Summer’s officially here, but you may know a little bookworm who’s not ready to put away the books. Here are some of my favorite titles for 8-14-year-olds…. There’s something here for everyone: young history buffs, outdoorsy kids, aspiring thespians, and little superheroes. And for all you writers of kid lit–these titles are all excellent examples of strong voice and well-development characters.
Okay everyone, get your summer read on!!
PLAYING JULIET by JoAnne Stewart Wetzel
So, yes, I love this book because it’s one of mine, BUT it’s also a very breezy read that is a favorite with any aspiring young thespians!
Beth Sondquist, age twelve and a half, dreams of playing the part of Juliet. For now she’s just the cat in Cinderella, but one day, she’s determined to become a real actress. But all her hopes for an acting career come crashing down when the Oakfield Children’s Theater is slated to be closed. Its new owner has decided to make it into an adult theater, a real theater. Beth and her best friend, Zandy, are willing to do whatever it takes to save the theater, but their plans quickly go awry. When Beth’s father catches her sneaking back into her bedroom window well past bedtime, Beth is in big, big trouble.
With eviction looming, the children’s theater director decides to close the theater with the same play the theater opened with fifty years ago—Romeo and Juliet. But Beth’s grounded for the next two weeks, and she won’t be able to try out. How will Beth pull off playing Juliet if she can’t even make tryouts?
THE PENDERWICKS: A SUMMER TALE OF FOUR SISTERS, TWO RABBITS, AND A VERY INTERESTING BOY by Jeanne Birdsall
The voice is super unique and lovely here, as it’s an omniscient narrator. So tricky to pull off, but it works here!
A National Book Award winner, this modern classic is perfect for fans of Noel Streatfeild and Edward Eager.
This summer the Penderwick sisters have a wonderful surprise: a holiday on the grounds of a beautiful estate called Arundel. Soon they are busy discovering the summertime magic of Arundel’s sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in Massachusetts. But the best discovery of all is Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundel’s owner, who quickly proves to be the perfect companion for their adventures.
The icy-hearted Mrs. Tifton is not as pleased with the Penderwicks as Jeffrey is, though, and warns the new friends to stay out of trouble. Which, of course, they will—won’t they? One thing’s for sure: it will be a summer the Penderwicks will never forget.
Deliciously nostalgic and quaintly witty, this is a story as breezy and carefree as a summer day.
EL DEAFO by Cece Bell
This is an autobiographical graphic novel that’s equal parts touching and hilarious. Kids will grow their emotional IQ with this one!
Starting at a new school is scary, even more so with a giant hearing aid strapped to your chest! At her old school, everyone in Cece’s class was deaf. Here she is different. She is sure the kids are staring at the Phonic Ear, the powerful aid that will help her hear her teacher. Too bad it also seems certain to repel potential friends.
Then Cece makes a startling discovery. With the Phonic Ear she can hear her teacher not just in the classroom, but anywhere her teacher is in school–in the hallway…in the teacher’s lounge…in the bathroom! This is power. Maybe even superpower! Cece is on her way to becoming El Deafo, Listener for All. But the funny thing about being a superhero is that it’s just another way of feeling different… and lonely. Can Cece channel her powers into finding the thing she wants most, a true friend?
This funny perceptive graphic novel memoir about growing up hearing impaired is also an unforgettable book about growing up, and all the super and super embarrassing moments along the way.
FLORA & ULYSSES: THE ILLUMINATED ADVENTURES by Kate DiCamillo
This is a study in how to create unique, quirky, lovable characters. Both kids and their writer-parents will enjoy this one!
It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is the just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry—and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart.
From #1 New York Times best-selling author Kate DiCamillo comes a laugh-out-loud story filled with eccentric, endearing characters and featuring an exciting new format—a novel interspersed with comic-style graphic sequences and full-page illustrations, all rendered in black-and-white by up-and-coming artist K. G. Campbell.
THE EVOLUTION OF CALPURNIA TATE by Jacqueline Kelly
The character and historical setting are both phenomenal here–a must read!
Calpurnia Virginia Tate is eleven years old in 1899 when she wonders why the yellow grasshoppers in her Texas backyard are so much bigger than the green ones. With a little help from her notoriously cantankerous grandfather, an avid naturalist, she figures out that the green grasshoppers are easier to see against the yellow grass, so they are eaten before they can get any larger.
As Callie explores the natural world around her, she develops a close relationship with her grandfather, navigates the dangers of living with six brothers, and comes up against just what it means to be a girl at the turn of the century.
Debut author Jacqueline Kelly deftly brings Callie and her family to life, capturing a year of growing up with unique sensitivity and a wry wit.