just right for July!

How’s the summer treating you?

Taking a mostly-break from my blog has definitely been revitalizing for me. For one thing, it’s freed me for a bit of gardening. I am entirely a novice gardener. So, small things feel monumental: tomatoes plumping up on brawny stalks; milkweed stretching tall with gorgeously-striped monarch caterpillars feasting and fattening before my eyes, and now jaunty orange monarchs fluttering among the flowers; my new compost pile turning coffee grounds and lemon rinds into earthy riches. All quite exhilarating!

During the hot, active months of summer when my four were young, I always looked forward to slowing down at the end of the evening, or finding some calm and cool in the midst of the day, to read together. Whether it’s with laughter or wonder or a sense of enlargement, good children’s books refresh us magnificently.

I hope you grown-ups as well as your kids enjoy these titles well-suited to this month of July, beginning with four to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing — an event I remember watching wide-eyed as a young child of the ’60s:

if you had your birthday party on the moon cover

If You Had Your Birthday Party on the Moon, written by Joyce Lapin, illustrated by Simona Ceccarelli
published in 2019 by Sterling Children’s Books

An out-of-this-world clever, juicy approach to learning cool lunar facts by considering how having a birthday party in space would change things up!

birthday party on the moon lapin and ceccarelli

Astronomical fun and fascinating for ages 7 and up.

field trip to the moon cover

Field Trip to the Moon, by John Hare
published in 2019 by Holiday House

This engaging, wordless story will tickle your funny bone as one student accidentally gets left behind when her class takes a field trip to the moon.

field trip to the moon John Hare

Strange encounters of the lunar kind ensue! Ages 4 and up.

rocket to the moon cover image

Rocket to the Moon, written and illustrated by Don Brown
published in 2019 by Amulet Books
119 pages + back matter

Another outstanding graphic novel by one of the greats in children’s non-fiction, guiding us from the dawn of rocketry through all of the Apollo moon landings.


Packed with information, absorbed nearly effortlessly. Ages 9 and up.

moonstruck cover image

Moonstruck!: Poems About Our Moon, edited by Roger Stevens, illustrated by Ed Boxall
first published in the US in 2019 by Otter-Barry Books

A small volume packed with delightful poems about all things moon, including a few about that first moon landing.

moonstruck illustration Boxall

Old master poets, child poets, and in-between poets, stylishly illustrated in grey-scale. Ages 4 and up.

Moving on to summery vacation destinations:

you are home cover

You Are Home: An Ode to the National Parks, written and illustrated by Evan Turk
published in 2019 by Atheneum Books for Young Readers

A sumptuously-illustrated lyrical celebration of these American treasures, homes to nature’s spectacles, to vast, precious throngs of plants and animals, and to our own nature-craving souls.

you are home evan turk

Take a truly gorgeous tour. Ages 4 to adult.

hum and swish cover

Hum and Swish, written and illustrated by Matt Myers
published in 2019, a Neal Porter Book, Holiday House

I’m smitten by this delightful, insightful look at a young artist’s creative process along the ocean shore.

hum and swish myers

As the mom of an artist, I find it rings perfectly true! Ages 4 and up.

waiting for chicken smith cover

Waiting for Chicken Smith, written and illustrated by David Mackintosh
first published in 2018 in Australia; first U.S. edition 2019 by Candlewick Press

A charming, beach-side tale of beloved old friends and surprising new friends.

waiting for chicken smith Mackintosh

Captivating, authentic voice, plus Mackintosh’s characteristically jaunty illustration work. Ages 4 and up.

pinny in summer cover

Pinny in Summer, written by Joanne Schwartz, illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant
published in 2016 by Groundwood Books

I adore Pinny and her friends with their simple, outdoorsy, free-wheeling ways.


Find a wishing rock, pick blueberries, make friends with a seagull, and bake blueberry cake for tea in this Canadian gem. Ages 4 and up.

Three more swimming in a watery world:

20,000 leagues under the sea cover

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea: A Puzzle Adventure by Aleksandra Artymowska
first published in the UK in 2018; U.S. edition 2019 by Big Picture Press

Looking for a clever, engaging, non-electronic way to while away travel time, too-hot-to-move time, I’m-feeling-bored time?

20,000 leagues under the sea Artymowska

Catch this hefty, colorful tome of nautical-themed puzzles! Ages 5 to much-older.

a book about whales cover

A Book About Whales, written and illustrated by Andrea Antinori; translation by David Kelly
originally published in Italy in 2016; English edition 2019 by Abrams Books for Young Readers

Such an enormously handsome, sophisticated piece of work!

a book about whales2 Antinori

Impeccable graphite illustration and design meet a conversational narration crammed with cool whale lore.

a book about whales Antinori

An elegant introduction for ages 7 to adult.

fish everywhere cover

Fish Everywhere, written and illustrated by Britta Teckentrup
first published in 2018 in the UK; first US edition 2019 by Big Picture Press

Teckentrup’s ever-luscious illustration work swims through the pages of this guide to a world of fish, enticing us with fishy facts and fishy beauty.

fish everywhere Teckentrup

Even the cover glistens with mesmerizing gold-foil scales! Ages 4 and up.

And one, fitting, middle-grade read:

the last last day of summer cover

The Last Last-Day-of-Summer, written by L.R. Giles, illustrations by Dapo Adeola
published in 2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Fabulous, diverse read with an African-American cast starring in a wildly-inventive fantasy. It’s set in a small Virginia town popping with sci-fi strangeness.


What happens when you wish that last day of summer would never end? Extremely Weird Things if you’re the Alston cousins. Buckle up for a zany adventure. Ages 9 and up.

Find more timely reads by searching my lists:

Summer Stories
Beach Reads
Space and Flight

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