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Books as Gifts

Summer Buying Guide 2011

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The days are longer, the air is warmer, and it's time to think about vacations. Whether or not you leave your home, you can go an adventure when you open a book! Try several of the suggestions here — some books are funny, others fantastic; some authors find the stories in real life — and tell them in pictures and words.

Books come in lots of different forms: you can download them onto an eReader, tune in to an audiobook, or just turn the pages of a physical book.



For 0-3 year olds

Have You Seen Duck?

By: Janet Holmes, Jonathan Bentley
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

The boy and his stuffed toy duck are the best of friends; they do everything together. Soft line and wash illustrations show their joyful play and the boy's sadness when Duck goes missing. The satisfying resolution is plausible and pleasurable.

Hello, Baby Beluga

By: Darrin Lunde
Illustrated by: Patricia Wynne
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Meet a baby beluga whale, its mother, and the sometimes threatening environment in which they live through a series of questions and answers between the beluga and the reader. Softly lined, idealized illustrations are used in this book for older toddlers.

I Like Vegetables (A touch-and-feel board book)

By: Lorena Siminovich
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Summertime is a time for growing vegetables. Younger children can now see if different vegetables grow above or below ground and get a sense of what they might feel like when touched. Crisp illustrations incorporate texture that can be seen and felt.

I Spy with My Little Eye

By: Edward Gibbs
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

An eye peering through a hole and a die-cut on the next page provides a twist on an old game to introduce a range of animals, a notable characteristic, and a specific color associated with each. The participatory format and handsome illustrations will engage children for many readings.

Kitten's Summer

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

A sudden summer shower sends animals from the forest and the farm — including Kitten — running for shelter. Textured collages and rhyming couplets present the creatures, their environment, and their actions in rich, rhythmic, and brief language.

My Farm Friends

By: Wendell Minor
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Meet the many animals that live on a farm in gentle rhymes and soft, highly realistic illustrations. Questions posed are likely to engage young listeners while adults will appreciate the additional information presented at the end.

Oliver

By: Christopher Franceschelli
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Sturdy pages are used to tell the story of Oliver, an egg who could roll from side to side but not much more as "he was simply an egg and that was that." That is, until the day "everything changed." An open format and clever ending are sure to delight even the youngest reader.

One, Two, Buckle My Shoe: A Counting Nursery Rhyme

By: Slaina Yoon
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Die-cuts are cleverly used to focus on counting from one to 10 but with a turn of the sturdy page, readers can count again when introduced to a circus animal and various objects. Bold form and bright colors create a new spin on an old rhyme.

Shout! Shout It Out!

By: Denise Fleming
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

An adult accompanied by a mouse encourages a group of children to shout out what they know: numbers 1 to 10, letters, colors, animals, and things that move — and once again with the small mouse. Lively, full color illustrations add verve to the participatory text.

The Rain Train

By: Elena de Roo
Illustrated by: Brian Lovelock
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Shielded by umbrellas, children board the train when it rains for a nighttime, sleep time, dream journey that continues until the bright morning. Rhythmic, rhyming language filled with train and rain sounds combine with richly hued illustrations for an imaginative evening jaunt.

For 3-6 year olds

Bats at the Ballgame

By: Brian Lies
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Baseball is America's pastime — even for nocturnal animals like bats! As in the other books about these engaging creatures, the fun is seeing them wear baseball togs as they prepare for and play the game. Rhyming text and realistic illustrations highlight spectators and players.

Bee and Bird

By: Craig Frazier
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Changing perspectives, beginning with an up-close view of a bee, challenges readers to tell the story in this wordless book again and again. The flat forms and colors gradually reveal an unusual friendship and unique journey to be visited many times.

Bring on the Birds

By: Susan Stockdale
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Stunning yet accurate illustrations accompany a gently rhyming, rhythmic text to introduce the behavior of a variety of birds. Brief information about the birds shown encourages young readers to want to learn more about these handsome creatures.

Clink

By: Kelly DiPucchio, Matthew Myers
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Clink is a robot that used to be state of the art; now he's outdated and missing parts. Nobody wants Clink until he meets Milton, a boy who brings out the best in Clink and gives him a new home. The satisfying story is illustrated with full color illustrations.

Cloudette

By: Tom Lichtenfield
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Cloudette, a small cumulus, has a crisis of confidence when she compares herself to the more dramatic clouds. One day, however, Cloudette finds herself far from the others and learns that even the smallest can make a big difference. Cartoon illustrations effectively convey emotions.

Jam and Honey

By: Melita Morales
Illustrated by: Laura Bryant
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The narrator (always within her mother's sight) independently picks berries for jam. When she encounters a bee she remembers to stand still until it leaves. The same encounter is told again from the bee's perspective for a satisfying story told in rhyme with expressive illustrations.

Just Fine the Way They Are: From Dirt Roads to Rail Roads to Interstates

By: Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge
Illustrated by: Richard Walz
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Folks often resist change, even when it came to improving roads and modes of transportation in a growing United States. An informal text and informative but relaxed illustrations capture the essence of this history, suggesting what may be next. Additional resources are included.

