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Books as Gifts

Summer Buying Guide 2008

Whether children and families vacation away or stay near home, these are essential. No summer is complete without them. They travel well in cars or buses, on boats, on trains or planes. They tuck into suitcases, backpacks, and under arms. Most can be opened without electricity and are easily shared among many. They're fun and are good for children and adults alike! And the long summer days are a great time for children to engage with these alone or can be shared with children.

What are we talking about? Books and reading, of course! Whether reading books with eyes (examining the pages of books) or with listening to audio books, studies show that this portable, pleasurable activity has potent benefits for children.

So grab a book, find a comfy place, and enjoy!


Summer Buying Guide 2008: For 0-3 year olds

Alphabet

By: Matthew Van Fleet
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Sturdy pages are used to introduce the alphabet and more. Alliteration, folding flaps, and added textures create a lively, appealing, humorous menagerie in word and illustration.

Blue Goose

By: Nancy Tafuri
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

When Farmer Gray went on vacation, Blue Goose and his friends decided to paint their black and white barnyard for a happy surprise. With the help of his friends, Blue Goose mixes paints to introduce both primary and secondary colors in this clever barnyard tale.

Close to You: How Animals Bond

By: Kimiko Kajikawa
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

A rhyming text combines with tender photographs of animals and their young, concluding with how humans show affection for each other. Not only is this an interesting way to introduce families, but additional information about animals and their young is included in this warm book.

Friends and Pals and Brothers, Too

By: Sarah Wilson
Illustrated by: Leo Landry
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Two boys nicknamed Squirrel and Bear are best buddies. Bear's rhyming narration chronicles how they play outside all year round — swimming, splashing in puddles, rolling in snow, and more. Lighthearted illustrations recount the boys' mutual affection and their play.

Grandma Calls Me Beautiful

By: Barbara M. Joosse
Illustrated by: Barbara Lavallee
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Grandparents and grandchildren share something special everywhere. Here the universal story of a grandmother and her granddaughter is made unique as it reflects their Hawaiian life and style.

I Like It When.../Me gusta cuando...

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

A penguin parent and child celebrate the everyday pleasures of hugging, playing, dancing, and the kiss good night. Now in a bilingual board book, both languages appear in different colors on the bold, uncluttered pages.

If Animals Kissed Goodnight

By: Ann Whitford Paul
Illustrated by: David Walker
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

In this gentle, imaginative countdown to sleep, a child and her mother imagine how a menagerie of animals would lovingly say goodnight; that is, all except the sloth and her cub. Rich language swirls around and through warmly-hued illustrations to create a satisfying bedtime tale.

Island Counting 1 2 3

By: Frane Lessac
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Count people and animals doing what they do on a Caribbean island. From one to ten, the rhyming text combines with brightly colored, child-like illustrations to produce the sense of place and people.

Maybe a Bear Ate It!

By: Robie Harris
Illustrated by: Michael Emberley
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

As he gets ready for bed, a cat can't find his book anywhere! While young readers will see that the book is in plain sight, they'll delight in what the cat imagines might have happened to it. Told with few words and lively illustrations, this is sure to delight.

Such a Silly Baby

By: Stephanie Lorig, Richard Lorig
Illustrated by: Amanda Shepherd
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Everyday is an adventure with a silly baby who gets switched at the zoo, the circus, and other places. When the silly baby is retrieved by mom, that happy child makes joyful noises all the way to bedtime — or playtime! The jaunty illustrations complement the predictable adventure.

The Pigeon Wants a Puppy

By: Mo Willems
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Pigeon — like most young children — wants a puppy and he wants it now. He wheedles, begs, and promises to get it. Will pigeon change his mind when a puppy shows up? Readers will appreciate that the indomitable pigeon speaks directly to them on each appealing page.

Wow! Mealtime

By: Wow Worldwide Limited
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Colorful, cartoon-like illustrations clearly depict signs with mealtime meaning. From "eat" to "all done" (with more in between), the simple signs can easily be shared with young children to aid communication or just for a different way of sharing.

For 3-6 year olds

Ballet Sisters: The Newest Dancer

By: Jan Ormerod
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Bonnie takes ballet classes while her little sister, Sylvie, waits outside for her. That is, until Sylvie follows Bonnie in one day and wins a place in the class. The warm relationship between the girls is revealed through Bonnie's voice. Expressive illustrations are sure to be appreciated by dancers and non-dancers alike.

Before John Was a Jazz Giant: A Song of John Coltrane

By: Carole Boston Weatherford
Illustrated by: Sean Qualls
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

John's music began when he listened to the music in his childhood. Semi-abstract illustrations vivify sound-filled poetry, together introducing a boy who would grow up to become the great John Coltrane.

