‘Winter’s Bone‘ was a breakout movie for Jennifer Lawrence. Emerging from the cinema after watching it, I felt I had hypothermia. The cold, lifeless, grey setting had permeated every part of me.
I am similarly affected by my reading matter. I could not read the gripping The Ice Sea Pirates or the icicle chilled Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy in the summertime. At this time of the year, there has to be a reflection of the space and warmth and infinite opportunity of summer.
Many classes and schools issue reading lists at this time of year. We applaud this enterprise. At the same time, we expect that the books on these lists have been read, and are loved and known. That’s what readers do when they recommend books. Our suggestions fit the season. We offer a selection of ‘forever’ books that we have read, love and recommend to you in turn.
A summertime selection for our youngest readers
Look, a Butterfly! From the blue sky to popping flower buds, the butterfly flits and flutters. We watch the magic unfold in a beautiful, vivid, landscape of opportunities in the summertime.
Sam Usher’s seasonal books, where grandson and grandfather adventure into realms of magical possibilities are Bookwagon favourites. Sun extends this. Like our current heatwave, the pulsing sun makes the boy think of the Atacama desert…
When the only thing you can think about is ice cream, a little magical distraction might be necessary. Keith has a distraction when an ice-cream lands on his head. What becomes of it makes his friends laugh, and then awed in Keith the Cat with the Magic Hat
Alison Lester’s Magic Beach is an Australian classic. You’ll understand the reason as you dive into the rhyme and swim through images of possibility in a joyous reflections of the seaside in the summertime.
Do you remember when Dragon’s Den declined an investment in Trunkis? Small people with perfectly formed Trunkis overflow airports. Over the next few weeks some will be packed for summer holidays. I hope they manage rather better than Fergus Barnaby Goes On Holiday
Jory John and Benji Davis’ Bear and Duck are two of my favourite characters. A third outing for the neighbouring duo offers a time away for Bear, although Duck isn’t having it in Come Home Already!
Picture books to be shared
An ice-cream initiates Curly’s bad mood in The Bad Mood and the Stick Does it continue? What happens to the stick or Lou? Read this wonderful picture book creation book by Lemony Snicket, a perfect read in the summertime.
Dr Nicola Davies collaborated with artist Mark Hearld on A First Book of Animals and picture book maker Petr Horacek on A First Book of Nature. With her latest venture, A First Book of the Sea Emily Sutton’s pencil fresh, seaspray, illustrations fit the depth of subject perfectly. From Polynesian seafarers to nocturnal phosphoresce, building sea castles, to the movement of crabs, this book doesn’t leave a grain of sand unturned. It is magnificent.
Another magnificent number is Julian. His fascination for the wonderful women in his neighbourhood becomes the desire that forms Julian is a Mermaid. The shapes, form, movement and colour are gorgeous. We love this trailblazing book!
A boy and girl venture to an abandoned house. With lyrical prose of memory and possibility and patchwork, water stained pictures, Julie Fogliano and Lane Smith reveal A House that Once Was. We wander with the children, in the summertime, enquiring and supposing. This is a sympathetic and beautiful title.
There is sympathy, nostalgia and beauty in the Kate Greenaway Medal winning Town is by the Sea. Beneath the ground the boy’s father works, mining as generations before did, while the boy looks out to the sea, his future of mining ahead of him, his present ripe with possibility.
Another Canadian creation is the Fan brothers’ dazzling new picture book. A young boy recalls his much missed grandfather and the boat they planned to build, and then to travel to where Ocean Meets Sky a place of history, meaning and wonder.
Books to read alone
Italian and French picture story book makers Davide Cali and Benjamin Chaud have created a curious series of titles that spin exaggeration and science fiction with humour and suggestion. One of the latest to appear on the wagon is The Truth About My Unbelievable Summer
Meg Rosoff returns to the Peachey family with their long suffering dog, McTavish. He’s still working to bring his family up to scratch. This time he and Ma and Betty have their work cut out encouraging the other family members to enjoy the opportunities of a camping holiday in McTavish Goes Wild
I’ve mentioned before, but it fits the bill of a summer time read! An annual camping trip with other families might delight Dad, but Henry is almost paralysed with anticipation of the expectation of the other children in The Grand, Genius Summer of Henry Hoobler. This is such a satisfying, surf spray, story.
When reading alone is a necessity
Run, Pip, Run is set toward the end of a school year. Like ‘Henry Hoobler’ it is a noted Australian children’s book. However, this one offers a child of grit and vivacity, who works to survive adversity and support her gravely ill Pop.
Model and body positivity ambassador Charli Howard included concerns about size and image within the story of Splash Yet, this is more than an ‘issues’ story. We feel for Molly and her dilemma, longing for her mother to fulfil her role honestly, and searching for approval from her peers.
I was delighted to realise that Chasing Augustus had won a British publication after shadowing publication of works by its acclaimed American writer, Kimberly Newton Fusco, for some time. Rosie’s quest to find ‘Gloopy Gus’ the dog her mother gave away when she left, is ongoing despite the passing of time and the resistance of all about her.
Set at the time of the Chinese cultural revolution, in a rural village called Damaidi is Bronze and Sunflower by the Hans Christian Andersen award-winner, Cao Wenxuan. This is one of the biggest, richest, most inspiring books that I have had the honour to include within Bookwagon. In the summertime, is a perfect time to rad this mighty book.
We invite enquiries for your own family summertime reading list. Recommendations are welcome too. We are very proud of the breadth and flavour of our titles but aim to strengthen and extend these.
Meanwhile, we wish you all, happy reading!