Great Realistic Fiction for Upper Elementary – Strudel’s Forever Home; Summerlost


Freeman, Martha. Strudel’s Forever Home. New York: Holiday House, 2016. 978-0-8234-3534-0. 184 pages. $16.95. Gr 3-6.

It’s a big world of adventure for a little dachshund, especially while adapting to his new adopted family in Martha Freeman’s latest chapter book for upper elementary readers. Strudel needs to learn how to handle his pack, including a loving boy who has some bully struggles. A gang of cats also torments Strudel, until the brave dog with the heart of a hero forms a plan. Can the family get around the trials and tribulations to keep Strudel in his forever home? Freeman has a hit for dog-lovers and anyone looking for lessons on bravery and loyalty.  THOUGHTS: Writing from the point of view of the dog creates an entertaining perspective in this book. The reader gets to hear a voice that tells a different kind of story and think how things would look through canine eyes. The bully plot points also open the door to useful classroom/family discussions.

Realistic Fiction     Dustin Brackbill, State College Area School District



Condie, Ally. Summerlost. New York: Dutton Children’s Books, 2016. 978-0-399-18719-3. 249 pp. $17.99. Gr 4-6.

Dealing with loss and change are rarely easy, and a sense of melancholy or rebellion are both common responses. When Cedar’s brother, Ben, and her father are killed in a drunk driving accident, she and her mom and brother Miles try to pass the summer by moving back to her mother’s hometown. Cedar is lonely, until she follows an unusual neighbor boy into the world of Summerlost, a Shakespearian theater festival. This new community provides her with work, friendship, and a mystery revolving around the town’s most famous actress who died 20 years ago and may still be haunting the area. Still, Cedar has ghosts of her own to face at home. This engaging, empathetic novel will provide a meaningful outlet to the summer doldrums.  THOUGHTS: The content may feel more middle school than elementary, but there is nothing objectionable for upper elementary readers. Summerlost is especially relevant for social outcasts,  theater lovers, those with big dreams, or grieving families. There are also honest discussions about perceptions of race, relationships, and emotions in this heartfelt novel.

Realistic Fiction    Dustin Brackbill, State College Area School District

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *