I can hardly believe we're already seven months into this year. Just when it felt like we'd just gotten through winter, we moved into summer. The Twilight Criterium, Human Rights Festival and AthFest just rolled by.
In honor of these last weeks of the steamy Southern summer, here is a list of books for you and/or your children's enjoyment for reading at the beach, the pool or late into the humid nights.
CHILDREN 10 AND UNDER
► "A Nest Full of Stars" by James Berry (Amistad, 96 pages, $16.89)
This book captures the essence of summer with colorful art inspired by the author's upbringing in Jamaica.
Berry uses beautiful poetry written in what he calls his own "Caribbean Poem" style to depict growing up and being curious about the world as a young person.
It's a delightful collection of writing, perfect for reading aloud together.
► "Fairy Houses ... Everywhere!" by Barry & Tracy Kane (Light-Beams Publishing, 56 pages, $14.95)
Summer is the time of year when the fairies are out and about, playing and laughing and vacationing just like you. "Fairy Houses ... Everywhere!" includes all sorts of magical real-life fairy houses, from the very simple to the extravagant, as well as an entire chapter devoted to tiny homes on the beach.
Take this book for inspiration next time you're on a picnic, hike or for a day at the beach, and make a fairy house of your own.
► "Jolly Mon" by Jimmy & Savannah Jane Buffett (Harcourt, 32 pages, $17.95)
On a remote island off the Caribbean called Bananaland lives a man whom they call The Jolly Mon, whose sweet and beautiful singing carries throughout the land and brings joy to the people.
The book is filled with striking, island-style illustrations and a magical and adventurous story. It's a charming read for the beach.
11 AND UP
► "Guitar Highway Rose" by Brigid Lowry (Holiday House, 196 pages, $16.95)
A unique story written in a unique format about 15-year-old Rosie, who is desperate for excitement in her life.
Half road story and half romance, with intriguing characters and scenarios, this book is a fun read with a serious plot, ideal for reading late into the night.
► "Pictures of Hollis Woods" by Patricia Reilly Giff (Yearling, 168 pages, $6.50)
Hollis Woods has been in so many foster homes she can't even remember all of them. Hollis has been in trouble with every family she's been with. But then she goes to Josie, an eccentric old artist, who changes Hollis' view on life.
This is a touching novel about two artists who -- though they may seem rather different -- are both equally inspiring.
It's an exceptional story with that mosquito bites and dirty fingernails feel of summer as a child.
► "Altered Clothing" by Kathleen Maggio (Quarry Books, 136 pages, $24.99)
For those of you who have that one favorite shirt that is too hot for summer, there is hope. "Altered Clothing" shows how to take old and out-of-style clothes and turn them into modern DIY pieces.
It's written by a professional and filled with photographic steps and before and after examples. Ideal for taking old winter-wear and making it into fashionable pieces for the summer.
► "Kira-Kira" by Cynthia Kadohata (Aladdin Paperbacks, 244 pages, $6.99)
One of my favorite young-adult novels, "Kira-Kira" is an unforgettable story about poor Katie Takeshima, who moves from Iowa to Georgia, where her sister Lynn teaches her about people and things through her eyes. Lynn's way of perceiving the world is extraordinary, but when Lynn falls terribly ill, it's up to Katie to remind her family of the simple and beautiful things. An incomparable read that will move you up until the last word.