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I have gathered together several books to round out your summer reading. Due to the many outstanding books I am recommending, I will shorten each review and expand the number of books. That way, you and your family will have a great number of books to choose from. All of these books are good for ages nine and above, but most are also terrific to read-out-loud to all family members.
Over the Moon, by Natalie Lloyd, is a magical adventure where the sky is clouded with an ever-present dust. Mallie, who was born with just one arm, can’t help her family by going down in the coal mines. Her parents can’t work anymore either, so now her little brother will be forced to dig deep down in the earth. However, Mallie is not to be deterred and sets out to earn the needed money. There are flying horses, friendship and family found throughout this beautifully written story as well as Mallie’s uplifting attitude to never give up.
The Last Day of Summer, by LaMar Giles, centers on two great friends who also happen to be cousins. When these two boys realize they are at summer’s end, they do some detective investigating only to discover they’ve looped into time travel. There are twists and turns all along the way as well as some very funny moments. This is great read out loud!
The Bigfoot Files, by Lindsay Eager, has Miranda trying to convince her cryptozoologist mom to just live a normal life so she could also feel normal. Her mom is in search of evidence proving the existence of Bigfoot. Miranda is tired of what she feels is a charade. But as you read through this fascinating story the ties between mother and daughter become remarkable and where this story leads are extraordinary.
Stand on the Sky, by Erin Bow, is a fascinating look inside Mongolian nomadic life. Aisulu resents the attention given to her brother for riding horses very well when she can do it much better. But when he suddenly becomes very ill, her parents must take him to the city. She is left with her aunt and uncle which is difficult for her. But everything changes for her, her family, and even how her tribe looks at her, when she saves and trains a baby eagle. This well written book will take you to a world unlike you’ve been before.
Serafina and the Seven Stars, by Robert Beatty, is book four in this mesmerizing series. You don’t need to read the others to enjoy this book. However, chances are you are going to want to read them all. Beatty has the most amazing gift of storytelling and this book is every bit as good as the other three. Serafina is the guardian of the large Biltmore Estate where she has won many battles against the evil forces that have tried to prevail. But the peace that exists at the beginning is short lived. When she witnesses a crime, you will be turning the pages all the way to the end to discover what happens!
The Simple Art of Flying, by Cory Leonardo, is a story about two parrots and twelve-year-old Fritz who buys one from the pet store thereby splitting them up. Spunky Alastair has great dreams of escaping and flying into the deep blue sky even with a bad wing. He is distraught however because his sister, sweet Aggie, has now been taken away from him (bought by Fritz). And he has been bought by old Bertie. This extraordinary story is told through three voices that combines poetry, storytelling and letters.
The Girl with the Dragon Heart, by Stephanie Burgis, is a lively sequel to the excellent book: The Dragon with the Chocolate Heart. Silkie is a young girl who ends up right in the middle of a power struggle between the royal family and the royal elves. Her life completely changed when her parents were stolen by fairies six years before and she must now live in poverty. But when she is asked to spy on the fairies for the princess, the book really picks up the pace and will be difficult to put down!
Shouting at the Rain,by Lynda Mullaly Hunt, is a sweet story that supports the family and the importance of love and belonging. The story takes place in a Cape Cod summer and with young Delsie being deeply loved by dear grandmother. Her mother abandoned her years before and she is currently resenting her different family as her friends seem to have normal families. This book is full of heart.
Sal & Gabi Break the Universe,by Carlos Hernandez, might just possibly become your favorite book of the year. The storyline is science fiction, but the setting takes place in the near future. Sal is Cuban American and has just moved to a new school. He has already encountered the school bully and dealt with him in a very creative way – he stuffed a real chicken in the bully’s locker. This action has caused Sal to go to the principal’s office. But he was able to meet Gabi there and this is the beginning of a great friendship. She ends up being the only one outside his family who knows he can access other universes! The adventures and sticky situations these friends experience will have you chuckling and becoming nervous from the tension that mounts along the way. This is a fabulous read as well as a terrific read-out-loud!
Pay Attention Carter Jones, by Gary D. Schmidt, is another fabulous book (actually all of these books are on the top of my list.) Carter Jones is trying to get ready for the first day of school. His father has been deployed out of the country in the military. It’s raining buckets outside. His little sisters are all causing his mom much stress when the doorbell rings. Outside stands a butler. This British speaking gentleman has been bequeathed by way of Carter’s grandfather to help this struggling family. There is a sweetness found throughout, along with much humor as you watch Carter grow and mature with the help of this gentleman. This could be a Newbery winner!
The Storm Keeper’s Island, by Catherine Doyle, takes place on an Irish island where a brother and sister go to spend the summer with their grandfather. The grandfather is the Storm Keeper who protects the island from evil and dark magic. But the time has come to select a new Storm Keeper. These siblings experience an exciting summer and begin to see how magical this island really is.
Charlie & Frog: The Boney Hand – A Mystery,by Karen Kane, is a story about two friends, Charlie and Frog, who are trying to solve a deep mystery at their school. Their friendship is strong and they go about searching for clues when an item from the school, The Boney Hand, goes missing. The mystery, and their friendship, is centerstage here. But these kids go to a school for the deaf which is only a sideline in the story. The inside covers feature sign language.
Briar and Rose and Jack, by Katherine Coville, is a combination of a few well-known fairytales. The retelling of “Sleeping Beauty” and “Jack and the Beanstalk” are the two obvious tales but there is more subtlety added in as well. This retelling is so beautifully told that it recalls the old classics.
Sven Carter and the Android Army, by Rob Vlock, is actually a sequel to the first: “Sven Carter and Trashmouth Effects”. However, there is no need to read the first to enjoy this book. But chances are you’ll desire to go back and read that one as well. Sven is part boy and part robot and he will stop at nothing to prevent the human race from being destroyed. This science fiction is hilarious from start to finish.