Beach Reads for Young Readers

Summer, summer, summertime is the perfect time to head to a beach with a good read – here are our recommendations for young readers!

Picture Books

A Day for Sandcastles
By JonArno Lawson
Illustrated by Qin Leng
48 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536208429 | Candlewick
The creators of the acclaimed Over the Shop evoke a perfect summer beach day – and themes of creativity, cooperation, flexibility, and persistence – all without a word in this sun-warmed, salt-stained delight of a story. A busload of beachgoers spills out onto the sand for a day of fun and frolic. Three siblings begin work on a castle, patting and shaping the sand as the sun arcs over the sky. Time and again, their progress is halted: a windswept hat topples their creation; a toddler ambles through it; the tide creeps close, and then too close. Meeting each demolition with fresh determination, the builders outdo themselves time and again, until the moment arrives to pile back into the bus for home. An authentic portrait of sibling cooperation – and glorious inspiration for creative people of all ages – A Day for Sandcastles channels the thrill of surrendering expectations on the path to infinite possibility.

A Mermaid Girl
By Sana Rafi
Illustrated by Olivia Aserr
40 Pages | Ages 5-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593327609 | Viking BFYR
Summer is here and Heba is so excited to wear her new, yellow burkini to the community pool for the first time! She can’t wait to look like the other mermaid girls in her family and sparkle like the sun. But when Heba arrives at the pool and her friends start asking her questions about her new special swimsuit, she feels like she’s standing out too much. Suddenly her burkini seems like a bad idea. Luckily Mama helps Heba to find strength in the mermaid girls who came before her. Feeling more connected to the women of her family, Heba is ready to show her friends that she can do all the same things that they can do – handstands, summersaults, and dives off the diving board – even while wearing her yellow burkini.

Children of the Forest
By Matt Myers
40 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780823447671 | Neal Porter Books
Grabbing a bow and quiver, a kid sets off, toddler sister in tow, to live off the land in the expanses of their own backyard. First, they sneak past their snoozing father to pilfer supplies from the refrigerator, but only what they need. After that, they’re utterly on their own. Out in these uncharted spaces they encounter many dangers, from a ferocious mountain lion (a house cat) to a hulking canine beast (their dog). When the sun dips low, they make a camp complete with defenses to ward off predators. Matt Myers’s cool self-serious text is juxtaposed with whimsical art depicting the playful antics of backyard life, making for a tale full of delight for imaginative children.

Hot Dog
By Doug Salati
40 Pages | Ages 4-8 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593308431 | Knopf BFYR
It’s summer in the city, and this hot dog has had enough! Enough of sizzling sidewalks, enough of wailing sirens, enough of people’s feet right in his face. When he plops down in the middle of a crosswalk, his owner endeavors to get him the breath of fresh air he needs. She hails a taxi, hops a train, and ferries out to the beach. Here, a pup can run! With fluid art and lyrical text that have the soothing effect of waves on sand, Doug Salati shows us how to find calm and carry it back with us so we can appreciate the small joys in a day.

Look What I Found at the Beach
By Moira Butterfield
Illustrated by Jesus Verona
32 Pages | Ages 2-5 | Hardcover
ISBN 9781536223972 | Nosy Crow
Open your senses to a world of wonder by taking a walk along the beach! Set off on an adventure and find natural treasures, from spiraled seashells to discarded mermaid’s purses. Then learn more about the marine plants and creatures in this fact-filled guide to the outdoors.

Mermaid Dreams
By Kate Pugsley
30 Pages | Ages 0-3 | Board Book
ISBN 9780735270596 | Tundra Books
One sunny Saturday, Maya and her parents visit the beach. Maya loves the beach: the warm sand feels wonderful between her toes. But it would be more fun if she had a friend. Too shy to say hello, Maya watches the kids play nearby, and slowly her eyes droop closed. . . . When Maya awakens she has been transported to a magical underwater world. Maya admires the sea creatures flitting around her, and she discovers that she too has a beautiful tail. Maya is a mermaid! But who is calling out a greeting from behind that coral? Whose bright eyes are peering at her from the sea grass? Whose laughter does she hear? Could it be a new friend? Or just another sea creature? This adorable picture book will delight the youngest daydreamers and shows us that making new friends may not be as hard as you think – if you have a good imagination!

Vampire Vacation
By Laura Lavoie
Illustrated by Micah Player
40 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593203132 | Viking BFYR
The last thing Fang wants is another vacation in Transylvania. He’s toured Dracula’s castle and the coffin museum enough for an eternal lifetime. Why can’t he spend the summer swimming and surfing like his other friends? When his parents refuse, Fang decides to convince them that fun at the beach is possible, even for a family of vampires. Laura Lavoie’s clever text and Micah Player’s devilishly fun illustrations are the perfect pairing for this hilarious picture book that captures the joy of having new adventures and staying true to yourself.

