By now many Books in Bloom readers and their students are probably on summer vacation. Maybe you’ve looked forward to your summer break for the opportunity to relax and catch up on your reading. I know that’s what I would do with my summer break. Sometimes, though, summer vacation brings its own sort of challenges. It certainly does for the kids in these novels.
It’s the summer of the cicadas in The Battle of Darcy Lane by Tara Altebrando. Everyone in Julia’s small town is waiting for the cicadas to emerge after seventeen years underground, but twelve-year-old Julia has other concerns. There’s a new girl in her neighborhood, and she is ruining everything. From the very first day she moves in, Alyssa manages to come between Julia and her friend Taylor. Soon it becomes clear that Julia is the odd one out, and everything she does seems to make the situation worse. The “battle” from the title isn’t just about neighborhood alliances. It’s also about Russia, a ball-bouncing game Alyssa teaches them, which becomes the focus of a fierce competition between the girls. This is a thoughtful novel about friendship and growing up that includes fascinating information about the cicada’s life cycle and instructions for playing Russia. (9780762449484. April 2014. Gr. 3-6)
In Minnesota, summer often means spending time at the family lake cabin. That’s both good and bad for Adam in Three Bird Summer by Sara St. Antoine. He has spent every summer he can remember at his grandma’s cabin with all of his cousins. He likes being at the cabin, but he doesn’t like how his cousins make him feel bad about his lack of canoeing skills and non-outdoorsy nature. This year, it will just be Adam and his grandmother, and he imagines a quiet summer observing nature. It turns out, though, that there are new neighbors and other changes that turn a quiet summer into one of mystery and secrets. (9780763665647. May 2014. Gr. 5-7)
Nina doesn’t picture herself as someone who could save the world, but that is just what she does in The Summer I Saved the World…in 65 Days by Michele Weber Hurwitz. Well, okay… she doesn’t save the entire world in a big swooping superhero way. She saves herself and her neighbors with simple kindnesses. You might be surprised at the changes that can come from one good deed a day for a whole summer. Nina certainly is. This is a feel-good novel that will be a great summer read for young people who are interested in making a difference. (9780385371063. April 2014. Gr. 6-8)
How about some acts of literary sabotage for the summer? That’s exactly what Lucy and her friends have in mind for their summer in I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora. Lucy is a true bibliophile who is actually excited about her summer reading list, but she knows that not everyone feels like she does. She and her two best friends decide to start a movement to draw some attention to Lucy’s favorite book, To Kill a Mockingbird. It starts out pretty simple: they start a campaign to “kill the mockingbird” which involves moving copies of the book in bookstores (not stealing!) to create a sense of scarcity. But when I Kill the Mockingbird goes viral, they find that their summer project has a life of its own. This slim novel packs a lot into its 176 pages, and it will almost certainly start a conversation about books and social media in a book club or classroom. (9781596437425. May 2014. Gr. 6-8)
What’s on your summer reading list?