Losers Take All by David Klass

losers take allI’ve had a lot of success recommending this funny, subversive sports story.

Recommended grade level: 7 and up

Pages:   320 (for ISBN 9780374301361)

Genre(s) and keywords: humor, sports

Tone/Style: humorous, satirical

Pace: moderate

Topics: soccer, high school, social norms, internet fame

Themes: being oneself, discovering oneself, nonconformism

Summary: At Jack Logan’s sports-crazy New Jersey high school, the new rule is that all kids must play on a team. So Jack and a ragtag group of anti-athletic friends decide to get even. They are going to start a rebel JV soccer team whose mission is to avoid victory at any cost, setting out to secretly undermine the jock culture of the school. But as the team’s losing formula becomes increasingly successful at attracting fans and attention, Jack and his teammates are winning in ways they never expected—and don’t know how to handle. Continue reading

Speed of Life by Carol Weston (2017)

speed of lifeThough it is ostensibly about grief, most readers will be more touched by its frank and empathetic exploration of common and often unspoken relationship struggles experienced by young teen girls.

Recommended grade level: 7 or 8 and up

Pages:   329 (for ISBN 9781492654490)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction, romance

Tone/Style: personal, angsty

Pace: leisurely to moderate

Topics: death of a family member, advice columnists, mixed families, first relationships, when to have sex, moving, new school

Themes: grief, moving on, growing up, friendship, family

Summary: Sofia lost her mother eight months ago, and her friends were 100% there for her. Now it’s a new year and they’re ready for Sofia to move on. 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

Wonder by R.J. Palacio (2012)

Wonder_Cover_ArtHere’s a book that needs no introduction.

Recommended grade level: 4-8 (younger is fine for kids who are reading up)

Pages: 320 (for ISBN 9780375869020)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction, Kylie’s favorites

Tone/Style: hopeful, personal

Pace: moderate

Topics: facial differences, new schools, making friends, fitting in, overcoming bullies

Themes: being different, familybetrayal by friends, perseverance, trying something new

Summary: August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. Continue reading

If I Ever Get Out of Here by Eric Gansworth (2015)

if iLewis Blake deals with heady issues of family, friendship, identity, and belonging in this candid and humorous story about life as a teenage Tuscarora Indian in 1975.

Recommended grade level: 6-9

Pages: 368 (for ISBN 9780545417303)

Genre(s) and keywords: historical fiction, realistic fiction, diverse, Native American protagonist Continue reading