Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Wrapping Up 2018: Best Middle Grade and YA of the Year

It's been another great year of middle grade and YA reading for me.  Being in a middle school library has certainly spurred my reading of these books a bit more than it did before. Between book orders coming in for my school library and kids asking about books, I usually have a MG/YA book going at all times.  Here are my favorites of the past year:

1.  Trell by Dick Lehr - for fans of The Hate U Give, this book is a fictionalized account of a shooting that took place, killing a young girl sitting on her front stoop.  A man was quickly arrested and sent to prison. In this novel, the daughter of the convicted man searches through evidence in order to free her father from his wrongful conviction.

2. The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley - I loved the first book, The War That Saved My Life, and loved this follow-up which allows readers to learn more about Ada and Jamie as well as how life unfolds for them as World War II continues

3.  The Perfect Secret by Rob Buyea - this past spring I heard Buyea speak, which made me fall in love with his well-done school stories a little bit more. The Perfect Secret is a follow up to The Perfect Score, and I enjoyed how Buyea develops some of the stories and characters from the first book.  

4.  The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty - Lucy was struck by lightning and has genius-level math skills as a result. However, her social skills are lacking and she struggles with going to school after her grandma decides she no longer can homeschool her.

5.  The Meaning of Maggie by Megan Jean Sovern - this book is a blast from my the past - my 80s childhood- and I loved all the references. I also loved Maggie, the youngest daughter of three who plans to find out what is really going on with her dad's legs and fix it for him.

6.  After The Shot Drops by Randy Ribay - Bunny accepts a scholarship to a school across town, leaving his friend, Nasir. Nasir's jealous and feels slighted, so when his cousin who is about to become homeless needs help, he feels that Bunny owes him.  Ribay does a great job of creating characters that are easy to identify with, even though they make some bad choices, and you'll want to keep with this one until the very last page.

7.  Ban This Book by Alan Gratz - I've had so much fun reading this book with various book clubs this fall. My students are stunned that books can actually be banned, and we've had great discussions about what types of books could/should be banned and who makes that decision.  There are laugh-out-loud portions of this book, and parts that will make your blood boil.  And there are so many book titles dropped within, that your TBR will explode.

8.  Breakout by Kate Messner -I love all of Messner's books, but this one is done so creatively with different formats: pictures, texts, journal entries, and despite its heft, it's a fast read.  Messner also tackles some hefty issues like racism as well as a suspensful plot that features some escaped convicts hiding in the woods behind the school.  

9.  Class Action by Steven B. Frank - Sam is sick of doing homework. His refusal leads to suspension, which his sister points out is unconstitutional.  So, Sam enlists the help of his friend and a retired lawyer/neighbor and they decide to tackle the issue of homework within the judicial system.  There is great information about the justice system in this novel, and the story is fun, if not quite plausible.

10.  Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes - the reading level is more middle elementary on this one, but the content is such that I think it would be great for middle school readers to discuss as a class.  Jerome is just twelve when he's shot by police who mistake his toy gun for a real one.  As a ghost boy, he can see his family and friends, but the only person who can see him is the daughter of the police officer who shot him.  He is also able to talk to other ghost boys like Emmett Till, providing a look at the numerous young black men who have been killed over the years.  Powerful.

I can't wait to get to my 2019 reading!  I've already got a list of new releases I'll be anxiously waiting to get my hands on, and there are still plenty of books that aren't new, that are catching my eye as well!


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