Saturday Review of Books: July 8, 2017

“We all ask each other a lot of questions. But we should all ask one question a lot more often: ‘What are you reading?'” ~Will Schwalbe

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Welcome to the Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon. Here’s how it usually works. Find a book review on your blog posted sometime during the previous week. The review doesn’t have to be a formal sort of thing. You can link to your thoughts on a particular book, a few ideas inspired by reading the book, your evaluation, quotations, whatever.

Then on Friday night/Saturday, you post a link here at Semicolon in Mr. Linky to the specific post where you’ve written your book review. Don’t link to your main blog page because this kind of link makes it hard to find the book review, especially when people drop in later after you’ve added new content to your blog. In parentheses after your name, add the title of the book you’re reviewing. This addition will help people to find the reviews they’re most interested in reading.

After linking to your own reviews, you can spend as long as you want reading the reviews of other bloggers for the week and adding to your wishlist of books to read.

If you like Little House: The Older (Golden) Years of Laura . . .

For the month of July, I’m planning a series of posts about readalikes: what to read (or what to suggest to your favorite child reader) when you’ve read all of your favorite author’s books or all of the books of a certain genre that you know of, and you don’t know what to read next.

On Saturday we talked about Little House (Laura Ingalls Wilder) readalike books for middle grade readers; today I have some prairie and frontier fiction for middle school, high school and even adult readers.

The Jumping-Off Place by Marian Hurd McNeely. Becky, Dick, Phil, and Joan, orphaned brothers and sisters, work hard to retain their Uncle Jim’s homestead in Tripp County, South Dakota at the turn of the century, early 1900’s. This book won a Newbery Honor in 1930, around the same time that the Little House books were being published, but it’s not nearly as well known. I put it here in this post for older children and teens because it’s a little darker in tone than the Little House books. A baby dies of snakebite; some homesteaders go hungry; life is hard. But the children/young people survive and thrive with grit and determination.

Patricia Beatty’s historical heroines are usually strong, spunky, and full of life and mischief. Often her novels have themes related to women’s rights, women’s suffrage, and feminism. These have a much more comical, individualistic, and adventurous tone to them than the Little House series, and they’re written for twelve year olds and older.
A selection of some of my favorite frontier fiction titles by Patricia Beatty:
That’s One Ornery Orphan. In Texas in the 1870’s orphan Hallie Lee Baker tries to get herself adopted, but her plan go awry.
Just Some Weeds from the Wilderness. In Oregon in 1873, Adelina Westlake, with the help of her niece Lucinda, goes into business, unheard of for a well-bred female, to save her family from financial ruin.
Something to Shout About. Thirteen year old Hope Foster and her family become the new residents of a new town in 1875: Ottenberg in Montana Territory.
How Many Miles to Sundown? Beeler Quimey and her pet longhorn, Travis, travel with brother Leo and another boy, Nate through Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona in the 1880’s.
By Crumbs It’s Mine. In 1882, thirteen year old Damaris and her family are traveling through Arizona territory in hopes of settling somewhere when her father catches gold fever and deserts the family for the gold fields of California. When Damaris accidentally becomes a hotel owner, the family calls on Aunt Willa to help.
Bonanza Girl. Ann Katie Scott and her mother move to a mining boom-town in Idaho Territory and begin to make a living by opening a restaurant.But how will they survive if the gold gives out?
The Nickel-Plated Beauty. In Washington state in 1886, the Kimballs order their mother a new, shiny, nickel-plated cookstove for Christmas. They keep their plan a secret and spend half the year working to try to pay for the beautiful new stove.
Hail Columbia! In 1893, Louisa’s Aunt Columbia bring her suffragette and other political ideas to the frontier in Astoria, Oregon.
O The Red Rose Tree. Also set in 1893, but back in Washington state, this novel features four thirteen year old girls trying to help an old woman complete her special quilt pattern.
Eight Mules from Monterey. In 1916, Fayette and her librarian mother try to bring library services by mule to the people living in and around Monterrey, California.

When Molly Was a Harvey Girl by Frances M. Wood. Molly pretends to be eighteen years old so that she can get a job as a Harvey girl at the famous Harvey House restaurant.

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson. The orphaned sixteen year old Hattie Brooks decides to leave Iowa and move to Vida, Montana, to prove up on her late uncle’s homestead claim. In Montana in 1918, Hattie finds adventure, hardship, and family.
Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson. In this sequel to Hattie Big Sky, Hattie wants to follow in the footsteps of Nellie Bly and become a real newspaper reporter.

