Summer reading – new worlds to explore

(published in the Raleigh News and Observer, June 12, 2016 and Charlotte Observer on June 15, 2016)

Summer reading conjures up all kinds of images – reading programs, beach reads, family reads. Your child’s teachers may provide a list of recommendations. Local libraries offer lists by age groupings. And if you’ve got a reader, they’re bound to have their own favorites. Below find recommendations to support summer readers.

Celebrate reading aloud

This summer Mo Willems ends the Elephant and Piggie series that has kept new readers and their parents happy for more than 20 titles. “The Thank You Book” (Hyperion) provides humor through the speech balloon interchanges of Piggie and Gerald. Verbal Piggie turns the last book into a “Thank-O- Rama” while the emotional elephant, Gerald, interrupts her effusiveness by reminding her that “someone important” is missing. Willems ends with his usual satisfying surprise.

Other read-aloud authors you can count on: Mac Barnett, Karen Beaumont, Candice Fleming, Ian Falconer, Emily Gravett, Jeff Mack, George Shannon.

Ages: 4-7

For voracious readers

Feed the book hunger of newly independent readers with Shannon Hale’s third title, “The Princess in Black and the Hungry Bunny Horde” (Candlewick). The series pleases parents who want their princess-loving progeny to have strong female role models. In the latest book, Frilly Princess Magnolia and her unicorn, Frimplepants, don their secret identities to fight off ravenous rabbits from Monster Land who threaten the kingdom.

Other early series heroes and heroines: Abby Hanlon’s Dory Fantasmagory; Stephanie Greene’s Princess Posey; John Himmelman’s Bunjitsu Bunny; Jacqueline Jules’ Freddie Ramos; and Hilary McKay’s Lulu.

Ages: 4-7

Satisfy older literary series lovers with Sara Pennypacker’s first in a new series, “Waylon: One More Thing” (Hyperion). Those sad to see her Clementine series end will welcome Waylon, the “scienciest” fourth-grader. He’s also an empath who suffers as his middle school sister goes goth and his class divides into factions.

Other heroes and heroines of short novels: Wendy Mass’ Archie; Sally Warner’s EllRay Jakes, Ursula Vernon’s Hamster Princess; and Megan McDonald’s Stink.

Ages: 6-10

Share a family read

Lauren Wolk’s “Wolf Hollow” (Dutton) immerses readers in the World War II world of 11-year-old Annabelle. Annabelle lives tranquilly on a quiet Pennsylvania farm with loving parents until she faces the menace of bully Betty Glengarry. Simultaneously, World War II prejudices transform her peaceful town into one that is suspicious and ugly. When the town’s cruelty turns on a homeless, kindly World War I veteran, Annabelle’s innocence fades and she’s determined to make a stand. Traveling? Emily Rankin gives a strong sense of time, place and Annabelle’s growth in the audio version. (Listening Library, 6 hours.)

Other novels to share: Kwame Alexander’s “The Crossover,” Cassie Beasley’s “Circus Mirandus,” Kimberly Brubaker Bradley’s “The War That Saved My Life,” Leslie Connor’s “All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook,” Sharon Draper’s “Out of My Mind,” Karen Foxlee’s “Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy,” Sara Pennypacker’s “Pax.”

Ages: 9-12

Gripping reads

Kate O’Brien, a scholarship senior at a wealthy Manhattan school, will do anything to get to Harvard in Teresa Toten’s “Beware That Girl” (Delacorte). That includes being friends with popular, wealthy Olivia Sumner, who seems more a mark than BFF. Complexity builds when a gorgeous new school administrator seeks an alliance with each of the girls for unclear reasons. Twists and turns abound in this fast-moving psychological thriller.

Other gripping books: Moira Fowley-Doyle’s “The Accident Season,” Frances Hardinge’s “The Lie Tree,” Nick Lake’s “There Will Be Lies,” E. Lockhart’s “We Were Liars,” Nicola Yoon’s “Everything, Everything.”

Ages: 13-up


YA readers can escape into Catherine Egan’s fascinating world as her series starts with “Julia Vanishes” (Knopf). Spira City is a dangerous place. Serial killers and nocturnal beasts roam the streets at night and anyone can be drowned for being a witch. Sixteen-year-old orphan, Julia, earns her keep with cons and thieves because of her amazing gift to “go unseen.” Collecting clues in the secretive house of a powerful, enigmatic woman puts Julia in peculiar, puzzling situations. Lyrical writing provides as much escape as book’s mystery and tension.

More YA escapism: Holly Black’s “The Coldest Girl in Coldtown,” Katie Coyle’s “Vivian Apple at the End of the World,” Alwyn Hamilton’s “Rebel of the Sands,” Tom McNeal’s “Far, Far Away,” Rainbow Rowell’s “Carry On,” Jonathan Stroud’s “The Screaming Staircase.”

Ages: 13-up


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