Binny for Short by Hilary McKay: Book Review

August 13th, 2017 by

I am SO GLAD I randomly discovered Binny for Short by Hilary McKay when I was browsing the library one day. In fact, the whole 3-book series was on the bookshelf and all of the book flap descriptions sounded really intriguing… but I restrained myself by checking out just the first book in the Binny series. (It’s a known fact that it’s kind of uncool to hoard books from the library, but we all solemnly nod in acceptance if you’ve done it. It’s okay. We all give into the call of the pile-o’-books once in a while.)

Binny, short for Belinda, was 8 years old when her father suddenly passed away. Life before that was idyllic: Binny Cornwallis had her mom, her dad, her older sister Clem, her little brother James, and Max, the most perfect dog in the world.

After Binny’s father dies, the Cornwallis family is left with very little money and has to move from their house into a cramped apartment. Max is sent first to Binny’s grandmother’s home, and then to live with her grandmother’s sister: the hateful Aunt Violet, who gives Max away without first telling Binny. When Aunt Violet herself passes away, she leaves Binny her cluttered, rundown house by the sea — but it’s still bigger than a cramped apartment — so the Cornwallis family moves in with Aunt Violet’s ghost.

Oh, just kidding… This isn’t a ghost story! Or is it?! Binny feels like Aunt Violet is haunting the house, so she spends as much time as possible out and about in town: helping Kate, who runs the local cafe, or the gorgeous Liam, who drives a seal-watching boat. She makes friends enemies (but really, friends) with Gareth, the boy vacationing next door. But even after so many years, she still hasn’t forgotten her dog, Max.

Binny for Short is a little slow-paced at the beginning, but I love feeling like I hung out with Binny all throughout her summer vacation. Hilary McKay describes the characters so perfectly in their own way: Clem could have easily been my orderly older sister, and James my imaginative younger brother. And best of all, I wanted to be friends with Binny. I can’t wait to get my hands on the sequels, Binny in Secret and Binny Bewitched!

Binny for Short is great summer vacation book for fans of the Penderwicks series by Jeanne Birdsall or Summerlost by Ally Condie. The book was not just a lovely introduction to the series and the characters; there are two important plot lines in the book that eventually intersect. The story slowly unfolds over the chapters, with a very satisfying ending. I don’t want to spoil any more for potential readers, so you’ll just have to find a copy and read it for yourselves!

— Nancy

Nancy was camping in a seaside town when she finished reading Binny for Short; she highly recommends matching the book you’re reading to the setting you’re actually in, if possible.

Booklist: Experience an Escape Room, Kidlit Style

August 7th, 2017 by

The other day, my friend told me that he and his family did three escape rooms in one week. Seriously, dude loves puzzles.

Not familiar with escape rooms? They’re theme rooms where you solve a series of puzzles in order to figure out how to exit the room — usually within an hour time limit. You participate in teams, so it’s a fun activity for a family or a group of friends.

I got to thinking… If I had my own escape room company, I’d make all the rooms based on different children’s books where the storyline revolves around characters solving puzzles and putting together clues. In my opinion, reading these brain-teasing books and playing along is like experiencing an escape room!

So check out these puzzle-centric books packed with even more riddles, codes, and drama than you’d find in a real-world escape room (official descriptions from the book publishers/authors):

puzzling-world-of-winston-breen-book-reviewThe Puzzling World of Winston Breen by Erin Berlin

Winston Breen says the only thing better than discovering a puzzle is stumping someone else with it. But when his sister uncovers mysterious strips of wood with words and letters on them, even Winston himself is stumped. Soon the whole family (and some friends) are caught up in the mystery and off on a scavenger hunt that just may lead to a ring worth thousands of dollars! Chock-full of puzzles to solve, some tied to the mystery and some not, this treasure hunt will keep readers’ brains teased right up to the exciting ending!

the-gollywhopper-gamesThe Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman

Gil Goodson’s future happiness depends on winning Golly Toy and Game Company’s ultimate competition. If Gil wins, his dad has promised the family can move away from all the gossip, false friends, and bad press that have plagued them ever since The Incident.

Gil has been studying, training, and preparing for months, and once he makes it through the tricky preliminary rounds and meets his teammates, the competition gets tougher. Brainteasers, obstacle courses, mazes, and increasingly difficult puzzles and decisions — not to mention temptations, dilemmas, and new friends (and enemies) — are all that separate Gil from ultimate victory. Does Gil have what it takes to win? Do you?

