A collection of summer stories

Hi everyone, I thought I would write an extra post to marvel at the many wonderful summer reads that are out there. With each passing year I found that the summer stories I have read teach me something new and open my eyes to another amazing facet of our humanity. These eight titles listed below show not just what summer feels like to me, but what I enjoy reading when I’m on holiday. I hope you feel the same way!!

Short in tall letters with two pointy red elf shoes
Quirky and inspiring

Title: Short

Author: Holly Goldberg Sloan

Genre: Fiction – contemporary

Publication details: Dial Books for Young Readers; NY, 2017

ISBN: 9780399186219

What this book is about: Julia Marks’ summer is not starting out well. Her mother has insisted she audition for the local production of The Wizard of Oz, and she is cast as a Munchkin – even though she can’t dance or carry a tune. As she meets and befriends two extraordinary women over the course of the production; Julia realizes that this summer will change the way she sees herself and the world. This heartwarming novel, with it’s cast of unforgettable characters, is a joyous story of self-discovery and the role models who forever change us.

My review: An awesome summer story!! I loved all the theatre scenes and the dramas that unfolded. Some unforgettable characters that you tend to fall in love with as soon as you open the book. Quirky, witty, funny, sweet, and an  inspiring story of self-discovery. I loved the plot and laughed so much for the dialogue!! An awesome read for all ages.

My rating: 5 ⭐

Sunny side up girl on floaty in pink bathing suit beach ball in pool
Graphic Novel

Title: Sunny side up

Author: Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm

Genre: Fiction – contemporary (Graphic Novel)

Publication details: Graphix; NY, 2015

ISBN: 9780545741651

What this book is about: Sunny Lewin has been packed off to Florida to live with her grandfather for the summer. At first she thought Florida might be fun, but the place where Gramps lives is no amusement park. It’s full of…old people. Luckily, Sunny isn’t the only kid around. She meets Buzz, a boy who is completely obsessed with comic books, and soon they’re having adventures of their own. But the question remains – why is Sunny down in Florida in the first place? The answer lies in a family secret that won’t be secret to Sunny much longer…

My review: A delightful little read!! I love the simplicity of the graphics in this graphic novel. With each ‘flashback’ strip, we get to see a little about Sunny and her family and the events that led to her being sent to her Gramps. I love how the sister and brother team has conveyed a very grown up issue, substance abuse, into this graphic novel and shown that ‘kids today don’t need to feel ashamed, but okay to feel sad, and confused and to need some help. And definitely okay to talk about it’. In my opinion the problem of drugs, alcohol and other substance abuse is a very serious issue that hits small communities throughout the world and it’s always the young ones that we need to educate about it. Great read for all!!

My rating: 4 ⭐

Additional notes: Sunny side up  was nominated for the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards for Best Publication for kids (ages 9-12) in 2016, the Oregon Spirit Book Award for graphic novel in 2015, and the Pennsylvania Young Reader’s Choice Award for grades 3 – 6 in 2017.

Hour of the bees in blue on white background small bee in corner
Magical and inspiring read

Title: Hour of the bees

Author: Lindsay Eagar

Genre: Fiction – contemporary

Publication details: Candlewick Press; Somerville, Mass, 2016

ISBN: 9780763687359

What this book is about: While her friends are spending their summer having pool parties and sleepovers, twelve-year-old Caroline – Carol – is spending hers in the middle of the New Mexico desert, helping her parents move the grandfather she’s never met off his dying sheep ranch and into a home for people with dementia. At first Carol keeps her distance from prickly Grandpa Serfe. But as the summer drags on and the heat bears down, she finds herself drawn to Serge, enchanted by his stories about an oasis in the desert and a tree that gave the villagers the gift of immortality – and the bees that kept the tree alive. But as the thin between magic and reality starts to blur, Carol must decide for herself what is possible – and what it means to be true to her roots.

My review: A beautiful story of identity and belonging. I love how Grandpa Serge’s story weaves a second strand from the past into the present. This was a really well written tale; almost magical itself. Some really great characters and a lovely story. What I enjoyed the most were the family relationships and their dynamics. Although it’s quite sad at the end, it’s also bittersweet!

My rating: 4 ⭐

Additional notes: This book was nominated for the Rebecca Caudill Young Reader’s Book Award in 2018 and the Magnolia Award for grades 6 – 8, also in 2018.

The stars of summer young girl sitting on food cart blue umbrella behind
Scrumptious summer story

Title: The stars of summer

Author: Tara Dairman

Genre: Fiction – contemporary

Publication details: G.P. Putnam’s Sons; NY, 2015

ISBN: 9780399170690

What this book is about: After successfully completing her first restaurant review for the New York Standard newspaper, Gladys Gatsby is looking forward to a quiet summer of cooking and eating. But her plans quickly go away when her friend Charissa Bentley delivers Gladys’s birthday gift: a free summer at Camp Bentley. As Gladys feared, camp life is not easy. Worst of all, there’s no time to sneak way for her latest reviewing assignment: finding the best hot dog in New York City. This entertaining sequel is rollicking summertime adventure through New York City with all of the charm of All Four Stars – and even more foodie flavor!

My review: Ah…summer…the season of backyard baseball games, sprinkler hopping, summer camps, swimming and eating!!! I have been told this was what every American kids dream of!! This is not one of those books!! It has a few extra elements to the whole summer experience. Some mystery, a whole lot of summer camp dramas, first kisses, celebrity author’s, revenge…but most of all…summer fun with the family!! Awesome read for all, especially foodies!!