Benny & Penny in Just Pretend: A Toon Book

By: Geoffrey Hayes
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Benny is busy being a pirate and doesn't want to play with his little sister. But when Penny seems to be lost, Benny realizes that sometimes playing alone isn't all that much fun. Words and illustration in a comic book-like format create an appealing, short novel for emerging readers.

Carl's Summer Vacation

By: Alexandra Day
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Instead of taking a nap, Carl, the loveable large dog, and his human charge, Madeline, use the time to go boating, explore the playground, and even play a bit of baseball. Tired out, dog and toddler sleep through dinner and fireworks. Their adventures are related through realistic watercolor illustration.

Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners

By: Laurie Keller
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

When new neighbors move near Rabbit; he learns from a wise owl to "do unto otters as you would have otters do to you." That includes saying please and thank you (in several languages), cooperating, and more. The humorous take on manners makes them fun to see in practice, in stylized, engaging illustrations.

Everywhere the Cow Says "Moo!"

By: Ellen Slusky Weinstein
Illustrated by: Kenneth Andersson
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Dogs say "bow-wow" in English, "goo-ow" in Spanish, "wah-wah" in French, and "wan-wan" in Japanese. But no matter where the cow lives, it says "moo!" Bright, bold, playful illustrations introduce how animals sound in different languages.

It's Moving Day!

By: Pamela Hickman
Illustrated by: Geraldo Valerio
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Moving day for animals happens when seasons change or when a threat comes close. Lushly colored, textured paintings invite readers to look closely at the animals on moving day and in their homes. A bit of additional information about the animals concludes this fascinating book.

Little by Little

By: Amber Steward
Illustrated by: Layne Marlow
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A young otter named Otto does many things well, but swimming isn't one of them. With the help of his sister, Otto does learn to swim well, little by little. Idealized illustrations and a gentle text help the satisfying story to unfold.

Looking Closely Along the Shore

By: Frank Serafini
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A full-color, close-up framed by black and a repeated text focuses the reader's eye. Look closely. What do you see? Turn the page to discover an Ochre sea star, sea anemone, a coastal rock, and more. Brief text and crisp photographs introduce children to a different way of seeing and looking.

Maisy Big, Maisy Small

By: Lucy Cousins
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Maisy the mouse is used to introduce opposites. Maisy stops & goes; she's messy & clean; says hello & goodbye. Signature illustrations use bold color and broad line with limited text create a fresh look at the two sides of many things.

Max's Dragon

By: Kate Banks
Illustrated by: Boris Kulikov
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Max and his brothers play outdoors on a summer day, but Max is the first to see his dragon. When chased by a dark cloud that looks surprising like a fierce dinosaur, only a rhyme — and the breeze from the dragon's sneeze defeats it. Textured, rounded figures and playful language combine to present this imaginative summer adventure.

Metal Man

By: Aaron Reynolds
Illustrated by: Paul Hoppe
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

During the hot summer, Devon likes to visit Mitch. Mitch is a man who makes sparks fly as he creates welded metal sculptures — and invites Mitch to make one with him. As the boy decides what to make, he begins to see things differently — because of "that fiery metal man."

Not a Stick

By: Antoinette Portis
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A young pig is warned to be careful with a pointy stick — but it's not really a stick. It's a paint brush, it's a fishing pole, it's "not-a-stick"! Children and adults will recognize a child's imaginary play and an adult's concern for safety in the brief text, simple line, and flat color in this good-natured book.

Rain Play

By: Cynthia Cotten
Illustrated by: Javaka Steptoe
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

What is summer without a rainstorm? Alliterative language and richly textured collages create a day's play interrupted by rain — until the sun returns.

Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach

By: Melanie Watt
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Scaredy Squirrel comes by his name honestly; he's a bit frightened of just about everything! Can his preparation for a day at the beach protect him adequately? Readers will laugh at Scaredy Squirrel's ultimate realization that there is a lot to enjoy at the beach!

Silly Lilly and the Four Seasons

By: Agnes Rosenstiehl
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Lilly is an effervescent child who enjoys each season and the special things that can be done during them. Comic book-like format and conversation balloons clearly depict her delight and make this book easy to follow and to read.

Skunkdog

By: Emily Jenkins
Illustrated by: Pierre Pratt
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Dumpling, an enthusiastic dog with a poor sense of smell, enjoys her life with the Frisbees. With a useless sniffer, she has no dog pals and befriends a small black animal with a wide white stripe down its back. Eventually, the dog's family learns to keep tomato juice handy in this satisfying family story.

