Happy Summer, Calhoun! Congratulations on surviving and thriving during this wild year. This will be my last batch of Sora ebook highlights, so I’m sending you into the break with way more suggestions than ever before!
A few extra ebook copies of the summer reading books for the rising 8th, 9th, and 11th grades will be available on Sora all summer, just in case anybody needs a backup. The summer reading books are: When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller (8th), The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo (9th), and Ragged Dick; Or, Street Life in New York with the Boot-Blacks by Horatio Alger (11th).
Sora Sweet Reads
Make sure to check out the Sora Sweet Reads collection, available to the Calhoun community from May 5 to August 20. From Spongebob to Marvel heroes, Star Wars to Carmen Sandiego, fiction to nonfiction, early readers to brand new YA – there’s a little bit of something for everybody!
Suggested Reading on Sora
Picture Book Fiction:
Drawn Together by Minh Lê and Dan Santat
A grandson and grandfather struggle to communicate across a generational language barrier – until they discover a shared love of art and storytelling they harness to communicate without words.
Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
An award-winning celebration of self-expression and Coney Island’s infamous Mermaid Parade! The real life parade is taking place a little later than usual this year (September 12), but you can step into Julián’s own vibrant dreams of becoming a mermaid while you wait.
Megabat by Anna Humphrey
At first Daniel Misumi thinks his new house is haunted by a ghost, but it turns out there’s simply a talking fruit bat in his bedroom. At first Megabat thinks Daniel is going to swat him with a broom like the other humans he’s met, but actually Daniel introduces him to the joys of jelly rolls and Star Wars. But is it safe for Megabat to be so far from home? And how long can Daniel keep his new friend a secret with a nosy neighbor poking around?
Peter Lee’s Notes from the Field by Angela Ahn
Told through field notes from the end of 5th grade to the start of 6th, eleven-year-old Peter Lee puts his paleontology dreams on hold – and even recruits his annoying younger sister, L.B. – to deduce what’s ailing his grandmother and how he can help her get better.
How to (Almost) Ruin Your Summer by Taryn Souders
Can Chloe McCorkle’s summer money-making schemes survive vocation camp, endless spiders, a queen-bee cabin mate, and a rampaging goat named King Arthur? Or is she doomed to ride a little kid’s bike to the first day of 6th grade? Find out in this quick and lighthearted summer read!
Middle Grade Fiction:
Gloom Town by Ronald L. Smith
Rory’s whole seaside town is gloomy, sure, but his new employer Lord Foxglove is downright dismal. Which makes sense, Rory quickly discovers, because Lord Foxglove is secretly a dark inhuman entity with dire plans for the world.
Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron
Fans of Percy Jackson and Aru Shah will love this highly-anticipated fantasy about a comics-loving girl who must rescue her father from a supernatural foe while an ancient war between West African Orisha and the powers of darkness descends upon her Chicago neighborhood.
The First Rule of Punk by Celia C. Pérez
7th grader Malú tries her best to take on the changes in her life with a punk-rock attitude – even if her academic mother wishes she was a little more “proper señorita” than “riot grrrl” and her artsy father is all the way back in Florida.
The Mysterious Disappearance of Aidan S. (as told to his brother) by David Levithan
Aidan disappears for six days, then reappears telling an impossible, Narnia-like story. How can his younger brother Lucas believe him when everyone around him insists Aidan’s making it all up? Is it possible for him to find out if Aidan really went on an other-worldly adventure?
Young Adult Fiction:
Out Now: Queer We Go Again, edited by Sandra Mitchell
The follow-up to the successful short-story anthology All Out: The No-Longer-Secret Stories of Queer Teens Throughout the Ages (which Calhoun actually doesn’t have on Sora… yet!). As an anthology, there’s a range of authors and concepts to try (Vampires crashing prom! Searching for selkies! A skateboarder trying to impress a mysterious crush! Aliens!!), so while every story may not appeal to a single reader, every reader can certainly find something they enjoy.