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein

Kyle Keeley is the class clown and a huge fan of all games — board games, word games, and particularly video games. His hero, Luigi Lemoncello, the most notorious and creative gamemaker in the world, just so happens to be the genius behind the construction of the new town library. Lucky Kyle wins a coveted spot as one of 12 kids invited for an overnight sleepover in the library, hosted by Mr. Lemoncello and riddled with lots and lots of games. But when morning comes, the doors stay locked. Kyle and the other kids must solve every clue and figure out every secret puzzle to find the hidden escape route!

Floors_Patrick-CarmanFloors by Patrick Carman

Charlie had his chocolate factory. Stanley Yelnats had his holes. Leo has the wacky, amazing Whippet Hotel. The Whippet Hotel is a strange place full of strange and mysterious people. Each floor has its own quirks and secrets. Ten-year-old Leo Fillmore should know most of them; he is the maintenance man’s son, after all. But a whole lot more mystery gets thrown his way when a series of cryptic boxes are left for him… boxes that lead him to hidden floors, strange puzzles, and unexpected alliances. Leo had better be quick on his feet, because the fate of the building he loves is at stake… and so is Leo’s own future!

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

A bizarre chain of events begins when 16 unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing’s will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger — and a possible murderer — to inherit his vast fortune, one thing’s for sure: Sam Westing may be dead… but that won’t stop him from playing one last game!

Book Scavenger by Jennifer Chambliss Bertman

For 12-year-old Emily, the best thing about moving to San Francisco is that it’s the home city of her literary idol: Garrison Griswold, book publisher and creator of the online sensation Book Scavenger (a game where books are hidden in cities all over the country and clues to find them are revealed through puzzles). Upon her arrival, however, Emily learns that Griswold has been attacked and is now in a coma, and no one knows anything about the epic new game he had been poised to launch. Then Emily and her new friend James discover an odd book, which they come to believe is from Griswold himself, and might contain the only copy of his mysterious new game.

Racing against time, Emily and James rush from clue to clue, desperate to figure out the secret at the heart of Griswold’s new game ― before those who attacked Griswold come after them too.

spiderweb-for-twoSpiderweb for Two by Elizabeth Enright

Randy and Oliver Melendy awake one fall morning full of gloom. Their brother and sister are away, the house seems forlorn and empty, and even Cuffy, their adored housekeeper, can’t pick up their spirits. Will they have to face a long and lonely winter? But a surprise message in the mailbox starts a trail of excitement and adventure that takes them through the cold season. When summer finally comes around again, the children have found 14 messages in all, and the end of the search brings them a rich reward.


I’m pretty sure the characters in these books would kick major butt in an escape room — and I’d love to solve puzzles and decipher clues alongside them, or at least pretend to be in their world for an hour if I could. So… who’s going to fund my new escape room business? 🙂

Leave a comment if you have an escape room idea or a book recommendation I didn’t include here!

— Karen

Karen’s actually never done an escape room — but she would if there were some based on these books!

More about Karen »

New Book-to-Movie Trailers

August 1st, 2017 by

Alert: Your summer vacation may be half over. For those of you in certain school districts, it might be soon over! How have you been spending your time away from the classroom? At the beach, camping, or activity-filled day camps? Are you making new friends at summer school? Or enjoying the air conditioning and the thousands of amazing free books in your local library?

No matter how you’ve been spending your vacation, take a break from your break, ’cause you’re gonna want to see these movie trailers and teasers for upcoming book-to-movie adaptations!


Based on the novel by Brian Selznick

The Breadwinner

Based on the novel by Deborah Ellis, of which we have 101 book reviews from You(th)!

A Wrinkle in Time

Based on the novel by Madeleine L’Engle

Bonus: Ferdinand

This animated movie adaptation is based on the picture book The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, which you may have read when you were younger — it looks fun!

Bad news: We’re going to have to wait months for these movies.

Good news: The videos above for A Wrinkle in Time and Wonderstruck were just teasers, so we’ll be treated to more movie footage soon.

Even better news: You can read all of these books and submit a book review to Kidsmomo while waiting for them to hit the silver screen!

