Monday, June 13, 2016

Our Summer Reading List... and a Giveaway!

School's out (or will be soon) for many of us, so that means it's time to share the Cottage's summer reading list — a list of the books we're looking forward to curling up with — on the beach, in a hammock, or tucked into a sleeping bag, with a flashlight.

Plus, we have a special guest in the Cottage, author Maria Gianferrari, to tell us about her new book (perfect for summer reading) Penny & Jelly Slumber Under The Stars, illustrated by Thyra Heder. 

Leave a comment in the comments section below for a chance to win a copy! 

On sale June 14, 2016; HMH Books for Young Readers 

Maria is a favorite guest and frequent visitor to the Cottage, so we asked her to fill in our familiar Crooked Bookshelf questions about Penny & Jelly Slumber Under the Stars. Take it away, Maria!

What it's all about:
"Penny's invited to a sleepover under the stars party at the local recreation center. She's really excited to go, but then she learns no pets are allowed. She tries making pretend Jellys, but when she discovers that there's no substitute for the real Jelly, Penny finds a solution."

My favorite line(s):
"My favorite lines are the last lines of the book: 'Penny slumbered under a constellation of friends, surrounded by a galaxy of Jellys. Even though only one of them was just right.' And Thyra’s art makes them even more meaningful and touching."

My favorite illustration:

"I love Thyra’s art for both Penny & Jelly books, but one of my favorites has to be the bedroom spread early in the book where Penny is pointing out constellations to Jelly. Once again, Thyra has included such lovely details: Penny’s purple pawprint pajamas, the dog star, Sirius in constellation Canis Major, glowing on the ceiling, the bright blue color palette, Penny’s star quilt."

Why kids will love it:
"I hope they will love it! Who wouldn’t want to slumber under some stars with their favorite animal friends? I think they’ll also like the funny Jellys that Penny makes. Thyra outdid herself with these!"

Why grow-ups will love it:
"It’s a sweet friendship story, and Penny is loyal to her canine BFF, Jelly. What I love about Penny is her dogged (ha-ha!) determination—she’s creative, resourceful and a problem solver. These are all admirable qualities that parents would love to see in their own kids."

We can't wait to read it, Maria!  (Readers, don't forget to comment below to enter to win a copy!)


Here are a few more books we can't wait to get our hands on this summer.

From Kara . . .

The Blobfish Book by Jessica Olien 
"Because nothing says summer like ocean facts presented by a very ugly (misunderstood) sea creature."

The Seventh Wish by Kate Messner 
"Kate Messner is a master storyteller; I can’t wait to dive into her latest, in which a young girl can’t seem to get her family’s attention…until she manages to catch a magic fish that grants her wishes."

Sea Change by Frank Viva 
"I love Frank Viva’s picture books; looking forward to reading this story for older readers, about a boy sent to spend the summer with family in a remote fishing village in Nova Scotia, and how he eventually finds a place for himself there."

From Jamie . . . 

Monster Trucks by Anika Denise; 
illustrated by Nate Wragg;
The Infamous Ratsos by Kara LaReau; illustrated by Matt Meyers;
Project (Un)Popular by Kristen Tracy
"Because ... duh." 

The Inn Between by Marina Cohen
"My idea of heavenly summer reading is a big stack of dark and creepy middle grade mysteries, such as The Night Gardener, the Lockwood & Co. series, The Greenglass House, and Nooks & Crannies. So this tale about two best friends who stay in a frightening, old Victorian hotel is high on my to-read list."

Pax by Sara Pennypacker, illustrated by Jon Klassen
"Pax and Peter have been inseparable ever since Peter rescued him as a kit. Until Peter's dad enlists in the military and makes him return the fox to the wild. But Peter rebels, and makes the long trek to find his dear pet. I've been hearing glowing praise for Pax since it pubbed, and am looking forward to reading it—with a box of Kleenex handy."

This is My Dollhouse by Giselle Potter
"This book had me at 'Giselle Potter.' And 'dollhouse.' And descriptions like this one. Yes, please."

From Anika . . .

Finding Wild by Megan Wagner Lloyd; illustrated by Abigail Halpin
"I believe summers were made for long stretches of unstructured time outdoors. Finding Wild beautifully celebrates that spirit."

Swing Sideways by Nanci Turner Steveson
"I was a city kid who went off to my grandma's house in upstate New York every summer, so I'm especially looking forward to reading about Annie, who takes a similar journey from the Big Apple to rural New York, where she meets a free-spirited girl named California. I love a classic friendship story, and this one is told in the perfect summer setting."  

The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang, illustrated by Sonny Liew 
"My daughter and I have been checking out more and more graphic novels from the library recently. This one, by children's literature ambassador Gene Luen Yang, is next on our list. It's a revival of the original 1940's comic book series about The Green Turtle, the first Asian superhero." 

What are you looking forward to reading this summer? We'd love to know. Tell us below for a chance to win Penny & Jelly Slumber Under the Stars by Maria Gianferrari!



  1. Thank you, Anika, Jamie & Kara (& Mr. Pig) for hosting Penny & Jelly on The Little Crooked Cottage and making Penny & Jelly Slumber Under the Stars part of your summer recommended reading along with all of these other great titles!!

  2. A girl and her canine! Penny & Jelly are after my own heart. <3 Thanks for sharing this and the other doggone great suggestions.

    1. Nothing better! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  3. I love the cover illustration on the Penny and Jelly Under the Stars! That draws you in to look at the rest of the book. I also enjoy seeing all
    of the other book choices, some of which I've read. Pax should definitely become a classic that will stay around for years. Thanks for the chance of winning the Penny and Jelly book. Hope it lands on me :)

    1. I love the cover art too, Kelly! Thyra's work is amazing. If you haven't yet read either her Fraidy Zoo, or The Bear Report, definitely check them out!

      I also loved Pax--another kind of canine & my kind of book. And Finding Wild is lovely & lyrical & written by my friend, Megan Wagner Lloyd. It's a perfect summer read!

  4. I'm excited to read everything to my toddler this summer! reneealam77(at)

  5. I hope your daughter (or son) will like it, Renee :)!

  6. I´m looking forward to read Moomin stories by Tove Jansson : )

  7. Just read & LOVED Blobfish (& I am a fan of Pink is for Blobfish too).

    Thank you again, cottagers :)