Big Summer Read
Summer Reading Guide 2017
String up the hammock, it’s time for a summer full of reading! You’ll find books about science and nature, picture book biographies, graphic novels, adventure stories, poetry, audio books, and much more. The age-leveled lists are ready to print and take to your local library or bookstore.
Browse through the 2017 summer lists online or download and print the PDF before you head out to the library or store.
Baby’s First Book of Birds and Color
Observing birds and eating berries just may lead to a summertime exploration of colors and counting. Meet the yellow goldfinch, a pink flamingo, and other well and less familiar birds in brief text and realistic illustrations. In The Very Berry Counting Book by Jerry Pallotta (Charlesbridge; 1580897843), you can count realistic, luscious looking berries from 1 to 10.
Big Cat, Little Cat
One day a small black cat came to live with a big white cat. The white cat taught the little one a great deal. One day, the big white cat now old, left and didn’t come back. Soon, however, a small white cat joined the black cat. Strong, simple lines illustrate this gentle tale which is sure to be interpreted in many ways by young children.
Ruby builds with her red blocks while Benji uses his blue blocks. An argument erupts when Benji tries to take one of the red blocks. Tugging and pulling makes a mixed up mess of blue and red blocks that creates cooperative construction! What will happen when Guy joins them with green blocks? Uncluttered illustrations and straightforward text present the recognizable tale.
Flora and the Chicks
Flora places an empty bowl near a hen’s nest filled with eggs. One by one as the eggs hatch, Flora fills the bowl the yellow, orange, and even a brown chick. Expressive illustrations on plain backgrounds and large numbers from 1 to 10 convey the story. The use of sturdy foldouts increases the delightful surprises as the chicks meet their new friend, Flora.
Good Night, Like This
Rhythmic, inventive language — “Yawny and dozy…”, “Tickly and feathery…” — along with boldly lined illustrations ask how each animal pair says goodnight. Turn the sturdy half page to see the cozy nighttime cuddle. Deep hues and black lines present the prefect bedtime tale to relax young children.
I Got a New Friend
Getting a new pup means getting a new friend but it also means getting to know each other. At first, the small brown and white dog is shy and kind of scared but that changes. Sometime dogs and kids are sloppy, smelly and noisy but it’s all worth it! Simple illustrations and straightforward text combine to present a warm story of friendship.
Moo: A First Book of Counting
Simple rhymes and colorful, flat illustrations introduce familiar farm animals and their sounds. In addition, young readers are encouraged to count from 1 to 5. Die-cuts for each animal’s eyes add texture and interest before the last animal and number roundup.
One, Two, Three, Mother Goose
Familiar and some not-so-familiar nursery rhymes are presented in a child-sized, sturdy format illustrated in Well’s signature style. Charming bunnies, chicks, cats and other critters in old fashioned garb and settings enliven and freshen up the ditties.
Race Car Count
From 1 to 10 race cars with personalities line up to begin the race. When the lights go from red to yellow to green – off they go! Who will win? Playful, rhyming text accompanies the colorful, angular illustrations.
With a warm invitation, “Sun says, Wake up-/come out and explore…” all are invited to observe the new life all around. Stunning nature photographs of animals, amphibians, and insects and a brief text which encourages participation and thought continue the exploration. A bit of additional information to help answer possible questions concludes this handsome book.
What Do You Wear?
Bright, stylized illustrations are accompanied by brief descriptions that suggest the animals look like they’re wearing human attire. In this short, creative, humorous book the wooly sheep that “wears a fluffy jacket”, a rhino with “a warm coat”, a goldfish in “a tie-dye skirt”; and the “boy wears … nothing?”
A Piece of Home
When Hee Jun’s father accepts a position in West Virginia, everything changes for the boy and his family. His grandmother, a teacher in Korea, now stays at home; his little sister becomes a discipline problem at school; and Hee Jun does not understand English. With time, however, Hee Jun finds a friend whose yard contains a rose of Sharon, a “mugunghwa” in Korea. It is a piece of home. Gentle illustrations convey the characters’ emotions to enhance the story.
A Song About Myself
Spritely, translucent watercolors jaunt across the pages of a poem by romantic poet, John Keats. The nonsensical adventure begins: “There was a naughty Boy,/A naughty boy was he,/he would not stop at home,/He could not quiet b—“ and ends with the boy still a’wondering. This poem was written by — and about — Keats in a letter to his sister as he traveled, now illustrated and presented for others to delight in its fancy.
