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The Sunshine State Young Readers Awards (SSYRA)

Books for Middle School

2018 SSYRA Award Book List

A crack in the sea

An enchanting historical fantasy adventure perfect for fans of Thanhha Lai's Newbery Honor-winning Inside Out and Back Again No one comes to the Second World on purpose. The doorway between worlds opens only when least expected. The Raft King is desperate to change that by finding the doorway that will finally take him and the people of Raftworld back home. To do it, he needs Pip, a young boy with an incredible gift—he can speak to fish; and the Raft King is not above kidnapping to get what he wants. Pip's sister Kinchen, though, is determined to rescue her brother and foil the Raft King's plans. This is but the first of three extraordinary stories that collide on the high seas of the Second World. The second story takes us back to the beginning: Venus and Swimmer are twins captured aboard a slave ship bound for Jamaica in 1781. They save themselves and others from a life of enslavement with a risky, magical plan—one that leads them from the shark-infested waters of the first world to the second. Pip and Kinchen will hear all about them before their own story is said and done. So will Thanh and his sister Sang, who we meet in 1978 on a small boat as they try to escape post-war Vietnam. But after a storm and a pirate attack, they're not sure they'll ever see shore again. What brings these three sets of siblings together on an adventure of a lifetime is a little magic, helpful sea monsters and that very special portal, A Crack in the Sea.From the Hardcover edition.

Surrender the key (aka curse of the boggin) : The Library Series, Book 1.

A fast-paced, thrilling series opener from bestselling author D. J. MacHale. Check out a book—and unlock an adventure! There's a place filled with tales that don't have an ending. Puzzles that won't be solved until someone steps in to finish them.Enter the Library. Marcus and his friends have found the key to open it. And they need to use it, because, clearly, something is up. A strange guy in a bathrobe haunts them; fires rage and flare out in an instant; a peculiar old lady keeps telling them, "Surrender the key. . . ." At first Marcus thinks he's going nuts, until the mystery gets personal. The Library may hold some answers, but the clock is running out. Because on these library shelves, the stories you don't finish might just finish you. . . . Kids love Surrender the Key (The Library, Book 1): "A mysterious, hard-to-put-down book with a twisting plot, funny characters, and haunting souls. I can't wait to hear what adventures they have next." —A.J. H., age 11 "I read enough in just one day to fill my school reading log for a week." —Michael C., age 10 "A unique, intriguing book filled with page-turning adventures." —Madeline H., age 12 "Couldn't put it down. I stayed up reading until 11:00 p.m. with only one thought in my mind: one more chapter!" —Ben H., age 11

The epic fail of arturo zamora

A 2018 Pura Belpré Author Honor BookSave the restaurant. Save the town. Get the girl. Make Abuela proud. Can thirteen-year-old Arturo Zamora do it all or is he in for a BIG, EPIC FAIL? For Arturo, summertime in Miami means playing basketball until dark, sipping mango smoothies, and keeping cool under banyan trees. And maybe a few shifts as junior lunchtime dishwasher at Abuela's restaurant. Maybe. But this summer also includes Carmen, a poetry enthusiast who moves into Arturo's apartment complex and turns his stomach into a deep fryer. He almost doesn't notice the smarmy land developer who rolls into town and threatens to change it. Arturo refuses to let his family and community go down without a fight, and as he schemes with Carmen, Arturo discovers the power of poetry and protest through untold family stories and the work of José Martí.Funny and poignant, The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora is the vibrant story of a family, a striking portrait of a town, and one boy's quest to save both, perfect for fans of Rita Williams-Garcia.

The Eureka Key

When middle school puzzle master Sam and history wiz Martina win a contest for a summer trip across the US, they discover they've been drafted into something vastly more extraordinary. Joining another kid on the trip, Theo, a descendant of George Washington himself, they must follow clues to find seven keys left behind by the Founding Fathers. Together the keys unlock Benjamin Franklin's greatest invention--a secret weapon intended to defend the country. Each key is hidden in a unique location around the U.S., protected with puzzles, riddles, and traps. This has kept the weapon safe . . . until now! Gideon Arnold, a dangerous descendant of the infamous Benedict Arnold, is on the chase. In competition with Arnold and his thugs to reach the artifacts first, Sam, Martina, Theo, and readers must use their wits to solve ingenious puzzles, escape death-by-booby-trap, and, by the end of the series, save our nation by uncovering many of its greatest secrets.