— Nancy

Nancy wants to call out another excellent trailer for A Wrinkle in Time — this one with perhaps just a wee less production budget:

The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson: Book Review

July 24th, 2017 by

great-greene-heistFrom the moment I met Jackson Greene, I knew I was in for an entertaining ride! The title of The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson really says it all. You’ve got the slick con man (or middle school student, as the case may be) and you’ve got his one last big job — even though he vowed he was out of the game after the last one blew up in his face.

What could possibly tempt Jackson to come out of retirement and return to a life of crime? Why, the girl of his dreams, of course! Unfortunately for Jackson, he really messed things up with Gaby, his best friend (and more?), during his last plot. Can he make it up to her when she faces an unexpected challenge in her bid to be school president?

Much to my delight, Jackson recruits a team to help him pull off his great heist: a tech whiz, an inside man, someone to bankroll the mission, etc. I’m a huge fan of Ocean’s Eleven, so I always love watching specialists assemble, plan, and then execute complicated schemes — maybe even with some double crosses and bluffs thrown in.

I think pretty much anyone would enjoy this book because it’s fast-paced, fun, and funny — but I’d especially recommend this book if you’re a fan of other capers like The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander or the Swindle books by Gordon Korman.

And once you finish The Great Greene Heist, you can check out the sequel: To Catch a Cheat!

Have you already read The Great Greene Heist, or do you have another caper book to recommend? Leave a comment below!

— Karen

Karen gets freaked out by movies that are overly suspenseful, but for some reason she loves capers (so long as they’re light-hearted). Maybe she’s got a secret schemer inside of her, just waiting to get out!

More about Karen »

Hidden Gems of July

July 16th, 2017 by

These past few weeks have been just AWESOME for new releases. We’ve got the conclusion to Chris Colfer’s Land of Stories series, Worlds Collide. Serafina is back in Serafina and the Splintered Heart, courtesy of Robert Beatty. Even Geronimo Stilton sailed in at the end of June in The Ship of Secrets. But if you’re interested in reading about completely new characters and plots, there’s something for everyone!

Check out these three hidden gems of the summer (official descriptions from the book publishers):

If you shout “Hooray!” for Historical Fiction:

It All Comes Down to This by Karen English

It’s 1965, Los Angeles. All 12-year-old Sophie wants to do is write her book, star in the community play, and hang out with her friend Jennifer. But she’s the new black kid in a nearly all-white neighborhood; her beloved sister, Lily, is going away to college soon; and her parents’ marriage is rocky. There’s also her family’s new, disapproving housekeeper to deal with. When riots erupt in nearby Watts and a friend is unfairly arrested, Sophie learns that life — and her own place in it — is even more complicated than she’d once thought.

If you’re in the Contemporary Fiction Club:

You May Already Be a Winner by Ann Dee Ellis

Twelve-year-old Olivia Hales has a foolproof plan for winning a million dollars so that she and her little sister, Berkeley, can leave behind Sunny Pines Trailer Park.

But first she has to:
· Fix the swamp cooler and make dinner and put Berkeley to bed because her mom is too busy to do all that
· Write another letter to her dad even though he hasn’t written back yet
· Teach Berk the important stuff, like how to make chalk drawings, because they can’t afford day care and Olivia has to stay home from school to watch her
· Petition her oddball neighbors for a circus spectacular, because there needs to be something to look forward to at dumb-bum Sunny Pines
· Become a super-secret spy to impress her new friend Bart
· Enter a minimum of 14 sweepstakes a day. Who knows? She may already be a winner!

Olivia has thought of everything… except herself. Who will take care of her when she needs it? Luckily, somewhere deep down between her small intestine and stomach is a tiny voice reminding her that sometimes people can surprise you — and sometimes your family is right next door.

If you’re a Fantasy Fanatic:

The Song From Somewhere Else, written by A.F. Harrold and illustrated by Levi Pinfold

Frank thought her summer couldn’t get any worse — until big, weird, smelly Nick Underbridge rescues her from a bully, and she winds up at his house.

Frank quickly realizes there’s more to Nick than meets the eye. When she’s at his house, she hears the strangest, most beautiful music, music which leads her to a mysterious, hidden door. Beyond the door are amazing creatures that she never even dreamed could be real. For the first time in forever, Frank feels happy… and she and Nick start to become friends.

But Nick’s incredible secrets are also accompanied by great danger. Frank must figure out how to help her new friend, the same way that he has helped her.

