus), 1902-1974 Trials, litigation, etc. Fiction. Trials (Kidnapping) Fiction. Flemington (N.J.) History 20th century Fiction. Historical fiction. Worth by: A.LaFaye An accident has almost cost eleven- year-old Nate his leg, making him useless for farm work. When his father brings home an orphan boy to help him work their Nebraska homestead, the new arrival heightens Nate's feelings of frustration, anger, and sadness. Each boy wants what the other has, and both boys yearn for the love of their fathers. This short tale has a quietly epic sweep. Classifications: Fiction Reading Level: 4.5 Subjects: Frontier and pioneer life Nebraska Fiction. Fathers and sons Fiction. Orphans Fiction. Nebraska History 19th century Fiction. Historical fiction.
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