Summer is right around the corner (unless you live in Northern Utah, where winter seems to be here to stay) so it’s time to stock up on some great books to relax with and read alone or with your family. All of these books are good for ages nine and older, except for the last book (which is geared for ages seven and older). There is also a nice variety of genres that include mystery, fantasy, humorous, historical fiction and non-fiction.
The Fast and the Furriest, by Andy Behrens, is a humorous book about a boy, Kevin, who seems to disappoint his retired pro football dad because he doesn’t appear to have any athletic ability. But his life and his goals are about to change when he notices his beagle becoming mesmerized with a dog competition on TV. So Kevin enters him in a dog training class, competes and takes first place and is now heading for a national competition. What happens along the way is funny, and how it ends up will surprise you.
The Giant-Slayer, by Iain Lawrence, demonstrates the power of a story. The year is 1955, and 11-year-old Valentine lives with her widowed father, who is a fundraiser for polio prevention. When her best friend gets polio, she visits him along with others in the children’s ward at the hospital. She begins to spin a tale of great proportions about a giant who is taking over the area and a boy who was born to conquer him.
This magical story grows, and the author weaves a story where the young patients contribute to the story (which shows so well how a story can be built upon). There is also much to learn about polio throughout the story and in the back in the author’s notes.
Regarding the Bees, by Kate Klise, and illustrated by M. Sarah Klise, is a fun and creative story with a format of different correspondences of letters, faxes, notes and more. The students in a middle school find that they have two dilemmas: the state spelling bee and they must pass the Basic Education Evaluation Test. These, as well as smaller, obstacles (which many are humorous) are accompanied by the perfect illustrations by sister Sarah, which make this a fun read for summer.
A Million Shades of Gray, by Cynthia Kadohata, is a historical fiction about a young Vietnamese boy in the midst of the Vietnam War. He wants to train elephants in his small village when he grows up, but now finds himself in the throws of a government upheaval. He needs to desperately escape and take his elephants with him. The difficulties and challenges he faces are eye-openers and help readers appreciate our country’s many freedoms.
The Game of Sunken Places, by M. T. Anderson, is a complex story about two boys who discover a game (which is the title of the book) in a relative’s mansion. They soon discover that while playing this game they become part of the game – which is loaded with many kinds of mysteries and tribulations that they must solve. This book is filled with excitement and suspense.
The Underneath, by Kathi Appelt, is a story of devotion, love, kindness and friendship. But it’s also a story of abuse and hate as an old hound is chained up underneath a porch by his mean owner. He becomes friends with a mother cat who gives birth to two kittens in the underneath.
The tale that takes place between these small critters and the act of redemption of all involved make for an inviting story. But it’s the author’s beautiful way she spins this tale with her alliterations and descriptions that made this a Newbery Honor book. Wonderful pencil etchings, by David Small, are sprinkled throughout and are a perfect addition to the text.
The Genie Scheme, by Kimberly K. Jones, is a delightful, though predictable, story about 12-year-old Janna, who desires to have lots of clothes and accessories like the girl across the street. But it’s through her random act of kindness that she meets a genie who is prepared to give her anything she wants. It’s what she does with these wishes, and how her desires change, that make this an enjoyable read.
The Outlandish Adventures of Liberty Aimes, by Kelly Easton, and illustrated by Greg Swearingen, is about 10-year-old Liberty, who has been held captive her whole life to be a servant to her parents.
She can’t ever leave the house. But one day she discovers books under the floorboards, and her world is changed for the better. It becomes even brighter when she sneaks into the basement to discover that her father has been doing experiments on animals and they talk. But it’s when she drinks a magical potion that her life really changes.
Raiders’ Ransom, by Emily Diamand, is full of adventure, intrigue and twists along the way. The story takes place in the future, but reads like it’s happening today. Thirteen-year-old Lilly finds that the prime minister’s young daughter, Lexy, has been kidnapped. So she sails off with a jewel to bargain with the kidnappers. When she meets a raider, she finds that he can help her get Lexy back. But they are just about to come into a life-threatening situation. This page-turner will definitely keep you going to the end.
The Yggyssey: How Iggy Wondered What Happened to All the Ghosts, Found Where They Went and Went There, by Daniel Pinkwater, is a very long title but it does sum up the story quite well. Yggyssey, or better known as Iggy, can see and talk to ghosts. But quite suddenly the Hollywood ghosts from the 1950’s have vanished. This enjoyable mystery is written by one of my favorite kid’s authors.
Kenny & the Dragon, by Tony DiTerlizzi, reflects the classic story “St. George and the Dragon,” as Kenny befriends a gentle dragon whom the villagers are frightened of. This is an excellent story that teaches the value of judgment and friendship. The pencil etchings sprinkled throughout, as well as the shorter story, make this a perfect read for ages seven and up.