Into the Past
St. Clare’s School for Girls is San Francisco’s most prestigious finishing school, a place where younger generations of the rich and powerful come to train for a life of luxury. It’s also Mercy Wong’s best chance to break from the poverty of Chinatown and secure a safe, happy future for herself and her younger brother. But can a 15-year-old launderer’s daughter rise above her circumstances—especially in 1906, when nearly insurmountable racial and economic barriers stand in the way?
Whether sinking Spanish warships off the coast of the Carolinas or seeking out Confederate spies at a Washington, D.C. ball, American girls have always had adventures to tell.
Your children worked hard this school year, so don’t let them lose ground! Reading throughout the summer helps students prevent summer learning loss, and the public library offers incentive-based programs, making summer reading easy and fun. This year’s themes, “On Your Mark, Get Set...Read!” and “Get in the Game—Read,” promote being active, whether through playing a sport, going for a swim, taking a walk in the park or having an adventure. There’s no required list, so any book counts; after all, any reading is good reading! Here are a few suggestions to kick off your summer.
Orphans Molly and her younger brother Kip are looking for work away from their home in famine-stricken Ireland. They find it at the Windsor estate, an isolated, sprawling house in England that is a lot more than it seems.
As they work and live with the Windsors, Molly and Kip begin to discover that the atmosphere of the old, crumbling mansion is slowly taking the life force of the once-cheerful family of four.
Finley Jayne, The Girl in the Steel Corset, could not have known that her wretched night, indeed her wretched life, was about to take a turn for the better. Whilst fleeing the scene of an assault—which she did not start but did finish—she encounters a gentleman of a very different caliber. She discovers Griffin, the young Duke of Greythorne, is a person to be trusted. Like Finley, he has secrets, though, which will either draw them together or rip them apart—perhaps literally.
Elizabeth Wein’s Code Name Verity starts with something different and unexpected, a story’s protagonist, or hero, not being very heroic. Our protagonist, a young female British spy, is being held hostage in an aristocratic hotel in Nazi-occupied France. While other spies would withstand any amount of torture in order to protect their friends, family, and country, Code Name Verity’s protagonist, whose name and identity are a secret, begins by making a deal with the Gestapo. She will give them anything and everything they want to know, including writing the story of how she arrived in Nazi-occupied France, and, in return, they will feed her, clothe her, stop torturing her, and they will not kill her—for now.
“Shallow graves always give up their dead.” -- These Shallow Graves
In the 1890s, there was only one acceptable job for a heiress and socialite like Josephine Montford—leveraging her beauty and breeding to marry well and young. None of the teens at Miss Sparkwell’s School for Young Ladies have any goals beyond that—except Jo. She longs to be a gutsy investigative journalist like Nellie Bly. (True fact: In a day when daring careers were only for men, Nellie Bly faked mental illness to be admitted to the Women’s Lunatic Asylum, and the exposé she wrote about it changed mental health care forever.) It’s hard to imagine a dream that could be further outside the seemingly impermeable box of restrictions that Jo’s family and society have constructed for her.
In The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club, Phillip Hoose tells a captivating true tale of rebellion and bravery. In my studies of history, I had never heard of the resistance movement against German soldiers led by Danish schoolboys. Until I read this book, that is.
Twelve-year-old Adrian is too small and sickly to be a warrior. What's more, he is an albino. Due to his pale skin and white hair, some villagers think that he is a demon. The other kids call him Badger when he puts dirt under his eyes to fight the intense glare of the sun. If everything goes according to Adrian's new plan, though, people will soon be calling him The Badger Knight.
Hannah is very happy to be moving to London. It’s 1665, and for a young yet just-grown-up girl, it is surely the center of all that is fascinating and bold. She’s to join her sister, Sarah, At the Sign of the Sugar Plum, where she will help craft delicious confections for gentry and commoners alike. Hannah knows she will be working hard to establish the business, and that suits the red-haired young woman perfectly. Indeed, everything suits her down to the ground, including the handsome apothecary’s apprentice.
But there are rumors that the plague is has struck London again this summer. It’s just a few people at first, and the King’s court is still in town, so nobody minds it too much. Then the disease spreads wildly, until thousands each week die in agony. Hannah and Sarah are both frightened, but leaving London and their business would mean giving up their dreams.