Friday, July 1, 2011

6th Grade Reading

T has to pick one of these books for his rising 6th grader summer reading:

Rules by Cynthia Lord

RulesFrom School Library Journal synopsis: Grade 4-7-Twelve-year-old Catherine has conflicting feelings about her younger brother, David, who is autistic. While she loves him, she is also embarrassed by his behavior and feels neglected by their parents. In an effort to keep life on an even keel, Catherine creates rules for him (It's okay to hug Mom but not the clerk at the video store). Each chapter title is also a rule, and lots more are interspersed throughout the book. When Kristi moves in next door, Catherine hopes that the girl will become a friend, but is anxious about her reaction to David. Then Catherine meets and befriends Jason, a nonverbal paraplegic who uses a book of pictures to communicate, she begins to understand that normal is difficult, and perhaps unnecessary, to define. Rules of behavior are less important than acceptance of others. Catherine is an endearing narrator who tells her story with both humor and heartbreak. Her love for her brother is as real as are her frustrations with him. Lord has candidly captured the delicate dynamics in a family that revolves around a child's disability. Set in coastal Maine, this sensitive story is about being different, feeling different, and finding acceptance. A lovely, warm read, and a great discussion starter.-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME

Wing Nut by M.J. Auch

Wing NutFrom Booklist via amazon: Gr. 4-7. Since his father died, 12-year-old Grady and his mom, Lila, have lived in a lot of dead-end places, none of them worth being called "home." But maybe Charlie Fernwald's Pennsylvania farm, where Lila has been hired to cook for the 85-year-old farmer, mechanic, and purple martin enthusiast, will be different. Maybe. But Grady makes a terrible mistake. Auch's story of the slowly developing friendship between a lonely boy and an elderly man whose passion for birds has sustained him through the death of his wife is engaging, though a tad predictable. What will attract readers like martins to a gourd nest is the author's careful integration of bird lore and the unusual challenges of creating and maintaining a purple martin colony. A good book for reluctant boy readers. Michael Cart

Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of LifeFrom School Library Journal Grade 5-7–An elaborately locked wooden box requiring four separate but missing keys holds the treasure in this modern-day quest. Jeremy's father lived his life preparing for an early death, as foretold by a fortune-teller. He did, in fact, die when Jeremy was eight, but a package from him containing the locked box arrives one month before Jeremy's 13th birthday, the day on which the box is to be opened. With his friend Lizzy, Jeremy searches for the keys while contemplating the words engraved on the box, The Meaning of Life: For Jeremy Fink. 13th Birthday. The search for the keys takes the friends around and about New York City, where they meet a large and increasingly convenient range of supporting characters, from members of a spiritualist congregation to a prominent astronomer, all of whom point them toward their own takes on the meaning of life. Mystery and adventure fans will be pulled in by the locked box, and, as a bonus, will get to know quirky, scientific Jeremy and impulsive Lizzy. Some readers might become impatient as the metaphysical quest lengthens, but those who stick with the story will find a warm picture of parental love and wisdom and of a boy growing into his own understanding and acceptance of life.–Faith Brautigam, Gail Borden Public Library, Elgin, IL

Gabriel's Horses by Alison Hart
Gabriel's Horses (Racing to Freedom) (Racing to Freedom Trilogy) From School Library Journal (via Grade 5–8—A story set in Kentucky horse country during the Civil War. Gabriel, 12, is a slave but dreams of becoming a famous jockey. His father, a free man married to a slave, is a trainer for Master Giles's stable of Thoroughbreds. When the man enlists in the Union Army to earn the money to buy his wife's freedom, Gabriel must adjust to a cruel new trainer. Although the war's impact in Kentucky is less dire than in other Southern states, marauding bands of Confederate raiders terrorize residents, seeking horses, food, and anything else they can steal. One Arm Dan's bunch raids Master Giles's farm, not for food, but for the horses that Gabriel is determined to protect. Outnumbered, his only choice is to take eight of the animals and run. Master Giles, a kind man, rewards the boy's cunning and bravery by granting him his freedom and a paid job as his top jockey. Characters talk about the many faces of freedom, from actual emancipation, to being allowed to learn reading and writing, to realizing the dream of working at what you love. More subtle signs of liberation are seen in the black freemen who call Giles "Mister" and the slaves who address him as "Master." The author grounds this fast-paced tale in historical fact by providing a nonfiction epilogue. Readers will find this wonderful blend of history and horses appealing.—Ann Robinson, Moultonborough Academy Library.

Every Soul A Star by Wendy Mass
Every Soul A Star From Booklist: Three young teens witness a total solar eclipse and are changed forever in this novel, told in alternating narratives, that weaves exciting astronomy facts into the teens’ personal lives. Ally, 13, is fascinated by the scientific event, as are 1,000 other people from all over the world who come to view the Great Eclipse at her family’s wilderness site. Glamorous teen Bree has an opposite view and is appalled that her parents, both physics scholars, want to move to the site: how can she manage without the mall? Then there is Jack, who loves art and science fiction but is a failure at science and is brought to the site by his teacher. The anticipation building up to the great event brings thrilling changes in all three young lives. Bree’s hilarious account of her experience as a glamour queen in the wilderness is right-on, but she moves beyond total stereotype and allows herself to release her inner geek, at least for a while, while Ally and Jack bond and also break their rigid character roles. The contemporary voices ring true, and readers will want to read more about the science surrounding eclipses. Grades 5-8. --Hazel Rochman

Which would you choose? We already own Rules (it was a Sunshine State Young Readers Award book). Of the others, only Wendy Mass' titles are available for the kindle.


  1. WOW. These all look pretty good. I'm going to share them with Christian....he needs something new to read.

  2. Jeremy Fink and The Meaning of Life sounds the most intriguing to me!! The synopsis sort of reminds me of one of my new favorite books--Extremely Loud & Incrdibly Close by Jonathan Safran-Foer. Maybe a mom read to go along thematically with T's read?

  3. Kenni, I thought all the books looked good too! I hope Christian agrees!

    Erin, my friend Dawn (@dawningaround) recommended Extremely Loud and Incredibly close to me last night, and her description made me think of Jeremy Fink too! I'll definitely have to read EL+IC now that I know you've both enjoyed it!

  4. These sound great! I am going to try to find all of them at the library for Jaden.


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