Skip Navigation

Grades 7-8 NEW LIST 2013

2010 - 2013 Outstanding Books and Audio Recordings

Dionne, Erin.  The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet. Dial, 2010.  304 pp.

Hamlet Kennedy is an eighth grader in a not-so-average family. Her genius seven-year-old sister is taking classes towards college and her Shakespeare-loving parents dress in period clothes and visit her English classroom.  Surviving middle school life will not be easy, especially when Hamlet’s talent for theater is revealed.

SIMILAR TITLES:   
  • Amato, Mary.  The Naked Mole-Rat Letters
  • Dionne, Erin.  Don’t Eat Chocolate Cookies
  • Hiasson, Carl.  Hoot
  • Holt, Kimberly Willis. When Zachary Beaver Came to Town

Hobbs, Will.  Take Me to the River.  HarperCollins, 2011  192 pp.

Fourteen-year-old Dylan Sands comes from North Carolina to Big Bend National Park, on the Texas/Mexico border, to paddle the Rio Grande River. His companion is a local river rat and cousin Rio. As the two are packing their boats for ten days in the canyons, six Black Hawk helicopters appear overhead and race across the river into Mexico. Author Hobbs creates vivid scenes and dramatic action in this novel for adventure lovers.

SIMILAR TITLES:   
  • Hobbs, Will   any other title
  • Smith, Roland  Storm Runners

Roth, Veronica.  Divergent.  Katherine Tegen Books, 2011.  496 pp.

In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, the society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a specific virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On a special day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice the decision is between staying with her family and selecting the faction that matches her temperament. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

This title is the first of three books. The second book, Insurgent, is available.  Watch for the final book to complete this trilogy!

SIMILAR TITLES:     
  • Cashore, Kristin.  Graceling
  • Lowry, Lois.  The Giver
  • Lu, Marie. Legend
  • O’Brien, Caragh.  Prized

back to top

Lai, Thanhha.  Inside Out and Back Again.  HarperCollins, 2011.  272 pp.

“No one would believe me but at times I would choose wartime in Saigon over peacetime in Alabama.” When the Vietnam War reaches her home. HÀ and her family are forced to flee their homeland and settle in a whole new culture and lifestyle.

SIMILAR TITLES:     
  • Hopkins, Ellen.  Perfect
  • Zimmer, Tracie Vaughn.  Reaching for Sun

Lane, Andrew.  Death Cloud (Sherlock Holmes: the Legend Begins). Farrar, 2011.  320 pp.

It is the summer of 1868, and Sherlock Holmes is fourteen. On break from boarding school, he is staying with his uncle and aunt in their vast house in Hampshire. When two local people die from symptoms that resemble the plague, Holmes begins to investigate what really killed them, helped by his new tutor, an American named Amyus Crowe.  

Andrew Lane is the author of the Young Sherlock Holmes series of young adult novels. He has also written spin-off novels based on the BBC sci-fi television series Doctor Who, as well as definitive guides to Babylon 5 and the Wallace and Grommit films, and is the author of The Bond Files: An Unofficial Guide to the World's Greatest Secret Agent. He lives in Dorset, England.

SIMILAR TITLES: 
  • Peacock, Shane.  Eye of the Crow
  • Lane, Andrew.  Rebel Fire
  • Sherlock Holmes: The Crossovers Casebook

Larson, Kirby.  Hattie Ever After. Delacorte, 2013. 240 pp.

It is 1919 and Hattie, now seventeen, leaves the Montana prairie to become a reporter for the San Francisco newspaper.  The author shows her love of historical details in this novel.  Sequel to Hattie Big Sky.

back to top

Mackall, Dandi Daley.   The Silence of Murder.  Knopf, 2011.  306 pp.

In Mackall's novel, winner of the 2012 Edgar Award in the Young Adult category, protagonist Hope Long has always adored her older brother, Jeremy, so she is shocked when he is accused of killing a local baseball coach. Jeremy hasn't spoken a single word in 9 years, so he cannot explain why he was identified at the scene of the coach's murder with a bloody baseball bat.  As Hope works to prove his innocence—joined by her best friend T.J. and the sheriff's son, Chase- she uncovers secrets about the murder, the townspeople, her family, and herself. She knows her brother isn't the murderer.  But as she comes closer to the truth, she's terrified to find out who did it.

SIMILAR TITLES:
  • Grisham, John.  Theodore Boone series
  • Mulligan, John   Trash
  • Sachar, Louis.  The Cardturner
  • Zimmerman, Jane Talking Waters

Shulman, Polly.  Grimm Legacy. Putnam, 2010.  336 pp.

Elizabeth has a new job at an unusual location, a lending library of objects, not books. In a secret basement room lies the Grimm Collection. That’s where the librarians lock away powerful items straight out of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales: seven-league boots, a table that produces a feast at the blink of an eye, Snow White’s stepmother’s sinister mirror that talks in riddles. When the magical objects start to disappear, Elizabeth embarks on a dangerous quest to catch the thief before she can be accused of the crime—or captured by the thief.

SIMILAR TITLES: 
  • Buckley, Michael.  The Fairy Tales Detectives
  • Riggs, Ransom.  Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
  • Shulman, Polly. Enthusiasm

Stiefvater. Maggie.  The Scorpio Races.  Scholastic, 2011

Told in first person by nineteen-year-old horse trainer, Sean Kendrick, this powerful and violent novel takes its plot from Scottish, Irish and Manx legends. The annual water horse race is coming up on the island of Thisby and Sean intends to win again. Water horses feed on blood and and meat and both characters have lost family members to them.  Newcomer and the first girl to race, fiesty Puck Connelly needs to win the race to save her family home. This book is about the power of language to create an atmosphere.  For patient and mature readers.  Try the audiobook. Printz Award honor book.

