I have been thinking about expanding what I read. As you may know, I absolutely LOVE young adult literature, especially targeting teens. But then I thought, “Hey! Wait a minute!! Young adults aren’t just in high school!” So middle school, here I come! And here are two titles I read that made me REALLY enjoy reading middle school titles (and they made me laugh too!!)
24 Hours in Nowhere by Dusti Bowling. 2018, Sterling Children’s Books
The town of Nowhere is exactly located where it says it is in the state of Arizona. It’s a town where “no” precedes a lot of things. No one wants to visit it. No thing really exciting ever happens. But at the start of the day, Gus finds himself in a spectacular situation. He is about to eat a cholla cactus. No because he wants to, but because Bo Taylor is making him. And it’s about to happen until Rossi saves him the only way she can. She gives Bo her dirt bike in exchange for a life. And the day keeps getting better.
Gus wants so badly to get that dirt bike back for Rossi. The reason why is because he wants HER to win the next race with a huge prize involved and knows if Rossi isn’t it in, Bo will win. In order to do that, he decides to find hidden gold currently found only in tales in the Dead Frenchmen Mine (emphasis on dead.) Bo decides to send one of his buddies with him, and along the way Rossi decides to join.
And what happens in the mine in the rest of the 24 hours of that day….
Bowling writes a novel that contains both humor and the hard parts of life teens go through. Readers will connect with Gus and his travails with bullying, his life situation without his parents, and his determination to make things right. And that’s the beauty of this novel that will make you laugh out loud. Everyone can find themselves in it. HIGHLY recommended for junior high/middle school libraries.
Sam Wu is Not Afraid of Ghosts by Katie and Kevin Tsang. 2018, Egmont, UK
Sam is ready to go visit the Space Center. He has his Space Blasters suit on and can’t wait to be part of the fun. Unbeknownst to him, the “fun” is already beginning to percolate for some of his classmates, especially with Ralph Zinkerman. Once they get there, he dares Sam to take a ride in the Astro Blaster. And Sam, not wanting to look scared, does it. But he comes out of the situation humiliated and with a new name – Scaredy Cat Sam.
Undaunted (well, a little), Sam decides to channel his inner space hero to prove he’s not scared. That means getting a side-kick of the most unusual variety. But it takes more than that, and Sam takes the big step of inviting his best friends over to help him achieve his goal (and show off his side-kick!) He asks his family to make his favorite dishes for dinner when Zoe and Bernard show up. And when they do, the humor is amped up! Enter Sam’s sister Lucy, his grandmother, and the introduction of an Asian family’s culture to his friends who have never experienced it before.
And then add the ghosts!!
Katie and Kevin Tsang write such a gloriously wonderful book for middle graders by creating characters of all kinds and best of all, from all different kinds of backgrounds. Add a great storyline with some equally great images, and you have the type of book that readers will flock to because who doesn’t like books with pictures AND humor. This is going to be a great new series!! HIGHLY recommended for middle/junior high school libraries.