Crossroads North & South Summer Reading List 2009
Home Our Media Center Databases & E-books Students Projects Teachers Parents


For guidance in making your choice,
please see your teacher or librarian.

Dear Parent or Guardian:

We hope that you will support your child and encourage him/her to begin this assignment early in the summer.  South Brunswick Library, Barnes & Noble at Princeton Market Fair and in North Brunswick, Borders in East Brunswick and West Windsor, and Half Price Books in Montgomery Shopping Center have copies of the list and will try to make as many of the choices available to you as they can. 

The Crossroads Language Arts Department



When completing your assignment please remember to create only open-ended questions.

What is an open-ended question?

  • Open ended questions cannot be answered with a simple yes or no.
  • They cannot be answered with one or two words.
  • They do not check facts.
  • They require thought, explanations, opinions, insight, and support from the text.
  • There is not only one answer. 
  • For example:
    • What do the character's actions show you about his personality?
    • Why is the setting so important to the story?
    • How would I have behaved/felt in this situation?


Christopher Paul Curtis
When his mother dies in 1936, Bud hits the road convinced that a poster of a jazz band will help him find his father.

Mr. Miracle wins the most-recommendations award!

Bud, Not Buddy-- A very funny and insightful book.  Bud is the kind of kid you just keep cheering for.

Mrs. Broder remembers:

This was a wonderful story that combined the needs of a young boy with the culture of the time.  Loved it!

Awesome!  Mr. Edwards tells all!

Bud, Not Buddy is one of those books that is both funny and sad at the same time. Bud is

growing up in hard times during the 1930's. Bud has lived in an orphanage since his mother died, and one day he decides to go on an adventure to look for the man he believes is his father.

Mrs. Behn sounds excited about this book!

Would you be brave enough travel far from home by yourself and to walk across the state of Michigan to find your long lost father?   That's what Bud Caldwell does in the book Bud Not Buddy.  This historical fiction novel takes place during the Great Depression and gives us a glimpse into that era.  We can relate to Bud because he's a regular kid, even if he finds himself in extraordinary circumstances.  He takes us on a journey , not only to find his father, but to also learn a little more about himself.  While reading this novel I was introduced to the world of four early Jazz musicians and what their lives were like.  Most of all I enjoyed Bud Caldwell's “Rules and Things for Having a Funner Life and Making a Better Liar Out of Yourself”.  This book is a "great read" and doesn't have the typical happy ending you might expect. 


Rudyard Kipling

Pampered young Harvey Cheyne learns respect and responsibility after spending a season fishing the Grand Banks.

 Mrs. Jones comments on Captains Courageous:

Just a few notes to you on Captains Courageous - Good story line, but very challenging reading for most students in this age group. Mostly geared for boys. Great example of how the main character changes and grows from the start of the book to the end of the book.


Isabel Allende

Fifteen-year-old Alexander Cold has the chance to take the trip of a lifetime. Parting from his family, Alexander joins his fearless grandmother on an expedition to the dangerous, remote world of the Amazon.

Mrs. Behn comments on City of the Beasts:

Secrets are hidden in the heart of the Amazon...and you will discover what they are if you read City of the Beasts.  In this fictional account of a journey through the Amazon, we are introduced to a "normal" fifteen - year - old boy and his eccentric and unusual traveling partner.  Most teenaged boys don't travel with their grandmother, but this is an expedition to track down the Yeti and besides, Alexander Cold doesn't really have a choice about going on this trip.  This tale is full of adventure, mystery, and fantasy all wrapped up in a delicious banquet of rainforest canopy and culture.  With chapter titles like “The Nightmare”, “The Plot, People of the Mist”, and “The Invisible Village”, you can't go wrong reading City of the Beasts.

Mrs. Mauer gives us her critique!

I highly recommend Isabel Allende's novel City of the Beasts. It is a wild adventure steeped in magical realism, a genre which transports the reader and the characters to a world which combines magic (in this case, a fantastical Beast and people of the Mist) with reality (archaeologists in the Amazon). The book also piques the interest of young adults and parents since it deals with the developing relationship of its main character and his family, particularly his kooky thrill-seeking grandmother. I love this book and I like that Allende, an incredible adult fiction writer, has taken a risk to write young adult fiction. She was actually inspired by and challenged by J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame to attempt this genre. Happy Reading!!!

A mystery reader writes in:

City of the Beasts is a beautiful example of magical realism in the vein of Gabriel Garcia

Marquez.  This is the first young adult book of Isabelle Allende, the award-winning adult

author.  She does a great job of involving a cool, 21st century boy in the very magical world of the Amazon jungle when he travels there with his Grandmother. They are unlikely travel companions but their experiences with the supernatural in the jungle will keep you reading. Very well written!


