Summer is here, school is out and the kids are home. Outdoor activities, summer camps, fun with friends…endless possibilities to enjoy and have fun. However, going from “busy doing homeworks” to “having a lot of free time on hands” could be a challenge, especially if you are the parents! How do you keep your kids entertained, and most of all how do you keep them interested into reading?
Many researches show that children who don’t read during the summer can easily lose up to three months of reading progress and that loss has a cumulative, long-term effect. And we don’t want that, right?
So, how can you help your kids keeping the good habit of reading over summer? Create their interest in reading, suggest good stories to inspire great adventures and new activities that will encourage them to learn, read and have fun in the summer sun.
The children’s books publishing industry works fervently, thousands of new titles being published each year, and a quick stop at the library or your favorite local bookstore will give you an idea of how many new books exist .
One of my favorite publishers is Sky Pony Press. A few months ago I got a delightful surprise in the mail: “Cheesus Was Here” by J.C. Davis and “Call Me Sunflower” by Miriam Spitzer Franklin, new titles from Sky Pony Press spring catalog. Being able to collaborate with authors and publishers is an amazing opportunity, and it’s even more exciting when it’s someone you truly appreciate.
Sky Pony Press -the children’s book imprint of Skyhorse Publishing– is proud to publish books for young readers with specific talents and needs, in a broad range of subject matter to celebrate their diverse interests. Their list includes fiction, picture books, educational books, novelty books, midgrade, as well as some well-loved classics: books for children who love to play Minecraft; stories told with LEGO bricks; books that teach lessons about tolerance, patience, love, family dynamics, and the environment.
Committed to books on subjects that are sometimes overlooked, Sky Pony Press never fails to deliver exceptionally good stories. Here you can find a small selection of my favorites, new and upcoming books from Sky Pony Press. I am sure you’ll find the perfect book for you and your kids!
I love picture books and -I’m not gonna lie- I am going to keep buy them even as I grow old. Children’s books have it all: splendid illustrations to spark your imagination, beautiful stories and timeless characters that will forever hold a special place in your heart. Just like Hattie Peck: the Journey Home, written and illustrated by Emma Levey. The follow-up to Hattie Peck, published in 2016, is the funny story of Hattie, who adores eggs of all kinds, but she cannot make any of her own, so she collects them from all over the world, hatched them, and raised her blended family of cockatoos, storks, owls, anything from an egg—even reptiles. A poignant story about a family and differences, making hard decisions, letting go and inclusion. It’s not all sad, though, due to a nice twist ending as in the first book.
Touch the Earth, by Julian Lennon and Bart Davis is an original, interacting and inspiring story about how children can chance the world and make it a better place. Recording artist, environmental activist and son of Beatles icon John Lennon, Julian is devoted to philantropic endeavours, most notably the White Feather Foundation for the conservation of life.
Eustace & Clyde, written and illustrated by Marina Aizen is a beautiful and loving story about two koalas building a home and family for themselves.
I love Sharks, too!, by Leanne Shirtliffe, illustrated by Lorenzo Montatore is the perfect book for shark fans of all ages who want to take a bite out of this funny and informative story!
Open in Case of Emergency, by Richard Fairgray and Jim Kraft. From the creators of Gorilla in Our Midst and My Grandpa Is a Dinosaur, another splendid story about a mysterious box and incredible adventures.
My Robot Ate My Homework, by Nancy Krulik and Amanda Burwasser, illustrated by Mike Moran. Logan Applebaum has the perfect solution for all that pesky homework -have java do it for him. With a robot cousin, Logan’s guaranteed straight As. But when Mrs. Perriwinkle announces that the class will have a geography bee, Logan realizes that if he doesn’t want to be exposed as a cheater, he’ll have to hit the books and fill his own hard drive with facts.
Harper and the Scarlet Umbrella, by Cerrie Burnell, illustrated by Laura Ellen Anderson. A spellbinding tale of friendship, music and magic featuring a diverse cast, brought to life through stunning illustrations. A perfect book to be shared and treasured.
