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2018 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 2017–2018 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


Suggested grade level for all entries: 4–6

Rise of the Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste (Algonquin)

When several children go missing, Corinne (The Jumbies) and friends set out across (and under) the ocean to secure the help of powerful water jumbie Mama D’Leau. Baptiste’s rich seascape of Caribbean myth expands to the coast of Ghana, where she sensitively integrates the lasting trauma of the transatlantic slave trade. 266 pages.

Tumble & Blue by Cassie Beasley (Dial)

Way back when, horse thief Walcott Montgomery and murderer Almira LaFayette set a plot in motion in the Okefenokee Swamp. Their descendants are doomed to play out their tale of curses, trickery, and family feuds; middle graders Blue and Tumble join forces to neutralize the curse. 392 pages.

The Penderwicks at Last by Jeanne Birdsall (Knopf)

Youngest Penderwick half-sister Lydia takes center stage in this Penderwick series finale. The story takes place at Arundel, where preparations are underway for Rosalind’s wedding to Tommy. Although they’ll be sad to say goodbye, series fans will be content to see the Penderwicks go “prancing, leaping, gamboling into the future.” 294 pages.

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol; color by Alec Longstreth (First Second/Roaring Brook)

Brosgol’s fictionalized graphic memoir captures the ups and downs (mostly downs) of Russian Orthodox summer camp. The tone is accessible, vulnerable, and hilariously kid-centric (there are plenty of potty references). A cliffhanger ending leaves the door open for a sequel. 256 pages.

Older than Dirt: A Wild but True History of Earth by Don Brown and Mike Perfit; illus. by Don Brown (Houghton)

An extended conversation between a science-savvy groundhog and a new-to-Earth’s-history worm covers the geological past of our planet. The graphic format, light tone, and amusing repartee keep up the pace over the course of an impressive number of geology topics. 104 pages.

Writing Radar: Using Your Journal to Snoop Out and Craft Great Stories by Jack Gantos (Farrar)

Gantos advises budding writers to keep journals, as he has done since his youth. Using frequently hilarious anecdotes from his own life, he provides examples of what writing things down has allowed him to later shape into stories. The result is a writing guide both practical and entertaining. 203 pages.

Mighty Jack and the Goblin King by Ben Hatke; color by Alex Campbell and Hilary Sycamore (First Second/Roaring Brook)

In pursuit of the ogre who kidnapped his sister Maddy, Jack (Mighty Jack) and his sword-wielding neighbor Lilly travel to a bizarre fantasy world. Dynamic panel layouts and ever-present sound effects (“CH-CHUNK!” “SPLORT!” “FOOM”) convey the nonstop action in this graphic novel. 208 pages.

Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly (Greenwillow)
2018 Newbery Medal

When bully Chet drops Virgil’s backpack into an abandoned well, the painfully shy boy gets stuck trying to retrieve it (and his guinea pig, hidden inside). Virgil’s classmates Valencia, who is deaf, and Kaori, a self-proclaimed psychic, investigate Virgil’s whereabouts, and a memorable friendship group is born. 314 pages.

The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez (Viking)
2018 Pura Belpré Author Honor

The first rule of punk is to be yourself, but it’s hard for Malú, the bicultural daughter of divorced parents. Starting a band becomes a chance to explore her heritage as well as her musical interests. Eight-page zines featuring spunky Malú’s collages punctuate the text. 324 pages.

The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science by Joyce Sidman (Houghton)

Seventeenth-century German naturalist Maria Merian’s life story is told in twelve chapters (including excerpts from her journals) titled with stages in a butterfly’s life cycle. Illustrated with excellent reproductions of her gorgeous botanical prints and with photographs (by Sidman) demonstrating butterfly stages. 156 pages.

From the May 2018 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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