Does My Head Look Big In This?


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Forsyth County

Suggestions for Middle School Readers

Abdel-Fattah, Randa. Does My Head Look Big In This? Year eleven at an exclusive prep school in the suburbs of Melbourne, Australia, would be tough enough, but it is further complicated for Amal when she decides to wear the hijab, the Muslim head scarf, full-time as a badge of her faith--without losing her identity or sense of style. AR 4.9 Lexile 850

Alcott, Louisa May. Little Women. The classic story of Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy in nineteenth-century New England. AR 7.9

Alexie, Sherman. Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. 14-year-old Arnold “Junior” Spirit, a Spokane Indian, is regularly the target of bullies, and loves to draw. He expects disaster when he transfers from the reservation school to the rich, white school in Reardan, but soon finds himself making friends with both geeky and popular students and starting on the basketball team. Meeting his old classmates on the court, Junior grapples with questions about what constitutes one's community, identity, and tribe. AR 4.0 Lexile 600

Bell, Hilari. Shield of Stars. Pickpocket-turned-law-clerk Weasel has two weeks to save his employer from execution. With girl-adventurer Arisa Benison, Weasel goes in search of reinforcements for a jail break. Although Weasel's oft-stated philosophy of looking out for number one is never credible, Bell soon dispenses with it and settles down to a good old-fashioned trickster caper. This offering sustains Bell's reputation for thought-provoking light fantasy. AR 5.6 Lexile 830

Bingham, Kelly. Shark Girl. Conversations, letters, and prose poems tell the story of fifteen-year-old artist Jane's recovery from a shark attack and adjustment to life as an amputee. We read letters from sympathizers (after a bystander's video is televised) and feel the sting of pity. Jane's slowly growing comfort with herself is realistically portrayed. Nicely drawn relationships round out the involving, affecting story. AR 3.5

Boniface, William. The Hero Revealed - The Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy, Book 1. Ordinary Boy is the only resident of Superopolis who doesn't have superpowers. His personal hero is the Amazing Indestructo, the self-proclaimed greatest hero of Superopolis. When the Junior Leaguers get the opportunity to help the Amazing Indestructo foil the sinister plans of villainous Professor Brain-Drain, Ordinary Boy realizes that even without superpowers, he can still do extraordinary things. AR 6.1 Lexile 890.

Buchanan, Andrea. Daring Book for Girls. The Daring Book for Girls is the manual for everything that girls need to know—and that doesn't necessarily mean sewing buttonholes! Whether it's female heroes in history, science projects, friendship bracelets, double dutch, cats cradle, the perfect cartwheel or the eternal mystery of what boys are thinking, this book has it all. But it's not just a guide to giggling at sleepovers—although that's included, of course! Whether readers consider themselves tomboys, girly-girls, or a little bit of both, this book is every girl's invitation to adventure. (Non-fiction).

Cabot, Meg. Avalon High. Avalon High seems like a typical high school, attended by typical students: There's Lance, the jock. Jennifer, the cheerleader. And Will, senior class president, quarterback, and all-around good guy. But not everybody at Avalon High is who they appear to be ... not even, as new student Ellie is about to discover, herself. What part does she play in the drama that is unfolding? What if the bizarre chain of events and coincidences she has pieced together means -- as with the court of King Arthur -- tragedy is fast approaching Avalon High? Worst of all, what if there's nothing she can do about it? AR 5.1 Lexile 800

Cabot, Meg. Shadowland (#1 in The Mediator Series). Sixteen-year-old Susannah Simon, a liaison between the living and the dead, hopes to be able to live as a normal teenager after moving from New York to California with her mom and new stepfather, but on the very first day at her new school, Suze realizes it's not that easy. There's a ghost with revenge on her mind ... and Suze happens to be in the way. AR 4.9

Carbone, Elisa. Blood on the River: Jamestown 1607. Includes bibliographical references. Traveling to the New World in 1606 as the page to Captain John Smith, twelve-year-old orphan Samuel Collier settles in the new colony of James Town, where he must quickly learn to distinguish between friend and foe. AR 5.3 Lexile 830

