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Books as Gifts

Summer Buying Guide 2010

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It's summertime! What a great time to slow down or cool off with a good book. These days books are available in hardcopy, on audio, or even on an eReader. Books in all formats are portable — and shareable! It's fun to share books with a child, a class, and your family. A range of stories — fact and fiction — are suggested here to get you started. They're as diverse as the children who will read them and the adults who just might share them with children. Remember, good books share as well with a variety of ages, including grown-ups. So choose a book (or two or three…) and begin a summer adventure!



For 0-3 year olds

Colors, Numbers, Letters

By: Leo Lionni
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Three concept books have been combined in a newly formatted and highly appealing wordless board book featuring Lionni's signature mice. Readers are sure to find lots to talk about, from colors to counting to mice embracing letters of the alphabet as they examine the uncluttered, child-sized, durable, and appealing pages.

Daddy Calls Me Doodlebug

By: J.D. Lester
Illustrated by: Hiroe Nakata
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Fathers often have special names for their children. Each nickname is a fitting one, giving a hint as to what characterizes the young one and his parent. The human dad calls his child Doodlebug, while a snail's father calls it "Goo-and-Go." Soft illustrations convey affection and playfulness between parents and children.

Feeding the Sheep

By: Leda Schubert
Illustrated by: Andrea U'Ren
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

A little girl asks about her mother's activities, from feeding and sheering the sheep to knitting a warm sweater. Patterned, rhythmic language with gentle rhymes and winning illustrations provide a satisfying glimpse of farm life and a warm mother/daughter relationship.

Kitten's Spring

By: Eugenie Fernandes
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

From morning to nighttime, a small kitten explores a farm. At the end of the day, a tired young cat returns home to rest, sleep, and dream. A simple, rhythmic staccato text and textured collage illustrations are used to convey the pleasure in everyday adventures.

Let's Save the Animals

By: Frances Berry
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Rounded corners and carefully crafted half (or cut) pages introduce and hide various animals that stomp, prowl, stroll and scuttle across the pages of this book. Each animal is endangered though there's plenty more to engage young readers. Animal facts are included, as are child-accessible activities to help.

My Little Baby

By: Begin Smart Books
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Count and feel the five smooth rubber ducks as one by one they go into the bathtub and touch the soft baby animals as they meow, woof, and peep in these simply illustrated, sturdy books. Crisp illustrations and minimal language make these ideal to share with the youngest child.
See also: Counting Duckies

Sleepy ABC

By: Margaret Wise Brown
Illustrated by: Karen Katz
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Round faced children watch animals prepare for bedtime in this soothing tale in a newly illustrated edition of an earlier book by Margaret Wise Brown. The alphabet is used as the device to countdown from A to children who "…zip into bed,/not another peep/go to sleep!"

Sweet Dreams Lullaby

By: Betsy Snyder
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

When the day is over, a young rabbit cuddles with a parent to let the dreams begin. Soft illustrations combine with a calm, rhythmic, rhyming text to quiet young ones who share the tranquil appreciation of nature and nighttime as they drift off to a cozy sleep.

What About Bear?

By: Suzanne Bloom
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

When Goose and Bear are joined by Fox, Bear feels left out. It is up to Goose to mediate and find a way for old and new friends to play together — which they happily do! With straightforward language and charming illustrations, Goose and Bear are back for another everyday adventure familiar to many children.

What Shapes Do You See?

By: Begin Smart Books
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Basic shapes are introduced on one side of each sturdy double page spread; on the opposing side, die-cuts hint at what is hidden. Lift the flap to see the shape in an easily recognizable object. A similar approach is used to introduce basic colors in both of these interactive books sure to hold up to small, rough hands.
See also: What Color Is Your Apple?

For 3-6 year olds

!Muu, Moo! Rimas de animales/Animal Nursery Rhymes

By: Alma Flor Ada, F. Isabel Campoy
Illustrated by: Vivi Escriva
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Both traditional and original nursery rhymes featuring animals are presented in this attractively illustrated collection. An introduction is likely to inspire adults and lays a foundation for sharing the rhymes in one or the other language.

A Beach Tail

By: Karen Lynn Williams
Illustrated by: Floyd Cooper
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Gregory draws Sandy the Lion in the sand on the beach day he and his dad share one summer. Gregory's father tells the child not to go into the water and not to leave Sandy — but Sandy’s tail is a long one, allowing Gregory to safely discover fascinating beach creatures. Realistic, textured illustrations evoke the place and ideally complement the evocative text.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee

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

Every day, Amos McGee goes to his job at the City Zoo where he's attentive to each of his animal friends' special needs. One day, however, Amos doesn't feel well and must miss work and so his friends visit to take care of him. Gentle, expressive illustrations expand this touching tale.