Max and Ruby's Bedtime Book

By: Rosemary Wells
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Max, Ruby, and friends are back for a series of short everyday adventures. They cook and open a restaurant, learn to swim and save a special buddy, and more. Humorous, textured illustrations in a large format are just right for bedtime (or anytime) sharing.

Me...Jane

By: Patrick McDonnell
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Who would have thought that a child's stuffed toy, interest in the outdoors and animals, and childhood dreams would predict her future work and life? This picture book biography of Jane Goodall's early life does just that, effectively placing actual photographs of young Jane and her toy chimpanzee at the opening and conclusion of this simple but effective sketch.

My Wild Sister and Me

By: Iris Wewer
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Having a wildly imaginative big sister is great — except when she goes off with a friend. Comic illustrations combine with a child-like narration to reveal the ups and downs of being the youngest of a sibling pair. Readers are sure to recognize the emotions in this inventive tale.

New Red Bike!

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

Tom rides his new red bike to his friend's house but the bike disappears when he knocks at Sam's door. Sam has taken it for a spin, much to Tom's irritation. Expressive illustrations and minimal text depict the friendship, chagrin, and ultimate resolution in a satisfying saga.

Perfect Square

By: Michael Hall
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

At the start, the square was perfect and red but things change and so does the square. In a series of images accompanied by playful language, the red square changes into different forms and colors, challenging the reader to think literally outside of the box — that perhaps change isn't such a bad thing after all.

Pirate vs. Pirate: The Terrific Tale of a Big, Blustery Maritime Match

By: Mary Quattlebaum
Illustrated by: Alexandra Boiger
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

When Bad Bart who was the "biggest, burliest pirate this side of the Atlantic" meets Mean Mo, "maddest, mightiest pirate this side of the Pacific," an unwinnable competition ensues that ends in romance. The rollicking pirate adventures are told with verve and humor.

Silly Lilly in What Will I Be Today

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

From Monday through Sunday, Silly Lilly tries on a new role each day — from vampire to teacher, ending the week as candy taster. Simplified comic book panels are sure to help new readers comprehend the story as they make meaning from word and image.

The Bear Who Shared

By: Catherine Rayner
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Norris was a wise bear who appreciated that "plorringes were the best fruit of all." A mouse and raccoon also admired, and wanted the tasty treat — and so wise Norris shared it with them. Relaxed watercolors and simple language effectively convey the pain of waiting and the joy of friendship.

The Cazuela that the Farm Maiden Stirred

By: Samantha Vamos
Illustrated by: Rafael López
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

In the playful cadence of "The House that Jack Built, "a pot stirred by a maiden and her farm animals is used to create a tasty arroz con leche. Spanish words are used throughout but will be easily understood by all. A recipe and glossary complete this cheery, rhythmic tale.

The Loopy Coop Hens

By: Janet Stoeke
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Even though chickens Midge, Pip, and Dot discover that Rooster Sam cannot fly, they still admire and love him. Short vignettes in easy language about silly chickens on a farm combine with uncluttered illustrations to convey a range of silly and cocky fowl behaviors.

This Is the Game

By: Diane Shore, Jessica Alexander
Illustrated by: Owen Smith
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Stylized illustrations place readers in the 1920s and 1930s, a time when baseball was played on the streets, listened to on radio, and enjoyed in stadiums. A rhythmic text introduces some of the period's heroes while capturing its spirit.

Three Hens and a Peacock

By: Lester Laminack
Illustrated by: Henry Cole
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

"Things were quiet on the Tuckers' farm..." but really took off once a peacock came to live with them. The chickens become jealous and so trade places with the peacock with very funny results. Cartoon illustrations add humor and charm to the understated, appealing text.

Where's Walrus?

By: Stephen Savage
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A sly walrus evades the zookeeper, all the while hiding in plain sight: at a lunch counter, in a window display, and many equally obvious (and silly) places. After taking a swimming prize, the walrus returns to the zoo. Flat forms augment the understated comedy of this wordless tale.

While You Are Sleeping

By: Durga Bernhard
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

While children in one part of the world doze, wash, or pick fruit, readers can lift a flap to see others singing, climbing a tree, or sleeping. Carefully formatted illustrations and brief text introduce maps, time zones, and different cultures with varying levels of complexity.

For 6-9 year olds

Almost Zero: A Dyamonde Daniel Book

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

The bright, lively, and one-of-a-kind girl is back, this time to find out the difference between wanting something and actually needing it. Dyamonde is caught by her own cleverness, sure to gain readers' empathy.

Birds of a Feather

By: Jane Yolen
Illustrated by: Jason Stemple
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Stunning, full color, close-up photographs of birds combined with evocative poems in different forms present memorable portraits of birds. Factual material about each feathered creature is inserted on every double-page spread to complete the picture.

Calendar Mysteries: June Jam

By: Ron Roy
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Four siblings decide to make strawberry jam for Father's Day — but the strawberries keep disappearing from the garden. In order to make the planned present for their dads, the kids must identify the fruit snatcher! The mild mystery is just right for newly independent readers.

