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Books as Gifts

Holiday Buying Guide 2012

winter

What better gift to give than one that can be shared again and again?

Books are just that kind of gift. They create memories, too, when read by and with children. This year's list was carefully crafted with just one idea in mind — to find books so engaging that the TV is happily turned off and the iPad and electronic games are put away.

Season's Readings from Reading Rockets!




For 0-4 year olds

A Mary Blair Treasure of Golden Books

By: Mary Blair
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

A collection of early Golden Books illustrated by an artist who (as stated in the introduction) influenced Disney films are presented in a new, larger format. Though retro in feel (and reality) the playful stories, poems and songs effectively capture the joy in simple things.

African Animal Alphabet

By: Beverly Joubert, Dereck Joubert
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Stunning animal photographs are presented from Antelope to Zebra. The Jouberts share their expertise, insight and information along with the photographs in this attractive book that can be shared at different levels.

Alphasaurus

By: Megan E. Bryant
Illustrated by: Luciana Powell
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Rounded dinosaurs from A to Z are presented with an alliterative text sure to delight young paleontologists. Similarly, in Colorasaurus dinosaurs stampede across a colorful prehistoric landscape.

Baby Sounds

By: Joy Allen
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

A cheerful, much loved baby hears everyday sounds when at play, on a walk outdoors, and in the car. Even the youngest child will enjoy sharing this sweet, simple book with an adult.

Bea at Ballet

By: Rachel Isadora
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Readers learn about what dancers wear as Bea and her friend, Sam, prepare for their ballet class. In the class of chubby preschoolers, they share the joys and humor along with other young dancers through simple language and crisply lined illustrations that capture the experience.

Cat Tale

By: Michael Hall
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Lillian, Tilly, and William J. start their energetic adventure when "They choose a spot. They spot some ewes." The homophones and silliness continue until the exhausted cats relax with a good book. Boldly shaped, colorful illustrations illuminate the animated, rhythmic language.

Dini Dinosaur

By: Karen Beaumont
Illustrated by: Daniel Roode
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Dini, a young dinosaur, desperately needs a bath after playing in the mud. Young readers will quickly figure out that before he washes, he must take off his shoes, pants, etc. The repetition is sure to delight the youngest as they identify what Dini has left. Text and simple, flat illustrations show "Dirty Dini Dinosaur" as he splashes in the tub and into his loving mother's arms.

Duck Sock Hop

By: Jane Kohuth
Illustrated by: Jane Porter
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Ducks don daring socks for their weekly Duck Sock Hop. Colorful, textured illustrations of ducks in top hats and amazing socks dance through the pages, an effective accompaniment to the alliterative, animated rhymes.

Fabulous Fishes

By: Susan Stockdale
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Fluid verse and detailed, bordered illustrations present the water homes of a range of fish. Those interested in finding out more about the individual creatures presented may want to locate Stockdale's informational picture book with the same title.

I Like Old Clothes

By: Mary Ann Hoberman
Illustrated by: Patrice Barton
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

An imaginative child shares her pleasure in old clothing, repurposing them and finding joy in imagining the history, mystery surrounding them. Soft, expressive illustrations accompany the lively rhythmic, rhyming text.

I'm Fast

By: Kate McMullan
Illustrated by: Jim McMullan
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

A red sports car with an attitude challenges a train to see who can get to Chicago first. Even loaded with freight, the train handily wins but graciously offers the car a ride home. Train lovers of all ages will enjoy the humorous portraits of the vehicles' personalities and the staccato text.

In the Woods

By: Elizabeth Spurr
Illustrated by: Manelle Oliphant
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Short, rhyming verse combines with outdoor scenes as a boy and his dad share a camping trip. Their day is presented from fishing to cooking their dinner, until the boy — with "Nodding head/Time for bed" — is carried into their tent by his dad.

