Summer Fun with #ELKReads

by HCLS Elkridge Branch Staff

The past year (plus) has been hard for everyone. As we start to move toward something approaching our previous normal, many families are looking for special ways to enjoy the summer. The Elkridge staff has selected a wide range of titles for all ages to inspire and entertain, no matter your plans for the summer. Read fun stories together, learn about activities that you might try out, or plan a trip to take. If you’re not ready to travel for real, armchair traveling along with authors and photographers is the next best thing. Let the library help you make memories all summer long with these fun reads and many more! Join Summer Reading and check out our calendar to find classes and events for even more summer fun. 

Summer by Ailie Busby Our Celebración! by Susan Middleton Elya Cannonball by Sacha Cotter Where Is Baby's Beach Ball? by Karen Katz One Hot Summer Day by Nina Crews Where's Rodney? by Carmen Bogan

For Little Kids 

Cannonball by Sacha Cotter and illustrated by Josh Morgan 

How would you perform the most perfect cannonball into the pool? Would you wiggle your arms and do a little twirl? That is just what the main character of our story is trying to figure out. Join your little one this summer and learn about overcoming fears, being true to yourself, and nailing your perfect cannonball!

One Hot Summer Day by Nina Crews 

What can you do outside when it feels too hot to do anything? Can you shade yourself from the sun or chase your shadow? Explore all the fun things in this book you can do on a hot summer day or even during a sudden summer thunderstorm!

Our Celebración! By Susan Middleton Elya and illustrated by Ana Aranda 

This rhyming, bilingual story invites readers to join a small town’s summer celebration, which even a rain storm can’t diminish. The illustrations give a glimpse into the full range of festivities, including foods, parade floats, animals, and even a firework celebration to end the night. A glossary at the end helps readers learn new words found in the text.

The cover of The Nebula Secret by Trudi Trueit depicts a boy and girl jumping from a high cliff into blue water, with orange butterflies in the background. The cover of The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon depicts a boy in a backwards baseball cap and jean shorts diving into a pool over the heads of two friends who are seated by a small waterfall watching him. 
 The cover of Aquicorn Cove by Katie O'Neill shows a redheaded girl in blue shorts and a beige top riding a peach-colored "aquicorn," or aquatic unicorn, over the waves with mountains and clouds in the background.  The cover of Backyard Adventure: Get Messy, Get Wet, Build Cool Things, and Have Tons of Fun! 51 Free-Play Activities by Amanda Thomsen is a collage of photos showing children doing fun outdoor activities including science experiments, a tire swing, performing on an outdoor stage, banging on a wall of noise, and making exploding sidewalk chalk. 
 The cover of Ranger Rick Kids' Guide to Hiking: All You Need to Know About Having Fun While Hiking by Helen Olsson shows two hikers in silhouette with trekking poles and backpacks, one looking through a monocular and one pointing at the other, with mountains and pine trees in the background against a yellow-orange sky.  The cover of The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson depicts two children biking on the sidewalk of a small-town street, one wearing a backpack, with an antique store and other local businesses in the background.

For Big Kids 

Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill 

When Lana and her father return to their seaside hometown to help clean up after a terrible storm, she begins to remember how much she missed the sea, as well as her aunt. As Lana explores the beach, she discovers something wonderful: a colony of aquicorns. She rescues an injured aquicorn and cares for it with the help of her aunt, who seems to know far more about these incredible creatures than she’s letting on.

The Nebula Secret (Explorer Academy Series Book 1 of 5) by Trudi Trueit (also available as an eaudiobook on Libby/OverDrive)

If you loved the questing and mysteries of Harry Potter, the puzzles of The Mysterious Benedict Society, or the thrilling history of I Survived books, The Nebula Secret by Trudi Trueit will keep you on the edge of your seat. This book is the first in a fantastic adventure series by National Geographic that’s full of action, cutting-edge tech, and plenty of surprises. Join a diverse and relatable cast of tweens as they train to become elite explorers. Cool maps and real photos take this captivating story to the next level.

