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2022 Summer Reading: Intermediate


Need suggestions for beach reading or books to bring to summer camp? Each of our lists — for all age ranges and including fiction, nonfiction, folklore, and poetry — includes thirteen selections (a baker's dozen!), all published 2021–2022 and ideal for the season. Grade levels are only suggestions; the individual child is the real criterion.


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



Suggested grade level for all entries: 4–6


Amira & Hamza: The War to Save the Worlds by Samira Ahmed (Little, Brown)

Twelve-year-old Amira and her younger brother Hamza, Muslim Indian American siblings in Chicago, are the (reluctant) heroes of this suspenseful, action-packed adventure filled with supernatural creatures from Islamic folklore. Fantasy-adventure fans will have a hard time putting down this fast-paced and engaging tale. 368 pages.

The Marvellers by Dhonielle Clayton (Holt)

As the first conjuror student at a school for magical youth, eleven-year-old Ella has the whole magical world looking at her; some are rooting for her success, others are hoping for her demise. After a nearby prison break allegedly aided by a conjuror, Ella works to clear the conjuror name. Clayton is adept at building inclusive fantasy worlds filled with magic, lore, and beauty. 406 pages.

Miss Quinces by Kat Fajardo; color by Mariana Azzi (Graphix/Scholastic)

Suyapa (“Sue”) Yisel Gutiérrez’s family travels to Honduras in the summer to see Abuelita Rita — and to celebrate Sue’s quinceañera, a party she never asked for and would rather skip. Deft graphic-novel paneling and expressive use of line and color convey the full range of Sue’s feelings. Concurrently published in Spanish. See also our Summer Reading Five Questions interview with the author. 256 pages.

Sunny Makes a Splash by Jennifer L. Holm; illus. by Matthew Holm; color by Lark Pien (Graphix/Scholastic)

Sunny is excited for summer — until learning that her best friend will be away. Having a summer birthday without your bestie and no air conditioning and it’s your thirteenth — things don’t look good. Happenstance, hard work, and a hint of romance combine to create a memorable and very full vacation, in this fourth breezy graphic novel set in 1970s suburban Pennsylvania. 224 pages.

Playing the Cards You’re Dealt by Varian Johnson (Scholastic)

Born into a long line of card sharks, Anthony (“Ant”) Joplin aims to prove he has what it takes. But the game of spades requires a trustworthy partner. Themes of addiction and consent are addressed honestly and compassionately, and more than enough tips are given to spark the interest of “youngbloods” in the game of spades. 320 pages.

Marshmallow Clouds: Two Poets at Play Among Figures of Speech by Ted Kooser and Connie Wanek; illus. by Richard Jones (Candlewick)

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Kooser and fellow poet Wanek present creative, evocative, playful free-verse poems in sections named for the four elements. A speaker on a hot day is “boiled and salted / like a peanut.” A boat has “been waiting / all summer, and maybe for thousands of years.” Jones’s full-bleed illustrations, rendered in paint and edited digitally, are striking even in their muted colors. 72 pages.

Cress Watercress by Gregory Maguire; illus. by David Litchfield (Candlewick)

A grieving rabbit family leaves their comfortable warren to start over without their lost papa. They encounter a memorable cast of creatures who sometimes quarrel but always look out for any neighbor in need. With its brisk plot, witty details, and thought-provoking concepts, this gloriously illustrated chapter book makes an ideal read-alone or family read-aloud. 224 pages.

The Prisoner of Shiverstone by Linette Moore (Amulet/Abrams)

Plucky heroine Helga Sharp sets off to rescue the owner of the mysterious voice emanating from her newly built transistor radio. Entertaining characters, inventive world-building, and the effective composition of comic panels help the outlandish plot zip along. A delightful graphic novel that offers a good mix of fantasy, mystery, and action. 160 pages.

Stuntboy, in the Meantime by Jason Reynolds; illus. by Raúl the Third; color by Elaine Bay (Dlouhy/Atheneum)

An ingeniously crafted, multifaceted, and heartfelt take on the classic superhero story. Portico Reeves likes to think of himself as Stuntboy, protecting the quirky characters in his apartment building. Ten episodic chapters feature fast-paced, realistic dialogue loaded with wordplay and humor. Cartoon illustrations are integral, active components of the story. 272 pages.

A Comb of Wishes by Lisa Stringfellow (Quill Tree/HarperCollins)

Twelve-year-old Kela finds a mermaid’s magical comb on the shore near her vibrant Caribbean community. She’s granted a wish, but it has unexpected consequences; and her failure to return the comb incites the mermaid’s wrath, causing a potentially devastating hurricane against which Kela must protect her loved ones. Stringfellow’s powerful writing makes the fantastical feel like reality. 272 pages.

Lotería by Karla Arenas Valenti; illus. by Dana Sanmar (Knopf)

Unbeknownst to Clara, she is the object of la Lotería, a game of chance being played by two friends, Life and Lady Death. Card by card, the players observe Clara’s choices: “Even when you have no choice about what has happened to you, you can still decide what you’re going to do about it.” Lavishly imagistic writing (along with grayscale illustrations) sets the scene for this philosophical novel. 320 pages.

The Snowy Owl Scientist [Scientists in the Field] by Mark Wilson (Clarion/HarperCollins)

Wildlife photographer Wilson travels to Alaska’s North Shore in summertime to meet the senior owl researcher who has been studying snowy owls’ only U.S. nesting ground since the early 1990s. Photographs of these creatures in their natural habitat are clear, informative, and dramatic. 96 pages.

Maizy Chen’s Last Chance by Lisa Yee (Random)

Eleven-year-old Maizy and her mother spend the summer with Maizy’s grandparents, who own a Chinese restaurant in Last Chance, Minnesota. She learns about her great-great-grandfather Lucky, whose fascinating life story is told in interspersed flashbacks about “sailing ships, outlaws, and a gold mountain.” A humorous, heartwarming, and thought-provoking family tale. 288 pages.


From the April 2022 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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