middle school series fiction

All posts tagged middle school series fiction

Dork Diaries, by Rachel Renee Russell

Published June 30, 2015 by Dagmar

This fiction series is always in demand in my school library.  I finally sat down to read the first book in the series this summer, right after I replaced all the missing copies from my library shelves and pre-ordered the 9th book in the series, due out on June 2, 2015dork diaries. Dork Diaries has that magic that began with Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Humor + drawings = appeal to just about every kind of reader.  I didn’t think I’d like it, but I loved it.

Dork Diaries is the story of Nikki Maxwell, eighth grader at Westchester Country Day.  She is the daughter of the school’s exterminator, there on scholarship. Nikki is having a tough time. New to the school, she is trying to fit in with the “CCP” (Cute, Cool & Popular) group at school.  The group, led by the impossibly mean and snobby Mackenzie Hollister, has all the best clothes, cell phones and get invited to the best parties.

At first, I worried that I wouldn’t like Dork Diaries.  In the beginning, as Russell sets the scene, the CCP’s mean girl talk is a little much for me.  It is actually really mean.  I didn’t want to read a book where the humor was all self-deprecating and the mean girl has all the power.  Russell seems to know just how far to go, because then Nikki’s humor kicks in.

There are lots of funny parts in the book.  I thought it was funny when Nikki’s parents try to cheer her up by putting positive messages around the house, saying things like “Be you OWN best friend.” and “Invite YOURSELF for a sleepover.”  Unfortunately, those two notes were put in the toaster slot and ended up starting a small kitchen fire. The best part of the book, I think, is when Nikki writes about her interactions with people in her diary. As she describes a scene, she’ll “say” something that makes you say to yourself…”OMG, she did NOT just say that out loud…”. Then, it’s followed immediately by “But I just said that inside my head, so no one else heard it but me.” Those moments totally cracked me up, because even though they happened throughout the book, they always surprised me.

Nikki goes through a lot of trials during her first year at Westchester, but ends up ending the year with grace and with Mackenzie jealous of her.  Go Nikki.

This book is most popular with my tweens and so could fit in an elementary school or middle school library.

The Name of this Book is Secret, by Pseudonymous Bosch

Published January 14, 2014 by Dagmar

the name of this bookHere’s a mystery that has never failed to please my students.  It’s not only a good mystery, it’s funny, quirky, a little dark, has an adventurous main character with a loyal and helpful friend.  Best of all, it leaves readers wanting more.  (Luckily, there are five books in this series.)

This book begins with the words, “WARNING: DO NOT READ BEYOND THIS PAGE!’  Even the only slightly curious would want to turn the page.  And, being more than slightly curious, I did turn the page, only to read the words, “Good.  Now I know I can trust you.  You’re curious.  You’re brave.  And you’re not afraid to lead a life of crime.”  🙂  The first chapter consists of all “x’s”.  Yes, there are no words; because, of course, the first chapter would have revealed the names of the characters, the place where the story takes place and the dates.  All those things are, well, secret.

I can tell you this: The main character’s name is Cassandra, and she is a survivalist.  She goes no where without her backpack of survival gear.  She lives alone with her mother and often visits her mom’s friends, Grandpa Larry and Grandpa Wayne.  Cass discovers a box called the “Symphony of Secrets”, learns that it came from the house of a dead magician.  She and her new friend, a boy named Max-Ernest, believe that the magician is actually alive and crying out for help.  This, coupled with the disappearance of a strange boy from school lead them on a chase to save the magician and the missing boy.

I read this book to my son years ago, and we absolutely loved it.  Since then, I’ve recommended it to countless students who never fail to come back to get book number two, If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late.  Don’t miss this great book!

Suddenly Supernatural: School Spirit, by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel

Published January 23, 2013 by Dagmar

supernaturalHere’s a cute series for your tween/middle school girls who love a mystery and some supernatural powers thrown in.  This series has been flying off the shelves since I brought it into the library a few months ago.  I just had to read it to see what the fuss was about.

At first I found the “mean girls in middle school” a little boring, but I liked the main character, Kat, and her new best friend, Jac, a gifted cellist.  Kat finds out that she is able to see spirits like her mother, who is a medium.  Although she is reluctant about her new gift, she and Jac end up solving a mystery.  This book is fast-paced and fun.  I liked the mystery and didn’t mind the “not subtle” hint that there is a sequel on its way.  Lucky for my students that there are actually four books in the series – all on my shelves.  My only worry with this series is that it will date itself with its references to modern music.

Ranger’s Apprentice, by John Flanagan

Published January 15, 2013 by Dagmar

rangersapprenticeThe Ruins of Gorlan is the first book in a terrific series for late elementary and middle graders called Ranger’s Apprentice.  Will is left in a basket at Castle Redmond as a baby with only a note that says that his mother died and his father died a hero.  Will grows up as a ward of the Castle Arald.  The wards of the castle are assigned apprenticeships when they become teenagers.  Will hopes to become a warrior just as he imagines his father was.  To be a warrior, he must train at Battle School.  However, when the Choosing Day arrives, Will is apprenticed to a Ranger.  As Will learns his new trade, he also learns to appreciate the important role the Rangers hold in defending the kingdom.

Ranger’s Apprentice is an intelligent series, drawing readers in and keeping them engaged.  There are 10 books in the series and a book of Lost Stories.  Highly recommended for fourth grade through middle school.