by Peg Kehret
Shoplifting, family alcoholism, and a struggle for personal
honesty are central themes in this novel. When ninth-grader
Kit doesn't make the cast of the school play she goes home
to find her stepfather drunk again. Later, she impulsively
tries to steal a bracelet and is caught. Sentenced to community
service at the Humane Society, Kit is too humiliated to tell
even her best friend about the incident. To make matters worse,
her final exam in speech is to be an oral report on shoplifting.
Redbird by Sharon Creech
After the death of her beloved Aunt Jessie, 13-year-old Zinnia
Taylor discovers an old trowel covered with weeds and dirt.
Her discovery leads her on a quest to clear the 20-mile long
Bybanks-Chocton trail that leads away from her family farm.
By the time she has uncovered the trail, she has uncovered
family secrets and solved mysteries about her family and her
Lessons by Tracy Mack
Seventh-grader Aurora (Rory) finds her world shattered when
she discovers her artist father in a compromising position
with one of his models. She and her father had shared a mutual
love of drawing, and he had taught her about color and line.
When her parents separate, she burns her sketchbook and finds
herself unable to draw any more. Slowly she manages to rebuild
her life and regain her art.
the Mighty by Rodman
Freak the Mighty is really two characters both social
outcasts who learn to function as one entity. Kevin,
a brilliant child whose misshapen body and stunted growth
makes getting around difficult, is the brain. The body is
Max Kane, a huge boy with learning disabilities and the conviction,
shared by many, that he is stupid. Max carries Kevin on his
shoulders, and at first Kevin does all the thinking. Soon
Max discovers that he's not as stupid as people think. Kevin
demands that Max be placed in the regular classroom with him
rather than in the special education class. Max learns to
read and write and value himself.
by Louis Sachar
One person, and one person only, is responsible for Stanley
Yelnats going to Camp Green Lake (a juvenile detention center
for boys)Stanley Yelnats. Or at least that's what the
camp counselor tells him. Overweight, friendless, and a target
for bullies, Stanley is wrongly accused of stealing the used
sneakers of baseball great Clyde Livingston. As punishment,
he and the other inmates are ordered to dig holes five feet
wide and five feet long in a dried-up Texas lakebed. Stanley
accepts his undeserved punishment as the result of the curse
that has plagued his family for generations, ever since his
great-great-grandfather broke a promise to a Gypsy, Madame
Lemonade by Virginia Euwer
LaVaughn is a 14-year-old who sets her sights on college but
knows she can't rely on her widowed mother for the money.
She accepts a baby-sitting job for Jolly's two small children,
but quickly realizes that the 17-year-old single mother needs
as much help and nurturing as her children. LaVaughn becomes
emotionally involved with Jolly's difficulties, and even considers
giving her the money she's saved. She makes the decision not
to, reflecting, "That won't help... I feel very mixed
but my eyes stay steady.'' Instead, LaVaughn persuades Jolly
to enter a high-school program for young mothers.
Louisiana Sky by Kimberly
Although both her parents are mentally challenged, Tiger Ann
Parker is a happy little girl growing up in Louisiana in the
1950s. She always gets straight As, and has won the spelling
bee several years in a row. When she enters middle school,
Tiger begins to feel embarrassed by her parents, even though
she loves them very much. When Tiger's grandmother dies, Tiger
goes to live in the city with her aunt since her parents can't
care for her on their own. At first, it's exciting to be able
to reinvent herself. She cuts her hair and starts using the
name Ann. Eventually she discovers the strength of her parents'
love and realizes that home is where she really belongs.
of the Dust by Karen Hesse
Set in the bleak landscape of Oklahoma during the dust bowl,
this Newbery winner is told in a series of free-verse poems
by 14-year-old Billie Joe Kelby. Her mother and newborn brother
die as a result of a terrible accident, and her hands are
severely burned in the fire that kills them. Denied the solace
of her piano playing, she fights her guilt, anger, and estrangement
from her father, finally learning to forgive him and herself.
Place To Call Home by Jackie
Fifteen-year-old biracial Anna O'Dell tries to care for her
five-year-old sister and infant brother when her alcoholic
mother disappears again. Anna discovers her mother's car in
a nearby lake-evidence of her suicide. After hiding in a cabin
in the woods and then being placed with an unloving foster
family, Anna, in desperation, travels to her mother's hometown
in Mississippi, hoping to find family and a home. Instead,
she learns of the horrors of her mother's past and meets white
grandparents who don't want her.
by Walter Dean Myers
Jamal Hicks lives in Harlem with his mother and sister. When
his brother is sent to jail for murder, Jamal is left to be
the "man of the house." When Jamal's brother tells
him he wants him to be the new leader of his gang the Scorpions,
Jamal isn't so sure what to do. His brother's friend Mac,
another Scorpion, gives Jamal a gun. Jamal feels power with
the gun, but he also feels scared and guilty.
by Walter Dean Myers
This coming-of-age novel presents 17-year-old Greg "Slam"
Harris. On the basketball court, he is in control. Off the
court, however, his grandmother is in the hospital, possibly
dying; he has trouble fitting in at the predominantly white
high school he attends; his grades are sinking ever lower;
and his best friend from the neighborhood may be dealing crack.
by Jerry Spinelli
(class read-aloud book)
Stargirl Caraway, a new 10th-grader at Arizona's Mica Area
High School, shocks the whole school by wearing pioneer dresses
and kimonos, strumming a ukulele in the cafeteria, and dancing
when there is no music. She does nice things for total strangers.
When Stargirl joins the cheerleading squad, she cheers for
the other team as well. Leo Borlock, the 16-year-old narrator,
falls in love with her and finds himself having to choose
between Stargirl and his friends when the school becomes hostile
to Stargirl's unconventional behaviors.
by Edward Bloor
Paul Fisher lives in the shadow of his older brother Erik.
Visually impaired since five, Paul is an outsider in his own
family and seems to be the only one to understand the brutality
behind his brother's football star façade. With the
help of prescription glasses, Paul can see, and is an excellent
soccer player, earning a position as goalie on the middle
school team. As Paul records his story on his computer journal,
he begins to remember menacing incidents involving his brother.
He senses that the mysterious accident that damaged his eyes
is also the reason he fears his brother.
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