So many books published before and for Summer, so many wonderful stories to dive in! Everywhere you turn, there seems to be top books to read for summer selections. Here is my small selection, with a focus on stories which take place during Summer.
Davide Cali and Benjamin Chaud’s latest installment from their ‘homework’ series, The Truth About My Unbelievable Summer ( Chronicle Books) should be required reading for primary school teachers and children alike. What do you say when you are faced with that first-day-back-at-school question from your teacher: what did you do this summer? Consisting of a one-frame-per-page narrative, each describing a new activity, this exuberant tale of an action-packed summer adventures builds up with a crescendo, getting gradually more outrageous. The story is so unbelievable, surely the teacher won’t believe him? The last two frames bring a surprising and delightful end to the tale, and might give teachers some new ideas for summer projects. Perfect fun!
Life According to Dani (Gecko Press) is the latest installment in the Swedish early reader series written by Rose Lagercrantz, and illustrated by Eva Eriksson (translated by Julia Marshall), which began with My Happy Life. Dani is spending the summer on an island with Ella and her family while her father is in hospital recovering from his accident. As always with this series, Life According to Dani deals with powerful emotional themes but with a lightness only to be found with the innocence of children. The series is quite different from most other things available for this age range (5-7), but that is its strength. Deliciously Scandinavian in its attitude to life, it offers readers a complete change of scene and a lovely, heartwarming story to boot. Do give it a try; the editions are lovely, adorned with Eriksson’s artwork, making them really lovely gifts too.
If I think back on summer reading, the first author that will come to my mind is Enid Blyton. I discovered her books on a summer day, thanks to a copy of a Famous Five story which I found in the dunes of my favourite beach, no doubt inadvertently left behind in a rush to pack up to go home. As we know she has written hundreds of stories, enough to keep thirsty readers going for the whole of summer, but as an alternative, there is a lovely short stories collection which gathers some of her best summer stories now available: Summer Stories (Hodder Children’s Books). The cover by Mark Beech is particularly inviting and will catch many a young reader’s eye.
Summer books often mean romance and I’ll admit as I had absolutely loved My True Love Gave to Me, an anthology of Christmas-themed romantic short stories edited by Stephanie Perkins, I was delighted to hear that Perkins was about to publish a similar collection, this time summer-themed, ready for Summer. Summer Days and Summer Nights (Macmillan Children’s Books) does not disappoint, once again, bringing together writing from a wide selection of YA authors and offering a great variety of sub-genres underneath the romantic umbrella: from soppy love story to fantasy mythical tale, thriller to tearjerkers, there is something for everyone, and I mean every one, with LGBT stories included also. But is romance isn’t really your thing, then How Not to Disappear By Claire Furniss (Simon & Schuster Children’s Books) and London Belongs to Us by Sarra Manning (Hot Key Books) might just be the ticket. Both coming of age stories are very different yet at the heart of both is a young woman finding her inner strength and her place in the world. How Not to Disappear is a powerful tale of family ties and discovery, featuring Hattie, who at seventeen has just found out she is pregnant by her close but rather aloof best friend and her long-lost great aunt Gloria, who suffers from the early stages of dementia. When Gloria asks Hattie to take her on a road trip to places in England which hold specific memories, they go off, trying to piece together the puzzle of Gloria’s past, resulting in a journey of self-discovery for Hattie and rediscovery for Gloria. Beautifully told, poignant at times yet with plenty of humour, this is a wonderful summer roadtrip with a difference. Talking about road trips, London Belongs to Us takes us on a seriously high adrenaline road trip on the back of a Vespa through the streets of London on Summer Bank Holiday weekend as we follow Sunny as she chases her boyfriend Mark around London to confront him about his infidelity. A mad twelve hour dash around London (from Crystal Palace at 8pm , through to Camden, Shoreditch, Kensington, Soho, Southbank amongst others, and ending in Alexandra Palace at 8am) allows Sunny to encounter an array of colourful characters all playing their part towards her eventual self-discovery and transformation. This is a really enjoyable fast-paced narrative, with the true central character really being beautiful London, in all its wackiness and glory.
Happy Summer Reading!