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Summer is here! And you know what that means… It’s Summer Learning Challenge time! You can find all of our amazing summer programs,  along with how to sign up in Beanstack to get started earning points. We have programming for all ages and interests that ties into our SLC theme of “Tales and Tails!”

And to get you started off right, our library staff have curated four (yes, FOUR) book lists in Beanstack that we feel have not-to-be-missed titles on them. You can find them under Recommendations on your Beanstack dashboard. Selecting “View All” will show all of the 2021 Tales and Tales book lists.

We will be featuring each of the book lists throughout Summer 2021, so be sure to check back often to see what’s next.  This week, let’s explore the 2021 – Tales and Tails Children’s Middle Grade List! 

(All summaries are from the publishers. Staff picks are chosen by CCPL staff members and are not intended to be comprehensive lists. We’d love to hear your ideas too, so write to us and tell us what you’d recommend!)

Need a library card? Please visit Get a Library Card to sign up for one today!

Absolute Expert: Pandas by Ruth Strother

From adorable giant panda cubs to saving bamboo forests in China, get the latest giant panda insights and intel straight from the field from National Geographic explorer and conservationist Marc Brody. Ready to go on a search for giant pandas in mountainous bamboo forests? Travel to China to learn all about these black-and-white bears so YOU can become an absolute expert. Get up close with giant pandas in the wild and see where they make their home in the misty mountains. Learn about their bamboo diet and how they lumber through the mountains, searching for tasty bamboo shoots. Read about panda cubs and how their mothers take care of them. You’ll learn about the giant panda’s habitat and why preserving it is so vital for the panda’s survival. On this journey to China’s mountains, National Geographic Explorer Marc Brody will be your guide. He’ll give you all the latest facts from the field and even share what it’s like to put on a panda suit and hang out with furry panda cubs. You’ll get to know these roly-poly bears in this cool book, filled with amazing images, special features, wacky trivia, and more.

Allergic by Megan Wagner Lloyd

A coming-of-age middle-grade graphic novel featuring a girl with severe allergies who just wants to find the perfect pet! At home, Maggie is the odd one out. Her parents are preoccupied with getting ready for a new baby, and her younger brothers are twins and always in their own world. Maggie loves animals and thinks a new puppy to call her own is the answer, but when she goes to select one on her birthday, she breaks out in hives and rashes. She’s severely allergic to anything with fur! Can Maggie outsmart her allergies and find the perfect pet? With illustrations by Michelle Mee Nutter, Megan Wagner Lloyd uses inspiration from her own experiences with allergies to tell a heartfelt story of family, friendship, and finding a place to belong.

Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids by Cynthia L. Smith

This collection of intersecting stories by both new and veteran Native writers bursts with hope, joy, resilience, the strength of community, and Native pride.

Beauty and the Beak by Deborah Lee Rose

The true story of Beauty the eagle’s rescue and rehabilitation. Beauty has been featured on Nat Geo WILD TV’s Unlikely Animal Friends, in the National Wildlife Federation’s Ranger Rick magazine, and on the National Academy of Engineering (NAE) EngineerGirl website.

Book Uncle and Me by Uma Krishnaswami

Every day, nine-year-old Yasmin borrows a book from Book Uncle, a retired teacher who has set up a free lending library next to her apartment building. But when the mayor tries to shut down the rickety bookstand, Yasmin has to take her nose out of her book and do something. But what can she do? The local elections are coming up but she’s just a kid. She can’t even vote! Still, Yasmin has friends — her best friend, Reeni, and Anil, who even has a black belt in karate. And she has grownup family and neighbors who, no matter how preoccupied they are, care about what goes on in their community. Then Yasmin remembers a story that Book Uncle selected for her. It’s an old folktale about a flock of doves trapped in a hunter’s net. The birds realize that if they all flap their wings at the same time, they can lift the net and fly to safety, where they seek the help of a friendly mole who chews a hole in the net and sets them free. And so the children get to work, launching a campaign to make sure the voices of the community are heard.

