Tails & Tales: Summer Reading Recommendations

Will Harlan | July 16, 2021



Tails and Tales

This year’s Summer Reading theme is Tails and Tales, so why not try a story featuring animals? Our display of books (and a few movies) includes fiction and nonfiction for adults and kids of all ages – featuring everything from fantastical beasts like dragons to incredible real-life sea creatures to our own pet dogs. Each item is available through the Minuteman Library Network, so all you need is your library card.

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Summer Reading 2021: Featured Recommendations


Dog Songs

Mary Oliver

A selection of new and favorite poems by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of American Primitive celebrates the canine companions who have enriched her world, exploring how they have accompanied her walks, inspired her work and served as life guides.

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The Wasp that Brainwashed the Caterpillar

Matt Simon

"On a barren seafloor, the pearlfish swims into the safety of a sea cucumber s anus. To find a meal, the female bolas spider releases pheromones that mimic a female moth, luring male moths into her sticky lasso web. The Glyptapanteles wasp injects a caterpillar with her young, which feed on the victim, erupt out of it, then mind-control the poor (and somehow still living) schmuck into protecting them from predators. These are among the curious critters of The Wasp That Brainwashed the Caterpillar, a jaunt through evolution s most unbelievable, most ingenious solutions to the problems of everyday life, from trying to get laid to finding food."--Publisher marketing.

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Spirits of the Coast

Martha Black, Lorne Hammond, Gavin Hanke, Nikki Sanchez

"An insightful collection exploring the plight, past and promise of the orca, powerful symbol of BC's wild coast and apex predator of all oceans. Spirits of the Coast brings together the work of marine biologists, Indigenous knowledge keepers, poets, artists and storytellers, united by their enchantment with the orca. Long feared in Western cultures as 'killer whales,' and respected and honoured by Indigenous cultures as friends, family or benefactors, orcas are complex social beings with culture and language of their own. With contributors ranging from Briony Penn to David Suzuki, Gary Geddes and Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, this collection brings together diverse voices, young and old, to explore the magic, myths, and ecology of orcas. A literary and visual journey through past and possibility, Spirits of the Coast illustrates how these enigmatic animals have shaped us as much as our actions have impacted them, and provokes the reader to imagine the shape of our shared future."--

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River of Teeth

Sarah Gailey

Sarah Gailey's wildfire debut River of Teeth is a rollicking alternate history adventure that Charlie Jane Anders calls "preposterously fun." In the early 20th Century, the United States government concocted a plan to import hippopotamuses into the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This is true. Other true things about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two. This was a terrible plan. Contained within this volume is an 1890s America that might have been: a bayou overrun by feral hippos and mercenary hippo wranglers from around the globe. It is the story of Winslow Houndstooth and his crew. It is the story of their fortunes. It is the story of his revenge.

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Lobizona

Romina Garber

"Garber’s gorgeous novel combines the wonder of a Hogwarts-style magic school with the Twilight-esque dynamics of a hidden magical species that has strict rules about interacting with the human world." - BOOKLIST (Starred Review) Some people ARE illegal. Lobizonas do NOT exist. Both of these statements are false. Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who's on the run from her father's Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida. Until Manu's protective bubble is shattered. Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past—a mysterious "Z" emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong. As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it's not just her U.S. residency that's illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence. “With vivid characters that take on a life of their own, beautiful details that peel back the curtain on Romina's Argentinian heritage, and cutting prose Romina Garber crafts a timely tale of identity and adventure.”–Tomi Adeyemi New York Times bestselling author of Children of Blood and Bone

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Seraphina

Rachel Hartman

Lyrical, imaginative, and wholly original, this New York Times bestseller with 8 starred reviews is not to be missed. Rachel Hartman’s award-winning debut will have you looking at dragons as you’ve never imagined them before… In the kingdom of Goredd, dragons and humans live and work side by side – while below the surface, tensions and hostility simmer. The newest member of the royal court, a uniquely gifted musician named Seraphina, holds a deep secret of her own. One that she guards with all of her being. When a member of the royal family is brutally murdered, Seraphina is drawn into the investigation alongside the dangerously perceptive—and dashing—Prince Lucien. But as the two uncover a sinister plot to destroy the wavering peace of the kingdom, Seraphina’s struggle to protect her secret becomes increasingly difficult… while its discovery could mean her very life. "Will appeal to both fans of Christopher Paolini’s Eragon series and Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown." —Entertainment Weekly “[A] lush, intricately plotted fantasy.” —The Washington Post "Beautifully written. Some of the most interesting dragons I've read." —Christopher Paolini, New York Times bestselling author of Eragon

