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Top Picks for Middle-Schoolers

Experts suggest their best bets for pleasure and school reading.
Cover image for Sounder
by William H. Armstrong Illustrated by James Barkley

Winner of the Newbery Medal and an acknowledged landmark in children's literature, Sounder traces the keen sorrow and abiding faith of a poor African-American boy in the 19th-century South. The boy's father is a sharecropper, struggling to feed his family in hard times.

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Cover image for American Born Chinese
American Born Chinese
by Gene Luen Yang Illustrated by Lark Pien
The first graphic novel ever to win the Printz Award, American Born Chinese tells the story of three apparently unrelated characters whose lives and stories come together with an unexpected twist.
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Paperback Graphic Novels: $16.15

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Cover image for Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Series: Harry Potter, Book #4
by J. K. Rowling Illustrated by Mary GrandPré
Lord Voldemort, the dark wizard responsible for the deaths of Harry's parents, is growing stronger. At the Quidditch World Cup, Voldemort's signature Dark Mark appears in the sky over the stadium, causing pandemonium.
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Paperbacks: $9.09

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Hardcovers: $20.99

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Paperbacks: $10.49

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Cover image for Holes
by Louis Sachar

This winner of the Newbery Medal and the National Book Award features Stanley Yelnats, a kid who is under a curse. A curse that began with his no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather and has since followed generations of Yelnats.

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Paperbacks: $5.59

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Cover image for The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games
Series: Hunger Games, The, Book #1
by Suzanne Collins

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts.

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Paperbacks: $6.59

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Paperbacks: $7.99

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Hardcovers: $10.79

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Paperbacks: $7.79

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Cover image for Island of the Blue Dolphins
Island of the Blue Dolphins
by Scott O'Dell

Karana, an Indian girl, lives happily with her people on the Island of the Blue Dolphins. It is an island in the Pacific that gets its name from its beautiful shape from above it looks like a dolphin lying on its side, "with its tail pointing toward sunrise," sunning itself in the sea.

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Paperbacks: $5.59

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Cover image for Jackie's Nine
Jackie's Nine
by Sharon Robinson

To millions of people, Jackie Robinson was a sports and civil rights hero. To Sharon Robinson, he was all that — and Dad. From the unique perspective that only a daughter could have, she serves as a personal tour guide through the nine heart-felt, hard-won values that helped Jackie achieve his goals.

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Cover image for Julie of the Wolves
Julie of the Wolves
by Jean Craighead George Illustrated by John Schoenherr

Since the death of her mother, Miyax, an Eskimo girl in Alaska, has been raised by her father, Kapugen, who has been bringing her up in the ways of a traditional Inuit. It is a life based on the rhythms of the natural world.

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Paperbacks: $4.79

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Cover image for Maniac Magee
Maniac Magee
by Jerry Spinelli

He wasn't born with the name Maniac Magee. He came into this world named Jeffrey Lionel Magee, but when his parents died and his life changed, so did his name. And Maniac Magee became a legend.

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Cover image for The Music of Dolphins
The Music of Dolphins
by Karen Hesse

A girl raised by dolphins must choose between two worlds in this critically acclaimed novel about what it means to be a human being.

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Cover image for My Brother Sam Is Dead
My Brother Sam Is Dead
by Christopher Collier , James Lincoln Collier

This young adult novel, which successfully captures the pain of the Revolutionary War, is a fine example of historical fiction. The American Revolution was a war that divided families (English loyalists versus eager Patriots) and one of the families being torn apart is the Meeker family.

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Paperbacks: $5.59

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Cover image for Number the Stars
Number the Stars
by Lois Lowry

As German troops begin their campaign to "relocate" all the Jews of Denmark, 10-year-old Annemarie Johansen's family takes in Annemarie's best friend, Ellen Rosen, and conceals her by pretending she's part of the family.

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Cover image for Marvels, The
Marvels, The
by Brian Selznick Illustrated by Brian Selznick

Caldecott Award winner and bookmaking trailblazer Brian Selznick once again plays with the form he invented and takes readers on an awe-inspiring voyage!

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Hardcovers: $28.99

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Cover image for Tuck Everlasting
Tuck Everlasting
by Natalie Babbitt

Time drags by for Winnie Foster, an eleven-year-old girl who lives in a house bordering the woods owned by her family. Winnie spends her summer days under the watchful eye of her grandmother.

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Cover image for M.C. Higgins, the Great
M.C. Higgins, the Great
by Virginia Hamilton

Winner of a Newbery Medal, a National Book Award, named an ALA Notable Book, designated as a School Library Journal Best of the Best, and named one of the New York Times Outstanding Children's Books of the Year, this intense, complex, young adult novel has dazzled readers for over 20 years.

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Cover image for Max the Mighty
Max the Mighty
by Rodman Philbrick
The powerful sequel to the award-winning Freak the Mighty. fourteen-year-old Max is back and he finds himself defending a solitary girl nicknamed "Worm" against a cruel man known as the Undertaker.
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Cover image for Immigrant Kids
Immigrant Kids
by Russell Freedman
Text and contemporary photographs chronicle the life of immigrant children at home, school, work, and play during the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Praise for Immigrant Kids: "A refreshingly un-woeful introduction to the experience of being a young urban immigrant around the turn of the century...
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Cover image for Freedom Train
Freedom Train
by Dorothy Sterling

Harriet Tubman knew mostly only hard work and hunger in her life. Born into slavery, she spent the majority of her life helping countless others escape it.

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Cover image for Dealing with Dragons
Dealing with Dragons
Series: Enchanted Forest Chronicles, Book #1
by Patricia C. Wrede

Cimorene is everything a princess is "not" supposed to be: headstrong, tomboyish and smart. She is so bored that she runs away to live with a dragon Kazul and finds the family and excitement she's been looking for.

A School Library Journal Best Book of the Year.

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Cover image for Caddie Woodlawn
Caddie Woodlawn
by Carol Ryrie Brink Illustrated by Trina Schart Hyman

"A spirited story that has plenty of action and strength." — Horn Book

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Cover image for Blitzcat
by Robert Westall
Here is the courageous story of a beloved cat and her attempts to find her master during World War II.

Lord Gort, a beautiful black cat, has lost her owner in the rubble of England's streets after the evacuation of Dunkirk.

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Cover image for Aquamarine
by Alice Hoffman

Master storyteller Alice Hoffman has written a tale of enchantment: a luminous lesson in how to say goodbye and how to hold on to those we love best of all.

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