I have read quite a few amazing middle grade novels this summer. I am thrilled with a trend I am seeing with authors expanding the notion of what it means to be a family. I am also excited about the way children are being portrayed in some of the books I've read. I am also thrilled that many of the books deal with looking beyond a child's disability or life circumstance. These things do not define the child. So often, a book about a child with a difficult life circumstance focuses on the challenge or issue the child faces. Since I am late on reviewing these, I will connect you to lots of others who have reviewed these books. They are all definitely worth reading if you are a teacher of middle grade/middle school kids.
OUT OF MY MIND by Sharon Draper
This story is told by Melody, a child who is in a wheelchair and cannot talk. The story deals with her struggles and accomplishments and the frustrations she often feels at not always being able to communicate. The book definitely looks beyond Melody's disability to all that she is.
TOUCH BLUE by Cynthia Lord takes place on a small island in Maine. Because the island school may close due to the small number of children on the island, several families decide to take in foster children to keep it open. This is the story of Tess's family and their foster child, Aaron. A powerful story of wat it means to belong. (Great reviews of this book at Carol's Corner and Sarah Laurence Blog.)
KEEPER by Kathi Appelt is the story of a little girl named Keeper. Keeper's mother left when she was three and Keeper believes that she is a mermaid. Keeper goes looking for her mother when things go wrong, hoping she can fix things. She learns that the people who love her are the ones who are right there.
In MOCKINGBIRD by Kathryn Erskine, Caitlin's is dealing with the loss of her older brother in this story. Caitlin is a child with Asperger's Syndrome and her brother was the person who helped her make sense of the world. As Caitlin and her father work through their grief, they also learn to understand each other better.
AS SIMPLE AS IT SEEMS by Sarah Weeks takes on a different issue. Verbena discovers that she was exposed to alcohol before birth and begins to wonder about the effects of fetal alcohol syndrome. Although it explains her small size and learning difficulty, she worries about what else it means about who she is.
(Reviews at Literate Lives and Library Voice.)