Hicklebee's Recommends... Middle Readers
12 year old Khosrou stands in the front of his middle school classroom and tells his story. “When I was growing up, my bedtime stories involved great warriors and kings, the heroes of ancient Persia.” Readers will follow him through his early childhood in Iran, time in an Italian refugee camp with his sister and mother and then to their eventual home in Oklahoma. The text goes back and forth in time, depicting ancient Persian tales, family history and how it feels to be an outsider in a new land. A moving and unforgettable story.
Woodson’s novel in verse takes on a subject I’ve not often found in books for young readers: the toll professional football can take on players. For as long as ZJ can remember, his dad has been everyone's hero. As a charming, talented pro football star, he's as beloved to the neighborhood kids he plays with as he is to his millions of adoring sports fans. But lately life at ZJ's house is anything but charming. His dad is having trouble remembering things and seems to be angry all the time. This novel takes place in the early 2000s when the news started reporting concussion research on NFL players. A unique perspective on violent sports as well as mental illness, loss and its affect on family and community.
Twelve-year-old Clara lives on an island that visitors call exotic, but to her, it is just the place where she grew up. Last Summer a hurricane hit and Clara can’t remember a thing that happened. She knows it was something big but when she tries to remember everything goes blank. She hopes this Summer thing will be different as a new girl has arrived in the village that Clara is anxious to meet. This is Clara’s story of new friendships and old, of fears, family, and having to face her past.
Ten-year-old Della and her 16-year-old sister Suki have always depended on each other. When their mom went to prison, Della had Suki. When their mom's boyfriend took them in, Della had Suki. When that boyfriend abused them they were placed together in a foster home. This powerful novel is about resilience, strength, and healing. There is no question it deals with difficult subjects—child sexual abuse, attempted suicide—but despite the difficulties, the sisters have endured there is humor and warmth in this novel. While some readers may want to wait till they are older to read this, for some it will be essential. An unforgettable book for readers of all ages.
When eleven-year-old Abi’s father marries Max and Louis’s mom, their families start over together. Abi suddenly finds herself the middle child, expected to share far too much. Then they move into an eerie, ivy-covered house, big enough for all of them. And that’s when strange things start to happen to the children. For one thing, Abi finds herself tumbling so deep into her books, they almost seem real. This magic-filled fantasy has received 5 starred reviews. This is the kind of writing that makes one want to read passages aloud.
In this Malaysian folktale, Suraya, a lonely girl, is delighted when she inherits a pelesit (a Malay term for an inherited spirit or demon which serves a master) from her witch grandmother. She names her ghost Pink and they become inseparable. But while Pink is a friend and protector, Suraya discovers he has a jealous side and can prove to be a danger to a newfound friend. A ghostly page-turner that offers a glimpse into Malaysian culture while it tells the tale of the love between a girl and her ghost.
Rick Riodan presents author Tehlor Kay Mejia and her fantasy adventure based on the Mexican legend of La Llorona (the Crying Woman). 12-year-old Paola is more comfortable with science than with her mother’s superstitious ghost stories. So she pays no attention to her mom’s warning to stay away from the Gila river because that is where La Llorona, the wailing ghost, hangs out at night waiting to drag young people into the murky depths. When Paola arranges to meet her friends to test out a new telescope near the Gila, Emma never arrives. To find her friend she must leave her logical life and enter into the nightmare of unnatural mist, mind-bending monsters, and relentless spirits. A page-turning journey into Latinx folklore.
Set in Victorian England, this murder mystery stars 12-year-old Myrtle Hardcastle, a saucy, smart, and fearless amateur detective ready to take on hard cases and maddening Victorian rules for Young Ladies of Quality in order to earn her place among the most daring and acclaimed amateur detectives of her time. For the mystery buffs willing to take on challenging vocabulary as well as some events and ideas of the times.
There is Frog and Toad and Charlie and Snoopy and now we have the unlikely duo, Skunk and Badger. When Skunk jumps into Badger’s life, everything Badger knows is upended. Tails are flipped. The wrong animal is sprayed. And suddenly there are chickens everywhere. Klassen’s art is perfectly matched to the ‘reads like a classic’ text.