CRYSTAL BIRCH Staff Photo


Summer Reading List 

Hixson Middle School Summer Reading 2017

This summer you should read as many books as you can. As a student at Hixson Middle School, you are required to read at least two books from these lists, 1 book from the Book Club List and 1 book from the Book Writing Task.  This list is a compilation of some of the best-loved, most popular books. One book you choose should be the book for a book club you will participate in when we return to school in August.  Book clubs will consist of groups of 15 students or less, and a teacher or community member will facilitate a discussion in which students will be assessed on their comprehension and participation. The other book you choose should be the book for your summer reading writing task that will be due within the first month of school. You will select 1 task (either analytical summary or letter to the author) to complete based on your second book selection. 

Please complete the form, so that we can match teachers and students for book clubs. Happy Reading!

 

BOOK CLUB LIST                                                             BOOK WRITING TASK

select 1 title from this list                                                                                select 1 title from this list

A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck

$5.59

 

Jackaby by William Ritter

$6.97

The Cay by Theodore Taylor

 

$4.89

 

Heartbeat by Sharon Creech

$4.89

Fish In a Tree by Lynda Hunt

$6.29

 

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (Young Readers Edition) by William Kamkwamba

$13.29

Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick

$6.99

 

Tracking Trash: Flotsam, Jetsam, and The Science of Ocean Motion by Loree Burns

$6.99

Escape! The Storey of the Great Houdini by Sid Fleischman

$6.29

 

The Landry News by Andrew Clements

$5.59

Glory Be by Augusta Scattergood

 

$4.89

 

The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander

$4.89

Escape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

$5.59

 

Neil Armstrong is My Uncle and Other Lies Muscle Man McGinty Told Me by Nan Marino

$11.87

The Enormous Egg by Oliver Butterworth

$4.90

 

The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt

$5.59

The Dumbest Idea Ever! By Jimmy Gownley

$8.39

 

Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett

$5.59

Ungifted by Gordon Korman

 

$5.59

 

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

$6.99

Becoming Naomi Leon by Pam Munoz Ryan

$5.59

 

It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas

$11.89

 

 

 

BOOK SELECTION FORM (current 6th & 7th graders) *5th grade has different dates*

 

Please return this form to your Reading Language Arts teacher on April 18, 2017! EVEN if you don’t order books from school, return the form to get the book club of your choice!

 

Student name:_________________________________________________Grade(now):_____

Reading Teacher:________________________  Current School: ____________________

Title of Book of Choice for Book Club ____________________________________________

********************* OPTIONAL ORDER FORM BELOW ************************

Hixson Middle School – 2017 Summer Reading Order Form

Please list the books you wish to order for summer reading and the payment method.

Prices listed reflect a discount as well as a tax exemption!

 

(ALL CHECKS MUST BE MADE PAYABLE TO HIXSON MIDDLE SCHOOL.)

Book Title:_________________________________­­­____________________  Price _________

Book Title:_________________________________­­­____________________  Price _________

Book Title:_________________________________­­­____________________  Price _________

Book Title:_________________________________­­­____________________  Price _________

Book Title:_________________________________­­­____________________  Price _________

Book Title:_________________________________­­­____________________  Price _________

Total cost of the order : __________________________

Paying by:        ____Cash                ____Check (Please note your child’s name on the check)

 

Money must be turned into Mrs. Holloway along with this completed form.  Books will be delivered to the Hixson Middle School Library/Media Center after May 8, 2017. 5th grade students will have their books delivered to their elementary school. 

 

Parent Signature                                                                                                                   Date

 

Parent Printed Name                                                                        Parent Phone Number

Summer Reading Writing Task Choices

(Only choose 1 task for your second summer reading book title selection from the writing task list.)

 

Analytic Summary (Choice A)

An analytic summary is more than just a summary or a retelling. In an analytic summary you should explain what the author does in the text. Your analytic summary must contain the following:

● In the first sentence, introduce the author and title of the work you are summarizing. 10 pts.

● State the central idea (nonfiction) or theme (fiction) of the work. 20 pts.

● In the subsequent sentences, describe how the message is conveyed. What did the author intentionally do to express the central idea or theme? Consider these elements: theme: characterization, setting, repetition, conflict, inner thinking, dialogue central idea: structure, contrasts and contradictions, extreme and absolute language, numbers and statistics, quoted words 30 pts.