Coombs, Kate. The Runaway Princess. A young princess conspires to nullify a contest for her hand in marriage by rescuing the dragon, witch, and bandits named in the challenge--despite the horde of determined princes that stand in her way. With a wry humor that embraces modern sensibilities but sidesteps anachronisms, this delightfully devious girl-power fantasy cheerfully undercuts every fairy-tale convention it encounters. AR 4.3 Lexile 700

Cummings, Priscilla. Red Kayak. Living near the water on Maryland's Eastern Shore, thirteen-year-old Brady and his best friends J.T. and Digger live an idyllic life, spending their days crabbing and fishing. When a community issue starts to gain momentum--the watermen and environmentalists are at odds--the three friends become divided. At the story's climax, J.T. and Digger devise a prank involving a kayak that kills an innocent child, and Brady wrestles with ethical responsibility to tell the truth. Lexile 800

Curtis, Christopher Paul. Elijah of Buxton. Eleven-year-old Elijah Freeman, the first free-born child in Buxton, Canada, which is a haven for slaves fleeing the American South in 1859, uses his wits and skills to try to bring to justice the lying preacher who has stolen money that was to be used to buy a family's freedom. AR 5.4 Lexile 1070

Dahlberg, Maurine F. The Story of Jonas. Thirteen-year-old slave Jonas must accompany his master's cruel son from their home in Missouri to the Kansas Territory gold fields. They join a wagon train led by a kindly man with abolitionist leanings who puts thoughts of freedom into Jonah's head. Though Jonah's naiveté is tiresome, his conflicting emotions are believable, given his situation. An author's note provides more information. AR 4.9 Lexile 820

Dowell, Frances O’Roark. Phineas L. MacGuire …Erupts! When science-minded Mac's best friend unexpectedly moves away, he is assigned another partner for the upcoming school science fair--the obnoxious new boy. Told in fourth-grader Mac's open, humorous, and self-effacing voice, the straightforward story is simple without being simplistic. The amusing tale and frequent illustrations are perfect for fans of Martin Bridge and the Julian stories. AR 5.0 Lexile 810.

Draper, Sharon. Double Dutch. Three eighth-grade friends, preparing for the International Double Dutch Championship jump rope competition in their home town of Cincinnati, Ohio, cope with Randy's missing father, Delia's inability to read, and Yo Yo's encounter with the class bullies. Lexile 760. AR 4.9

Duprau, Jeanne. The City of Ember. The city of Ember has no natural light, and the blackouts of its antiquated electrical grid are coming more and more frequently: "disaster was right around the corner." So thinks Doon, a curious twelve-year-old who, along with his spirited schoolmate Lina, determines to save the city. The writing is agreeably spare and remarkably suspenseful; fans will be pleased to know that there's plenty of room for a sequel. AR 5.0 Lexile 680.

Gauthier, Gail. Happy Kid. All he wants is to get through seventh grade unnoticed. On the night before school starts, his mother gives him a book to help him counteract his negativity, claiming that Happy Kid: A Young Person's Guide to Satisfying Relationships and a Happy and Meaning-filled Life just screamed his name when she saw it. But the book seems to have a plan of its own, falling open to the parts that are pertinent to the zany situations that Kyle finds himself in, although sometimes offering advice that makes his life more complicated. AR 4.9

Graff, Lisa. The Thing About Georgie. The novel introduces its main character by having readers touch their left ears with their right hands, something Georgie cannot do because he is a dwarf. What could have been heavy-handed becomes a way for readers to empathize with Georgie as he faces sibling rivalry and a falling-out with a friend. Graff has created a likable, realistic fourth grader. AR 4.3 Lexile 770

