June 21st is the longest day of the year and the first day of summer. In anticipation of warmer days ahead, we recommend some books set during the long and languid days of summer.
Twelve-year Lilla Baxter-Willoughby is on the precipice of teenage-hood and in the middle of things that cause her a lot of anxiety. So, to maintain peace, she doesn’t reveal what she really feels to people. To keep her parents happy, Lilla hides how much she hates moving back and forth between their houses and doesn’t express her misgivings about the elite high school they want her to attend. To keep peace with her best friend Vivi, Lilla doesn’t share that she got the junior camp counselor job that Vivi wanted. And to not risk spoiling a friendship, she doesn’t tell the boy she grew up with that she has feelings for him even though he seems to have them too. And then one day, Vivi dares her to tell the truth all summer. Lilla feels that if she is honest, her whole life might crash down around her. Telling the truth might not be what Lilla wants, but it may be exactly what she needs. This is a compelling coming-of-age story that author Amy Noelle Parks crafts with a lot of compassion and humour. Grades 3-7
Beloved author Eric Walters’ 90 Days of Different could also have had the title Summer of Brave, because as with Lilla in that book, Sophie in this book also steps out of her comfort zone and dares to do things that scare her. On the last day of high school, Sophie’s boyfriend breaks up with her because she’s too predictable, too responsible, too mature, and too boring. To Sophie’s horror, her best friend Ella confirms what her boyfriend has said. But instead of moping around, Ella challenges Sophie to do amazing, new, different and sometimes scary things for each of the 90 days of summer and share her adventures through social media. Sophie’s rational brain tells her this is a bad idea, but she wills herself to play along. Walters creates an engaging story with some useful takeaways: how trying something new leads to important life lessons; how stepping out of one’s comfort zone can sometimes be enriching; and how social media and the Internet can have a positive impact on the world. Grades 8-12
Award-winning author Marie-Louise Gay conjures the perfect summer day in this radiant picture book, which is also illustrated by her. In the book, a group of friends come out to play and imagining themselves as different animals, they have lots of fun laughing and playing. Sydney hangs upside down from a tree and the afternoon sun makes him imagine he’s a sleepy, sun-bathing sloth. His friend Sami comes by with a ball and taking a cue from Sydney, she imagines she’s a nimble spider monkey who can jump from branch to branch very fast. Soon Edward has joined the fun, pretending to be an elephant. The friends play, laugh, tease, and bicker and let their imagination run wild. Gay beautifully and vividly captures children’s make-believe games. Her depiction of time spent outdoors with friends perfectly illustrates the slow-moving magic of a childhood summer. Grades Preschool to 1