If you’ve tried all of these and the ones in the previous Little House readalike post and you still want more, let me know in the comments. I can probably come up with a few more authors and books to sate your appetite for girls and families in historical frontier fiction.

If you like Little House on the Prairie . . .

For the month of July, I’m planning a series of posts about readalikes: what to read (or what to suggest to your favorite child reader) when you’ve read all of your favorite author’s books or all of the books of a certain genre that you know of, and you don’t know what to read next. Here are a few suggestions for Little House on the Prairie fans.

First up, author Melissa Wiley has written a series of books about Laura Ingalls Wilder’s grandmother and great-grandmother:
Books about Martha Morse, Laura’s great-grandmother by Melissa Wiley:
Little House in the Highlands
The Far Side of the Loch
Down to the Bonny Glen
Beyond the Heather Hills

Books about Charlotte Tucker, Laura’s grandmother, also by Melissa Wiley:
Little House by Boston Bay
On Tide Mill Lane
The Road from Roxbury
Across the Puddingstone Dam

Another duo, Maria Wilkes and Celia Wilkins, has written about Laura’s mother’s childhood.
Books about Caroline Quiner Ingalls, Laura’s mother, by Maria Wilkes & Celia Wilkins:
Little House in Brookfield
Little Town at the Crossroads
Little Clearing in the Woods
On Top of Concord Hill
Across the Rolling River
Little City by the Lake
A Little House of Their Own

Books about Laura’s daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, by her heir, Roger Lea MacBride:
Little House on Rocky Ridge
Little Farm in the Ozarks
In the Land of the Big Red Apple
The Other Side of the Hill
Little Town in the Ozarks
New Dawn on Rocky Ridge
On the Banks of the Bayou
Bachelor Girl

Then, there’s this set published by Harper Collins and written by various well-known authors who are also Little House fans:
Old Town in the Green Groves (Little House) by Cynthia Rylant.
Nellie Oleson Meets Laura Ingalls (Little House) by Heather Williams.
Mary Ingalls on Her Own (Little House Sequel) by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel.

Carol Ryrie Brink published Caddie Woodlawn in 1935, and it received the Newbery Medal in 1936. It’s about a girl growing up on the frontier in Wisconsin, before and during the Civil War (1860’s). Caddie is set during much the same time period as the Little House books by Ms. Wilder. A second book with more stories about Caddie and her family is called Magical Melons.

Louise Erdrich’s Birchbark House is about Omakayas, a seven-year-old Native American girl of the Ojibwa tribe. It’s a good counter-balance to the portrayal of Native American people in the Little House books, which tends to be somewhat negative and stereotypical. The books in the series so far are:
The Birchbark House
The Game of Silence
The Porcupine Year
Chickadee
Makoons

Latsch Family Farm series by Anne Pellowski. These are a series of five novels about life in the Polish Catholic farm communities in Trempealeau County, Wisconsin. Each book tells about one year in the life of the author’s great-grandmother, grandmother, mother, and the author herself in the last book, Stairstep Farm. The books, which do not need to be read in chronological order, are:
First Farm in the Valley: Anna’s Story
Willow Wind Farm: Betsy’s Story
Betsy’s Up-and-Down Year
Winding Valley Farm: Annie’s Story
Stairstep Farm: Anna Rose’s Story

The Orphan Train Adventures series are also worthy and exciting reads for lovers of frontier-setting fiction. The books tell about the adventures of a family of orphans from New York City who are split up and sent west on the Orphan Train to live with frontier families.
A Family Apart (Orphan Train Adventures, #1)
Caught in the Act (Orphan Train Adventures, #2)
In The Face of Danger (Orphan Train Adventures, #3)
A Dangerous Promise (Orphan Train Adventures, #4)
Keeping Secrets (Orphan Train Adventures, #5)
A Place to Belong (Orphan Train Adventures, #6)
Circle of Love (Orphan Train Adventures, #7)

If you finish all of these and still want more you can always enjoy a few nonfiction spin-offs:
The Little House Cookbook by Barbara M. Walker. Illustrated by Garth Williams.
My Little House Sewing Book by Margaret Irwin.
My Little House Craft Book by Carolyn Strom Collins.
The World of Little House by Carolyn Strom Collins.
Laura Ingalls Wilder by Gwenda Blair.