Personally, I’m the most excited about You May Already Be a Winner… but let’s face it, The Song From Somewhere Else and It All Comes Down to This are both getting onto my to-read pile. How about you? Leave a comment below about the book you’re most excited to read!

— Nancy

Nancy would very much like to win the lottery so she can spend all of her time reading and hanging out on the Internet. She would also buy a bakery and eat cake. Lots of cake.

Meet Nancy »

The Ethan I Was Before by Ali Standish: Book Review

July 9th, 2017 by

the-ethan-i-was-beforeSummer equals road trips, picnics, swimming, and relaxing with a popsicle in the shade of a tree. No worries, no cares. And the book equivalent to all of that is obviously beach reads — lighthearted stories or action-oriented page turners. Fun books. Nothing too serious.

So why am I recommending The Ethan I Was Before by Ali Standish, a book about a boy dealing with the aftermath of a tragic accident? Because despite the premise, the story is far from being all doom and gloom. In fact, once I started, I couldn’t put it down!

The book focuses on Ethan, and how he’s dealing with an accident involving his best friend. He and his family have just moved to a new town in order to get a fresh start, and at first Ethan is totally uninterested in meeting new people and getting settled in there.

But then Ethan meets Coralee, who’s funny, feisty, and tells great stories. They become fast friends, and soon the two of them are exploring town and navigating school cliques together — and in the process, they stumble upon a mystery. As they dig deeper and maybe even put themselves in danger, Ethan also starts to unravel some of the murkier details of Coralee’s life. And as Ethan and Coralee become more and more entangled in their adventure, Ethan starts to wonder who he can really trust… [Imagine dramatic music here!]

So, given that plot, you can see why I couldn’t put the book down! There are definitely lots of serious parts, and Ethan is dealing with real pain and guilt. But the book was never hard to read because of that. That’s why even though it’s not a typical beach read, I recommend it for summer (or anytime!) reading.

And what are YOU reading this summer? Leave a comment with your recommendations!

— Karen

Karen is currently reading two books: The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson and Phoebe and Her Unicorn by Dana Simpson. Normally she wouldn’t read multiple books at the same time, but one’s a graphic novel, so that makes the multitasking/multireading possible!

More about Karen »

You Asked, We Answered: Newbery Picks

June 25th, 2017 by

On June 21, 2017, Kidsmomo reader Cassie asked us for some award-worthy book recommendations:

I love all books and do you have any books for the Newbery?

That’s a great question, especially now that we’re halfway to the next Newbery announcements (which will be in January 2018). Cassie, I’m going to answer your question two ways:

1. Potential Newbery Winners Worth Reading:

There are several blogs out on the interwebs that identify books that are getting lots of buzz and might be Newbery contenders. So I’m going to let those blogs do the work for me, and give you their suggestions:

From 100 Scope Notes:

The Ethan I Was Before
– Orphan Island
The Someday Birds
Thick as Thieves
See You in the Cosmos
Me and Marvin Gardens
Scar Island
The Pearl Thief

From Heavy Medal:

Isaac the Alchemist
– Let’s Clap, Jump, Sing & Shout; Dance, Spin & Turn It Out
The March Against Fear
Me and Marvin Gardens
One Last Word
Pathfinders: The Journeys of Sixteen Extraordinary Black Souls
– Princess Cora and the Crocodile
Thick as Thieves
The Warden’s Daughter

2. Newbery Medal Winners I Love:

The American Library Association has been giving out Newbery awards since 1922, so that means there are A LOT of winners out there. Below are my particular favorites — selected just from the Medal winners. (If I were to include Newbery Honor recipients… forget it — the list would go on for days and days!)

Cassie, I hope that gives you some good ideas for what to read next — and potentially enough books to keep you busy all summer!

To the rest of you: If you’re like Cassie and want some customized book recommendations just for you, submit an Ask Kidsmomo question in the form below!

Kids: Ask your parents or teachers for approval before you submit anything to us, and read our Privacy Policy Statement.

Your Name (optional):

Your Message (required):

— Karen

Okay, Karen can’t stop herself from mentioning some of the recent Newbery Honor books that she loves: Brown Girl Dreaming, El Deafo, Three Times Lucky, Inside Out & Back Again, One Crazy Summer… The list goes on and on! Literally. Like, here is the list of all the past winners ever.

