One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia
Amistad, HarperCollins, 2010
Delphine, Vonetta and Fern haven’t seen their mother for a very long time. In One Crazy Summer, the three sisters travel by themselves on a plane to Oakland, California, where they stay with their mother during the summer. Delphine is the narrator and the oldest sister. She always looks out for her younger siblings and she will do anything to be sure that they are safe. Vonetta is incredibly vain and as the middle sibling, is always trying to get her younger sister, Fern, to be more like her. Fern, however, is the complete opposite of Vonetta. She is cute and unsuspecting and she carries a doll named Mrs. Pattycake everywhere she goes. When the threesome meet their mother, Cecile, in the airport they are unimpressed by her gruff and unkind attitude. The girls don’t know what to think of their mother but they try to cope with her as best as they can. The three girls are surprised when they discover that their mother is not only a poet, but also a freedom fighter against segregation. This incredible book is great for anyone who needs a funny and beautifully written story that is perfect summer reading.
Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbit
Square Fish, 1975
When Winnie Foster first met the Tuck family she didn’t believe that they told the truth about the fact that they would live forever. Jesse, Angus, Miles and Mae Tuck used to be normal people but when they came across a mysterious spring that they then drank from, they discovered that they weren’t aging at all. Winnie, who is the main character in Tuck Everlasting, doesn’t know what to think of the Tucks. But when the Tucks realize that Winnie now knows their secret, they take her to their house where they manage to convince Winnie that their story is true. When Winnie’s parents discover that she is missing, they quickly get the local constable. A mysterious man in a yellow jacket says that he will guide the Fosters to their daughter in exchange for part of their land. They set off to find Winnie. This exciting and meaningful story brings up the question: If you could, would you want to live forever?
Hokey Pokey by Jerry Spinelli
Random House, 2014
Jack and his friends Dusty and LaJo live in a mysterious place called Hokey Pokey where only kids live. Jack is popular among the kids of Hokey Pokey, but when his worst enemy steals his bike, he starts to feel moody and depressed. LaJo is gruff and unkind towards younger kids and he doesn’t know what to think about Jack’s moodiness. Dusty is very kind towards younger kids and he is always surprised when people are upset, so Jack’s depression is hard for him to understand. Jack recalls the story of a boy who lived in Hokey Pokey but he decided to leave to go somewhere else. Jack is amazed by this story and he decides to go to the mysterious place that the other boy tried to go to. Jack’s friends are shocked by the fact that he wants to leave so they try everything to get him to stay including tying him up and leaving him by himself to think about whether he really wants to leave them. This is a fantastic story about a boy growing up, and although it can get somewhat boring at some parts, the shocking ending will make reading this book worthwhile.
House of Secrets by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini
Balzer & Bray, 2013
Eleanor, Brendan and Cordelia Walker had to move to a new, cheaper house in San Francisco because their father lost his job after he fell asleep while operating on a patient and accidentally carved the shape of an eye on his patient’s stomach. The family was amazed by the fact that the new house was both cheap and also massive. House of Secrets is the story of the Walker children and their incredible house. Cordelia, who is the oldest child, is a bookworm who fell in love with the house the second she found out that the previous owner had been an author named Denver Kristoff, who had an enormous library. Brendan did not like the house because of its Victorian appearance and the fact that he saw an old lady in the garden who seemed to be trespassing on their lawn. Eleanor didn’t know what to think of the house because despite the fact that it was beautiful, she saw a statue that seemed to have moved. When the old lady who Brendan had seen in the garden came into the Walkers’ house, Brendan knew that the Walkers were in trouble. The old lady, who was the daughter of Denver Kristoff, magically sent the three children and their house into her father’s stories, where they had to find a mysterious book titled The Book of Doom and Desire. The only way to find the book was to do an act of true selfishness. As the Walkers read some of Kristoff’s books, they become worried by the fact that some of the characters were in both the books and in the woods around the house. This book is a riveting and amazing adventure for kids of all ages.
By Josh Stiefel
Josh Stiefel, a soon-to-be fifth grader at Yeshivat Noam, has been know to devour books. He also loves chocolate milkshakes.