Grimes, Nikki. Bronx Masquerade. Open Mike Friday is everyone's favorite day in Mr. Ward's English class. On Fridays, his 18 high-school students dare to relax long enough to let slip the poets, painters, readers, and dreamers that exist within each of them. By book's end, all the voices have blended seamlessly into a multicultural chorus laden with a message that is probably summed up best by one student’s comment, "I am not a skin color or a hank of wavy hair. I am a person, and if they don't get that, it's their problem, not mine." AR 4.5 Lexile 670

Henkes, Kevin. Olive’s Ocean. This powerful coming-of-age novel starts with twelve-year-old Martha Boyle preparing for a two week vacation on the New England coast . Before she departs, Martha receives a visit from the mother of her deceased classmate, Olive Boyle. Mrs. Boyle presents Martha with a page taken from Olive's diary; on this page Olive expresses her dream of one day seeing the ocean, becoming a writer and her hope to become a friend of Martha's. Although Martha is initially puzzled as to why this girl she hardly knew desired a friendship, she is touched nonetheless. During her vacation, Martha undergoes growing pains as she confronts her own mortality, and experiences her first crush and her first betrayal. Throughout it all, Martha often returns to the soothing words of Olive as she confronts the many changes in her life. AR 4.7 Lexile 680

Hiaasen, Carl. Flush. In his second children's book, Hiaasen hits his stride, offering a great action adventure without a hint of the didacticism that crept into Hoot (rev. 11/02). As is his trademark, he sets this eco-mystery in Florida and peoples it with crooks (Dusty Muleman, who dumps sewage from his gambling boat into Florida's waters); idealists (Paine Underwood, who sinks Muleman's boat in an effort to call attention to the illegal waste disposal); everyday heroes (Noah and Abbey, Paine's children, who finally reveal Muleman's operation and validate their dad's noble gesture); and oddball characters (an old "pirate" who shows up throughout the story and a tattooed, hard-living card dealer). While the plot offers enough twists and turns to satisfy even the most serious adventure junkies, it is the multidimensional characters who give the novel its vitality. Hiaasen always shows rather than tells, and that showing creates individuals who are simultaneously noble and petty, quirky and realistic, decent and wayward. Horn Book. AR 5.0 Lexile 830

Hill, Kirkpatrick. Do Not Pass Go. In his small Alaskan town, Deet is certain that everyone in his school will learn that his stepfather has been jailed for drug possession. He faces his classmates with trepidation, but even more intimidating is the prison, where Deet goes to visit his stepdad. Through these visits, Deet comes to know some of the prisoners and gains insight into their stories. Most of these insights are explained in Deet's homework assignment for English class, and he forms a friendship with a fellow student whose brother is also in jail. Hill is a master of the telling detail; she conveys the atmosphere of the visitor's center of the jail, for example, in a few vivid sentences. Best is her portrait of Deet, a strong, thoughtful teenager, forced through circumstances to hold things together for his family. There's not a great deal of action here, but the story is compelling nonetheless. AR Lexile 850

Hobbs, Valerie. Defiance. Toby Steiner, age 11, doesn't want to go back to the cancer hospital. He doesn't want to "puke up his guts" or "make . . . friends with kids who disappeared." So he's not going to tell anyone about the hard marble-sized lump that just reappeared in his side. Instead, while on a country vacation, he's going to ride a bike, view the heavens through his telescope and enjoy being a regular kid. What happens in this stirring evocative tale is that Toby strikes up an unlikely acquaintanceship with an elderly lady who lives nearby, a once famous poet who has been "losing her vision" both physically and metaphorically. Hobbs manages to wring genuine emotion from the reader despite a somewhat pat ending. The feisty, life-affirming, lesson-teaching elder is a familiar character in children's literature, but Hobbs breathes new life into the situation, giving the character some problems of her own and making the intersection of these two souls both real and poignant. AR 4.0 Lexile 640