Someday When My Cat Can Talk

By: Caroline Lazo
Illustrated by: Krysten Brooker
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

As her cat goes out, a girl imagines his world travel: on a gondola in Venice, in Spanish soccer games, and more before he returns to his home and favorite person. The rhyming text combines with richly detail, naive illustrations for a satisfying armchair adventure.

The Boy Who Wouldn't Swim

By: Deb Lucke
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

In order to beat the heat that summer, most of the residents of Clermont County practically lived in the pool. That is, everyone except Eric Dooley. He and his rubber giraffe were afraid of the water. How Eric learns to overcome his fear is told with humor and bubbly illustrations.

Tweedle Dee Dee

By: Charlotte Voake
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The familiar, lively, cumulative song entitled "And the Green Grass Grew All Around" has been refashioned. Here, word and picture show children watching birds hatch in a tree where the "green leaves grew around… and the birds went, 'Tweedle-Dee-Dee!'"

Wave

By: Suzy Lee
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

No words are needed to share a child's seaside adventure as she plays with the waves, is knocked down by one, and then discovers the sea's gifts brought to shore by the wave. Softly lined wash in a limited color palette evoke a summer afternoon on the beach.

Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator

By: Sarah Campbell
Illustrated by: Richard Campbell
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The wolfsnail is no ordinary slug. This snail eats meat, and other snails are the source. Full-color photographs give a close-up look at this fascinating, slightly gross creature. Additional information including the wolfsnail's true size concludes this informative book on an unusual subject.

For 6-9 year olds

A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever

By: Marla Frazee
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Independent Reader

For one glorious, hot summer week, James went to stay with his friend Eamon's grandparents so the boys could go to a nature camp. Though the boys seem to prefer playing video games and staying indoors, the truth is in the comic illustration. Adults will recall summer vacation while young readers will enjoy its unbridled joy.

A Horse in the House and Other Strange but True Animal Stories

By: Gail Ablow
Illustrated by: Kathy Osborn
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

A nearsighted greyhound? False teeth for an elephant? Strange-but-true animal stories on bright pages (with sources noted) make fascinating and entertaining reading, definitely proving that truth is stranger than fiction!

All About Manatees

By: Jim Arnosky
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Manatees can grow to up to 13 feet long and weigh up to 3,000 pounds. They harm no other wildlife but are often victimized by human water traffic. These gentle mammals are distant relatives of the elephant but live in warm water. Arnosky's illustrations and straightforward text provide an introduction to these gentle giants.

Annie & Simon

By: Catharine O'Neill
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Annie and her big (big) brother Simon have a special relationship. Simon is very patient and quite the opposite of his sister, but together they share summertime adventures, including Annie getting a bee sting and going out in a boat to hear a loon. Cartoon-like illustrations complement each short chapter in this warm book.

Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow

By: Joyce Sidman
Illustrated by: Beth Krommes
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Dramatic scratchboard illustrations add drama to the poetic riddles that encourage readers to turn the page and find out more. This is a unique and lively introduction to the animals, insects, and plants that comprise a meadow.

Celebrate Independence Day with Parades, Picnics, and Fireworks

By: Deborah Heiligman
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Celebrate the birthday of the United States with food and fun while learning the history and meaning behind the various festivities. Elegant, crisp color photographs are sourced as is the information provided in this examination of an all-American day.

Fly High, Fly Guy!

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

When Buzz and his family go on vacation, they don't want to take Buzz's pet, Fly Guy, with them — but he joins them nonetheless. Though small, the fly proves his mettle and saves the day with his flying skills. Bug-eyed cartoon characters and broad humor make this an entertaining read for newly independent readers.

Gimme Cracked Corn & I Will Share

By: Kevin O'Malley
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Could the chicken's dream of buried treasure — a treasure of cracked corn under a great pink pig — be true? His friend George thought so. And so Chicken and George set out to follow the dream. Corny jokes abound in this funny, fast fable sure to delight (as well elicit groans!).

Go, Go America

By: Dan Yaccarino
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

This fun, fact-filled glimpse at the states begins with a warning that many of the facts are "wacky and outrageous" but buckle up and join the romp! (Leominster, MA, was the birthplace of the plastic lawn flamingo, for example.) Factoids combine with humorous illustrations to engage travelers on the go!

Gold in the Hills: A Tale of the Klondike Gold Rush

By: Candice Ransom
Illustrated by: Greg Call
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Slide back to 1897 with Mattie, Alex, and Sophie where they meet a young writer named Jack London who might be involved in the mystery of a stolen dog. Before the children return to their own time, they learn about life during the Yukon Gold Rush in this highly readable fantasy.