Lucy’s Lab #1, by Michelle Houts, illustrated by Elizabeth Zechel. Introducing Lucy Marie Watkins and a new STEM- based chapter book series that’s all about discovering the wonders of the world around us! On Lucy’s first day of second grade, she’s excited to meet her new teacher, Miss Flippo, and find out everything’s she’s going to learn about this year in school. And when Miss Flippo tells the class that they’re going to have their very own science lab, complete with lab coats and goggles, Lucy can’t wait to start exploring.
Monstrous Maud, by A. B. Saddlewick. When Maud’s pet rat, Quentin, escapes in the middle of science class, it’s the very last straw. While Primrose Towers is full of decorous young ladies, Maud is ungraceful and prefers her pet rat to all other company. She never quite fit in with the rest of the students and has been a nuisance one too many times. Maud is transferred from prim and proper Primrose Towers to dark and mysterious Rotwood Middle School—much to the delight of her teacher, classmates, and her perfect twin, Milly—but what is in store for Maud at Rotwood? Monstrous Maud: Big Fright is a great alternative to princess books for middle grade readers. It is full of silliness and monster fun—along with likeable characters and a great twist at the end.
Henry Hunter and the Cursed Pirate, by John Matthews. Adolphus “Dolf” Pringle lived a relatively normal life before he met Henry Hunter, but being the best friend of a twelve-year-old millionaire genius makes life interesting. Henry has a penchant for paranormal mysteries, and he never fails to drag his trusty sidekick “Dolf” into adventures to track down the truth in these mystical legends. Henry and Dolf are back for another ghostly adventure!
Call Me Sunflower, by Miriam Spitzer Franklin. Sunny Beringer hates her first name—her real first name—Sunflower. And she hates that her mom has suddenly left behind her dad, Scott, and uprooted their family miles away from New Jersey to North Carolina just so she can pursue some fancy degree. So she creates “Sunny Beringer’s Totally Awesome Plan for Romance”—a list of sure re ways to make her mom and Scott fall madly in love again. But while working on a photo album guaranteed to make Mom change her mind, Sunny discovers a photo that changes everything. Sunny’s family have been keeping an enormous secret from her. She’ll have to reconcile her family’s past and present, or she’ll lose everything about their future.
Canned and Crushed, by Bibi Belford. When Sandro Zapote finds out his little sister needs heart surgery, he is determined to help his parents raise the money so she can get treatment. Sandro’s dad is in the States illegally and must work two jobs to support the family. One of those jobs gives Sandro a brilliant idea: can collecting. Save the environment. Save his sister. Maybe even save some money for the faboulos, fast new bike he’s been coveting. Well-meaning and with a funny inner monologue, Sandro is the kind of person you can’t help but cheer for.
Back on The Map, by Lisa Ann Scott. With their mother long dead and their father unknown, eleven-year-old Penny Porter and her twin brother Parker have been bouncing around foster homes for as long as they can remember. Inspired by the historical gures in her favorite book and her light brown skin, Penny likes to imagine who she could be related to. Sacagawea? Her genes would be good ones to have. Or maybe Ghandi, or Harriet Tubman. There are endless possibilities! But while Penny embraces the question marks in her family tree, she and Porter are both ready for a real home: living with their aging, ornery Grauntie. It isn’t easy, but it’s better than other places they’ve been, and they don’t want to get moved again—or worse, split up. Penny knows in her bones the key to keeping them there is getting their town of New Hope, North Carolina, back on the state map. And what better way to do that than to spruce up and sell New Hope’s Finest—an old orphanage that was supposed to reopen years ago as the best attraction ever, but never did. Penny’s got the creativity and the gumption to do it. And maybe knowing who you are doesn’t matter so much as knowing what you can do. But will that be enough to nally keep her and Parker in one place for good?
