Backlist Reads — Books for the Summer [Guest Post]

By: Guest Post Photo By: @a.o.tales

Hi everybody! Cheryl here, your friendly OwlCrate Jr rep and self-proclaimed middle grade super fan. OwlCrate Jr has kindly asked if I would be interested in contributing an article to their blog and I knew exactly the type of article I’d love to create — sharing backlist middle grade books that may have missed your attention!

So, each month I’ll be recommending a backlist middle grade title (or two) and pairing it with some extension activities for a little extra fun. Here we go!


Summer reading is all about fun, effervescent stories that sparkle with memorable characters and heartfelt tales. They also need to be stories that you can either pick up for brief moments in-between all the summer fun or settle in with for a full day of reading by the pool or wile away a long, rainy day. Here are some great books to kick off your summer reading:

The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall
Book cover for The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall.

This beautiful middle grade is reminiscent of classic stories such as Anne of Green Gables and The Secret Garden, and follows the Penderwick sisters over their summer vacation renting a cottage on the beautiful country estate of Arundel. It is full of summertime shenanigans as the sisters, along with their new friend Jeffrey Tifton (the son of the prickly estate owner herself, Mrs. Tifton) try to avoid Mrs. Tifton’s icy attention … and are often quite unsuccessful!


A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus
Book cover for A Place to Hang the Moon by Kate Albus

This is a heartwarming story about three young children who evacuate London during Operation Pied Piper in 1941. The twist? Their cold and distant grandmother has just passed away leaving them without a guardian and the sibling’s lawyer hopes the children will find a billet family willing to adopt them. Venturing to a small village, the children are exposed to many hardships including cruel children, hunger, and poverty. But they also experience great comfort and solace in the kindly librarian and the world of books! A true gem of a story.



Bed-knobs and Broomsticks (1971)

Movie poster for Bedknobs and Broomsticks (1971)

One of my favourite Disney movies from my childhood, this movie follows the Rawlins children who, like the trio from A Place to Hang the Moon, have also been sent from London to the countryside during WWII’s Operation Pied Piper. Taking a more fantastical, musical, and magical spin, the Rawlins’ billet host, played by Angela Lansbury, is not quite who they expected when they discover her flying on a broom! I hope you enjoy this movie on a rainy afternoon with hot cocoa and buttered toast, just like the children in A Place to Hang the Moon.




The Penderwick girls bake up many things in their time at the cottage, but the brownie baking scene has to be my favourite! Luckily, brownies are super easy to make, so customizable, and can involve everyone in the family. Get creative with additives, toppings, or try your hand at apple brownies or brownie blondies. My family has a dairy and egg allergy, and we really love this Vegan Brownie Recipe from Nora Bakes.



Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman
Book cover for Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman.

This is a bonus audiobook recommendation that the entire family can get enjoyment out of! Coming in at under one hour, this is the perfect audiobook to liven up your next summer road trip. Narrated by Neil Gaiman himself, Fortunately, the Milk is a wild, wacky story about a father who must explain to his children why it took him so long to return home from the grocer with their morning milk! Aliens, intelligent dinosaurs, hot air balloons, and nasty pirates all play a role . . .


Thanks so much, Cheryl! Be sure to give her a follow on Instagram and check out her blog, And Other Tales, for more great book reviews and recommendations!