MMGM: 15 Summer-themed Books

With summer coming up, I’ve been craving a middle-grade read set in the summer. Something about the adventure of it. Sometimes the mystery. Always the magic.

And these 15 books have all of these. They will get you ready for summer-or get you through the summer-with a smile on your face.

clatter

Publisher’s Description:

In this companion to A Tangle of Knots, it’s summertime and everyone is heading off to camp. For Talented kids, the place to be is Camp Atropos, where they can sing songs by the campfire, practice for the Talent show, and take some nice long dips in the lake. But what the kids don’t know is that they’ve been gathered for a reason–one that the camp’s director wants to keep hidden at all costs.

Meanwhile, a Talent jar that has been dropped to the bottom of the lake has sprung a leak, and strange things have begun to happen. Dozens of seemingly empty jars have been washing up on the shoreline, Talents have been swapped, and memories have been ripped from one camper’s head and placed into another. And no one knows why.

poppy2

Publisher’s Description:

Finding out you were wrong about something important can be a let down. But Poppy is pleased to learn she’s not just a Monday. She’s a Cusper, a weekday lucky enough to have TWO powers. Poppy’s elation is short-lived when she, Ellie, Logan, and Sam return to Power Academy as camp counselors, only to find themselves out of their element and struggling with the new drama teacher and his disaster of a school musical. When some campers go missing, Poppy and her team of weekdays are on the case. Soon, Poppy begins to realize that much like her powers, the seemingly-perfect town of Nova has some flaws, and the origin of her powers is as questionable as Headmistress Clothes-too-tight Larriby’s choice in outfits. If only there were more days in the week!

cosmos

Publisher’s Description:

11-year-old Alex Petroski loves space and rockets, his mom, his brother, and his dog Carl Sagan—named for his hero, the real-life astronomer. All he wants is to launch his golden iPod into space the way Carl Sagan (the man, not the dog) launched his Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. From Colorado to New Mexico, Las Vegas to L.A., Alex records a journey on his iPod to show other lifeforms what life on earth, his earth, is like.

But his destination keeps changing. And the funny, lost, remarkable people he meets along the way can only partially prepare him for the secrets he’ll uncover—from the truth about his long-dead dad to the fact that, for a kid with a troubled mom and a mostly not-around brother, he has way more family than he ever knew.

underdogs

Publisher’s Description:

Everyone has secrets…

Who killed Annabel Harper?

When a popular teen beauty’s body is discovered by the pool at an elite tennis club, the regulars are shocked—especially twelve-year-old Evie and her best friend, Chelsea. While everyone else is haunted by Annabel’s death, Evie and Chelsea jump on the case, dogging the footsteps of the lead detective as he investigates. As temperatures soar ver the summer, tensions rise, fingers are pointed, and a heroic act sets in motion a chain of events readers will never see coming.

summerlost

Publisher’s Description:

It’s the first real summer since the devastating accident that killed Cedar’s father and younger brother, Ben. But now Cedar and what’s left of her family are returning to the town of Iron Creek for the summer. They’re just settling into their new house when a boy named Leo, dressed in costume, rides by on his bike. Intrigued, Cedar follows him to the renowned Summerlost theatre festival. Soon, she not only has a new friend in Leo and a job working concessions at the festival, she finds herself surrounded by mystery. The mystery of the tragic, too-short life of the Hollywood actress who haunts the halls of Summerlost. And the mystery of the strange gifts that keep appearing for Cedar.

Infused with emotion and rich with understanding, Summerlost is the touching middle grade debut from Ally Condie, the international bestselling author of the Matched series, that highlights the strength of family and personal resilience in the face of tragedy.

summerofsundays

Publisher’s Description:

When you’re the third of six kids, it’s easy to get lost in the shuffle, but Sunday Fowler is determined that this summer she’ll find the one thing that makes her stand out from her siblings.

And when she discovers a silver box in the basement of the library her parents are renovating, she might just have found something to gain her the attention she so craves. Inside is a series of letters addressed to “The Librarian” and a manuscript. But who wrote them? With the help of annoying neighbor-turned-new-friend Jude, Sunday is determined to track down the author. And when she unveils this novel to the world, she’ll be famous!

But uncovering this manuscript means stirring up secrets that some people in the town hoped to keep buried. And Sunday must decide if some things — loyalty, trust, friendship — are worth more than her name in the headlines.

experiment

Publisher’s Experiment:

A boring summer vacation turns unexpectedly interesting when mysterious lights appear over Roberta’s hometown in northern Maine. Roberta is convinced she and her best friend Marillee can win the Maine State Science Fair if only they can find an amazing project to showcase. Communicating with aliens would certainly do the trick. But in order to win they’ll need to defeat their chief competitor, “The 4H’s of the Apocalypse”: Henry Horton Harris Helmsby.

