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2015 Summer Reading from The Horn Book: Early Readers and Primary Grades

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 2014–2015 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, or purchase them from our online bookstore at a 20% discount.

Picture Books | Intermediate | Middle School | High School

Early Readers and Primary Grades

Suggested grade level for all entries: 1–3

cronin_case of the weird blue chickenThe Case of the Weird Blue Chicken: The Next Misadventure [Chicken Squad series] by Doreen Cronin; illus. by Kevin Cornell (Atheneum)
When featherbrained chicks Dirt, Sugar, Poppy, and Sweetie (The Chicken Squad) post a flyer advertising their services — finding lost things, fixing broken things, getting clients out of trouble, or bringing trouble to them — a number of mysteries collide. 103 pages.

florian_poem depotPoem Depot: Aisles of Smiles by Douglas Florian; illus. by the author (Dial)
Readers browse through Poem Depot’s eleven “aisles” (chapters) with names like “Chortles & Chuckles” and “Tons of Puns.” The brief poems’ funny punch lines are well matched by Shel Silverstein–esque loose, humorous illustrations. 154 pages.

himmelman_tales of bunjitsu bunnyTales of Bunjitsu Bunny by John Himmelman; illus. by the author (Holt)
Thirteen generously illustrated chapters relate the adventures of rabbit Isabel, known as Bunjitsu Bunny for her skills in martial arts class. Each tale wraps a zen-like lesson — about avoiding fights, outsmarting bullies, dealing with nightmares, etc. — into an entertaining package. 128 pages.

lagercrantz_my heart is laughingMy Heart Is Laughing by Rose Lagercrantz; illus. by Eva Eriksson; trans. from the Swedish by Julia Marshall (Gecko)
First grader Dani (My Happy Life) is still sad about best friend Ella moving away, but Dani’s a sturdy kid and a firm believer in positive thinking. Then things get sticky at school: classmates Mickey and Vicky both like the same boy, but he likes Dani. Salty and sweet, this Swedish import is umami for the emerging reader. 120 pages.

lin_ling & ting twice as sillyLing & Ting: Twice as Silly by Grace Lin; illus. by the author (Little, Brown)
In the twins’ third easy reader, six stories each conclude on a goofy note perfectly attuned to early readers’ developing sense of wordplay (e.g., when Ling finds messy Ting covered with paint: “I said ‘Paint everything’! I did not say ‘Paint everyTING’!”). 44 pages.

lloyd_murilla gorilla and the hammock problemMurilla Gorilla and the Hammock Problem by Jennifer Lloyd; illus. by Jacqui Lee (Simply Read)
In an African rainforest, Detective Murilla Gorilla tries to figure out who put a hole in Okapi’s hammock. Her investigative skills are hit or miss, allowing readers to laugh both with and at her exploits. This light mystery will boost new readers’ confidence and tickle their funny bones. 40 pages.

milway_pigsticks and haroldPigsticks and Harold and the Incredible Journey by Alex Milway; illus. by the author (Candlewick)
Pigsticks Pig, with cake-loving hamster assistant Harold, embarks on an expedition to the Ends of the Earth. In three generously illustrated chapters we follow the explorers as they survive swamps, deserts, rickety rope bridges, malevolent mountain goats, and an avalanche. 84 pages.

nilsson_detective gordon the first caseDetective Gordon: The First Case by Ulf Nilsson; illus. by Gitte Spee; trans. from the Swedish by Julia Marshall (Gecko)
Detective Gordon (a toad) is elderly, cerebral, and weapons-averse. His newly recruited assistant, Policewoman Buffy (a mouse), is young, enthusiastic, and eager to get her hands on the police station’s pistol. In their first case, they track down nut thieves and mete out a creative — and nonviolent — punishment. 96 pages.

pennypacker_completely clementineCompletely Clementine by Sara Pennypacker; illus. by Marla Frazee (Disney-Hyperion)
In this series-ender, third grade is almost over, but Clementine isn’t ready to say goodbye. Meanwhile, she’s not speaking to her father, her new baby sibling is due any day, and her friend Margaret’s mother is getting married. A warm, bittersweet sendoff for a beloved literary friend. 181 pages.

roy_neigborhood sharksNeighborhood Sharks: Hunting with the Great Whites of California’s Farallon Islands by Katherine Roy; illus. by the author (Macaulay/Roaring Brook)
2015 Sibert Honor Book
A dramatic main narrative describes a great white shark swimming and hunting off the Northern California coast; information-rich sections tell more about shark biology and about the scientists who study them. Roy’s kid-pleasingly-gory (but not gratuitously so) illustrations masterfully employ color and perspective. 32 pages.

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

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