Alligators and Crocodiles

By: Gail Gibbons
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Though related, crocodiles and alligators are not the same. Learn the similarities and differences between these ancient reptiles as well as their habitats and history. With characteristic thoroughness, Gibbons presents these fascinating creatures through clear illustrations and informative text.

Big Chickens Go to Town

By: Leslie Helakoski
Illustrated by: Henry Cole
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Their city adventure begins when the four big chickens follow a bag of feed into the farmer's truck — and off they go! Lively language and comic illustrations combine to create a rowdy fowl adventure which ends happily back in the farmer's truck heading home.

Easy as Pie

By: Cari Best
Illustrated by: Melissa Sweet
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Jacob learns a great deal from his favorite television baker, Chef Monty. And he puts those skills to great use just in time for his parents' anniversary making dessert — a peach pie — the celebration's first course. Jacob's good humor and problem solving skills (with a little help from his sister) make for sweet reading.

Ella Kazoo Will Not Brush Her Hair

By: Lee Fox
Illustrated by: Jennifer Plecas
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

No matter how much her mother fusses or how long it gets, Ella Kazoo will not brush her hair! That is until her hair starts to take over — literally. The conclusion is both simple and satisfying as Ella Kazoo’s tresses are trimmed. Comic illustrations and a rhyming text make a lighthearted tale.

Forever Friends

By: Carin Bergen
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Two friends, a brown rabbit and a blue bird, play together until winter looms and the bird must migrate south. Rabbit counts the winter months until the bird returns and the forever friends are reunited. Stylized illustrations evoke the seasons and combine with lyrical language in this story of friendship.

Hip Hop Dog

By: Chris Raschka
Illustrated by: Vladimir Radunsky
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A mutt tells reveals a "doggy allegory" and how he went from "the saddest and the baddest" to being a hip hop dog. Jazzy language swirls around and with fresh, loose art to create a sense of music in many forms. While rappers may just call it 'freestyle,' this zippy book is howling good fun.

I Love Bugs

By: Emma Dodd
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A child describes his affinity for all types of bugs — from those that are "spiky spiny," the ones that "hop and fly and crawl" and even scary, "hang-from-ceiling bugs!" Large, textured illustrations are humorous to complement and extend the animated alliterative language.

Inch by Inch

By: Leo Lionni
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A small inch worm "green as an emerald" avoids being eating by a hungry robin using his wit — and his ability to measure things. He measures other birds as well — until he escapes them all by measuring a nightingale's song. Textured collage illustrations complement the straightforward text in this modern classic.

Let's Say Hi to Friends Who Fly!

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

Cat the Cat asks Bee the Bee and other flying animals if they can fly then cheers them on as they do what comes naturally. When Rhino the Rhino goes up in a plane, all of the playground friends join him! Strong, simple forms enhance the deadpan humor in this new and series about the endlessly friendly feline.
See also: Cat the Cat, Who Is That?

Little Rabbit and the Meanest Mother on Earth

By: Kate Klise
Illustrated by: M. Sarah Klise
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

When Mother Rabbit tells Little Rabbit he could only go to the circus once his playroom has been cleaned, he sneaks out to join the circus telling the ringmaster that he's got the Meanest Mother on Earth. Children and adults will recognize the satisfying conclusion — and perhaps see themselves in this story.

Looking Closely Around the Pond

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

Look very closely. What do you see? It may be something familiar or quite out of the ordinary. Readers won't be certain until they turn the page! A close-up photograph of flora and fauna found near a pond becomes larger and is contextualized with a page turn. Additional information is also presented in this multifaceted look at ponds.

Love-a-Duck

By: Alan James Brown
Illustrated by: Francesca Chessa
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Jane's yellow plastic duck, Love-a-Duck, was a happy duck who went on an unexpected adventure. It began when Love-a-Duck accidentally fell out of the bathroom window — saw real ducks, met a fish, and more — but made it home in time for Jane's bath. The large format is ideal for the colorful illustrations and onomatopoeic language.

Miss Brooks Loves Books! (And I Don't!)

By: Barbara Bottner
Illustrated by: Michael Emberley
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Miss Brooks, the librarian at the narrator's school, brings books alive by dressing up for reading circle. But the narrator still doesn't find books intriguing like Miss Brooks — that is until she finds one filled with all of the gross things she enjoys; she's discovered Shrek! Cartoon-like illustrations present the eccentric but lovable characters in this playful tale.

