As popular songs would have it, the summer is when the weather is hot, the living is easy, and you can sit back and unwind. It’s also a time for summer reading programs for young students. Here are a few books for children and teens, previously reviewed by Kirkus Indie, that tell very different stories in summertime settings:
Carolyn Dibb’s 2015 children’s book Natalie and the Night Sky, illustrated by Kent McAllister, uses a summer camping trip to relate a tale about being an only child. When young Natalie sees her friend Shayla laughing with her brother by the campfire, she wishes she had a sibling of her own. Kirkus’ reviewer called this a “heartwarming, insightful debut” that’s “a wonderful addition to any family with an only child.”
Bristol Bay Summer, a 2014 middle-grade book by Annie Boochever, also uses a summer trip to explore family dynamics. Zoey Morley, 13, still reeling from her parents’ divorce, is spending the season at a small Alaskan fishing village with her mom—and her mom’s new boyfriend, whom Zoey doesn’t accept—when tragedy strikes. Overall, this is a “wonderfully atmospheric” yarn, Kirkus’ reviewer said, with “the kind of vivid details only a longtime Alaskan could know.”
Billy, the 10-year-old adopted protagonist of Brooke Burgess’ The Cat’s Maw (2014), must deal with a more unusual problem. It begins at the beginning of his own summer break from school, when he has an encounter with a mysterious, golden-eyed cat on a neighbor’s feline-infested property. This leads to an accident that hospitalizes him, and soon, he’s having strange dreams connected to a supernatural family secret. Kirkus’ reviewer noted that this novel has a “crafty menace” that both kids and grown-ups will appreciate. David Rapp is an Indie editor.