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Kids Summer Book Club: Tales that share some great secrets

This year’s Washington Post Summer Book Club features books with secrets. (Christina Barron / Washington Post)
This year’s Washington Post Summer Book Club features books with secrets. (Christina Barron / Washington Post)
By Christina Barron Washington Post

If someone offers to share a secret, it’s difficult to say no. It’s exciting to learn something other people don’t know. Once you know, however, you’ve got to decide what to do with that information. That decision can be complicated.

This year’s Washington Post Summer Book Club for kids features eight books that include secrets – some are between friends, others involve neighbors or even characters from another world. The secrets themselves help hook readers, but it’s often what comes next in the story that’s more interesting. Will information stay secret? Will telling others help or hurt those involved?

Wanting answers to those questions is one reason to keep reading. And we at KidsPost hope that’s how you will spend part of the summer – with a book you don’t want to put down. Consider the selections below, and if you know of similar books we should consider recommending, let us know. We promise not to keep it a secret.

‘A Girl, a Raccoon and the Midnight Moon’

By Karen Romano Young

Ages 10 to 14

Pearl thinks of the Lancaster Avenue branch of the New York City Library as home. Her mom is the librarian, and the 10-year-old loves the place even though it’s run down. What she loves most is a statue of a famous poet in the garden. When the statue’s head disappears, the city threatens to close the library if the crime can’t be solved. Pearl is determined to find the thief. In the process, she discovers another family who has a lot to lose if the library shuts down.


By Jen Wang

Ages 8 to 12

When a girl named Moon moves in next door, Christine is worried. Kids at school say Moon is odd, maybe even dangerous. But the two become fast friends, and Moon introduces Christine to new music, new food and a more carefree outlook. Others in their Asian American community see Moon as an oddball and not a great influence on Christine. This graphic novel explores the strength of friendship and how kids from the same culture can be vastly different.

‘Music for Tigers’

By Michelle Kadarusman

Ages 8 to 12

Louisa, a Canadian middle schooler with a passion for the violin, travels to the Australian island of Tasmania to spend her summer break with relatives she doesn’t know. The family lives in a rainforest, which has amazing animals, strange sounds and unusual people. Louisa learns that a mining company threatens to bulldoze the area and that a rare Tasmanian tiger, from a species that the world thought was extinct, would lose its home. Louisa might be able to help in a way no one expects.

‘The Thief Knot’

By Kate Milford

Ages 10 to 12

Nagspeake isn’t your typical seaside city. Its quirks should make it exciting, but Marzana and her best friend, Nialla, call it the town where nothing happens. The two, who play detective in their spare time, are desperate for a real case. When her parents are asked to help solve a recent kidnapping, Marzana thinks it’s the perfect opportunity. However, her parents don’t want the girls involved, and the kidnapping isn’t as straightforward as it first appeared.

‘The Water Bears’

By Kim Baker

Ages 8 to 12

Twelve-year-old Newt is looking for a change. He survived a bear attack last year, but it left him with a scar, a limp and nightly nightmares. He considers leaving the island resort where his Mexican American family doesn’t fit in. Maybe life would be better staying with his abuela, or grandma, on the U.S. mainland. When he and a friend discover a large wooden bear washed up on the beach, the friend thinks that the bear might be the life-changer Newt seeks.

‘The Mystery of the Moon Tower’

By Francesco Sedita and Prescott Seraydarian

Ages 8 to 12

Five kids at Camp Pathfinder seem to have little in common. But their skills – for drawing, magic, math, history and inventions – come in handy when they go on a treasure hunt. What starts out as a camp activity becomes an urgent quest – the camp needs money to stay in business. The story, the first in the Pathfinders Society graphic novel series, follows the kids as they learn about a quirky inventor-explorer who might be the key to finding the treasure.

‘What We Found in the Corn Maze and How It Saved a Dragon’

By Henry Clark

Ages 8 to 12

Cal could use a magic spell to save his family’s farm. People aren’t buying the produce, and corn maze ticket sales aren’t enough to pay the bills. It appears that they will have to move. When Cal’s friend, Modesty, finds a binder of spells, they have a moment of hope. The spells seem useless, however, and they work only occasionally. The kids and a third friend meet the binder’s owner, who needs their help to save something bigger – a dragon and magic itself.

‘The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA’

By Brenda Woods

Ages 10 to 12

In the summer of 1946, a man named Meriwether saves a boy, Gabriel, from being struck by a car. Gabriel helps the out-of-work World War II veteran get a job in the family’s auto shop in Birdsong, South Carolina. Tensions arise, however, because Meriweather is black; the other workers are white. Learning a secret about the man’s past makes Gabriel realize that the town’s black residents lead lives far different from those of the people he knows.

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