Summer Reading is Almost Here!

Memorial Day!  Summer is starting! I know! How did this happen?

But before you panic (good panic, bad panic, whatever), let’s get the important preparation out of the way –  a short summer reading list for the middle grade readers in your life, be they students, children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, other. So many good books appear during the next few months (June-September) and these are just a few I’m looking forward to.

Kids often have more flexibility during summer vacation to read for pleasure. And while summer reading is fun, it’s also critical to a child’s ability to retain information from the previous school year and also prepare for the challenges of the next one.

That’s a win-win in my book!

(Descriptions from Amazon)

A Pinch of Phoenix, by Kati Bartkowski & Heidi Lang (Aladdin) (July)

The Mystic Cooking Chronicles is one of my favorite middle grade series and I cannot wait to read the thrilling conclusion. Why not catch up with the first two, A Dash of Dragon and A Hint of Hydra, before diving into this one?

Description: Lailu is in hot water. After the events of the Week of Masks, Wren keeps sending insect-like automatons to attack Lailu. However, they’re more irritating than dangerous, and Lailu is more worried about the elves, who have been quiet so far. Too quiet.

When Lailu heads out of the city on a hunt with Greg, the elves finally strike. They put up a magical shield separating the Velvet Forest from the rest of the city. Now no human can enter…and unfortunately for Lailu and Greg, no human can leave, either. Ryon shows up to save them both, claiming they were caught unintentionally, but Lailu isn’t sure she believes him.

Tensions between the elves and the scientists are reaching a boiling point, and the question is which side will snap first. And in the middle of it all is Lailu. Trusted by both sides, she’s selected to deliver messages and help negotiate a truce between the parties before war becomes inevitable.

Easy as pie, right? Not so much. Lailu’s new role as mediator may be one recipe that’s headed for disaster!


Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus, by Dusti Bowling (September)

I adored the first one in this series – Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus. The characters linger in your thoughts long after you finish the last chapter. Why not pick up the first one and have yourself a double header of awesome reading?

Description: Just as Aven starts to feel comfortable in Stagecoach Pass, with her friends and schoolmates accustomed to her lack of “armage,” everything changes once again. She’s about to begin high school . . . with 3,000 new kids to stare at her. And no matter how much Aven tries to play it cool, nothing prepares her for the reality. In a year filled with confusion, humiliation, and just maybe love, can Aven manage to stay true to herself?


Ollie Oxley and the Ghost, by Lisa Schmid (June)

I love a good ghost story but give me one that also makes me laugh and I’m sold! Author Schmid packs her story with secondary characters that are so real it feels like you might actually run into them down at the ice cream shop. Perfect summer fun.

Description: Twelve-year-old Ollie Oxley is moving-again. His mom is starting another new job, this time at the Bingham Theater in Granite City, California. Moving all the time means Ollie has struggled in the making friends department, but he quickly connects with a boy named Teddy. To Ollie’s surprise, though, his first friend in town is a little more . . . unique than those he’s made in the past. Teddy is a ghost.

Befriending someone who lived during the famous California Gold Rush sure does make things interesting for Ollie. But when the school bully, Aubrey, targets Ollie and it looks like the Bingham Theater might close, the stakes couldn’t be higher. Can Teddy and Ollie work together to take down Aubrey, save his mom’s job, and solve a mystery years in the making?


It’s the End of the World as I Know It, by Matt Landis (September)

Anxiety, stress and fear are real at every age and I applaud authors who take up the subject in their work. I really liked Matt Landis’s last book, The Not So Boring Letters of a Private Nobody so I’m especially looking forward to this one.

Description: Ever since his mother was killed in the line of duty in Iraq, Derrick has been absolutely certain that the apocalypse is coming. And he’s prepared: he’s got plenty of canned goods, he’s fully outfitted with HAZMAT suits, and he’s building himself a sturdy fallout shelter. When his neighbor Misty insists on helping with the shelter, Derrick doesn’t think it’s such a good idea. Misty’s just had a kidney transplant, and her reaction to her brush with death is the opposite of Derrick’s: where Derrick wants to hide, Misty wants to see and do everything. But as confident as Misty is, Derrick’s doomsday fears just keep getting worse. And Derrick’s promised apocalypse day begins with a very strange disaster, Derrick and Misty have to figure out a way to survive–especially when the end of the world as they know it looks nothing like they expected.


Saving Fable, by Scott Reintgen (September)

I’m the kind of person that sometimes feels like the characters in books I’m reading are more alive than actual people I actually meet out on the street or in the coffee shop or wherever. So this first in the Talespinners series sounds right up my alley. I’m already looking forward to book two!

Description: Indira has been a character-in-waiting her entire life. So she can’t believe her luck when she’s finally chosen to travel to Fable and study at the renowned Protagonist Preparatory, a school known for producing the best heroes.

But Indira’s dreams of achieving hero status don’t exactly go as planned. A failed audition lands her in the school’s side-character track, and her best efforts to prove advisors–famous characters like Alice from Wonderland and Professor Darcy–wrong are constantly sabotaged. Indira is starting to feel like an evil antagonist might be to blame.

As the danger spreads, Indira discovers all of Fable is under siege. With her friends Maxi and Phoenix by her side, she pieces together clues that will reveal who is behind the dark magic threatening them all. But the more Indira uncovers, the more doubt she feels about her place in this world of stories. After all, can a side character really save the day?


The Vanderbeekers to the Rescue, by Karina Yan Glaser (September)

I adore this series. I just want to hang out with this family and go on all their adventures. To me, this is perfect summer reading. Don’t miss books one and two, The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street and The Vanderbeekers and the Hidden Garden.

Description: For the Vanderbeeker kids of Harlem’s 141st Street, spring break couldn’t be off to a better start. Isa’s back from band camp, Oliver’s building his first-ever treehouse in the backyard of the brownstone, and Laney, Jess, and Hyacinth are excited to help their mother when she gets the once-in-a-lifetime chance to star in a cooking magazine.
But the Vanderbeekers’ plans go off the rails when an unexpected visit from city officials puts their mother’s bakery in jeopardy. Now they’ll have to band together to save the day before they’re out of business. Perfect for fans of The Penderwicks and Front Desk.




Beth McMullen