I can’t wait to tell you about the latest new books to get your kids excited about reading. So for this summer vacation 2016 or any time, browse through these reviews and see what will appeal to your child.
See also my summer book lists by grade and age.
New Books for Summer 2016
Nick and Tesla’s Solar-Powered Showdown by Bob Pflugfelder, Steve Hockensmith ADVENTURE (ages 7 – 10)
I LOVE this series. This is a great wrap up (sad, I know) of the Nick and Tesla STEM adventures. The twins must rescue their parents and believe it or not, Uncle Newt will help. Of course this action-packed story includes directions for creating your own projects such as a hot-dog cooker and alarm.
To Kick a Corpse by Tom Angleberger HUMOR (ages 7 – 10)
Irreverent and wildly appealing humor!! Third in the series, these three friends are having trouble meeting to plot and plan since after their last (mis)adventure, Marilla’s parents said she couldn’t. But when Marilla hears about a slave master buried standing up to better control his slaves, she’s infuriated. She’s determined to right that wrong and kick him over! (other books in the series: Poop Fountain! and The Rat With the Human Face.)
Sherlock Sam and the Ghostly Moans in Fort Canning by A.J. Low MYSTERIES (ages 7 – 10)
Set in Singapore, Sherlock Sam and his friends use their brains to solve mysteries. In this case, they’re determined to discover the cause of the ghostly sounds from an abandoned military fort. Could it be a ghost? Their adventures are funny and exciting, this is a well-written chapter book in a new series. (See also: Sherlock Sam and the Missing Heirloom in Katong.)
Crossing the Line (The Raven Files) by Meghan Rogers SPY / ADVENTURE (ages 8 – 12)
This is a captivating, action packed story about a former teenage North Korean spy and assassin, Jocelyn. Now she’s in the U.S. and is working with her parents previous spy agency. She’s supposed to feed North Korea intel but she’s giving them garbage because she’s loyal to the U.S. Life is complicated. No one trusts her. And there’s still the problem of her missing father. Cliff-hanger alert!
Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo REALISTIC (ages 8 – 12)
It’s hard to know where to start with this review. Raymie Nightingale seems to be a book about friendship and loss but it’s also very much about the big questions of who we are as individuals and why we are here on this earth. “She could feel her soul. It was a tiny little spark somewhere deep inside.” Raymie joins two other girls for baton-twirling classes where no baton instruction happens but friendships develop. The characters are unique and well-developed. This is a beautiful book and would be perfect for lengthy book club discussions.
Wishing Day by Lauren Myracle MAGICAL REALISM (ages 8 – 12)
Natasha’s magical ancestors started a town traditions that on the third night of the third month after your thirteenth birthday, you can make a wish at the willow tree. Natasha wants to believe — and she does, mostly — but ever since her mother disappeared, she’s lost some of that belief. Can her impossible wish come true? Natasha learns that maybe what she thinks she wants, she really doesn’t. This is a wonderful, magical coming-of-age story that I highly recommend. Read it with The Seventh Wish and discuss.
The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner MAGICAL REALISM (ages 8 – 12)
One of my favorite books of 2016, The Seventh Wish is a magically captivating coming-of-age story filled with friendship and family challenges and . . . wishes. Charlie is struggling with her sister leaving for college and subsequent problems with drug addiction, her parent’s inattention, and trying to make sense out of her life. So when Charlie accidentally catches a wish fish while ice-fishing, she’s sure that the fish will solve all her problems. Only as we might predict, that’s not exactly what happens. This is a wonderful book — great for book clubs and bedtime readings in order to discuss what happens and why. (This book is on my BEST CHILDREN’S CHAPTER BOOKS OF 2016 list!)
The Mechanical Mind of John Coggin by Elinor Teele HISTORICAL ADVENTURE (ages 8 – 12)
John and his sister are orphans who live with their mean, coffin-maker Great-Aunt Beauregard, who wants them to permanently sign on to the family coffin making business. Determined to have a different life, the siblings run away. Their adventures are wild (joining a circus) and heart-warming (living a kind-hearted baker). Throughout the story, John grows to realize that his fear of failure is holding him back from being a great inventor. This is a quirky, fun story with lovable characters. I especially loved the character of Boz, a wordsmith that will remind you of Captain Jack Sparrow for his uh, elocutions ramblings.