Kite Day: A Bear and Mole Story

By: Will Hillenbrand
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

When Bear looked at the sky and smelled the air, he ran to get his friend Mole. Together they make and fly a kite. A sudden storm tears the kite away from them but disappointment turns to satisfaction in this affably illustrated story told with repetition and onomatopoeia.

Little Tug

By: Stephen Savage
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Little Tug isn't the tallest, fastest or biggest boat in the harbor but he is able to push, pull and guide each of his larger friends to safety. And they respond with affection. Little Tug's day is presented in simple language and carefully crafted, expressive illustrations.

Look Look Outside

By: Peter Linenthal
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Just outside a baby's window there is a world of activity and goings-on. Stylized illustrations in bold black and white line with text in green are just right to share with very young children, perhaps to encourage conversation and observation.

Mice on Ice

By: Rebecca Emberley, Ed Emberley
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Colorful mice are shown skating when the outline of a cat appears on the ice. The cat with a hat winds up joining the skating party.  Limited vocabulary is enhanced by vibrant illustrations that together create mild tension to move the tale to its sunny conclusion.

Moonlight

By: Helen Griffith
Illustrated by: Laura Dronzek
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Poetic language introduces a moonlit evening when "Moonlight slides like butter", touching sleeping rabbit, “butters Rabbit's dreams/.../shakes him out of bed..." to dance in the field. Darkly hued illustrations touched by butter yellow evoke the gentle night and its wonder.

Snowboy 1, 2, 3

By: Joe Wahman
Illustrated by: Wendy Wahman
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

One snowboy all alone begins the count to 10 then reverses to count down to where it started. Computer-generated art is colorful with patterned, wintery icons and images. The sound of language and the interesting visuals make the counting — and the book — satisfying.

Ten Tiny Toes

By: Todd Tarpley
Illustrated by: Marc Brown
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

It's hard to resist babies and baby toes which are "a hundred times sweeter than one could suppose." A sweet, rhyming homage to babies, families, and a lifetime of affection is presented here with textured, softly colored illustrations.

The Big Book of Words and Pictures

By: Ole Konnecke
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

On each sturdy, oversized page appear numerous pictures and labels generally grouped by subject such as music and musical instruments, things that go, etc. Though small, the illustrations are distinct and clear, often with a story imbedded.

Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star

By: Jane Cabrera
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Additional verses are added to the familiar ditty and illustrated in the artist's signature naïve style. The little star sparkles, flickers, shimmers, and glistens around the whole world watched by animal parents and their young in different settings ending with a human baby and mother.

Waking Dragons

By: Jane Yolen
Illustrated by: Derek Anderson
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Morning routines may never seem the same after sharing day's start with a small, chubby knight in armor and his long-eared dog who climb a ladder to wake up large dragons. Cheerful, bright, amusing illustrations and catchy rhymes propel readers to the satisfying start of the day.

For 4-5 year olds

A Home for Bird

By: Philip Stead
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Vernon, a toad, is a steadfast friend. He stands by stoic Bird until they find Bird's perfect home. Expressive, softly colored, informal illustrations are worth close examination and complement the tender tale of friendship and faithfulness.

Bear Has a Story to Tell

By: Philip Stead
Illustrated by: Erin Stead
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Bear wants to share his story though his friends are preoccupied with winter preparation. When they gather again at winter's end, Bear's friends remind him of his story. Tender text and gentle illustrations by the Caldecott-medal winning husband & wife team is sure to engage.

Bird Talk: What Birds Are Saying and Why

By: Lita Judge
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Birds communicate by the sounds they make and the way they act. Playful illustrations and text combine to present a range of birds and their behavior not only is a visual treat but is sure to enliven everyday observation of our feathered neighbors.

Birds of a Feather

By: Bernadette Gervais
Illustrated by: Francesco Pittau
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The oversized book opens with white on black outlines of a part of a bird. Lift them up to find a full-color illustration of the bird with brief information about it followed by flaps of feathers, eggs that pop up into a bird, and other interactive devices to keep readers engaged.

