Youth Book Corner: Summer Reads

With school officially over, our Outreach Coordinator Leena Desai recommends books that students can read for fun this summer. 

Natsumi’s Song of Summer
Written by Robert Paul Weston, illustrated by Misa Saburi

Natsumi’s Song of Summer is a picture book that celebrates the sights and sounds of summer in Japan. In the season that she loves the most, Natsumi meets her cousin Jill for the first time. Jill has flown all the way from America to spend the summer with Natsumi and Natsumi is very anxious about meeting Jill. To her delight, Jill loves much the same things she does. They spend their days eating watermelon on the beach, wearing kimonos in a festival and dancing, and watching fireworks. Jill even likes Natsumi’s beloved cicadas that sing the music of summertime. This is a richly evocative book written using tanka, a 31-syllable Japanese poem, similar in form to the haiku. More information about this poetic form and the importance of cicadas in Japanese culture are explained in the book’s backmatter. Grades Preschool to 2

A Mighty Muskrats Mystery: The Case of the Missing Auntie
Written by Michael Hutchinson

From Misipawistik Cree Nation author Michael Hutchinson comes yet another mystery about the Mighty Muskrats. Our titular heroes are four cousins from the Windy Lake First Nation: Sam, Otter, Atim and Chickadee. After they solved the case of a missing archaeologist in The Case of Windy Lake, the Muskrats find themselves on a new adventure, this time in the big city. When the four cousins go to the city for the Exhibition Fair, Chickadee learns that her Grandfather had a little sister who was taken away by the government and adopted out to strangers without her parents’ permission many years ago. The Muskrats can sniff a mystery in this story and they go searching for the Auntie, encountering colourful characters and learning some harsh truths on the way. Grades 4-7

Elements of Genius #3: Nikki Tesla and the Traitors of the Lost Spark
Written by Jess Keating, illustrated by Lissy Marlin

Nikki Tesla, her French fry-loving ferret and her classmates at the Genius Academy have saved the world not once, but twice and now might just be the third time they do it again. In the third book in the Elements of Genius series, a routine operation goes awry and Nikki and the team take the blame for an international incident of epic proportions. The consequence is that their beloved Genius Academy is shut down indefinitely. Not one to sit idle—especially when she knows an evil, criminal mastermind is at work and might use biological warfare to destroy the world—Nikki works secretly to find a miraculous antidote that might help her save the world yet again. Grades 3-7

The World on Either Side
Written by Diane Terrana

In The World on Either Side, sixteen-year old Valentine is deeply affected by the death of her boyfriend. Depressed and grieving, she retreats into her bedroom and won’t attend school or even met her friends. Desperate to help her daughter, Valentine’s mother takes her on a trek to Thailand. The trip opens Valentine’s world, quite literally. She explores the mountains of Chiang Mai, sees elephants in the wild and houses perched on top of stilts; she also learns about people fleeing from violence and civil war. Most significantly, she meets a mysterious young elephant keeper with a hidden past, named Lin, who is protecting an orphaned elephant calf from poachers. Valentine joins forces with Lin and together they flee deep into the jungle. Adventure and romance come together with issues of ethical tourism and poaching in this tale of finding closure and redemption. Grades 8-12

Don’t Call the Wolf
Written by Aleksandra Ross

Aleksandra Ross’ high-fantasy debut novel is inspired by the Polish fairy tale ‘The Glass Mountain’ and features three main protagonists: a shapeshifting young queen, neither human nor lynx, who is the protector of a forest that humans have abandoned; a solitary, exhausted, young soldier who has been searching for his brother, believed to have disappeared into the forest; and lastly, a fearsome and vengeful golden dragon who is on the tail of the queen and the soldier. When Lukasz enters the forest looking for his brother, Ren, the queen, agrees to help him as she knows the forest the best. But her offer comes with the condition that Lukasz slay the dragon in return. This is a thrilling, adventure novel and the perfect fantasy world to get sucked into this summer. Grades 8-12


Leena Desai