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"Romance, No Sex"
a special book list compiled for a sixth grade student by
Chris Gustafson
Whitman Middle School Library Teacher

Seattle, Washington


The Reader at the Corner of Middle Grade and Young Adult
by Katherine Schlick Noe
May 11, 2011 blog post on From the Mixed-Up Files of Middle Grade Authors

Chris Gustafson, National Board certified library teacher at Whitman Middle School in Seattle, goes out of her way to find the right book at the right time for each student in her diverse urban school. In an interview to be posted on May 11, 2011, The Reader at the Corner of Middle Grade and Young Adult, Chris describes how two questions help parents, teachers, and librarians steer readers to books that will be a great fit: "What have you read that was just right for you?" and "What made that book a good fit?" When she talked with a sixth grader about the kinds of books she was looking for, the student told her, "Romance, no sex." Chris created the book list below just for her!

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Zombie Queen of Newbury High by Amanda Ashby
Publisher's book description: Quiet, unpopular, non-cheerleading Mia is blissfully happy. She is dating super hot football god Rob, and he actually likes her and asked her to prom! Enter Samantha—cheerleading goddess and miss popularity— who starts making a move for Rob. With prom in a few days, Mia needs to act fast. So she turns to her best friend, Candice, and decides to do a love spell on Rob. Unfortunately, she ends up inflicting a zombie virus onto her whole class, making herself their leader! At first she is flattered that everyone is treating her like a queen. But then zombie hunter hottie Chase explains they are actually fattening her up, because in a few days, Mia will be the first course in their new diet. She’s sure she and Chase can figure something out, but she suggests that no one wear white to prom, because things could get very messy.


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The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
Author's website: Meet the Penderwicks, four different sisters with one special bond. There’s responsible, practical Rosalind; stubborn, feisty Skye; dreamy, artistic Jane; and shy little sister Batty, who won't go anywhere without her butterfly wings. When the girls and their doting father head off for their summer holiday, they're in for a surprise. Instead of the tumbledown cottage they expected, they find themselves on a beautiful estate called Arundel. Soon the girls are busy discovering the summertime magic of Arundel's sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in Massachusetts. But the most wonderful discovery of all is Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundel's owner, who quickly proves to be the perfect companion for their adventures.


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Airhead by Meg Cabot
Author's website: Emerson Watts didn’t even want to go to the new SoHo Stark Megastore grand opening. But someone needed to look out for her sister Frida, whose crush, British heartthrob Gabriel Luna, would be singing and signing autographs there—along with the newly appointed Face of Stark, teen supermodel sensation Nikki Howard. How was Em to know that disaster would strike, changing her—and life as she’d known it—forever? One devastating accident later, and Em Watts, always the tomboy, never the party princess, is no longer herself. Literally. Now getting her best friend Christopher to notice that she’s actually a girl is the least of Em’s problems.


Prom Kings and Drama Queens by Dorian Cirrone
Author's website: When Emily sees her name in print for the first time as a child, it’s behind the word Hurricane. As a result, she decides she, too, wants to Rock South Florida. Now in high school, her first order of business is to become editor of the school newspaper. Second, is to go to the junior prom with crush-next-door, high school basketball star Brian Harrington. Once she becomes a matchmaker for Brian’s eccentric grandmother, Emily gets closer to realizing one of her long-held goals.

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Wish You Were Here by Catherine Clark
Author's website: Ariel Flack never thought she'd write a postcard saying "Wish you were here," especially to Dylan, the boy she's had a crush on forever and is finally (sort of) dating. She also didn't know she'd be sending that postcard from the family vacation from hell—a two-week geriatric bus tour with her crazy mom, annoying sister, embarrassing uncle, and frighteningly energetic grandparents. As South Dakota rolls by at five miles an hour, Ariel begins to learn that sometimes life is just too complicated to fit on a postcard. Sometimes your parents let you down (and sometimes they don't). Sometimes you meet an unexpected fellow traveler. And sometimes you just have to go where the road takes you—even if the tour bus won't.


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Waiting for You by Susane Colasanti
Author's website: Derek is clearly the boy Marisa has been waiting for, but there's just one problem. He has a girlfriend. Nash, Marisa's neighbor and childhood friend, has zero boyfriend potential. So of course Nash wants to take his friendship with Marisa to the next level. Beyond her boy drama, Marisa is also dealing with overcoming a major problem from her past, a family that's falling apart, and a best friend who won't stop talking to sketchy guys online. Only the anonymous DJ, who has the school hooked on his underground podcasts, seems to get what Marisa's going through. But she has no idea who he is...or does she

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Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
Author's website: “Ruby, where is your mother?” Ruby knows that the game is up. For the past few months, she’s been on her own in the yellow house, managing somehow, knowing that her mother will probably never return.That’s how she comes to live with Cora, the sister she hasn’t seen in ten years, and Cora’s husband Jamie, whose down-to-earth demeanor makes it hard for Ruby to believe he founded the most popular networking Web site around. A luxurious house, fancy private school, a new wardrobe, the promise of college and a future—it’s a dream come true. So why is Ruby such a reluctant Cinderella, wary and defensive? And why is Nate, the genial boy next door with some secrets of his own, unable to accept the help that Ruby is just learning to give?