● Be sure to clearly analyze and explain the link between the author’s choices and how they develop her message.   20 pts

● Finish with a concluding sentence, perhaps a condensed version of the author's conclusion, or a restatement of his central idea or theme. 10 pts.

● Writing is free of errors. 10 pts.

 

----------------------------------------------- OR ----------------------------------------------------------------

Letter to the Author Rubric (Choice B)

format:   25 points

         ○  typed or written in an easy to read font

content:   25 points

         ○ describes how a work of literature somehow changed you or your view of the world

  • addresses the author (the letter does not read like a literary criticism essay)
  • provides explanations or examples, anecdotes or other details to support your point of view

reader response/originality and expression:  25 points

  • dialogues with the author rather than summarizes or analyzes literary elements
  • relates the book to you rather than asks questions about why the book was written
  • corresponds with the author rather than compliments her/him
  • vocabulary is smooth and natural, not “tongue-tied or showy

organization and grammatical correctness:  25 points

  • ideas are presented in a logical, organized manner
  • no unnecessary repetition
  • an intriguing introduction
  • a finished-feeling closing
  • few to no errors of spelling and punctuation

 

 

Sample Letter to the Author

Dear Sharon Draper,

A lot of books have flashes of insight, but only few of them have those bursts of fireworks that snap open the reader's mind and make them realize something new. Your book,Out of My Mind, filled me with those sparks. Although your book is just another story out of the billion others out there, it meant more than "just another story" to me. I enjoyed getting to know Melody. Despite the fact that she had cerebral palsy, Melody had an amazing character that shone brightly. Out of My Mind helped me learn a life-long lesson.

 

Your book has changed my point of view. I never teased those who had special needs, but I never really felt comfortable around them either. When I started reading your novel, I saw how Melody was a smart and talented girl. At the beginning of the book, I asked myself, "Would I be Melody's friend?" The weird feeling in the pit of my stomach told me the sad truth: no. I carried on with your book from start to finish, and when I closed it, I asked myself the same question, "Would I be Melody's friend?" I realized, with a grin, that the answer was right in front of me. Throughout Out of my Mind, I had become Melody's friend. Her thoughts became my own. When her quiz team left her behind when it was time for them to travel for their competition, I felt angry. How could they? I then remembered that only a few weeks before, I would most likely do the same thing as Melody's teammates. Her teammates showed me what not to do, because when they left Melody, they left me, and I did not like the feeling of being left behind.

As I read and read, Melody's thoughts and feelings melted easily into my brain like an ice cube on a sidewalk on a hot summer's day. I have read other books about people with special needs and how they were treated unfairly, but the setting was always in the past. By putting the story in present day, I saw how people with disabilities are still treated with unkindness and how some people still act as if people with special needs are at the bottom of the feeding chart. I feel guilty about my previous thoughts. Melody is my inspiration. I have no idea how she dealt with her disabilities so well. In public, I am not a talker, but at home, I am a chatterbox. If I couldn't talk, I would blow. Melody had the electronic talker, but it didn't allow her to communicate fully. Even when she could "speak" her mind, it was still hard for others to understand how she truly felt.

Before I read Out of My Mind, I used to wonder how people with special needs thought. It's hard to confess, but I thought that they were less intelligent. Judging on the person's disabilities clouded my mind, and I formed misguided conclusions about them. Last year, there was a boy in my class who had Asperger's syndrome. I didn't really know him; he just seemed different to me. Later on in the year, we happened to get seated in the same group. This was around the time that I read your novel. I got to know him and see what he was really like. Melody showed me how she was just as good as anyone else in her classroom and how the same goes for anyone else with disabilities. The boy in my class amazed me by what he was capable of doing. As the days went by, I started helping him instead of avoiding him.

Melody opened my eyes and cleared the world around me. She showed me how a girl with cerebral palsy is the same as a girl like me. Once I learned from my mistake, I started to fix it, like with the boy in my class. Now it is time for me to thank you for writing this amazing novel. I will never forget your fantastic book. I don't think anyone could. If they did, they would be out of their minds.

Sincerely,

Margaret Lim

 Letters About Literature National Winner 2012

National Winner, Level 1: Margaret Lim, Searcy, AR

Retrieved from http://read.gov/letters/contests/winners/2012/letters/levelone-lim.html

 

 

Sample Analytical Summary (nonfiction text)

In “Superman and Me,” Sherman Alexie writes about his transition from a poor, Indian boy living on a reservation, to a writer who returns to the reservation to inspire other Native American students to write. This transition is one that he parallels through the life of the fictional superhero Superman. In his essay, Alexie uses an extended metaphor to explain how, much like Superman who is able to save lives and break down doors, he aspires to save the lives of other children on the reservation, and break down doors that prevent them from succeeding.

