I hope you are all staying cool in this steamy month of July. I've been enjoying diving into fantasy worlds and beautiful stories this month, and I'm excited to share them with you! Below, you'll find the stories separated by target age group and alphabetized within that segmentation. I hope you'll find your next great read!
Also, if you aren't already, make sure you subscribe to my monthly newsletter, which goes out on the 15th of each month, so you don't miss another blog. These emails are a digest of great stories and include tidbits about reading and books for young people. And now, on to the highlights!
Kids (Picture Books and Early Readers)
Can You See Me?
By: Gokce Irten
As a short person myself, this book particularly resonated with me. It takes place in a child’s bedroom, where several toys represent objects in the wider world. When examined from different angles, readers come to understand that size is all a matter of perspective and that even the tiniest of creatures can do great things. Collage-style illustrations make the images appear particularly tangible, and readers will come away with a collection of new and interesting facts to share with their friends. Please see my full review here.
Do They All Sleep?
By: Srividhya Lakshmanan
This picture book uses short phrases and repetition to connect young readers to the realities of how various animals sleep. Though limited text is used, children discover several words to describe sleep, thereby enhancing their vocabulary in an approachable way. I love the interactive component of this story because it gets children to think critically about their own experience and compare that to other creatures in the world. Using bright colors and cheerful imagery, this book is a delightful bedtime read. Please see my full review here.
Have You Ever Wondered What You Will Be?
By: Junia Wonders
I was struck by this beautiful and inspirational story from the very beginning, thanks to the fabulous illustrations and well-designed text. As I’m always looking for rhyming books that feature a consistent and enjoyable meter, I was a little bit disappointed to find that this story did not meet that desire. Nevertheless, occasional passages were perfect for reading aloud and the overall feel of the book is superb. It is a story that encourages readers of all ages to pursue their dreams no matter what challenges may stand in their way. Please see my full review here.
Henry: The Goose Who Got to Love
By: Amadeus Vultznick
(Independent Request) - Kids (short story)
This short story introduces readers to Henry the goose, a creature who has been ostracized by his friends and family for looking so different from the others. Sad and depressed, he struggles to find joy in his life, until a young boy begins to see past Henry’s unpleasant exterior. Readers who enjoy allegory and learning important life lessons about love and acceptance will find Henry’s experience to be both emotional and meaningful. Please see my full review here.
The Little Red Roar-At
By: H.D. Vesser
At first glance, I was expecting this book to have something to do with Little Red Riding Hood because of the title. Instead, it is the story of a hunter who unexpectedly comes across a cluster of bats, out of which appears a creature called a Roar-At. This gnome-like nose-dweller educates the hunter about the importance of bats in the global ecosystem and urges him to leave them alone. Rhyming text and made-up words help progress the story with a feeling similar to that of Dr. Seuss books, and readers are sure to learn something new about bats through this silly story. Please see my full review here. And my video review here.
The Rhythm of the Beach
By: Russell Irving
This poetic picture book depicts a year in the life of a hooded plover, a bird which makes its summer home on Australian beaches. Through lovely language and mostly abstract illustrations, readers learn about the natural flow of life in this setting and how one year naturally turns to the next. Two additional poems are included at the end that remind readers to take the time to discover their true identities while slowing down and appreciating the rhythms of nature. Please see my full review here.
Tweens (Middle Grade)
The Captain’s Daughters
By: Doreen D. Berger
This action-packed middle grade story takes place nearly three hundred years in the future, where Captain William Marsh leads the Starship Polaris across the vast reaches of the universe. Accompanied by his adopted daughters Robin and Diane, the three have no shortage of adventures, especially thanks to the girls’ mischievous personalities. When the girls are kidnapped by a nefarious interstellar traveler, it will require luck, ingenuity, and teamwork to bring them home again. I flew through this story and loved the many flashbacks that connect readers to important events in the family’s past. Please see my full review here.
Teens (Young Adult)
Signs We Don't See
By: Carrie Beamer
Seventeen-year-old Etta has her heart set on becoming a chef and owning her own restaurant one day. She works hard in school and at her job at Dom’s Deli, but her family life is less than ideal. As they struggle to pay their bills due to her father’s increasing psychological troubles, Etta tries to keep things afloat as best she can. When the handsome Jordan begins to notice her, Etta adds another layer of complexity to her life through the joys and challenges that come with her first love. I really enjoyed the easy flow of this dialogue-driven story whose emotionally turbulent layers provided a cathartic release. Please see my full review here.
By: Scott Rhine
Isa is fifteen years old, sheltered by a heavily protective father especially after her mother’s unexpected death less than a year before. When a volleyball game reveals hidden strengths Isa possesses, she and her father quickly pack their things and go to her aunt’s house in New York where the truth of Isa’s heritage is finally revealed to her. I really enjoyed the diversity of the characters and experiences within this book, especially as it links people from many otherwise disparate backgrounds. It is action-packed and compelling, but I definitely wanted to know more about the characters’ internal thoughts and connections. While this would make the story longer, I think it would have helped me better settle into the world between action sequences. Nonetheless, I’m looking forward to reading book two! Please see my full review here.