Brianna’s Books: August Favorites 2023

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I’ve got a nice mix of books for you this month! Family and empathy, swimming  and an adrenaline-packed, weeklong dragon race — there’s something for everyone to enjoy in our last full month of summer.

Picture Books

There's Always Room for One More coverThere’s Always Room for One More” written by Robyn McGrath and illustrated by Ishaa Lobo 

Clare is looking forward to Grandpa moving in with their family, until Mama declares that this means the family will need a bigger table. Clare loved her old table, which was just right for homework and family breakfasts. The bigger table arrives and the family and neighbors help to clean and sand it, and Clare starts feeling overwhelmed and missing the old table. Mama gently points out that Grandpa might be feeling a little overwhelmed too about leaving his old home. Clare and Mama work together to make Grandpa’s favorite dessert to welcome him with a big party where she understands that a new table means plenty of room for new memories. This is a wonderful celebration of family and navigating change.

Tiny Barbarian Conquers the Kraken coverTiny Barbarian Conquers the Kraken” written by Ame Dyckman and illustrated by Ashley Spires

Tiny longs to be like his favorite hero, Bob the Barbarian. Bob swam across the ocean and conquered the kraken, so Tiny is eager to do the same. But first he has to conquer swim lessons! Accompanied by his parents, Tiny heads to the community pool where he learns how to do things like blow bubbles and dog paddle. Feeling confident with his new knowledge and new gear (goggles and a kickboard!) Tiny is prepared when the kraken arrives to threaten his family. This delightful book is not only full of imaginative fantasy sequences as Tiny lives out his barbarian dreams, it also provides valuable info about swim lessons. Little ones who might be nervous about learning to swim will feel reassured as Tiny learns to put his face in the water and float. I love the practical mixed with the fanciful!

Chapter Books

Barely Floating coverBarely Floating” by Lilliam Rivera

Nat spends most of her free time at the community pool, challenging people to races and winning money. People always underestimate her because of either her age or her size. But being a curvy twelve-year-old Latina has never stopped Nat from winning a race. Then she sees the local synchronized swimming team perform, and she sets her eyes on a new prize. The L.A. Mermaids have grace, strength and lots of sequins, and Nat eagerly signs up. Unfortunately, her activist mom doesn’t approve of anything overly focused on traditional female beauty norms or physical appearance — and synchronized swimming as a sport has more than its share of thin white girls. So now Nat has to keep her new passion a secret from her family, all while trying to balance new and old friendships and a challenging practice schedule. Nat is a fierce and unapologetically confident protagonist that readers will love to root for.

The Great Texas Dragon Race coverThe Great Texas Dragon Race” by Kacy Ritter

Cassidy lives with her Pa and grandma on the largest dragon sanctuary in the American Southwest. She loves dragons and is passionate about caring for and protecting them. But a dragon ranch is expensive to run, and the bills have been piling up, to the point that Pa is actually considering selling to the unscrupulous energy company FireCorp. Cassidy won’t stand for that, so she takes matters into her own hands and enters the Great Texas Dragon Race, hoping to win the grand prize and save the ranch. Following in her late mother’s footsteps, who was the first woman to win the Race, Cassidy plunges into a cutthroat competition against independent competitors and corporate-sponsored ones alike. With “Hunger Games” and “Wings of Fire” vibes, this stand-alone contemporary fantasy has a lot to offer.