 

Alexie grew up in a family which valued reading and he wanted to read in order to please his dad. He recounts teaching himself to read through looking at the pictures in a Superman comic book. In the essay, Alexie says he could not read the comic, but he makes up words to go along with the pictures. In one of the comics, there is a picture of Superman breaking down a door. Alexie pretends the words in the comic say, “Superman is breaking down the door.” This evidence starts the extended metaphor. Superman, who is known for saving lives, breaks down the door—leaving the reader to assume he is trying to save someone’s life.

 

Alexie writes about wanting to be a pediatrician, another person who saves children’s lives. “I was going to be a pediatrician.” However, Alexie does not become a pediatrician even though he tries to save lives. This is a metaphor too.

 

 The idea of doors being broken down comes back in the end of the essay. In the last paragraph, Alexie writes about himself as an adult who goes back to the reservation in order to work with the remaining Indian students. He describes the students who need saving. “Then there are the sullen and already defeated Indian kids who sit in the back rows and ignore me with theatrical precision.” After he describes the Native American students who need saving, Alexie writes “ ‘Books,” I say to them. ‘Books,’ I say. I throw my weight against their locked doors. The door holds….I am trying to save our lives.” The idea of a savior breaking down a door in the last paragraph is parallel to Superman breaking down a door in the beginning of the essay. When Alexie is a child, he imagines Superman breaking down doors just like Alexie imagines himself as an adult trying to save lives to break down doors: This imagination demonstrates how Alexie creates an extended metaphor in which becomes a savior like Superman.

 

In conclusion, Sherman Alexie’s essay uses an extended metaphor in which he assumes the personality of the fictional character Superman and becomes a savior of lives on the Native American reservation for Native American students. This extended metaphor begins in the beginning of the essay with Alexie as a child, and continues through the end when he continues to break down the doors. However, what Alexie is trying to save the students from at the end of his essay is defeat.

 

Grade 8 Hixson Middle Student Sample

 

Book Summaries 

Book Club (Choose 1)

 

A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck $5.99

Each summer Joey and his sister Mary Alice, two city slickers from Chicago, visit Grandma Dowdel’s seemingly sleepy Illinois town. Soon enough, they find that it’s far from sleepy, and Grandma is far from your typical grandmother. From seeing their first corpse (and he isn’t resting easy) to helping Grandma trespass, catch the sheriff in his underwear, and feed the hungry all in one day, Joey and Mary Alice have nine summers they’ll never forget!

 

The Cay by Theodore Taylor $5.24

Phillip is excited when the Germans invade the small island of Curacao. War has always been a game to him, and he’s eager to glimpse it firsthand–until the freighter he and his mother are traveling to the United States on is torpedoed. When Phillip comes to, he is on a small raft in the middle of the sea. Besides Stew Cat, his only companion is an old West Indian, Timothy. Phillip remembers his mother’s warning about black people: “They are different, and they live differently.”  But by the time the castaways arrive on a small island, Phillip’s head injury has made him blind and dependent on Timothy. 

 

A Fish in a Tree by L. Hunt $ 6.74

The author of the beloved One for the Murphy’s gives readers an emotionally-charged, uplifting novel that will speak to anyone who’s ever thought there was something wrong with them because they didn’t fit in. “Everybody is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid.” Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions. She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, Ally learns not to be so hard on herself and that dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of. As her confidence grows, Ally feels free to be herself and the world starts opening up with possibilities. She discovers that there’s a lot more to her—and to everyone—than a label, and that great minds don’t always think alike.

 

Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by J. Sonnenblick $7.49

A brave and beautiful story that will make readers laugh and break their hearts at the same time. Thirteen-year-old Steven has a totally normal life: he plays drums in the All-Star Jazz band, has a crush on the hottest girl in the school, and is constantly annoyed by his five-year-old brother, Jeffrey. But when Jeffrey is diagnosed with leukemia, Steven's world is turned upside down. He is forced to deal with his brother's illness and his parents' attempts to keep the family in one piece. Salted with humor and peppered with devastating realities, DRUMS, GIRLS, AND DANGEROUS PIE is a heartwarming journey through a year in the life of a family in crisis. 

 

Escape! The Story of the Great Houdini by Sid Fleishman $6.74

Who was this man who could walk through brick walls and, with a snap of his fingers, vanish elephants? In these pages you will meet the astonishing Houdini—magician, ghost chaser, daredevil, pioneer aviator, and king of escape artists. No jail cell or straitjacket could hold him! He shucked off handcuffs as easily as gloves. In this fresh, witty biography of the most famous bamboozler since Merlin, Sid Fleischman, a former professional magician, enriches his warm homage with insider information and unmaskings. Did Houdini really pick the jailhouse lock to let a fellow circus performer escape? Were his secrets really buried with him? How did he manage to be born in two cities at the same instant? Here are the stories of how a knockabout kid named Ehrich Weiss, the son of an impoverished rabbi, presto-changoed himself into the legendary Harry Houdini.

 

Glory Be by A. Scattergood $5.24

A Mississippi town in 1964 gets riled when tempers flare at the segregated public pool. As much as Gloriana June Hemphill, or Glory as everyone knows her, wants to turn twelve, there are times when Glory wishes she could turn back the clock a year. Jesslyn, her sister and former confidante, no longer has the time of day for her now that she’ll be entering high school. Then there’s her best friend, Frankie. Things have always been so easy with Frankie, and now suddenly they aren’t. Maybe it’s the new girl from the North that’s got everyone out of sorts. Or maybe it’s the debate about whether or not the town should keep the segregated public pool open. Augusta Scattergood has drawn on real-life events to create a memorable novel about family, friendship, and choices that aren’t always easy.

 

 

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by C. Grabbenstein                                 $5.99

Kyle Keeley is the class clown, popular with most kids, (if not the teachers), and an ardent fan of all games: board games, word games, and particularly video games. His hero, Luigi Lemoncello, the most notorious and creative gamemaker in the world, just so happens to be the genius behind the building of the new town library. Lucky Kyle wins a coveted spot to be one of the first 12 kids in the library for an overnight of fun, food, and lots and lots of games. But when morning comes, the doors remain locked. Kyle and the other winners must solve every clue and every secret puzzle to find the hidden escape route. And the stakes are very high. In this cross between Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and A Night in the Museum, Agatha Award winner Chris Grabenstein uses rib-tickling humor to create the perfect tale for his quirky characters. Old fans and new readers will become enthralled with the crafty twists and turns of this ultimate library experience.

 

The Enormous Egg by O. Butterworth  $5.25 

Young Nate Twitchell is surprised when one of the hens on his family farm lays a giant egg. After a painstaking wait, Nate is even more surprised when it hatches and out pops a baby triceratops that he names Uncle Beazley! But when Nate decides to keep the dino and raise it on his own, he has no idea what he's getting himself into. As Uncle Beazley grows, Nate and his family realize they are not equipped to take care of a full-sized dinosaur, and so with the help of their scientist friend, Nate and Uncle Beazley set off for the National Museum in Washington, D.C., on the hunt for the perfect home for a modern-day dinosaur---then the real trouble begins! The Enormous Egg was originally published in 1956 and has been a classic in children's literature ever since. This brand new edition features amazing new illustrations from Eisner-award winning graphic novelist Mark Crilley (creator of Akiko and Miki Falls).                                     

 

The Dumbest Idea Ever by J. Gownley $8.99

What if the dumbest idea ever turned your life upside down? At thirteen, Jimmy was popular, at the top of his class, and the leading scorer on his basketball team. But all that changed when chicken pox forced him to miss the championship game. Things went from bad to worse when he got pneumonia and missed even more school. Before Jimmy knew it, his grades were sinking and nothing seemed to be going right. How did Jimmy turn things around, get back on top at school, and land a date with the cutest girl in class? Renowned comics creator Jimmy Gownley shares his adventures as he grows from an eager-to-please boy into a teenage comic book artist. This is the real-life story of how the DUMBEST idea ever became the BEST thing that ever happened to him. 

 

Ungifted by G. Korman $5.99

The word gifted has never been applied to a kid like Donovan Curtis. It's usually more like Don't try this at home. So when the troublemaker pulls a major prank at his middle school, he thinks he's finally gone too far. But thanks to a mix-up by one of the administrators, instead of getting in trouble, Donovan is sent to the Academy of Scholastic Distinction (ASD), a special program for gifted and talented students. It wasn't exactly what Donovan had intended, but there couldn't be a more perfect hideout for someone like him. That is, if he can manage to fool people whose IQs are above genius level. And that becomes harder and harder as the students and teachers of ASD grow to realize that Donovan may not be good at math or science (or just about anything). But after an ongoing experiment with a live human (sister), an unforgettably dramatic middle-school dance, and the most astonishing come-from-behind robot victory ever, Donovan shows that his gifts might be exactly what the ASD students never knew they needed. 