All of the above books are for approximately the same maturity and reading level as the original Little House books. Tomorrow I’ll post about what to read when you’ve sort of outgrown Little House but still want to read prairie and frontier adventures: Little House for young adults.

Saturday Review of Books: July 1, 2017

“There’s nothing wrong with reading a book you love over and over. When you do, the words get inside you, become a part of you, in a way that words in a book you’ve read only once can’t.” ~Gail Carson Levine

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Welcome to the Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon. Here’s how it usually works. Find a book review on your blog posted sometime during the previous week. The review doesn’t have to be a formal sort of thing. You can link to your thoughts on a particular book, a few ideas inspired by reading the book, your evaluation, quotations, whatever.

Then on Friday night/Saturday, you post a link here at Semicolon in Mr. Linky to the specific post where you’ve written your book review. Don’t link to your main blog page because this kind of link makes it hard to find the book review, especially when people drop in later after you’ve added new content to your blog. In parentheses after your name, add the title of the book you’re reviewing. This addition will help people to find the reviews they’re most interested in reading.

After linking to your own reviews, you can spend as long as you want reading the reviews of other bloggers for the week and adding to your wishlist of books to read.

Saturday Review of Books: June 10, 2017

“‘Oh, hurry up and get the supper work done so we can read,’ Mary said eagerly. But Ma said, ‘Never mind the work, Laura! Read us a story!'” ~By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder

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Welcome to the Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon. Here’s how it usually works. Find a book review on your blog posted sometime during the previous week. The review doesn’t have to be a formal sort of thing. You can link to your thoughts on a particular book, a few ideas inspired by reading the book, your evaluation, quotations, whatever.

Then on Friday night/Saturday, you post a link here at Semicolon in Mr. Linky to the specific post where you’ve written your book review. Don’t link to your main blog page because this kind of link makes it hard to find the book review, especially when people drop in later after you’ve added new content to your blog. In parentheses after your name, add the title of the book you’re reviewing. This addition will help people to find the reviews they’re most interested in reading.

After linking to your own reviews, you can spend as long as you want reading the reviews of other bloggers for the week and adding to your wishlist of books to read.

The Camping Trip That Changed America by Barb Rosenstock

“I do not want anyone with me but you, and I want to drop politics absolutely for four days and just be out in the open with you.” ~Theodore Roosevelt’s letter to John Muir, March 14, 1903.

Back in the days (1903) when a president could actually go off on a camping trip alone with a famous author and naturalist, President Teddy Roosevelt (Teedie) asked naturalist John Muir (Johnnie) to take him on a camping trip, and the rest was history. After Teedie’s and Johnnie’s journey through Yosemite, President Roosevelt became more than an outdoorsman; he “turned . . . into one of nature’s fiercest protectors. Roosevelt pushed Congress to pass laws saving the wilderness. He failed at first, but that didn’t stop him. He created national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and national forests.”

“Teedie” Roosevelt is my favorite president, and this story of his encounter with Johnnie Muir and the wilderness of Yosemite is a colorful and fascinating introduction to Roosevelt’s ideas and his personality. (“Bully!” said Teedie, stretching. “What a glorious day!”) It also introduces children to the concept of nature conservation and even the political concept of changing the president’s mind and direction by a little well-placed lobbying for a good cause. (Maybe someone needs to take our current president on a camping trip?)

There’s a touch of generalized “spirituality” in the imagined dialog between Teedie and Johnnie: “Everywhere nature sang her melody. Can you hear it?” And, of course, Muir adheres to the tenets of “old earth” geology: “a massive river of slow-moving ice carved the rock beneath them millions of years before.” Teedie is said to depend on “John Muir’s spirit as his guide” as the president goes about his work in preserving American parks and wildlife. However, these are minor and personal quibbles, things I would have worded differently, that don’t spoil the overall beauty and message of the book at all.

If you or your child is a fan of TR or John Muir or just a nature lover or even a wannabe naturalist, this book serves up a great slice of American history. The imagined dialog is taken from Muir’s books and from newspaper accounts of the famous camping trip.

The Seashore Book by Charlotte Zolotow

Take an imaginary trip to the seashore.

