Trouble by Gary Schmidt
Wow, this is an emotional gripper. Henry's bigger than life big brother, Franklin, has been hit by a truck driven by Chay, a Cambodian boy from their elitist private school in Massachusetts. Franklin was supposed to take Henry to climb
Mount Katahdin but that seems impossible now. The themes of trouble and family conflict are terrific and the writing is stellar. The idea of trouble, trouble, trouble, but also grace was moving. I loved this. It is on the edge of YA, but mature fifth graders can handle it. Excellent.

Half a Chance by Cynthia Lord
Perfect for 4th+ this easy read was moving like Rules. Lucy's father is a professional photographer and she loves the art of it too. But will she ever please her Dad? Finding herself in another new home, Lucy sets out to find perfect pictures for a photograph scavenger hunt contest. Her new neighbor Nate seems like he could be a great friend, but his grandmother is fighting a losing battle against losing her memory. This is sad but affirming. a good read. 4th+

Middle School Ultimate Showdown by James Patterson and Julia Bergen
meh. another Rafe and Georgia repartee. This has space to write in, but it's not a long on the shelf type of book anyway. I'm going to put it out and see what happens. ie List your ten favorite TV shows. or, What bugs you the most? My favorite (thoughtful for a change) was Had you ever had to memorize something? Do you still remember it?

Seeing Red by Kathryn Erskine
Slow read. Red Porter's dad has died suddenly and everything is changing. The house is for sale. No one is running their car repair shop. His best friend is moving away. The abusive dad next door is getting worse. The story is really about civil rights and doing right. I hate that being set in 1972 makes it historical fiction, but that's life. My favorite part is the character of Miss Georgia, an ancient black woman. Great portrayal. Generally though, this novel just didn't grab me like it could have. OK 4th+

Little Blog on the Prairie by Cathleen Davitt Bell
This was a great break from tear-jerking sadness. Gen's yuppie family heads off to an 1870s frontier summer camp. Everything has to be authentic which is pretty awful. Managing to sneak her cell phone in, Gen texts her best friend who then posts it all on a blog that goes viral. Lots of funny and complicated situations. Family and friend relationships are examined seriously. Enjoyable and thoughtful. Very very good. YA for boyfriend and kissing. Probably OK for elementary.

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner
What a difficult read! Standish Treadwell is a student in Sector 7 in England 1954. The Motherland is hiding a LOT. He and his friend discover something on the other side of the wall that changes their lives. This is brutal, and tragic. Good "tragic hero" for classroom discussion. Very very unusual. Mature middleschool. YA for violence.

The Worlds We Make by Megan Crewe
Kaelyn and her friends continue to head for the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta with their valuable cargo--the vaccine for the deadly Friendly Flu that has killed most of the world. This has a good theme--we make the world we live in--if it weren't just so darn depressing. Lots of death and gore. And evil. It's OK. YA for violence and some romance.

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel
Historical fiction with a touch of magic. Will is with his father at the driving of the golden spike that connects transCanada. Three years later his father has risen through the ranks from brakeman to captain of the railroad. Will is still looking for a mysterious girl who has his Sasquatch tooth and finds her in Dorian's Zirkus Dante. A murder during the maiden trip of the Boundless pulls Will into a complicated escape plot. Excellent. 4th+