Star Wars: Ahsoka by E. K. Johnston
If you’ve watched Star Wars: The Clone Wars and/or Star Wars Rebels, you might be wondering what happened to Ahsoka Tano between Order 66 and the Rebel Alliance (or maybe you saw her in The Mandalorian and think she’s really cool, which is correct). This official tie-in novel reveals how Anakin Skywalker’s former Padawan evaded the Empire and was pulled once again into the fight between Light and Dark. A heads-up: readers who aren’t already familiar with Ahsoka’s narrative in the animated shows may feel lost, as Johnston doesn’t spend a lot of time on background and exposition before diving in.
These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
This much-anticipated debut takes the story of Romeo & Juliet to 1920s Shanghai, where a bloody gang war rages amid bitter rivalries, deadly contagions, and dark rumors of something monstrous lurking in the river. And before you assume you know how this book will end, you should know that there’s a sequel coming out later this year. Available as both an ebook and an audiobook.
The Black Flamingo by Dean Atta
As a Greek-Cypriot and Jamacian kid from London, Michael Angeli has always felt like an outsider in his own life. When he joins the Drag Society at his university, he finds a place where he can be all of himself – and the Black Flamingo is born. Written in verse.
Graphic Novels & Comics:
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur by Amy M. Reeder and Brandon Montclare
Lunella Lafayette is a 4th-grade supergenius who’s frustrated with the adults in her life, bored by her school, and terrified of the alien genes she carries. But her attempt to protect herself from mutation ends up dropping a big red dinosaur and some territorial hominids into New York City instead. That’s fine, right? (This is my go-to Marvel recommendation for everybody, because unlike a lot of other series, it’s easy to get into without being an expert in Marvel comics.)
Beetle & the Hollowbones by Aliza Layne
Twelve-year-old Beetle learns goblin magic at home, but she would rather skip her grandmother’s lessons to daydream of sorcery and hang out with her friend Blob Ghost, who haunts the ‘Allows Town mall. But when Beetle’s old (talented, super cool, undead) friend Kat moves back to town and Kat’s aunt announces a plan to tear down the mall, Beetle must find a way to free Blob Ghost from their haunting… and try to save Kat from a wicked scheme. Beautiful, hilarious, and action-packed!
Whoosh! Lonnie Johnson’s Super-Soaking Stream of Inventions by Chris Barton and Don Tate
What’s summer without a water fight? If you’ve used a Super-Soaker to drench your friends, you have inventor Lonnie Johnson to thank. But when he created it, he was actually working on a design for space rockets!
The Boys in the Boat: The True Story of an American Team’s Epic Journey to Win Gold in the 1936 Olympics by Daniel James Brown
In the 1930s, competitive rowers usually came from wealthy families and honed their skills at elite schools. Then the University of Washington produced a team who were the sons of loggers, shipyard workers, and farmers.
This Book Is Gay by Juno Dawson
Running with the long-standing joke that one should get “an instruction manual” upon coming out, Juno Dawson’s iconic book is just that: a frank, friendly, conversational, factual, and joyfully irreverent tell-all guide to gender and sexuality. Though this original edition from 2015 has some hiccups – there’s a few conflicting statements about gender that snuck in, and it was published before Dawson had publicly begun her transition – it’s nevertheless a helpful resource for anybody who’s curious about the subjects, regardless of their identity. Sora does not yet have an ebook version of the recently updated edition of This Book Is Gay, nor a copy of Dawson’s brand new companion book What’s the T? The No-Nonsense Guide to All Things Trans and/or Non-Binary for Teens… Stay tuned!
Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities by Amy Stewart
Personally, I’m not very good at plants. The fact that I’ve managed to keep two spider plants alive for 10 years is a shock to everybody involved, including the spider plants. I’m saying this to assure you that you don’t need to have a green thumb to enjoy Amy Stewart’s guide to dangerous, deadly, and/or illegal plants, which weaves historical anecdotes into short informative entries on various poisons, irritants, and hallucinogens. Summer break means more chances to spend time outside, so why not read up on the natural ne’er-do-wells you may encounter?
How Lovely the Ruins: Inspirational Poems and Words for Difficult Times, edited by Annie Chagnot and Emi Ikkanda
As Elizabeth Alexander says in the opening lines of her introduction: “Human beings have never lived without song, across time and tribe. So poetry has always been necessary, and people have always made it, shared it, and in some way lived by it.” 2017 saw an explosion of poetry and inspirational quotes – published, posted, written, shared with friends – and so this collection of poetry and short prose came to be, collecting works from around the world and throughout time.