The Gravedigger’s Son, by Patrick Moody, illustrated by Graham Carter. Ian Fossor is last in a long line of Gravediggers. It’s his family’s job to bury the dead and then, when Called by the dearly departed, to help settle the worries that linger beyond the grave so spirits can find peace in the Beyond. But Ian doesn’t want to help the dead—he wants to be a Healer and help the living. Such a wish is, of course, selfish and impossible. Fossors are Gravediggers. Just as Ian’s friend, Fiona, convinces him to talk to his father, they’re lured into the woods by a risen corpse that doesn’t want to play by the rules. There, the two are captured by a coven of Weavers, dark magic witches who want only two things: to escape the murky woods where they’ve been banished and to raise the dead and shift the balance of power back to themselves. Equal parts spooky and melancholy, funny and heartfelt, The Gravedigger’s Son is a gorgeous debut that will long sit beside Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book and Jonathan Auxier’s The Night Gardener.
The Lost Marble Notebook of Forgotten Girl and Random Boy, by Marie Jaskulka. Forgotten Girl, a fifteen-year-old poet, is going through the most difficult time of her life -the breakup of her parents, and the paralyzing depression of her mom- when she meets Random Boy, a hot guy who, like her, feels like an outcast and secretly writes poetry to deal. In The Lost Marble Notebook of Forgotten Girl & Random Boy, their poems come together to tell their unique love story.
Cheesus Was Here, by J. C. Davis. Sixteen-year-old Delaney Delgado knows miracles aren’t real—if they were, her kid sister wouldn’t be dead. So when the image of baby Jesus appears on a Babybel cheese wheel, she’s not buying the idea that God’s got a dairy obsession. Soon, religious signs begin turning up all over Del’s tiny hometown, Clemency, Texas. A page turner, this novel will appeal to fans of contemporary young adult novels that explore deep themes with an element of humor.
The Next Together, by Lauren James. Katherine and Matthew are destined to be born again and again, century after century. Each time they are total strangers thrust together under unusual circumstances. Each time their presence changes history for the better. And each time they fall hopelessly in love, only to be tragically separated.
Honey Girl, by Lisa Freeman. They call the heart attack that killed fifteen-year-old Nani’s surfer father “the widow-maker”; when it struck, it killed him instantly. Almost as quickly, it turned Nani’s mother from the half-owner of Honolulu’s most famous bar to a hopeless alcoholic seeking a fresh start in California, and Nani into a fish out of water on Santa Monica’s State Beack. It’s 1972, and as the new girl on one of the country’s most famous beaches, Nani’s only hope for acceptance—and survival—is following “The Rules,” an unspoken list of dos and don’ts that made her queen of the beach in Hawaii. After a series of harrowing initiations, she manages to get in with the locals, even gaining the attention of surf god Nigel McBride.
Cold Summer, by Gwen Cole. Kale Jackson has spent years trying to control his time-traveling ability but hasn’t had much luck. One day he lives in 1945, ghting in the war as a sharpshooter and helplessly watching soldiers— friends—die. Then the next day, he’s back in the present, where WWII has bled into his modern life. When the ex-girl-next-door, Harper, moves back to town, thoughts of what could be if only he had a normal life begin to haunt him. Harper reminds him of the person he was before the war. But then Harper finds Kale’s name in a historical article—and he’s listed as a casualty of the war. Is Kale’s death inevitable? Does this mean that, one of these days, when Kale travels to the past, he may not come back?
Riptide Summer, by Lisa Freeman. It’s 1973, and Nani is rmly established as one of the top girls in the State Beach lineup. She’s looking forward to a long, relaxing summer of days spent in the sun with her surfer boyfriend, and to secret nights with Rox, the lineup’s queen supreme. But when surf god Nigel breaks her heart, and Rox reveals a secret that tears their friendship—and the lineup—apart, Nani is left to pick up the pieces. If she can’t recruit new Honey Girls to the lineup, the friends will lose their reputation as the beach’s top babes. In this long-awaited sequel to Honey Girl, the lineup is on the verge of collapse, and Nani must learn to live outside the rules that once made her queen of the beach.