Daisy Dawson at the Beach

By: Steve Voake
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Daisy Dawson, an imaginative child, is excited once school is out because she and her parents will spend the summer at the beach. There, she finds, enjoys, and helps new friends — human and animal. Sprightly illustrations bring Daisy's character and her summer adventures to life.

Guyku: A Year of Haiku for Boys

By: Bob Raczka
Illustrated by: Peter Reynolds
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

If you thought that haiku was a staid poetic form, then you haven't come across this collection! Boys and all things boy are presented for each of the four seasons. Sprinkled throughout are humorous line drawings that extend the light tone.

I Feel Better with a Frog in My Throat: History's Strangest Cures

By: Carlyn Beccia
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Some of them worked; others didn't but all were based in the folk and academic traditions of the times. With wit and insight, historical medical remedies from around the world are introduced as is the science behind them. Additional resources end this amusingly illustrated book.

If I Never Forever Endeavor

By: Holly Meade
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

One never knows until they try something — much like a small yellow fledgling that is afraid to leave the nest. Lyrical language and textured, stylized collage illustrations combine for a surprisingly sophisticated push toward flying independently.

Inkblot: Drip, Splat, and Squish Your Way to Creativity

By: Margaret Peot
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Want something to do that may spark creativity? Try making inkblots to see what and how you see! Sophisticated children will find this highly illustrated, step-by-step, how-to book of creating, seeing, and imaginatively using inkblots engrossing.

Keena Ford and the Secret Journal Mix-up

By: Melissa Thomson
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

What will 2nd grade Keena do to keep her best friend from finding out what she's written in her private journal? Identifiable issues and emotions are plausibly resolved in this readable novel when the class meanie finds Keena's diary and insists Keena do as she demands — or else!

Labracadabra

By: Jessica Nelson, Karen Leigh Hopkins
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Zach has always wanted a dog but when his parents bring home Larry, a funny seriously mixed breed, he's not so sure. But there's something special about this mutt, making Zach decide that Larry has a magical tail. Zach's narration rings true in this fetching early chapter book.

Magic at the Bed and Biscuit

By: Joan Carris
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Animal buddies at the boardinghouse for animals do their best to make the new guest comfortable while on a vacation. But what is this chicken up to? And can the other animals prevent an awful occurrence? Lively language and likeable critters create an engaging novel.

Orlando, FL: Cool Stuff Every Kid Should Know

By: Kate Boehm Jerome
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

For a quick tour of Orlando and a glimpse at the state of Florida, a fast tour in photographs and information snippets may be just right. A brief overview of the high points of the city and state, some of its famous inhabitants, and more are provided. This is one of a series that may pique curiosity about states and some of their better-known cities.

Polar Bears

By: Mark Newman
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Striking photographs combine with readable text to provide an introduction to polar bears. Text appears in two fonts, allowing readers access to more information and enhancing its use with different ages and interests. Additional material about the animals and further resources conclude the book.

Seabird in the Forest: The Mystery of the Marbled Murrelet

By: Joan Dunning
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

The mystery of why a Pacific seabird nests inland has only recently been solved. Lyrical language and evocative illustrations with additional information inset on each page brings the modern scientific thriller to light. Additional resources conclude this handsome volume.

Stink and the Ultimate Thumb-Wrestling Smackdown

By: Megan McDonald
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Only one 'unsatisfactory' tarnishes Stink's report card: physical education. Smaller children will empathize with Judy Moody's little brother as he tries to find a sport that he likes and can excel in — which just might be thumb-wrestling! The series continues with verve and good humor.

The Trouble with Chickens

By: Doreen Cronin
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

J.J. Tully, a retired search and rescue dog, takes on the task of finding two lost chicks that their mother fears were kidnapped. Not only does J.J. solve the mystery, he finds unexpected friends. There's plenty of adult humor in J.J.'s narration, but lots of laughs for newly independent readers, too.

The Yellow House

By: Blake Morrison
Illustrated by: Helen Craig
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

An empty yellow house that a girl passes is both spooky and intriguing — and a place where the extraordinary may happen. One day, she enters the garden while her mother is distracted and encounters amazing things. Delicate illustrations complement this gentle fantasy.

Watch Me Grow! A Down-to-Earth Look at Growing Food in the City

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

Growing fruits and vegetables doesn't take a lot of space; they can even grow in crowded cities! From beekeeping to chickens, small areas can support food which leads to sharing, eating, and caring for others and the environment. Once the concept of urban agriculture is introduced, who knows what may blossom?!

Zapato Power: Freddie Ramos Springs into Action

By: Jacqueline Jules
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Freddy is back with his super shoes, his purple zapatos, to help solve a mystery and save a squirrel loose in school. Likeable characters in fast-paced, recognizable activities make these novels appealing and accessible to newly independent readers. Look for the 3rd installment of Freddy's adventures in Zapato Power: Freddie Ramos Zooms to the Rescue

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

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