Best Beach Read Books This Summer


summer reads on the beach

Summer Reads on the Beach

I’ve been taking a bit of a hiatus from my website to write a weekly column for the Sudbury Star, which will soon be coming to an end. That means I can get back to what I miss the most and that is connecting with book lovers and librarians around the world! So, let’s get back to where we left of, shall we? 

Summer reading and laying on the beach may be synonymous as chocolate and peanut butter, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be immersed in sand to enjoy a good summer read! The first half of the year has brought us some page-turning thrillers to tear-jerking endings. I’ve even immersed in fiction over non-fiction in the first half the year, but it seems like every book I have picked up has turned my eyes into little emoji hearts. Here are some summer reads that will keep you busy all summer long!

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
I’ve been waiting for a novel that I could connect with written by Elizabeth Gilbert, and well, folks, here it is. City of Girls takes place in 1940’s New York City, where 19-year-old Vivian Morris moves in with her Aunt and is surrounded by showgirls, costumes and a newfound freedom.  Her Aunt’s eccentric theatre company allows Vivian to express her desires and explore her sexuality. When a scandal that hits the papers threatens the theatre’s latest production, Vivian finds herself at 95 years old recalling the events that truly allows her to be free. A self-love story like no other.

The One by John Marrs
Time surely flies when you’re reading this page-turner. If you know me, you know that I love a play-on of reality-fiction that leaves you thinking…could this really happen? Let’s jump right in, shall we? If you could take a DNA test that allows you to be matched with your perfect partner, the one that you’re genetically made for, would you do it? It’s a concept that would put Tinder out of business. Millions of people around the world have been matched with their perfect match. In The One, we meet five people who have received notifications that they’ve been matched with their perfect partner and they’re about to meet their one true love. Before I give out any more details, let me tell you some are more shocking than others.

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See
I put this one on hold at the library months before it’s release, but seemingly forgot why I put it on hold in the first place. It sat on my shelf for weeks and I started reading it the day before it was due and my goodness, it did not disappoint. The Island of Sea Women follows two women Mi-ja and Young-sook. Both women come from very different backgrounds, but are brought together working in the sea in their village’s all-female diving collective. Throughout the years, they develop a close bond, but their differences could not be ignored. This literary historical novel introduces you to the fierce world of female divers of Jeju Island.

The Last Resort by Marissa Stapley
Before a couple calls it quits, there is always that one last-ditch effort to salvage to fix what’s broken. That’s what guests at Harmony Resort are trying to do with the help of marriage counsellors Miles and Grace Markell. Although they may look as like a power couple, it’s not all of what it seems. When a powerful hurricane strikes the coast and traps the hosts and their guests, not one single person will come out the same.

REVIEW: Suee and the Shadow

34227671Title: Suee and the Shadow
Author: Ginger Ly
Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: September 19, 2017
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 9781418725647
For ages: 8+
Type: Juvenile Graphic Novel

Suee is twelve when she transfers to Outskirts Elementary. She’s a loner and has no friends, but doesn’t seem to care to make any. With her black dress and hair swiped to her left, she hears a strange voice coming from the school’s exhibit room. That’s when things get weird. Her shadow comes to life, appearing when she’s angry. Then her classmates turn into zombies-like Zeroes, while her shadow gains powers. Suee investigates to uncover the secret hiding under her two feet.

Ghost story meets Scooby-Do, this page turner will have kids trying to guess at the mystery, twist and turns, until the very last second. Rumour has it – there’s a sequel. Recommend for public libraries “Tween” graphic novel section.

Complete list of Juvenile Fiction Reviews

Solar Oven S’mores

Solar Oven S'Mores.jpg

Wow, it’s been such a long time since I’ve done a children’s program! I’ve been working the past year in a management position – so I’ve PLANNED programs, but haven’t delivered any.  In my current position, I’m back to doing children and teen programming. (YAY!)  Here’s a program that I piggy-backed off of one of my staff who did this last year. Solar oven s’mores!

Age: 9 to 12 years of age first group; 5 to 12 years of age* for the second group

  • *I would definitely suggest doing this program with the older kids from 8 to 12 years of age. The second group of kids – I had a few 5 or 6 year olds and they needed a lot of hands on. If you’re doing it with some younger kids, make sure you have 1 or 2 helpers in the room with you.


  • Pizza boxes (If you’re in Canada, go to Wholesale Club 50 pizza boxes for $20!) otherwise, ask your local pizza place for some donated boxes
  • Tin Foil
  • Black construction paper
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Wooden dowel
  • Markers or paint
  • Glue
  • S’mores kit 

This program cost me around $30.00 – including the S’mores Kit. It equals out to about $1.50 to $1.60 per child.


Always begin the program off with a lesson. Ask the kids some questions like:

  • What are some types of energy? (Heat, light, electricity, mechanical (moving), gravity, solar, chemical)
  • What type of energy does the sun give us? (Light)
  • Why do we need light? (to see; to heat things)
  • What are some ways that we cook food? (stove, oven, microwave)

I gave them a piece of paper and asked them to draw a pizza box and asked them to label where the tin foil would go, where the black construction paper would go and where the plastic wrap would go.

We then discussed how the oven works. What does the tin foil do? (reflects the sun)  What does the black paper do? (absorbs the light)  What does the plastic wrap for? (insulation so the heat doesn’t come out).

Then we began making the solar oven. For the instructions, please visit Steve Spangler Science

I would suggest that you cut out the tops BEFORE you hand them out to the kids.

Solar Oven S'Mores.png3.png

REVIEW: Pete the Cat’s Guide to Love

25817734Title: Pete the Cat’s Groovy Guide to Love
Author: Kimberly & James Dean
Publisher:  Ballastine Books
Publication Date: December 2015
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780062430618
Ages: 6+
Type: Picture Book

Pete the Cat has been hit by an arrow! Follow along with Pete on the groovy train of love and hear some Pete’s favourite love-struck quotes.

Pete the Cat is a must-read for any children’s librarian, but this book is just plain…weird. The illustrations are spot-on, but what kid wants to read a bunch of quotes by Audrey Hepburn, Plato, and Lucille Ball? If you’re on a tight collection budget, I’d skip this one.

Grade: C-


There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly

I’ve seen on Pinterest various props for “There Was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly.” My favourite is the garbage can dressed up as an old lady, but if space and storage is an issue – then it’s not a practical prop to make. Here’s something I came across and did my own take on it. They used a Kleenex box, but we decided to use a baby wipe container instead for durability.

Cost of project: $2.80 + coloured printing

You can also use a recycled baby wipe container if you know of a parent or caregiver that uses them too!

I used Publisher to find clipart for the song and found the old lady template somewhere in cyber space! I’d love to track down who made it so that I can give them credit!

There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly


  1. Print the old lady template on cardstock for durability. Laminate if you have access. If not, just use packing tape. Cut out shapes.
  2. Print the animal template. Laminate if you have access. If not, use packing tape. Cut out shapes.
  3. Rip off flap for the baby wipe container. You may need to cut some of the inside silicone for a deeper mouth.
  4. Use a hot glue gun to adhere the old lady to the container.
  5. Optional: use construction paper to decorate the outside of the container.

When you’re performing, just throw the animal into the mouth of the old lady!

Lyrics to the Song

My coworkers and I were discussing the lyrics to “There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly” and consensus is that it’s a little grim to sing perhaps she’ll die. I’ve been in a storytime where the programmer has used that lyric, and I thought it wasn’t such a good idea. We decided that perhaps she’ll cry sounds much better!

Programmers, what do you use?