This 25th anniversary edition from Charlesbridge publishers of a Charlotte Zolotow classic is illustrated by Wendell Minor, not an illustrator I’m familiar with, but a talented one indeed. From what I can tell, the cover illustration for this new edition is new, but the inside illustrations are the same as the ones from 1993 when the book was first published.

Charlotte Zolotow, one of my favorite picture books authors, was more of a poet than a storyteller. Her books usually create a mood or tell a simple story of parent and child or friends enjoying a quotidian experience together, such as a day in the park (The Park Book) or a thunderstorm (The Storm Book) or the choosing of a birthday present (Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present). Other books feature sisters or brothers or even grandparents with family squabbles and misunderstandings that generally get resolved in the end. Her books are gentle and familial, full of beautiful, evocative, but simple language.

A couple of examples from The Seashore Book:

“You stand and look at the ocean. Far, far out, so far it seems like a toy, a little white sailboat skims over the water and disappears.”

“The fishing pier we pass is white as a snowfall with hundreds of crying seagulls waiting for the fishing boats to come in when the sun sets.”

For children who live near the ocean and who might get to take a beach trip, this book is a lovely introduction to the sights and sounds that a day at the seashore might yield. For children like the child in the book who live “in the mountains” and have “never seen the sea”, the text along with the beautiful illustrations by Minor will give a pretend trip to the beach such a real feel that they might want to go back over and over again.

I’m definitely going to read this book for my next library story time.

Saturday Review of Books: May 27, 2017

“Reading is a respite from the relentlessness of technology, but it’s not only that. It’s how I reset and recharge. It’s how I escape, but it’s also how I engage. And reading should spur further engagement.” ~Will Schwalbe

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Welcome to the Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon. Here’s how it usually works. Find a book review on your blog posted sometime during the previous week. The review doesn’t have to be a formal sort of thing. You can link to your thoughts on a particular book, a few ideas inspired by reading the book, your evaluation, quotations, whatever.

Then on Friday night/Saturday, you post a link here at Semicolon in Mr. Linky to the specific post where you’ve written your book review. Don’t link to your main blog page because this kind of link makes it hard to find the book review, especially when people drop in later after you’ve added new content to your blog. In parentheses after your name, add the title of the book you’re reviewing. This addition will help people to find the reviews they’re most interested in reading.

After linking to your own reviews, you can spend as long as you want reading the reviews of other bloggers for the week and adding to your wishlist of books to read.

Summer Reading: High School

Shaking the Nickel Bush by Ralph Moody. “Skinny and suffering from diabetes, Ralph Moody is ordered by a Boston doctor to seek a more healthful climate. Now nineteen years old, he strikes out into new territory hustling odd jobs, facing the problem of getting fresh milk and leafy green vegetables. He scrapes around to survive, risking his neck as a stunt rider for a movie company. With an improvident buddy named Lonnie, he camps out in an Arizona canyon and ‘shakes the nickel bush’ by sculpting plaster of paris busts of lawyers and bankers. This is 1918, and the young men travel through the Southwest not on horses but in a Ford aptly named Shiftless.” This book is the sixth book in a series of eight autobiographical novels by Ralph Moody, the author and protagonist who had to grow up fast after his father’s death when Ralph was only eleven years old. High schoolers may want to start with the fist book in the series, Little Britches, or just begin with this one, a gripping tale of a young man’s adventures and growth.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. High school is the right time to be introduced to Harper Lee’s great American novel. And then to the movie, which by my exacting standards is just as good as the novel. The story takes place over the course of more than one year, winter summer fall and spring, but it feels like a summertime novel, as Jem and Scout play with the summer visitor, and as they grow and learn about the realities of life in A good follow-up story is I Kill the Mockingbird by Paul Acampora, about a trio of rising ninth graders who spend the summer promoting TKAM and preparing for their big move to high school.

Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson. In the fictional account of the Philadelphia 1793 yellow fever epidemic, Fever 1793, Laurie Halse Anderson illustrates the deadly nature of yellow fever and its effects on the community with a story about Mattie Cook, a girl of fourteen who lives above a coffeehouse that provides her family’s livelihood. Since Mattie’s father is dead, Mattie’s mother, her grandmother, and the black cook, Eliza, run the coffeehouse, and Mattie and the serving girl, Polly, help. At the beginning of the book in August 1793, Mattie worries about her mother’s temper and about how to get a little extra sleep and avoid as much work as possible. By the end of the story, Mattie has been forced to take on adult responsibilities: nursing, providing food for her family, repelling thieves and intruders, and running the coffeehouse. Take a look at this post on Semicolon for more books about fevers, epidemics, and plagues.

