The July/August theme of New Moon Girls magazine is “Can You Believe It?” and that’s the theme for this month’s book recommendations, too! The books below will take you to some pretty unbelievable places this summer — so whether your kids want to get lost in an imaginary world or explore everything amazing in this world we live in, check out these unbelievable books.
Also, this will be the last book recommendations column from me for a few months, since I’m expecting a baby in a week or so and will be taking some time off to adjust to the newest member of our family. I can hardly believe it!
Get ready to explore some pretty unbelievable places and ideas in this month’s roundup of eight fiction books!
Sunny Nwazue is a Nigerian albino, meaning she has West African features but white skin that keeps her from going out in the sun. She doesn’t seem to fit in anywhere … until she discovers that she has magical powers. Suddenly, she is part of a group of four magic students, learning to change reality and track down a magical career criminal in Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor. And if you like this one, make sure to check out the sequel, Akata Warrior, which will be published in November!
What would you wish for, if you knew your wishes could come true? In Castle in the Mist by Amy Ephron, Tess finds a secret carnival where rides are paid for in wishes and dreams come true. But this place comes with a mysterious warning, too: Beware of the Hawthorne tree. Soon, Tess finds herself caught between reality and fantasy, not sure which is which.
In Gertie Milk and the Keeper of Lost Things* by Simon Van Booy, 12-year-old Gertie doesn’t know how she arrived on the island of Skuldark … but once she is there, she is given a strange mission: to return lost objects to historical figures when they need them most. Her journey through time brings her face-to-face with Hollywood legends, Chinese philosophers, and the first woman to swim the English channel all while facing an enemy who wants to disrupt history itself.
Were you ever scared that you would be sucked down the drain when you were little? In Edgeland by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski, there is a gaping hole in the ocean known as “the Drain” that people say is the gateway to the afterlife. When Wren is framed for murdering a famous preacher, she and her friend Alec must escape the island where they live — so they hitchhike a ride on one of the boats carrying the dead to “the Drain.” But when things don’t turn out as planned, they find out what really lies within the Drain …
When 10-year-old Stella visits NASA, a lonely black hole follows her home in The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole* by Michelle Cuevas. Stella soon discovers that the black hole is a convenient place to get rid of things she doesn’t want around anymore — like painful reminders of her father’s death. But then it swallows her dog … and Stella decides the only thing she can do is enter the black hole herself to save her.
What do a boy who can talk to fish, twins captured aboard a slave ship headed for Jamaica in 1781, and a brother and sister trying to escape war-torn Vietnam have in common? In Crack in the Sea by H.M. Bouwman, their stories all collide when they are sucked into a portal to “the Second World” where they encounter pirates, sea monsters, and more in this unique book filled with beautiful black and white illustrations.
If you enjoy books about traveling to other worlds, you might want to also check out The Fearless Traveler’s Guide to Wicked Places by Pete Begler, where 12-year-old Nell must venture into the world of Nightmares to save her mother, who has been turned into a bird by witches. And while she’s there, she has to find a way to stop the witches from turning the whole world into a living nightmare.
Unbelievable Women’s Stories
History is filled with women who have done amazing things. The two books below are just a tiny taste of all the great stories about women achieving the unbelievable!
In Mary Bowser and the Civil War Spy Ring by Enigma Alberti & Tony Cliff, you can sink deep into the true story of Mary Bowser, an African American spy who worked as a maid in the mansion of Confederate president Jefferson Davis … AND you can solve a mystery of your own. Within Mary’s exciting story of memorizing secret documents and avoiding close calls, you can follow the clues in the text and the illustrations to discover what happened to Mary’s secret diary! The book even comes with spycraft materials to help you uncover the mystery.
Can you imagine making a 364-mile journey in the Arctic wilderness with nothing but a dog and a sled? Helen Thayer was the first woman to make such a trip in 1988, and along the way she encountered a bear, icy weather, and injuries. You can read about her journey in Helen Thayer’s Arctic Adventure: A Woman and a Dog Walk to the North Pole by Sally Isaacs. The full-page illustrations will make you feel like you are right there with Helen — but you won’t have to bundle up to take the journey!
Are you amazed by the world around you? In the science lab for kids series, you can get up close and personal with whatever science topic most fascinates you. For space, check out Astronomy Lab for Kids by Michelle Nichols. If you’d like to stay a little closer to earth, you might like Geology Lab for Kids by Garret Romaine. And if what gets you excited is the unseen science of electricity, you’ll want to crack open Energy Lab for Kids by Emily Hawbaker. Each book has about 50 experiments that you can do to crack the code of our unbelievable universe!
What about you? Which books have stretched your imagination and taken your mind to new places? Tell me about them in the comments below!
* Note that “Gertie Milk and the Keeper of Lost Things” will be published in October of 2017, and “The Care and Feeding of a Pet Black Hole” will be published in September 2017. Make sure to look for them then!