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 Doc McDuke's Books for Kids!

 

Terrific Books for Mature Middle Grade and Up

 




Janie Johnson glimpses the face of a missing child on a milk carton and is shocked to find that the girl looks like her. It's impossible, it's crazy--her parents seem to be her real parents. What is going on? This is a true page turner.


Ha is a Vietnamese girl whose family has to flee the country when their father ends up missing in action and Saigon falls. In America, Ha moves to Florida--then meets their sponsors in the very foreign world of Alabama. She thinks the people are cold, the food is dull, the landscape is other-worldly...but she finds that her family is very strong. The book is written with rare honesty in brief, free verse poems. Readers will laugh but will also feel sorrow for Ha as she is bullied at school then finds a surprise friend there that she never expected. Quite a moving story.



Thirteen-year-old Josh Bell and his twin brother are the best basketball players on their school team. Josh had led his team to many victories but concentrating on basketball becomes a problem when Josh's brother falls madly in love with a pretty girl and Josh's dad begins showing signs of illness. The book is written with poetic rock and rhythm and the story is tough and tender at the same time. Award-winning book.


A twelve-year-old girl ends up spending 18 years alone on a Pacific island. She forages for food and even builds a weapon to fend off predators. It's long been a fascinating story kids love.


The story starts off a little slow but please don't let that stop you! Abiline gets sent to a fictional Kansas backwater town called Manifest because her dad doesn't want her to live the tough life on the rails. She's cut from rough cloth and life hasn't been easy, nor does it vastly improve. But she meets townspeople and finds a tin full of mementos that gradually reveal things that enrich the story with several interesting layers. She hears some things from a fake diviner and the reader gets all wrapped up in both present life in Manifest and life in the murky past. Mature young readers and even adults will really savor this story.

 

A widowed field mouse is in dire straits and must turn for help to a bunch of rats. Sounds like a strange plot and it is. But it won the Newbery award and it will definitely  keep you reading to the end.

 

Mathew and Marilla Cuthbert apply to adopt an orphan boy but in a mix-up they are given a girl. Marilla says, "What use is a girl to us?" to which Mathew answers, "Perhaps we may be use to her." They find that life is never dull with young Anne around! This is a well-deserved classic that will never grow old.

 

Miyax lives a traditional Eskimo life on the Alaskan coast. Then she is sent to live with her aunt, where she must learn white people's ways. She finally flees her aunt's home and wanders the wilds, where she learns the ways of the wolves and actually survives among a wild pack. In the end, she goes back to her father, but not before some amazingly interesting adventures.

 

Some awfully young boys ended up fighting or serving in other ways during the Civil War. This book describes what a soldier's life was like for them, even using excerpts from actual letters they sent home.

in 1832 a young girl named Charlotte Doyle ended up on a ship voyaging from Liverpool, England to Rhode Island. Several families with kids her age were supposed to be on board but decided not to. So Charlotte is stuck alone with a bunch of ruffian sailors.  She tries to adapt to a bleak existence of slaving for her keep. Then she finds herself being swept into danger and intrigue on board. She is accused by the captain and must be tried for murder. You wouldn't want me to give anything away would you? You've got to read this one.


 Honey bees are fascinating little creatures that are currently in danger because of human practices.  Bee Time presents Mark Winston’s reflections on three decades spent studying these creatures, and on the lessons they can teach about how humans might better get along w ith one another and the natural world.  Like us, honeybees represent a pinnacle of animal social relationship. How they submerge individual needs into the colony collective provides a lens through which to ponder the way we treat one another. 



Alma Flor Ada offers young readers an inspiring collection of stories from her childhood in Cuba. We learn of a friendship with a beloved dance teacher that helped Alma through a miserable year in school. We meet relatives, like mysterious Uncle Manolo, whose secret is that he dedicated his life to healing lepers. We share the tragedy of another uncle whose spirited personality leads to his love of flying...and the crash that takes his life. Warm, poignant, even humorous, this collection encourages readers to discover stories in their own lives

A terrific fantasy adventure. Professor Sherman is found adrift on the Atlantic, clinging to twenty-one balloons. He has come upon a place called Krakatoa that is filled with sensational surprises. This is an award-winning book, and for good reason. A great book for a wide age range.

The title of this book makes it sound like a book for younger children, but it's really for older kids through adults. Two wind-up tin mice, a father and son, start on a quest to become self-winding. Again, sounds elementary, but the author explores various levels of hardships, lessons, and challenges of life, and, even adults may go back and read the book again. A rare find. Buy it.

 

Author, Paulsen, has done something a bit unusual.  He told the story in the book, Hatchet, about how a boy named Brian survived a plane crash and a summer in the Canadian woods. Now he writes a novel as if Brian was not rescued and had to survive a brutal Canadian winter. This writing decision does not make the story any less interesting or exciting. It's a popular book.

 

Shaun Tan presents a compelling book using no words. Hard to believe? Well, he portrays what it might be like for an old man to become an immigrant entering a new country. The beautiful, haunting illustrations speak volumes as they portray the immigrant in different situations. This book is a masterpiece in its own way.

 

This is the first of what author, Gary Paulsen, turned into a series of books about a boy named Brian and his harrowing adventures in the wild. This first book was compelling enough to make the series very much sought after by readers.

This is the first book in a science fiction trilogy about Tripods, massive three-legged machines that descend to Earth and take control of human beings. For a brief time, in youth, humans are free to think independently. While he's still free, Will and his friends try to escape to the mountains unnoticed. This is mind-grabbing stuff and you will want to read all three volumes.

 

Young Wong Ming-Chung starts a journal in 1851, describing his difficult life in a war-ravaged Chinese village. Then his uncle goes to America in hopes of striking it rich on the "golden mountain." The uncle lets Wong join him in America and the boy finds out not only the journey, but life working in America, is extremely difficult. Besides that, there are few laws on the frontier and violent prejudice is common. Follow Wong through his winding adventures.

A girl named Billie Jo describes in her diary the awful drought and dust storms in Texas in the early '30s. This culminated, by the way, in Black Sunday, a time when massive dust storms lifted tons of dirt from Midwest farm country and deposited it on large cities like Chicago. This story will describe powerfully and vividly what it was like for the farmers. A wonderfully written book. An award winner.

Here's one of the more exciting ways to introduce important events in history to young people. Murphy goes far beyond poor Mrs. O'Leary and her cow in explaining in fascinating detail how the horrible Chicago fire of 1871 spread so fast and so far and killed so many people. There were mistakes made and things overlooked as various folks responded to the fire in sharp contrast. There are even things we can learn from this catastrophe and the author does an excellent job on the whole story.

 

A kid doesn't have to be a John Elway fan to enjoy this book. It tells what it's like for a boy to grow up, step by step, until he reaches the zenith of being a star NFL quarterback. Matt Christopher is well known for his great childrens' sports books.

Wilma Sturtz, a New York City girl, is offered one wish by a mysterious woman on the subway. She asks to be the most popular kid at her school. Yes, it comes true and it's lots of fun at first. Then she approaches graduation and she wonders what she'll do to remain popular once everything returns to reality. Who is she really? Is she likeable without being granted such a wish? How important is popularity and how crazy should be our quest to be liked? You may find out some things about yourself as you see Wilma figure out popularity.

Grace, Hope and Honor are sisters, but Honor doesn't particularly like her name and changes it to Beauty. However, her two sisters blossom into gorgeous young ladies and Beauty doesn't. Disaster strikes and the family loses their estate and must live like peasants. Father comes home one day with a rose for Beauty but the price for that rose is that Beauty must go live with the Beast. This is a layered, wonderfully written version of Beauty and the Beast. A deeply satisfying book for all lovers of books.

 

This is the perfect book to use for your child's next science project. Dr. Fred explains weather in simple terms and describes easy ways kids can make their own weather instruments. This could be very impressive at a science fair.

 

Kenny is the narrator in a black family who leave Flint, Michigan to visit the Deep South in the early 1960s. They have no idea just how serious the racial prejudice will be. Somehow the author mixes a bit of humor into the factual account of a church that is bombed and burned with four young black girls inside. Fiction mixed with non-fiction make this an even more powerful account.

 

Laura Ingalls Wilder actually lived the frontier life she tells about in her books. They are so well known, little need be said about the stories. Both boys and girls can enjoy them.

Buck, stolen from a home in California, must somehow adjust to the great hardships of being a sled dog in the Yukon. In this hostile environment his very life is threatened. Will he survive a world of vicious dogs and heartless humans?

This is an excellent book for kids who are struggling between seeking their parents' approval and beginning to think things through for themselves. Minna wants life to be nice and orderly, but she is quickly finding out that life is often confusing and without easy answers. You will find yourself getting attached, not only to Minna, but to other people in her life. Not a hot romance or wild adventure, the book is still deeply satisfying.

Many are not aware that the Polish people were persecuted and slaughtered by the Nazis more viciously than any group besides the Jews. This is the story of Alex, a young boy whose father is taken away. He must learn how to survive alone, using a child's Robinson Crusoe-type ideas to stay alive. The first 20-30 pages set the stage for the storyline, and the rest of the story will keep you glued to the book until the end.

 

An 11-year-old boy finds an abused beagle pup in his small West Virginia town. He faces many questions throughout the story. Should he return the dog to the abusive owner? Is it okay to steal food for the dog? Should he tell his parents? Besides being a heartwarming story, the questions the boy faces make it helpful to kids in other ways as well.

Some think this is Madeleine L'Engle's finest work. Vicky Austin is with her grandfather as the man gradually weakens and she realizes she may lose him. At the same time, three boys are after her, and she's not sure she wants any of them as a boyfriend. One of the boys works with dolphins, which becomes quite fascinating. Even some adults just can't resist going back and reading these books in the Austin family series.

 

Young Sam Gribley leaves home and ends up in the Catskill mountains. There he takes up housekeeping in a massive old hollow tree. He faces many challenges but finds that he enjoys the challenge of living by his wits in the wilds.

Opal, a girl from a poor background, finds a raggedy dog in the supermarket and names him Winn Dixie. The goofy dog wins over her father and even helps Opal become brave enough to ask her dad what happened to her mom. The dog also helps her make friends in a new place. I placed it for this age group because I found even adults who loved the story. Adults can read it to younger kids and they'll love it.

 

When a boy named Philip playfully hums along with the national anthem when it plays at school over the intercom, he rapidly gets in over his head, as his teacher sends him to the principal's office. He is suspended for two days and the national media grabs the story as an example of denying a boy the right to display his patriotism. Things snowball from there, and neither Philip nor his teacher end up winning. The moral seems to be that when people rely only on their preconceptions, destructive things can result.

 

Mia Hamm, star of the U.S. National Soccer Team tells her own story of playing soccer as a child and gradually rising in the sport to stardom. This book would provide great inspiration, especially to girls who enjoy sports.

Ten-year-old Bud (not Buddy) Caldwell has been shuffled through enough lousy foster homes that he wants no part of anymore. In 1930s Michigan, he heads out to find a jazz musician who he thinks might be his real father. The jazz man has no interest in him, but the band members and a motherly Miss Thomas begin to accept him into their little group. A great award-winning book.

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A young man, half White, half Native American, struggles to decide which world he will become a part of. His decision must occur as he competes in the rough incredibly dangerous arena of the old rodeos where he not only battles broncos but the hatred of the humans around him.

 

The story of a tragically injured young silversmith then takes the boy into the thick of the Revolutionary War. I took on the challenge of reading this book as an elementary school student and became so engrossed that I skipped over many words I didn't know just to catch the gist of the engaging story.

The four Hillerman kids are abandoned by their mentally ill mother. They must somehow navigate their way to Great-aunt Cilla's home for refuge. But when they finally arrive there, they learn that she's died and her silly daughter, Eunice, isn't exactly equipped to take them in. Where do they end up and is it pleasant or forbidding?  Read the book and find out. Starts out a little slow but then will definitely keep you reading until the end. Many people love this book; if you do, there's a whole series you can enjoy.

 

A touch of phony witchery dictates that every few generations the Tycho family produces an outwardly normal human who can turn herself into an owl at will. So a 14-year-old girl goes on owl adventures at night. This makes for some very offbeat and funny situations. If you like quirky unusual stories, this one is for you.

 

T.J. and his brother, Moon Dance, have been adopted by a nice couple. Mop, another parentless child, thinks that maybe the couple will adopt her too, if she can just get to know them. So she joins the baseball team that the couple coaches in order to endear herself to them.

This is another one of those books that can be enjoyed by a good middle grade reader, a teen, or an adult. It focuses on the son of a Polish family who are forced by Tartars to flee the Ukraine. They end up in the town of Krakow. The plot is wrapped around two historical realities: the honored trumpeter of the church in Krakow and a priceless Tarnon crystal that the family protects. When a Tartar prince goes after the crystal, things get very dangerous very fast.

 

It's a camp tradition that a nerdy boy and girl are marooned on a small island overnight. But instead of being terrified, Howie and Laura, decide to disappear from the island. They discover a strength within themselves that they never thought existed as they work mutually to successfully live several days of independence. They come to appreciate life and each other more through the experience.

 

Anita Lobel tells the true story about when the Nazis entered her home in Krakow, Poland. Anita and her brother stay with their nanny in the country for a while, with their mother in the ghetto, and eventually in several concentration camps. When rescued, she must recover from tuberculosis, then learn to value herself for who she is and what she can do.

For all guys and girls who love horses, here is an award winning book based on the true story of an Arabian horse who was bred with other stock to produce some of the fastest American race horses in history. It is the story of Sham and his stable boy, Agba. Though the boy is mute, you will begin to care more and more about both horse and boy as you continue through the book.

 

In spite of a warning, young John Spencer tries to command a commercial voyage of his father's new ship. The regular captain dies, so a new one is hired just before launch. When John hears  of a smuggling ship, he decides to try to head off the smugglers. But suddenly he begins wondering if he can really trust the new captain 100 percent. Should he really try to catch the smuggler himself?

 


This book is a huge favorite for boys and an excellent book that fathers and sons can enjoy together. It shows a boy how to do all sorts of things most boys want to learn but have never known how. Excellent choice.

 

Thrown off a pirate ship and washed ashore, a mouse named Mariel must somehow survive onshore in Redwall. What will happen to her as she faces the life of a landlubber?  A great story in the tradition of books such as Watership Down.

The familiar storks have disappeared from this small Dutch village and Lina and other young people wonder why they disappeared. Gradually, they overcome the indifference of townspeople and many become involved in getting the storks back. Starts a little slow but is well worth it.  Almost fifty reviews on Amazon usually means a book is superb.

 

Louie is a star football player in high school and everything is perfect until he takes a stand when a black player is intentionally injured. This gets him into trouble with his coach. Then Louie faces a huge loss and his personal life begins falling apart. This is a powerful, realistic book about the pain of growing up in today's world.

 

Is the whole Yelnat family faced with bad luck, or not?  At first, this book seems like a somewhat complex tall tale. But then the reader realizes that something like this could actually happen and the twists and turns in the plot get fascinating. Stanley, the main character is sent to a kids' detention center, and the plot thickens. The reader has to be a little patient to see how everything in the story fits in the end.

 

This is a story about rabbits. I know what you're thinking--it's a story for little kids. Nope. It's a big book that tells a story about intelligent rabbits fighting for their lives. It will suck kids in until the last word.

In the mythical kingdom of Damar, Aerin has never been fully accepted in the royal court. Folks whisper that her mother may have been the king's witchwoman wife who married the king to acquire an evil heir to the kingdom. Aerin spoiled the plans by being female, but she has no idea she will soon be at the core of the action, a hero wielding the great Blue Sword. This is sparkling fantasy of the best sort.

 

We simply can't ignore a classic like the Wizard of Oz. In a world of video games, I wonder how many kids just never get around to reading this great classic? It's a classic for a reason.

 

What happens when a little orphan girl has to go live with her cold, stern grandfather in an alpine village far up in the mountains? Will he hurt her or simply ignore her?  Find out in this beloved story.

 

Billy Colman sacrifices everything to buy a couple of coon hound pups. He loves coon hunting and has many exciting hunts, including one against other hunters for a grand prize. This is a great book about country life.

 

Any boy who loves basketball will love this book. It contains all kinds of facts, basketball stories, and the author's opinions about the best and worst basketball players of all time.