Jeanne Duprau

The city of Ember was built as a last refuge for the human race. Now the lights of the city are beginning to flicker. Lina and her friend Doon must decipher the message she finds before the lights go out forever!

Mrs. Zavaglia enjoyed The City Of Ember!

I found this book to be one that I did not want to put down until I finished it.  I

went right out and bought the book that follows and read it also.

Mr. Miracle comments:

The City of Ember - Mysterious and adventurous.  Keeps you turning the pages to find out what happened to this underground city.

Mrs. Broder read this too:

This was fascinating, so intriguing!  The children face unraveling a mystery that controls their lives.  Clever!

Mrs. Gibbard thought this book was thought provoking!

For as long as anyone can remember, the great lights of Ember have kept the endless darkness at bay.  But now the lights are beginning to flicker....  Imagine a civilization which has never seen the light of day.  A mystery with a cliffhanger ending; I'm reading the sequel this summer!

Mystery send-in:

The City of Ember is one of those books I couldn’t put down.  I especially like stories about dystopian societies as told through the eyes of young people in that society.  This also has an environmental twist, with the possibility of the light going out forever.  If you liked The Giver or The House of the Scorpion, then you should try this book.



This story, set in 14th Century England, centers on the frantic flight of an orphaned outcast who gets pegged for murder. 

Mr. Miracle read this too!

Crispin: The Cross of Lead-- If you enjoyed the Lord of the Rings or the Narnia books, you'll love Crispin.  A lot of sword-play and intrigue.


John Gunther

This is a true story of a teenage boy who bravely faces death.

Mrs. Demetrious shares:

A great book that teaches valuable life lessons such as optimism and perseverance despite extreme hardships.  This book is based on a true story about a brilliant seventeen - year  -old boy who struggles to overcome his malignant brain tumor. You will love reading this book!!

Mrs. Broder remembers:

This may be a sad story, but it is unmatched where friendship is concerned.

David Lubar

While hoping to work in an amusement park dunk tank on the New Jersey shore, Chad faces his best friend's serious illness, hassles with police, and must also deal with the girl that got away.

Mr. Miracle again:

Dunk-- Anyone who's ever lost all their money playing games on the boardwalk down at the shore will relate to this book.  Very funny.

Mystery reader declares:

I loved Dunk because it beautifully describes life at the Jersey Shore. Lubar's characters are very real. Chad's relationship with the "Bozo" - the dunk tank clown" - is one of those believable connections which makes for a very interesting read.


William Bell

Seventeen-year-old Alex Jackson accompanies his father, a TV cameraman, to China in 1989 where he is caught up in the Tiananmen Square student revolt.

Mrs. Zavaglia also enjoyed Forbidden City:

This book kept my interest throughout it.  It gave me some more understanding of a time that I was part of.  The character Alex could have been any one of a number of students I have taught.  Great read!!!


Lois Duncan

This is the story of a girl whose family is "gifted" with talents.  Nancy is gifted with ESP.

Mrs. O'Donnell shares:

I absolutely loved it!  This is my favorite summer reading book, not only because it's an amazing story about a girl who receives the gift of ESP from her grandmother, but it's a story I could really connect with.  In my own family, my mom has a few extra sensory abilities.  I've always wished that I could have some kind of ability to predict the future, or read minds, and I got to live that wish through the main character.  The author made it very easy to picture what it must be like to have a "gift" completely different from those around you.  This is a book I would definitely recommend to anyone who loves stories about things unexplained.  Since I love ghost stories, mysteries, and other tales of the supernatural, A Gift of Magic was perfect for me.


THE LIFE YOU IMAGINE:  Life Lessons for Achieving Your Dreams
Derek Jeter

New York Yankee, Derek Jeter, motivates readers to do their best as he shares some of his personal history and outlines the ten inspiring principles that led to his success.


Jean George

Written as a diary, the story of a boy who runs away to live in the Catskill Mountains becomes one of survival.

Mr. Yepez shares his feelings about My Side of the Mountain:

An adventure that will live with you forever.  Live with young Sam in the woods of the Catskill Mountains as he attempts to survive life alone with nothing more than his ingenuity and will.  Does he survive?  A highly recommended book for kids ages 10 - 90.  I could not put it down. 

Mrs. Broder remembers teaching this too!

What a great adventure!  This young man must learn to live in the wilderness but the author shares so many cool details about what he needs to do to survive.  Fascinating!

Miss Kleid loved this one!