And Then Comes Summer
Summer adventures begin when “the days stretch out like a slow yawn...” and “bumblebees bumble around in flowers.” Then it’s time for flip-flops, lemonade stands, camping trips and more. Double-page spreads with jaunty, child-like illustrations combine with a rhythmic text to evoke the sights, sounds, smells, and even tastes of summer.
Animal Ark: Celebrating our Wild World in Poetry and Pictures
A howling wolf, a stalking tiger, a playful panda, a dancing bird – pairing the beautiful photography of National Geographic photographer Joel Sartore with the delicate poetry of Newbery award-winning author Kwame Alexander, this lush picture book celebrates the beauty, diversity, and fragility of the animal world. Featuring more than 40 unique animal portraits, the pages invite kids to explore each creature's markings, textures, and attributes in amazing detail.
Around the World in a Bathtub
Everywhere people take baths, but baths and bathing traditions are different in places and countries around the world. Take a look at the Yup’ik family as they trudge across a frozen landscape to a small cabin with no windows; venture to India with a father and son who descend steps to the Ganges River. Bright illustrations and straightforward text effectively depict ways of bathing around the world.
Chengdu Can Do
Chengu, a young panda, can do a lot by himself. He can climb, push, swing and more. But even the most independent panda can use a little help sometimes. Mixed media illustrations highlight the expressive Chengu amid grass and on bamboo. Children — and adults — will see themselves in Chengu’s simple adventures.
Did You Ever See?
Look. See. How do things look different from up high or up close? From far away? Bold, flat but textured, semi-abstract illustrations suggest how things look from different vantages points. Readers are asked to consider the tallest, smallest thing they’ve seen; what the inside of a seed might look like, and more in this effervescent glimpse at a child’s world from different perspectives.
Endpages show swimming tadpoles; turn the page and the progression from tadpole to frog appears within brief frog facts. There are over 5,000 kinds of frogs that live all over the world. Turn the page and some of them are introduced in lively but short text and dramatic, colorful illustrations. Alliterative, onomatopoeic frog sounds are effectively incorporated into page designs of this informative and engaging book
“How goes the work?” demands the lazy farmer. The beleaguered worker Duck responds, “Quack…” until, the cow, sheep, and hens hatch a plan to run the lazy man off of the farm. The expressive illustrations and satisfying telling continue to delight as it celebrates its 25th anniversary.
Go Sleep in Your Own Bed!
It’s nighttime on the farm and everyone is ready to snuggle in. But when Pig plops into his sty, he hears a MOOO! It seems no one wants to sleep in their own place. One by one, however, each displaces the interloper until sleep can really happen. Comic illustrations accompany the vivacious tale to its satisfying, sleepy conclusion.
Margaret and the Moon: How Margaret Hamilton Saved the First Lunar Landing
Margaret loved to solve all kinds of problems coming up with original ideas. She wondered why more girls didn’t grow up to be doctors or scientists. So, she studied hard and finally convinced NASA to use her software programs to get astronauts to the moon and back. Cartoon illustrations complement the conversational text. Additional information about Margaret, additional resources and photos of Margaret conclude this empowering sketch.
On the Spot
When a little girl wakes up one morning, she sees “a sweet little…____chirping at me.” As her day progresses, there are more blank circles that readers can fill in with reusable stickers appended at the end. Almost like a visual mad lib, this participatory book covers everyday activities from morning till nighttime.
One Proud Penny
The humble and sometimes abused copper penny tells its own story in this humorous combination of fact and fantasy. It begins, “I was born in Philadelphia, where the United States was born” and continues revealing its adventures small and historical. Cartoon illustrations in simple line and real pennies augment the combination of fiction and information. The penny’s history and additional resources conclude this entertaining book.
The Butterfly Garden
The life cycle of a monarch butterfly begins with an egg and a feast by caterpillars; each colorful leaf and creature is hidden beneath a well-hidden flap on bold black and white pages. The journey continues in lyrical language with colorful surprises beneath well camouflaged flaps, sure to inspire close observation and interest.
The Forever Garden
A young girl and an older woman, Honey, bond over Honey’s garden and her chickens. When Honey must move away, the narrator is devastated until new neighbors move in and the girl can show them how to maintain the garden. An author’s note reveals that her story is loosely based on a Talmudic story about the value of effort not simply the harvest.
The Fox Wish
When a girl and her brother return to the park to retrieve the forgotten jump rope, they discover a group of foxes jumping rope. They watch from afar until soon, foxes and children are jumping rope together. Wishes do come true in this mellow fantasy of talking animals with illustrations bathed in soft color.
The Secret Life of the Red Fox
A year in the life of Vixen, a red fox, reveals how these canine omnivores live, hunt, and reproduce. A muted palette allows Vixen to stand out as she moves throughout her territory. Additional information and resources conclude this attractive, evocative, and informative book.