More about Karen »

Book Quote Trivia Quiz

June 18th, 2017 by

Ahem. Can we all agree that highlighters are super fun and the best stationery thingy? Okay, maybe highlighters are tied with a multiple color click pen. But definitely in the Top 10 on a back-to-school shopping list. Well, one of my favorite things to do when I read is highlighting interesting sentences in a book*. I even do this when I read ebooks on my computer or smartphone!

*Only do this with your own books, obviously. Only monsters highlight library books! Don’t be a monster.

Could you recognize a book by just one, two, or three sentences? Take this quiz and find out!

"In this book, not only is there no happy ending, there is no happy beginning and very few happy things in the middle."

"Monday morning found Tom miserable."

"You can always trust a dog that likes peanut butter."

"I'm twelve years old. Until a few months ago, I was a boarding student at Yancy Academy, a private school for troubled kids in upstate New York. Am I a troubled kid? Yeah. You could say that."

"'Is the spring coming?' he said. 'What is it like?'"

"Some people spend all their time on a vacation taking pictures so that when they get home they can show their friends evidence that they had a good time. They don't pause to let the vacation enter inside of them and take that home."

"People are more than just the way they look."

"When you’ve lived in a cage, you can’t bear not to run, even if what you’re running towards is an illusion."

"Sitting in cold wet britches for an hour was no fun even in a magic kingdom."

"'Words,' he said, 'is oh such a twitch-tickling problem to me all my life.'"


— Nancy

Confession: Nancy would have gotten a 0/10 on this quiz if she hadn’t written it herself.

Meet Nancy »

Captain Underpants Movie: Video-palooza!

June 11th, 2017 by

In January, we excitedly shared a “first look” at the Captain Underpants movie. Well, now the film is finally out in theaters!

Apparently, the film is HUGE (just like Captain Underpants’ tighty whities) — with the movie coming in #2 at the box office over opening weekend. But if you’re like me and you haven’t had the chance to see the movie yet, I thought you might appreciate this video round-up, including clips from the film and coverage of fun stuff from the red carpet premiere!

Video #1: Features an amazing montage of George and Harold’s many pranks…


Video #2: The moment when Captain Underpants comes to life…


Video #3: With great power comes great responsibility — but try telling that to Harold and George!


Video #4: It’s man (kind of) versus ape (kind of) in this video clip:


Video #5: Some people say, “It’s the thought that counts.” But I’m not sure the recipients of Captain Underpants’ supposed “help” would agree…


Video #6: Introducing Professor Poopypants!


Video #7: Check out the official movie theme song by Weird Al Yankovic! (Warning: You may later find yourself humming this tune even when you don’t want to!)


Video #8: Somehow, these kids managed to get Captain Underpants videos created based on their wacky ideas — even without the use of hypnotism!


Video #9: Have you always wanted to watch movie stars and the author of the Captain Underpants books fling underwear through the air with all their might? Well, today is your lucky day! Search no further. The video of your dreams is below:


If all these videos don’t get you pumped to see the movie, I don’t know what could! Actually, I do have another idea: Read the Captain Underpants books while you wait for your trip to the theater! There are sooooooooooooo many books in the series — making it a great choice for summer reading too!

If you’re a Captain Underpants fan, leave a comment and share your thoughts on the new movie!

— Karen

If Karen became a superhero, she would definitely want to wear more than just underpants — maybe some pajamas for ultimate comfort and flexibility during battle!

More about Karen »

New Summer, New Books: June 2017 New Releases

June 4th, 2017 by

If the sun blasting into my window has anything to say about it, it’s SUMMER! Do you have your summer reading book list all set? If not, you’ve come to the right place: Here’s a list of new books releasing in June.

You might be indignantly waving your summer reading list at your screen… Well, get ready to make room for some additions! My personal top picks are noted with a ❤️ … but everything on this list is bookshelf worthy!

Note: This list features stand-alone novels and does not include any sequels in well-known series. I would love to go on and on and on about my excitement over Jaleigh Johnson’s The Quest to the Uncharted Lands (second companion book to The Mark of the Dragonfly) and others, but then you’d be reading this blog post until July.

Click on the plus signs next to the book titles to read the full descriptions from the publishers:

Don’t Drink and Read: Laughing Causes Milk Out the Nose


❤️ Lint Boy by Aileen Leijten
 Lint Boy and Lint Bear live in their cozy dryer home, carefree and happy — until the day Lint Bear is snatched away by a cruel woman with a vendetta against dolls! Can Lint Boy unite a group of lost dolls to vanquish the villain and save his brother?

