Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Great Lakes Great Books list for grades 6-8

Awards season is upon us at the Peter White Public Library, and while you might wonder which of your favorite movies might win an Oscar this year, I am talking book awards. The American Library Association recently released their 2015 Youth Media Award List for books published in the United States. Here in Michigan, the Michigan Reading Association released the 2015 Great Lakes Great Books List for Kindergarten through 12th Grade. Students are asked to read the eight books selected by the awards committee as the best from the previous year, then vote on their favorite. The following books, available to read at the PWPL were chosen for grades 6 to 8.
I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora is a story about two friends whose love of literature sends them on a quest over summer break to remove all the copies of Harper Lee’s classic book from shelves at bookstores and libraries in their town, county and region. Their goal is to generate interest in the book, since they are pretty sure none of their classmates would read it otherwise. It works, but soon the “I Kill the Mockingbird” movement takes on a life of its own, and the two friends might be the only ones who can stop it before others commit crime in the name of literacy. 

Written in verse, the 2015 John Newberry Medal award winner, The Crossover by Kwame Alexander brings basketball, family and the bond of twin brothers together in a riveting coming of age story that is fast-paced both on and off the court. Josh Bell loves the game of basketball and together with his twin Jordan he is a force on his school’s team. But when Jordan starts thinking more about a girl than his game, Josh finds himself left out of the play. The stories gripping ending will strengthen their family bond. 
In Gaijin: American Prison of War, a graphic novel written and illustrated by Michigan resident, Matt Faulkner, Koji Miyamoto’s 13th birthday becomes cemented in American history as the day that Japanese planes bomb Pearl Harbor. Shunned by San Francisco society, Koji and his mother voluntarily go to a internment camp for Japanese Americans. There he faces more racism, because some say he isn’t truly Japanese since his Mother is white and his father is Japanese. While the story of Gaijin is fictional, Faulkner’s historical setting gives young adult readers a glimpse into America’s own internment camps, tackling issues of race, nationalism and family. 

Who doesn’t love a ghost story? In The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier, Irish orphans Molly and Kip seek employment as servants at an English manor in disrepair. But they soon realize that all is not right in the house. A large tree opposite the manor seems to be casting a spell over the residents and a ghost known as “the Night Gardener” haunts the house. 

Mystery abounds in Absolutely Truly by Heather Frederick. In her first book of the Pumpkin Falls Mysteries Series, readers meet 12 year old Truly whose family just relocated from Texas to Pumpkin Falls, New Hampshire to take over the 100 year old family bookstore. As her family settles in and her father recovers from an IED explosion in Afghanistan, a mysterious note left in a first edition of Charlotte’s Web leads Truly and her new friends on an adventure to find the owner.  

Half a World Away by Cynthia Kadohata is about two adoptions and the power of love. Eleven year old Jaden thinks he is incapable of feeling love. He knows his adoptive parents love him, but he doesn’t feel it, or reciprocate it. So when they decide to adopt a second child, from Kazakhstan, Jaden worries that he going to be replaced.  When his parents chose a baby to adopt from the orphanage, Jaden objects, begging them to adopt a toddler he met at the same orphanage instead. Has he finally learned how to love?

When a menacing fairy threatens her father in The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler, Alice can’t believe her eyes. When her father goes missing, presumed to be lost at sea; Alice is sent to live with an Uncle. To every reader’s delight he has an enormous library. To Alice’s dismay she isn’t allowed to read any of the books. When she does, she finds herself in a book. Now how does she get out?  

-- Jenifer Kilpela, Youth Services

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