The Mustang Book Award reading incentive program encourages students to read professionally
reviewed books that will hopefully spark an interest in reading and inspire them to read more.
Danny Owens is football royalty in his small Texas town. And he’s dedicating his seventh-grade season to his Super Bowl–champion father, who recently passed away. Danny promises everyone that, just like his dad, he’ll dominate the big game at the end of the season and earn a spot on the high school varsity team. Then his English teacher catches him cheating on a test. Despite everyone’s protests, she is not going to let Danny get away with it. And even though Danny is given another opportunity to take the test, he knows it won’t matter, for he’s been carrying a secret with him for a long time now. He can’t read. If Danny can’t pass his class, he won’t be eligible to play in the big championship game that could unlock his future. While his resentment rises against the one person willing to help him win off the field, the pressure to succeed begins to weigh heavily on Danny’s shoulders. Danny knows he’s being tested on every level, and to pass, he may very well have to choose a different path from his father’s. In another action-packed and inspiring story, New York Times bestselling author and former NFL player Tim Green encourages readers to fight for their dreams but to live up to their own great expectations.
Gabe knows it was foolish to save that chicken. On the roof. In the middle of a storm. Yet Gabe also knows that his guardian, Ms. Cleo, loves the chicken more than him. After falling off the roof, Gabe wakes up to find his neighbors staring at him tearfully. To his confusion, none of them seem to hear Gabe speak. It's almost as if they think he's dead. But Gabe's NOT dead. He feels fine! So why does everyone scream in terror when he shows up to his own funeral? Gabe flees with his dog, Ollie, the only creature who doesn't tremble at the sight of him. So when a mysterious girl named Wynne offers to let Gabe stay at her cozy house in a misty clearing, he gratefully accepts. Yet Wynne disappears from Bone Hollow for long stretches of time, and when a suspicious Gabe follows her, he makes a mind-blowing discovery. Wynne is Death and has been for thousands of years. Even more shocking... she's convinced that Gabe is destined to replace her.
April Sinclair just wants what any normal 13-year-old would want: to disown her parents and obnoxious little sisters; to escape to summer camp ASAP with her two best friends, Billy and Brynn; and to make a good impression on Matt Parker, the hot new boy next door. Unfortunately, Matt witnesses April's utter humiliation at her birthday party. Then Billy kisses her. Just as April is trying to figure things out, her parents cancel her camp plans in lieu of a family RV trip. A summer of babysitting her sisters and "re-bonding" with her family isn't how she imagined life as a teenager. And it certainly won't help her straighten out her feelings about Billy or Matt. Is there any silver lining to a road trip in The Clunker with her family of misfits?
Daisy, age 12, has died in a car accident. She finds herself in the afterworld, which resembles nothing more than a job center. Her soul is being returned to Earth, but not as a human being — she’s returning as a dog. A dog who retains Daisy’s thoughts and pluck and is determined to get back to her parents and to get back home. What she doesn’t expect is that life as a dog named Ray would come with such worries — and moments of jubilation — as she grows to care for others in a whole new way. Told in a compelling first-person voice, Linda Coggin’s incredible novel touches on loyalty and freedom, connection and acceptance, and is sure to stay with readers long after the story is done.
Alex Douglas always wanted to be a hero. But nothing heroic ever happened to Alex. Nothing, that is, until his eleventh birthday. When Alex rescues a stray dog as a birthday gift to himself, he doesn't think his life can get much better. Radar, his new dog, pretty much feels the same way. But this day has bigger things in store for both of them. This is a story about bullies and heroes. About tragedy and hope. About enemies with two legs and friends with four, and pesky little sisters and cranky old men, and an unexpected lesson in kindness delivered with a slice of pizza. This is "Eleven": the journey of a boy turning eleven on 9/11.
The first time she saw him, she flipped. The first time he saw her, he ran. That was the second grade, but not much has changed by the seventh. Juli says: "My Bryce. Still walking around with my first kiss." He says: "It's been six years of strategic avoidance and social discomfort." But in the eighth grade, everything gets turned upside down. Just as Bryce is thinking that there's maybe more to Juli than meets the eye, she's thinking that he's not quite all he seemed. This is a classic romantic comedy of errors told in alternating chapters by two fresh, funny voices.
It's going to be one summer these boys will never forget. Eleven-year-old Wyatt and his friend Augie aren't looking for a fight. They're having the best summer of their lives hanging out in the fort they built in the woods, fishing and hunting, cooking over a campfire, and sleeping out. But when two older boys mess with the fort—and with another kid who can't fight back—the friends are forced to launch Operation Doom, with unexpected results for all concerned, in this novel about two funny and very real young heroes.
