Middle graders will laugh and cry with thirteen-year-old Vanessa Martin as she tries to be like Vanessa Williams, the first black Miss America. In this semi-autobiographical debut novel set in 1983, Vanessa Martin's real-life reality of living with family in public housing in Newark, New Jersey is a far cry from the glamorous Miss America stage. She struggles with a mother she barely remembers, a grandfather dealing with addiction and her own battle with self-confidence. But when a new teacher at school coordinates a beauty pageant and convinces Vanessa to enter, Vanessa's view of her own world begins to change. Vanessa discovers that her own self-worth is more than the scores of her talent performance and her interview answers, and that she doesn't need a crown to be comfortable in her own skin and see her own true beauty.
Naima is a talented painter of traditional alpana patterns, which Bangladeshi women and girls paint on their houses for special celebrations. But Naima is not satisfied just painting alpana. She wants to help earn money for her family, like her best friend, Saleem, does for his family. When Naima's rash effort to help puts her family deeper in debt, she draws on her resourceful nature and her talents to bravely save the day. Includes a glossary of Bangla words and an author's note about a changing Bangladesh and microfinance.
Twelve-year-old movie-loving Maisie is in need of a distraction from her current romantic dilemma when her Uncle Walt comes to stay with her family after being hurt on the set of the movie he's filming in Hollywood. Maisie's best friend, Cyrus, has been hanging out a lot with Gary Hackett, whose last-name sounds to Maisie like a cat barfing up a hairball. When it seems as if Hackett might like Maisie romantically, she's none too pleased, and Cyrus is even less impressed. Uncle Walt has a way of pointing Maisie in the right direction, and Maisie's love of movies also keeps her centered. Heading to the local independent theater on Saturdays to see old movies helps Maisie stay grounded as she struggles with growing up, family tensions, a grandma who seems to be losing her memory, and a love triangle she never expected.
Praised by Jack Gantos, author of Dead End in Norvelt, as "a quick read with a kick at the finish," this debut novel sensitively and memorably captures a teen runner's relationship with his autistic older brother. Like most siblings, Leo and Caleb have a complicated relationship. But Caleb's violent outbursts literally send Leo running. When the family is forced to relocate due to Caleb's uncontrollable behavior, Leo tries to settle into a new school, joining the cross-country team and discovering his talent for racing and endurance for distance. Things even begin to look up for Leo when he befriends Curtis, a potential state champion who teaches Leo strategy and introduces him to would-be girlfriend, Mary. But Leo's stability is short-lived as Caleb escalates his attacks on his brother, resentful of his sport successes and new friendships. Leo can't keep running away from his problems. But, with a little help from Curtis and Mary, he can appreciate his worth as a brother and his own capacity for growth, both on and off the field.
An action-packed, contemporary novel about surviving in the wilderness. Thirteen-year-old Karma is desperate to become a certified falconer. At her dad's bird education center, she helps give demonstrations to guests and can fly the birds. But when her favorite rescued falcon, Stark, hurts Karma, her parents insist that they return the bird to its previous owner -- in Canada. On the way to bring Stark back, a car accident in the middle of nowhere leaves Karma's dad trapped, and it's up to Karma to find a way to rescue him and her younger brother. When Karma loses her way trying to get help, she crosses paths with Cooper, a troubled teenaged boy. Lost for three days, the two figure out how to survive, and Karma teaches Stark to hunt like an actual bird of prey. Karma may be closer than she thinks to becoming a real falconer and having a real friend.
Ten-year-old Bilal liked his life back home in Pakistan. He was a star on his cricket team. But when his father suddenly sends the family to live with their aunt and uncle in America, nothing is familiar. While Bilal tries to keep up with his cousin Jalaal by joining a baseball league and practicing his English, he wonders when his father will join the family in Virginia. Maybe if Bilal can prove himself on the pitcher’s mound, his father will make it to see him play. But playing baseball means navigating relation-ships with the guys, and with Jordan, the only girl on the team—the player no one but Bilal wants to be friends with. A sensitive and endearing contemporary novel about family, friends, and assimilation.
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.
5,000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia during a terrible drought, Jomar and Zefa's father must send his children away to the city of Ur because he can no longer feed them. At fourteen, Jomar is old enough to apprentice with Sidah, a master goldsmith for the temple of the moongod, but there is no place for Zefa in Sidah's household. Zefa, a talented but untrained musician, is forced to play her music and sing for alms on the streets of Ur.
Brace yourself for the scariest field trip of your life! Bumbling, cowardly Eugene is forced to transfer to a new school in northern Michigan, in the middle of the year, and in the middle of a blizzard. Eugene is used to weird things happening in his life, but this new place feels really bad. He has no idea how bad it's going to get until he meets his new English teacher, "Ming the Merciless." To save his classmates from a fatal graduation from Ming's School of the Brass Monkeys, Eugene must deliver an unfinished book to a legendary teacher named McGinty, who is hiding in the underworld. With the help of some renegade teachers and his new friends, he begins an epic journey to find McGinty. Will Eugene survive the Cliffs of Notes and the Sea of Hot Lunches? Will he reach McGinty in time to expose Ming's plot? A great choice for the reluctant reader, Brass Monkeys is action-packed and full of twists and turns. It's sure to keep readers guessing until the very end.