Children’s novels: Summer adventures away from home

Have you noticed that there’s something extra appealing when you get the parents out of the way in a children’s novel? I certainly don’t intend for that to sound disprespectful or malicious, but I find stories especially satisfying when the child is out on his or her own, often in unfamiliar situations. Summer settings are ideal for these kinds of stories, especially when the main character spends an extended period of time with an uncle on a Washington island, a distant relative in a haunted house in San Francisco or helping rescue animals in Seattle.

Here are three books packed with summer and adventure (and no parents!): 

Seaglass Summer by Anjali Banerjee
This local author’s story has it all, as far as I’m concerned: Animals, the beach and a western Washington setting. Eleven-year-old Poppy wants to be a veterinarian some day, so she jumps at the chance to visit her Uncle Sanjay and help him at the Furry Friends Animal Clinic on Nisqually Island (a fictional Puget Sound location that seems a bit like Whidbey Island). The day to day work at a vet’s office turns out to be a bit harder – and a lot more rewarding – than Poppy could have imagined. This delightful, heartfelt book will appeal to animal lovers, and the Northwest island setting is at once familiar and new.

Gilda Joyce, Psychic Investigator by Jennifer Allison
Thirteen-year-old Gilda has been honing her psychic abilities, hoping to communicate with her father who died two years ago while also making sure she’s ready should any spooky mysteries arise. Gilda’s powers get put to the test soon after she arrives in San Francisco to visit a distant relative. Not only is there a ghost living in the old mansion, but an earlier death seems suspicious. Gilda is a superior sleuth — and she loves seances, so what more do you need to know? A super fun series.

Jackie’s Wild Seattle by Will Hobbs 
Fourteen-year-old Shannon and her younger brother Cody leave New York to stay with their uncle in Seattle while their parents travel with Doctors without Borders. Their Uncle Neal volunteers with Jackie’s Wild Seattle, a wildlife rescue facility. Seattle readers will see much that is familiar, as well as unexpected parts of the city and region — from Deception Pass to “Underground Seattle” to rescue a raccoon. When Uncle Neal is injured, Shannon and Cody must put their new-found skills to the test. Lots of adventure in this one.

You can keep track of the books you read this summer and help us reach our goal of 148,000 books read in the city of Seattle this summer! Follow these links to signup online: Summer Reading for Adults, Summer Reading for Teens and Summer Reading for Children.

2 thoughts on “Children’s novels: Summer adventures away from home”

  1. For a series of books where the grown-ups are always gone and the kids have amazing adventures, try the Arthur Ransome “Swallows and Amazons” books. I love reading these in the summer and I am so jealous of those children’s adventures!

  2. Pretty much all of Lois Duncan’s books have parents very far off-screen. I still remember writing two “novels” in middle school based on some of Duncan’s wacky ESP/astral projection/teens alone at beach houses premises and being told by my father it was totally unrealistic. I should have told him–that’s what kids want!

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