Chloe and the Lion

By: Mac Barnett
Illustrated by: Adam Rex
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The author and illustrator insert themselves at the start of the story about Chloe and a lion (or is it a dragon?). The stage becomes the illustrated platform for the storytelling of Chloe's heroic and very funny saga revealed in clearly different styles of art to denote the different voices.

Cock-a-Doodle-Doo, Creak, Pop-Pop, Moo

By: Jim Aylesworth
Illustrated by: Brad Sneed
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

There's a lot going on around the farm from sun-up to sundown. It's described here with onomatopoeic sounds, jaunty rhymes, and illustrations reminiscent of times past.  Children are sure to join in and laugh with the sprightly telling.

Count Me In! A Parade of Mexican Folk Art

By: Cynthia Weill
Illustrated by: The Aquilar Sisters
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Join the parade and count from one to ten in Spanish and in English. Numbers and a one-sentence description of the ceramic figures in regional dress from Oaxaca, Mexico are presented in both languages, punctuated by lively folk art figures.

Extra Yarn

By: Mac Barnett
Illustrated by: John Klassen
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Annabelle finds a box with colorful yarn from which she makes sweater for all, adding color and life to a dull landscape. The box is empty when stolen by a greedy man but is yarn-filled when it returns to Annabelle. Textured pictures and understated text on open pages tell an engaging yarn.

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs

By: Mo Willems
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The author turns the familiar tale around in this funny take-off. Here, Goldilocks goes to the home of three dinosaurs who would like nothing more than a chocolate-filled little girl. Goldi and the dinos take away very different lessons — all to the delight of well-read children!

I Am So Handsome

By: Mario Ramos
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The arrogant wolf's self-confidence is bolstered by his encounters with family characters from fairy tales, until he meets a small dragon whose father has taught the tiny lizard a very impressive skill. Comic illustrations and understated text create a very funny and satisfying tale.

Into the A, B, Sea

By: Deborah Lee Rose
Illustrated by: Steve Jenkins
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Readers are invited into the ocean to see some of its colorful inhabitants from A to Z. Arresting, textured collage illustrations enhance the rhyming couplets that move through the alphabet. Additional brief information about each creature concludes this attractive and informative book.

Lemonade in Winter

By: Emily Jenkins
Illustrated by: G. Brian Karas
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

An entrepreneurial sister and her brother decide to make and sell lemonade on a snowy winter day. It's a chance for Pauline to help John-John learn about money, have a bit of fun, and meet some neighbors. Playful language and quirky illustrations turn a dull day into an adventure.

More

By: I.C. Springman
Illustrated by: Brian Lies
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

When a downcast magpie is given a single marble by a mouse, it starts its accumulation of many more things until its nest crashes to the ground. Magpie and mouse determine that more isn't necessarily best. Their tale is told with few words but lush, detailed, and expressive illustrations.

Nighttime Ninja

By: Barbara DaCosta
Illustrated by: Ed Young
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

As midnight strikes, he appears: "Hand over hand, the ninja climbed and clambered." Just as the ninja reaches his target, he's caught by his mother with ice cream and spoon in hand!  Textured collage illustrations and spare language dramatically evoke a satisfying nighttime mystery

Oh, No!

By: Candace Fleming
Illustrated by: Eric Rohmann
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Ribbit-oops! Frog falls into a deep hole, followed by other animals who try to help. Oh, no! Stalked by a hungry tiger, saved by a gentle elephant the drama of the story is enhanced by richly hued illustrations and lots of playful patterns of sounds and language sure to be repeated.

Olive and the Big Secret

By: Tor Freeman
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Molly told Olive a secret which Olive promised not to tell anyone. Secrets have a way of bubbling out though and so Molly's secret comes back to her. This familiar dilemma is humorously presented with cartoon illustrations and short text with an unexpected conclusion.