Hobbs, Will. Crossing the Wire. When falling crop prices threaten his family with starvation, fifteen-year-old Victor Flores heads north in an attempt to "cross the wire" from Mexico into the U.S. so he can find work and send money home. But with no money to pay the smugglers who sneak illegal workers across the border, Victor must struggle to survive as he jumps trains, stows away on trucks, and hikes through the Arizona desert. His journey is fraught with danger. Through Victor's often desperate struggle, Will Hobbs brings to life one of the great human dramas of our time. AR 4.3 Lexile 670

Hoffman, Alice. Incantation. During the Spanish Inquisition, sixteen-year-old Estrella, brought up a Catholic, discovers her family's true Jewish identity. When their secret is betrayed by Estrella's best friend, the consequences are tragic. AR 5.0

Holmes, Sara Lewis. Letters from Rapunzel. A girl deals with her poet father's institutionalization for clinical depression by writing letters to an unknown recipient, whom she thinks must be her father's muse. In the process, she discovers more about herself and uncovers the hidden facts of her father's situation. The main character offers a fresh, interesting--albeit a little too precocious--voice. AR 5.3 Lexile

Howe, James. The Misfits. Bobby Goodspeed is not your typical 12-year-old. He's probably the world's youngest tie salesman. He also meets his friends at the local Candy Kitchen for regular "forums." When his pals decide they need to create a third political party for the school election, Bobby gets an idea that could really change Paintbrush Falls Middle School. It is an upbeat, reassuring novel that encourages preteens and teens to celebrate their individuality. AR 5.2 Lexile 960

Iggulden, Conn. Dangerous Book for Boys. Intentionally old-fashioned, this eclectic collection addresses the undeniable boy-appeal of certain facts and activities. Dozens of short chapters cover a wide range of topics. Simple instructions for coin tricks and paper airplanes alternate with excerpts from history such as Famous Battles and facts about ancient wonders of the world and astronomy. The dangerous aspect is more apparent in such chapters as Making Cloth Fireproof, and Hunting and Cooking a Rabbit, but also applies to the overall premise that action is fun and can be worth the risks. (Non-fiction)

Lombard, Jenny. Drita, My Homegirl. Fourth-graders Drita and Maxie alternate telling the story of their friendship. Drita and her family have come to New York City from war-torn Kosova and are struggling to adjust, especially Drita's mother, who becomes more and more depressed. Maxie is still dealing with her mother's accidental death years before. Though weighed down with many serious issues, the story is ultimately moving. AR Lexile 690.

Lord, Cynthia. Rules. "No toys in the fish tank"is one of many rules that 12-year-old Catherine shares with her autistic younger brother, David, to help him understand his world. Lots of the rules are practical. Others are more subtle and shed light on issues in Catherine's own life. Torn between love for her brother and impatience with the responsibilities and embarrassment he brings, she strives to be on her parents'radar and to establish an identity of her own. At her brother's clinic, Catherine befriends a wheelchair-bound boy, Jason, who talks by pointing at word cards in a communication notebook. Her drawing skills and additional vocabulary cards--including "whatever"(which prompts Jason to roll his eyes at his mother)--enliven his speech. The details of autistic behavior are handled well, as are depictions of relationships: Catherine experiences some of the same unease with Jason that others do in the presence of her brother. In the end, Jason helps Catherine see that her rules may really be excuses, opening the way for her to look at things differently. AR 3.9 Lexile 390

Lowery, Linda. Truth and Salsa. Having moved temporarily from Michigan to live with her grandmother in Mexico, thirteen-year-old Hayley tries to sort out her feelings about her parents' separation while also helping some townsmen who have run into trouble while working in the United States.

