by Jane Knight – Bear Pond Books

As I write this, there are four middle school kids hanging out in our play space in the Children’s Room at Bear Pond– ‘The Chicken Coop’—they are reading picture books to one another, laughing and reminiscing about their ‘childhood favorites’. I love that for these kids, there is already an established nostalgia around their childhood with relation to books. Books take residence in our reptilian brain, they shape our memory and our longing. They provide a space for shared dreams and collective loss. Kids need these places to come home to, especially when they feel alone. Here are some new books that I think are worthy of contributing to that sense of finding yourself in the place you belong— watching the sun set from your porch, reading a book with your dog in the hammock or finding a grassy patch beneath a wide, green expanse of maple leaves next to a good friend. This is where we, and our kids, find our footing.

Early Chapter Books

Mouse Scouts series by Sarah Dillard:

For fans of Ivy and Bean and Junie B. Jones, this Waitsfield, Vermont, author brings young scouting adventures to life through the stories of six mice. Endearing characters with lively illustrations that portray the excitement of scouting adventures. Ages 5 up.

The Yeti Files by Kevin Sherry

Zany humor reminiscent of Captain Underpants peppers this new series about the mysterious cryptids
that exist in stories. Yetis, Bigfoot, the Loch-ness Monster all make appearances. Ages 5 up.

Middle Grade Novels/Graphic Novels

Lumberjanes series by Noelle Stevenson

Jo, April, Mal, Molly and Ripley are five best pals determined to have an awesome summer together…and they’re not going to let any insane quest or an array of supernatural critters get in their way—this graphic novel series features five butt-kicking, rad teenage girls wailing on monsters and solving a mystery with the whole world at stake. Ages 12 up.

The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island by Dana Alison Levy

The Fletcher family returns with a summer tale reminiscent of the Penderwicks—however this is a modern family dealing with contemporary issues. When the boys’ fundraising scheme for the local lighthouse turns into a racially charged town issue, compassion and knowledge are applied in appropriate doses. Ages 9 up.

Look Out For the Fitzgerald-Trouts by Esta Spaulding

Meet the Fitzgerald-Trouts, a band of four loosely related children living together in a lush tropical island. They take care of themselves. They sleep in their car, bathe in the ocean, eat fish they catch and fruit they pick, and can drive anywhere they need to go– they can do anything. Even, they hope, find a real home. Think updated Boxcar Children with a dose of light humor. Ages 9 up.

The Firefly Code by Megan Frazier Blakemore

An earnest dystopian mystery that celebrates the power of friendship, individuality, and imperfection. In the corporate utopia of Old Harmonie, citizens enjoy ready-made meals delivered to their identical houses in a futuristic suburb of Boston. Parents can modify their children’s genetics, amplifying and dampening characteristics as their talents unfold. Blakemore is a talented writer that tackles interesting issues deftly. For fans of The Giver. Ages 10 up.

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

“Can a robot survive in the wilderness?” Brown tackles themes of adaptation, the cycle of life and cooperation in this sweet and wonderfully illustrated novel. Makes for a great read aloud. Ages 6 up.

Moonpenny Island by Tricia Springstubb

When Flor’s best friend is sent off their island to boarding school, she struggles to adapt to her lonely and sometimes isolated life on Moonpenny. Lovable characters, and thoughtful attention to plot details, this is a winner for fans of Kate Dicamillo. Ages 9-12.

YA Novels

Steeplejack by A. J. Hartley

Hartley creates a vivid world with wildlife and landscapes reminiscent of those of South Africa in this alternative 19th-century fantasy. Great high-action thrills in a multi-cultural setting for both boys and girls grades 7 up.

Jackaby by William Ritter

Should I shut up now about this series? Nope, I just can’t. These supernatural mysteries set in the late 1700’s New England are a mash-up of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sherlock Holmes with a quirky dose of Jane Austen. Totally unique, and perfect for mature middle schoolers on up.

The Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig

A swashbuckling time-travel tale and skillful mashup of science fiction and eclectic Hawaiian mythology—Nix longs to learn Navigation—the secret craft her father’s mastered that allows him to follow maps anywhere, even through time. This debut novel exceeds the simple adventure tale and also manages to be a complex exploration of love and family. Great for grades 8 and up.

Last But Not Least!

Can You Canoe? by the OkeeDokee Brothers

Enjoy some summery folksy/bluegrass tunes with your kids with the OkeeDokee Brothers! The Grammy Award-winning brothers Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing celebrate the beauty of nature and the joys of being outdoors and unplugged. Hallelujah!! All ages.

Enjoy your summers, reading friends!

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