Summer Shenanigans

Shepherd Park/Juanita E. Thornton LibraryStaff Picks

Summer Shenanigans

Great Middle Grade Novels to Soak up in the Sun

When many of us look back on childhood summers, the memories we treasure most were new friendships formed and the magical feeling that suddenly anything is possible.  Summer means a break from the everyday monotony of classroom schedules and familiar bus routes, journeying to new and unfamiliar places, and creating adventures that stay with us a lifetime.  The following titles represent some of my favorite stories about summer adventures and the friendships we forge along the way. 

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo
Three girls dead set on winning Little Miss Southern Florida find they have more in common than wanting to hone their baton twirling skills.  What begins with a pageant application requiring Raymie to list her “good deeds” culminates in a summer of lock-picking, funeral crashing, and ill-fated cat rescue missions. This laugh out loud tale of newly-formed friendships is at once witty, wise, weird and deliciously heartwarming.  Fans of Kate DiCamillo’s work will not be disappointed. 

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
Summers don’t get much crazier than this one.  In the Summer of 1968, sisters Delphine, Vonetta and Fern find themselves whisked away from their familiar Brooklyn home to a whole new world in Oakland, California. When it turns out the mother they’ve never known has secrets brewing in her kitchen -- a little riskier than a new pot roast recipe -- the girls are left to their own devices, to fend for themselves, and are swept up in the confusing but exciting world of Huey Newton and the Black Panthers. 

The Lightning Queen by Laura Resau
When a troupe of gypsies mysteriously appear in his tiny village in the mountains of Mexico, Teo never suspects that the course of his life would be altered forever by the voice of one young determined girl who calls herself the Queen of Lightning.  Though their elders claim that friendships between Mixteco and Romani are “impossible”, Teo and Esma become co-conspirators in rescuing three-legged ducks, inventing strange imaginary curses, and forging their own destinies. We watch their friendship unfold, summer after summer. But will the Mistress of Destiny’s prediction come true, or will life wash them down different streams? 

Firefly Hollow by Allison McGhee
Can a firefly fly all the way to the moon? Can a cricket learn to play baseball?  While friends and family find their dreams crazy and strange, Firefly and Cricket aren’t so easily dissuaded. Like Teo and Esma from The Lightning Queen, these two misfits are thrown together by circumstance and develop an “impossible” friendship based on their belief in the possible.  Allison McGhee explores the pain of loss, the power of persistence, and the magic of friendship in this dreamy and bittersweet animal fantasy. A perfect summer bedtime read aloud. 

Into the Woods by J. Torres and Faith Erin Hicks
City boy Rufus ventures “into the woods” to visit his sweet old grandmother, only to discover that big bad wolves are not the only secrets the forest holds.  When he inadvertently stumbles upon the long lost Q’achi totem he is in for a “BIG” surprise.  With the help of his new found powers, a plucky squirrel and snarky next door neighbor, Penny, he may just be able to keep the wolves at bay. For now…. This is the first graphic novel in the new Bigfoot Boy series by J. Torres and Faith Erin Hicks. Sure to please boys and girls of all ages looking for a fun, quick summer read.