Saturday, March 5, 2011

Summer Middle Grade Books

Junonia by Kevin Henkes
HarperCollins, June 1st, 2011
Every year Alice and family go to Florida for vacation, living in a cottage and spending time with other families who vacation at the same spot every year. This year it is Alice's tenth birthday-a very important number- and she has high hopes for the week until she learns that her usual playmates can't come and new poeple are arriving. Mallory, a younger girl, arrives with Alice's favorite adult, Kate. Mallory is shy, angry, and sad in turns and Kate's attention is usurped by her needs. Though Alice would like to help Mallory and show her the wonders of the beach, she finds Mallory difficult to deal with. Despite this, Alice is sustained by her hope of finding a junonia, a very rare shell, but the odds don't look good, and as the week progresses, neither does the vacation. Ten is a special number-will Alice's birthday live up to her hopes?

Early Middle Grade readers will empathize with Alice, feeling her disappointment and jubilation while desperately wishing for a junonia to wash ashore. As emotional as the sea, this summer book is wonderful for readers of Ivy and Bean and Clementine.

Kevin Henkes is known for his picturebooks, including Kitten's Full Moon, a Caldecott Medal winner, and he received a Newbery Honor for Olive's Ocean. Snippets of his illustrations can be seen in the small ink drawings that head each chapter, and the dynamic yet intimate cover design.

Invisible Inkling written by Emily Jenkins with illustrations by Harry Bliss
HarperCollins, May 1st, 2011
Hank's parents' own an ice-cream shop in the shape of a large pumpkin, which is pretty cool since it means Hank gets sprinkles in his lunch everyday. And when Inkling, an invisible bandapat with a need for squash, runs into his life, things get interesting. But Hank's life isn't as pretty as an ice cream sundae (with a cherry on top). Bruno Gillicut is a lunch-stealing bully who demands sprinkles everyday. Luckily, Inkling has some ideas of how to deal with bullies- as long if there's some squash (and maybe a slice or two of pizza) in it for him.

Readers will laugh aloud at Inkling's antics while worrying what to do about Hank's very really bully problem. But don't worry- there's a happy ending! Wonderful for readers of Sarah Pennypacker and those making the transition between beginning readers and middle grade books.

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