Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Gear up for Summer Reading

I remember the smell of the library in summer, how the hot pavement of the parking lot turned into the air-conditioned quiet, leaving me walking stiffly to silence the sound of my flip-flops. I searched the shelves for books to fill the hours, something I would have done regardless, but in the summer it was even more alluring, because that was when the Summer Reading Lists came out.

Did your library have these? I remember pirate and astronaut themes, papers with little round dots to color in whenever you read a book, and at the end of them all was the promised certificate and shiny medal on a ribbon. My kids participate now, and KCLS does an outstanding job with their summer reading program. For our whole family, summer isn't quite summer without a reading list, and a huge chunk of mine will be hopefully filled with new middle-grade reads. Here are a few of the ones I'm looking forward to exploring:

Eighth grade is set to be a good year for Diggy Lawson: he’s chosen a great calf to compete at the Minnesota State Fair, he’ll see a lot of the girl he secretly likes at 4-H, and he and his dad Pop have big plans for April Fool’s Day. But everything changes when classmate Wayne Graf’s mother dies, which brings to light that Pop is Wayne’s father, too. Suddenly, Diggy has a half-brother who moves in and messes up his life. Wayne threatens Diggy’s chances to win Grand Champion, horns in on his girl, and rattles his easy relationship with Pop.

Despite his high hopes, eighth grade quickly turns into Diggy’s worst year ever, filled with jealousy, fighting, and several incidents involving cow poop. But as the boys care for their calves, pull pranks, and watch too many B movies, they learn what it means to be brothers and how weird the concept of family can be as they slowly steer toward a new kind of normal.

My Thoughts: 4-H, B-movies, state fairs - this just screams summer. Also: I've never read a MG book about raising cows.

Lucy Darrington has no choice but to run away from boarding school. Her father, an expert on the supernatural, has been away for too long while doing research in Saarthe, a remote territory in the Pacific Northwest populated by towering redwoods, timber barons, and the Lupine people. 

But upon arriving, she learns her father is missing: Rumor has it he's gone in search of dreamwood, a rare tree with magical properties that just might hold the cure for the blight that's ravaging the forests of Saarthe. Determined to find her father (and possibly save Saarthe), Lucy and her vexingly stubborn friend Pete follow William Darrington's trail to the deadly woods on Devil's Thumb. As they encounter princesses, giant sea serpents, and all manner of terrifying creatures, Lucy hasn't reckoned that the dreamwood itself might be the greatest threat of all.

My Thoughts: The cover caught me. Besides, a fantasy-adventure set in a mysterious forest in the Pacific Northwest? I'm in.

Twelve-year-old Dorothea Barnes can hold her own in any fake Renaissance Faire sword-fight, but she despairs of ever finding something more important to do with her sword. Then she stumbles into Petrarch's Library, the sprawling headquarters of a secret society of librarians. Ninja librarians.

The Library's wings stretch into every century that has passed since the invention of the written word. The librarians who serve it pursue an important mission: Protect those whose words have gotten them in trouble. They pull heretics off of stakes in fourteenth century Spain, track down stolen manuscripts through the wilds of ancient Persia, and maneuver always against those who prefer to control the flow of ideas and information for their own gain.

Dorrie wants nothing more than to be allowed to stay and apprentice with these unusual librarians. Some of them, however, fear Dorrie has connections to the Foundation, an old and ruthless enemy. The Library's Director of Security would like to send Dorrie home and permanently close the door on the twenty-first century behind her. When a traitor arises from within the Library, events pull Dorrie into a pivotal role. But in order to save Petrarch's Library, she may have to erase herself from its history, forever.

My Thoughts: I'm drawn to any stories that play with the book/reader relationship. Add in ninja librarians and a journey through history - this looks so fun!

Set in 1981 Guatemala, a lyrical debut novel tells the powerful tale of a boy who must decide what it means to be a man during a time of war.

Carlos knows that when the soldiers arrive with warnings about the Communist rebels, it is time to be a man and defend the village, keep everyone safe. But Mama tells him not yet—he’s still her quiet moonfaced boy. The soldiers laugh at the villagers, and before they move on, a neighbor is found dangling from a tree, a sign on his neck: Communist.