Oliver

By: Judith Rossell
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Oliver is a curious child with lots of questions and a penchant for exploration. During quiet time at home, Oliver builds a contraption to find out if there's a monster in the tub drain. His imaginative jaunt is presented with droll, naïve drawings, filled with Oliver's child-like ideas.

Seahorses

By: Jennifer Curtis
Illustrated by: Chad Wallace
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Lyrical language combines with luminous illustrations to detail the life cycle of a male seahorse from small fry (the term for babies) to father. Surprisingly, seahorses change color with the surroundings and males carry the eggs. An author's note provides additional information.

The Island

By: Marije Tolman
Illustrated by: Ronald Tolman
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A polar bear journeys from one exotic setting to another winding up with a friend looking at the stars. The bear's expedition is revealed without words, using soft-lined, expressive, whimsical illustrations.

This Is Not My Hat

By: Jon Klassen
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The narrator, a very small fish, snitches a much larger fish's hat and hides out where he thinks no one can see him. The wordless conclusion is humorous and satisfying in this stylized, expressively illustrated book sure to generate conversations among readers.

Z is for Moose

By: Kelly Bingham
Illustrated by: Paul O. Zelinsky
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Zebra lines up participants to begin this very funny alphabet book. As A bounds up stairs to take the stage, Zebra peeks out. All goes smoothly until Moose says D is for Moose, bouncing Duck; Moose continues to irritate other letters until Z. Children who know the alphabet will delight in the slapstick humor and satisfying conclusion.

Zephyr Takes Flight

By: Steve Light
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Zephyr's imagination takes off when her family is too busy to play or watch her fly her model plane do spectacular feats. Through a hidden door, Zephyr finds friends, flying ships, returning home in time for breakfast. Comfortable, old-fashioned illustrations complement the telling.

For 6-7 year olds: To read on their own

Body Actions

By: Shelley Rotner
Illustrated by: David A. White
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Every day you do so many things. How does your body do them? begins this brief, informative look at the human body and its systems (e.g., digestive, skeletal, etc.). Color photographs with overlays further enhance the engaging presentation.

Laundry Day

By: Maurie Manning
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

As a young shoeshine boy tries to return the red scarf that floats down to him, he meets a host of people from different backgrounds. He finally locates the rightful owner of the scarf and winds up with a happy surprise. Illustrations in comic book style move the satisfying story quickly.

Let's Go for a Drive (An Elephant and Piggie Book)

By: Mo Willems
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Elephant and Piggie gather everything they might possibly need when they decide to go for a drive. They have every possible thing except…the car! Humor abounds as the dynamic duo prepare and then adapt their travel plans.

Look! Another Book

By: Bob Staake
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Solid colored pages with die-cuts to peek through to busy spreads and cheery rhymes encourage readers to look closely to try to find what is hidden. Settings differ and objects abound in this playful game book.

Penny and Her Song

By: Kevin Henkes
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Henkes' first easy reader introduces Penny and her mouse family in two appealing chapters. Penny must wait to share her original song until after dinner. When she does, not only do her parents join in, the babies respond in a surprising way. Henkes' signature illustrations expressively complement the well-paced narrative.

Saving Yasha: The Incredible True Story of an Adopted Moon Bear

By: Lia Kvatum
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

The rescue and return to the wild of an orphaned moon bear (aka Asiatic black bear) is documented in clear language and action-paced photographs. A map of Yasha's homeland as well as a note from the scientist who worked with her and additional resources are included.

The Sneaky Snow Fox

By: Patricia Reilly Giff
Illustrated by: Diane Palmisciano
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Could the ears and tail be the frightening fox that Jilli was just reading about? When her dog, Fiercely, takes off is he chasing the fox? Jilli and her friend Jim venture out into the snow to find out in this gently mysterious wintery tale.

