I know, I know, we’re not even heading into Spring yet, and here I am, talking about Summer-themed books. Honestly, though, can you think of a better time to imagine grains of sand running through your fingers, the warm sun on your back, or the smell of the woods after a summer rain? Here are a few upcoming books to whet your readers’ appetites for the longer, warmer days of summer.
A young girl and her brother come back home after a family vacation; her shoes are filled with sand. What to do with all of it? Should they plant a field of umbrellas to wave at the sun? How about a forest of windmills, or a castle fort? The possibilities are as endless as a child’s wish for the summer to stay. As the girl falls asleep in her father’s arms, she extracts a promise that they’ll return for more sand, next year. This sweet love letter to summer and family uses grainy gray and white artwork, with splashes of yellow and blue, and will enchant young readers and make us adults smile and remember our own summer vacations. You’ll feel the sand run through your fingers and smell the ocean as you turn each page. It’s the perfect way to greet a summer full of possibilities. Originally published in 2017 in French, this English translation of Grains of Sand has a starred review from Kirkus.
A semi-autobiographical graphic novel about author/illustrator Vera Brosgol’s life, Be Prepared tells the story of Vera, a girl who desperately wants to fit in, but she doesn’t have the money that her fancier suburban friends have, and her Russian household doesn’t quite match her schoolmates’ WASP-y upbringing. When the girls start talking about the lavish summer camps they’re heading to for the summer, Vera does some research and finds an option even her single mom can afford: a Russian summer camp. How can Mom say no? She’ll be able to make friends and learn more about her Russian heritage. Mom gives in, and Vera and her brother are off to camp – but it’s nothing like Vera expects. She’s got history lessons and tests?! Awful outhouses? And mean girls in Russian camp, too?! This hilarious look back at summer camp is great for tweens and young teens who know just what it feels like not to fit in. I really enjoy Vera Brosgol’s cartoon art, especially those giant, expressive eyes that communicate volumes. Vera Brosgol’s picture book, Leave Me Alone! is a Caledecott Honor book and her graphic novel Anya’s Ghost is a Cybils, Harvey, and Eisner Award winner. See more about her books and artwork at her website.
Thirteen-year-old Bina is not looking forward to this summer. Not only is her best friend, Austin, heading off to soccer camp this summer, but he doesn’t even seem interested in keeping up their Summer Fun Index anymore! Bina consoles herself by getting lost in music and finding an unlikely friendship with Austin’s sister, who has similar taste. When Austin comes home, he’s acting more distant and weirder than ever. Can Bina and Austin ever get their friendship back on an even keel? This great graphic novel will resonate with tweens who are navigating their own growing pains and the evolution so many friendships go through in that summer space between middle and high school. It’s funny and touching, loaded with understanding. An A+ summer read. Hope Larson is an Eisner Award-winning comic and graphic novel artist whose books include Chiggers (2008), Goldie Vance (ongoing), and Compass South (2016). Her 2012 adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time earned her a second Eisner.