Mama tells Carlos to run and hide, then try to find her. . . . Numb and alone, he must join a band of guerillas as they trek to the top of the mountain where Carlos’s abuela lives. Will he be in time, and brave enough, to warn them about the soldiers? What will he do then? A novel in verse inspired by actual events during Guatemala’s civil war, Caminar is the moving story of a boy who loses nearly everything before discovering who he really is.

My Thoughts: The summary for this caught my eye - I'm already invested in Carlos' story - as well as the fact that I know so little about Guatemala's Civil War and would like to learn more. 

Alice always thought fairy tales had happy endings. That--along with everything else--changed the day she met her first fairy

When Alice's father goes down in a shipwreck, she is sent to live with her uncle Geryon--an uncle she's never heard of and knows nothing about. He lives in an enormous manor with a massive library that is off-limits to Alice. But then she meets a talking cat. And even for a rule-follower, when a talking cat sneaks you into a forbidden library and introduces you to an arrogant boy who dares you to open a book, it's hard to resist. Especially if you're a reader to begin with. Soon Alice finds herself INSIDE the book, and the only way out is to defeat the creature imprisoned within.

It seems her uncle is more than he says he is. But then so is Alice.

My Thoughts: Another fantastic sounding book-world. With talking cats. !!! Besides, maybe all these stories aren't wrong. Maybe we really CAN go inside the book-worlds? ;)

Jack's parents have been chased out of Tokyo, gone broke in Greece, and hosted Nairobi's least successful safari. Next they're taking Jack to the Caribbean, whether Jack wants to go or not. The Berensons have devised their latest get-rich-quick scheme - a new sport called 'drift-snorkeling.' With these experienced world travelers at the helm, what could go wrong?

Jack's used to staying indoors and not taking chances. When his parents take him out on the water, he ends up shipwrecked. Now Jack has to survive on a tropical island...and avoid a whale shark that's cruising along his beach.

My Thoughts: I like the set-up here. Underdog, risk-adverse character and wild jet-setting parents. I'll give it a try. 

It's the aftermath of Legacy Day, the day when the students at Ever After High are supposed to pledge to follow in their fairytale parents' footsteps, and everyone is in a huff and a puff! Raven Queen, daughter of the Evil Queen, has refused to sign the Storybook of Legends, rejecting her story--and putting everyone else's in jeopardy.

The Royal Apple White doesn't want to think Raven is being a rebellious pain, but Raven's choice means Apple might never get the poisoned apple, Prince Charming, and a kingdom to rule. Behind Apple stands the Royals, those who want to play by the book and embrace their stories. The Rebels, supporters of Raven, believe in breaking free from destiny and writing their own stories.

My Thoughts: I really liked the first book in this series, and the sequel looks just as fun.

It is ridiculously difficult to get a pizza delivered to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

First Daughter Audrey Rhodes can’t wait for the party she has planned. The decorations are all set, and the pizza is on its way. But the Secret Service must be out to ruin her life, because they cancel at the last minute for a “security breach,” squashing Audrey’s chances for making any new friends. What good is having your own bowling alley if you don’t have anyone to play with?

Audrey is ready to give up and spend the next four years totally friendless—until she discovers Alice Roosevelt’s hidden diary. The former first daughter’s outrageous antics give Audrey a ton of ideas for having fun . . . and get her into more trouble than she can handle.

My Thoughts: I've heard good things about this book, and I love stories where characters discover a friend in the past.

What about you Mayhemers? I know my list is heavy on the fantasy-adventure stories, so I'd love to hear your middle-grade summer reads. 


  1. Wow, you are going to be reading madly!

    I hate to admit it on a Middle grade blog, but my summer reading is probably going to be Book 5 of The Game of Thrones.

    1. Well, we'll see whether I get through them all...

      And GoT will probably take up the summer - hefty read!

  2. Marissa, I interviewed Rebecca on my blog a few months ago and think AUDREY sound so fun! I'm looking forward to reading an ARC of FISH IN A TREE when it goes to print...

  3. Eek! I know what you're up to. You're trying to restock my reading list. Well listen up lady, IT'S NOT ALLOWED. (But they all look so good. Must read...)

    1. haha! My To-read list is ever-growing as well.

  4. These all look great, Marissa! That last one tickles my fancy, even though I usually opt for fantasy. Secret diary + antics seems brill.


Thanks for adding to the mayhem!