My Fairy Godmother is a Drag Queen, by David Clawson. Christopher Bellows is just trying to get through high school and survive being the only stepchild in the social-climbing Fontaine family, whose recently diminished fortune hasn’t dimmed their desire to mingle with Upper East Side society. Chris sometimes feels more like the housekeeper than a part of his stepfamily. But when Chris’s stepsister Kimberly begins dating golden boy J. J. Kennerly, heir to a political dynasty, everything changes. Because Chris and J. J. fall in love—with each other. My Fairy Godmother Is a Drag Queen is a Cinderella retelling for the modern reader. The novel expertly balances issues such as sexuality, family and nancial troubles, and self-discovery with more lighthearted moments and humor. Readers will nd themselves laughing and crying along with Chris on his journey.
The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die, by Randal Platt. Would you kill to save a life? Betray to save your own life? Forgive yourself for saving strangers when you could not save the ones you love? The Girl Who Wouldn’t Die is a story of heroism and cowardice, insignificant and monumental acts, standing out and standing up, and turning to look the other way. It is a story of sparing lives, taking lives, and forgiving others and ourselves for making these choices. It’s also the story of not forgiving. It is neither black nor white, for who isn’t both at times?
A Million Times Goodnight, by Kristina McBride. On the night of the big spring break party, seventeen- year-old Hadley “borrows” her boyfriend Ben’s car without telling him. As payback, he posts a naked picture of her online for the entire senior class to see. Now she has a choice. She can go back to the party and force Ben to delete the picture. Or she can raise the stakes and take his beloved car on a road trip as far away from their hometown of Oak Grove, Ohio, as she can get. As the events of a wild night race toward an explosive conclusion, old feelings are rekindled, friendships are tested, and secrets are uncovered that are so much worse than a scandalous photo.
Back to what I got in the mail by Sky Pony Press.
The first book, Cheesus Was Here by J.C. Davis got me at the title! When the image of baby Jesus appears on a Babybel cheese wheel, Deelaney Delgado doesn’t buy the idea that God’s got a dairy obsession. Soon, religious signs begin turning up all over Del’s tiny hometown, Clemency, Texas. Overnight, news vans fill the streets and religious pilgrims start searching for God in the discount aisle of the grocery store.
Hell-bent on proving these so-called miracles are fake, Del convinces her best friend, Gabe, to help her nd the truth. While Gabe’s willing to play detective, as a preacher’s son he’s more interested in finding evidence that supports the miracles. But when the whole town becomes caught up in religious fervor and even the late-night talk show hosts have stopped laughing and started to believe, finding the truth might cause more trouble than Del can handle.
Cheesus Was Here is brilliant, funny and extremely well written. Fresh language, strong and loving characters and the author’s ability to explore a peculiar theme with an element of humor make this book a really enjoyable to read.
Call Me Sunflower is the story of Sunny Beringer, a girl who deeply hates her first name—her real first name—Sunflower. And she hates that her mom has suddenly left behind her dad, Scott, and uprooted their family miles away from New Jersey to North Carolina just so she can pursue some fancy degree.
So she creates “Sunny Beringer’s Totally Awesome Plan for Romance”—a list of sure re ways to make her mom and Scott fall madly in love again, including:
- Send Mom owers from a “Secret Admirer” to make Scott jealous and make him regret letting them move so far away.
- Make a playlist of Scott’s favorite love songs—the mushier the better—and make sure it’s always play- ing in the car.
- Ask them about the good old days when they first fell in love.
But while working on a photo album guaranteed to make Mom change her mind, Sunny discovers a photo that changes everything. Sunny’s family have been keeping an enormous secret from her. She’ll have to reconcile her family’s past and present, or she’ll lose everything about their future.
Call Me Sunflower is splendid, Miriam Spitzer Franklin delivers another “must read”. Like Extraordinary, Call Me Sunflower is a perfect mix of entertainment and deep thinking about love, family and growing up.
There are lots of excellent books waiting for you -and your kids- at Sky Pony Press: fantastic adventures and beautiful stories to keep you company during the summer season.
* This is a sponsored post. Books “Cheesus Was Here” by J.C. Davis and “Call Me Sunflower” by Miriam Spitzer Franklin were sent me for free by Sky Pony Press in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed are my own. I recommend Sky Pony Press and books from their catalog because of their core values and mission to provide unique and good quality stories.
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