6 Middle Grade Books About Summer in the City

From a big-city internship to work at the family Laundromat, these books for tweens deliver a range of experiences.

Magnolia Wu Unfolds It All by Chanel Miller. Philomel. Apr. 2024.
Gr 3 Up–Magnolia Wu is a sock detective, determined to return all the stray ones in her parents’ Laundromat to their rightful owners. With a new friend, she spends the summer trying to solve the mystery of each sock, which takes them both on journeys through subways, into pizzerias and delis, and through the nooks and crannies of the city she calls home. Magnolia will learn that everyone has a story—and she makes friends and memories while discovering those stories.

Karthik Delivers by Sheela Chari. Abrams/Amulet. 2022.
Gr 5 Up–It is the summer of 2009, and Karthik is making deliveries for his father’s Indian grocery store. He is also, secretly, taking the lead in a play about Leonard Bernstein, but his parents don’t know about that. Chari combines the warm summer stories of family and self-discovery with one of New York City’s most famous pastimes—theater.

The Flyers by Beth Turley. S. & S. 2021.
Gr 3 Up–Four seventh grade girls spend part of their summer interning for Spread Your Wings magazine in New York City. It’s a story about finding yourself in new places, with new people, and learning who you are and what you can be.

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia. HarperCollins/Quill Tree. 2010.
Gr 3 Up–In this classic summer tale that won a Newbery Honor, it’s the summer of 1968, and our three main characters leave the big city—New York—to visit family in a West Coast city, ­Oakland, CA. Delphine and her two younger sisters journey alone to spend time with a mother they hardly know. Along the way, they learn about heartbreak, healing, family, and the Black Panthers.

Summer in the City by Mary-Louise Gay & David Homel. Groundwood. 2012.
Gr 2 Up–This book on the very young end of middle grade stars a boy named ­Charlie, who staycations with his family in the city of Montreal and experiences backyard camping, pet-sitting disasters, and more ­adventures. It is the third in a series ­including Travels with My Family and On the Road Again!

The above is not to be confused with:

Summer in the City by Fracaswell Hyman. Union Square Kids & Co. 2020.
Gr 5 Up–Mango is anticipating a chill summer at home—until her drama teacher tells her that the middle school play, Yo, Romeo!, is headed to New York City—and asks Mango to star in it. Mango bunks in her aunt’s small Brooklyn apartment while preparing for her debut! This is a sequel to Hyman’s Mango Delight .

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