 

Becoming Naomi Leon by P. Ryan $5.99

Naomi Soledad Leon Outlaw has had a lot to contend with in her your life, her name for one. Then there are her clothes (sewn in polyester by Gram), her difficulty speaking up, and her status at school as “nobody special.” But according to Gram, most problems can be overcome with positive thinking. And with Gram and her little brother, Owen, life at Avocado Acres Trailer Rancho in California is happy and peaceful...until their mother reapers after seven years of being gone, stirring up all sorts of questions and challenging Naomi to discover and proclaim who she really is.



Writing Task (Choose 1)

 

Jackaby by W. Ritter $7.46

“Miss Rook, I am not an occultist,” Jackaby said. “I have a gift that allows me to see truth where others see the illusion--and there are many illusions. All the world’s a stage, as they say, and I seem to have the only seat in the house with a view behind the curtain.” Newly arrived in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and in need of a job, Abigail Rook meets R. F. Jackaby, an investigator of the unexplained with a keen eye for the extraordinary--including the ability to see supernatural beings. Abigail has a gift for noticing ordinary but important details, which makes her perfect for the position of Jackaby’s assistant. On her first day, Abigail finds herself in the midst of a thrilling case: A serial killer is on the loose. The police are convinced it’s an ordinary villain, but Jackaby is certain it’s a nonhuman creature, whose existence the police--with the exception of a handsome young detective named Charlie Cane--deny. Doctor Who meets Sherlock in William Ritter’s debut novel, which features a detective of the paranormal as seen through the eyes of his adventurous and intelligent assistant in a tale brimming with cheeky humor and a dose of the macabre.

 

Heartbeat by S. Creech $5.24

Newbery Medalist Creech ("Walk Two Moons") masterfully weaves this story, told in free verse, about a young girl finding her identity and learning how it fits within the many rhythms of life. Run run run. That's what twelve-year-old Annie loves to do. When she's barefoot and running, she can hear her heart beating . . . thump-THUMP, thump-THUMP. It's a rhythm that makes sense in a year when everything's shifting: Her mother is pregnant, her grandfather is forgetful, and her best friend, Max, is always moody. Everything changes over time, just like the apple Annie's been assigned to draw. But as she watches and listens, Annie begins to understand the many rhythms of life, and how she fits within them. Twelve-year-old Annie ponders the many rhythms of life the year that her mother becomes pregnant, her grandfather begins faltering, and her best friend (and running partner) becomes distant.

 

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (Young Readers Edition) by W. Kamkwamba $14.24

When fourteen-year-old William Kamkwamba's Malawi village was hit by a drought, everyone's crops began to fail. Without enough money for food, let alone school, William spent his days in the library . . . and figured out how to bring electricity to his village. Persevering against the odds, William built a functioning windmill out of junkyard scraps, and thus became the local hero who harnessed the wind. Lyrically told and gloriously illustrated, this story will inspire many as it shows how -- even in the worst of times -- a great idea and a lot of hard work can still rock the world. 

 

Tracking Trash by L. Burns $7.49

Aided by an army of beachcombers, oceanographer Dr. Curtis Ebbesmeyer tracks trash in the name of science. From sneakers to hockey gloves, Curt monitors the watery fate of human-made cargo that has spilled into the ocean. The information he collects is much more than casual news; it is important scientific data. And with careful analysis, Curt, along with a community of scientists, friends, and beachcombers alike, is using his data to understand and protect our ocean. In engaging text and unforgettable images, readers meet the woman who started it all (Curt’s mother!), the computer program that makes sense of his data (nicknamed OSCURS), and several scientists, both on land and on the sea, who are using Curt’s discoveries to preserve delicate marine habitats and protect the creatures who live in them. A Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Book for Nonfiction.

 

Landry News by A. Clements $5.99

NEW STUDENT GETS OLD TEACHER The bad news is that Cara Landry is the new kid at Denton Elementary School. The worse news is that her teacher, Mr. Larson, would rather read the paper and drink coffee than teach his students anything. So Cara decides to give Mr. Larson something else to read -- her own newspaper, The Landry News. Before she knows it, the whole fifth-grade class is in on the project. But then the principal finds a copy of The Landry News, with unexpected results. Tomorrow's headline: Will Cara's newspaper cost Mr. Larson his job? 




