These new chapter books will certainly interest boys ages 8 to 12. They include dog tales, a hiking adventure and a plea from a Navy Seal to work harder. Don’t forget how important it is for kids to keep reading, especially during the summer.

The Trail

By Meika Hashimoto; Scholastic Press; 229 pages; $16.99

Meika Hashimoto’s action-packed read, The Trail, stars 12-year-old Toby, who sets off on his own to hike the Appalachian Trail. Toby and his best friend, Lucas, had a list of summer activities they wanted to do, but now Toby’s on his own, determined to fulfill on this pact.

Though it may seem at first that a boy his age wouldn’t be hiking that far on his own, Toby seems mature and very brave as he works out his own negative self-image on his quest to keep his promise to Lucas.

With bears and blisters and hunger and loneliness, Toby has his work cut out for him. He does make friends along the way and help them when a storm hits. They’re older and have a ragged dog by their sides.

With Lucas’ voice and Toby’s family background always in his head, he ventures on. This is a thrilling, thoughtful story that is perfect for summer reading.


By Gordon Korman; Scholastic Press; 249 pages; $16.99

Restart is fantastically written by Gordon Korman, the best-selling author of many a comedic middle-grade novel (Swindle and Slacker are two).

It’s like Korman’s others and is wry, witty, layered and intense. It stars a boy named Chase who awakens in the hospital after a strange dive out of a window. He can’t remember his life and later can’t figure out why so many kids at school have so many different reactions to him. Apparently Chase wasn’t always so nice at his middle school — one girl is so mad at him she dumps frozen yogurt on his head.

Restart is the truly wise, funny, entertaining journey of one boy’s introspection and decisions to grow up and figure himself out. It tackles bullying and friendships in the unique, multilayered way Korman does so well.

Chester and Gus

By Cammie McGovern; HarperCollins; 256 pages; $16.99

Chester and Gus is a moving, heartwarming story about an autistic boy and a determined aspiring service dog that fails his first certification test. It reads like a beloved classic tale of dog and boy.

Told from dog Chester’s point of view, the poignant but easily readable story will thrill dog lovers; they will enjoy his journey from disappointed to empowered dog that’s figuring out Gus’ needs.

Cammie McGovern’s story is a heart warmer with plenty of joy and determination. She writes with lots of love and the understanding of how miraculous dogs can be.

Hero: Hurricane Rescue, by Jennifer Li Shotz, is another emboldened dog tale about a retired rescue dog named Hero that needs to find his friend Ben’s friend, Jack, and his dog, Scout, when a hurricane spins out of control. There’s lots of action and heart.

Way of the Warrior Kid

By Jocko Willink; illustrated by Jon Bozak; Feiwel & Friends; 182 pages; 13.99

Lots of boys ages 8 to 12 idolize Navy Seals, other military personnel and athletes.

The kid-friendly tale, Way of the Warrior Kid, introduces a boy named Marc, who has a tough fifth-grade year. A field trip is ruined because he can’t swim and has a hard math class. The class bully, known as the King of the Jungle Gym, also plays a part in Marc’s bad year.

Hope arrives, though, when Marc’s uncle, Jake, a Navy Seal, comes to stay for the summer.

From the book’s subtitle “From Wimpy to Warrior the Navy Seal Way,” we learn Jake is going to help Marc empower himself, which involves pullups, pushups, swimming, eating right and studying harder.

Although Marc’s aim is to finally stand up to the King of the Jungle Gym, his true accomplishments are in what he achieves for himself and how he goes “from wimpy to warrior in one summer.”​

Jocko Willink, a decorated Navy Seal, is empowering and positive with this motivating tale for all kids.

King of the Bench: Control Freak, by Steve Moore, is a determined tale about a boy who wants to be better at sports, but this one is chock-full of deadpan humor and magic.

It’s also empowering but there’s a reminder to laugh even when you always play benchwarmer. Steve Moore’s wacky tale should appeal to boys who love to laugh at themselves.

— Lee Littlewood writes the Kids’ Home Library column for Creators. The San Diego wife and mom’s pure love of children’s literature helps her stay interested in words and pictures meant for tots to teens. Click here to contact her, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.

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