 

John and Neesha, a brother and sister from the future, get flung into a time machine and they can't get out. Each time the machine throws them farther back in time until prehistoric times. Funny and action-packed.

 

Another classic gem about a boy and his dog, but this story takes place in the Texas hill country, and you'll never forget the relationship that is built between boy and animal.

 

Francie Nolan grows up in turn-of-the-century Brooklyn. She has a sweet and tragic father, a severely realistic mother and a brother who will always be the favored child. A poignant well-written story of a young girl growing up in a tough city life.

 

The discovery of a treasure map sends young Jim Hawkins on a desperate search with dangerous swashbucklers like Long John Silver. A favorite of boys and others for many decades. Don't let the weird lingo of pirates use slow you down.

 

A Vermont farm boyhood is part fiction, part memoir. It's a great story but graphic about different aspects of farm life such as mating and slaughtering. Perhaps not for kids who are particularly sensitive to such things.

 

Mah tells her true story about her life in China. When her mother dies while birthing her, Mah becomes a family outcast, considered bad luck by everyone except one aunt. No matter how hard she tries, all her efforts are despised. After she finally wins a contest for her writing, her father allows her to travel to England for college.

 

Jody Baxter lives the incredibly interesting life in the wilds of old Florida scrublands, but wants something more. That happens when he finds a fawn to rear. This story deserved the honor of a Pulitzer Prize.


What more could be said about Huckleberry Finn. It's a classic, it's funny, it's sad, it's adventurous, and much more. That's why just about everyone has heard of the book. If you missed out on it, read it now!

 

Zoe Grandon is a junior higher and a total tomboy. She must fight through the constantly changing world of girlfriends. A heartbreaking and glorious journey touches the tough realities of peer pressure and growing up.

 

Not too, too long ago, childhood in America was not the leisurely, carefree life it is today. Many children worked long hours in nerve-jangling or backbreaking jobs. This is the real story of a man who fought these conditions and helped free thousands from a miserable existence. Good book for kids who are interested.

This is a collection of stories by Panchito, a son of a Mexican migrant worker, telling honestly but without complaint the life he and his family lived moving from farm to farm in miserable surroundings. This is the second of three books that tell the whole story of Panchito and his family. You will probably like this one enough to want to read the others.

 

Rosemary Sutcliff wrote historical fiction that appeals both to young teens and adults. This story is based on the mysterious disappearance of the Roman army's ninth legion. The general's son sets out on a dangerous quest to prove that the Eagle legion didn't simply forsake the Roman standard and disband. If you like this book, there are many other excellent, exciting novels like this one by Sutcliff.

 
 

Powerful characters in a powerful book. It was a different time. Back then there were youth gangs but some went by terms like greasers and socs. Ponyboy is a member of the greasers and they engage in violence against the socs. One of Ponyboy's friends actually kills a soc and suddenly Ponyboy knows life for him will never be the same again. A child should be ready to realize that gang violence is real, not only now, but in years past.

This is delightfully told historical fiction about Mary, Queen of Scots.  We know only a few facts about Mary's jester, but author, Yolen, creates a 13-year-old Italian girl named Nicola as the jester. So, while fiction is injected, there is also much history that comes to light as the story progresses. Some consider this among their very favorite historical fiction. Follow Mary with her jester through the tumultuous alleyways and palaces that made up this queen's sometimes difficult life.

 

The Last Days of Summer is a book for any girl or boy who likes baseball. Joey Margolis is a boy growing up in New York City in the 1940s pretty much without a dad. He begins to write to a famous baseball player for the New York Giants. At first, the player doesn't want to be bothered, but eventually he begins replying to the letters. It may be just what both the boy and the baseball star need.

 

For kids who love a game like Clue, this book could be a real challenge. The founder of the Westing Paper Company was apparently murdered and the will actually states that a particular group of people can compete to find out who the murderer was. So the reader gets to try to figure out the clues as the characters try desperately to be the one who wins the old man's fortune.

 

Melinda is losing her voice and she doesn't know why. She seems to be the school outcast and she tells how that feels in a first person narrative. Part of the problem may stem from something she did at a high school party. But is there more to it?  Will Melinda ever feel accepted--a part of the group? This is a moving story and you'll never look at the school rejects the same way again.

