Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Spotlight on Summertime - July 2013

Selected and annotated by Katie Boucher


Baskin, Nora Raleigh. The Summer Before Boys. Simon, 2011. 208p. Gr. 5-7.
Beginning another summer at her cousin and best friend Eliza’s lodge, twelve-year-old Julie finds she can no longer lose herself in their imaginary games, as she is too preoccupied with the unforgiving realities of her mother’s deployment to Iraq. Add to that the complications a crush-worthy boy, Michael, brings to the girls’ relationship, and Julie is in for a summer that is anything but carefree.

Beaty, Andrea. Attack of the Fluffy Bunnies. Amulet/Abrams, 2010. 184p. Gr. 3-5.
While not necessarily the most exciting prospect for twins Kevin and Joules, a summer at Camp Whatsitooya near the toxic Lake Whatsosmelly does beat spending it with their parents at the International SPAMathon. When giant alien rabbits invade, armed with a plot to take over Earth and a penchant for candy and humans, these two reluctant campers unexpectedly find themselves becoming heroes.

Bildner, Phil. The Unforgettable Season: The Story of Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and the Record-Setting Summer of ’41. Putnam, 2011. Gr. 3-5.
For baseball fans, there is nothing quite as reference-worthy as the summer of 1941, when the Red Sox’s Ted Williams ended the season with a .406 batting average and the Yankees’ Joe DiMaggio had a record-breaking 56-game hitting streak. Relive the excitement of one of baseball’s most famous seasons as Bildner sets it against the backdrop of an America on the cusp of WWII and in definite need of some inspiration.

Blazanin, Jan. A & L Do Summer. Egmont, 2011. 288p. Gr. 7-10.
Unfortunately for them, Laurel and Aspen are not starting their summer off on the right foot, as they are still reeling from the consequences of a school prank that was hijacked by three bullies, but for which Laurel and Aspen received the blame. What seems like an endless sequence of misunderstandings and a run of wrong-place/wrong-time circumstances makes summer for the impulsive Laurel and thoughtful Aspen contrast effectively with the quiet and harmless Iowa setting.

Caletti, Deb. The Secret Life of Prince Charming. Simon, 2009. 336p. Gr. 8-12.
Surrounded by women who are relentless in their man-hating cynicism for love, seventeen-year-old Quinn still holds onto hope that Prince Charming and his like exist. When she discovers that her own father is no such suitor, Quinn is inspired to right his romantic wrongs and goes on a road trip with a half sister she barely knows, a younger sister who knows her all too well, and a dangerously cute guitar player who can’t wait to get to know her better.

Dalton, Michelle. Sixteenth Summer. Simon Pulse, 2011. 283p. Gr. 7-10.
For Anna, life on Dune Island has become painfully close to suffocating, especially as she kicks off her summer as the outsider in her circle of friends, all themselves entwined in romances. When she meets Will, a dreamy tourist from Manhattan, the prospects of a summer romance give Anna hope that her summer may prove to be more exciting than she had anticipated.

Day, Karen. A Million Miles from Boston. Lamb, 2011. 224p. Gr. 5-7.
Having miraculously survived the sixth grade, Lucy is looking forward to an undisturbed getaway with her widowed father and younger brother to their summer cottage in Maine. When her middle school archenemy turns out to be her summer neighbor and her father insists on making his new girlfriend a part of their summer plans, Lucy is faced with the unwelcome and inconvenient task of growing up.

Derby, Sally. Kyle’s Island. Charlesbridge, 2010. 192p. Gr. 4-7.
With his parents recently separated and his beloved grandmother having passed, Kyle feels this summer at his family’s Michigan cottage is more important than ever. His enthusiasm is short-lived, however, when he learns that his newly single and financially strapped mother plans on selling the cottage and this summer there may be their last. 

Ferber, Brenda. Jemma Hartman, Camper Extraordinaire. Farrar, 2009. 224p. Gr. 4-6.
Jemma cannot wait to spend a month of her summer vacation at Camp Star Lake and reunite with her best friend Tammy, who moved at the start of fifth grade and with whom Jemma is looking to share all of the gloriousness of summer. However, when Tammy brings along her overbearing cousin Brooke, who has seemingly replaced Jemma as Tammy’s reigning BFF, Jemma’s idyllic summer turns into a social nightmare.