Ranger Rick Kids’ Guide to Hiking: All You Need to Know About Having Fun While Hiking by Helen Olsson 

Hiking is a fun summer activity for children to explore! This great book introduces hiking and hiking safety to children, including topics such as trail etiquette, staying safe, and what to wear. Check it out to prepare for family fun on trails in and around Howard County.

The cover of When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon shows a girl with a bright smile and an orange shirt drinking a cup of iced coffee through a plastic straw.  The cover of Camp So-and-So by Mary McCoy depicts a black raven on top of the sign for the camp, which is attached to a tree stump in a ghostly wood.  The cover for  Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen shows line drawings of various summer objects and activities such as lawn chairs, flashlights, guitars, microphones, cameras, and pizza, among many others.  Anna K: A Love Story by Jenny Lee shows the title character in a tan jacket and blue-lensed glasses, looking up into a bright blue sky.  The cover of Witch Hat Atelier by Kamome Shirahama depicts a girl in white robe, blue coat and pointed blue and white hat, gesturing with an arm out as if casting a spell.  The cover of A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy shows two women facing each other, one in a silver collar and brown robe with tattoos on her outstretched arm holding a dagger, the other also in a silver collar with a teal dress, holding a glowing orb.

For Teens 

Camp So-and-So by Mary McCoy (also available as an ebook on Libby/OverDrive)

Twenty-five campers who were invited to Camp So-and-So back in February arrive in the summer to discover that this is a wholly different kind of camp. Rather than arts and crafts, activities on the lake, or friendly games, the girls at Camp So-and-So have been divided into five cabins that each have to navigate unexpected and sometimes quite frightening challenges. Trapped in this remote camp with no adult supervision to be found, the campers are forced to find their own way in this creative, unusual story.

A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy (also available as an ebook on Libby/OverDrive)

In the land of Myre, Eva is princess born with a dark and terrible magick inside her, one that has not been seen for generations. Eva must learn to harness this power to defeat her sister, Isa, in a battle to the death to ascend to the throne.

Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen 

Readers will find plentiful inspiration in this volume with a wide range of activities for young people, keeping them entertained all summer long. Some old favorites are sprinkled among creative new adventures for kids and teens, with detailed instructions and safety guidelines as needed. Vibrant illustrations and extras such as timelines, trivia, and interviews, bring this book to a level beyond your traditional how-to.

The cover of Destinations of a Lifetime: 225 of the World's Most Amazing Places (National Geographic, author not listed) is a photograph of a wooden house set into the side of a tall cliff, with a blue cloudy sky and mountains in the background.  The cover of Great Hiking Trails of the World: 80 Trails, 75,000 Miles, 38 Countries, 6 Continents by Karen Berger is a photograph of Mt. Ngauruhoe,  along the Tongariro Crossing on North Island, New Zealand. The cover of Secret Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World's Best Hidden Travel Gems (also National Geographic, author not listed) is a photograph of rows of lavender plants in a sunny field. The cover of My Mamma Mia Summer by Annie Robertson depicts a straw beach bag with overhanging towel and sunglasses, flip flops, and a beach hat on the sand overlooking the Mediterranean.  The cover of The Jersey Shore Cookbook: Fresh Summer Flavors from the Boardwalk and Beyond by Deborah Smith shows a lifeguard stand and beachgoers by the shore with a roller coaster and ferris wheel on a pier in the background.  The cover of Motor Crush by Brenden Fletcher depicts the main character, Domino Swift, dressed in bikers' gear and perched on a motorcycle, looking back over her shoulder with a board with nails sticking out over her other shoulder.

For Adults

Destinations of a Lifetime: 225 of the World’s Most Amazing Places 

If you are planning an epic journey for this summer, next year, or sometime in the next ten years, you will want to check out this book on awesome places to visit. In fact, even if you are not planning to leave your zip code at all, the dramatic and colorful pictures captured in Destinations of a Lifetime will brighten your thoughts and your coffee table. The travel section at your local library is the perfect place to go to plan vacations, staycations, and to feed your imaginations.