The Toy Brother
When their parents go on a trip, Yorick decides to play around with his father’s alchemy. Accidentally inventing a shrinking potion, a very tiny Yorick must rely on his younger — now much larger brother — Charles to keep him safe until the spell can be reversed. Steig’s rich language and cartoon illustration set the tale in medieval times and remain as fresh today as when the book was first published.
Triangle — a triangular shape with big eyes and stick legs — decides to leave his triangular house to play a trick on square. But turnabout is fair play in this whimsical but sardonic tale. The illustrator’s signature style are textured, deceivingly simple, and placed on open pages.
We're Sailing to Galapagos: A Week in the Pacific
Two people in bright, stylized garb sail to the islands known as the Galapagos. On successive days of the week, they see a variety of the animals that live there with the repeating refrain, “We’re sailing to Galapagos….I wonder who we’ll see.” End notes describe in greater detail the location and inhabitants of the Galapagos as well as a brief piece about Charles Darwin who sailed there.
7 Ate 9: The Untold Story
Private I tries to assuage 6 who just knows that 7 is coming to get him! Why? Because 7 8 9, of course! Wordplay and over-the-top humor make this satire of old detective stories sophisticated. Told with tongue in cheek language and colorful illustrations, this is a very funny tale.
All the World a Poem
Poetry comes in many forms; some rhymes, some doesn’t. Inspiration comes from many places, too. “Poems tall or short or wide — /All are infinite inside…” of each of us. Slightly abstract illustrations of children together or admiring the world around them completes this thoughtful look at language and poetry.
Boys Dancing: From School Gym to Theater Stage
Elementary school-age boys start at the beginning of the school year to study with Pamela at the National Dance Institute of New Mexico. By the end of the year, some will perform “Treasure Island,” others will perform Mexican folktales. All in all, over 20 dances lead up to the grand finale. Dancing is hard work but lots of fun, too, chronicled in this photoessay.
Colette’s Lost Pet
Colette’s loses her imaginary parrot but finds friends in her neighborhood while the children help her search for it. Sequential art expressively tells the story in mostly blacks and grays punctuated with yellow. Limited text completes the appealing package.
Callie is interested in science and wants to be a veterinarian so she practices when the local vet is away. But it was tougher in the early 20th century when girls couldn’t do everything that they do today. Callie, however, helps a prize sheep give birth and more in the latest, lively and engaging installment about Callie and her family. From the Calournia Tate, Girl Vet series.
Float Like a Butterfly
Visually stunning and informative, Ali’s early life, how it influenced him, as well as his many accomplishments are presented. Dramatic illustrations are enhanced by the presentation of text in different typefaces. A timeline concludes this brief biography.
Flowers for Sarajevo
Drasko is Milo’s son who carries on his father’s flower business even after things in Sarajevo change seemingly overnight. Milo is called to the battlefield. A blast kills people in line at the bakery. Only the power of beauty through music brings hope. Based on actual events, this moving story is one of faith in spite of hatred and violence. A CD read by the author provides additional information about the event and includes the music played by cellist Vedrun Smailovic.
Since little is known about the real Amelia Simmons, the author invites readers to imagine what became of her after her father’s death. Amelia would become a “bound girl,” to work for others. She may have made an Independence Cake perhaps tasted by General George Washington! The colonial period is clearly imagined here in illustration and lively text, complete with a cake recipe.
Jasmine Toguchi: Mochi Queen
Jasmine is only 8 years old but wants to do what the boys do. It’s her family Japanese tradition for the boys to pound the rice for mocha at her family’s New Year’s celebration. But can she really handle it? Readers of all backgrounds will empathize with Jasmine’s dilemma and see themselves in her.
John Ronald’s Dragons: The Story of J.R.R. Tolkien
John Ronald loved horses and dragons and words, even invented words. But war changed John Ronald. After serving during World War I, while teaching at Oxford University, John Ronald began to imagine again. His story about Bilbo Baggins became The Hobbit. The handsomely illustrated book concludes with a list of Tolkien’s writing about dragons as well as a bibliography.
Lighter than Air: Sophie Blanchard, the First Woman Pilot
Sophie admired Jean-Pierre Blanchard, the first man to cross the English Channel in a hot air balloon. She would marry him and become the first woman to first fly solo in a balloon after her husband’s death. Colorful illustrations dramatically bring 18th century France to life; when coupled with an action-paced text Sophie and her bravery come into crisp focus.