 

Indian eyewitnesses tell the story of the Battle of Little Bighorn in their own words. The Indians did not necessarily expect to win the battle and many expected to die. But they give the vivid details and the brave manner in which the U.S. Cavalry fought to the last man.

When Katya's mother is appointed lady-in-waiting for the empress of Russia between 1913-1918, Katya becomes a friend of the royal Romanov children. This was an incredibly dangerous period in Russia, as violent opposition grew to Tzar Nikolai's rule and the Communist movement took control. This is not a brief, shallow book. But it will teach you about a crucial collision of forces in history while entertaining you at the same time!

 

Beginning with the Long Walk of the Navajos in 1860 to the massacre of Sioux men, women, and children at Wounded Knee, the book tells the story of Native Americans from their perspective.  It was one of the early books that laid out in graphic terms how the residents of America were treated by settlers. Important to read.

 

Homer Hickam's father was superintendent of a coal mine in West Virginia and he couldn't care less about his son's interest in space travel. But Homer got his friends together and formed the Big Creek Missile Agency. After a failed attempt or two, they learned enough to launch a missile that traveled pretty far for a homemade zoomer. In the end, Homer earned his father's grudging respect and later became a NASA engineer. Based on a true story.

I'm putting this book in the older age group because it's a great book for teens or adults to buy just for their moms. It tells some of the best things about moms so it would make the perfect gift for mother's day or any other day.

 

This is a true story about Sarah, a 7-year-old African princess, who is saved from child sacrifice and brought to England as a gift for Queen Victoria. She becomes the Queen's protege and is reared in a position of privilege and celebrity. To escape England's damp climate she is returned to Africa and educated. She marries a West African who she at first detests. Then she has a daughter and finally grows more content with her life. She dies at age 37 of tuberculosis. A remarkable true story.

This is a memoir of a black boy named Walter Myers. He tells of growing up in the Harlem of the 1940s. It was a tough life and he did his share of crime and getting in trouble. Though he eventually dropped out of school, he always enjoyed writing and secretly read great works of literature. He ended up going nowhere for years, but then remembered a teacher's challenge to never stop writing. The story combines funny anecdotes, lofty ideals, and tender moments to describe how Walter eventually reached his dream of becoming a writer.

This is a powerful book on the Civil War which is based on the life of a very young Union soldier named Charley Goddard. This is not a book for the squeamish as it presents an ugly and realistic picture of war. It portrays much of the sentiment of Union soldiers at the beginning of the conflict as wanting to simply "teach those Johnny Rebs a lesson." He began to see that the bloodshed was a horrible price to pay for two factions who got carried away by bitter human passion. Excellent book.

This is the story of a girl named May Amelia as based on the author's great aunt. A Finnish family immigrates and settles in the upper Washington/Oregon region. May has seven brothers and life is tough at the turn of the century in a number of ways. Perhaps younger readers could read this book because kids are exposed through TV and such to far more than we admit. But there is grief and death in this story and life was more graphic then on a daily basis. Please don't bypass this book because it presents pioneer realities.

 

Daniel Edwards is an intelligent loner who is called Weirdo by his classmates. He basically sees the world as a series of mathematical equations. Then during spring break, his parents send him on a class winderness trip. During a scavenger hunt he becomes trapped in a cavern with the class bully and his most unfavorite teacher, who is gravely injured. There is a nail-biting climax in which the boys try to rescue themselves and their teacher from certain death. Will they all live?

 

This is the classic diary of Anne Frank, who was a Jew hiding from the Nazis with her family in a Dutch warehouse. She tells the story of what it was like existing in cramped quarters and awful conditions. There is a newer edition that adds entries that her dad left out when he compiled her diary. Anne eventually died in a German concentration camp in 1945.

 

Paul Fisher is legally blind and wears glasses so thick, kids laugh at him. But then the family moves to Tangerine County, Florida and suddenly the bullying eases up. Paul sees through the lies his parents and older brother live out every day. He also finds out the ugly truth about his football hero, brother. You will stand up and cheer at the end of this book.

 

For centuries, the achievements of women were largely ignored. Today things are changing. This book goes back into history and gives brief, simple descriptions of 120 terrific girls or ladies. This will make you proud to be a female.

