Looking for a novel for ESL students age 13-17

Another teacher has been using Holes for several years now, and he’s getting a little tired of it. I want to help him find something so he doesn’t lose his mind. Requirements:

  1. Appeals to both boys and girls.
  2. No objectionable content.
  3. Must have a movie version (even if the movie strays from the book.)
  4. 200-300 pages long.

Any ideas? The part that trips me up is “appeals to both boys and girls.” If anybody knew the answer to that, they’d be rich.

Not sure of the length of these, but they’re favorites my mother has taught her sixth graders (12-13, mostly native English readers) over the years:

Where the Red Fern Grows

Hatchet (Movie title: A Cry in the Wild)


For the older students:

Dead Poet’s Society (is suicide “objectionable”?)

Shoeless Joe (Field of Dreams)

I Am The Cheese

Whale Rider

The Incredible Journey. There are two movie versions – the more recent called “Homeward Bound” and a 60s-era Disney classic with the same name as the book.

Harry Potter is the obvious choice.

The favorite books of ESL 10th graders (at least based on having read several hundred essays on each) seem to be Romeo and Juliet and Of Mice and Men, both of which have movie versions.

Besides Holes they also like:
Lord of the Flies
that terrible short story “the necklace”
The Pearl ( Steinbeck)
The Crucible
Harry Potter
To Kill a Mocking Bird
The Coldest Winter
A Child Called It

…and a handful of stories I’ve never been able to identify

  1. something about a bird that flies out of an apartment, has an adventure, and goes home
  2. a girl brings ruin on her family in some Spanish speaking country by writing things in a notebook?
  3. an elderly lady tries to prove she’s still useful to her family by helping out with the chores and kids, but her evil family members put her in a home where she quickly fades away.
  4. a plucky young girl helps her neighbors get food during the depression, helps turn a vacant lot into a garden, and does some stuff with a library.