Newtons Book News

Childrens Book Reviews

Summertime = Reading Time

It’s time to go outside and sit beneath the shade of a big leafy tree and begin reading adventures, mysteries, historical fiction and more.  These books are all page turners and are perfect for the lazy, hazy days of summer.  They are perfect for ages 8 and way above.  Several of these books are definite Newbery candidates including the first one!

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Wolf Hollow, by Lauren Wolk, is a powerful story about bullying and how it negatively affects eleven-year-old Annabelle.  The year is 1943 and she is living in a small rural town in Pennsylvania.  When another girl, Betty, moves in with her grandmother, the calm peace Annabelle felt is replaced with fear and unhappiness.  Betty is mean and takes pleasure bullying Annabelle.  But when Betty suddenly goes missing all eyes are directed to an old vagabond who comforted Annabelle during this difficult time. This story is beautifully written with a blend of history, mystery and realism.  People who surround Annabelle begin to show their inner strengths and weaknesses.  This story showcases the power of hope and the importance of empathy.

 

The Girl Who Could Not Dream, by Sarah Beth Durst, is filled with magic, imagination and adventure. Sophie has a secret and cannot tell anyone.  In fact, the secret is so important that she stays away from others and consequently has no friends.  Her parents have a secret underground shop where they distill, bottle and sell dreams.  Sophie has an ability to make dreams come to life and that is just what she has done to conjure up a friend.  Her friend is a furry looking fun and funny monster who is about to help her find her parents who seem to have suddenly gone missing.  You’d better have plenty of time to read this book because chances are you won’t stop until you’re finished.

 

Save Me a Seat, by Sarah Weeks and Gita Varadarajan, is mostly about fitting in.  The book is told from two different viewpoints and helps promote the idea that everyone desires this and most all can, and will, fit in.  One boy, Ravi, is from India and is having a very hard time adapting to life in an American school.  The other viewpoint is from Joe who feels like a class misfit.  He has pretty much given up on everything feeling like he isn’t a part of anything.  What takes place is the actuality that both boys find a strong friendship as well as feeling better about themselves and acceptance among their peers.  Both of these boys come from loving, strong families who help in their transition and issues of self-esteem.

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The Tale of Rescue, by Michael J. Rosen, is quite a tale of the amazing ability and courage of a dog.  A family gets caught in a terrific blizzard and they are experiencing a whiteout where they get completely disorientated.  A cattle dog hears their cries from far away and ultimately saves their lives.  The story is told with an even poetic simplicity and can easily be read in one sitting. This would be a perfect read aloud to a family member!  There are some beautiful watercolor illustrations, by Stan Fellows, sprinkled throughout.  You’ll find yourself holding your breath until the very end!

 

The Last First Day, by Dorian Cirrone, has twelve-year-old Haleigh sad to leave her town, leaving summer behind and beginning anew at a different place.  On the last day of summer when she wishes she could stay with her best friend forever – her wish comes true!  The writing is wonderful and the lessons Haleigh learns from this magical twist are delightful.

 

Nomad, by William Alexander, finds Gabe stranded on the moon.  This science fiction book is actually the second in a two book series but this book stands alone so there is no need to read the first book. However, you will be blown away by this adventure and will undoubtedly desire to read Alexander’s first book, “Ambassador”.  Now that Gabe has been rescued, he finds that an alien race is heading in their direction and earth and all will be lost if they invade.  He must put a stop to this. This book is filled with adventure that the entire family will become involved in.

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Time Stoppers, by Carrie Jones, is a magical adventure comparable to Harry Potter.  Annie has just been taken to another foster home which has turned out to be awful.  But when she is suddenly whisked away to a hidden whimsical town in Maine by an extraordinary dwarf she realizes her life is about to change – and all for the better.  This is also when she finds she has an amazing ability to protect the enchanted.  Beware…this is another page-turner!

 

Summer of Lost and Found, by Rebecca Behrens, has Nell having to spend her summer away from home and discovering Roanoke, North Carolina.  There are several mysteries she encounters along the way.  One has to do with locating the lost colony when the city was first settled.  Another has to do with her father and where he has suddenly disappeared to.  Meanwhile, she is worried about losing her friend back home as well as adapting to new surroundings and friends.  This book is a  nice  blend  of    historical and realistic fiction.

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Raymie Nightingale, by Kate DiCamillo, is a blend of loss, betrayal, love and friendship.  Raymie feels she has just lost her father who seems to have left her family.  It’s the summer of 1975 and she has come up with a plan to enter a contest as a baton twirler.  If she could win, her father would see her picture in the paper and come back.  She doesn’t actually learn how to twirl a baton, but in the baton class she makes valuable friends who also have reasons for entering the competition. DiCamillo is a two-time recipient of the coveted Newbery award. She knows how to draw this age in and enlighten them. I will be surprised if this book doesn’t add to her list of awards.

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