My Garden

By: Kevin Henkes
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

As a little girl helps her mother in their garden, she imagines a fantastic garden of her own in which all of the rabbits are made of chocolate and the jelly beans grow. Strong line and rich colors combine with the child-like musings for a satisfying story.

Roly Poly Pangolin

By: Anna Dewdney
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The small, scaly pangolin may be an unusual animal, but children are likely to empathize with the way he is fearful of new and different things. He rolls into a ball — and finds another pangolin ball peeking at him. An author's note provides a bit of information about real pangolins and where to find out more about them.

Shrek!

By: William Steig
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Ugly ogre parents make an even uglier ogre son named Shrek. Of course Shrek seeks (on the back of a donkey) and finds a bride — an ogress even uglier than he! Enjoy the rich language used in the now 20-years-old and still-funny picture book that inspired a movie adaptation.

The Very Fairy Princess

By: Julie Andrews, Emma Walton Hamilton
Illustrated by: Christine Davenier
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Geraldine is a princess, a fairy princess with a crown and lots of sparkle. Her life as a fairy princess is filled with ballet (where she sparkles a lot), school, and with friends. Muted illustrations and an innocent narration combine to present a loving family whose child is indeed a very fairy princess.

Tiger and Turtle

By: James Rumford
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Turtle and Tiger became friends only after they argued and fought over who saw one Spring flower first. When they both wind up in a field of flowers, they realize how silly they have been and together they return to their pond. This original tale is told in a storyteller's cadence complemented by rich, textured illustrations.

Tracks of a Panda

By: Nick Dowson
Illustrated by: Yu Rong
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Lyrical text and handsome illustrations combine to present information about pandas and their habitat. A bit of additional information is included on each page and at the end of the book.

What If?

By: Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

What if two seals play with a beached ball but a third seal isn't invited to join them? What happens if the other two seals play in the water but the third one doesn't? But in the third "what if" scenario, things turn out well for all! This seemingly simple saga is sure to require multiple readings — and generate lots of discussion.

For 6-9 year olds

Andy Shane Hero at Last

By: Jennifer Jacobson
Illustrated by: Abby Carter
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Andy Shane has only two goals. One was to have the best decorated bike in the Home Sweet Home parade and the other is to be a hero. Both seem unlikely — but when the unexpected happens, ordinary boys become heroes. Andy and his friends are likeable and the action believable in this easier to read novel.

Babymouse Burns Rubber

By: Jennifer Holm, Matthew Holm
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

In this latest installment of the ever-pink and imaginative rodent, Babymouse, she discovers she needs help from a pal to make her soap box car. However, at the derby, it is Wilson who needs help. It's Babymouse to the rescue! Pink is used successfully to define the fantasy in the otherwise black and white cartoons in this ever-fresh series.

Ben and Me: An Astonishing Life of Benjamin Franklin by His Good Mouse Amos

By: Robert Lawson
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Amos, a mouse, presents scientist, inventor, and early American Benjamin Franklin from his viewpoint. First published in 1939, Ben and Me uses humor and lively language ideal for sharing aloud to bring Ben and Amos to life.

Black Jack: The Ballad of Jack Johnson

By: Charles Smith
Illustrated by: Shane Evans
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Arthur John Johnson became known as Black Jack, the world's first black heavyweight champion and one of the best known boxers of the 20th century. Readers meet him through a rhythmic text and bold illustrations that present a clever, hardworking, and confident man. The book is published just in time to commemorate the anniversary of historic fight, July 4, 1910.

Calvin Coconut: Dog Heaven

By: Graham Salisbury
Illustrated by: Jacqueline Rogers
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Calvin Coconut wants a dog — and ultimately finds the perfect pet at Dog Heaven. Now how can he and his mom's friend, Ledward, convince mom that Calvin really is responsible enough to have a dog? This latest story about the likeable 4th grader, his friends and their problems is set in Hawaii.

Chester's Masterpiece

By: Melanie Watt
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Chester, the chubby but charming feline, wants to create his own masterpiece. But a writer/illustrator named Melanie Watts continues to thwart his creative efforts by hiding the tools of his trade. The competition between Watts and Chester results in a humorous book that appears to have been written and reworked with sticky notes and red marker.

Everybody Was a Baby Once and Other Poems

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

Enjoy short, lively, and varied poems for different occasions and from Monday ("…Washday,/sloshday…") to Friday which is "…fishday in out town/Fat-fish, flat-fish/Cod- and cat-fish…" Line drawings on richly hued pages make an attractive and engaging collection to be read cover-to-cover or to dipped into for a special treat.