Motor Crush by Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, and Babs Tarr

In the stylish, futuristic city of Nova Honda, Domino Swift is a champion motorcycle racer. By day, she competes in the World Grand Prix, earning fame and fortune, and by night, she races on the streets, pulling off dangerous maneuvers and making risky bets to score Crush, the illegal engine stimulant her body needs to survive.  Filled with hot locales and cool characters, this graphic novel has all the fast-paced action and fun of a favorite summer blockbuster.

My Mamma Mia Summer by Annie Robertson 

Pick up this charming summer read to join Laurel as she takes her recently deceased grandmother’s words to heart and jets off to Greece to follow her dreams. As she lives out her own version of her favorite movie, Mamma Mia!, Laurel finds herself feeling more at home than she expected on her vacation. With romance blooming, will Laurel decide that Skopelos is where she’s truly meant to be?

It’s summer: TIME – and we’re (mostly) open!

School’s out and the cicadas are gone – it’s time for summer fun! Howard County Library System is open for browsing and borrowing, using computers and printing, as well as attending Tails & Tales in person, outdoor classes for children. Our hours are Monday & Thursday, 10 am – 8 pm; Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday & Saturday, 10 am – 6 pm, and we are closed on Sundays. At this time, our study and meeting rooms are not available, but we are otherwise open for business.

A family stands in a local park with a map spread out along a low horizontal tree branch.

We can’t wait to see you again! When you visit your local branch make sure to pickup the brand new July/August issue of source. It’s summer and it’s time for… 

Authors. We are thrilled to host two bestselling authors this summer. Daniel Silva (Wed, July 21 at 7 pm) writes the long-running spy thriller series featuring Gabriel Allon, master art restorer and Israeli spy/assassin. His latest book, The Cellist, explores one of the preeminent threats facing the West today—the corrupting influence of dirty money wielded by Russia. Gail Tsukiyama (Thu, Aug 5 at 7 pm) offers brilliant historical fiction, often centered on lives of women. Her newest book, The Color of Air, examines the threat of volcanic eruption to a Hawaiian community. Register at hclibrary.org > classes & events.

Reading. It’s not too late to join Summer Reading. Anyone can participate, with challenges and prizes for all ages. Check out Jean’s favorite children’s books for summer, listed on page 8. And Relaxing. Which is better the book or the movie? Decide for yourself from the when you read books, then watch movies adapted from the story. How faithful was it? Or, simply borrow some fun family movies to enjoy together. 

Learning. Ready for in-person classes? Join us for outdoor experiences. Prefer to stay virtual? We have online classes and book discussion groups! Pick up one of our NEW literacy activity kits for children or STEM activity kits for teens. 

Adventures. Find tips for new hikers, trail suggestions, and how to make the most of day trips. Play is a form of learning and is especially important for children’s development.

Fresh food. Everything is green and growing! Produce is at its peak, and farmers markets are happening all over the county. Read about simple ways to eat healthy, along with a few recipes and cookbook recommendations (You can also request a bundle bag.). 

Preparing. Summer is always over too soon, but we’re here to help you get ready to go back to school. Kindergarten, Here We Come! is a favorite for parents and kids preparing for their first school milestone. For students entering sixth grade, Middle School Pep Talk features tips about what to expect. 

Being Brave. Share your stories about witnessing or experiencing bias, racism, or discrimination in Howard County – as well as your stories of hope. Your stories may be shared (anonymously) with community leaders, organizations, and groups. The more stories provided, the greater the impact. 

And: We invite everyone to vote (in the Out & About category) for HCLS as the best place in Howard County to visit with kids! VOTE HERE!

Author event with Kekla Magoon

Photo of author Kekla Magoon, who has a wide smile, rectangular glasses, and short hair with lots of curls. She's wearing a deep V-neck in a black and white print, pictured with a green yard behind her.

One of this year’s Battle of the Books titles is The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon. The author is visiting virtually on April 14 for a 30-minute live Q&A! You may type your questions in advance within registration or hold them for the event.

