Not to be outdone by her sister, Abby — heading into fifth grade — has decided to weigh in with her picks for summer reading. Here are the best books she’s read in the past two years (that she hasn’t already written about here and here), graded on the very official Summer Sun Scale. Ten Summer Suns is, obviously, highest, hottest honor. Thanks, Abby!
Umbrella Summer, by Lisa Graff
This book takes place during summer break. The main character, Annie, is very scared of life because of her brother Jared’s death, and is afraid to do things she used to have no problem doing – like riding down the hill on her bike and getting hurt. Annie and her friend, Rebecca, have always thought the house next door was haunted, but when an old lady called Mrs. Finch moves in Annie goes to visit accidentally while spying on her. After speaking with the lady, Annie learns to let loose more in summertime.
Summer Sun Grade: 9 suns
For Ages: 9-12
If you like this, you’ll like: As Simple As it Seems, by Sarah Weeks
As Simple as it Seems, by Sarah Weeks
I like this book because it made me think a lot. It’s about a girl named Verbena who is very small. When she’s around 11, she finds out that she is not living with her real parents. Her real mom was an alcoholic and she drank when she was pregnant. (That’s why Verbena was so small.) When she finally finds out about, she’s very mad at her parents because they didn’t tell her. Nearby, a family moves in and the boy, Pooch, becomes Verbena’s very good friend. Together, they encounter fun – and dangerous – adventures.
Summer Sun Grade: 10 suns
For Ages: 9-11
If you like this, you’ll like: Umbrella Summer (see above)
Pie, by Sarah Weeks
This was one of my most favorite books I read all year because it’s funny and very creative. Alice’s Aunt Polly owns a pie shop called…PIE. Unfortunately, Polly passes away, and people wonder who she left all her pie recipes to. Alice soon finds out she leaves them in the care of her cat Lardo, named after vegetable oil. When she finds that out, she also learns that Lardo is the care of Alice. She and her friend Charlie Erdling have to figure out what it means to leave recipes to a cat and put all the pieces together so that PIE can live on.
Summer Sun Grade: 10 10 10
For Ages: 8-11
If you like this, you’ll like: Everything on a Waffle, by Polly Horvath
The Green Book, by Jill Paton Walsh
I found this book unusual because it takes place in the future and it is science fiction. It’s about a family who lives on earth and all families are moving off the earth to live on planets they discover in outer space. Sarah’s family is one of the last families to leave and get one of the worst spaceships (because they didn’t leave earlier). When they find a planet to settle, everyone is unsure if it’s safe or not, so they test it. They find the planet is good to live on, but there are some weird occurrences – including glass grass, giant moths that hatch out of boulders, and green jellyfish.
Summer Sun Grade: 7
For Ages: 8-10
If you like this you’ll like: Zita The Space Girl, by Ben Hatke (it’s a graphic novel)
Stargirl, by Jerry Spinelli
Leo has a best friend named Kevin and they go to a school in Arizona. After school, people seem to act all the same until a new girl named Stargirl, who’s been homeschooled, arrives. She knows people’s birthdays and names and she’s different from everybody else – and not afraid to be different from everybody else. This book taught me a lot about standing up for myself, and to appreciate being different.
Summer Sun Grade: 10
For Ages: 10-13
If you like this, you’ll like: Maniac McGee, The Library Card, or any book by Jerry Spinelli
See You at Harry’s, by Jo Knowles
If you’re going to read this book, you should be prepared to cry because I did. It’s about a girl named Fern who lives in a family with her sister Sara, her brother, Holden, and her little brother, Charlie. Her family owns a restaurant called Harry’s. When a terrible, terrible event breaks the family apart, everyone is mad at each other in some way. But in the end, they work through it.
Summer Sun Grade: 10
For Ages: 10-12
If you like this, you’ll like: Someday Angeline, by Louis Sachar
Coraline, by Neil Gaiman (adapted and illustrated by P. Craig Russel)
I’m sure you’ve heard of Coraline or seen the movie, but this is a different format that I loved just as much as the original. This version is a graphic novel, which tells the same story about Coraline, a girl who discovers a door in her house that leads to her other family. Her other mother and her other father want her to stay there and never leave. They hide her parents in order to make her come back to their world, which turns to a disaster. As you can tell, Coraline is very creepy, but one of the most interesting books I’ve ever read. The novel is as good, but the difference here is the art. In the graphic novel the pictures are sooo cool and look real.
Summer Sun Grade: 10-10-10-10-10-10-10-10-10-10 (that’s ten “10s”)
For Ages: 9-11
If you like this, you’ll like: Brain Camp (graphic novel) by Lawrence Klavan and Susan Kim
Rules, by Cynthia Lord
This book falls in the category of empathy books. It’s about a girl named Catherine who has an autistic brother named David. It’s hard to live with him because he does silly things, which annoy her, like putting toys in the fish tank. A new girl moves in and Catherine knows that this could be the friend she’s always wanted. Surprisingly she doesn’t turn out to be friends with her. Instead, one day, dropping her brother off at therapy, she meets a boy named Jason who’s in a wheelchair and can’t talk. She makes him cards that he can hold up to communicate and they become fast friends.
Summer Sun Grade: 9 ¼
If you like this, you’ll like: All of these
Olive’s Ocean, by Kevin Henkes
This book was really good. The main character Martha Boyle finds out that someone in her town, named Olive Barstow, who no one ever paid attention to, dies. She thinks she took her for granted, because now Martha thinks about is how she could’ve been a better friend. On vacation, Martha does something special for Olive, but I’ll let you find out what that is when you read it. This book made me think a lot and I recommend it because it’s perfect for the summer.
Summer Sun Grade: 8
For Ages: 9-11
If you like this, you’ll like: As Simple as it Seems
The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins
If you are looking for a scary but cool book to pull off your shelf, this is a good choice. Before you read it, please ask your parents because it’s very violent. It’s very scary in the middle and I almost wanted to stop reading. But if you keep on reading, it has such an exciting plot. It’s about Katniss Everdeen who takes her sister’s place to compete in a competition called The Hunger Games, a fight to the death. At first, she’s very scared and not the least bit excited to compete, but after she finds a technique and makes friends, she finds it’s not the worst thing that’s ever happened. There’s a LOT of action in this book.
Summer Sun Grade: 9
For Ages: 11+ (Remember, ask your parents!)
If you like this, you’ll like: Catching Fire and Mockingjay (the sequels)
P.S. A note from Abby’s mom: As promised, Phoebe has been regularly chiming in with book reviews on her own book blog, Nerd Alert. Head over there for more recommendations.