Alyssa Jewell is a Children’s Library Specialist at the Hoover Public Library. She has a BA in Theatre Education and a Master of Library and Information Studies degree. She is the author of Move, Play, Learn: Interactive Storytimes With Music, Movement and More and has co-written three musicals for young audiences. Her favorite part about working at a library is bringing stories to life for children and their grown-ups! Here, she offers her five fest book recommendations for summer reading.

Nell Plants a Tree

By Anne Wynter | Nonfiction Picture Book, Ages Preschool–9 years old

Before children climb and play in the pecan tree, perch on its branches to read a book or collect pecans to make a delicious pie–Nell plants the tree. As she grows, so does the tree, which lovingly shelters several generations of her family. Gorgeous text and stunning illustrations bring the warmth of family and wonder of nature to the page.

The Penguin of Ilha Grande: From Animal Rescue to Extraordinary Friendship

By Shannon Earle | Nonfiction Picture Book, Ages Preschool–9 years old

Based on a true story, this inspiring picture book chronicles the surprising friendship between a man and a penguin. When an oil-covered penguin washes up in Brazil, Seu João saves its life. They become friends, and Dindim the penguin refuses to return to the wild. Finally, he does swim away but comes back four months later! The two continue this cycle for seven years. Don’t miss this beautiful story about the importance of friendship, compassion and conservation.

Marya Khan and the Incredible Henna Party

By Saadia Faruqi | First Chapter Book, Ages 6-10

Just before her eighth birthday, Marya gets carried away and claims that she will throw the best Henna-themed birthday party ever! Now she just has to get her family on board to make it happen. She tries to help them out around the house to earn their support, but everything she does backfires disastrously. Will she be able to rally and throw an incredible party after all? First in its series, this book is sure to delight fans of Ivy & Bean and Dory Fantasmagory.

Freestyle: A Graphic Novel

By Gale Galligan  | Graphic Novel, Ages 8-12

Breakdance and yo-yos make a yo-yoing b-boy? Eighth grader Cory is being pushed and pulled in all sorts of directions. Between his impending dance crew competition, his bad grades, his parents and his new friendship with his tutor and surprisingly skilled yo-yoer, Sunna, he’s balancing enough to give any kid whiplash. Can he juggle it all and still stick the landing? Amazing storytelling and an expert use of the graphic novel format make this a must-see for fans of Raina Telgemeier. 

Two Degrees

By Alan Gratz  | Juvenile Fiction, Ages 8-12

Three separate climate disasters entangle four kids. Akira, Owen, George and Natalie fight for their lives and discover they are connected in shocking ways that could alter the course of their destinies. Timely, thrilling and fast-paced, “Two Degrees” is an engaging and important novel about the effects of climate change from bestselling author Alan Gratz.