By Dave Eggers. Ages 8 to 12.
Hope is what inspires Granite Flowerpetal’s family to move a thousand miles from their home on the Atlantic coast.
Granite’s dad, a mechanic, is getting fewer and fewer jobs. His mom once worked as an artist, but she stopped after an accident left her unable to walk. Money is tight. So a promise of steady work for his dad leads them to Carousel, where the 12-year-old’s great-great grandparents once lived.
But Carousel isn’t a hopeful place. Its main business, a carousel factory, shut down years earlier. People left town. Those who stayed bicker over how to spend the little money the town has. They don’t fix their sagging houses or their old cars. It turns out they don’t have much need for a new mechanic.
The atmosphere at the middle school isn’t any better. At first, Granite – who shortens his name to Gran – fears he will stick out as the new kid. He doesn’t want to be bullied. He soon realizes that the other students aren’t going to bother him. In fact, they don’t seem to notice him at all.
Gran wonders if the entire experience isn’t real. Maybe he isn’t real. So he walks into a brick wall to test the theory. His very real collision results in a bloody face but also a conversation with classmate Catalina Catalan.
Catalina isn’t exactly friendly. (She had written him a note saying his nickname was dumb.) But she does notice him and even talks to him, a little. There’s also something mysterious about her. She has a habit of disappearing into thin air.
Figuring out what Catalina is up to becomes Gran’s mission.
He follows her late one night and watches her step through a hidden door in a hillside. Gran spies a tunnel and a lighted room. She tells him to forget what he has seen, but Gran can’t. Instead, he offers to help with whatever she’s doing.
Catalina doesn’t want a partner. Her work is supposed to be secret. But it’s also becoming more urgent. She’s battling an underground force that threatens to sink Carousel. And it’s winning.
Can two oddball kids prop up the town? The effort will take strength, speed and a desire to lift not only the town’s sagging buildings but also its dejected spirit.
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The huge hole Chance Jeopard is digging in the backyard leads to his discovery of a secret underground hospital in “Saint Philomene’s Infirmary for Magical Creatures” by W. Stone Cotter. Chance finds out about a plot to destroy the hospital, but its residents don’t like humans. So getting involved lands Chance, his sister and her best friend in a heap of trouble.
By Aisha Saeed. Age 10 and older.
Amal has dreams, as any young girl does. But her hopes of becoming a teacher are shattered when she runs into trouble with a ruling member of her Pakistani village. To pay her family’s debt, she must work as a servant. In that role, she uncovers truths about the ruling family. Through her love of poetry and reading, Amal goes on a mission of resistance to seek justice and realize her dream.
JOIN THE CLUB
The Summer Book Club is open to kids ages 5 to 14. Children may read some or all of the books on our list. (Find a blurb for each book wapo.st/kidspostbookclublaunch.) The first 650 kids registered will receive a drawstring book bag. To join the club, children must be registered by a parent or guardian. To register, that adult must fill out our form at wapo.st/kidspostbookclub2018 or send the child’s first and last names, age and address to KidsPost Summer Book Club, The Washington Post, 1301 K St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.
Bonus: Two book club members will win four reserved seats to their preferred author talk at the National Book Festival on Sept. 1 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, 801 Mount Vernon Place NW, Washington, D.C. Winners will be chosen at random on Aug. 10.