Star-Studded Summer Reads

As the summer season kicks into full swing, it's the perfect time for readers to unwind and enjoy some leisurely reading. Whether your young patrons are diving into stories at the beach or curling up with a book in their backyard, we've got just the titles to keep them engaged. In this blog, we've gathered a selection of highly acclaimed books for children and teens that have received stellar reviews in 2024. These carefully curated picks are sure to be a hit, making it easy for you to recommend the very best in summer reading. Happy recommending!

Five Stars


By K. Ancrum

"The sparse prose in this unconventional, must-read of a trauma-infused borderline thriller is packed with emotional breadth."
  — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Beautifully written...Psychologically acute, subtle, and sophisticated."
  — Booklist (starred review)

"Via lyrical language that winningly captures the magic and dreamlike aura of young love, Ancrum (Murder of Crows) expertly weaves together brief, propulsive chapters brimming with riveting action, powerful emotion, and deeply felt romance. In this intimate poetic reimagining of the Icarus myth, Ancrum crafts a subversive triumph that is a love letter both to healing from trauma and to the importance of connection and empathy."
  — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"Both romance and thriller fans will likely be gripped by this memorable love story, tinged with mythology, built around a mystery made up of bitter secrets between the two families."
Bulletin for the Center for Children's Books (starred review)
"In her extraordinary fifth novel, Icarus, K. Ancrum performs a confident high-wire act, balancing the weighty manifestations of connection, desire and contradiction."
BookPage (starred review)

Four Stars

Finding Things

By Kevin Henkes
Illustrated by Laura Donzek

“When a seemingly throwaway piece of text, like an object that is lost, sticks around long enough to turn into a story, that’s a picture book. When the illustrations elevate the words the way these do, that’s a masterpiece. A manual for constructing a contented life, this book makes children look deeper and behave with deliberation.”
  — School Library Journal (starred review)

“In a straightforward narrative that speaks directly to children, Henkes reflects on the treasures that are hidden in plain sight, just waiting for someone to see their potential. . . . This well-crafted picture book is simple, intriguing, and well attuned to its audience.”
  — Booklist (starred review)

“Serendipitously encountered objects present themselves as truly valuable in this compact, thoughtful story about paradise found.”
  — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“An ode to noticing the little things. . . . Found objects sometimes yield the simplest pleasures. Consider this book one such example.”
  — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Red Bird Danced

By Dawn Quigley

"Heartbreaking yet heartening. Even as the tweens confront personal challenges, they remain committed to bettering their surroundings in a moving narrative that highlights issues relating to the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women crisis while celebrating the healing power of art—including dance, folklore, music, and poetry—and the solace one can find in connecting with one’s heritage."
  — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A captivating, exquisitely penned story of hope and survival."
  — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"An impactful story about discovering how to declare yourself proudly and bring awareness to your community; this opens an important window into the modern-day life of Native American culture that has yet to be fully explored thoroughly in middle grade ­literature.
  — School Library Journal (starred review)

With this excellent choice for reluctant readers and fans of Anna Rose Johnson's The Star That Always Stays (2022), Quigley seems to have carefully and painstakingly placed every word on the page in such a way that, like the red bird, the entire novel spreads its wings and dances.
  — Booklist (starred review)

Into the Sunken City

By Dinesh Thiru

"This futuristic adventure features nonstop thrills and action and an unpredictable, compelling, twist-filled plot... A riveting fantasy adventure debut that pulls readers into the deep"
  — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"The cinematic story line, electric prose, and creative and lived-in worldbuilding make Thiru’s debut a thrilling adventure on the high seas, a striking portrayal of trauma and hope in dystopian times, and a thoroughly compelling read."
  — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"The fresh premise, immersive, waterlogged atmosphere, and cinematic action of this dystopian riff on Treasure Island combine for an unforgettable read perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows or Adrienne Young’s Fable. Worldbuilding is vivid and detailed, while leaving tantalizing questions on the table for an anticipated sequel... Addictively pulse-pounding deep-sea ­future fiction, this is highly recommended."
  — School Library Journal (starred review)

"Paints a harrowing but beautiful picture of a rain-soaked apocalyptic world... Charming characters and multilayered mysteries will keep readers hooked from beginning to end in this well-developed eco-thriller with a lot of heart."
  — BookPage (starred review)


By Traci Chee

"A heartrending, must-read fantasy about youth searching for home and learning to survive a world not designed for them."
  — School Library Journal (starred review)

"Both a mesmerizing fantasy adventure and a haunting meditation on shared trauma."
  — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"A thorough and gut-wrenching exploration of finding reasons to move forward after devastating loss and darkness and how community and connection can breed hope that will linger with readers long after the last page."
  — Booklist (starred review)

"Teeming with frank examinations of war, violence, PTSD, imperialism, colonialism, and all they entail, this somber fantasy will challenge readers mentally and emotionally."
  — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Poemhood: Our Black Revival

Edited by Amber McBride, Taylor Byos & Erica Martin

"This “patchwork quilt of poetry” is cohesive and curated with care, and it belongs in every library and classroom across the country. A rich, thoughtful anthology exploring centuries of Black poetry."
  — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"This deep and complex assemblage of Black poetry culminates in a joyful, painful, and emotionally rich experience."
  — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"An eclectic mix of Black experiences fills this unmatched anthology that features both modern poets, such as Nikki Giovanni and Ibi Zoboi, and 'the brilliant Black poets who are now ancestors'... A fresh canon for poetry studies."
  — Booklist (starred review)

"What makes Poemhood such a triumphant and necessary work is its uncompromising commitment to the celebration of Black life, in spite of pain. By shuffling classic and contemporary poets together, the editors show how this tension plays out across decades and centuries, but magic, restoration and joy always prevail."
— BookPage (starred review)

Shut Up, This is Serious

By Carolina Ixta

"Despite the book’s exploration of painful subjects, Belén’s strong, tell-it-like-it-is voice and wry humor don’t court readers’ pity. The novel treats issues of misogyny, domestic violence, and racism as realities to be dealt with, not character-defining moments of transformation, and the story’s tension is rooted in the question of whether Belén and Leti will break free from cycles of generational trauma and forge their own futures. This addictively readable novel is a loving portrait of growing up Mexican American and female in Oakland. A stunning debut from a powerful new voice."
  — Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"[A] stirring novel about dysfunctional family dynamics, intergenerational trauma, and toxic parenting. Itxa steadfastly approaches sensitive topics such as abuse, anxiety, depression, teen pregnancy, racism, and sex work via compassionately wrought prose. Belén and Leti’s affectionate friendship provides levity to the high-stress situations, and a charismatic supporting cast and sharp dialogue propel this unforgettable debut."
  — Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Ixta’s debut will leave many shedding tears over this emotionally captivating tale about a tough, first-generation Mexican American who does her best to navigate life."
  — Booklist, starred review

"This realistic novel lays bare the ways in which some of the most harmful damage a young girl can experience happens in the home. Readers will be inspired by Belén’s path to healing but not before it makes them ugly cry."
  — SLJ, starred review

Three Stars

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