Cassandra, Animal Psychic by Isabell Bottier

While struggling to cope with major changes in her life, fourteen-year-old Cassandra decides to help others by using her ability to see what animals are thinking, beginning with finding a lost cat.

Crocodile Rescue! (Wild Survival, #1), Volume 1 by Melissa Chritina Marquez

Twelve-year-old Adrianna Villalobos and her older brother Feye travel the globe with their parents, the hosts of a suspenseful nature show called “Wild Survival!” The show features daring animal rescues and the work the family does at their animal sanctuary. They’ve recently gotten an offer to take the show from YouTube to a TV network, and Adrianna is thrilled. So far, she’s always been behind the scenes, but now she gets to join the rest of her family onscreen. She can’t wait to bring her passion for animals to a wide audience. Their first stop is the lush mangrove forests of Cuba, where they’re going to help rescue an injured crocodile. But things get off to a rocky start when Feye is injured in an accident partially caused by Adrianna. The status of the show is in jeopardy, and Adrianna’s parents want her back behind the scenes, or maybe even back at home. Adrianna is determined to prove herself, and save the show-whatever it takes. Even if that means confronting the legendary Mega Croc of Cuba that’s rumored to inhabit the murky waters around their base camp.

Dactyl Hill Squad by Daniel Jose Older

It is the summer of 1863, and as the Civil War rages between dinosaur-mounted armies down south, and a tense New York City seems on the brink of exploding into riots, Magdalys Roca and the other children at the Colored Orphan Asylum are trying to survive; but when she receives a letter telling her that her brother Montez was wounded, Magdalys knows that somehow she must reach him–and just possibly her ability to communicate telepathically with dinosaurs may come in handy.

Happy Paws by Vicky Fang

While Layla and her three Bots (Beep, Boop, and Bop) are setting up for their rock band’s performance, she gets some bad news, Happy Days Amusement Park is closing; Layla thinks she has the perfect solution: turn the place into an amusement park for dogs–but the new rides have to pass a safety inspection before Happy Paws Amusement Park can open.

Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power! By Mariko Tamaki

Welcome to Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types. The five scouts of Roanoke cabin–Jo, April, Molly, Mal, and Ripley–love their summers at camp. They get to hang out with their best friends, earn Lumberjane scout badges, annoy their no-nonsense counselor Jen. and go on supernatural adventures. That last one? A pretty normal occurrence at Miss Qiunzella’s, where the woods contain endless mysteries. Today is no exception. When challenge-loving April leads the girls on a hike up the tallest mountain they’ve ever seen, things don’t go quite as planned. For one, they didn’t expect to trespass into the lands of the ancient Cloud People, and did anyone happen to read those ominous signs some unknown person posted at the bottom of the mountain? Also, unicorns.

Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt & Alison McGhee

When her sister Sylvie goes missing on a snowy morning and is never seen again, Jules refuses to believe she is gone forever, meanwhile, in the shadow world, a shadow fox is born.

Owl Diaries by Rebecca Elliot

Pet Records by Julie Beer

Pets are more than just our animal besties. They’re totally extreme! From the largest to the smallest, the biggest braniacs to the most awesome athletes, discover the amazing talents of all kinds of animals, including dogs, cats, bunnies, horses, reptiles, fish, even insects, and more. Some were just born this way. Others have worked hard to develop their skills. Plus, you’ll dive into the details behind the records, see how different pets match up, and encounter some of the world’s wackiest pet places. With eye-popping design, unforgettable photographs, and amazing stats, this book is sure to become the leader of the pack on every kid’s bookshelf!

Saucy by Cynthia Kadohata

When eleven-year-old Becca, a quadruplet, finds a sick piglet on the side of the road, her life is changed forever.

