Short by Holly Goldberg Sloan (2017)

shortThis new offering from the author of Counting by 7s is considerably lighter, funnier fare.

Recommended grade level: 4-7

Pages:   304 (for ISBN 9780399186219)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic, some humor

Tone/Style: funny, naive

Pace: fast

Topics: theatre, height, actors, little people

Themes: new experiences, finding confidence, friendship, adulthood, body positivity, relationships

Summary: Julia is very short for her age, but by the end of the summer run of The Wizard of Oz, she’ll realize how big she is inside, where it counts. She hasn’t ever thought of herself as a performer, but when the wonderful director of Oz casts her as a Munchkin, she begins to see herself in a new way. As Julia becomes friendly with the poised and wise Olive—one of the adults with dwarfism who’ve joined the production’s motley crew of Munchkins—and with her deeply artistic neighbor, Mrs. Chang, Julia’s own sense of self as an artist grows. Soon, she doesn’t want to fade into the background—and it’s a good thing, because her director has more big plans for Julia! Continue reading

Falling Over Sideways by Jordan Sonnenblick (2016)

fallingJordan Sonnenblick is a staple in realistic fiction aimed at middle school readers.  His newest offering does not disappoint.

Recommended grade level: 6 and up

Pages:   272 (for ISBN 9780545863247)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic, humor

Tone/Style: thoughtful, self-pitying

Pace: moderate

Topics: parental illness, strokes, recovery, dance, saxophone

Themes: family, parent-child relationships, selfishness, sacrifice

Summary: It’s not easy being Claire. (Really.)

Claire’s life is a joke . . . but she’s not laughing. While her friends seem to be leaping forward, she’s dancing in the same place. The mean girls at school are living up to their mean name, and there’s a boy, Ryder, who’s just as bad, if not worse. And at home, nobody’s really listening to her — if anything, they seem to be more in on the joke than she is. Continue reading

The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt (2007)

The_wednesday_warsThis beloved tragicomedy is like hiding veggies in a smoothie: they won’t even notice it’s historical fiction!

Recommended grade level: 5-9

Pages: 264 (for ISBN 9780618724833)

Genre(s) and keywords: historical fiction, humor, award winners

Tone/Style: personal, embarrassed

Pace: moderate

Topics: school, theatre, baseball, the Vietnam War, Shakespeare

Themes: parent/child relationships, sibling relationships, teacher relationships, war, disappointment, parental approval, self-discovery

Summary: Holling Hoodhood is really in for it.

He’s just started seventh grade with Mrs. Baker, a teacher he knows is out to get him. Why else would she make him read Shakespeare…outside of class? Continue reading

The Heartbreak Messenger by Alexander Vance (2013)

heart

A funny story about the dangers of messing around with people’s hearts.

Recommended grade level: 4-7

Pages: 304 (for ISBN 9781250044167)

Genre(s) and keywords: humor, realistic fiction

Tone/Style: humorous, self-deprecating

Pace: moderate to fast

Topics: dating, businesses

Themes: heartbreak, bystanders

Summary: Quentin never asked to be the Heartbreak Messenger, it just kind of happened. The valuable communication service he offers is simple: he delivers break-up messages. For a small fee, he will deliver that message to your soon-to-be ex-girlfriend. If you order the deluxe package, he’ll even throw in some flowers and a box of chocolates. You know, to soften the blow… Continue reading

I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter (2006)

Id tell you

Spy girl falls for normal guy.  What could possibly go wrong?

Recommended grade level: 7-10

Pages: 284 (for ISBN 9781423100034)

Genre(s) and keywords: adventure, spy, romance, humor, chick lit

Tone/Style: conspiratorial, humorous

Pace: moderate

Topics: spies, illicit romance, boarding schools

Themes: deception, desire for romance, desire to be normal

Summary: The Gallagher Academy for Exceptional Young Women is a fairly typical all-girls school—that is, if every school teaches advanced martial arts in PE, chemistry always consists of the latest in chemical warfare, and everyone breaks CIA codes for extra credit in computer class. So in truth, while the Gallagher Academy might say it’s a school for geniuses what they really mean is spies. But what happens when a Gallagher Girl falls for a boy who doesn’t have a code name? Continue reading

Ungifted by Gordon Korman (2012)

ungiftedA funny book with a lovably incompetent protagonist.

Recommended grade level: 4-8

Pages: 280 (for ISBN 9780061742668)

Genre(s) and keywords: humor

Tone/Style: self-deprecating

Pace: moderate

Topics: robotics, contests, cheating, intelligence, social abilities

Themes: feeling inadequate, finding your talents, self-discovery

Summary: The word “gifted” has never been applied to Donovan Curtis. It’s usually more like “don’t try this at home.” So when the troublemaker pulls a major prank at his middle school, he thinks he’s finally gone too far. But thanks to a mix-up, instead of getting in trouble, Donovan is sent to the Academy for Scholastic Distinction, a special program for gifted and talented students. Continue reading

Chomp by Carl Hiaasen (2012)

chompThis Everglades adventure has humor, action, a well-developed cast of characters, and biting–lots of biting.

Recommended grade level: 5-9

Pages: 290 (for ISBN 9780375868429)

Genre(s) and keywords: adventure, humor, survival

Tone/Style: quirky, humorous

Pace: moderate

Topics: animals, swamps, reality TV, domestic abuse

Themes: parent/child relationships, protecting others, dishonesty on television

Summary: Wahoo Cray lives in a zoo. His father is an animal wrangler, so he’s grown up with all manner of gators, snakes, parrots, rats, monkeys, snappers, and more in his backyard. Continue reading