Lupica, Mike. Heat. Michael Arroyo's left arm is "a gift from the gods." His Papi would say, "Someday, you will make it to the World Series." Michael has grown up the object of his father's dreams, but what he loved most was just playing catch with his father in Cuba and, now, playing pickup games with his friends in the shadow of Yankee Stadium. Lurking behind the scenes is the issue of Michael's real age and whether he's really eligible to play in the Little League World Series, if his team makes it that far. Lupica follows his bestselling Travel Team (2004) with another winner. He has the veteran sportswriter's gift of dialogue and muscular prose, employed well in creating believable characters and well-developed action scenes. The story culminates in a tear-jerking scene with Michael on the mound in Yankee Stadium, making this work an irresistible treat for sports fans. AR 5.3 Lexile 940

Lupica, Mike. Miracle on 49th Street. Josh Cameron is MVP of the championship Boston Celtics and a media darling with a spotless reputation. He has it all . . . including a daughter he never knew. When twelve-year-old Molly Parker arrives in his life, claiming to be his daughter, she catches him off guard. Molly says her mom, Jen, revealed his identity before losing her battle with cancer. Josh isn’t so sure about this girl. She must be trying to scam him for his money. Still, there is something about Molly that reminds him so much of Jen. But as Molly gets to know the real Josh, the one the camera never sees, she starts to understand why her mother never wanted her to know her dad. Josh has room in his heart for only two things: basketball and himself. Does Molly really want this man for a father? Together, these two strangers learn that sometimes, for things to end up the way you want them to, you have to fire up a prayer at the buzzer and hope it goes in. AR 4.7 Lexile 790

Meyer, Stephanie. Twilight. Seventeen-year-old Bella leaves Phoenix to live with her father in Forks, Washington, where she meets an exquisitely handsome boy. She feels an overwhelming attraction to him and comes to realize he is not wholly human. AR 4.9 Lexile 720

Murdock, Catherine Gilbert. Dairy Queen. In this charming, "painfully funny" novel, 15-year-old D.J. Schwenk provides a first-person memoir of her fifteenth summer on her family's small Wisconsin dairy farm. D.J. comes from a family of successful football players: Her two older brothers were legends in high school, and her dad was a coach until he injured his hip. When she is asked to train Brian, a stud quarterback on the rival football team, she develops a monster crush and decides to try out for her own school's football team. AR 5.3 Lexile 990

Murdock, Catherine Gilbert. Off Season. Life is looking up for D.J. Schwenk. She's in eleventh grade, finally and after a rocky summer, she's reconnecting in a big way with her best friend, Amber. She's got kind of a thing going with Brian Nelson, who's cute and popular and smart but seems to like her anyway. And then there's the fact she's starting for the Red Bend High School football team--the first girl linebacker in northern Wisconsin, probably. As autumn progresses, D.J. struggles to understand Amber, Schwenk Farm, her relationship with Brian, and most of all her family. As a whole herd of trouble comes her way, she discovers she's a lot stronger than she--or anyone--ever thought. This hilarious, heartbreaking and triumphant sequel to the critically acclaimed Dairy Queen takes D.J. and all the Schwenks from Labor Day to a Thanksgiving football game that you will never forget. AR 5.8 Lexile 1160

Paulsen, Gary. Hatchet. After a plane crash, thirteen-year-old Brian spends fifty-four days in the wilderness, learning to survive initially with only the aid of a hatchet given him by his mother, and learning also to survive his parents’ divorce. AR 5.7

Paolini, Christopher. Eragon. In Aagaesia, a fifteen-year-old boy of unknown lineage called Eragon finds a mysterious stone that weaves his life into an intricate tapestry of destiny, magic, and power, peopled with dragons, elves, and monsters. AR 5.6 Lexile 710.

Peck, Richard. On the Wings of Heroes. Peck gives readers a nostalgic glimpse into the American heartland during World War II. He's all about setting here, using Davy Bowman as the voice to describe the scene: a town that remembers the horrors of the preceding war but nonetheless supports the present one. Davy's idols, his father and his brother, begin and end as heroes, creating a weak arc. AR 4.6

Riordan, Rick. The Lightning Thief. Percy Jackson, living with ADHD, finds meaning behind his difficulties at last--he's really a half-blood offspring of Poseidon. It's not long before he's sent on a quest to retrieve Zeus's thunderbolt from Hades (located, naturally, in L.A.). The book is packed with humorous allusions to Greek mythology and clever updates of the old stories, along with rip-snorting action sequences. AR 4.7 Lexile 740

