Summit School’s very own Ashley Hare traded her title of 4th grade teacher to that of Admissions Director, but that doesn’t mean she has lost her knack for picking out and recommending books. In fact, she loves reviewing books for middle readers on her Instagram page.

We asked her to round up some of her recommendations for summer to share with you. Here are her picks:

Picture Books:

Chip and Curly: The Great Potato Race by Cathy Breisacher

Chip the potato chip is sure he has the annual Spud City Festival sack race in the bag–he’s been practicing all year. The Home Fries (local baseball team) and Sweet Potatoes (cheer squad) are all rooting for him. The French Fries even bring their tots over for an autograph. But when Curly the springy curly fry shows up, Chip knows he’s in trouble. This totally funny story is filled with clever potato puns–and subtle themes of sportsmanship and persistence. It will have kids and adults alike laughing out loud

“I love using literature to reinforce good character and this book not only has fun puns but will also teach your young one about empathy, winning isn’t everything, and grit.” –Ashley

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If You Had Your Birthday Party on the Moon by Joyce Lapin

If you had your birthday party on the moon, what would it be like? Blast off to an extraterrestrial celebration and find out! This cool picture book combines fun and facts to help kids learn all about outer space.  

Have your birthday party on the moon and everyone will come! After all, who wouldn’t want to ride in a rocket and celebrate for a day that lasts as long as a month on Earth? Then, young partygoers could romp in a low-gravity playground; watch candles and balloons behave weirdly in the Moon’s atmosphere; and see why the “moon angels” they make in the thick carpet of lunar dust will last for thousands of years. With each discovery, kids learn the science behind the surprise, explained in terms they’ll understand. Complete with sidebars and a glossary, this entertaining adventure is perfect for sharing at home and at school.

“Children LOVE to learn about astronomy and astronautics  and they of course love birthday parties. This engaging, and very detailed picture book, educates the reader about the moon using something they are familiar with – a birthday party! Readers will learn why their party balloons won’t float on the moon and why they wouldn’t be able to hear their guests sing happy birthday and much more! And to top it off, the illustrations in this book are beautiful and bold. This picture book is great for students up to 4th Grade.” –Ashley

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Middle Reader:

Just My Luck by Cammie McGovern

Critically acclaimed author Cammie McGovern’s powerful and heartwarming middle grade novel will appeal to readers who loved R. J. Palacio’s Wonder, Holly Sloan’s Counting by 7s, and Lynda Mullaly Hunt’s Fish in a Tree. “This brave story, told with wry humor, is inspirational,” raved Ann M. Martin, New York Times bestselling author of Rain Reign.

Fourth grade is not going at all how Benny Barrows hoped. He hasn’t found a new best friend at school. He’s still not a great bike rider—even though his brother George, who’s autistic, can do tricks. And worst of all, he worries his dad’s recent accident might be all his fault. Benny tries to take his mom’s advice and focus on helping others, and to take things one step at a time. But when his dad ends up in the hospital again, Benny doesn’t know how he and his family will overcome all the bad luck that life seems to have thrown their way.

Just My Luck is a deeply moving and rewarding novel about a down-on-his-luck boy whose caring heart ultimately helps him find the strength to cope with tragedy and realize how much he truly has to offer his friends and family.

“This realistic middle grade novel will open your child’s eyes to aspects of life they might not be familiar with or if they are then this book gives them a story to relate to. This book would make for a great family read aloud as it will allow you the opportunity to discuss as a family concepts such as kindness, autism, and family tragedy.” –Ashley

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Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess by Shari Green

Sixth grade is coming to an end, and so is life as Macy McMillan knows it. Already a “For Sale” sign mars the front lawn of her beloved house. Soon her mother will upend their perfect little family, adding a stepfather and six-year-old twin stepsisters. To add insult to injury, what is Macy’s final sixth grade assignment? A genealogy project. Well, she’ll put it off – just like those wedding centerpieces she’s supposed to be making.