There's a Fly Guy in My Soup

By: Tedd Arnold
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

In this latest installment about a boy named Buzz and his pet fly, Fly Guy, takes readers on a slapstick journey that gives new meaning to the old joke about the fly in the soup. Bug-eyed characters and absurd situations with easy language propel readers to the silly, satisfying end.

Who Has This Tail?

By: Laura Hulbert
Illustrated by: Erik Brooks
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Animal tails have different uses. A scorpion's tail is used to sting its prey while a beaver uses its tail to navigate in water. A close-up of a tail and the titular question is followed by a picture of the animal and its tail in action for a playful but edifying book.

For 6-7 year olds: To read with you

Abe Lincoln's Dream

By: Lane Smith
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

When Quincy leaves her tour of the White House, she sees a tall man standing over the Gettysburg Address. Quincy shares jokes with the ghost and helps him realize that the states are indeed united. The tall, pale ghost of Abe Lincoln can now rest easy.

Dreaming Up: A Celebration of Building

By: Christy Hale
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Recognizable constructions from childhood such as blocks and sandcastles and playful verse are juxtaposed to actual photos of architectural landmarks from around the globe. A note about the structure and the architects conclude this imaginative look at art and architecture.

Hello! Hello!

By: Matthew Cordell
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Lydia tires of her electronic devices while her parents and brother are enmeshed in theirs. A small leaf beckons the girl outdoors, propelling her into an imaginative outdoor adventure. Sure to start conversations among plugged-in family members, this genial fantasy is playful and light.

Jangles: A Big Fish Story

By: David Shannon
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Jangles is the fish of legendary proportion. He's evaded everything from special lures to dynamite from fishermen on Big Lake. The narrator shares his father's story about Jangles, realistically illustrated in deeply hued colors for a fish tale of gigantic proportion.

Just Ducks!

By: Nicola Davies
Illustrated by: Salvatore Rubbino
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

An observant girl shares her observations and appreciation of ducks as she and her mother walk and watch. Information appears on open pages that sport informal illustrations and lively language for a memorable look at these feathered delights.

Land of Milk and Honey

By: Joyce Carol Thomas
Illustrated by: Floyd Cooper
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

The author recounts her family's move by train from Oklahoma to California, the "land of milk and honey."  Evocative language and luxurious illustration create a warm recollection from a child's perspective.

Magical Life of Mr. Renny

By: Leo Timmers
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

With the help of a little bit of magic, Mr. Renny's paintings come to life, literally. But when his friend Rose wants a painting, how will the floppy-eared canine artist reverse the charm? A touch of traditional tales is sure to delight adult sensibilities but the book is sure to charm children.

Ostrich and Lark

By: Marilyn Nelson
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Vivid paintings by San artists, an artists' project of Botswana, accompany an original story about the ostrich that finds his voice and changes the veld. Lyrical language will read aloud well and evokes a strong sense of place.

Seed by Seed: The Legend & Legacy of John "Appleseed" Chapman

By: Esme Raji Codell
Illustrated by: Lynne Rae Perkins
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, changed his world "seed by seed, deed by deed" as this handsome book encourages readers to do. Children are encouraged to celebrate Johnny Appleseed's anniversary every autumn by planting seeds literally and figuratively.

The World's Greatest Lion

By: Ralph Helfer
Illustrated by: Ted Lewin
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

The story of Zamba, an orphaned lion is dramatically told in highly realistic watercolors and a vibrant narrative. Named for his native Zambia, Zamba's gentle nature made his a film star but he became a hero rescuing animals from a flood. This touching tale is based on an actual lion.

Unspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad

By: Henry Cole
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Readers are encouraged to tell the story of a brave farm girl who provides food to someone who has escaped in this sophisticated, expressive, wordless book. Inspired by family stories, the author allows adults to fill in the historical detail while children recognize the story's power.

