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The Sunshine State Young Readers Awards (SSYRA)

Books for Middle School

2015 SSYRA Award Book List

Counting by 7s

Twelve-year-old genius and outsider Willow Chance must figure out how to connect with other people and find a surrogate family for herself after her parents are killed in a car accident.

The Eighth Day

Fans of Percy Jackson will devour this first book in Dianne K. Salerni's time-bending series that combines exciting magic and pulse-pounding suspense. In this riveting fantasy adventure, thirteen-year-old Jax Aubrey discovers a secret eighth day with roots tracing back to Arthurian legend. When Jax wakes up to a world without any people in it, he assumes it's the zombie apocalypse. But when he runs into his eighteen-year-old guardian, Riley Pendare, he learns that he's really in the eighth day--an extra day sandwiched between Wednesday and Thursday. Some people--like Jax and Riley--are Transitioners, able to live in all eight days, while others, including Evangeline, the elusive teenage girl who's been hiding in the house next door, exist only on this special day. And there's a reason Evangeline's hiding. She is a descendant of the powerful wizard Merlin, and there is a group of people who wish to use her in order to destroy the normal seven-day world and all who live in it. Torn between protecting his new friend and saving the entire human race from complete destruction, Jax is faced with an impossible choice. Even with an eighth day, time is running out. Stay tuned for The Inquisitor's Mark, the spellbinding second novel in the Eighth Day series!

Eye of the Storm

In the not-too-distant future, huge tornadoes and monster storms have become a part of everyday life. Sent to spend the summer in the heart of storm country with her meteorological engineer father, Jaden Meggs is surprised at the strides her father's company StormSafe, has made with custom shelters that keep her family safe in even the worst of storms. At her exclusive summer science camp, Eye On Tomorrow, Jaden meets Alex, a boy whose passion for science matches hers. Together, they discover that her father's company is steering storms away from the expensive neighborhoods and toward the organic farming communities that are in competition with his bio-engineered food company, NatureMade. Jaden must confront her father, but when she does, she uncovers a terrifying family secret and must call on both her scientific knowledge and her faith to save the people she loves most from one of her father's monster storms.

Jack Strong Takes a Stand

Jack Strong just wants to be a regular kid. But his parents have overscheduled his week with every extracurricular activity under the sun: tennis, baseball, cello, karate, tutoring, and Chinese language lessons--all on top of regular homework. His parents want him to be "well-rounded" and prepared for those crucial college applications. Jack's just about had enough. And so, in Jack Strong Takes a Stand by Tommy Greenwald, he stages a sit-in on his couch and refuses to get up until his parents let him quit some of the extracurriculars. As Jack's protest gains momentum, he attracts a local television host who is interested in doing a segment about him. Tensions rise as counter-protesters camp out across the street from Jack and his couch. Jack's enjoying this newfound attention, but he's worried that this sit-in may have gone too far.

Jungle of Bones

Lost and alone in the jungle, one boy will have to let go of his assumptions and anger, or be dragged down with them.Dylan Barstow has finally crossed the line. After getting caught on a late-night joyride in a stolen car, Dylan is shipped off to live with his ex-Marine uncle for the summer. But Uncle Todd has bigger plans for Dylan than push-ups and early-morning jogs. Deep in the steamy jungles of Papua New Guinea, there's a WWII fighter plane named SECOND ACE that's been lost for years, a plane that Dylan's own grandfather barely escaped from with his life. In all this time, no one has ever been able to track down SECOND ACE -- but now Dylan and his uncle are going to try.Lush and haunted, vital and deadly, these alien jungles half a world away could mean Dylan's salvation, or they could swallow him whole.

The Night Gardener

A New York Times bestseller, The Night Gardener is a Victorian ghost story with shades of Washington Irving and Henry James. More than just a spooky tale, it's also a moral fable about human greed and the power of storytelling. The Night Gardener follows two abandoned Irish siblings who travel to work as servants at a creepy, crumbling English manor house. But the house and its family are not quite what they seem. Soon the children are confronted by a mysterious spectre and an ancient curse that threatens their very lives. With Auxier's exquisite command of language, The Night Gardener is a mesmerizing read and a classic in the making.

Project Jackalope

Jeremy's troubles begin when his eccentric neighbor leaves him an "experiment" for safekeeping--a jackalope! This so-called mythological creature looks like a bunny rabbit, but comes with razor-sharp antlers and is purported to be a ruthless killer. When government agents show up at Jeremy's house seeking the jackalope for their own nefarious purposes, Jeremy must find a way to protect the jackalope, and himself. So he reluctantly joins forces with Agatha, his holier-than-thou genius neighbor. Together, with the jackalope (and his weapons-grade antlers) tucked away in a backpack, they have only one chance to save Jack and still get their science fair projects in on time. With her striking sense of humor, Emily Ecton has created a hilarious and suspenseful adventure, complete with a compelling and unforgettable cast of characters.

