A one-eared boy, pirates, and a family secret...if you have a taste for adventure and the unusual, check out The Unfortunate Son by Constance Leeds.

Luc has always sensed that his father despises him and prefers his younger brothers, but he's never known why.  His father's cruelty drives him away, to the small, but welcoming cottage of a fisherman, Pons, and his family.  In the seaside town of Mouette, Luc finds a warm home and great skill as a fisherman (Pons swears Luc's presence seems to draw the fish in).  He forms a close relationship to Beatrice, the beautiful daughter of a disgraced knight, and spends his days with her and his beloved dog, Cadeau.

One day while they're out fishing, Luc is captured by buccaneers and sold as a slave in Tunisia.  His flaw, having only one ear, makes him less valuable, except to an old surgeon, who begins to teach him Arabic and medical skills.  Luc becomes a part of Salah's household, joining the grumpy dwarf servant, Bes, who loves teasing and harassing the new boy.  Although, Luc adjusts to life in northern Africa, he can never forget his life in Mouette and longs to return.  Back in France, Beatrice and Pons uncover the secret of Luc's past and use this knowledge to try to bring him home. 

This is a great book for older readers (5th grade and up) who enjoy complex, character-based tales.  A super choice for middle school students who need to read fulfill a genre requirement--it's historical fiction!