For 8-9 year olds: To read on their own

A Place for Bats

By: Melissa Stewart
Illustrated by: Higgins Bond
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

The benefits of human actions to help bat survival are introduced in this readable, realistically illustrated and well-sourced introduction. A variety of bats are included with their range identified on clear maps.

Dinosaurs Before Dark (Magic Tree House #1)

By: Mary Pope Osborne, Sal Murdocca
Illustrated by: Sal Murdocca
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Time-traveling siblings, Jack and Annie, are celebrating their 20th anniversary in print. Join them on their first fantastic adventure to the time of dinosaurs. The occasion is celebrated with new illustrations, updated dino-info, and a letter from the author.

Halfway to Perfect

By: Nikki Grimes
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Dyamonde Daniel is confident, perceptive and willing to figure out what is really bothering her friend Damaris. Lively language captures the angst and joys of 3rd grade, friendships, even and the feelings of a plausible character with juvenile diabetes.

Make Your Mark: The Drawing Book for Children

By: Sarah Richardson
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Making a mark is easy, just do it! literally. Beginning with tools of the trade (paper, pens, etc.), children are encouraged to explore the language and techniques of drawing. From basic to sophisticated, the brief text and black/white illustration are sure to engage while they inform.

Meat-Eating Plants: Toothless Wonders

By: Ellen Lawrence
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Stunning full-color photographs and crisp text introduce plants that gain nutrients by capturing unsuspecting insects and small animals. Locations where they grow are placed on maps, brief experiments, and additional resources conclude this engaging look at hungry plants.

Ringtale: Miner's Cat

By: Joyce Markovics
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Who was the uninvited guest found munching in a California office? It was a ringtail! Though sometimes called a cat, the small, winsome mammal is related to the raccoon. Meet David Hyatt as he studies ringtail habits and habitat, all presented in affable text and striking color photos.

Snakes

By: Nic Bishop
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Snakes are presented through up-close and personal image and text for and engaging, informative look at a host of colorful and handsome reptiles. The photographer, also a biologist, concludes with insight into his experiences photographing the sometimes uncooperative subjects.

The Boy Who Cried Alien

By: Marilyn Singer
Illustrated by: Brian Biggs
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Larry, like the boy who cried wolf, is known for his prevarication. He winds up a hero, however, when he tells the truth about space aliens. Illustrations in comic book format and jazzy rhyming text and coded alien-speak are sure to tickle funny bones.

The Hero of Little Street

By: Gregory Rogers
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

A red-shirted boy is pursued by boys angered when their soccer ball winds up in a fountain. He takes refuge in an art museum which begins a fantastical adventure involving paintings-come-to-life, a wicked butcher, a dog, and lasting friendship — all through expressive, comic illustrations.

The Legend of Diamond Lil: A J.J. Tully Mystery

By: Doreen Cronin
Illustrated by: Kevin Cornell
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

J.J. Tully, retired search-&-rescue dog, continues to protect a flock of chickens. But trouble is afoot! Is there a connection between the attractive new canine next door and the villain who is after the chicks? Will J.J. figure it out in time? Readers will laugh as they solve the mystery.

For 8-9 year olds: To read with you

A Strange Place to Call Home

By: Marilyn Singer
Illustrated by: Ed Young
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Textured collage and paint illustration and various poetic forms are used to introduce creatures that live in difficult, dangerous places. Ice worms in "Frozen Solid," for example, "…If lurking in the deepest seas,/Why not between the glacial ice,/helped by their own antifreeze?"

Hide and Seek

By: David Carter
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Complex engineered paper constructions create a series of worlds in which viewers are encouraged to locate various objects. In one, "Five black spots, four blossoms blue" and more are hidden in a lush garden that emerges from a red page. Each spread deserves many examinations.

I Have a Dream

By: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Illustrated by: Kadir Nelson
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Perhaps one of the best known speeches of the 20th century, Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" has been combined with lush paintings in a large format for a new generation. Included in this stunning book is a CD of Dr. King's original speech.