One Is Not a Pair: A Spotting Book
Can you find the ice cream cones that look alike? How about the tractors? Can you spot the leaves that are the same? It’s not as easy as it looks! Poems ask readers to identify the pair on the opposing page from among similar, clear but tough-to-tell-apart illustrations in this playful book that requires a keen eye!
Pedal Power: How One Community Became the Bicycle Capital of the World
How one person helped make one community into the bicycle capital of the world is told in animated illustrations and easy text. It began in the 1970s when Maartje Rutten and her friends strived to change one city. The impact of that movement is still evident in Amsterdam today where bicycles remain more prevalent than automobiles.
Sprout Street Neighbors: A New Arrival
The residents of Sprout Street welcome a new neighbor from Hawaii in A New Arrival. They travel to France in Bon Voyage. Each of these episodic, short, and easier to read novels are lighter reading for summer and beyond.
Story Worlds Nature
Examine each double page spread in this oversized book. See the realistically pictured animals and where they live. Make up or find a story about them. If you’re curious, you can look in the back for the names of the real animals. Handsome scenes from different natural environments make this a book to examine again and again.
The Book of Mistakes
A mistake: a splat of ink. In fact, “it started with one mistake.” That mistake became a pattern, then a good idea, then ultimately into a remarkable work of imagination. Don’t let the format let you race through this book. Slow down; examine each double page spread to discover the hidden treasures in it — and maybe inspire your own book of mistakes.
The Capital Catch (Ballpark Mysteries)
Mike and Kate are back to solve a new mystery. This one is in the Nation’s Capital, where the brother of the president plays baseball for the Nationals. And someone is snitching the team’s equipment. The popular series presents another temperate mystery especially for baseball fans.
The Great Antonio
Antonio Barichievich was a giant. He weighed as much as a horse and once dragged four busses filled with people! Most amazingly, he really lived in Montreal (Canada). Antonio’s story comes to life with verve and wit in graphic format with lighthearted illustrations and easier to read text.
“Giant Whale or Giant Hoax?” headlines read in the opening of this mostly wordless book. The adventure continues as two young people prepare to find and record the massive mammal through wordless, realistic, highly detailed monochromatic illustrations. Their breathtaking escapade continues until the final spread depicting another newspaper, announcing that the boys have solved the mystery of the spotted whale.
One of nature’s most volatile weather events is the tornado. In this updated edition, the author presents the formation, tracking, and devastation created by twisters. Dramatic photographs and a brief list of additional resources conclude this fascinating book.
Who Wants to Be a Princess?
The illustration looks like a fairy tale but this book actually dispels the myth of the luxurious life of princesses who lived in the Middle Ages. Not at all like Cinderella, it seems. The smell would have been the moat (filled with potty water), banquet halls cluttered with bones, grease — and rats — you get it. An author’s note and bibliography about the period conclude this myth-buster.
Wilderness: An Interactive Atlas of Animals
A conversational tone and flaps to lift on each double page look at different biomes are sure to inspire further examination. Freshwater, desert, rainforest and other ecological communities of plants and animals are handsomely illustrated and presented on sturdy pages.
5 Worlds: The Sand Warrior
Three unlikely heroes emerge to save their worlds by lighting five beacons. Told through action-packed sequential panels of art and conversation bubbles, the characters bring magic and fantasy to a thrilling end of the first installment in a new graphic series.
A Boy Called Bat
After the mother skunk is killed, Bixby “Bat” Alexander Tam’s veterinarian mother brings home its kit to be kept only until its old enough to be released. Who would have thought Bat would want to keep the baby skunk, named Thor? Is it really okay for a skunk to become a pet? Bat is a unique character and the story offers a deeply heartfelt glimpse into the life of a boy on the autism spectrum, presented realistically in this touching (and surprisingly informative) novel.
Bicycling to the Moon
Barker and Purdy are best friends but very different. Not only is Barker a dog and Purdy a cat, but their personalities are quite dissimilar: one is hardworking, the other rather lazy. But differences are made to be appreciated as Barker and Purdy come to appreciate in this illustrated, episodic and charming book first published in Finland.
Bravo! Poems About Amazing Hispanics
Lyrical poems introduce a “variety of amazing people …” including Pura Belpre became a New York librarian. She offered “Two Languages at the Library.” Tomas Rivera wrote “Courageous Poetry” and became the first Latino leader at the University of California. Each short piece is accompanied by a striking portrait. This handsome, accessible volume concludes with a bit of additional information about each subject.
Curious Constructions: A Peculiar Portfolio of Fifty Fascinating Structures
Some structures — like the Eiffel Tower and China’s Great Wall — are familiar. Others, however, are less well known like the Svalbard Global Seed Vault and the Kingda Ka. What they do share in common is that the y are all curious, a combination of imagination and science. Examine these curiosities in image and fascinating text which encourages thought and participation.