SIMILAR BOOKS:
  • Farley, Walter.  The Black Stallion series
  • Stiefvater, Maggie.  The Raven Boys

back to top

Volponi, Paul.  The Final Four.  Viking, 2012.  256 pp.

Join four college basketball players as they compete to be part of the March Madness winning team. Find out how each young man went from a boy who liked to shoot hoops to college level success. Plenty of tension and fast-paced action in this novel for sports fans and general readers alike.

SIMILAR TITLES:
  • Deuker, Carl.  Night Hoops
  • Lupica, Mike.  Travel Team
  • Myers, Walter Dean.  Hoops

Voorhoeve, Anne C. and Tammi Reichel, translator.  My Family for the War. Dial, 2012. 412 pp.

Even though the young German youth, Franziska, does not know she is Jewish, she knows that her family has been a victim of the Nazi terrorism and she is put on one of the last kindertransport trains.  She is placed in  a foster home in London with Orthodox Jews who love her and protect her as the war comes to London.  Winner of the 2013 Batchelder Award. 

SIMILAR TITLES:
  • Frank, Anne. Diary of a Young Girl
  • Ippisch, Hanneke.  Sky: A True Story of Resistance During World War II
  • Roseman, Kenneth. Escape from the Holocaust
  • Yolen, Jane. The Devil's Arithmetic

Wallace, Jason.  Out of Shadows.  Holiday House, 2011.  282 pp.

Set in Zimbabwe in the 1980s, just after the war for independence, a young English boy, Jacklin, is torn between his black friends at school and his sympathy for the colonial whites after witnessing the compulsory land seizures by Robert Mugabe's government. With an imminent visit by Mugabe to the school, Jacklin discovers that his white supremacist schoolmate plans to assassinate the black leader. The outcome leaves the reader contemplating a moral dilemma — in hindsight, should Jacklin have killed Ivan or let Ivan kill Robert Mugabe?

Jason Wallace lived in Zimbabwe and attended a boarding school there in the aftermath of the war for independence.

SIMILAR TITLES:  
  • Farmer, Nancy.  The Ear, the Eye and the Arm
  • Senzai. N. H.    Shooting Kabul
  • Shames, Stephen.  Transforming Lives: Turning Uganda’s Forgotten Children into Leaders

back to top

Common Core & Informational Books

Blumenthal, Karen. Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different. Feiwel, 2012.  320 pp.

"Your time is limited. . . . have the courage to follow your heart and intuition."--Steve Jobs

Critically acclaimed author Karen Blumenthal takes readers to the core of this complicated and legendary man while simultaneously exploring the evolution of computers. Framed by Jobs' inspirational Stanford commencement speech and illustrated throughout with black and white photos, this is the story of the man who many claim changed the world.

Montgomery, Sy.  Temple Grandin. How the Girl who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World.  Houghton Mifflin, 2012.  148 pp.

Diagnosed with autism. Ms. Grandin surpassed medical predictions and became a scientist and professor of animal science at Colorado State University. Her personal story and photos give readers an intimate look at autism and the life of an extraordinary woman. Consider watching the HBO movie about her life as well.

O'Connell. Caitlin and Donna M. Jackson.  The Elephant Scientist.  Houghton Mifflin, 2011. 80 pp.

Follow a famous scientist and photographer through two national parks in Nambia as they study elephant  communication and culture.  This book is perfect for students who are considering a career in zoology.  Part of a series of books called Scientists in the Field.

Scheckel, Larry. Ask Your Science Teacher: Answers to Everyday Questions: Things you always wanted to know about how the world works.  CreateSpace, 2011.  408 pp.

Curiosity stirs the soul, they say.  Who has not wondered about how the human body works? Can a person drink too much water? How does gravity make things fall? Why do sunflowers always face the sun? What about a man flying with wings? How big would those wings have to be? How tall can a human grow? Mysteries lurk in our house, our body, the outdoors, in the heavens, and the universe. Over 250 "I always wondered about that" questions and answers are in this book.

Larry Scheckel has taught high school science for over 38 years and writes a weekly science column for the local newspaper. Known as Mr. Science, Larry Scheckel has given science presentations to thousands of children and adults across the United States.

Engle, Margarita.  Hurricane Dancers: The First Caribbean Pirate Shipwreck. Henry Holt and Company, 2011.  160 pp.

Engle’s beautifully written poetic narrative tells an untold story in Latin American history and describes the enslavement of the native peoples of the Caribbean by the Spanish along with the mixing of Spanish and native blood that now forms the vast majority of Latin America. Told from several points of view, the story captures the rhythm and sounds from a time long ago and encourages readers to explore Latino culture on their own.

back to top

Audiobooks

Bacigalupi, Paolo.  Ship Breaker. Audiobook, 2010.  9 hours and 8 minutes.

In the future, when dangerous storms batter the Gulf Coast, teenager Nailer struggles to survive as a ship breaker, risking his life crawling through the ducts of grounded ships to salvage copper wiring. When he discovers a wrecked clipper ship with one survivor, the daughter of a wealthy shipping company owner, Nailer becomes involved in even greater dangers when he decides to rescue her.

Magoon, Kekla.  The Rock and the River. Brilliance Audio. 2010.   6 hours and 42 minutes

For thirteen-year-old Sam it’s not easy being the son of civil rights activist Roland Childs. It gets even harder when his older brother and best friend, Stick, begins to drift away from him for no apparent reason. One day Sam finds something that changes everything forever.  What should he believe? Who should he trust?  This novel explores ethical and moral decisions that will keep you reading to the very end.

back to top