The Secret of Rover

The Secret of Rover follows the clever and resourceful twins Katie and David as they race across country in their attempt to outwit an international team of insurgents who hold their parents and baby sister captive in a foreign land. Held hostage because they invented a spy technology called Rover that can locate anyone in the world, Katie and David's parents are in grave danger. Now, it's up to Katie and David to rescue them. But first they must find their reclusive uncle, whom they have never met--the only person they know who can help them.  This page-turning story from a debut author with insider knowledge of Washington is fun, suspenseful, and convincingly real. Praise for The Secret of Rover *STARRED REVIEW* "David and Katie's relationship is realistically and amusingly portrayed in all its sibling rivalry and friendship. Fun, intelligent, political page-turner." -School Library Journal, starred review  "One of the drawbacks of young-adult fiction these days is that compelling stories, well told, so often include both expletives and depictions of dark unpleasantness that many parents would rather their teenagers not encounter. Rachel Wildavsky's The Secret of Rover offers a considerably gentler degree of tension for children. Somehow, even as the action heads toward its big conclusion, it all happens without expletives." -Wall Street Journal  "As if a road trip without any money isn't exciting enough, escape from demented villains ups the ante in this survival tale with international-spy overtones. Sort of a 24 for middle-grade readers. Fans of spy stories and political intrigue will find plenty to appreciate here..." -Kirkus Reviews "Kids making the transition from series mysteries to more sophisticated thrillers will do well by this suspenseful and age-appropriate drama." -Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books  "Let's hope that the sequel won't be so long in appearing, because children need more first class books to read." -The Washington Examiner  "Wildavsky spins a yarn that's tight and compelling, balancing high-stakes jeopardy (escaping kidnappers in a high-speed car chase) with more basic, earthy troubles (what to eat and where to go to the bathroom). Carefully placed bread crumbs will satisfy young mystery enthusiasts, while the sweet, detailed portrait of a tightly knit family will widen this title's appeal." -Booklist

Seeing Red

When twelve-year-old Frederick "Red" Porter's father dies in 1972, his mother wants to sell their automobile repair shop and move her two sons back to Ohio, but Red is desperate to stop the sale even if it means unearthing some dark family secrets in a Virginia rife with racial tensions.

Skink--no surrender

The #1 New York Times bestselling author Carl Hiaasen debuts his first book for teens with Skink--No Surrender. Classic Malley--to avoid being shipped off to boarding school, she takes off with some guy she met online. Poor Richard--he knows his cousin's in trouble before she does. Wild Skink--he's a ragged, one-eyed ex-governor of Florida, and enough of a renegade to think he can track Malley down. With Richard riding shotgun, the unlikely pair scour the state, undaunted by blinding storms, crazed pigs, flying bullets, and giant gators. Carl Hiaasen first introduced readers to Skink more than twenty-five years ago in Double Whammy, and he quickly became Hiaasen's most iconic and beloved character, appearing in six novels to date. Both teens and adults will be thrilled to catch sight of the elusive "captain" as he pursues his own unique brand of swamp justice. With Skink at the wheel, the search for a missing girl is both nail-bitingly tense and laugh-out-loud funny.

Stung

When the honeybee population disappears and a pandemic sweeps across the planet, the government tried a bio-engineered cure even deadlier than the problem. Branded with the mark of the vaccine, Fiona must navigate this new dystopian world. But there's no cure for being stung. . .Fiona doesn't remember going to sleep. But when she opens her eyes, she discovers her entire world has been altered-her house is abandoned and broken, and the entire neighborhood is barren and dead. Even stranger is the tattoo on her right wrist-a black oval with five marks on either side-that she doesn't remember getting but somehow knows she must cover at any cost. And she's right. When the honeybee population collapsed, a worldwide pandemic occurred and the government tried to bio-engineer a cure. Only the solution was deadlier than the original problem--the vaccination turned people into ferocious, deadly beasts who were branded as a warning to un-vaccinated survivors. Key people needed to rebuild society are protected from disease and beasts inside a fortress-like wall. But Fiona has awakened branded, alone-and on the wrong side of the wall . . .Don't miss these other books by Bethany Wiggins:Stung:StungCuredThe Transference Trilogy:The Dragon's PriceThe Dragon's CurseShifting

The Testing

It's graduation day for sixteen-year-old Malencia Vale, and the entire Five Lakes Colony (the former Great Lakes) is celebrating. All Cia can think about--hope for--is whether she'll be chosen for The Testing, a United Commonwealth program that selects the best and brightest new graduates to become possible leaders of the slowly revitalizing post-war civilization. When Cia is chosen, her father finally tells her about his own nightmarish half-memories of The Testing. Armed with his dire warnings ("Cia, trust no one"), she bravely heads off to Tosu City, far away from friends and family, perhaps forever. Danger, romance--and sheer terror--await.

This Journal Belongs to Ratchet

"A book that is full of surprises ...Triumphant enough to make readers cheer; touching enough to make them cry."-Kirkus, STARRED Review If only getting a new life were as easy as getting a new notebook. But it's not. It's the first day of school for all the kids in the neighborhood. But not for me. I'm homeschooled. That means nothing new. No new book bag, no new clothes, and no friends ? old or new. The best I've got is this notebook. I'm supposed to use it for my writing assignments, but my dad never checks. Here's what I'm really going to use it for: Ratchet's Top Secret Plan Project Goal: turn my old, recycled, freakish, friendless, motherless life into something shiny and new. This year, I'm going make something change. "One of the freshest new voices I've heard in a while...A book for young readers to enjoy, discuss, then read all over again, this debut novel is a winner."-Augusta Scattergood, Author of GLORY BE, an Amazon Best Middle Grade Novel of 2012

Twerp

In Queens, New York, in 1969, twelve-year-old Julian Twerski writes a journal for his English teacher in which he explores his friendships and how they are effected by girls, a new student who may be as fast as Julian, and especially an incident of bullying.