"They got lost. The world got scared.
And the mud got fuzzy."
Fifth grader Tamaya Dhilwaddi and seventh grader Marshall Walsh have been walking to and from Woodridge Academy together since elementary school. But their routine is disrupted when bully Chad Hilligas challenges Marshall to a fight. To avoid the conflict, Marshall takes a shortcut home through the off-limits woods. Tamaya, unaware of the reason for the detour, reluctantly follows. They soon get lost, and then they find trouble. Bigger trouble than anyone could ever have imagined. What they uncover might affect the future of the world. Fuzzy Mud is an imaginative and suspenseful story of the great lengths we'll go to for friendship and family, the mishaps and breakthroughs that are made in the name of science, and the wonders of mud... fuzzy mud.
Running. That’s all Ghost (real name Castle Cranshaw) has ever known. But Ghost has been running for the wrong reasons. It all started with running away from his father, who, when Ghost was a very little boy, chased him and his mother through their apartment, then down the street, with a loaded gun, aiming to kill. Since then, Ghost has been the one causing problems—and running away from them. That is, until he meets Coach, an ex-Olympic Medalist who sees something in Ghost: crazy natural talent. If Ghost can stay on track, literally and figuratively, he could be the best sprinter in the city. Can Ghost harness his raw talent for speed, or will his past finally catch up to him?
Timothy is on probation. It’s a strange word—something that happens to other kids, to delinquents, not to kids like him. And yet, he is under house arrest for the next year. He must check in weekly with a probation officer and a therapist, and keep a journal for an entire year. And mostly, he has to stay out of trouble. But when he must take drastic measures to help his struggling family, staying out of trouble proves more difficult than Timothy ever thought it would be. By turns touching and funny, and always original, House Arrest is a middle grade novel in verse about one boy’s path to redemption as he navigates life with a sick brother, a grieving mother, and one tough probation officer.
Meet Jack Lime, private investigator, who solves problems for his fellow Iona High students. Sometimes he falls for the dames who hire him, sometimes he falls in the river, and sometimes he falls asleep (he's narcoleptic). But rest assured that whether he's tracking down a missing banana-seat bike or a kidnapped hamster, or cracking open a trivia tournament betting ring, Lime will follow every lead. Readers will identify with this funny, cynical sleuth who has the makings of a top-notch P.I., though his personal life frequently goes awry. In these three stand-alone detective stories, readers will immerse themselves in an offbeat fictional world populated with eccentric characters where everything is not as it seems.
Survive. At any cost. 10 concentration camps. 10 different places where you are starved, tortured, and worked mercilessly. It's something no one could imagine surviving. But it is what Yanek Gruener has to face. As a Jewish boy in 1930s Poland, Yanek is at the mercy of the Nazis who have taken over. Everything he has, and everyone he loves, have been snatched brutally from him. And then Yanek himself is taken prisoner, his arm tattooed with the words Prisoner B-3087. He is forced from one nightmarish concentration camp to another, as World War II rages all around him. He encounters evil he could have never imagined, but also sees surprising glimpses of hope amid the horror. He just barely escapes death, only to confront it again seconds later. Can Yanek make it through the terror without losing his hope, his will, and, most of all, his sense of who he really is inside? Based on an astonishing true story.
Kevin has a bad attitude. He has a real knack for rubbing people the wrong way. And he's even figured out a secret way to do it with poems. But what happens when the tables are turned and he is the one getting picked on? Using elements of subversive found poetry, Rhyme Schemer is an accessible novel in verse that is both touching and hilarious, and will inspire voracious and reluctant readers alike. It is a celebration of the power of words and their ability to transform lives.
Jonathan Grisby is the newest arrival at the Slabhenge Reformatory School for Troubled Boys–an ancient, crumbling fortress of gray stone rising up from the ocean. It is dark, damp, and dismal. And it is just the place Jonathan figures he deserves. Because Jonathan has done something terrible. And he’s willing to accept whatever punishment he has coming. Just as he’s getting used to his new situation, however, a freak accident leaves the troubled boys of Slabhenge without any adult supervision. Suddenly, the kids are free, with an entire island to themselves. But freedom brings unexpected danger. If Jonathan can’t come to terms with the sins of his past and lead his new friends to safety, then every boy on the island is doomed.
