I've been much more interested in reading the new books that I was able to purchase with my recently acquired Donors Choose funds, so I haven't read much from the challenge list in the past few weeks.
Star Wars: Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown
Roan has always dreamed of living up to the family legacy and becoming a pilot. When he doesn't get selected for flight school, he's crushed. He is surprised and not all that excited to get an invitation to attend Jedi Academy--usually students are recruited at a very young age. Middle school is awkward at the best of times, but learning to use the force at the same time? Well, let's just say that some embarrassing moments ensue.
Kind of Wimpy Kid-ish. Star Wars fans will want to give this one a look.
These are some of the titles that I have been able to share with my students, thanks to the generosity of some wonderful friends (and the kindness of some complete strangers).
Stickman Odyssey, Book One--An Epic Doodle by Christopher Ford
Fans of The Odyssey or other epic tales will recognize some familiar gods and monsters. When Zozimos is banished from Sticatha, he sets out on a hero's quest to find his way home. I giggled all the way through this book, and it is already very popular with my middle school students. One of my favorite lines is representative of the humor you'll find:
"I'm so hungry, I'm farting fresh air."
Blood on the Handle by R.A. Montgomery
Choose Your Own Adventure #33.
You are an orphan living with your uncle. You come home one day to discover a bloody knife in the study and hear a car speed away. What do you do? Depending upon the choices you make as you read, endings will vary.
The City of Ember: The Graphic Novel by Jeanne DuPrau
This adaptation might hook a few readers who wouldn't pick up the regular novel, but they'll be missing out on a lot of the story. The suspense while the main characters are figuring out Ember's secret is what makes the book so good. In this adaptation, the mystery is solved way too quickly. I was disappointed!
The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger
Origami Yoda, book #1.
A class of sixth graders learning to navigate the social world of almost-adulthood are guided by a pair of unlikely advisors--socially awkward Dwight and his origami Yoda finger-puppet. Written as a case file/journal with contributions from several students who (mostly) benefitted from Yoda's advice. Funny, but also includes realistic problems that many kids will recognize from their own lives. Great for Wimpy Kid fans.
Darth Paper Strikes Back by Tom Angleberger
Origami Yoda, book two.
The kids at McQuarrie Middle school are starting 7th grade and, thanks to Yoda's advice, they are convinced it's going to be a great year. Unfortunately, Dwight's nemesis, Harvey, has his own finger puppet--Darth Paper. Are Harvey and Darth Paper drawing on the power of the Dark Side to get Dwight expelled and destroy his friends' whole year? Read the latest case file to find out!
An excellent choice for middle grade readers looking for a good laugh.
Blankets by Craig Thompson
This beautifully-drawn memoir illustrates both first love and a journey away from religious beliefs. I absolutely loved the artwork, and will keep a lookout for more from this author. For mature readers.
Stitches by David Small
After his parents take him in for a supposedly routine surgery, David wakes up with a huge scar and no voice. Only later does he discover that he had cancer, probably due to the x-ray treatments prescribed by his radiologist father.
Memoir is one genre that seems to lend itself especially well to the graphic novel format. Haunting and powerful, David Small's memoir examines a dysfunctional family destroyed by repression and denial. He also illustrates the way that we all have the power to leave a difficult childhood behind and triumph in the end.
Dying to Meet You by Kate Klise
43 Old Cemetery Road, book one.
Crusty old children's author (who can't stand children) finds an unexpected family when he rents a haunted mansion for the summer. Told in letters, newspaper clippings, etc. Cute!