Mary Clayborne, the teenage daughter of a country doctor and a piano teacher, dreams of going to a conservatory and becoming a concert pianist. When her mother falls ill, she temporarily puts aside her ambition in order to care for her younger brothers and sisters. A timeless coming of age story.
For as far back as Kyle can remember, he spent summers at Gram's cottage on the lake--fishing all day, and hanging out with the whole family. But this year is different. His father has moved out, his grandmother has died, and his mother is selling the cottage because they can't afford the upkeep. Sally Derby takes readers to a small lake in 1970s Michigan, where thirteen-year-old Kyle comes to understand that loss isn't forever, and that people are more complicated than they seem.
Sam's grandfather vanished from his life the day Sam's father was buried. Now, ten years later, Grandpa Max wants to make amends. He sends letters that lead Sam on a scavenger hunt. Sam follows his grandfather's bizarre instructions though he's still not ready to forgive. To alleviate his anger at his grandfather, Sam turns to his favorite stress release: climbing onto roofs and leaving his tag, a spray painted symbol for Aquarius. When he gets caught by an elderly couple, Sam learns a valuable lesson about forgiveness. He's ready to forgive his grandfather, but is he too late?
As much as life has irrevocably changed since the death of his father, much has stayed the same for Cam. He's always had a great deal of responsibility around the house, but the burden is heavier now in combination with the load of grief he's been carrying. After the man who was driving the truck that killed his father turns up at the end of the driveway, Cam feels pressure to keep his family safe as well. He starts to see the man everywhere: at his work, in stores, at his sister's school. Cam needs to know what the man wants from his family, and he starts following his father's killer in search of answers.
Jessica loves her yearly backpacking trip with her father, but this year everything has changed. This year Jessica has to share her vacation with her new stepmother and her spoiled new stepsister, Amy. Jessica tries to salvage her holiday by sneaking off for a day hike alone, but Amy follows. Jessica is certain that Amy will ruin the day. Amy rises to the challenge of the rigourous hike and Jessica learns that Amy is not as spoiled as she thought. When Amy is injured and night falls, Jessica must face the challenge of hiking through bear country in the dark.
"I always knew my father was a pirate and I always knew I wanted to be one, too." At age fifteen, Catherine's life is about to change. Her mother has just died and Catherine can't stand the thought of being sent to live with her aunt in Boston. She longs for a life of adventure. After she discovers her father's secret life as captain of the pirate ship Reprisal, her only thoughts are to join him on the high seas. Catherine imagines a life of sailing the blue waters of the Caribbean, the wind whipping at her back. She's heard tales of bloodshed and brutality but her father's ship would never be like that. Catherine convinces her father to let her join him, disguised as a boy. But once the Reprisal sets sail, she finds life aboard a pirate ship is not for the faint of heart. If her secret is uncovered, punishment will be swift and brutal.
These traditional reads are brimming with spirited characters and positive values--but with a little extra excitement and bite, so hold on to your hats! Written expressly for the middle grade struggling reader, the series does not contain strong language, edgy themes, or dysfunctional families. In fact, family is the main theme of these titles. And one particular Latino family is the focus with their uncanny knack for finding humor, hope, and colorful personalities--even in unusual circumstances. Written at the lowest reading levels, the 50-page story structure is straightforward and moves the reader through the text quickly and efficiently.