After suffering a tragic loss, eleven-year-old Ollie only finds solace in books. So when she happens upon a crazed woman at the river threatening to throw a book into the water, Ollie doesn't think--she just acts, stealing the book and running away. As she begins to read the slender volume, Ollie discovers a chilling story about a girl named Beth, the two brothers who both loved her, and a peculiar deal made with ""the smiling man,"" a sinister specter who grants your most tightly held wish, but only for the ultimate price. Ollie is captivated by the tale until her school trip the next day to Smoke Hollow, a local farm with a haunting history all its own. There she stumbles upon the graves of the very people she's been reading about. Could it be the story about the smiling man is true? Ollie doesn't have too long to think about the answer to that. On the way home, the school bus breaks down, sending their teacher back to the farm for help. But the strange bus driver has some advice for the kids left behind in his care: "Best get moving. At nightfall they'll come for the rest of you." Nightfall is, indeed, fast descending when Ollie's previously broken digital wristwatch, a keepsake reminder of better times, begins a startling countdown and delivers a terrifying message: RUN.
A family vacation becomes a game of survival! It was supposed to be a vacation, and a chance to get to know each other better. But when a massive storm sets in without warning, four kids are shipwrecked alone on a rocky jungle island in the middle of the South Pacific. No adults. No instructions. Nobody to rely on but themselves. Can they make it home alive? A week ago, the biggest challenge Vanessa, Buzz, Carter, and Jane had was learning to live as a new blended family. Now the four siblings must find a way to work as a team if they're going to make it off the island. They're all in this adventure together ― but first they've got to learn to survive one another.
Lately, Bryan's been feeling it in all kinds of ways. He knows what's tight for him in a good way ― reading comics, drawing superheroes, and hanging out with no drama. But drama's hard to escape where he's from, and that gets him wound up tight. And now Bryan's new friend Mike is challenging him to have fun in ways that are crazy risky. At first, it's a rush following Mike, hopping turnstiles, subway surfing, and getting into all kinds of trouble. But Bryan never feels right acting wrong. So which way will he go when he understands that drama is so not his style? Fortunately his favorite comic heroes shed light on his dilemma, reminding him that he has power ― the power to choose his friends and to stand up for what he believes is right . Torrey Maldonado delivers a fast-paced, insightful, dynamic story. Readers will connect with Bryan's journey as he navigates a tough world with a heartfelt desire for a different life.
“Folks say Old Auntie takes a girl and keeps her fifty years — then lets her go and takes another one.” Thirteen-year-old Daniel Anderson doesn’t believe Brody Mason’s crazy stories about the ghost witch who lives up on Brewster’s Hill with Bloody Bones, her man-eating razorback hog. He figures Brody’s probably just trying to scare him since he’s the new kid... a “stuck-up snot” from Connecticut. But Daniel’s seven-year-old sister Erica has become more and more withdrawn, talking to her lookalike doll. When she disappears into the woods one day, he knows something is terribly wrong. Did the witch strike? Has Erica been “took”?
Jayla Walters isn’t sure what to expect when her father’s job uproots her and her brother, Dion, to Estes Park, Colorado. But right away, something doesn’t seem right with their hotel. Jayla soon discovers that their home for the week, Room 217 of the Stanley Hotel, is the most haunted place in all of Colorado. Barely asleep the first night, Jayla watches a ghostly woman walk toward her bed. And the ghost visits her room every night. What does the ghost want? And what happens when Jayla and Dion get in her way? Every state has its own spine-tingling stories of ghosts and mysterious hauntings grounded in its regional history. The Haunted States of America series uses real-life ghost lore as jumping off points to new, chilling tales. But beware: sometimes real life is stranger than fiction.
Cooper Vega's family moves so often that he's practically invisible at any school he attends. Now they've relocated to the town of Stratford, where nobody even makes an effort to learn Cooper's name. To them, he's just... Whatshisface. Cooper's parents feel bad about moving him around so much, so they get him a fancy new phone. Almost immediately, it starts to malfunction. First there's a buzzing. Then there's a weird glare on the screen. Then that glare starts to take on the form of... a person? It's not just any person trapped inside Cooper's phone. It's a boy named Roderick, who says he lived in the time of William Shakespeare — and had a very tangled history with the famous playwright. Cooper thinks his phone has gone haywire, but there's nothing he can do to get rid of Roderick. Then, even stranger, Roderick starts helping him, even though his 17th-century advice isn't always the best for a 21st century middle school.