Middle Grade

Growing Pangs
By Kathryn Ormsbee
Illustrated by Molly Brooks
256 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9780593301319 | Random House BFYR
Katie knows there’s stuff that makes her different. She’s homeschooled, she has freckles, and her teeth are really crooked. But none of these things matter to Kacey. They’re best friends forever – just like their necklaces say. But when they go to summer camp, Kacey starts acting weird. What happened to the “forever”? And when Katie gets home, she can’t stop worrying. About getting braces. About 6th grade. About friends. She knows tapping three times or opening and closing a drawer won’t make everything better . . . but sometimes it helps stop the worrying. Is something wrong with her? And will anyone want to be friends with her if they find out?

PAWS: Gabby Gets It Together
By Nathan Fairbairn
Illustrated by Michele Assarasakorn
176 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9780593351864 | Razorbill
Meet best friends Gabby Jordan, Priya Gupta, and Mindy Kim. They’re different in just about every way – personalities, hobbies, family, and more – but they have a few important things in common: they’re all in the same class, they absolutely love animals, and for reasons that are as varied as the trio themselves none of them can actually have any pets. Unable to resist the adorable temptation any longer, the girls decide to come up with a way to finally get their hands on some furry friends. And, as luck would have it, it seems like their neighborhood is in need of some afterschool dog-walkers. So, just like that, PAWS is born! But it turns out that running a business is harder than it looks, especially with three co-owners who are such different people. The girls soon argue about everything, from how to prioritize their commitments to the best way to keep their doggy clients happy. And when their fighting ultimately leads to a doggo crisis, will it tear their business and friendship apart or will they be able to get it together to save the day?

The Secret Diary of Mona Hasan
By Salma Hussain
296 Pages | Ages 10-14 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735271494 | Tundra Books
Mona Hasan is a young Muslim girl growing up in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, when the first Gulf War breaks out in 1991. The war isn’t what she expects – “We didn’t even get any days off school! Just my luck!” – especially when the ground offensive is over so quickly and her family peels the masking tape off their windows. Her parents, however, fear there is no peace in the region, and it sparks a major change in their lives. Over the course of one year, Mona falls in love, speaks up to protect her younger sister, loses her best friend to the new girl at school, has summer adventures with her cousins in Pakistan, immigrates to Canada, and pursues her ambition to be a feminist and a poet.

Willis Wilbur Wows the World
By Lindsey Leavitt
Illustrated by Daniel Duncan
208 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593224052 | Penguin Workshop
Nine-year-old Willis Wilbur had his summer figured out. He and his best friend, Shelley, were going to Band Camp, and he was going to learn how to play the sousaphone. Easy. Simple. A done deal. But when Shelley is whisked off to Hawaii for a summer with her family, Willis is left staring down the long, boring road of an empty summer. Or even worse – eight long weeks of Day Camp. So Willis decides to try something new. He’s going to MAKE A DATE WITH DESTINY. And after spotting a flyer for a local business competition, he finds exactly what his true calling really is: becoming the Neighborhood Life Coach. A kid helping other kids with kids’ problems. His niche, he discovers. And he was going to be great at it. The best at it. So good, that he was going to become wildly, ridiculously famous. All he needed were some clients . . . . With gumption, tenacity, and many other buzzwords he finds in self-help business magazines, Willis dives bowtie-first into the entrepreneurial waters. But starting a business alone, especially without his best friend by his side, is tough work. And with neighborhood bullies getting in his way, a guinea pig client who’s actually a guinea pig, and an annoyingly competent little sister asking for a raise, Willis has his work cut out for him.

Wretched Waterpark 
By Kiersten White
256 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780593379042 | Delacorte Press
Meet the Sinister-Winterbottoms: brave Theo, her timid twin, Alexander, and their older sister, Wil. They’re stuck for the summer with their Aunt Saffronia, who doesn’t know how often children need to eat and can’t use a smartphone, and whose feet never quite seem to touch the floor when she glides–er–walks. When Aunt Saffronia suggests a week pass to the Fathoms of Fun Waterpark, they hastily agree. But the park is even stranger than Aunt Saffronia. The waterslides look like gray gargoyle tongues. The employees wear creepy black dresses and deliver ominous messages. An impossible figure is at the top of the slide tower, people are disappearing, and suspicious goo is seeping into the wave pool. Something mysterious is happening at Fathoms of Fun, and it’s up to the twins to get to the bottom of it. The mystery, that is. NOT the wave pool. Definitely NOT the wave pool. But are Theo and Alexander out of their depth?

CTV Your Morning Kids’ Book Segment on Fresh Spring Reads

Our Marketing and Publicity Director, Vikki VanSickle, was on CTV’s Your Morning today to talk about some of her spring reads for kids. Check out our titles from her recommendations below and don’t forget to watch her segment for the full list.