Moby Dick: Chasing the Great White Whale

By: Eric Kimmel
Illustrated by: Andrew Glass
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Herman Melville's classic tale of the great white whale and the sea captain who sought him has been recast and simplified. The rhyming ballad is reminiscent of a sea chantey, capturing essential plot elements. Lush illustrations lighten the tone for young, contemporary readers.

Return to the Willows

By: Jacqueline Kelly
Illustrated by: Clint Young
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Toad, Mole, Rat and Badger are back in this sequel to Kenneth Grahame's 1908 Wind in the Willows. Though several new characters are introduced, the lush language evokes the original saga and may lead readers to revisit the original.

Starry River of the Sky

By: Grace Lin
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Rendi, a self-centered, unhappy boy runs away from home and winds up in a sad town. Storytelling, however, instigated by a mysterious newcomer allows Rendi to mature and help the villagers. The rich narrative incorporates tales inspired by Chinese tales in this worthy companion to Where the Mountain meets the Moon.

The Arrow Finds Its Mark: A Book of Found Poems

By: Georgia Heard
Illustrated by: Antoine Guilloppe
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Words are everywhere and so, too, are poems; that is, if you know how to look. Those included in this small, illustrated anthology have been compiled from words in likely and unlikely locations to present a range of topics, sure to inspire young readers to find poems of their own.

The One and Only Ivan

By: Katherine Applegate
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Ivan lives in a "domain" at the Exit 8 Big Top Mall. In evocative language and gentle illustrations Ivan's story unfolds through his touching, taut, yet hopeful narration. It's a chronicle of friendship, loyalty, and the power of art.

Tilly's Moonlight Garden

By: Julia Green
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

A fox lives near the old house where Tilly and her parents have moved far from friends and the familiar. She follows the fox one night into a secret, moonlit garden where she finds friendship. Rich language, a calm pace, and a suggestion of magic create a memorable story.

Audio Books

A Steve Light Storybox: Hansel and Gretel

By: Guidecraft
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Family

Children love stories and storytelling. "Storyboxes" may inspire them. Colorful sets and small characters for the story of Hansel and Gretel can be used to tell the tale with the accompanying adaptation or the figures and sets can be used to create an entirely original story.

Charlotte's Web

By: E.B. White
Illustrated by: E.B. White
Age Level: 9-12
Reading Level: Independent Reader

An affectionate, sometimes bashful pig named Wilbur befriends a spider named Charlotte, who lives in the rafters above his pen. In this story of friendship, hardship, and the passing of time, E.B. White reminds us to open our eyes to the wonder and miracle found in the simplest of things.

Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale

By: Carmen Agra Deedy, Randall Wright
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Family

Dickens's England comes to life from the perspective of an alley cat.

Dumpling Days

By: Grace Lin
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

In this 3rd book about Pacy, she and her family plan to go to Taiwan to celebrate her grandmother's birthday.

Malcolm at Midnight

By: W. H. Beck
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Family

Malcolm the rat narrates his adventures in Mr. Binney's fifth-grade class. At night, the school comes alive with the Midnight Academy, a secret society of classroom pets that protects the school. When the leader (an iguana named Aggy) goes missing, Malcolm sets out to find Aggy to ensure her safety and to clear his name.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

By: Frank Baum
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Family

This beloved fantasy begins in Kansas when Dorothy Gale and her dog, Toto, are transported to another land by way of a cyclone. There she meets the Scarecrow, Tin Woodsman, and Cowardly Lion as well as a host of other extraordinary characters. The movie classic, released in 1939, retains the essence of this quintessentially American tale which was first published in 1900.

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Maria Salvadore
Maria Salvadore
April 7, 2014
March 27, 2014
Start with a Book: Read. Talk. Explore.
"You may have tangible wealth untold. Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold. Richer than I you can never be — I had a mother who read to me." — Strickland Gillilan