The Firefly Code

Mori and her friends live a normal life on Firefly Lane in their utopian community, Old Harmonie. In a world this safe and perfect, they've never had to question anything . . . never had to wonder about how their lives came to be. Until a new girl named Ilana moves in. She's so perfect that Mori and her friends are curious . . . Where exactly did Ilana come from, and why does she act so strange sometimes? When Ilana's secret is revealed, the kids on Firefly Lane must decide: is it finally time to start questioning the only world they've ever known? In a stunningly imaginative story, critically acclaimed author Megan Frazer Blakemore takes readers on a journey with five friends--new and old--that will have everyone talking about not just what makes people human, but what makes them true friends.

The first rule of punk

From debut author and longtime zine-maker Celia C. Pérez, The First Rule of Punk is a wry and heartfelt exploration of friendship, finding your place, and learning to rock out like no one's watching. There are no shortcuts to surviving your first day at a new school—you can't fix it with duct tape like you would your Chuck Taylors. On Day One, twelve-year-old Malú (María Luisa, if you want to annoy her) inadvertently upsets Posada Middle's queen bee, violates the school's dress code with her punk rock look, and disappoints her college-professor mom in the process. Her dad, who now lives a thousand miles away, says things will get better as long as she remembers the first rule of punk: be yourself. The real Malú loves rock music, skateboarding, zines, and Soyrizo (hold the cilantro, please). And when she assembles a group of like-minded misfits at school and starts a band, Malú finally begins to feel at home. She'll do anything to preserve this, which includes standing up to an anti-punk school administration to fight for her right to express herself! Black and white illustrations and collage art throughout make The First Rule of Punk a perfect pick for fans of books like Roller Girl and online magazines like Rookie.

The Girl Who Could Not Dream

"A perfect combination of adventure, humor, and pure imagination!" --Jessica Day George, New York Times best-selling author of Tuesdays at the Castle   "Funny, scary, and endlessly inventive." --Bruce Coville, author of Jeremy Thatcher, Dragon Hatcher   Sophie loves the hidden shop below her parents' bookstore, where dreams are secretly bought and sold. When the dream shop is robbed and her parents go missing, Sophie must unravel the truth to save them. Together with her best friend--a wisecracking and fanatically loyal monster named Monster--she must decide whom to trust with her family's carefully guarded secrets. Who will help them, and who will betray them?  

How Lunchbox Jones Saved Me from Robots, Traitors, and Missy the Cruel

Luke Abbott's school is the losing-est school in the history of losing. And that's just fine for him. He'd rather be at home playing video games and avoiding his older brother Rob and the Greatest Betrayal of All Time. But now he's being forced to join the robotics team, where he'll meet a colorful cast of characters, including: Mikayla, the girl who does everything with her toes; Jacob and Jacob, who aren't twins but might as well be; the sunflower seed-obsessed Stuart; and Missy the Cruel, Luke's innocent-looking bully since they were six-years-old. But it's an unlikely connection with a mysterious boy known only as "Lunchbox Jones" that will change Luke's life. Turns out, Luke and Lunchbox Jones have a lot more in common than just robots . . . .

Short

In this heartwarming and funny middle-grade novel by the New York Times bestselling author of Counting by 7s, Julia grows into herself while playing a Munchkin in The Wizard of Oz Julia is very short for her age, but by the end of the summer run of The Wizard of Oz, she'll realize how big she is inside, where it counts. She hasn't ever thought of herself as a performer, but when the wonderful director of Oz casts her as a Munchkin, she begins to see herself in a new way. As Julia becomes friendly with the poised and wise Olive—one of the adults with dwarfism who've joined the production's motley crew of Munchkins—and with her deeply artistic neighbor, Mrs. Chang, Julia's own sense of self as an artist grows. Soon, she doesn't want to fade into the background—and it's a good thing, because her director has more big plans for Julia! Bubbling over with humor and tenderness, this is an irresistible story of self-discovery and of the role models who forever change us.

The Van Gogh Deception

Dan Brown meets Jason Bourne in this riveting middle-grade mystery thriller. When a young boy is discovered in Washington DC's National Gallery without any recollection of who he is, so begins a high-stakes race to unravel the greatest mystery of all: his identity.       As the stakes continue to rise, the boy must piece together the disjointed clues of his origins while using his limited knowledge to stop one of the greatest art frauds ever attempted. Digitally interactive, this breathtaking museum mystery offers QR codes woven throughout the book that bring renowned paintings to readers' fingertips.