This is a story told in a distinctive voice that is by turns funny, exciting, and sometimes heartbreaking.

justlikeme

Publisher’s Description:

Who eats Cheetos with chopsticks?! Avery and Becca, my “Chinese Sisters,” that’s who. We’re not really sisters—we were just adopted from the same orphanage. And we’re nothing alike. They sing Chinese love songs on the bus to summer camp, and I pretend like I don’t know them.

To make everything worse, we have to journal about our time at camp so the adoption agency can do some kind of “where are they now” newsletter. I’ll tell you where I am: At Camp Little Big Woods in a cabin with five other girls who aren’t getting along, competing for a campout and losing (badly), wondering how I got here…and where I belong.

treehouse

Publisher’s Description:

Kids vs. parents! An epic treehouse sleepover! An awesome group of friends! An exciting new book from National Book Award finalist Lisa Graff.

Winnie’s last day of fourth grade ended with a pretty life-changing surprise. That was the day Winnie s parents got divorced, the day they decided that Winnie would live three days a week with each of them and spend Wednesdays by herself in a treehouse smack between their houses, to divide her time perfectly evenly between them. It was the day Winnie s seed of frustration with her parents was planted, a seed that grew and grew until it felt like it was as big as a tree itself.

By the end of fifth grade, Winnie decides that the only way to change things is to barricade herself in her treehouse until her parents come to their senses and her friends decide to join her. It s kids versus grown-ups, and no one wants to back down first. But with ten kids in one treehouse, all with their own demands, Winnie discovers that things can get pretty complicated pretty fast! Even if they are having the most epic slumber party ever.

In the newest novel by beloved National Book Award finalist Lisa Graff, kids have turned the tables on their parents, and all the rules have been tossed out the window. But does Winnie have what it takes to hold her ground and keep everyone happy?

hellouniverse

Publisher’s Description:

Newbery Medalist Erin Entrada Kelly’s Hello, Universe is a funny and poignant neighborhood story about unexpected friendships.

Told from four intertwining points of view—two boys and two girls—the novel celebrates bravery, being different, and finding your inner bayani (hero). “Readers will be instantly engrossed in this relatable neighborhood adventure and its eclectic cast of misfits.”—Booklist

In one day, four lives weave together in unexpected ways. Virgil Salinas is shy and kindhearted and feels out of place in his crazy-about-sports family. Valencia Somerset, who is deaf, is smart, brave, and secretly lonely, and she loves everything about nature. Kaori Tanaka is a self-proclaimed psychic, whose little sister, Gen, is always following her around. And Chet Bullens wishes the weird kids would just stop being so different so he can concentrate on basketball.

They aren’t friends, at least not until Chet pulls a prank that traps Virgil and his pet guinea pig at the bottom of a well. This disaster leads Kaori, Gen, and Valencia on an epic quest to find missing Virgil. Through luck, smarts, bravery, and a little help from the universe, a rescue is performed, a bully is put in his place, and friendship blooms.

matchstick

Publisher’s Description:

Brian can think of a few places he’d rather spend his summer than with his aunt and uncle in Boring, Illinois. Jail, for example. Or an earplug factory. Anything would be better than doing summer school on a computer while his scientist dad is stationed at the South Pole.
 
Boring lives up to its name until Brian and his cousin Nora have a fight, get lost, and discover a huge, wooden house in the forest. With balconies, turrets, and windows seemingly stuck on at random, it looks ready to fall over in the next stiff breeze. To the madcap, eccentric family that lives inside, it’s not just a home—it’s a castle. 
 
Suddenly, summer gets a lot more exciting. With their new friends, Brian and Nora tangle with giant wasps, sharp-tusked wild boars, and a crazed bureaucrat intent on bringing the dangerously dilapidated old house down with a wrecking ball.
 
This funny, fantastical story will resonate with any reader who’s ever wished a little adventure would find them.

listenslowly

Publisher’s Description:

A California girl born and raised, Mai can’t wait to spend her vacation at the beach. Instead, though, she has to travel to Vietnam with her grandmother, who is going back to find out what really happened to her husband during the Vietnam War. Mai’s parents think this trip will be a great opportunity for their out-of-touch daughter to learn more about her culture. But to Mai, those are their roots, not her own. Vietnam is hot, smelly, and the last place she wants to be. Besides barely speaking the language, she doesn’t know the geography, the local customs, or even her distant relatives. To survive her trip, Mai must find a balance between her two completely different worlds.

rambler

Publisher’s Description:

Garland, Derby, and Triple Clark spend each season traveling highways and byways in their Rambler—until summer, when small-town Ridge Creek, Virginia, calls them back. There they settle in, selling burgers and fries out of Garland’s Grill after each game the Rockskippers play in their battered minor-league baseball stadium. Derby’s summer traditions bring her closer than she’s ever been to a real home that isn’t on wheels, but this time, her return to Ridge Creek reveals unwelcome news. Now the person Derby loves most in town needs her help—and yet finding a way to do so may uncover deeply held stories and secrets.
 
