A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness (2011)

monsterA moving and heartbreakingly honest modern fairy tale.

Recommended grade level: 6 and up; maybe older for sensitive readers

Pages: 216 (for ISBN 9781406311525)

Genre(s) and keywords: fantasy, (light) horror, drama, British import, Europe (England), Kylie’s Favorites

Tone/Style: mysterious, sad

Pace: moderate to fast

Topics: monsters, fables, ill parents

Themes: being honest with oneself, death, acceptance, grief and loss, denial, change, moving on, family

Summary:  The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming… The monster in his back garden, though, this monster is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth.

Continue reading

Booked by Kwame Alexander (2016)

bookedKwame’s novel-in-verse follows in the tradition of Newbery Award-winner The Crossover.

Recommended grade level: 4-8

Pages:   320 (for ISBN 9780544570986)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction, verse, sports, diverse, reluctant readers, African-American protagonist

Tone/Style: cool, lyrical

Continue reading

Front Lines by Michael Grant (2016)

frontThis book feels a lot like historical fiction–but it’s not.  A novel concept make this one memorable.

Recommended grade level: 7-12

Pages:   576 (for ISBN 9780062342157)

Genre(s) and keywords: historical fiction (not exactly, but historical fiction fans should like it), adventure, war

Tone/Style: thoughtful, despairing, gritty
Continue reading

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer (2006)

life as

This chilling what-if scenario fosters a staunch appreciation for life a we know it.

Recommended grade level: 6-12

Pages: 337 (for ISBN 9780152061548)

Genre(s) and keywords: science fiction, post-apocalyptic, survival, dystopian (in the world-ending sense, not the evil -government sense)

Tone/Style: serious, desperate, dissatisfied

Pace: moderate

Topics: natural disasters, destruction

Themes: survival, family, protecting others, grief and loss, going without, change

Summary: Miranda’s disbelief turns to fear in a split second when an asteroid knocks the moon closer to the earth. How should her family prepare for the future when worldwide tsunamis wipe out the coasts, earthquakes rock the continents, and volcanic ash blocks out the sun? Continue reading

When Friendship Followed Me Home by Paul Griffin (2016)

whenfriendship_front-165x248If you want issues, this book has got them.  Lots of them.

Recommended grade level: 5-8

Pages: 256 (for ISBN 9780803738164 )

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction

Tone/Style: resigned, exploratory

Pace: moderate

Topics: dogs, cancer, writing, magicians, libraries, adoptees, abuse

Themes: illness, belonging, finding meaning, grief and loss, death, change

Summary: Ben Coffin knows from foster care that people can leave you without a good-bye. That’s why he prefers to hide out in the Coney Island library with his sci-fi novels, until he rescues an abandoned dog from the alley next door. Scruffy little Flip introduces Ben to fellow book lover Halley—yes, like the comet. Some call her Rainbow Girl for her crazy-colored clothes, but for Ben it’s her laugh, pure magic, the kind that makes you smile away the stormiest day. Continue reading

Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead (2015)

goodbyeA beloved author takes on some hot-button middle school issues in a story about love and friendship.

Recommended grade level: 6-8

Pages: 304 (for ISBN 9780385743174)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction

Tone/Style: thoughtful, alternating points of view

Pace: leisurely to moderate

Topics: friendship, romantic relationships, internet and cell phone safety, theatre

Themes: friendship with the opposite sex, changing relationships with old friends, finding new interests, determining when to be in a relationship with someone

Summary: Love is __________.

It’s the beginning of seventh grade and Bridge, Emily, and Tab have a pact: no fighting. Continue reading

Crash by Jerry Spinelli (1995)

Crash3A story told from the point of view of a total jerk.

Recommended grade level: 4-8

Pages: 176 (for ISBN 9780440238577)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction, humor, reluctant readers

Tone/Style: simple, judgmental (at the beginning)

Pace: fast

Topics: bullying, jocks

Themes: identity, change, family

Summary: Crash Coogan, a seventh-grade football star, has been an aggressive person from the time he was very young; sometimes, he is too aggressive. Continue reading