Joplin, Wishing

Joplin, WishingJoplin, Wishing by Diane Stanley

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Part magical, part mystery, mostly realistic fiction, this book is a treasure.
Upon returning to school after her grandfather’s funeral, Joplin knows she is facing two tormenting dilemmas – her ongoing friendless state and the certain harassment from her classmates about her famous, eccentric, all-over-the-news grandfather. Kids get suspended, a teacher handles things poorly and Joplin takes a few days off, too.
Joplin brought home a broken antique platter from her grandfather’s house as a memento and has it restored with her aunt’s help. While feeling sad and lonely she longingly looks at the girl in the platter and wishes for the girl to be her friend and to have a friend at school. The next morning she notices a girl in her garden who looks like…the now missing girl from the platter! And Joplin makes a friend at school. Life gets complicated with┬áthis friend who has no home of her own and needs food, shelter and truly wants to get back to the mid 1600s. Life gets dangerous when a man from the 1600s wants Joplin’s magic platter.
Author Stanley brings us a main character who grows and develops, strong secondary characters, a good sense of place, and mystery and magic.
Starred review from Booklist is right on target.

Ghost by Jason Reynolds

Ghost (Track, #1)Ghost by Jason Reynolds

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Castle Crenshaw, who calls himself Ghost, is a kid who gets himself into trouble. And that trouble makes this book hard for me to read – I put this slim volume down countless times while cringing as Ghost does something he knows he shouldn’t. Still, I had to finish this compelling story.

Ghost is a kid who can run like the wind, a kid who has caught the eye of a track coach, a kid who has no gym shorts, no gym shoes.

Ghost is a kid who lives in the projects, a kid whose dad tried to kill him and his mom, a kid whose dad is in prison, a kid who has a lot of anger inside of him.

Ghost is a kid with a mom who has ambitions to make their lives better.

First in a series.

The Seventh Wish

The Seventh WishThe Seventh Wish by Kate Messner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Charlie is a smart, kind, industrious, talented seventh grader who finds a magic fish while ice fishing with some neighbors. The fish doesn’t want to get caught and offers a wish to the person who returns it to the lake. Her first fish wish kind of gets mixed up, a sort of miscommunication with the fish, Charlie guesses, and she decides to be more precise in her future wish making. ­čÖé

The book description says “Charlie feels like she’s always coming in last.” Yep. When she has something planned that involves her family’s help, her event gets put on the back burner. That’s what happens time and again. And it happens before her older sister’s addiction problem begins. As a parent, this makes me want to scream. I could think of at least two solutions to the first problem the family had with Charlie’s schedule and commitment. Why didn’t her parents work this out with her? It also involved another student and her schedule. This can be realistic family life, however, that priorities get messed up and problems are not worked out.

Easter Ann Peters’ Operation Cool

Easter Ann Peters' Operation CoolEaster Ann Peters’ Operation Cool by Jody Lamb

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book belongs in all middle school libraries, counseling/student services offices and public libraries.

Seventh grade can be a vexing time and author Jody Lamb’s choice for Easter’s setting provides a perfect balance of disorder at school and at home for the middlegrade audience and the serious topic of family alcoholism.

Despite the ongoing situation with her family, Easter’s story is fun, funny and upbeat. And I love the subtle reminders that this novel takes place in my former home state – Michigan.

As the book entered the final chapters, I realized the end would be coming soon…I did not want to lose track of Easter. Could she return, in a subsequent book?

Resource List is included in the back – help for those concerned about a family member’s alcohol consumption.

The Pages Between Us

The Pages Between UsThe Pages Between Us by Lindsey Leavitt

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Best friends Piper and Olivia are starting middle school and only – gasp! – have one class together. They decide to keep in touch (52 minutes/day is not enough) by writing journal-like entries in a school notebook as often as possible.

These best friends help each other overcome some big problems while having fun, making new friends and learning things about themselves.

Authors Leavitt and Mellom bring us delightful characters who grow and make us laugh!

On the Run

On the RunOn the Run by Tristan Bancks

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Twelve year old Ben and his seven year old sister Olive are forced to leave their home when their parents go on the run. Set in Australia, the family heads to a cabin in the wild and eludes the police while carrying a bag with one million dollars, part of a banking error. Dad is a bully and mom is not too far behind. Ben has a dilemma: loyalty to his family, or to his goal of becoming a cop?

Author Bancks gives us an unnerving perspective of life through Ben’s honest eyes.