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2017 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: Intermediate

Need suggestions for beach reading or books to bring to summer camp? Here are our top ten books for different age ranges — including fiction, nonfiction, and poetry — all published 2016–2017 and ideal for the season. Grade levels are only suggestions; the individual child is the real criterion.

For a handy take-along list of titles, download our printable PDF.

Picture Books | Easy Readers and Primary Grades | Middle School | High School

Intermediate

Suggested grade level for all entries: 4–6

Out of Wonder: Poems Celebrating Poets by Kwame Alexander with Chris Colderley and Marjory Wentworth; illus. by Ekua Holmes (Candlewick)
Twenty original poems each “celebrate” a notable poet. The featured poets — including Bashō, Rumi, Emily Dickinson, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Pablo Neruda — represent a wide range of cultures and eras. Vibrant, arresting mixed-media collages complement the poems’ rich imagery. 50 pages.

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill (Algonquin) 2017 Newbery Medal Winner
Every year, the Protectorate elders leave a baby in the woods to appease a witch no one has seen. In fact, the witch rescues and finds homes for the babies; she even adopts one, the particularly magical Luna. Love — familial, maternal, filial, friendly — is this fantasy’s engine and moral. 388 pages.

Funny Girl: Funniest. Stories. Ever. edited by Betsy Bird (Viking)
This compilation includes twenty-eight entries from “laugh-out-loud funny” female children’s book creators and comedy pros. A good mix of formats (short stories, comics, poems, Mad Libs), topics (family, friendship, puberty, ethnicity and identity), and approaches to humor make for an engaging collection. 205 pages.

Makoons [Birchbark House] by Louise Erdrich (Harper/HarperCollins)
In this fifth series entry, Ojibwe boy Makoons, his twin Chickadee, and their multigenerational family make a new life on the 1860s Great Plains. The twins are always on the move — and frequently in trouble. Warm intergenerational scenes and poignant moments throughout deepen the episodic adventures. 166 pages.

The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, The Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz, illus. by Hatem Aly (Dutton) 2017 Newbery Honor Book, Sydney Taylor Book Award Winner
Three thirteenth-century children with marvelous abilities (and diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds) band together to thwart King Louis IX’s plan to burn all the Jewish texts in France. Scatological humor, serious moral issues, colloquial present-day language, the ideal of mutual understanding — this has it all. 368 pages.

Full of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm (Random House) 2017 Scott O’Dell Award Winner
In Great Depression–era Key West, earnest Beans Curry takes on odd jobs to help his family make ends meet — but soon finds himself working for a local rumrunner. Multifaceted supporting characters and Beans’s refreshingly honest perspective make for a novel as entertaining as the motion pictures he loves to see. 196 pages.

Me and Marvin Gardens by Amy Sarig King (Levine/Scholastic)
While picking up trash one day, budding environmentalist Obe spies a strange creature whose favorite food is plastic (and whose scat is toxic). Obe realizes it’s up to him to protect the creature he names “Marvin Gardens.” A smart, environmentally conscious underdog story with a lot of heart and a little sci-fi. 250 pages.

Fish Girl by Donna Jo Napoli and David Wiesner, illus. by David Wiesner (Clarion)
“Welcome to Ocean Wonders,” a seaside aquarium in which the prize attraction is a mermaid named Fish Girl. But when Fish Girl is befriended by a human, she learns her story is not what she’d always believed. An intriguing mystery and gorgeous watercolor illustrations make this a welcome addition to any graphic novel collection. 188 pages.

Poop Detectives: Working Dogs in the Field by Ginger Wadsworth (Charlesbridge)
Some dogs perform a critical task for wildlife biologists: animal scat detection. Studying animals’ poop allows researchers to obtain information about their health. Excellent photographs, copious asides and text boxes, and resources for further investigation will leave readers fascinated. 80 pages.

Clayton Byrd Goes Underground by Rita Williams-Garcia (Amistad/HarperCollins)
After the death of his blues-playing grandpa, Cool Papa, Clayton decides to run away and join Cool Papa’s band, the Bluesmen. But he has to navigate the NYC subway system to find them. An appealing, realistic, elegantly written story about friendship, family, and the blues. 166 pages.

From the May 2017 issue of Notes from the Horn Book: Summer Reading.

For past years’ summer reading lists from The Horn Book, click on the tag summer reading.

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