This magical story is showcased in the stunning full-color art of this young graphic novel. A gently gothic, age-appropriate blend of Roald Dahl and Tim Burton, Lint Boy is a compelling tale of good vs. evil that will leave readers spellbound.

Pottymouth and Stoopid by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein

David and his best friend Michael were tagged with awful nicknames way back in preschool when everyone did silly things. Fast-forward to 7th grade: “Pottymouth” and “Stoopid” are still stuck with the names — and everyone in school, including the teachers and their principal, believe the labels are true.

So how do they go about changing everyone’s minds? By turning their misery into megastardom on TV, of course! And this important story delivers more than just laughs — it shows that the worst bullying doesn’t have to be physical… and that things will get better.

Official Notice to Parents:
There is no actual pottymouthing or stupidity in this entire book!
(Psst, kids: That second part might not be entirely true.)

The Strongest Man in the World: The Legend of Louis Cyr by Lucie Papineau and Caroline Hamel

North America, late 19th century: A little boy is born whose destiny will prove exceptional. Traveling across the Northeast, he will show extraordinary physical strength. Soon, his exploits will spread around the North American continent, then Europe, making him truly the strongest man in the world!

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, open this book and be amazed by this incredible story!

These Main Characters Could Be Your BFFs


❤️ Let’s Pretend We Never Met by Melissa Walker

If it were up to Mattie Markham, there would be a law that said your family wasn’t allowed to move in the middle of the school year. After all, 6th grade is hard enough without wondering if you’ll be able to make new friends or worrying that the kids in Pennsylvania won’t like your North Carolina accent.

But when Mattie meets her next-door neighbor and classmate, she begins to think maybe she was silly to fear being the “new girl.” Agnes is like no one Mattie has ever met — she’s curious, hilarious, smart, and makes up the best games. If winter break is anything to go by, the rest of the school year should be a breeze.

Only it isn’t, because when vacation ends and school starts, Mattie realizes something: At school Agnes is known as the weird girl who no one likes. All Mattie wants is to fit in (okay, and maybe be a little popular too), but is that worth ending her friendship with Agnes?

Superstar by Mandy Davis

Lester’s first days as a 5th grader at Quarry Elementary School are not even a little bit like he thought they would be — the cafeteria is too loud for Lester’s ears, there are too many kids, and then there’s the bully.

Lester was always home-schooled, and now he’s shocked to be stuck in a school where everything just seems wrong. That’s until he hears about the science fair, which goes really well for Lester! This is it. The moment where I find out for 100% sure that I won.

But then things go a bit sideways, and Lester has to find his way back. A touching peek into the life of a sensitive autism-spectrum boy facing the everydayness of elementary school, Superstar testifies that what you can do isn’t nearly as important as who you are.

This Is Just a Test by Madelyn Rosenberg and Wendy Wan-Long Shang

David Da-Wei Horowitz has a lot on his plate. Preparing for his upcoming bar mitzvah would be enough work even if it didn’t involve trying to please his Jewish and Chinese grandmothers, who argue about everything. But David just wants everyone to be happy.

That includes his friend Scott, who is determined to win their upcoming trivia tournament but doesn’t like their teammate — and David’s best friend — Hector. Scott and David begin digging a fallout shelter just in case this Cold War stuff with the Soviets turns south… but David’s not so convinced he wants to spend forever in an underground bunker with Scott. Maybe it would be better if Hector and Kelli Ann came with them. But that would mean David has to figure out how to stand up for Hector and talk to Kelli Ann. Some days, surviving nuclear war feels like the least of David’s problems.

The Last Page Might May You Say, “Whoa.”


Felix Yz by Lisa Bunker

When Felix Yz was 3 years old, a hyperintelligent 4th-dimensional being became fused inside him after one of his father’s science experiments went terribly wrong. The creature is friendly, but Felix — now 13 — won’t be able to grow to adulthood while they’re still melded together. So a risky Procedure is planned to separate them… but it may end up killing them both instead.

This book is Felix’s secret blog, a chronicle of the days leading up to the Procedure. Some days it’s business as usual — time with his close-knit family, run-ins with a bully at school, anxiety about his crush. But life becomes more out of the ordinary with the arrival of an Estonian chess Grandmaster, the revelation of family secrets, and a train-hopping journey. When it all might be over in a few days, what matters most?