Told in Derby’s unforgettable voice, this warm-hearted debut novel is about taking risks, planting roots, and discovering the true definition of home.

short

Publisher’s Description:

In this heartwarming, funny middle-grade novel by the bestselling author of Counting by 7s, Julia grows into herself while playing a Munchkin in a production of  The Wizard of Oz
 
Julia is very short for her age, but by the end of the summer run of The Wizard of Oz, she’ll realize how big she is inside, where it counts. She hasn’t ever thought of herself as a performer, but when the wonderful director of Oz casts her as a Munchkin, she begins to see herself in a new way. Julia becomes friendly with the poised and wise Olive–one of the adults with dwarfism who’ve joined the production’s motley crew of Munchkins. With her deeply artistic neighbor, Mrs. Chang, Julia’s own sense of self as an artist grows. Soon, she doesn’t want to fade into the background–and it’s a good thing, because her director has more big plans for Julia!
 
Bubbling over with humor and tenderness, while emphasizing the importance of role models, this is an irresistible story of self-discovery.

tumbleblue

Publisher’s Description:

he magic-infused story of a golden gator, two cursed kids, and how they take their destinies into their own hands.

When the red moon rises over the heart of the Okefenokee swamp, legend says that the mysterious golden gator Munch will grant good luck to the poor soul foolish enough to face him.

But in 1817, when TWO fools reach him at the same time, the night’s fate is split. With disastrous consequences for both . . . and their descendants. Half of the descendants have great fates, and the other half have terrible ones.

Now, Tumble Wilson and Blue Montgomery are determined to fix their ancestors’ mistakes and banish the bad luck that’s followed them around for all of their lives. They’re going to face Munch the gator themselves, and they’re going to reclaim their destinies.

But what if the legend of Munch is nothing but a legend, after all?

MMGM: Interview with Abby Cooper & Review of STICKS AND STONES

sticks

Title: STICKS AND STONES

Author: Abby Cooper

Publication Date: July 12, 2016

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Publisher’s Description:

A feel-good middle grade debut with just a hint of magic about a girl who has a rare disorder that makes the words other people say about her appear on her body.

Ever since she was a baby, the words people use to describe Elyse have instantly appeared on her arms and legs. At first it was just “cute” and “adorable,” but as she’s gotten older and kids have gotten meaner, words like “loser” and “pathetic” appear, and those words bubble up and itch. And then there are words like “interesting,” which she’s not really sure how to feel about. Now, at age twelve, she’s starting middle school, and just when her friends who used to accept and protect her are drifting away, she receives an anonymous note saying “I know who you are, and I know what you’re dealing with. I want to help.” As Elyse works to solve the mystery of who is sending her these notes, she also finds new ways to accept who she is and to become her best self.

I am so happy to have Abby Cooper here today talking to us about her books and her love of middle grade in particular.

I featured STICKS AND STONES in my magical realism round up, HERE, but I knew I wanted something special to highlight how important this book is.

Particularly today, in the world we live in, kindness matters. Middle school is hard enough, without the climate we find ourselves in today. I think more than ever, kids (and adults) need to find out who they are, stand up for what and who they believe in, and use kindness to make a difference.

Abby and her book STICKS AND STONES are here to help us get there.

1. Where did you get the idea for this book?

I’m a pretty curious person, and I’m always wondering about different things. Sometimes I’ll have random thoughts: what if rainbows came out of my glasses? What if cupcakes appeared anytime I wanted them to? What if words showed up on someone’s body? Writing is a great way to explore your questions and curiosities. Sticks & Stones came from that idea, plus various things I saw and heard as a school librarian.

2. What’s your favorite scene in STICKS AND STONES?

I liked writing the scene where Elyse plays the piano in her school talent show. I got to take my character through a broad range of emotions in those few pages: nerves, anxiety, fear, excitement, happiness, relief, etc. I like living out those emotional scenes right along with my characters.

3. What did this story teach you about writing?

That revision is your friend! I’m a messy first-drafter, so I was pretty overwhelmed by all that I needed to go back and fix. (Though I was thrilled to finally have the ideas out of my head!) The more I revised, though, the more I truly came to love it. It was exciting to see things improve and come together in ways I never expected.

