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August Must Reads

Updated: Jan 28, 2023

Clover’s “August Must Reads” are spot on. Their focus isn’t on stories about polka dots, or the spots on a cheetah’s fur, but on places we find ourselves in, depending on what life dishes out and the moods we experience.

The characters in these stories experience highs and lows—good feelings and tough ones too. Some seek special spots to call their own for peaceful mental meandering, others feel out of place for one reason or another.

So get your spots on, young readers, you’re sure to identify with the boys, girls and animals in Clover’s newest selections.

The Community Literacy Foundation, in partnership with Neighborhood Reads and with support from its sponsors, provides these books to 40 school and public libraries in Washington, Union, Pacific, St. Clair and surrounding communities. Learn more at

Youngest Read

Emotions, desires and attributes get star treatment in “What Feelings Do When No One’s Looking,” an engaging read by Tina Oziewicz that makes you contemplate where you are in the moment. Simple, unique art by Aleksandra Zaja features creatures that personify emotions and aspirations, creatures reminiscent of those from the classic “Where the Wild Things Are.”

We meet Joy as it “bounces on a trampoline,” a furry “what’s it” having the time of its life spring-boarding into happy. Not as welcome are the dreaded Jitters, that “sit in a rusty can in a dark corner under a wardrobe” or Envy that “… tramples all that is beautiful,” a nasty meanie shown squashing a lovely blossom underfoot.

The book’s spreads often include only one-liners, offering space for delightful art that extends the meaning of the text. “Anxiety juggles” features a disturbed fur ball on a unicycle trying to keep balls in the air, while “Kindness quiets the storm” as it sits under an umbrella disbursing drinks and providing shelter to little ones.

“Gratitude warms” and readers will give thanks for this thought-provoking read that might be the impetus for an attitude change or encourage us to give ourselves a pat on the back for the positive emotions we display.

YouTube Video featuring the author and illustrator from Poland, and a reading:

Middle Read

Adopt the goal of a Woolf—not a tricky one like the toothy snarler in “Little Red Riding Hood” but a famous literary figure from the past, Virginia Woolf. It was this writer’s desire to discover a place of refuge that would be solely hers. “A Room of Your Own” by Beth Kephart, is a lovely book inspired by Woolf’s essay.

Using the natural world and the world of books too, artist Julia Breckenreid perfectly captures the wonder in the search for this “room,” be it outside the doors, amidst a green flowering landscape, or inside in a room that is “… a glorious mess or whistle clean?”

No matter the location, your room, like Woolf’s heart’s desire, will offer a place “… to think … to dream … to be.” With Woolf as a guide, her image gracing some of the pages, young readers will explore places where they might find solace during the day and night, each holds its unique delights.

Any child who has ever stretched a sheet over two chairs to create a makeshift tent, or created a secret hideout in the woods, knows the joy in discovering a room of their own.

Oldest Read

Entering middle school can be a challenge. When coupled with a new ADHD diagnosis the transition can be even more difficult. So it goes for Max, in “A Perfect Mistake,” a thrilling read by Melanie Conklin that keeps you glued to the page, not knowing how a mystery contained within will conclude until the final pages.

Like most middle-schoolers, the last thing Max wants is to stand out, but his ADHD sets him apart, as does his height. As a sixth-grader, he’s already the tallest kid in class. His double-pronged uniqueness is a curse that makes him the brunt of bullying and bad jokes. It wasn’t always this way.

Max had had a couple of good friends, Joey and Will, but since Will’s recent accident, his bestie Joey won’t have anything to do with him. He’s turned on his old friend like bad cheese and joined with others, making fun of Max. To further complicate matters, Max feels responsible for Will being in a medically-induced coma.

Fortunately, Max has a loving family, parents and an older sister he can talk to, as well as a therapist and school counselor. He gains more support when Cal, his mother’s brother, suddenly shows up. Cal is a free spirit and gets Max into a couple of scrapes, but he cares deeply for his nephew and the feeling is mutual.

Max’s problems intensify as he tries to figure out what happened to Will after he left him on a night none of the boys will ever forget. As he fits the puzzle pieces in place, with his new friend Sam, it becomes clear that Joey’s older brother Jared wants to keep events of that fateful night a secret.

“A Perfect Mistake” has good lessons wrapped up in a hair-raising plot. Add to that a likeable Max, a struggling but well-meaning boy, his humanness and vulnerability endearing.

Written by Chris Stuckenschneider. Copyright 2022, Community Literacy Foundation. Reprinted with permission.

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