Saving the Tasmanian Devil by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent

In this addition to the critically acclaimed Scientist in the Field series, Dorothy Patent follows the scientists trying to put a stop to a gruesome disease before it’s too late. Tasmanian devils are dying at an alarming rate from a type of tumor that appears to be contagious. What scientists are learning while researching the Tasmanian devil has potential to affect all animals, and even humans, as they learn more about how to prevent and hopefully eradicate certain genetic diseases.

Science Comics: Sharks, Nature’s Perfect Hunter by Joe Flood

Presented in comic book format, this in-depth introduction to sharks examines their undersea terrain, their cunning adaptability, and their staggering variety.

The Dragon Slayer by Jaime Hernandez

A collection of three Latin American folktales retold in graphic novel form.

The Elephant in the Room by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Missing her mother who has returned to Turkey to resolve an immigration problem, sixth-grader Sila welcomes a very large distraction in her life when she helps a surprising new friend rescue a circus elephant.

The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford

Experience a timeless tale of courage and perseverance as three ordinary pets defy the odds in one extraordinary odyssey. When these devoted friends find themselves separated from their owners, the intrepid trio embark on a thrilling trek across the Canadian wilderness in an attempt to be reunited with them. Together, Luath, the young Labrador retriever; Bodger, the aging bull terrier; and Tao, the spunky Siamese cat, face hunger, wild animals, rushing rivers and many more perils.

This Was Our Pact by Ryan Andrews

A 2019 Booklist Editor’s Choice A 2019 Kirkus Reviews Best Books of the Year A 2019 Parents Magazine Best Children’s Books of the Year Ryan Andrews’s This Was Our Pact is an astonishing, magical-realist adventure story for middle-grade readers. It’s the night of the annual Autumn Equinox Festival, when the town gathers to float paper lanterns down the river. Legend has it that after drifting out of sight, they’ll soar off to the Milky Way and turn into brilliant stars, but could that actually be true? This year, Ben and his classmates are determined to find out where those lanterns really go, and to ensure success in their mission, they’ve made a pact with two simple rules: No one turns for home. No one looks back. The plan is to follow the river on their bikes for as long as it takes to learn the truth, but it isn’t long before the pact is broken by all except for Ben and (much to Ben’s disappointment) Nathaniel, the one kid who just doesn’t seem to fit in. Together, Nathaniel and Ben will travel farther than anyone has ever gone, down a winding road full of magic, wonder, and unexpected friendship.

Weird, But True! Dinosaurs by National Geographic Kids

Calling all dino dynamos! Get ready to devour wacky wonders, facts, stats, and trivia about all things dinosaur. Did you know that the T. rex had vision 13 times better than the average human’s? Or that people collect fossilized dino poop? And get this: There’s a dinosaur named after Hogwarts–Harry Potter’s wizarding school! Get ready to meet dinosaurs with horns and feathers, razor-sharp claws and gigantic teeth. You’ll encounter the places they lived, the bizarre art they inspired, and the amazing paleontologists who discovered them.

When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller

Would you make a deal with a magical tiger? This uplifting story brings brings Korean folklore to life as a girl goes on a quest to unlock the power of stories and save her grandmother. Some stories refuse to stay bottled up… When Lily and her family move in with her sick grandmother, a magical tiger straight out of her halmoni’s Korean folktales arrives, prompting Lily to unravel a secret family history. Long, long ago, Halmoni stole something from the tigers. Now they want it back. And when one of the tigers approaches Lily with a deal—return what her grandmother stole in exchange for Halmoni’s health—Lily is tempted to agree. But deals with tigers are never what they seem! With the help of her sister and her new friend Ricky, Lily must find her voice…and the courage to face a tiger. Tae Keller, the award-winning author of The Science of Breakable Things , shares a sparkling tale about the power of stories and the magic of family. Think Walk Two Moons meets Where the Mountain Meets the Moon ! “If stories were written in the stars … this wondrous tale would be one of the brightest.

Who Were the Brothers Grimm? by Avery Reed

Details the life and times of the nineteenth-century German brothers who penned many famous fairy tales.