Hello World: A Celebration of Languages and Curiosities
There are many ways to say Hello! There’s more than just “hi!” People world-over say it in their own languages. Travel the world through the pages of this book to say “hello” then lift the flaps to discover more interesting facts. Small illustrations on large double-page spreads are sure to help readers become more cognizant of the similarities among the people of the world
Four very different kids each with unique problems and personalities, come together over a short period to find a lost boy, come to appreciate each other, and discover new friendships. Each character is recognizable, likeable, and when they come together create a fast-paced story sure to engage young readers.
It’s hard to make lemonade out of lemons when your mother has died and you’re stuck living far away from everything familiar. But that’s just what Lemonade Liberty Witt must do when she goes to live with her grandfather in Willow Creek, California, the Bigfoot Capital of the World. There she meets Tobin Sky, an odd boy who is the CEO of Bigfoot Detectives, Inc. Together, they solve a mystery, perhaps even meet a Bigfoot, and find that making lemonade can sometimes occur unexpectedly.
One Good Thing about America
Anais speaks French in her native African country but must use English in her new home in Maine. It’s difficult to learn English, make new friends and adjust. When her grandmother insists that Anais corresponds with her in English, not French, she asks her granddaughter to note one good thing about America each time. Though sometimes difficult, Anais does which ultimately helps things improve in this sweet, hopeful story of immigration.
Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets
“A poem is a small but powerful thing…” Alexander writes in his preface, which is followed by a range of original poems that celebrate, echo, and sometimes emulate a range of well-known poets. Each poem is illustrated by vibrant images on each double page spread. A brief sketch about each eminent poet concludes this attractive volume.
Shannon struggles with a bully named Jenny, an abusive older sister, and finding one true friend. Presented as a graphic novel, the author’s sometimes painful story ends on a positive note is enhanced by lighter-toned illustrations.
Secret Coders: Secrets to Sequences
Can the three friends — Eni, Hopper, and Josh — foil the dastardly principal to save the day? How can coding help? In this third installment of Secret Coders, information and adventure combine to create another exciting story.
Slickety Quick: Poems About Sharks
A poem about the well-known Great White begins this handsomely illustrated collection of poems each about a different sea-dwelling shark. Readers will meet the Wobbegong, a nurse shark, the goblin shark, and more. Different poetic forms combine with splendid illustrations that evoke the depths of the creatures' habitats.
Step Up to the Plate, Maria Singh
Fifth-grade Maria and her younger brother live with their parents on a farm in Yuba City, California near the end of World War II. Their father is from India, their mother from Mexico. Maria loves to play baseball and is encouraged by her teacher but confronts other problems. Will their field be destroyed? Will the family lose their home? Both humorous and poignant, readers will gain a sense of the period and many of the issues that feel very contemporary.
The Uncommoners: Crooked Sixpence
When their grandmother falls ill, Ivy Sparrow and her older brother, Seb, discover an entirely different London and the truth about their grandmother. Fast-paced and well-written, this magical adventure features a unique look to make the common rather uncommon.
Volcanoes: Fire and Life
Rocks tell stories of constant changes in the earth. And volcanoes show the changes to earth’s surface, often to the benefit of its inhabitants. Join Aurora, her classmates and teacher to explore the forces at work on our planet. Fact and fiction combine in this engaging comic book presentation.
Darkus finds friends, adventure, and surprises once his widowed father disappears from a closed museum room filled with beetles. The author delightfully narrates the engaging science fiction/fantasy/realistic tale just right for slightly older listeners.
Dream On, Amber
Amber Alessandra Leola Kimiko Miyamoto is getting ready to start middle school and she’s worried. Imaginative and real, Amber — half Japanese, half Italian — is read with authenticity to punctuate her mixed heritage and family concerns shared by many 9 to 12 year olds.
Mama's Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation
Saya takes comfort in listening to her mother’s voice on the answering machine while the family waits to be reunited. The moving story of immigration is beautifully narrated. The close-knit family will resonate with all ages.
The Great Cake Mystery: Precious Ramotswe's Very First Case
The entire family will enjoy how Precious solves her first mystery — a thief in school! Written by the author of The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency adult books, the narrator brings the book to life with a lyrical voice ideally bringing the characters to life. This is sure to please the entire family.
Four young people come together at the Metropolitan in New York City on the very day that Pearl Harbor is bombed. Their quest involves Arthurian legend, creepy villains, and a bit of magic in this well-paced, riveting narration will be enjoyed by sophisticated listeners.
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