Ruby, Laura. The Wall and the Wing. In a future New York where most people can fly and cats are a rarity, a nondescript resident of Hope House for the Homeless and Hopeless discovers that although she is shunned as a non-flying “leadfoot," she has the surprising ability to become invisible. AR 4.6 Lexile 770

Rupp, Rebecca. Journey to the Blue Moon. This fast-paced fantasy, dusted with humor, rife with danger and bulging with bizarre characters, delivers wisdom about time use, loyalty, bravery and integrity. Alex loses his grandfather's stopwatch and notices that time has begun to slip through his fingers. After a chance encounter in the library, Alex learns that to stabilize time, he must retrieve the watch from the moon (where all lost items go) when it is blue. Alex and his dog Zeke are zipped to the moon aboard a rickety and rat-filled space ship. Accompanied by two other seekers, they discover many odd places, such as the Gallery of Ar that houses unfinished art and the chest of wasted talents. They also encounter loathsome creatures such as the Time Eaters; like grim reapers in look and deed, they suck time and nearly kill Zeke. Before the job is done, they must face off with time's greatest and greediest foe. Among the knowledge Alex gleans along the way, he learns that, "Time isn't wasted if you're doing what you love best," and reading this is absolutely time well spent. AR 5.1

Sachar, Louis. Holes. As further evidence of his family's bad fortune which they attribute to a curse on a distant relative, Stanley Yelnats is sent to a hellish correctional camp in the Texas desert where he finds his first real friend, a treasure, and a new sense of himself. AR 4.6

Schlitz, Robert. Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village

(2008 Newbery Award). The author helps students step directly into the shoes-and lives-of medieval children in this outstanding collection of interrelated monologues. The book offers students an incredibly approachable format for learning about the Middle Ages that makes the period both realistic and relevant. The text, varying from dramatic to poetic, depending on the point of view, is accompanied by historical notes that shed light on societal roles, religion, and town life. AR 5.6

Selznick, Brian. The Invention of Hugo Cabret (2008 Caldecott Award). Orphan, clock keeper, and thief, Hugo lives in the walls of a busy Paris train station, where his survival depends on secrets and anonymity. But when his world suddenly interlocks with an eccentric, bookish girl and a bitter old man who runs a toy booth in the station, Hugo's undercover life, and his most precious secret, are put in jeopardy. AR 5.1 Lexile 820

Smith, Roland. Peak. Peak is a natural-born climber. After being apprehended atop the Woolworth Building, he's rescued from juvie by his estranged father, who pushes Peak to be the youngest to summit Everest. Smith takes classic plot elements--kid in trouble, physical challenge, overly ambitious parent--and plays them perfectly. The gripping story pulls no punches about the toll Everest exacts on body and psyche. AR 5.0 Lexile 780

Taylor, Theodore. The Cay. After the freighter on which Phillip and his mother were traveling from wartime Curacao to the U.S. is torpedoed, the boy finds himself dependent on an old West Indian for survival. AR 5.3

Weeks, Sarah. So B. It. Twelve-year-old Heidi It and her severely mentally disabled mother survive through a combination of good luck and their next-door neighbor's loving attention. An undeveloped roll of old film leads Heidi to embark alone on a risky cross-country quest to answer questions about Mama's past. Narrator Heidi's realistic voice lends authenticity to her unusual circumstances. AR 5.0 Lexile 860

Wells, Rosemary. Red moon at Sharpsburg : a novel. Three promises precede the birth of India Moody in 1848, and everything that follows in India's wartime experience comes from those promises--two kept, one broken. The Civil War comes to India's home in the Shenandoah Valley and, by its end, northern Virginia is a charred and desolate land, and India's life is forever changed. India is a memorable character, so well drawn she seems to leap from the pages of the period letters and diaries upon which Wells based her tale. She studies chemistry with Emory Trimble, witnesses the battle of Antietam and dreams of studying science at Oberlin College. Thorough research is neatly woven into this epic tale of war, romance, faith, science and promise without ever overwhelming the telling, and India is a feisty heroine making her way into a new world forged by the fires of war. A grand historical novel of exceptional scale and depth. AR 4.7 Lexile 760