AGES 3-7

In the Clouds 
By Elly MacKay
44 Pages | Ages 3-7 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266964 | Tundra Books
A bored and curious little girl wishes for a bit of sunshine on a cloudy day. But a friendly bird soon whisks her off for an adventure in the sky, where she can contemplate questions both scientific and philosophical in nature: how do clouds float? Or carry the rain? Where do they go when they disappear? Are there clouds on other planets? Do they have memories? Have they ever seen a girl like her? This dreamy picture book from the inimitable Elly MacKay features her trademark stunning, light-infused spreads that beautifully capture the wondrousness of clouds and the power of nature to inspire and stimulate imaginations.

AGES 6-9

How to High Tea with a Hyena (And Not Get Eaten)
By Rachel Poliquin
Illustrated by Kathryn Durst
84 Pages | Ages 6-9 | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735266605 | Tundra Books
Celeste is a cockroach, and everyone knows that cockroaches are survivors, so who better to give advice on surviving an encounter with a polite predator? High teas are dainty meals with pretty teacups: you nibble tiny cakes, sip milky tea and chit-chat about not-so important things like why doughnuts have holes and if fish have eyebrows. But Ruby the hyena is loud, ferocious and tends to slobber. High-speed gobbling makes good sense in the wild, but it is a definite no-no in the tearoom! And Ruby just happens to be Queen of a very large clan of hungry hyenas. Will high tea be ruined by uninvited guests? Is Ruby peckish for something other than Celeste’s famous cream buns? Using her vast knowledge of hyenas, Celeste comes up with lots of strategies to get through high tea in one piece. Many of her suggestions are dangerous, most are absurd, but all are based on true hyena biology and hunting behavior.

AGES 9-12

Water, Water
By Cary Fagan
Illustrated by Jon McNaught
160 Pages | Ages 10+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270039 | Tundra Books
One morning Rafe wakes up to discover his bedroom is floating in a vast sea of water. Alone with only his dog for company, Rafe adapts to this strange new world by fishing cans of food out of the water and keeping watch. Boxes float by, as does a woman, playing her cello. Then, one day, Rafe fishes out a young girl, who joins him in his room – they don’t speak the same language, but together they will face this uncertain future together.

PAWS: Gabby Gets It Together
By Nathan Fairbairn
Illustrated by Michele Assarasakorn
176 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9780593351864 | Razorbill
Meet best friends Gabby Jordan, Priya Gupta, and Mindy Kim. They’re different in just about every way – personalities, hobbies, family, and more – but they have a few important things in common: they’re all in the same class, they absolutely love animals, and for reasons that are as varied as the trio themselves none of them can actually have any pets. Unable to resist the adorable temptation any longer, the girls decide to come up with a way to finally get their hands on some furry friends. And, as luck would have it, it seems like their neighborhood is in need of some afterschool dog-walkers. So, just like that, PAWS is born! But it turns out that running a business is harder than it looks, especially with three co-owners who are such different people. The girls soon argue about everything, from how to prioritize their commitments to the best way to keep their doggy clients happy. And when their fighting ultimately leads to a doggo crisis, will it tear their business and friendship apart or will they be able to get it together to save the day?

Scout Is Not a Band Kid
By Jade Armstrong
272 Pages | Ages 8-12 | Paperback
ISBN 9780593176221 | Random House Graphic
When Scout learns that her favorite author is doing an exclusive autograph session at the end of the year, she’s determined to be there! She officially needs a plan . . . and when she finds out that her school’s band is heading to the same location for their annual trip, an idea takes shape. Being a band kid can’t be that hard, right? As it turns out, learning how to play an instrument when you can’t even read music is much, much, MUCH tougher than expected. And it’s even harder for Scout when her friends aren’t on board with her new hobby. Will she be able to master the trombone, make new band friends, and get to her favorite author’s book signing? Tackling everything seems like a challenge for a supergenius superfriend supermusician – and she’s just Scout.

AGES 14+

Wrong Side of the Court
By H. N. Khan
312 Pages | Ages 12+ | Hardcover
ISBN 9780735270879 | Penguin Teen Canada
Fifteen-year-old Fawad Chaudhry loves two things: basketball and his mother’s potato and ground-beef stuffed parathas. Both are round and both help him forget about things like his father, who died two years ago, his mother’s desire to arrange a marriage to his first cousin, Nusrat, back home in Pakistan, and the tiny apartment in Regent Park he shares with his mom and sister. Not to mention his estranged best friend Yousuf, who’s coping with the shooting death of his older brother. But Fawad has plans: like, asking out Ashley, even though she lives on the other, wealthier side of the tracks, and saving his friend Arif from being beaten into a pulp for being the school flirt, and making the school basketball team and dreaming of being the world’s first Pakistani to be drafted into the NBA. All he has to do now is convince his mother to let him try out for the basketball team. And let him date girls from his school. Not to mention somehow get Omar, the neighborhood bully, to leave him alone.