Frank, Hillary. The View from the Top. Dutton, 2010. 240p. Gr. 8-12.
It’s all about Annabelle this summer in Normal, Maine, a town our female focal point has decided to abandon for college life. This summer proves to be a complicated one, though, and plays out through the varying perspectives of Annabelle’s abusive druggy boyfriend Matt, his best friend Jonah to whom Annabelle finds herself drawn, Jonah’s sister who harbors secret lesbian feelings for Annabelle, and the one girl caught in the middle of it all. 

Galante, Cecilia. The Summer of May. Aladdin, 2011. 256p. Gr. 4-7.
For most teens, summer school is never the dream, but for thirteen-year-old May, spending her entire break in an intensive one-on-one English class with the dreadful Miss Movado is truly a nightmare. Since her mother’s suicide and her family’s relocation, May has begun to express her stifled grief and frustration through acts of rebellion and vandalism, but will soon find that her summer school punishment may just be what helps her heal.

Greene, Stephanie. The Lucky Ones. Greenwillow, 2008. 288p. Gr. 6-9.
Spending summers at her privileged family’s vacation home on Gull Island has always been idyllic for twelve-year-old Cecile. This time around, however, her parents won’t stop fighting and her older sister Natalie insists on embracing the role of boy-crazy teenager. Reluctantly maturing herself, Cecile soon finds that with growing up comes the keen ability to observe one’s circumstances, and so far, she does not like what she sees.

Hartinger, Brent. Project Sweet Life. HarperTeen, 2009. 288p. Gr. 7-10.
Dave, Victor, and Curtis are ready to enjoy their last summer of freedom as fifteen-year-olds not yet saddled with jobs. But when their fathers join forces to promptly employ them, these three friends will do anything to avoid work, namely founding Project Sweet Life, a plan to make lots of money with little effort. The project inevitably goes awry, causing shenanigans appropriate for a summer made especially for teenage boys.  

Haworth, Danette. The Summer of Moonlight Secrets. Walker, 2010. 273p. Gr. 4-6.
Even though it’s made her a bit of an outcast, growing up in the threadbare Meriwether Hotel has always been pleasant for eleven-year-old Allie Jo. When vacation season brings two new teenage guests to the hotel—the plucky skateboarder Chase and the enigmatic, self-proclaimed selkie Tara—Allie Jo finds her usually uneventful Florida summer now full of mystery, adventure, and blossoming friendships.

Holmes, Elizabeth. Tracktown Summer. Dutton, 2009. 256p. Gr. 5-8.
Railroad tracks and a polluted lake aren’t necessarily the ideal vacation view, but twelve-year-old Jake is excited nonetheless to spend the summer with his father, who has until now been only a shadow in his life. When his father proves to be more interested in his work than his son, Jake finds himself in the company of a rash and deceptive teen, Adrian, and learning some hard lessons about truth and the business of growing up.

Horvath, Polly. My One Hundred Adventures. Schwartz & Wade, 2008. 272p. Gr. 5-8.
Twelve-year-old Jane is bored, so she prays for one hundred adventures to replace the tedium of what is sure to be another dull summer. When her prayers are answered, Jane rides a hot-air balloon, delivers Bibles, and even takes a tour of her mother’s complicated romantic history, sparking a flurry of paternity questions. Never dull or insignificant, each of Jane’s adventures contributes to an ending for Jane’s journey that is both heartfelt and satisfying.
 
Larson, Hope. Chiggers. Seo/Atheneum, 2008. 176p. Gr. 5-9.
Like Abby, young girls attending summer camp are often in for a month-long nature-themed social gathering ripe with the fickle comings and goings of young friendships. Since her older friend Rose seems to have chosen summer camp company that does not include her, Abby is now faced with choosing new camp companions of her own. Follow Abby in this graphic novel as she grows into the complex camp hierarchy and larger institution of comradeship, exercising both immaturity and sincerity in her blossoming relationships.