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Mwd

Brian David Johnson, Jan Egleson

With unflinching candor, a moving graphic novel follows a young woman s return from war and her bond with two dogs one who saves her life in Iraq, and another who helps her reclaim it at home. Liz served in Iraq with her trusty military working dog, Ender, by her side. But now that her tour is over, she has to readjust to life in her small New Hampshire town. Despite being surrounded by people she s known her whole life, Liz feels entirely alone and soon gets trapped in a downward spiral of flashbacks and blackout drinking. Things seem destined for a bad end, but when Liz s on-again-off-again boyfriend, Ben, almost hits a stray dog while she is in the car, things start to change. Brutus might just be the only thing that can bring her back from the brink. Brian David Johnson, Jan Egleson, Laila Milevski, and Karl Stevens have created a searing and honest portrait of reentry to civilian life after war and a touching exploration of the bond between dog and human."

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Elatsoe

Darcie Little Badger

Imagine an America very similar to our own. It's got homework, best friends, and pistachio ice cream. There are some differences. This America been shaped dramatically by the magic, monsters, knowledge, and legends of its peoples, those Indigenous and those not. Some of these forces are charmingly everyday, like the ability to make an orb of light appear or travel across the world through rings of fungi. But other forces are less charming and should never see the light of day. Elatsoe lives in this slightly stranger America. She can raise the ghosts of dead animals, a skill passed down through generations of her Lipan Apache family. Her beloved cousin has just been murdered, in a town that wants no prying eyes. But she is going to do more than pry. The picture-perfect facade of Willowbee masks gruesome secrets, and she will rely on her wits, skills, and friends to tear off the mask and protect her family. Darcie Little Badger is an extraordinary debut talent in the world of speculative fiction. We have paired her with her artistic match, illustrator Rovina Cai. This is a book singular in feeling and beauty.

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The Scorpio Races

Maggie Stiefvater

It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die. At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them. Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

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The Tea Dragon Society

Kay O'Neill

From the award-winning author of Princess Princess Ever After comes The Tea Dragon Society, a charming all-ages book that follows the story of Greta, a blacksmith apprentice, and the people she meets as she becomes entwined in the enchanting world of tea dragons. After discovering a lost tea dragon in the marketplace, Greta learns about the dying art form of tea dragon care-taking from the kind tea shop owners, Hesekiel and Erik. As she befriends them and their shy ward, Minette, Greta sees how the craft enriches their lives--and eventually her own.

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The Good Hawk (Shadow Skye, Book One)

Joseph Elliott

In a mythic Scotland, two unlikely heroes must make a dangerous journey to save their people. Agatha is a Hawk, brave and fierce, who protects her people by patrolling the high walls of their island home. She is proud of her job, though some in her clan whisper that it is meant to keep her out of the way because of the condition she was born with. Jaime, thoughtful and anxious, is an Angler, but he hates the sea. Worse, he’s been chosen for a duty that the clan hasn’t required for generations: to marry. The elders won’t say why they have promised him to a girl in a neighboring clan, but there are rumors of approaching danger. When disaster strikes and the clan is kidnapped, it is up to Agatha and Jaime to travel across the haunted mainland of Scotia to Norveg, with help along the way from a clan of nomadic Highland bull riders and the many animals who are drawn to Agatha’s extraordinary gift of communication. Thrilling and dark yet rich with humor and compassion, this is the first book in the Shadow Skye trilogy, written by a wonderful new voice in fantasy and introducing a welcome new kind of hero.