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A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn
Author's website: I was told to beware the accursed spindle, but it was so enchanting, so hypnotic. . . . I was looking for a little adventure the day I ditched my tour group. But finding a comatose town, with a hot-looking chick asleep in it, was so not what I had in mind. I awakened in the same place but in another time—to a stranger’s soft kiss.
I couldn’t help kissing her. Sometimes you just have to kiss someone. I didn’t know this would happen. Now I am in dire trouble because my father, the king, says I have brought ruin upon our country. I have no choice but to run away with this commoner!
Now I’m stuck with a bratty princess and a trunk full of her jewels. . . . The good news: My parents will freak!

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The Possibility of Sainthood by Donna Freitas
Author's website: Antonia writes the Vatican (and ideally the Pope!) once a month, every month proposing new saints and herself as the ideal candidate.

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Soul Enchilada by David Macinnis Gill
Author's website: Things don’t look good for Bug: She’s a high school dropout who’s about to get fired from her pizza delivery job and evicted from her roach-infested apartment. She’s been on her own since Papa C died, making her an orphan for the third time and leaving her with nothing but his classic 1958 Cadillac Biarritz. Speeding around El Paso in Papa C’s car helps Bug forget her troubles—temporarily, at least. But everything changes when a demon named Beals comes to repo the Caddy and demand her soul as collateral. Now Bug’s strong, smart-mouthed self-reliance might be just the ticket for getting out of hell.

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Shug by Jenny Han
Author's website: Annemarie Wilcox, or Shug as her family calls her, is beginning to think there is nothing worse than being twelve. She's too tall, too freckled, and way too flat-chested. Shug is sure there is not one truly amazing thing about her. And now she has to start junior high, where the friends she counts most dear aren't acting so dear anymore--especially Mark, the boy she's known her whole life through. How is a person supposed to prepare for what happens tomorrow when there's just no figuring out today?

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Prada & Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard
Author's website: Fifteen-year-old Callie buys a pair of real Prada pumps to impress the cool crowd on a school trip to London. Goodbye, Callie the clumsy geek-girl, hello popularity! But before she knows what’s hit her, Callie wobbles, trips, conks her head… and wakes up in the year 1815! She stumbles about until she meets the kind-hearted Emily, who takes Callie in, mistaking her for a long-lost friend. Sparks soon fly between Callie and Emily’s cousin, Alex, the maddeningly handsome—though totally arrogant—Duke of Harksbury. Too bad he seems to have something sinister up his ruffled sleeve…

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Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman
Author's website: Most kids have to worry about acne, studying, and trying to find a way to get a car -- high school isn't an easy time for anybody! But what do you do if you've not only got to worry about high school, but a father who is a mobster, as well? Trust me, complicated doesn't even begin to cover it! Vince Luca is as straight as they come, a positive throwback in a family of mobsters. He and his dad get along great, when his father is able to keep the family business away from the family ... unfortunately, that isn't an easy thing to do! So Vince is actually sort of used to having to worry about the police and the FBI causing him minor inconveniences. But it isn't the worry of mobsters showing up at his school, or teachers afraid to give him low marks for fear of a contract being put out on them that causes Vince the most headaches, but trying to figure out how to keep the Feds out of his lovelife, especially when the girl he wants to date is the Daughter of the FBI!


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The Joys of Love by Madeline L'Engle
Publisher's website: During the summer of 1946, twenty-year-old Elizabeth is doing what she has dreamed of since she was a little girl: working in the theatre. Elizabeth is passionate about her work and determined to learn all she can at the summer theatre company on the sea where she is an apprentice actress. She’s never felt so alive. And soon she finds another passion: Kurt Canitz, the dashing young director of the company, and the first man Elizabeth’s ever kissed who has really meant something to her. Then Elizabeth’s perfect summer is profoundly shaken when Kurt turns out not to be the kind of man she thought he was. Moving and romantic, this coming-of-age story was written during the 1940s. As revealed in an introduction by the author’s granddaughter Léna Roy, the protagonist Elizabeth is close to an autobiographical portrait of L’Engle herself as a young woman—“vibrant, vulnerable, and yearning for love and all that life has to offer.”


