8th Grade Summer Reading List (students moving from 7th to 8th grade) Letters From Rapunzel/Holmes ` From School Library Journal “In the real world, you can only understand your life backwards," writes Cadence Brogan to #5667, the unknown post-office-box holder with whom she begins a one-sided correspondence. After finding the number on a mysterious torn piece of a letter written in her father's hand, she feels somehow that this is the key to unlocking the secrets surrounding her. Cadence sees her life as a modern-day fairy tale in which she is Rapunzel, alone, abandoned, and waiting for answers. Her father's clinical depression she terms the Evil Spell; the teacher at the after-school Homework Center is dubbed the Wicked Witch. Through a series of journal-like writings to the elusive #5667, she comes to terms with her life and begins to understand her father's illness. Although the plot loses momentum at times, Holmes carries the story to a satisfying ending through realistic, insightful dialogue and her ability to develop a bright, capable character in Cadence. Al Capone Does My Shirts From School Library Journal In this appealing novel set in 1935, 12-year-old Moose Flanagan and his family move from Santa Monica to Alcatraz Island where his father gets a job as an electrician at the prison and his mother hopes to send his autistic older sister to a special school in San Francisco. When Natalie is rejected by the school, Moose is unable to play baseball because he must take care of her, and her unorthodox behavior sometimes lands him in hot water. He also comes to grief when he reluctantly goes along with a moneymaking scheme dreamed up by the warden's pretty but troublesome daughter. The story, told with humor and skill, will fascinate readers with an interest in what it was like for the children of prison guards and other workers to actually grow up on Alcatraz Island. Bronx Masquerade/Grimes From Publishers Weekly When a high school teacher in the Bronx begins to host open-mike poetry in his classroom on Fridays, his students find a forum to express their identity issues and forge unexpected connections with one another. Grimes's (Jazmin's Notebook) creative, contemporary premise will hook teens, and the poems may even inspire readers to try a few of their own. The poetic forms range from lyrics penned by aspiring rapper Tyrone to the concrete poem of a budding Puerto Rican painter Raul (titled "Zorro" and formed as the letter "Z"). The students in Mr. Ward's English class experience everything from dyslexia and low self-esteem to teenage motherhood and physical abuse. The students' poems provide some lasting images (e.g., overweight Janelle, who is teased for her "thick casing," writes, "I am coconut,/ and the heart of me/ is sweeter/ than you know"). The Dark Is Rising/Cooper Amazon.com Review "When the Dark comes rising, six shall turn it back, Three from the circle, three from the track; Wood, bronze, iron; water, fire, stone; Five will return, and one go alone." With these mysterious words, Will Stanton discovers on his 11th birthday that he is no mere boy. He is the Sign-Seeker, last of the immortal Old Ones, destined to battle the powers of evil that trouble the land. His task is monumental: he must find and guard the six great Signs of the Light, which, when joined, will create a force strong enough to match and perhaps overcome that of the Dark. Embarking on this endeavor is dangerous as well as deeply rewarding; Will must work within a continuum of time and space much broader than he ever imagined. Flags of Our Fathers/Bradley, Powers, and French From Publishers Weekly Newly adapted from a bestseller for adults, Flags of Our Fathers: Heroes of Iwo Jima by James Bradley with Ron Powers, adapted by Michael French, focuses on one of the most famous of war photographs: the image of six marines raising the American flag on Iwo Jima. Bradley, son of one of those marines, investigates the lives (and deaths) of the six, closely examining their experiences to detail the brutal battle on the island, the contrast between the sense of victory projected by the photograph and the more ambiguous circumstances behind it, and the bondraising value of the photo (and of its surviving subjects) to the Treasury Department. 8th Grade Summer Reading List (students moving from 7th to 8th grade) One Fat Summer/Lipsyte Amazon.com Review No summer vacation could be less promising than Bobby Mark's. Bobby Marks hates hot weather. It's the time when most people are happy to take off their heavy jackets and long pants. But for Bobby, who can't even button the waist of his jeans or reach over his belly to touch his toes, spending the summer at Rumson Lake is pure torture. This particular summer promises to be worse than usual. His mom and dad can't stop fighting. His best friend, Joanie, goes home to New York City unexpectedly and won't tell him why. Dr. Kahn, the rich, stingy estate owner who hires him to manage the lawis trying to work Bobby to death before he can earn a single dime. And the local guy who worked for Dr. Kahn last summer is lurking around every corner, itching for a chance to catch Bobby alone, to pay him back for stealing the job. But there's more to Bobby Marks than his two hundred pounds. He's about to find out just how terrifying, dangerous and wonderful, one fat summer can be. So B. It/Weeks From School Library Journal Heidi and her mother have lived in an apartment that adjoins with their neighbor, Bernadette, since the 12-year-old was probably no more than a week old. Bernadette accepted and loved them from the moment they arrived at her door but could never ask questions since Heidi's mentally challenged mother simply "didn't have the words to answer them." Bernadette's agoraphobia further isolates the child. Heidi struggles with knowing nothing about her father or her family history, and never having a real last name. Then she finds an old camera, which prompts her quest to learn the identity of the people in the photographs it holds and to discover her past. While traveling by bus from Nevada to Liberty, NY, the girl relies on her luck, instinct, and the people she meets on the way to learn the truth about her mother and her own background. The Lightning Theif/Riordan From School Library Journal At the outset of this fast-paced tale by Rick Riordan (Hyperion/Miramax, 2005), it would seem that Percy Jackson is just another New York kid diagnosed with ADHD, who has good intentions, a nasty stepfather, and a long line of schools that have rejected him. The revelation of his status as half-blood offspring of one of the Greek gods is nicely packaged, and it's easy to believe that Mount Olympus, in modern times, has migrated to the 600th floor of the Empire State Building (the center of Western civilization) while the door to Hades can be found at DOA Recording Studio, somewhere in LA. With his new friends, a disguised satyr, and the half-blood daughter of Athena, Percy sets out across the country to rectify a feud between Zeus, Hades, and Poseidon. Along the way they must cope with the Furies, Medusa, motorcycle thug Aires, and various other immortals. Soldier X/Wulfson From School Library Journal Gr 8 Up-In this gritty novel of World War II, 16-year-old Erik Brandt is forced to fight for the emaciated German army, and because of his knowledge of the Russian language, he is sent to the Russian front. The train trip that Erik and the other young men take is symbolic of their transition from child to man. These boys are sent to the front with only a few weeks of basic training and the directions to kill or be killed. After the first battle, Erik makes the life-altering decision to take the uniform of a dead Russian soldier and pretends to be Russian for most of his remaining time as a soldier, surviving serious wounds and finding the love of his life while he recuperates in a war hospital. There he pretends to have amnesia and takes the moniker "Soldier X." When the hospital is attacked, Erik and his girlfriend escape. After a harrowing journey filled with enemy encounters, they find a safe house in Czechoslovakia and eventually make their way to Berlin.
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