Just when Macy’s mother ought to be understanding, she sends Macy next door to help eighty-six-year-old Iris Gillan, who is also getting ready to move – in her case into an assisted living facility. Iris can’t pack a single box on her own and, worse, she doesn’t know sign language. How is Macy supposed to understand her? But Iris has stories to tell, and she isn’t going to let Macy’s deafness stop her. Soon, through notes and books and cookies, a bond grows between them. And this friendship, odd and unexpected, may be just what Macy needs to face the changes in her life.

Shari Green, author of Root Beer Candy and Other Miracles, writes this summer story with the lightest touch, spinning Macy out of her old life and into a new one full of warmth and promise for the future.

“This sweet novel told in verse is about an 11 year old girl, Macy, navigating her way through change or as she puts it “starting new chapters”. Readers will “watch” Macy’s journey as she goes from hating to loving her new stepdad and sisters, and along the way she builds a heartwarming friendship with a Rainbow Goddess (great Greek mythology reference!), who despite not knowing sign language, has no trouble sharing her stories with Macy.” My favorite quote from this story, “All we can do is try to send many more good messages than bad. We must aim to be kind and brave.” –Ashley

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The Wild World of Buck Bray by Judy Young

As the star of a new kid-oriented wilderness show, eleven-year-old Buck Bray travels to Denali National Park to shoot the first episode. It promises to be an exciting gig and he’s happy to get to spend some time with his director father. Buck’s annoyed when the cameraman’s daughter, Toni, unexpectedly shows up. But the kids work together when they realize two grizzly bear cubs are missing and they set out to solve the mystery, which includes breaking up a criminal ring.

“A good, clean, suspenseful middle grade novel with adventure, mystery, and wild animals. A fabulous summer read for children who love nature and learning about animals.” –Ashley

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Upper Middle Readers:

The Last Cherry Blossom by Kathleen Burkinshaw

Now, a United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs Resource for Teachers and Students!!

Yuriko is happy growing up in Hiroshima when it’s just her and Papa. But her aunt Kimiko and her cousin Genji are living with them now, and the family is only getting bigger with talk of a double marriage! And while things are changing at home, the world beyond their doors is even more unpredictable. World War II is coming to an end, and Japan’s fate is not entirely clear, with any battle losses being hidden from its people. Yuriko is used to the sirens and air raid drills, but things start to feel more real when the neighbors who have left to fight stop coming home. When the atomic bomb hits Hiroshima, it’s through Yuriko’s twelve-year-old eyes that we witness the devastation and horror.

This is a story that offers young readers insight into how children lived during the war, while also introducing them to Japanese culture. Based on author Kathleen Burkinshaw’s mother’s first-hand experience surviving the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, The Last Cherry Blossom hopes to warn readers of the immense damage nuclear war can bring, while reminding readers that the “enemy” in any war is often not so different from ourselves.

“This novel expertly educates and evokes strong emotions. Set in Hiroshima, this is the story told from the perspective of a young girl (the author’s mother) who lives through the bomb that hit her home town during World War II. This book provides perspective. An extremely heartbreaking perspective, but one that we need to hear. I absolutely loved this novel, and I wish I had read this book when I was younger and learning about WWII.” –Ashley

Recommended for 5th grade and older

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Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry

A girl tries to hide her quirks at a new school in this middle-grade novel from debut author Ellie Terry.

Astronomy-loving Calliope June has Tourette syndrome, so she sometimes makes faces or noises that she doesn’t mean to make. When she and her mother move yet again, she tries to hide her TS. But it isn’t long before the kids at her new school realize she’s different. Only Calliope’s neighbor, who is also the popular student body president, sees her as she truly is―an interesting person and a good friend. But is he brave enough to take their friendship public?

As Calliope navigates school, she must also face her mother’s new relationship and the fact that they might be moving―again―just as she starts to make friends and finally accept her differences.

Partially in verse and partially in prose with two intertwined points of view, Ellie Terry’s affecting debut will speak to a wide audience about being true to oneself.

“A beautiful story (part verse and part prose) that brings awareness and understanding to Tourette syndrome, standing up for yourself and others, embracing who you are, forgiveness, and friendship. The author writes from personal experience which makes the novel that much more credible, relatable, and inspiring.” –Ashley

Recommended for 6th grade and older.

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