This is not your school's summer reading list

Two authors pick a list of amazing books for amazing girls.
  • Calpurnia Tate
  • bookCovers_becomingMaria
  • bookCovers_lizardRadio
  • bookCovers_thisSideHome
  • bookCovers_raymie
  • bookCovers_thePerfectPlace
  • bookCovers_GoodbyeStranger
  • bookCovers_RevolutionofEvelyn
  • bookCovers_glass
  • bookCovers_sage
  • bookCovers_flyaway
  • bookCovers_Loving
  • bookCovers_pony
  • bookCovers_Rosie
  • bookCovers_firebird
  • bookCovers_mamaNightinggale
  • bookCovers_ballet
  • bookCovers_melba
  • bookCovers_voiceOfFreedom

Latest

Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

Calpurnia Tate
by Jacqueline Kelly
Henry Holt, 2009
ISBN: 978-0312659301
Middle grade, fiction
Ages 9-12, Grades 4-7
Additional formats: ebook
Honors:
Newbery Honor Award * IRA Children’s Book Award, North Carolina Young Adult Book Award, TN YA Volunteer State Book Award, Virginia M. Law Award * Josette Frank Award * Chicago Public Library Best of the Best * Junior Library Guild

Set at the end of the 19th century, eleven-year old Calpurnia Virginia Tate is having a difficult time learning”housewifery” things. She prefers swimming in the river or thinking about science to cooking or knitting. “Callie” sets out to be independent and do what she likes while learning to bond with her grandfather. He helps her learn about the natural sciences and how to cope with change and growing up.

Becoming Maria: Love and Chaos in the South Bronx

bookCovers_becomingMaria

by Sonia Manzano
Scholastic Press, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-545-62184-7
YA, memoir
Ages 14 and older (Some sensitive adult content)
Additional formats: ebook

This is a compelling memoir about one of our cultural icons, Sonia Manzano, known to many as Maria on Sesame Street. For an entire generation of children, she was the face of their own family, foods, and language. But sometimes a girl’s rise to success is much harder than it appears.

Sonia Manzano grew up in the Bronx to parents who were Puerto Rican immigrants struggling economically and socially in New York. Themes of domestic abuse, sexism, and alcoholism run throughout, but above all, this is a story of a girl, blessed with her own gifts and imagination, who carves out a place for her dreams.

Lizard Radio

bookCovers_lizardRadio

by Pat Schmatz
Candlewick Press, 2015
Young adult, science fiction,
Ages 14 and up
ISBN: 978-0-7636-7635-3
Additional formats: ebook
Honors:
James Tiptree, Jr. Award winner * Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of the Year * TriState YA Review Group Books of Note * CCBC Choices * Rainbow Project List

In a world where the government closely monitors gender, occupation, and emotion, Lizard (so named because she was found as a baby wearing a t-shirt with a lizard on the front) finds herself at a frightening summer agricultural camp. Kivali (that’s her true name) is a bender—meaning that she doesn’t identify as a girl or a boy—and she’s sent to a summer camp for teens in order to prepare for the adult world.

But is the camp, run by Miss Mischetti, really a place to help teens find themselves and help the world? Or is something more sinister at hand? What should Kivali make of the drugs that the campers are given and the strange, vaporizing disappearances? Kivali has to discover the truth behind her origins and why her anti-authority aunt has sent her away.

Pat Schmatz does some solid world-building here, complete with it’s own vocabulary that sci-fi readers will love.

This Side of Home

bookCovers_thisSideHome

by Renée Watson
Bloomsbury Books, 2015
Teens, contemporary fiction
Ages 12 and up
ISBN: 978-1-59990-668-3
Additional formats: ebook and paperback

Maya and her identical twin sister Nikki live in a Portland, Oregon neighborhood that is being revitalized. Friends they have known for a lifetime are forced to relocate to other neighborhoods. While Nikki loves the new restaurants and coffee shops, Maya sees the history of their community disappearing in a sea of trendiness. Everything is becoming upscale, from the housing and stores to their own school, where Diversity Day now edges out Black History month.

This is a page-turner about two girls growing up and facing both personal and social transitions, including a difficult romance. I think Richmond teens will especially find a lot to think about here as our own city struggles with its identity and how to respect the history of all its citizens.

Raymie Nightingale

bookCovers_raymie

by Kate DiCamillo
Candlewick Press, 2016
Middle grade, historical fiction
Ages 8 – 12
ISBN 978-0-7636-8117-3
Additional formats: ebook
Honors: Junior Library Guild Selection

In so many ways, this novel, set in Florida in the 1970s, is the perfect middle grade story about friendship. Raymie Clark’s dad has abandoned the family for a romance with a dental hygienist. Her plan to get him back is to win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire pageant by twirling a baton. It’s at her baton twirling lessons that she meets Louisiana, an orphan in her grandmother’s care, and Beverly Tapinski, an angry, if pragmatic, girl who seems bent on all manner of sabotage. The three form an unlikely trio and eventually become one another’s lifeline.

I found each girl fascinating and often hilarious, even as they faced the saddest of truths. Ultimately, this is a story of friendship and support, focused on how girls grapple with the big disappointments that life can sometimes offer. Themes of grief, economic poverty, and neglect are handled expertly for the age group.

The Perfect Place

bookCovers_thePerfectPlace

by Teresa Harris
Clarion Books, 2014
Middle grade, contemporary fiction
Ages 8 – 12
ISBN: 978-0547255194
Additional formats: ebook

What is worse than being sent to stay with relatives you don’t like? Answer: Not being sure if and when your parents are ever coming back for you.

Set in a fictional town called Black Lake, Virginia, The Perfect Place is the story of twelve-year-old Treasure, whose father has been gone for two months. Unlike his other disappearances in the past, this time he hasn’t come back to the family or made contact. Fed up, Treasure’s mother decides it’s time for her to take Treasure and her sister, Tiffany, on a trip to find him. They vacate the premises in the middle of the night and travel south to meet their gruff Great Aunt Grace (GAG) who lives in small-town Virginia. Grace doesn’t care if her smoking bothers Treasure’s asthma and seems generally to dislike children.

This is a funny and tender story about three generations of women learning how to help each other survive disappointments.

Goodbye Stranger

bookCovers_GoodbyeStranger

by Rebecca Stead
Wendy Lamb Books, Random House, 2015
Middle grade, contemporary fiction
Ages 10 – 14
ISBN: 978-0-385-74317-4
Additional formats: ebook and audio
Honors:
Multiple “best books lists” of 2015

Three middle school friends, a perfect set of three: Brig, an accident survivor who should have died when she was eight; Tabitha, ever-practical and cautious—the voice of reason; and Em, the popular soccer queen, now in a relationship with an 8th grade boy who encourages her to send him a selfie in jeans and a bra.

Uh-oh.

Newbery-award-winner Rebecca Stead fleshes out the crazy world of middle school and the dicey slope of everyday decisions and peer pressure with a wonderfully interconnected cast. I was especially fond of how she used the supporting characters to move the story along. Jamie, Brig’s brother, is locked in a dumb bet about how many steps he can take in a single day. Sherm, a classmate, writes letters to a grandfather that he refuses to speak to. A nameless second-person teen has run away for a day in the face of the fact that her “best friend” is a mean girl. Readers will find versions of themselves in these pages—and plenty of familiar experiences to keep them reading, thinking, and talking.