If the Shoe Fits

By: Krista Bell
Illustrated by: Craig Smith
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Cassie loved to dance and aspired to grow up to dance in a troupe. The only problem was her fear of performing in front of people. Even Jake, a real dance show-off, is afraid to dance in front of his father. The satisfying resolution will encourage many young dancers, performers, and readers.

Keeker and the Not-So-Sleepy Hollow

By: Hadley Higginson
Illustrated by: Lisa Perrett
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Ten-year-old Catherine Corey Keegan Dana, better known as Keeker, goes on a family road trip — along with Keeker's horse named Plum and Plum's goat friend — to vacation in New York. There they visit relatives and solve a not-too-scary mystery in the Sleepy Hollow made famous by tales of a headless horseman.

Magic Pickle

By: Scott Morse
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Sophisticated readers will appreciate the over-the-top adventures of a cryogenic pickle that emerges with superhero skills through the bedroom floor of Jo Jo Wigman. This full-color comic is distinguished by funny puns and wordplay as well as the combination of familiar school problems and Magic Pickle’s fantastic dilemmas.

Mazes Around the World

By: Mary D. Lankford
Illustrated by: Karen Dugan
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Regardless of where they are found, mazes are amazing! Visit mazes that can be found around the world in this brief, informative, and intriguing look at these mysterious labyrinths.

Pale Male: Citizen Hawk of New York City

By: Janet Schulman
Illustrated by: Meilo So
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Stunning watercolors evoke the height and breadth of New York City while a dramatic text relates the true story of a now-famous feathered resident, a hawk named Pale Male. The tension between the lifestyle of Pale Male and human residents as well as the fate of Pale Male's mates and offspring create riveting reading.

Previously

By: Allan Ahlberg, Bruce Ingman
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

We all know that Goldilocks met the three bears, but what did she do before? Well, she met a boy named Jack, who before he climbed up the beanstalk had a fight with his little sister, Jill… Familiar folktales and rhymes are cleverly woven together to create an entirely new tale.

Ralph Masiello's Ancient Egypt Drawing Book

By: Ralph Masiello
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Information about the symbols, emblems, and gods from Ancient Egypt is included with step-by-step instructions on how to draw them. A guide to pronunciation and where to go for more information on Egyptian antiquities is also included.

Real Pirates: The Untold Story of the Whydah from Slave Ship to Pirate Ship

By: Barry Clifford
Illustrated by: Gregory Manchess
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

The Whydah Galley was a real, fast-moving ship that was involved in 18th century slave trade, transporting people from Africa to the Caribbean until captured by pirates. How the Whydah and her treasures were discovered by underwater archaeologists is revealed in informal text and dramatic illustrations. Additional resources are included.

Science on the Loose: Amazing Activities & Science Facts You'll Never Believe

By: Helaine Becker
Illustrated by: Claudia Davila
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Science is all around! And summer is a great time to dip into it — especially when it's presented with such energy. Just do some "navel gazing" and get the "lowdown on lint" or find out which is more common — the "innie" or "outie." Information and experiments are playfully presented and illustrated.

The Museum Book: A Guide to Strange and Wonderful Collections

By: Jan Mark
Illustrated by: Richard Holland
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

People have kept old and interesting things for a long, long time — in fact, Princess Bel-Shati Nannar in 550 BC kept her collections in what she called a museum. Read about unusual and interesting collections housed in museums in this gripping, informative, and highly readable book.

The Willoughbys

By: Lois Lowry
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Sophisticated readers (and fans of Lemony Snicket) will appreciate the sly humor and word play in this outrageously funny take-off on novels of yesteryear. Here, the Willoughby children must overcome their self-centered parents who ultimately meet their rightful — and very satisfying — end.

The outrageous, old-fashioned tale is read skillfully for maximum humor and effect.

Traces

By: Paula Fox
Illustrated by: Karla Kuskin
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Something, someone was just here/Now there's barely a trace… begins the elegantly illustrated, lyrical poem. From a pond to the sand at water's edge to the forest and beyond, what has been there "…can only be seen/in/its/traces."

Wings

By: Sneed Collard
Illustrated by: Robin Brickman
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Many creatures have wings: birds, bats, insects. How these amazing appendages work and how they are used are presented with brief text and stunning collage illustrations for a memorable look at flight.

Proceeds from the sale of books purchased at Amazon.com help support the Reading Rockets project. Thank you!

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