8.27.2016

3 Great Middle-Grade Reads

Hey, everyone!
Middle grade books kind of bridge the gap between the children's section and the young adult section in the library. While middle grade books are meant for younger ages, I think that there are a lot of middle grade books out there that anyone at any age could enjoy, just like YA books. Anyway, I wanted to share some middle grade books that I think anyone could enjoy.


1. Wonder by R.J Palacio

August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances? - Goodreads summary 

This is probably my all time favorite middle grade book and I've read it countless times.This book has a sort of nostalgic feel when I read it, mostly because it reminds me of my elementary school, particularly fifth grade as I read this book so many times around that time, and because the 2 day field trip that Auggie and his friends went on reminded me of a field trip I went on in fifth grade. Auggie and the other characters are all likable and they all develop so much through the book. I loved seeing friendships and relationships progress and change through the book, not just with Auggie, but with his older sister Via as well. Wonder is actually told from several different perspectives that intertwine together, which is great, as we get to see what the people around Auggie think of him. The book is full of strong friendships and positive messages, and is overall, very up-lifting.  I really do think anyone could get enjoyment out of this, in fact, my grandmother read this and really enjoyed it. 






2. The False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy #1) by Jennifer A. Nielson

In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point—he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well.As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together. - Goodreads summary

This book is the first book of a trilogy (all three books are already published) and even though it's a middle grade book, it reads like YA. It's told in first person point of view, from the main character, Sage (who is super smart), and reading from his point of view is really fun as he is a smart, snarky, and sarcastic character. All the secondary characters are really interesting as well, I was really interested in Tobias, Amarinda, Roden, and Imogen's stories throughout the series. There's also a huge plot twist at the end of this book, I actually kind of predicted it when I was reading it, but I think that most people will be surprised by it.  I think if you're a fan of books that involve kingdoms, princes, pirates, war, etc. you'll enjoy this book. 



3. Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

Bridge is an accident survivor who's wondering why she's still alive. Emily has new curves and an almost-boyfriend who wants a certain kind of picture. Tabitha sees through everybody's games—or so she tells the world. The three girls are best friends with one rule: No fighting. Can it get them through seventh grade? 
This year everything is different for Sherm Russo as he gets to know Bridge Barsamian. What does it mean to fall for a girl—as a friend? 
On Valentine's Day, an unnamed high school girl struggles with a betrayal. How long can she hide in plain sight? - Goodreads summary 

This book is written by the popular author Rebecca Stead,  and you've probably read her other book, When You Reach Me. This is her more recently published book. It's about friendship, and how friendship is tested by different challenges. Rebecca Stead is a great writer, and within the first few pages you'll already find a meaningful and thought provoking story. This book has a lot about change, particularly about change in a person. My favorite part of this book was the friendship between all the three girls, and how they had each other's back, and Sherm's friendship with Bridge. 




So, I hope that if you haven't read any of these, that you'll try them out. All three of these books are great, and books that I think people of any age can appreciate and enjoy. 

8.20.2016

Determination

Success is something that we all strive for. We all want to succeed in all our endeavors, to achieve all our hopes and dreams. 

But, what do we need to achieve success? Talent? Charisma? Determination? 

It's the last one. You can be as intelligent as Stephen Hawking and have loads of talent, but without determination you won't get anywhere. 


de·ter·mi·na·tion

dəˌtərməˈnāSH(ə)n/
noun
  1. 1. 
    firmness of purpose; resoluteness.
    "he advanced with an unflinching determination"
    synonyms:resolutionresolve, willpower, strength of character, single-mindedness, purposefulness, intentness; 

You can have immense athletic talent, and still not make the basketball team. You can be really good at science, but still fail the subject in school. 

But, with determination, you can excel at almost anything whether you have talent or not. For example, I'm horrible at memorizing facts, especially relating to history in social studies. But, with determination and hard work, I regardless of my talent at the subject, I was still able to get high grades. 

I believe that talent has some part in success, but only when paired with determination. Alone, talent doesn't serve any meaningful purpose. 

My teacher two years ago (my favorite teacher) while discussing a similar matter with a student in the middle of a lesson gave some good advice about determination. The situation involved the student's performance in language arts. When confronted about his poor performance, the student made a comment saying that his performance was due to his lack of natural talent in the subject. He added that some people would never be able to excel in certain subjects because they lacked the necessary skills. My teacher responded to this by agreeing that some people just didn't have talents in some subjects. "But," he said, "that doesn't mean that you can just give up." He went on, saying that if you don't have talent in a subject, you just need to struggle through it, work harder, and stay determined. You can't just accept that you'll never be good or successful at that particular subject. While this advice may seem obvious, I think it's important to remember. To not be discouraged when you struggle at something, to instead work harder. This advice was meaningful coming from my teacher, as when my teacher was a student he struggled with school subjects and had to repeat a grade. But, even though he struggled, he stayed determined and eventually became a great teacher. 

And, the advice my teacher gave to the student is a philosophy that I've been following for most of my life, and that I think everyone else should follow. If you are talented at something (for example math), then that's great. You'll still have to have a lot of determination but whatever you're talented at should come relatively easy for you. If you struggle at something (for example public speaking), then, to put it frankly, you suck it up, work harder, and stay determined to succeed. 

Of course, it's okay if you don't succeed at something, as long as you really did try and work hard instead of giving up. There are some things that we may not be able to achieve, for example, a super short person becoming a famous basketball player, because of physical limitations, or maybe not being in the top 10% in school. 

Even with determination there are some things you may not succeed at. But without it, you won't succeed at or achieve anything.