Lombardi, Tom. My Summer on Earth. Simon Pulse, 2008. 256p. Gr. 9-12.
Sent to the United States of Earth to retrieve a rogue alien from his home planet who has shacked up in Los Angeles, Clint finds himself too distracted by mankind’s fascinating ways to complete his mission. Honing in on the more physical pleasures enjoyed by humans, Clint’s new enterprise is to experience all that Hollywood has to offer in this sardonic and comedic coming-of-age-on-Earth tale.
 
Matson, Morgan. Second Chance Summer. Simon, 2012. 468p. Gr. 7-10.
Taylor and her family are returning to their Pennsylvania lake house for the first summer in five years. This trip is anything but joyous, though: the family’s returning because it’s her cancer-stricken father’s dying wish, and Taylor is forced to face the realities of her father’s illness and the meanings of those relationships that are most dear to her.

Mitchell, Saundra. Shadowed Summer. Delacorte, 2009. 192p. Gr. 6-9.
When a friendly bout of ghost-hunting turns all too real after the spirit of a missing teenager whispers into Iris’s ear, Iris and her cohorts set our to solve the mystery of the ghost boy’s past and troubling disappearance. Readers are certainly in for a supernatural thrill-ride as they follow Iris and her friends through spooky summer nights spent digging up a past even scarier than the ghost it belongs to.

Ockler, Sarah. Twenty Boy Summer. Little, 2009. 290p. Gr. 8-12.
When Anna starts dating her best friend Frankie’s older brother Matt, the lovebirds agree to keep it a secret until Matt can tell Frankie himself. This revelation never comes, however, with Matt suddenly and tragically dying of a heart defect. One year later, Anna joins Frankie’s family on their annual vacation. Pressured to find and kiss at least twenty boys on vacation by a still unknowing Frankie, Anna finds herself buckling under the weight of her secret and the inability to mourn Matt’s death properly.

Tashjian, Janet. My Life As a Book. Ottaviano/Holt, 2010. 224p. Gr. 4-6.
Discouraged by his learning disability, Derek is less than thrilled about his required summer reading and cannot wait to spend his summer days however he pleases. When he stumbles upon an article featuring a young girl’s tragic drowning in his attic, Derek’s curiosity is piqued and his learning-laden summer is now filled with more mystery and excitement than he had expected.

Tooke, Wes. King of the Mound: My Summer with Satchel Paige. Simon, 2012. 160p. Gr. 4-7.
Nick’s recent bout of polio has left him a pathetic crippled boy in the eyes of his father, who plays semi-pro baseball for the Bismarck Churchills. Coupled with support from the team’s owner, Mr. Churchill, and enigmatic pitcher Satchel Paige, Nick’s own gumption to reestablish himself as a baseball player leads him to do great things in this fictional sports story that is built around several true happenings of 1930s American baseball.

Vernick, Audrey. Water Balloon. Clarion, 2011. 320p. Gr. 5-8.
Thirteen-year-old Marley Baird is reluctant to endure what is sure to be the most miserable summer of her young life. With her parents recently separated, she is spending the summer in her dad’s new house and babysitting five-year-old twin demons (thanks to said dad). To top it all off, her best friends Leah and Jane are off gallivanting at a theater summer camp without her, adding to Marley’s growing pile of vexing adolescent issues. 

Williams-Garcia, Rita. One Crazy Summer. Amistad/HarperCollins, 2010. 224p. Gr. 5-8.
Their old-school, Southern-raised grandmother doesn’t think much of Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern’s estranged mother, but the sisters are excited to travel across country to stay with the woman they hardly know. Met with seemingly the kind of selfish and uncaring person their grandmother had warned them about, the girls are not-so-kindly redirected from their mother’s home to the nearby People’s Center, where they are swept into the Black Panther movement of the late 1960s.

Wong, Janet S. Minn and Jake’s Almost Terrible Summer. Foster/Farrar, 2008. 99p. Gr. 4-6.
Best friends (and total opposites) Minn and Jake are back in their second book as Jake heads off to his hometown of Los Angeles to spend the summer with his family. Frustrated by the monotony and his inability to rekindle past friendships, Jake is unwilling to admit how much he misses Minn; and when Minn and her family join Jake’s family on their trip to Disneyland as a surprise, the two friends will have a reunion full of both fighting and fun.

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