4. What is your favorite thing about middle grade?

I love how middle grade explores serious, real-life issues while also maintaining a sense of wonder and fun.
5. Can you please list your top 3 middle grade reads?
I’ll do my best, but it’s so hard to only choose three!! My all-time favorite is Frindle by Andrew Clements. More current favorites are The Lost Track of Time by Paige Britt and Two Naomis by Audrey Vernick and Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich.
6. What advice do you have for anyone who wants to write middle grade?

Read! I strongly believe that reading middle grade novels improved (and continues to improve) my writing tremendously. Also, test your writing out on actual middle grade people. Kids generally won’t be afraid to give you their honest opinion!

7. What can you tell us about any upcoming projects?

My second book, BUBBLES, will be out July 18th, 2017, from FSG/Macmillan. So excited!
Thank you so much, Abby! We’re excited for BUBBLES as well!
MMGM2
For more MARVELOUS MIDDLE GRADE check out Shannon Messenger’s website.

Wonderful YA Wednesday: DEAD GIRLS SOCIETY by Michelle Krys

dgs

Title: DEAD GIRLS SOCIETY

Author: Michelle Krys

Publication Date: November 8, 2016

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Publisher’s Description:

You are cordially invited to participate in a game of thrills and dares. Tell no one, and come alone. If you dare.

Hope is sick of everyone treating her like she’s breakable. Sure, she has cystic fibrosis (basically really bad lungs), but she’s tired of being babied by her mom and her overprotective best friend, Ethan, not to mention worrying about paying for her expensive medication and how she’s going to afford college. And she’s bored with life in her run-down New Orleans suburb.

When an invitation arrives from a mysterious group that calls itself the Society, Hope jumps at the chance for some excitement. This could be her ticket out. All she has to do is complete a few dares and she might win some real money.

But the Society isn’t all it seems . . . and soon Hope finds that playing the game isn’t a choice—it’s a requirement.

Oh my goodness. It isn’t often that a book seriously has me turning the pages wondering what is going to happen next and who the heck is behind all of this mischief! But this one did.

Krys writes a very likeable MC in Hope. I was right behind her, wanting her to go to that warehouse on the first dare, because she doesn’t ever get to do anything normal. Sure, maybe something normal would’ve been a better idea than something deadly, but then we wouldn’t have a book and who cares, the stakes were there for sure. She wanted to be more than her Cystic Fibrosis and she wanted money for her very poor family.

Another thing I really liked was the mystery was very well-done and the tension was super high, but Krys still kept the graphic horror level low. She hints and minimally describes bad things happening, but it wasn’t gratuitous.

Truthfully, I really liked Ethan better than the developed love interest, but that’s not a critique of the writing at all, just my reader opinion.

Another thing Krys really shines at is writing teenage girls. Their personalities really jumped off the page. At first, I was a little lost when the four girls were introduced and I couldn’t tell who was speaking, and thought Hope actually disappeared in the dialogue for a long while, but it was only a small blip and I was sucked into these girls lives and not wanting any of them (mostly haha) to lose the “competition”.

The dares were extraordinary for teens to complete, but hey, where’s your suspension of disbelief? We read to experience things we would never do in real life. I loved this book because I felt like I was living a daring life and I seriously couldn’t put the book down or stop thinking of it when I was forced to take a break.

The mystery was well done, the tension and thrills were high, the ending was twisty ( even if it was also extremely cliffhangerly) and I recommend this to fans of a quick-paced read and especially fans of Pretty Little Liars.

 

 

What I’m Reading Wednesday: Dangerous Love by Kara Leigh Miller and Jody Holford

DANGEROUS-LOVE-MILLER-HOLFORD-COVER

He’s fighting to forget his past while she struggles to remember hers…

Doctor Josh Parker lives with guilt about his wife’s death every day.

He believes himself incapable of ever loving again, but when a
mysterious woman arrives in the Emergency Room, brutally beaten and left for dead, he starts to feel something he hasn’t felt in far too long:
hope.

Alessandra Matthews has no memory of the events that led to her being hospitalized. Worse, she has no idea who hurt her or why. Although she’s uncertain of who she is, she is fully aware of one thing—she’s falling for her doctor.

Sometimes, what you don’t know can kill you…

As Josh and Alessa work to solve the mystery surrounding her past, she soon realizes just how much danger she’s really in, but Josh refuses to let her face the darkness of her memories alone. With each of them struggling to put their pasts behind them, theirs is a DANGEROUS LOVE.

So I can’t technically review DANGEROUS LOVE because I edit for the publisher, but I can put it on my What I’m Reading Wednesday because I am reading it and it did release yesterday. Yay!

To be honest, I’ve read this book about three times, and it just gets better and better. You know I love a clean romance, throw in some mystery and a ton of wit, and you’ve got a recipe for success in my book 🙂

So head on over and pick up this book, I promise it will be an enjoyable read.