Middle School to Young Adult Books

Theme: Creative Trades: Bargaining, Bartering, Swapping, and Re-using

Artemis Fowl - (ISBN: 978-1423124528)

by Eoin Colfer

The brilliant Artemis Fowl plans to kidnap a fairy and exchange her for gold to save his shady family from plunging into obscurity. An amazing cast of characters turns up to save the fairy and entertain readers, including satyrs, trolls, dwarfs, fairies and other goblin types. Do not be fooled into thinking this is a traditional “fairy tale,” however, since the use of technology adds lots of kick to the plot with gadgets galore. Will the powers of evil win? Read it and see. Try other books featuring the treacherous but dazzling genius!

Neverwhere - (ISBN: 978-0060557812)

by Neil Gaiman

Richard Mayhew’s attempt to help a battered girl named Door escape the murderers who did away with her family leads him to a shadowy underground world with all new rules. They cannot escape and return to the real city until they deal with former Londoners who have succumbed to the world below. These include a marquis who demands more than money and a powerful female hunter. Try this fantasy novel if you enjoy books you cannot put down.

Shakespeare Makes the Playoffs - (ISBN: 978-0763644352)

by Ron Koertge

This appealing book offers some new kinds of exchange: e-mail, poetry writing, and experiments with using new subjects in traditional poetic forms. Shakespeare, a baseball player, communicates electronically with his new friend Amy, but he also writes in the new daybook he got from his father. The author does a great job of creating a young male character that is an accomplished poet as well as a busy athlete.

The Story of Blue Eye - (ISBN: 978-1894345781 )

by Tyler Trafford

The history of Western Canada in the early 1800’s provides the backdrop for this historical re-creation of a young Native American who starts a trading post where the native and Anglo cultures meet, both physically and metaphorically.

Vintage Veronica - (ISBN: 978-0375859236)

by Erica Perl

Sixteen-year-old Veronica does for bargain clothing stores what Versace does for glamour handbags. This tale follows an overweight girl who can create haute couture from the pile of items the store’s dump slot shoots onto the floor. No haughty teen is too big of a challenge for the savvy Veronica as she creates original combinations of second hand treasures. Check out the “thrift” stores in your community for materials to create something new. Maybe start from the floor of your closet!

Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident - (ISBN: 1423114078)

by Eoin Colfer

Boy2Girl - (ISBN: 978-0374309268)

by Terence Blacker

Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court - (ISBN: 978-1420929669)

by Mark Twain

Honey Bees: Letters from the Hive - (ISBN: 978-0385737708)

by Stephen L. Buchmann

Suddenly Sisters - (ISBN: 9780060596156)

by Emma Harrison

Activities for this Theme

Enjoy a classic tale of how a husband and wife each traded their most prized possession for a gift for the other’s Christmas present.


As a family project, clear out some unused treasures from your house and donate them to a local thrift store or recombine them into original creations.


Recycled Art: History and Materials. Take this lesson to learn more about the history of recycled art.


At your next party, have each person bring an unwanted item from his home. Have a contest to see who can think of the best way to reuse the item in a piece of jewelry, sculpture, or in a new way you can think up. Have parents be the judges.


Start a movement at your school to decrease students’ reliance on bottled water, a major source of waste in landfills.


Have a class of family contest to generate some ideas to re-use the water bottles already accumulated in homes and trash bins. Can you make them into something else?


Ask your school library to start a free paperback book swap. What else could students “swap” as part of a student council activity?


As a family, recycle a favorite fairy tale by rewriting it to be modern, to be more humorous, or to include some of the characters in your family!