Told in an unforgettable voice full of heart and humor, Felix Yz is a groundbreaking story about how we are all separate, but all connected too.

❤️ The Someday Suitcase by Corey Ann Haydu

Clover and Danny are the kind of best friends who make each other even better. They’re so important to each other that Clover believes they’re symbiotic: her favorite science word, which describes two beings who can’t function without the other. But when Danny comes down with a mysterious illness that won’t go away, the doctors can’t figure out what’s wrong with him. So Clover decides to take matters into her own hands by making lists — list of Danny’s symptoms, his good days, his bad days.

As the evidence piles up, only one thing becomes clear: Danny is only better when Clover is around.

Suddenly it feels like time is running out for Clover and Danny to do everything they’ve planned together — to finally see snow, to go on a trip with the suitcase they picked out together. Will science be able to save Danny, or is this the one time when magic can overcome the unthinkable?

Sputnik’s Guide to Life on Earth by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Prez knows that the best way to keep track of things is to make a list. That’s important when you have a grandfather who is constantly forgetting. And it’s even more important when your grandfather can’t care for you anymore and you have to go live with a foster family out in the country.

Prez is still learning to fit in at his new home when he answers the door to meet Sputnik — a kid who is more than a little strange. First, he can hear what Prez is thinking. Second, he looks like a dog to everyone except Prez. Third, he can manipulate the laws of space and time. Sputnik, it turns out, is an alien, and he’s got a mission that requires Prez’s help: The Earth has been marked for destruction, and the only way they can stop it is to come up with ten reasons why the planet should be saved.

Thus begins one of the most fun and eventful summers of Prez’s life, as he and Sputnik set out on a journey to compile the most important list Prez has ever made — and discover just what makes our world so remarkable.

My Summer Vacation: (Vicarious) Heart-Pounding Adventures


Hell and High Water by Tanya Landman

Mystery turns to mortal danger as one young man’s quest to clear his father’s name ensnares him in a net of deceit, conspiracy, and intrigue in 1750s England.

Caleb has spent his life roaming southern England with his Pa, little to their names but his father’s signet ring and a puppet theater for popular, raunchy Punch and Judy shows — until the day Pa is convicted of a theft he didn’t commit and sentenced to transportation to the colonies in America. From prison, Caleb’s father sends him to the coast to find an aunt Caleb never knew he had. His aunt welcomes him into her home, but her neighbors see only Caleb’s dark skin. Still, Caleb slowly falls into a strange rhythm in his new life… until one morning he finds a body washed up on the shore. The face is unrecognizable after its time at sea, but the signet ring is unmistakable: It can only be Caleb’s father. Mystery piles on mystery as both church and state deny what Caleb knows. From award-winning British author Tanya Landman comes a heart-stopping story of race, class, family, and corruption so deep it can kill.

❤️ Joplin, Wishing by Diane Stanley

While cleaning out her reclusive grandfather’s house, Joplin discovers pieces of a broken platter in a cookie tin. After having the platter repaired, Joplin wishes that she could both find a friend at school, and befriend the girl pictured in the platter. The next day, Joplin befriends a boy named Barrett, and also notices a girl outside her apartment. A girl who looks remarkably like the girl in the platter…

The girl introduces herself as Sofie, and she has a terrible secret. Cursed to grant wishes for the owner of the platter for all of time, she has been trapped for centuries. Joplin and Barrett vow to help her, but freeing Sofie is more complicated than they could have imagined, and the three friends end up against a sinister foe who could put them all in terrible danger.

The Quest for Z: The True Story of Explorer Percy Fawcett and a Lost City in the Amazon by Greg Pizzoli

British explorer Percy Fawcett believed that hidden deep within the Amazon rainforest was an ancient city, lost for the ages. Most people didn’t even believe this city existed. But if Fawcett could find it, he would be rich and famous forever. This is the true story of one man’s thrilling, dangerous journey into the jungle, and what he found on his quest for the lost city of Z.

What books are on your summer reading list? Did any of my awesome recommendations get added? Let me know in the comments below!

— Nancy

As the last category suggests, the most thrilling activity Nancy partakes in during the summer is turning on the air conditioner and curling up with a good book.

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