The Season of Styx Malone tells the funny, poignant story about one amazing summer in small-town Indiana, when Caleb and Bobby Gene make friends with the slightly older, way cooler Styx Malone. Let’s be clear: Styx Malone is definitely too cool for school! He knows things… like about elevator trading, where you can essentially make something out of nothing. These boys are going to make a bag of fireworks (obtained by temporarily trading their baby sister) into a green moped. All these brothers want is to see the big city of Indianapolis, but their (maybe overly) protective father wants them to stay close to home in Sutton. The desire for adventure wars against the need for safety throughout the family’s interactions.

The boys follow foster child Styx into one “interesting” choice after another, hoping to achieve their dream of having independent mobility via the green moped, affectionately nicknamed Grasshopper. When things take a turn for the worse, everyone has to reconsider what a happy ending will look like. As Caleb and Bobby Gene lobby for adopting Styx, it turns out that adults can sometimes make good things happen. It’s a delightful book full of good humor from the point of view of three bored friends longing for more from summer than watering holes and doing chores (Mom was not happy about the baby sister trading).

Kekla Magoon is the author of many novels and nonfiction books for young readers, including The Season of Styx MaloneThe Rock and the RiverHow It Went Down, and the Robyn Hoodlum Adventure series

She has received the Margaret A. Edwards Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the John Steptoe New Talent Award, three Coretta Scott King Honors, the Walter Award Honor, an NAACP Image Award, and been longlisted for the National Book Award. 

Kekla conducts school and library visits nationwide and serves on the Writers’ Council for the National Writing Project. She holds a B.A. from Northwestern University and an M.F.A. in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, where she now serves as faculty. Visit her online at keklamagoon.com.

Cover art has an illustration of a Black teenager in a slightly off-center ball cap, adjusting his mirrored sunglasses. In the glasses, you can see two other Black kids. The title of the book appear in script on the orange hat.

The book is also available as an ebook, on CD, and as an eAudiobook.

The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

The cover shows the title and author's name against a background of brightly colored, wavy stripes in blues, greens, yellows, purples, oranges, and reds.

By Jean B.

The summer camp directories are out, and though summer will still be COVID-impacted, these camp listings have me thinking about the freedom and fun of summers past. Do you have any cherished (or miserable?!) summer camp memories? Do you think of s’mores or lakes or mosquitoes? While there are all kinds of camps and camp memories, one universal camp experience, it seems, is the intensity of friendships that form in that time-bounded space. When kids are briefly brought together from various places and situations and thrown into the intimate, shared life of a camp routine, something special happens.  

That powerful camp-created bond lies at the core of Meg Wolitzer’s engrossing novel, The Interestings. Six teenagers become friends at Spirit of the Woods camp in the summer of 1974, and the relationships they form with one another shape the rest of their lives. Spirit of the Woods is an arts camp, a place designed to foster talent and passion. Julie Jacobsen isn’t sure she belongs in this place but is thrilled when the self-named clique “The Interestings” enfolds her into their circle of specialness.

As the six kids grow, age, and build their lives and careers, Jules continues to measure her life against those of her camp friends and to use their experiences as a guide to what makes a life successful. Their diverse talents – so glittering in their camp days – play out in many ways in adulthood, and though the bonds of friendship provide a lifeline through crises, they also drive wedges as Jules’ and her friends’ fortunes diverge.  Through Jules’ eyes, readers can consider the question: what would you do for a friend?  

This beautifully written story made me think about my own friendships and how they’ve evolved over time. It swept me into the juicy world of these characters’ lives and relationships but also gave me lots to chew on – it’s both ice cream and salad, a perfect summer feast!  If you’re looking for something fun and, well, interesting, check out Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings.

 Available in print and audio CD, or as an ebook and eaudio on Libby/OverDrive.

Jean B. is a Children’s Instructor and Research Specialist at the Central Branch and loves reading books for all ages when she isn’t enjoying the outdoors.