Do you crave extreme adventure? Wish you could try your hand at living off the land?  Want to leave civilization behind and reconnect with wilderness?  Then My Side of the Mountain is for you!  My Side of the Mountain is a book that has stayed with me since I read it as a middle school student.  If you've ever wished to run away from all of society's stress and live off of the land and your own wits, then this book is for you!  Sam does just this and lives in the forests of upstate New York, exploring the Catskill Mountains.  His adventures, struggles, and discoveries about life (and himself) kept me glued to this book.  Sam experiences that which I've only been brave enough to dream about.  Jean Craighead George speaks to readers who understand and appreciate the importance of connecting to nature.  I highly recommend spending some time this summer escaping to the wilderness with Sam and his pet falcon!


Uma Krishnaswami

When Maya accompanies her mother to India to sell her grandfather's house, she uncovers family history relating to her parents' divorce and learns more about herself and her relationship with her mother.


Gordon Korman

Eighth grade football hero, Wallace Wallace, is sentenced to a detention of attending rehearsals of the school play where, in spite of himself, he becomes wrapped up in a production that changes his life.

Another mystery comment:

Gordon Korman is a very funny author.  No More Dead Dogs is about a student who is tired of reading all those stories about the dog that dies in the end.  He is not your typical hero, but his way of making his punishment into something positive and creative is hilarious.  If you like funny, try this book!


Brian Jacques

When the peaceful life of Redwall Abbey is shattered by the arrival of an evil rat and his villainous hordes, the inhabitants of Redwall are determined to destroy the enemy.

Mrs. Broder gives this two thumbs up (and more if she had them)!

Do you know how intelligent the animals are that live in our world?  Can you imagine what their lives are like?  Take yourself back to medieval times through the battles of the furry creatures you may think of as a simple unattractive rodent.


Gary Soto

Being the only Hispanic-American on the basketball team is hard enough, but Lincoln faces a racist coach and a game against the team from his old neighborhood.

Mr. Miracle suggests:

Taking Sides-- Highly recommended, even if you aren't a boy who likes basketball.  Anyone who has ever been the new kid, or had a falling out with old friends, will relate to this novel.

Cornelia Funke

Two runaway brothers find shelter with Venice’s Thief Lord, while a detective hired by their aunt pursues them.  An exciting tale follows.

Mrs. Stanislawczyk loved The Thief Lord:

If you would like to travel to the beautiful Venice, Italy this summer, but it's not in your vacation plans, read  The Thief Lord!  It is a story of intrigue, adventure, surprise twists and turns, and an amazing setting!  Ciao and happy reading!

Mr. Miracle's concise response:

The Thief Lord? A lot of adventure and excitement.

Mrs. Broder loved this awesome tale!

You are kept on the edge, never sure about what may happen next.


Laurence Yep

Stacy Palmer realizes for the first time her true heritage and finally understands what it means to be Chinese-American.


E. L. Konigsberg

This is a tale about a team, a class, a school, and a series of contests that asks important questions about life.

Mrs. Maurer shares:

I recall A View from Saturday as a lovely story about children who enter an Olympics of the Mind type of contest and also bond with grandparents through the ritual of taking tea in the afternoon.

Mrs. Elkin also contributes:

I would definitely recommend it for summer reading.  It is a wonderful story of friendship!


Sharon Creech

Thirteen-year-old Sophie crosses the Atlantic as a member of the crew of a sailing boat to visit her grandfather in England. This is the story of her adventure.

Mrs. DeMarco was intrigued!

Do you have a need to be out on the open sea?  In The Wanderer, by Sharon Creech, Sophie gets to be part of a great adventure across miles to see Bompie, her grandfather.  This book is a double diary of Sophie and Cody, cousins who learn a great deal about each other during their time together navigating the ocean.  If you're into reading about sailboating and how a family helps us get through the tough times in life, then this book is for you!

Mrs. Stanislawczyk read The Wanderer and recommends it for those who like to read adventures about traveling in a sailboat on the high seas!  This book was unique in its point of view, which alternated between two cousins on the same voyage.  It's fascinating how two people who experience the same events see things very differently!  The crew members must overcome major obstacles and are in for a big surprise when they get to England.  Bon voyage and happy reading!


Ursula K. LeGuin

A boy, an apprentice to a wizard, becomes a man while trying to subdue evil.

Here's one for A Wizard of Earthsea from Mrs. Olson:

If you are a fan of Harry Potter, Eragon and Lord of the Rings, you'll love A Wizard of Earthsea.  The book is filled with magic, adventure and dragons!  I read this book three years ago and loved it so much that I read three more books in the series:  The Tombs of Atuan, The Farthest Shore, and Tehanu.

Mr. Flum offers:

 The Wizard of Earthsea is an exciting adventure full of mystery and enchantment.  If you like The Lord of the Rings series or Harry Potter, then this book might be just what you're looking for to pass the summer away!

Created by Rita Nannini and Kim Zito.

Last Modified: August 03, 2011