Westerfeld, Scott. Pretties. Tally's perfect life as a Pretty is disrupted when she receives a letter from herself, written when she was an Ugly, reminding her of the promise she made to take a drug developed to cure the brain lesions that keep the Pretties shallow and happy--and when she takes the pills, she becomes a target of those determined to keep Pretty society carefree. AR 5.7 Lexile 860

White, Ruth. Way Down Deep. In the West Virginia town of Way Down Deep in the 1950s, a foundling called Ruby June is happily living with Miss Arbutus at the local boarding house when suddenly, after the arrival of a family of outsiders, the mystery of Ruby's past begins to unravel. AR 4.8 Lexile 820

Woodworth, Chris. Georgie’s Moon. In 1970, an angry seventh-grader copes with life in a new town while her father, a career Air Force pilot, is away in Vietnam. Every night, she looks for the moon, knowing that her father has sent his love to her on it. Her anger comes out in vicious spurts, cynicism and casual cruelty shielding her from her other emotions. Woodhouse gives Georgie fairly standard plot elements to help her out, a school project binding her to Lisa, a girl she simultaneously likes and despises, while they help in a nursing home. For all that these devices are hardly new, they work, for both the reader and Georgie. A touching exploration of an aspect of the Vietnam War not often seen in books for children. Kirkus Review. AR 3.8 Lexile 630

Yep, Laurence. The Earth Dragon Awakes. On April 17, 1906, neither eight-year-old Henry nor his friend Ching is aware that the earth beneath their San Francisco homes is shifting. When the earthquake shakes the city and a firestorm breaks out, Henry and his parents scramble in the chaos and battle the fire. Ching and his father survive the collapse of their Chinatown tenement and flee to the ferry through the debris and turmoil. In the midst of catastrophe, the boys realize that their fathers are real-life heroes. AR 3.7 Lexile 510

Zevin, Gabrielle. Elsewhere. After fifteen-year-old Liz Hall is hit by a taxi and killed, she finds herself in a place that is both like and unlike Earth, where she must adjust to her new status and figure out how to "live." AR 4.3

Patterson, James. Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment. Max Ride and five other human-avian genetic hybrids fly (literally) from the lab where they were created as experiments and forge a new life in hiding. When six-year-old Angel is captured, Max leads her makeshift family in a rescue attempt, raising questions about their origins and destiny. Smart-mouthed, sympathetic characters and copious butt-kicking make this fast read pure escapist. AR 4.6 Lexile 700

Horowitz, Anthony. Alex Rider: Stormbreaker. When Uncle Ian is murdered, Alex learns that his guardian was a spy. England's intelligence agency then drafts the fourteen-year-old to complete his uncle's work. Equipped with sophisticated gadgetry, Alex investigates a businessman who is planning a violent act of terrorism. This junior James Bond skydives, dodges bullets, and swims through underwater caves in a book that, despite its preposterous premise, is hard to put down. AR 5.1 Lexile 600

MacHale, D.J. Pendragon: Merchant of Death. "Journal of an adventure through time and space." Fourteen-year-old Bobby Pendragon, having learned he is a Traveler--someone who can ride "flumes" through time and space, is soon off to the alternative dimension of Denduron where he teams up with Loor, a girl his age from the warrior-territory of Zadaa, in an attempt to save the gentle Milago people from slavery. Lexile 660

Hunter, Erin. Warriors: Into the Wild. When Rusty--later renamed Firepaw and then Fireheart--leaves his life as a house pet to join one of the clans of wild cats that live in the woods, he must overcome the disdain that the other ThunderClan cats feel for pets and prove his worth as a warrior and as a friend. Filled with details about warrior life and populated with interesting characters, the series may draw in some Redwall readers. AR 5.6 Lexile 790


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