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Mega-Dogs of New Kansas

Dan Jolley

The story of a girl and her dog—in space. Sienna Barlow loves nothing more than riding around New Kansas on top of her mega-dog, Gus. He's one of the massive pooches protecting the human settlers of a strange planet. In fact, Sienna connects better with Gus than with other kids. So when a visiting official threatens to shut down the mega-dog program, Sienna sneaks off with her best friend. After she, Gus, and a stowaway crash their escape ship, they discover a danger to every human in their community—and launch a wild plan to save New Kansas.

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The Elephant in the Room

Holly Goldberg Sloan

From the New York Times bestselling author of Counting by 7s comes a heartfelt story about "the importance of compassion and bravery when facing life’s challenges” (Kirkus) for fans of The One and Only Ivan and Front Desk. It's been almost a year since Sila's mother traveled halfway around the world to Turkey, hoping to secure the immigration paperwork that would allow her to return to her family in the United States. The long separation is almost impossible for Sila to withstand. But things change when Sila accompanies her father (who is a mechanic) outside their Oregon town to fix a truck. There, behind an enormous stone wall, she meets a grandfatherly man who only months before won the state lottery. Their new alliance leads to the rescue of a circus elephant named Veda, and then to a friendship with an unusual boy named Mateo, proving that comfort and hope come in the most unlikely of places. A moving story of family separation and the importance of the connection between animals and humans, this novel has the enormous heart and uplifting humor that readers have come to expect from the beloved author of Counting by 7s.

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Dragons in a Bag

Zetta Elliott

In Brooklyn, nine-year-old Jax joins Ma, a curmudgeonly witch who lives in his building, on a quest to deliver three baby dragons to a magical world, and along the way discovers his true calling.

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A Wolf Called Wander

Rosanne Parry

“Don’t miss this dazzling tour de force.”—Katherine Applegate, Newbery Medal winning author of The One and Only Ivan This gripping novel about survival and family is based on the real story of one wolf’s incredible journey to find a safe place to call home. Illustrated throughout, this irresistible tale by award-winning author Rosanne Parry is for fans of Sara Pennypacker’s Pax and Katherine Applegate’s The One and Only Ivan. Swift, a young wolf cub, lives with his pack in the mountains learning to hunt, competing with his brothers and sisters for hierarchy, and watching over a new litter of cubs. Then a rival pack attacks, and Swift and his family scatter. Alone and scared, Swift must flee and find a new home. His journey takes him a remarkable one thousand miles across the Pacific Northwest. The trip is full of peril, and Swift encounters forest fires, hunters, highways, and hunger before he finds his new home. Inspired by the extraordinary true story of a wolf named OR-7 (or Journey), this irresistible tale of survival invites readers to experience and imagine what it would be like to be one of the most misunderstood animals on earth. This gripping and appealing novel about family, courage, loyalty, and the natural world is for fans of Fred Gipson’s Old Yeller and Katherine Applegate’s Endling. Includes black-and-white illustrations throughout and a map as well as information about the real wolf who inspired the novel.

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Solomon Crocodile

Catherine Rayner

Poor Solomon is looking for some fun but no one wants to play. The dragonflies tell him to buzz off, the storks get in a flap, and the hippo? Well, the less said about the hippo, the better! But then somebody else starts causing trouble . . . and for once it is NOT Solomon. Could it be the perfect pal for a lonely crocodile? Solomon Crocodile is a snappy, happy, fun story with stunning artwork from the Kate Greenaway award-winning Catherine Rayner.

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CatStronauts: Mission Moon

Drew Brockington

CatStronauts, you are needed! When the world is thrust into darkness due to a global energy shortage, the Worlds Best Scientist comes up with a bold plan to set up a solar power plant on the moon. But someone has to go up there to set it up, and that adventure falls to the CatStronauts, the best space cats on the planet! Meet the fearless commander Major Meowser, brave-but-hungry pilot Waffles, genius technician and inventor Blanket, and quick thinking science officer Pom Pom on their most important mission yet! In this graphic novel, debut author and illustrator Drew Brockington breathes life into a world populated entirely by cats, brimming with jokes, charm, science, and enough big boxes and tuna sandwiches for everyone!

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Looking for more resources? We have you covered. Check out our entire list of Summer Reading recommendations. For more personalized recommendations, fill out our recommendation form.