Here are the books for youth that Publisher’s Weekly has chosen as the best books for this summer.
Daniel’s Good Day by Micha Archer
Hum and Swish by Matt Myers
The Last Peach by Gus Gordon
Llama Destroys the World by Jonathan Stutzman, illustrated by Heather Fox
My Papi Has a Motorcycle by Isabel Quintero, illustrated by Zeke Pena
Vroom! by Barbara McClintock
You Are Home: An Ode to the National Parks by Evan Turk
All the Greys on Greene Street by Laura Tucker
Dactyl Hill Squad by Daniel Jose Older
Knights vs. Monsters by Matt Phelan
Me and Sam-Sam Handle the Apocalypse by Susan Vaught
My Life as an Ice Cream Sandwich by Ibi Zoboi
Shouting at the Rain by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Up for Air by Laurie Morrison
Aurora Rising by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Brave Face: A Memoir by Shaun David Hutchinson
Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki, illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell
Let Me Hear a Rhyme by Tiffany D. Jackson
The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen
Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly
With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
Extraordinary Birds by Sandy Stark-McGinnis (9781547601004)
11-year-old December has moved from one foster family to another over the past several years. As she moves, she has learned not to have many possessions, enough that she can carry them in a couple of bags. One item she brings with her every move is her biography, a book that reminds her why she is special and different from those around her. With her large scar on her back, December believes that she was raised as partially a bird and will eventually have her wings and feathers and be able to take flight. But when she jumps from a tree, she is moved to another foster family. This time, she is taken in by Eleanor, a women with a large garden, bird feeders, bird baths, and who works in an animal rehabilitation center. Eleanor’s quiet and loving approach starts to work on December, much as it does on her wounded birds. As December starts to trust, her desire to be separate from humans and different from them ebbs away. But could she ever give up her desire to fly?
Stark-McGinnis has written a startling debut novel for middle graders. December’s belief that she is a bird is at first alarming as she jumps from a tree, then rather odd, but the author leads readers to deeply understand the injury and damage done to December by first her mother’s violence and then her foster parents. It is a slow and haunting journey as December begins to trust others. Tying her own personal journey to that of a wounded hawk relearning to fly, the book creates a path for December to come alive again.
The journey to trust also includes a wonderful secondary character, Cheryllynn, a transgender classmate of December’s. As both girls steadily learn to stand up to the class bullies, they also learn that doing it together is easier and has a bigger impact. The two girls accept one another exactly as they are, something one doesn’t see enough in books about young girls and their friendships.
A heart-wrenching novel of abuse, recovery and learning to fly. Appropriate for ages 9-12.
Reviewed from ARC provided by Bloomsbury.