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Confetti Girl by Diana Lopez
Author's website: Apolonia "Lina" Flores is a sock enthusiast, a volleyball player, a science lover, and a girl who's just looking for answers. Even though her house is crammed full of books (her dad's a bibliophile), she's having trouble figuring out some very big questions, like why her dad seems to care about books more than her, why her best friend's divorced mom is obsessed with making cascarones (hollowed eggshells filled with colorful confetti), and, most of all, why her mom died last year. Like colors in a cascarón, Lina's life is a rainbow of people, interests, and unexpected changes.

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Peace, Love, and Baby Ducks by Lauren Myracle
Author's website: Growing up in a world of wealth and pastel-tinted entitlement, fifteen-year-old Carly has always relied on the constancy--and authenticity--of her sister, Anna. But when fourteen-year-old Anna turns plastic-perfect-pretty over the course of a single summer, everything starts to change. And there are boys involved, complicating things as boys always do.
With warmth, insight, and an unparalleled gift for finding humor even in stormy situations, beloved author Lauren Myracle dives into the tumultuous waters of sisterhood and shows that even very different sisters can learn to help each other stay afloat.

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Brett McCarthy: Work in Progress by Maria Padian
Author's website: Meet Brett: the best eighth grade cornerkicker in Maine. A vocabulary ace. Best friend to Diane. Until the prank. Overnight she's become a loser at school, arch enemy to Jeanne Anne (it's all Jeanne Anne's fault, anyway), and a juvenile delinquent who has to eat lunch with the principal every day. Indefinitely. Now Brett's got to figure out how to get through her days right when everything and everyone, including her other best friend, Michael the Brainiac, and her bazooka-blasting grandmother, Nonna, is changing and nothing is staying the same.

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Saving Juliet by Suzanne Selfors
Author's website: Two Juliets, both alike in desperation. . . Seventeen-year-old Mimi Wallingford, of the Broadway Wallingfords, has a life most girls can only dream of—complete with the starring role in her family’s production of Romeo and Juliet. But acting is not her dream, and she’s fighting for the right to trade her script for a scalpel and become a doctor. Fourteen-year-old Juliet Capulet, of the Verona Capulets, has lived a lonely life—imprisoned by the feud that consumes her family and by her iron-fisted mother’s forcing her into an unwanted marriage. She will do anything to avoid her betrothed, even if it requires faking a boil on her bottom—or something more dangerous.

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Artichoke's Heart by Suzanne Supplee
Author's website: Rosemary Goode is smart and funny and loyal and the best eyebrow waxer in Spring Hill, Tennessee. But only one thing seems to matter to anyone, including Rosemary: her weight. Rosemary's only boyfriends are the "secret lovers" stashed under her bed: Mr. Hershey, Mr. Reeses, and Mr. M&M. Worse, Christmas brought nothing but unwanted presents: a treadmill from Mother and two tickets to the Healing the Fat Girl Within conference from nosy Aunt Mary. And when your mom runs the most successful (and gossipy) beauty shop in town, it can be hard to keep a low profile…especially when the scale just hit an all-time high.

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Simply Divine by Jacquelin Thomas
Author's website: To forgive may be divine . . . The daughter of two Hollywood superstars, Divine Matthews-Hardison lives the privileged life most fifteen-year-olds only dream of: she's all about designer clothes, awards ceremonies, parties, and having a name that opens doors. Divine could be a model, an actress, anything she wants. But when you live in the spotlight, there's nowhere to hide when your family falls apart. Her father is in trouble with the law, her mother has her own demons, and no one has room for Divine -- no one except her uncle, a Georgia pastor with a modest country home and a big heart.. . . but can Divine ever forgive?

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Paisely Hanover Acts Out by Cameron Tuttle
Publisher's website: Always one of the popular kids, stylish and quirky sophomore Paisley Hanover gets a rude awakening when she’s booted out of yearbook and into the badlands of drama class. Out of her element, but only momentarily out of ideas, Paisley takes action— and an unexpected liking to her drama buddies. The result? An undercover crusade that could bring down the Pleasant Hill popularity pecking order… and Paisley along with it.

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Lombardo's Law by Ellen Wittlinger
Author's website: What do you do when your best friend is suddenly becoming more than that, and he's two years younger and two inches shorter than you?

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How NOT to Be Popular by Jennnifer Ziegler
Author's website: Maggie Dempsey is tired of moving all over the country. Her parents are blowin’-in-the-wind hippies who uproot her every few months to go to a new city. When Maggie was younger, she thought their life was fun and adventurous. Now that she’s a teenager, she hates it. Each time she moved, she left behind good friends, a great school, and a real feeling of belonging. But this last time she moved it was even worse: she left behind a boyfriend, too. Now that they’re moving to Austin, Texas, Maggie knows better. She’s not going to make friends. She’s not going to fit in. And she’s definitely not going to fall for the alpha hottie who won’t leave her alone—no matter how gorgeous he is.

Literature Circles Resource Center

© 2011 Katherine Schlick Noe