The Pinballs by Betsy Byars
The "Pinballs" are three unwanted foster children Carlie,
Harvey, and Thomas J.-who have been abused, abandoned, and
bounced around. Carlie trusts no one, believing that as soon
as she gets settled, somebody puts a coin in the machine, and
she will find herself bouncing from bumper to bumper again.
With the support of their foster parents, the Masons, the three
children become friends, learn to care for each other, and
begin to experience love and trust.
Just Juice by Karen Hesse
School lessons are a mystery to nine-year-old Juice who simply cannot manage to understand numbers, letters, and reading although she likes to explore and learn and has a talent as an apprentice metalworker in her Pa's makeshift shop. In spite of her family's persuasions, Juice avoids school as often as possible, choosing instead to work with her father, who has been laid off from his work at the mine. Pa keeps it a secret that he can't read either, and because he can't deal with the official papers regarding past-due taxes, the family could lose their house. When her diabetic mother gives birth, Juice is the only one home. She forces herself to read the sugar monitor, does so properly, and saves her mother's life.
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
Gilly Hopkins has been in more foster homes than she can remember and yearns to be back with her mother. She has been unsuccessful in each foster home and has developed a county-wide reputation for being brash, rude, and completely unmanageable although brilliant. When she is sent to live with the Trotters, she finds them the strangest family she has lived with yet and she devises an elaborate scheme to get her real mother to rescue her. The rescue doesn't work the way she has planned, and when it is time for her to leave the Trotters, she thinks about doing so with regret.
War With Grandpa by Robert Kimmel Smith
Peter Stokes is 10 years old when his newly widowed grandfather comes to live with the family. At first he is delighted, because he loves his grandfather, but then he learns that his grandfather will be moving into his own room the room Peter has had all his life. Spurred on by the urging of his two friends, Peter declares war on his grandfather in an effort to get his room back. After he plays a number of mean tricks on his grandfather, he finally does get his room back but with his grandfather's help.
Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli
Jeffrey Magee's parents are killed in a trolley accident when he is three, and he is sent to live with his Aunt Dot and Uncle Dan. His aunt and uncle won't speak to one another, using Jeffrey as their go-between. After eight years, Jeffrey has had enough. He screams, "Talk to each other!" and runs away literally. He runs, searching for a real home, eventually ending up 200 miles away in the town of Two Mills, a community divided by race into an East and a West End. Jeffrey becomes "Maniac Magee," a legend in the town a boy who can outrun dogs, hit a homerun off the best pitcher in the neighborhood, and untie the knot no one else can undo. In his search for a place to belong, he begins to unite the town by forcing at least some of the Blacks and Whites to know each other.
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