New Releases for Fun Summer Reading

There is nothing more relaxing than the perfect book and a nice cool drink on a summer day. If you are looking for something interesting to add to your kid’s summer reading list, or if they are for a new book, check out one of these recent releases:

The Mysteries of Beethoven’s Hair by Russell Martin and Nadia Nibley.

Young readers seeking interesting non-fiction will welcome this book to their shelves. The story traces a lock of Beethoven’s hair, cut from his head at his funeral, and follows this prized possession as it changes ownership over the decades. The authors skillfully weave in historical events that occur in the process. When the most current owners secure the hair, modern science helps to reveal interesting details about the illnesses that may have plagued the composer throughout his life. Part mystery, part medical research, the non-fiction work is fascinating for kids who have an interest in anything related to forensic science. The author includes comprehensive notes about writing non-fiction. A perfect summer read for a young CSI fan.

The Importance of Wings by Robin Friedman

Roxanne and her sister live with their Aba on Staten Island in New York. Their mom, Ema, has gone to Israel to care for an ill sister. Roxanne feels a grave loss without her mother and struggles to balance her family background with her longing to fit in as a typical American. When another Israeli girl moves into the “haunted house” next door, Roxanne begins a journey to find comfort in her own identity, with a greater appreciation of her family and her home. Roxanne’s story is engaging and thought provoking, offering tremendous insight into the emotional challenges that many immigrants face. The story is set in the 1980’s. However, while this time period provides an interesting setting for fun details such as televisions shows and fashions, including “wing” bangs that were popular in the era, the emotions and relationship dynamics of the story are timeless. The Importance of Wings is a heartwarming, beautifully crafted novel.

American Girl Doll Books: The Rebecca series by Jacqueline Dembar Greene

The American Girl Company has launched numerous dolls with accompanying books about the character. The newest addition is Rebecca Rubin, a young girl growing up on the Lower East Side of New York in 1914. Each of the books is rich in detail and offers historical information at the end of each story. Rebecca is a likeable girl, with goals, dreams, and real flaws. Rebecca is a sympathetic character whose struggles are universal and timeless. The author does an excellent job of creating realistic situations that honor the traditional values of the grandparents, as well as the more modern lifestyle of the younger family members. Readers will also learn about significant historical events such as immigration and the creation of unions and labor laws, as seen through the eyes of Rebecca. Colorful settings such as Coney Island, the busy streets of the Lower East Side, and a movie set from the early 1900’s, add interest and appeal.

Happy Summer Reading!

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Like A Maccabee – This middle grade chapter book tells the story of Ben, a 10-year-old boy who is gearing up for a championship soccer game while adjusting to the changes in his family that have occurred since his grandfather moved in. Ben faces challenges at school, including the bully from the opposing soccer team, and frustrations at home.

About Barbara Bietz

Barbara is a writer from Oak Park, California. Her favorite pastime is reading children’s books. She enjoys writing for adults and children. Her work has appeared in numerous publications. Visit Barbara’s website at and blog – Talking about great kid’s books and sharing ideas about writing for kids.
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Some of the books reviewed have been provided by the author or publisher in order to present the most accurate information possible.

Children’s Book Reviews


Barbara Bietz

Barbara Bietz, -Childrens' Books and Movie Section, is a children's author, magazine writer, children's book reviewer, and past chair of the Sydney Taylor Book Award Committee. She loves talking about the creative process, books and the craft of writing. Her middle-grade chapter book, LIKE a MACCABEE,(Yotzeret Publishing) is a PJ Library selection. Barbara reviews books and movies and has contributed to numerous print and online publications. She also teaches writing classes for adults. Learn more about Barbara at
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