It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas HISTORICAL FICTION / REALISTIC (ages 8 – 12)
Although it may sound like a heavy book, this is a funny, realistic story about growing up and living in a culture that is not your own. It’s the late 1970s and Zomorod (Cindy) and her family are back in the U.S. from Iran –again. She’s desperate to fit in with the other kids but faces both family pressures and anti-Iranian prejudice.
Pax by Sara Pennypacker REALISTIC (ages 8 – 12)
I almost couldn’t read this story because I was so sad at the beginning when Peter’s newly enlisted father forces Peter to leave Pax, Peter’s fox he’s raised from a kit, in the woods, then drives Peter 300 miles away to his grandfather’s house to live. I mean, talk about heartbreaking! Peter feels just as awful and sets off, on foot, to find his fox. We also read the story from Pax’s point of view who is so confused but hopes his boy will return. Simultaneously Pax is adopted by a leash of foxes who teach him to survive in the wild and Peter is helped by a grumpy war-veteran hermit. Yes, this is a coming-of-age book but it’s also a commentary on war and the power of friendship.
Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin REALISTIC (ages 8 – 12)
Thyme and her family are uprooted in order to move to New York so her little brother can get the cancer treatment he needs. Mostly all Thyme can think about is moving home and missing her best friend although she’s torn between her love of her brother and family. When Thyme’s brother takes a turn for the worse, all that she’s been thinking and wondering culminate into a new acceptance of the meaning of home. It was gut-wrenching to share in Thyme’s journey but well worth it.
All Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor REALISTIC (ages 8 – 12)
This book hooked me from the first page, taking me on a coming of age story that was both heartbreaking and filled with hope. Perry is well-loved by his mother and her friends. . . in prison. That’s where Perry has lived since he was born eleven years ago. But in an unexpected and unpleasant turn of events, his best friend’s stepfather, the new District Attorney, forces Perry to leave the prison. Not only that, the DA tries to stall Perry’s mother’s parole hearing. Perry discovers the stories behind the inmates lives, hoping that they’ll be helpful in reuniting him with his mother. This story will stay with you long after you read the last page. (This book is on my BEST CHILDREN’S CHAPTER BOOKS OF 2016 list!)
Outlaws of Time: The Legend of Sam Miracle by N.D. Wilson FANTASY (ages 8 – 12)
By the same author as 100 Cupboards, this is a creative, thrilling, action-packed time-traveling adventure. Our hero, Sam Miracle, is a foster kid with two bad arms, who sees things that no one else can — things in a parallel world. Of course, he’s got enemies who wish to stop him. In fact, those enemies have killed him many times in past versions of the world. But with the help of a wise Native American healer, a Native American priest, the two personality-filled snakes that have become his arms (!), and his friend, Glory, maybe, just maybe, Sam can live and save the world.
The Mage of Trelian by Michelle Knudsen FANTASY (ages 8 – 12)
Calen purposely apprentices himself to the worst, most evil mage in the world, Krelig. He’s done so in hopes to learn enough to defeat Krelig. Without this knowledge, Calen is sure that Krelig will destroy all other mages and take over the world. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this magical story; Calen is a courageous hero to love! (The first book is Dragon of Trelian but I didn’t realize I was reading the 3rd book until after I finished.)
Tales from the Haunted Mansion Vol 1 The Fearsome Foursome as told by mansion librarian Amicus Ravenswood HORROR (ages 8 – 12)
“It began at a lunch table, where a good number of friendships are born.” I love this first line! And yes, it does begin in a cafeteria where four kids learn they all have something in common — horror stories. When their clubhouse is mysteriously destroyed, they receive invitations to visit a creepy Gothic mansion. There they meet a corpse-like “librarian” who says he wants to tell the kids stories about . . . themselves. Well-written with illustrations, scary story fans will enjoy this story of friendship and terror.
A Drop of Night by Stefan Bachman HISTORICAL / HORROR (ages 13+)
A little bit historical and a whole lot freaky, this is the story of four teens who are invited to a special archeological unveiling of a historical French underground palace. But that was a lie. Now the kids are trapped in a labyrinth of booby-trapped rooms with a dangerous killer and have no idea what’s going on. Except that they it’s unlikely they’ll escape with their lives.
The Executioner’s Daughter by Jane Hardstaff (ages 13+) HISTORICAL / FANTASY
Moss hates that her father is the Tower’s executioner. She has to accompany him to collect the heads. But her father says they have no choice, he’s a prisoner. Moss escapes, determined to have a different life. She finds it harder to survive than she thought, especially because the Riverwitch is after her. An interesting story in a cool historical setting.
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