What I Read // August

August was a really great reading month for me. I'm hooked on middle-grade novels during the summer months, because they feel like a vacation. To read one is to be taken away on a grand adventure and, if it is well chosen, to be edified with beautiful, bright language. So often adult books are filled with muck; I think stories written for children are stories at their finest.*

 Here's what I read last month:

Sarah, Plain and Tall, by Patricia MacLachlan

I loved this book as a little girl, but I didn't remember why until I found a nice copy at the thrift store and came home to read it one evening. At only 58 pages, this book is delightful, heartwarming, and gentle. Think of it as a bite-sized Little House on the Prairie. Two children live on the prairie in the 1800s and are quite without a mother. Their father puts an ad in the paper for a wife (ha!) and a correspondence begins with Sarah, a strong and forthright woman from Maine. She decides to come visit the family for a month to "see how it is." What follows is a sweet story about sharing ourselves with others, moving forward after loss, and finding hope in change.

Percy Jackson, by Rick Riordan

A dear friend loaned me her complete set of Percy Jackson books, because she was shocked I had never read them. I read the first book in the series last month and really liked it! Think Harry Potter meets Chronicles of Narnia meets Greek mythology. This is one of those books where you can tell the author really knows both his characters and his audience. People who have or are close to someone with ADHD will feel understood by Percy and realize that instead of having some sort of deficit, maybe they're really just demigods! Fast paced and action packed, this was a fun read that had me both quickly turning pages and pausing to write out notes about the Greek gods and goddesses. Saying much about the plot will give too much away; this is a fun book to jump into without knowing much first.

The Penderwicks, by Jeanne Birdsall

Just a few pages in, this book quickly became one of my all-time favorites. It's a great summertime book and is absolutely delightful. I plan to slowly savor my way through the rest of the series. This first book follows a family of four girls, a father, and a dog who wind up spending their summer vacation on the expansive grounds of a mysterious mansion (I know, right?). This book reminded me of a modern Secret Garden or Pollyanna where there are endless nooks and crannies to explore, pranks and escapes to plan, and relationships and rivalries to navigate. Wonderful from beginning to end.

Made by Hand, by Lena Corwin

I usually read at least one practical book from the library each month. Usually the book is related to food, but when my girls went back to school, I found myself dying to create with my hands. I have a long list of things I want to make and do, but I need to start at square one with most of them. I have been drawn to useful, hands-on projects for years and I finally have the brain space to buckle down and learn how to do them. This book's subtitle sums it up well: It's a collection of projects to print, sew, weave, dye, knit, or otherwise create. I found it by accident, because I love the duo who photographed it, Maria Alexandra Vettese and Stephanie Congdon Barnes from the 3191 project. Turns out, this was a great book to help start my hands-on journey. I feel like I could jump into any of the projects as a beginner and come out with something useful and beautiful. Also worth noting that I so prefer a tangible book in my hands to youtube videos when learning something new. This book is the ticket!

*Other great middle-grade books I enjoyed this summer:

As Brave As You, by Jason Reynolds

Front Desk, by Kelly Yang

Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson

The Boys Start the War, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

White Bird: A Wonder Story, by RJ Palacio

The Year of Miss Agnes, by Kirkpatrick Hill


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