 

In 1930 two young guys named Eric and Walter began a canoe trip from the Minnesota River to the Hudson River. It took a whole summer and was full of adventure. Eric eventually wrote a memoir of their trip. This launched the famous career of a television correspondent most of us have heard about: Eric Sevareid

 

Dian Fossey studied and lived among the mountain gorillas of Rwanda. She perhaps grew to know them and love them more than humans. She fought violently against poachers who tried to kill them. She was eventually murdered. Some may think she was too radical; others admire her love for animals. But this photo odyssey of her life with the gorillas is awesome.

Jessie, a young boy in New Orleans, is forced to be the flute player on a slave ship. The pipe player's tunes were supposed to induce future slaves to dance so that their muscles would be conditioned upon arrival and sale in America.  This is not a very lengthy book with complex words, but the frank description of life on a slave ship makes the book more suitable for the mature middle schooler/young teen.

Whether for school or for pleasure, this book tells the storyline of twenty of Shakespeare's plays on a level that teens can understand. Great price for a large book. Well done.

The greatest court drama writer of all, John Grisham, writes a book for young teens. Theodore is just a kid, but he's smart and he knows about the law. What does a boy do when someone confesses a terrible crime to him? Does he keep it to himself or tell law enforcement? And how does he deal with the results of his decision? If you like courtroom dramas, check out this book. You'll learn a lot while reading a story of a boy facing a world of violent crime.

 

Mog is the son of tribal leader, Brog. They are very early humans. One day Mog utters the first word for an object. Soon the Tribe catches on and they begin inventing words for everything. A strange girl arrives out of nowhere and inspires Mog to invent even more words, though she is quiet. Then the girl begins telling amazing stories around the campfire, and Mog leaves because he's no longer the center of attention. The girl follows him and they learn from one another. This is a very funny book imagining the beginnings of language development but it will also teach kids more about language as well as human lessons about life.


Jess and Leslie become friends in spite of the fact that Leslie is the first girl who can run faster than Jess. They make up a secret land in the forest which they name Terabithia. They are king and queen who reign supreme and fight off giants, the walking dead, and class bullies. But then Leslie goes alone to Terabithia and something awful happens. Jess is fighting all sorts of terrible emotions, but he must learn to face them and deal with the reality of life.

Some believe that if Sylvia Cassedy hadn't died prematurely, she might have been ranked one of the finest writers in her genre. This story about a girl named Lucy is not even considered her best; her best is Behind the Attic Wall, but this is great too. Both stories are multi-layered tales blending the growing pains of young teen girls with a touch of fantasy and a moving background of facing life's challenges when forsaken by others. If you can still find a used copy of Behind the Attic Wall, grab it and hang onto it! It's a real treasure.

 

Keir is a high school senior who most people like. He cripples the player of an opposing football team, but most believe it was just part of a rough sport. He plays pranks and defaces property that could be wrong, but he writes it off as just guys having fun. Then he date rapes a girl who he really likes. Again, he tries to rationalize it in his own mind as something he really can't be blamed for. But then he begins to realize that we are responsible for everything we do, despite the excuses we try to make. This is the reality of life on a typical public school campus, so only those with appropriate maturity should read it, and it would be great if the lessons of the book could be discussed with an adult or parent.

 

Two Years Before the Mast is a book featuring a young man named Richard Dana who travels from Boston to California's coast and ends up on a merchant sailing ship during the 1800s. It is an adventure to be savored and older kids can enjoy it. The book was also actually used later as a travel guide for easterners traveling to the great California Gold Rush fifteen years after it was written.

A pilot has crashed his plane in the Sahara and is desperate. Then a Prince appears and asks him to sit and draw a sheep. That is the beginning of an enchanting journey into what life is really about and what we can learn from life. This is a book for both youth and adults because of the truths taught.

In far too many schools the hands-on learner who loves to take things apart, see how they work, then piece them back together is considered weird and may even be ostracized. But this talent is one of the most valuable of all in the technology age. Here's a book that explains how all sorts of things work, with illustrations to match. It was on the New York Times bestseller list for weeks, so it definitely has an audience. Give it to the kid you know who loves to know how stuff works.