Monsoon Summer by Mitali Perkins. Light summer reading. Fifteen year old Jazz Gardner’s mom tells her that the family is going to spend the summer in India, helping out at the orphanage that Mrs. Gardner lived in before she was adopted. And at about the same time, Jazz realizes that her feelings for Steve, her longtime business partner, have turned into something more than just platonic friendship. Unfortunately, there’s no indication from Steve that he sees Jazz as anything but a friend and a partner. And other girls are after Steve. And the business needs her. And who wants to go to India, anyway?

A Ring of Endless Light by Madeleine L’Engle. I love Madeleine L’Engle, and Ring of Endless Light is one of my favorites. The Austin family is spending the summer with Vicky’s grandfather who is dying. As Vicky writes her poetry and deals with her grief over her grandfather, she also finds friendship and maybe even romance with three very different boys: Zachary, the wild romantic; Leo, an old friend; and Adam, the dolphin researcher.

Summer Moonshine by P.G. Wodehouse. Sir Buckstone Abbott is an English baron with a house he can’t keep up, so he rents out the rooms in Walsingford Hall to an odd assortment of boarders. Then, Sir Bucksone Abbott goes into debt, then into hiding, and leaves his daughter, Jane, to take care of things in his absence. Wodehousian romantic and monetary entanglements, confusion, and ridiculousness ensue. This one is not Bertie and Jeeves and not set at Blandings Castle, but it’s humor from 1937 that translates into the twenty-first century quite satisfactorily. Many high schoolers should be ready to be introduced to Wodehouse, especially those who became Anglophiles, as I did, while reading British children’s literature.

Nonfiction for High School Reading:

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown. Subtitled “Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics”, this narrative nonfiction book is for anyone interested in sports stories in general, rowing in particular, the rise of Nazism, the 1930’s, Olympic history, and just plain inspirational stories of perseverance and courage.

Miracle at Philadelphia by Catherine Drinker Bowen. “Over Philadelphia, the air lay hot and humid: old people said it was the worst summer since 1750. . . . In the Pennsylvania State House, which we call Independence Hall, some fifty-five delegates, named by the legislatures of twelve states (Rhode Island balked, refusing attendance) met in convention, and during a summer of hard work and high feeling wrote out a plan of government which they hoped the states would accept, and which they entitled The Constitution of the United States of America.” Catherine Drinker Bowen tells readers, teens and adults as well, all about what took place in “the room where it happened” during that summer of 1787.

Walk Across America by Peter Jenkins. The true story of a young man who decided to walk across the country from the Atlantic coast to the Pacific in search of . . . himself? Meaning? Patriotism? It’s a great story, and I absolutely loved living vicariously through Mr. Jenkins’ journey through the United States of 1979. (Jenkins only made it to New Orleans in the first book, so there’s a sequel, The Walk West.)

More Summer Reading ideas:

Summer Reading, Summer Setting.
Summer Reading: 52 Picks for the Hols.
June: Death in Summer.
Summer Reading: 2006.
Summer Reading List: Summer After High School.

Summer Reading: Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Grades

Swallows and Amazons by Arthur Ransome. Originally published in 1930, this book is the first in a series of books about a group of adventurous children and a sailboat. Swallows and Amazons introduces the Walker children—John, Susan, Titty, and Roger—their camp on Wild Cat island, the able-bodied catboat Swallow, and their frenemies the two intrepid Amazons, Nancy and Peggy Blackett. The children are living the free range kids’ dream as they camp all by themselves on a small island, cook their own meals, sail their boat up and down the lake, and engage in all sorts of mock-battles and adventures. Sailing, fishing, swimming, camping and piracy form the subject matter, and free-spirited, fun-loving, independent children are the characters.

100 Cupboards by N.D. Wilson. Twelve year old Henry York is sleeping in his room in his cousins’ house in Kansaswhen he hears a bump on the attic wall above his head. He tries to ignore the sound in this strange-to-him house, but the next night he can’t ignore the two knobs that protrude through the ceiling: one of them is slowly turning . . . It may looks like a cupboard, in an odd place, but Henry and his cousin Henrietta soon learn that the “cupboards” are really doors to another world. This book is the first in a trilogy of fantasy adventures with lots of cupboard doors to explore.

The Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars. Fourteen Sara Godfrey feels responsible for her younger brother, Charlie, since Charlie is mentally handicapped and sometimes the victim of bullies who make fun of his disability. When Charlie gets lost, it is Sara who must find him and bring him home. But she needs help. Can the boy whom she despises because he stole Charlie’s watch be the one who helps her find her brother in the end?

Kavik the Wolf Dog by Walter Morey. “When Andy Evans stumbles upon the snow-covered wreckage of a small plane, he’s shocked to find a survivor. Should he put the gravely injured dog out of his misery? The look in the animal’s eyes says he’s not ready to die. It turns out that Kävik’s a champion sled dog, and soon he makes a full recovery. When his rightful owner finds out Kävik is alive, he wants the dog back. But Kävik has other ideas.”

Holes by Louis Sachar. Stanley Yelnats is sent to a juvenile delinquent camp for a crime he didn’t commit. Call it bad luck. The curse of the Yelnats family. Every day the boys are sent into the hot Texas sun to dig holes. It’s supposed to build character, but Stanley soon discovers that there’s more than character development going on at Camp Green Lake.

Ash Road by Ivan Southall. This one takes place in January, summertime in Australia. A small group of children are cut off by a raging wildfire in the wilds of the Australian outback. They have only two elderly adults to help them, or perhaps it is the children who must help each other to get them all out of danger.

Summer is also an excellent season for nonfiction readers to find just the right books for encouraging their particular hobby or interest. Here are a few nonfiction suggestions, but really, nonfiction covers the world and everything in it. If my library patrons will let me know what they’re interested in exploring this summer, chances are I’ve got a book for that!

The Swamp Fox of the Revolution by Stewart H. Holbrook. In summertime, thoughts in the United States turn to freedom, and the Declaration of Independence, and the American fight for independence. We often think first of George Washington and thomas Jefferson and the other “founding fathers”, and I have a quite an array of good books about those men and events. However, Frances Marion, The Swamp Fox, is a lesser known hero of the Revolution, but one who should appeal to kids who like to read about war and dashing exploits. “With little assistance, he organized a group of backwoodsmen into a fighting brigade that carried on an almost private war against the redcoats and Tories during the American Revolution. Marion’s daring raids on their outposts and supply trains so troubled the British, who could never catch him, that in time they called him The Swamp Fox.”

Guadalcanal Diary by Richard Tregaskis. Journalist Richard Tregaskis was with the U.S. Marines when they landed on the Japanese-held island of Guadalcanal in August, 1942. He was “embedded” with the troops before that was a thing. Mr. Tregaskis spent seven weeks dodging enemy snipers and sharpshooters, eating military rations, sleeping in tents, and chronicling in his diary the island’s takeover by American forces. Guadalcanal Diary is a classic in World War II nonfiction and just the book for challenging your World War II-obsessed child to read over the summer.

Light Action! Amazing Experiments With Optics by Vicki and Josh Cobb. Maybe your middle grade nonfiction reader is more interested in science than in war and revolution. Light Action will give the reader lots of ideas for summer science fun. The young scientist can learn about and experiment with blocking light, bending light, bouncing light, prisms and color, making light waves, polarized light and light waves. These experiments might keep a middle schooler busy for a good part of the summer, using only a few simple materials and pieces of equipment: aluminum foil, paper, glass jars and bowls, a magnifying glass, a light source, sunshine, etc.

Experimenting With Time by Robert Gardner. Or if experiments in light and optics are not your thing, then maybe time and time-keeping devices would be of interest. Investigate body temperature, heart rate, breathing rate and how they relate to time and time measurement. Build an analemma, a water clock, or a sundial. Measure velocity or reaction time. Some of these experiments and demonstrations are a little complicated and require more specialized equipment, but for kids who are interested in the way time works, this book is a treasure trove.

Steven Caney’s Kids’ America. Maybe you just need an all-purpose, stave off boredom, project and information book full of activities, tales, legends, and adventures—enough for the entire summer and more. Tap dancing, magic weather forecasting, panning for gold, hobo sign language, genealogy, frog jumping, jug bands, gardening, whittling, game night and as I said, more. I love exploring this book. It’s sort of like Pinterest, but much more manageable, written for kids, and computer-free.