New Realistic Fiction for Kids

33 Minutes by Todd Hasak-Lowy

Reading Level: Grades 5 - 8

...until Morgan Sturtz kicks my butt

Sam Lewis and Morgan Sturtz were best friends all through elementary school, but by seventh grade Sam is the brainy, nerdy, small kid while Morgan is is the popular football player who struggles in school.  Readers know something has happened to warrant the promised "butt kicking," but don't find out until later in the book. Hask-Lowy takes readers through a boring social studies class, a classic food fight, a fire drill and the cover "butt kicking." Sam is a smart, likeable narrator. "If you know someone was going to kick you someplace, would you not hope for that place to be your butt?"

There are so many books about the changing friendships among girls.  Here's one about boys that girls will enjoy, too.

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Weight of Water by Sarah Crossan

Reading Level:  Grades 6 -9

Told in free verse, this is the story of Kasienka, who has just left her native Poland for a tenament in England.  Her mother was determined to follow her father who left the family two years before and hasn't been heard from since.  Kasienka is miserable in her new life.  At her middle school the popular girls bully her and at home her mother is determined to continue the exhausting, fruitless search for her father.  Only when she's swimming does Kasienka feel good and empowered.

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Also by Sarah Crossan

The Lightning Dreamer: Cuba's Greatest Abolotionist by Margarita Engle

Reading Level:  Ages 12 and up

This inspiring free verse novel is the fictionalized story of the early teen years of  Cuban poet/abollitionist Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda (1814-1873.)  At thirteen, Tula uses her poetry and plays to express her views about freedom, both for the slaves of Cuba and for the young girls who are sold into arranged marriages to the highest bidder.  In defiance of her family's wishes  Tula is determined to live a free life.  Other poems give added dimension as the reader hear from her supportive brother, the nuns who nuture Tula, her disgusted mother, and the freed slave who has not  had the courage to leave. Tula's is a beautiful and powerful story.

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Other books by Margarita Engle

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