So the big things (in books anyway) for Middle Schoolers (ish) is Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. I've never read it, but my brother has (and my mom) and a great many of those with whom I work. Quality stuff, AND the movie's coming out on President's day. (Meaning I'll have to read it before then!)
The other big thing is the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series- four books and a do-it-yourself journal thing in which YOU can be your very own wimpy kid. Now, I know how it sounds, middle school boy, not too big on the muscles, not the brightest and the best, trying to survive those formative teenage years of cracking vocal cords without being beat on too terribly.
Then the other day I was recommending books to a mom, and pointed out that DoaWK was one of the hot tickets for boys right now. She told me that she had looked into it before, and she really didn't think it was something that she wanted her child to read. Fair enough. So I finished up the last series I was reading (more on that another time) and moved on to WK as my break time book.
To come back to what I was saying above, there really is a terrible dearth of good (new) books for boys. Almost everthing coming out now is fantasy- trying to cash in on JK's success (same thing with vampire books in the YA section *guh*) if boys don't like fantasy, they're pretty much stuck with Newberrys (which, really, is nothing to complain about, but a lot of them are read in school which means they are automatically disliked), or the Hardy Boys (again, great reading, but more and more dated every time a new upgrade for the i-phone comes out)
So Jeff Kinney brings us Diary of a Wimpy Kid- a book to appeal to all those grumbly pubescents out there who don't want to waste their precious video gameing time on something as dumb and boring as a book. Basically appealing to the lowest bidder. I'd say it's worth it, just to get them reading. But really, it's not.
His main character is selfish, self absorbed, he lies to his family, teachers, and best friend, doesn't actually like his best friend and treats him like dog food. He steals from his older brother, tortures his little brother, is rude to everyone, ungrateful, ets.
So what? You say. Sounds a lot like every 12 year old boy out there. And maybe you're right. But what people (especially children) are exposed to in the media are part of who they model themselves after. I wouldn't want my children taking this kid on as a role model.
Also, stories are supposed to have plot. This is written in diary form, so more bending is allowed. But there is still no major arcing plot, just a series of small occurrences in which the WK is a jerk or gets back at someone for being a jerk to him.
Finally, the hero is supposed to have grown and changed and learned something by the end of the book. I'm not reading the rest of the series, but I'm going to guarantee that in no way will the WK be a better person by the end.