My rating: 5 ⭐

As brave as as you two boys small house with tree growing through
Engaging read

Title: As brave as you

Author: Jason Reynolds

Genre: Fiction – contemporary

Publication details: Antheum Books for Young Readers; NY, 2016

ISBN: 9781481415903

What this book is about: Eleven-year-old Genie and his older brother Ernie are sent to Virginia to experience the great outdoors, and they’re both in for big surprises. Not only do they have a huge list of chores to contend with, but their Grandpop just might be completely off his rocker. The man had a secret, and once Ernie learns what it is, all of Grandpop’s oddities start to make sense. On top of that, Grandpop has a crazy idea for how to celebrate Ernie’s upcoming birthday. Actually it isn’t so crazy to Genie. But Ernie thinks it’s so crazy, it’s wack. Genie thinks it’s because Ernie isn’t brave enough. But is brave doing something? Or knowing when not to?

My review: A lovely story of brothers, family and doing the right thing. I really enjoy reading diverse books like these where you get to read of the lives of African Americans and their mannerisms which you can find in spades in this story. Some great characters in the two brothers. The main themes are of courage and bravery and what it means to be brave. Do you stand up for what you believe or do you back off? A great read for all ages!!

My rating: 4 ⭐

Additional notes: As brave as you has won the Schneider Family book award in 2017, and nominated for the Coretta Scott King Award for Author Honor in 2017 and the Kirkus Prize for Young Readers Literature in 2016.

Quicksand pond large pond two girls on raft in middle big house in background tree and reeds in front
A good read

Title: Quicksand Pond

Author: Janet Taylor Lisle

Genre: Fiction – contemporary

Publication details: Antheum Books for Young Readers; NY, 2017

ISBN: 9781481472227

What this book is about: Quicksand Pond is a shadowy, hidden place, full of chirping, shrieking, croaking life. It’s where scrappy Terri Carr lives with her no-good family. And it’s where 12-year-old Jessie Kettel is reluctantly spending her summer vacation. The two meet on a raft out in the water, and become friends. On Quicksand Pond, Jessie and Terri can be lost to the outside world. But a tragedy that occurred many decades ago has had lingering effects on this sleepy town, and especially on Terri Carr. And the more Jessie learns, the more she begins to question her new friendship – and herself. Newbery Honor winner Janet Taylor Lisle’s gorgeous, profound new novel about a pivotal summer in two girls’ lives explores the convictions we form, the judgments we make, and the values we hold.

My review: A good read!! Some very challenging characters and an equally thought-provoking plot and story-line. Excellent writing from this award winning author!! There are some areas which might be hard going for young readers so I would recommend this for older readers as the author seems to be writing about some dark themes here. Despite this it’s a good read if you like reading about serious stuff.

My rating: 3 ⭐

Drive me crazy two girl sitting back to back road through Arizona in bottom rollercoaster on top
Road trip through summer

Title: Drive me crazy

Author: Terra Elan McVoy

Genre: Fiction – contemporary

Publication details: Katherine Tegen Books; 2015

ISBN: 9780062322432

What this book is about: Lana and Cassie have met only once before, at the wedding of Lana’s Grandpa Howe and Cassie’s Grandma Tess two months ago. Now they’re about to spend an entire week together, just the two of them and their honeymooning grandparents, road-tripping in Cassie’s grandmother’s Subaru. Lana thinks of a summer road trip sounds like fun, but the backseat is a crowded place for two twelve-year-old girls with two huge secrets to hide, and this bumpy road to friendship is full of unexpected twists and turns.

My review: Told from the two different voices of Lana and Cassie this adorable middle grade fiction novel explores the loves, lives, and dramas that are involved in growing up. Cassie’s addiction to her cell-phone, Lana’s sudden mood changes plus all the fun-loving adventures their grandparents get up to make this an enjoyable read!! Without giving too much away, I’d say I enjoyed the dynamics of their fledgling relationship and how it blossomed, the girls that is!! Lovely story, funny characters and an amazing travelogue to some amazing sites in America!! Great for all ages!

My rating: 5 ⭐

Summerlost dark sky with clouds girl and boy on bikes
Inspiring story of friendship

Title: Summerlost

Author: Ally Condie

Genre: Fiction – contemporary (Teens)

Publication details: Dutton Children’s Books; 2016

ISBN: 9780399187193

What this book is about: Cedar and her family are spending the summer in her mother’s hometown of Iron Creek; trying to mend their broken pieces after the tragic accident that claimed the lives of her father and brother a year ago. One day a boy named Leo, dressed in costume, rides by on his bike, and everything about Cedar’s summer changes. Soon, Cedar has a job working at the renowned Summerlost theater festival, and a growing friendship with Leo that will blossom as they piece together clues around the short and tragic life of one of Iron Creek’s most famous residents. Emotionally resonant and rich with understanding, Summerlost is the touching middle grade debut from Ally Condie that explores the strength of family and the transformative power of friendship in the face of tragedy.

My review: Such a beautiful story!! I hadn’t cried and laughed like this in a book in a few months!! A story that sort of flows gently like a steady little hilltop brook, it took me to those little towns of America where everybody knows everybody and you wish you were there!! Some amazing characters which you instantly fall in love with!! Although it’s mostly about their friendship and the mystery of Lisette’s ring; this story for me signified how someone so young was learning to process her grief and try to live with the memories. Awesome read!!

My rating: 5 ⭐

Additional notes: Summerlost has been nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Juvenile Fiction in 2017 and the Goodreads Choice award for Middle Grade and Children’s Fiction in 2016.


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