Els over at Librarian Mom has a list up of ten great summer time books-that is, books that take place during summer vacation. They are very good books indeed.
But I myself find that, when the temperature starts getting up there and the humidity decides to play too, and the plants and the family all wilt miserably, I prefer winter time books. So as an antidote to summer, here are some good reads that will take you to cool places (literally).
Winter Holiday, by Arthur Ransom. A frozen lake in the north of England gives a group of children the chance to live the life of arctic explorers, culminating in a race to the "north pole" through a raging storm. This is my favorite of the Swallows and Amazons books.
My favorite of the Moomin books (Tove Jansson) is also the coldest-Moominland Midwinter. If you read one winter book this summer, it should be this one. A troll child wakes from hibernation to find his summertime world transformed. The creature to the right is the Groke, a being so cold that it freezes whatever it sits on...
Peak, by Roland Smith. You can't get much colder than the top of Mount Everest. Unless you flip through The Fellowship of the Ring to that bit where they are stuck in the snow on the pass of Caradhras...
The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean. I'm not one of those who fell in love with this tale of a teenage girl caught in a web of madness in Antarctica, but maybe if I'd read it during the summer, instead of in December, I'd have liked it more.
The Left Hand of Darkness, by Ursula Le Guin. One of the best horribly cold, horribly long trips through winter ever written, on one of the coldest habitable planets ever imagined.
The Long Winter, by Laura Ingalls Wilder. A great book for making the reader appreciate a sunny day and a few tomatoes.
Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George. A girl survives the arctic cold by becoming part of a wolf pack. I like the wintry bits in George's My Side of the Mountain very much--especially the idea of spending winter inside a hollow tree. But there's a lot of spring, summer, and fall as well, so I don't count it.
And Both Were Young, by Madeline L'Engle. An introverted, misfit girl at a Swiss boarding school, young love, and lots of ski-ing. What's not to like?
The Year of Jubilo, by Ruth Sawyer. Lucinda, from Roller Skates, hunkers down with her family for a long winter in a small house in Maine. There's some bits of other seasons too, but the bit that really sticks in my mind is this: one way the family got the house winterized was by poking wool in all the window cracks with a knitting needle. Every fall I keep meaning to try this myself.
Another one I liked lots as a child is Hans Brinker, or The Silver Skates. by Mary Mapes Dodge It's a bit too didactic for my tastes these days, but still, cold as all get out, which is the immediate point. Who can forget little Gretel crying on the frozen rubbish heap, or the great ice-skating journey on Holland's frozen canals?
My husband suggests Tom Fobble's Day, by Alan Garner--one of the Stone Book Quartet, it is about the making of a sledge, and the power and continuity of tradition. (He also suggested some darling Thomas the Tank engines stories). He has just come back in with Letters from a Lost Uncle (from Polar Regions), written and illustrated (brilliantly) by Mervyn Peake. Both of these are cold books for younger readers.
And then, if one still feels too hot, one can get lost in the Wild Wood in winter with Mole (The Wind in the Willows).