Face to Face with Manatees

By: Brian Skerry
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Two different environments, two different authors, one goal achieved: to bring alive the process of studying and documenting a fascinating mammal and insect. Both books use the same basic format and text features, stunning photographs, and an informal voice to great effect. This is a series not to be missed.
See also: Face to Face with Butterflies

Five Children and It

By: E. Nesbit
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Five children finally escape the confines of London to the white house in the country. There they meet the magical but grumpy Psammead. When their wishes become reality, the children find out that what you want is not always what you wish for. Originally published in 1902, Nesbit's fantasy will read aloud to delight a new generation.

Ivy & Bean: Doomed to Dance

By: Annie Barrows
Illustrated by: Sophie Blackall
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Best friends, Ivy & Bean, both desperately want to dance ballet with the drama of "Giselle." Instead, they must learn the basics and finally are cast as squid in the recital. How these recognizable 2nd graders manage to keep their promise not to quit makes the latest installment a worthy one.

Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse

By: Marilyn Singer
Illustrated by: Josee Masse
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Everyone knows that there are two sides to every story. Read a cleverly illustrated poem one way for one side; read the same poem in reverse and learn the other. Well known fairy tales are presented through reversible poems sure to intrigue sophisticated readers of all ages. Each book comes with a CD, so pop it in and follow along!

Muddy as a Duck Puddle & Other American Similes

By: Laurie Lawlor
Illustrated by: Ethan Long
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Flat, cartoon-like, slyly humorous and slightly irreverent illustrations provide literal meanings for old sayings from A to Z. The fun comes in figuring out where these truisms may be used and what others may fill an alphabet. This is an engaging way to play with language and its meaning.

Ocean Soup: Tide-Pool Poems

By: Stephen Swinburne
Illustrated by: Mary Peterson
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Meet a sea anemone, sea urchin, a sculpin and other inhabitants of a tide pool through poems (in each creature's voice) and an informative paragraph (in a different typeface). Cartoon-like illustrations complete the engaging animal introductions while additional information is provided.

Once Upon a Time: Traditional Latin American Tales/Habia una vez: Cuentos tradicionales Latino Americanos

By: Reuben Martinez
Illustrated by: Raul Colon
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Animals and people wise and foolish are presented in these tales retold. Their origins, from a range of Spanish-speaking countries including Argentina, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Spain, are retold and handsomely illustrated — just right for reading aloud.

She Sang Promise: The Story of Betty Mae Jumper Seminole Tribal Leader

By: Jan Annino
Illustrated by: Lisa Desimini
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

A child with great potential was born in Florida in 1923 to the "Tiger Family in the powerful Snake Clan," part of the Seminole Tribe. She listened to the history of her people and made it herself as the first female tribal leader. Evocative illustrations and additional information complete this unusual biography.

Sojourner Truth's Step-Stomp Stride

By: Andrea Pinkney, Brian Pinkney
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Lively language and energetic illustrations create a memorable portrait of a woman who was to become known as Sojourner Truth. She was "Big. Black. Beautiful. True." Just like her name. Further information and photographs of Sojourner Truth completes this dynamic, fictionalized biography.

The Cool Crazy Crickets Club

By: David Elliott
Illustrated by: Paul Meisel
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

What do you do on long summer days? Marcus and Leo decide to start a club and do so with Miranda and Phoebe. Once they have everything a needed like a clubhouse and a mascot, they must decide on a purpose for the club. Club members share another summer adventure filled with babysitting, business, and more in the sequel.
See also: Cool Crazy Crickets to the Rescue

The Shocking Truth About Energy

By: Loreen Leedy
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

This lighthearted look at the many sources of energy provides an introduction to physical and environmental science, informing while entertaining. Illustrations combine factual graphics and cartoon-like characters. Additional information about energy concludes this playful look at a serious topic.

Weird but True! 300 Outrageous Facts

By: National Geographic Kids
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Did you know that slugs have "3,000 teeth and 4 noses" or that in "elephants sometimes make purr-like sounds when content"? These and other factoids are presented in a highly designed format just right to amaze and to pique curiosity. An index allows easy access to the brief information.

Zapato Power: Freddie Ramos Takes Off (Book 1)

By: Jacqueline Jules
Illustrated by: Miguel Benitez
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Product Description: One day Freddie Ramos comes home from school and finds a strange box just for him. What's inside? ZAPATO POWER-shoes that change Freddie's life by giving him super speed! But what will Freddie do with his fast new skills? Weird things are happening at the Starwood Park Apartments where he lives, and his friends at school need his help. Is Freddie Ramos ready to be a hero? This is the first book in the Zapato Power series.

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