The Fourth Stall by C .Rylander $5.24

Chris Rylander delivers a funny Ferris Bueler-style middle grade novel with The Fourth Stall. Do you need something? Mac can get it for you. It's what he does—he and his best friend and business manager, Vince. Their methods might sometimes run afoul of the law, or at least the school code of conduct, but if you have a problem, if no one else can help, and if you can pay him, Mac is on your side. His office is located in the East Wing boys' bathroom, fourth stall from the high window. And business is booming. Or at least it was, until one particular Monday. It starts with a third grader in need of protection. And before this ordeal is over, it's going to involve a legendary high school crime boss named Staples, an intramural gambling ring, a graffiti ninja, the nine most dangerous bullies in school, and the first Chicago Cubs World Series game in almost seventy years. And that's just the beginning. Mac and Vince soon realize that the trouble with solving everyone else's problems is that there's no one left to solve yours.

 

Neil Armstrong is My Uncle… by N. Marino           $12.71

"Muscle Man McGinty is a squirrelly runt, a lying snake, and a pitiful excuse for a ten-year old......the problem is that no one knows it but me. In the entire town of Massapequa Park, only I can see him for what he really is. A phony. It's the summer of 1969, and things are not only changing in Tamara's little Long Island town, but in the world. Perhaps Tamara could stand to take one small step toward a bit of compassion and understanding? A terrific debut novel with truly vivid characters and a wonderful voice.

 

Wednesday Wars by G. Schmidt $5.99

In this Newbery Honor-winning novel, Gary D. Schmidt offers an unforgettable antihero. The Wednesday Wars is a wonderfully witty and compelling story about a teenage boy’s mishaps and adventures over the course of the 1967–68 school year in Long Island, New York. Meet Holling Hoodhood, a seventh-grader at Camillo Junior High, who must spend Wednesday afternoons with his teacher, Mrs. Baker, while the rest of the class has religious instruction. Mrs. Baker doesn’t like Holling—he’s sure of it. Why else would she make him read the plays of William Shakespeare outside class? But everyone has bigger things to worry about, like Vietnam. His father wants Holling and his sister to be on their best behavior: the success of his business depends on it. But how can Holling stay out of trouble when he has so much to contend with? A bully demanding cream puffs; angry rats; and a baseball hero signing autographs the very same night Holling has to appear in a play in yellow tights! As fate sneaks up on him again and again, Holling finds Motivation—the Big M—in the most unexpected places and musters up the courage to embrace his destiny, in spite of himself.

 

Chasing Vermeer by B. Balliett     $5.99

When a book of unexplainable occurrences brings Petra Andalee and Calder Pillay together, strange things start to happen: seemingly unrelated events connect, an eccentric old woman seeks their company, and an invaluable Vermeer painting disappears. Before they know it, the two find themselves at the center of an international art scandal, where no one — neighbors, parents, teachers — is spared from suspicion. As Petra and Calder are drawn clue by clue into a mysterious labyrinth, they must draw on their powers of intuition, their problem-solving skills, and their knowledge of Vermeer. Can they decipher a crime that has left even the FBI baffled?

                                           

Outsiders by S. Hinton $7.49

According to Ponyboy, there are two kinds of people in the world: greasers and socs. A soc (short for "social") has money, can get away with just about anything, and has an attitude longer than a limousine. A greaser, on the other hand, always lives on the outside and needs to watch his back. Ponyboy is a greaser, and he's always been proud of it, even willing to rumble against a gang of socs for the sake of his fellow greasers--until one terrible night when his friend Johnny kills a soc. The murder gets under Ponyboy's skin, causing his bifurcated world to crumble and teaching him that pain feels the same whether a soc or a greaser.

 

It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel by F. Dumas          $12.71

Zomorod (Cindy) Yousefzadeh is the new kid on the block . . . for the fourth time. California’s Newport Beach is her family’s latest perch, and she’s determined to shuck her brainy loner persona and start afresh with a new Brady Bunch name—Cindy. It’s the late 1970s, and fitting in becomes more difficult as Iran makes U.S. headlines with protests, revolution, and finally the taking of American hostages. Even mood rings and puka shell necklaces can't distract Cindy from the anti-Iran sentiments that creep way too close to home. A poignant yet lighthearted middle grade debut from the author of the best-selling Funny in Farsi.