NOTE: This post by Jonathan Rosen originally ran on May 28th, but it was so chock full of great summer reads, we decided to run it again and include one more book, one we just featured a few weeks ago.
Hello Mixed-Up Filers!
Hope you are all doing well! I have to say, summer is my favorite time of the year. I love having my kids off from school and being able to do things with them. I love the promise of adventure. New things can happen every day. I love summer movies, summer camp, and most of all, summer reading! Some really fun books come out in the summer, and this year is no exception.
I looked through those June, July, August releases, and though there were soooooo many I was looking forward to, I picked out five that immediately caught my eye.
What’s that you say? Jonathan, stop talking and get to them? Okay, okay, my impatient friends. Without further ado, here we go!
- The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell (June 5th)
Welcome to a neighborhood of kids who transform ordinary boxes into colorful costumes, and their ordinary block into cardboard kingdom. This is the summer when sixteen kids encounter knights and rogues, robots and monsters–and their own inner demons–on one last quest before school starts again.
In the Cardboard Kingdom, you can be anything you want to be–imagine that!
Seriously, brings me back to being a kid, when all you needed was a large cardboard box to imagine anything. Really looking forward to this one.
2) The Frame-Up by Wendy McLeod MacKnight (June 5th)
Filled with shady characters, devious plots, and a grand art heist, this inventive mystery-adventure celebrates art and artists and is perfect for fans of Night at the Museum and Blue Balliett’s Chasing Vermeer.
There’s one important rule at the Beaverbrook Gallery—don’t let anyone know the paintings are alive. Mona Dunn, forever frozen at thirteen when her portrait was painted by William Orpen, has just broken that rule. Luckily twelve-year-old Sargent Singer, an aspiring artist himself, is more interested in learning about the vast and intriguing world behind the frame than he is in sharing her secret.
And when Mona and Sargent suspect shady dealings are happening behind the scenes at the gallery, they set out to find the culprit. They must find a way to save the gallery—and each other—before they are lost forever.
I already read this one, and it was so much fun. I can’t wait until everyone else gets a chance to see it. And hey, who doesn’t love talking paintings?
3) Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish by Pablo Cartaya (Aug 21)
Marcus Vega is six feet tall, 180 pounds, and the owner of a premature mustache. When you look like this and you’re only in the eighth grade, you’re both a threat and a target.
After a fight at school leaves Marcus facing suspension, Marcus’s mom decides it’s time for a change of environment. She takes Marcus and his younger brother to Puerto Rico to spend a week with relatives they don’t remember or have never met. But Marcus can’t focus knowing that his father–who walked out of their lives ten years ago–is somewhere on the island.
So begins Marcus’s incredible journey, a series of misadventures that take him all over Puerto Rico in search of his elusive namesake. Marcus doesn’t know if he’ll ever find his father, but what he ultimately discovers changes his life. And he even learns a bit of Spanish along the way.
In some ways, this book reminds me a lot about my youth and living in Mexico. Feeling out of place and having to speak Spanish. Plus, it shares a release date with me. That has to mean something!
4) Smack Down in the Middle of Maybe by Jo Watson Hackl (July 10)
How far would you go to find something that might not even exist?
All her life, Cricket’s mama has told her stories about a secret room painted by a mysterious artist. Now Mama’s run off, and Cricket thinks the room might be the answer to getting her to come back. If it exists. And if she can find it.
Cricket’s only clue is a coin from a grown-over ghost town in the woods. So with her daddy’s old guidebook and a coat full of snacks stolen from the Cash ‘n’ Carry, Cricket runs away to find the room. Surviving in the woods isn’t easy. While Cricket camps out in an old tree house and looks for clues, she meets the last resident of the ghost town, encounters a poetry-loving dog (who just might hold a key to part of the puzzle), and discovers that sometimes you have to get a little lost . . . to really find your way.
First off, I love the title. It caught my eye, but after reading what this was about, I can’t wait to read it!
5) Nightbooks by J.A. White (July 24)
A boy is imprisoned by a witch and must tell her a new scary story each night to stay alive. This thrilling contemporary fantasy from J. A. White, the acclaimed author of the Thickety series, brings to life the magic and craft of storytelling.
Alex’s original hair-raising tales are the only thing keeping the witch Natacha happy, but soon he’ll run out of pages to read from and be trapped forever. He’s loved scary stories his whole life, and he knows most don’t have a happily ever after. Now that Alex is trapped in a true terrifying tale, he’s desperate for a different ending—and a way out of this twisted place.
This modern spin on the Scheherazade story is perfect for fans of Coraline and A Tale Dark and Grimm. With interwoven tips on writing with suspense, adding in plot twists, hooks, interior logic, and dealing with writer’s block, this is the ideal book for budding writers and all readers of delightfully just-dark-enough tales.
I love just about ANY witch story, and this one looks like it’ll be fun.
These are just some of the great MG stories coming out this summer, but there are many more that I didn’t have room for, like a certain vampire sequel to a bunny story, `so please be on the lookout for all of them!
6) Where the Watermelons Grow, by Cindy Baldwin (July 8)
When twelve-year-old Della Kelly finds her mother furiously digging black seeds from a watermelon in the middle of the night and talking to people who aren’t there, Della worries that it’s happening again–that the sickness that put her mama in the hospital four years ago is back. That her mama is going to be taken away like last time.
With her daddy struggling to save the farm and her mama in denial, it’s up to Della to heal her mama for good. And she knows just how she’ll do it: with a jar of the Bee Lady’s magic honey, which has mended the wounds and woes of Maryville, North Carolina, for generations. But when the Bee Lady says that the solution might have less to do with fixing Mama’s brain and more to do with healing her own heart, Della must find a way to truly love her own mother, sickness and all.
Gorgeous prose, heart-stopping scenes between Della and her father and mentors as she navigates this sad, tough time in her life. (Last note from Heather Murphy Capps)
Jonathan Rosen is a transplanted New Yorker, who now lives with his family in sunny, South Florida. He spends his “free” time chauffeuring around his three kids. Some of Jonathan’s fondest childhood memories are of discovering a really good book to dive into, in particular the Choose Your Own Adventure Series, and Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Jonathan is proud to be of Mexican-American descent, although neither country has been really willing to accept responsibility. He is the author of Night of the Living Cuddle Bunnies, and its sequel, From Sunset Till Sunrise. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook, FromtheMixedUpFiles.Com, and his own website, WWW.HouseofRosen.com