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Books as Gifts

Summer Buying Guide 2012

frogs

Want to stay busy on a summer afternoon? Take a trip, meet new friends, or go on an adventure without leaving home? Find a story in a book, on an e-reader, or listen to audio version!

You'll find our recommendations for wonderful fiction and nonfiction picture books as well as audio books — all perfect for outdoor reading, warm summer evenings, and family road trips. Enjoy!



For 0-3 year olds

Animal Spots and Stripes

By: Britta Teckentrup
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Lots of animals and insects sport spots, others have stripes. In rich colors on sturdy pages, a flap folds out to reveal one or the other. Rich, patterned language and appealing illustration are used in this and in Animal 1 2 3, a clever counting book also sure to surprise and engage.

Backseat A-B-See

By: Maria van Lieshout
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Letters and words are all around as even the youngest child will see as they travel in a car (or on a bus). There are signs for every letter of the alphabet, from Airport to Z-z-z-z, shown in arresting, high contrast graphic art and crisp letters.

Fish Had a Wish

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

Stunning, textured illustrations and simple, patterned language present a fish with a wish to be other animals with different abilities. When a bug is eaten, the fish decides "It is good to be a fish." Not only will the book be enjoyed by listeners as well as emerging readers.

How Do Dinosaurs Eat Cookies?

By: Jane Yolen
Illustrated by: Mark Teague
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

The ever popular dinos are back, this time making and eating cookies always using their best manners. Rhyming text and outrageous illustrations are humorous. Two recipes and "scratch & sniff" are extras presented in this brief board book.

In the Garden

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

A young boy digs a garden, plants seeds, waters and waits but forgets — until sprouts and ultimately plants emerge! Simple staccato, rhythmic language combines with realistic illustrations in a small format just right for introducing gardens to young children.

Into the Outdoors

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

A family leaves their city for an overnight camping trip. Up the mountain they travel, make camp, hike, and enjoy each other and the beautiful scenery. The straightforward story highlights prepositions in natural language, made meaningful in verdant, textured illustration.

Llama Llama Zippity-Zoom

By: Anna Dewdney
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Little Llama zips and zooms, swishes and slides on the playground with his friends seen in uncluttered illustrations and limited text. In Llama Llama Hoppity-Hop, Llama hops, jumps, thumps right into Llama Mama’s embrace.

Lolo Reads to Leo

By: Anna McQuinn
Illustrated by: Rosalind Beardshaw
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Lola is excited that she’s going to become a big sister. She and her parents are prepared for Leo's arrival — especially Lola who reads to him on every occasion! Warm paintings illustrate this gently, recognizable look at one family’s everyday goings-on.

Machines Go to Work in the City

By: William Low
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

The city is filled with trucks, trains, and more things that go and "vroom", "beep", "honk" and more. Young machine aficionados are sure to appreciate them as presented in deeply colored illustrations and alliterative text. Questions asked are answered with a flap lift.

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.

Peepsqueak!

By: Leslie Ann Clark
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

A small chick, born "on the move!" named Pipsqueak wants to fly regardless of what the other animals say and continues trying until (with a little help) he succeeds. Pipsqueak is then on to the next challenge! Comic illustrations bounce across the pages in this lively barnyard tale.

Summer Days and Nights

By: Wong Yee
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

A rhyming text and soft, idealized illustrations present a young child's pleasure in summer activities — from shooting "straight down the slide" to a picnic in the shade with her parents. The small size of the book makes it ideal for sharing one-to-one.

Trains Go

By: Steve Light
Age Level: 0-3
Reading Level: Pre-Reader

Each type of train makes a slightly different sound from the "clang, ting" and "bing" of a freight train to the "zooosh" of the diesel. The long format is reminiscent of a track to support the colorful trains rushing by as well as their onomatopoeic sounds in varied typeface.

For 3-6 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.

Another Brother

By: Matthew Cordell
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

For four glorious years, Davy had Mom & Dad all to himself. But things changed when not one but 12 brothers arrived. Line drawings add expression and comedy to the understated text for a laugh-out-loud sheep tale sure to be enjoyed by those with — or without — new siblings.

Auntie Yang's Great Soybean Picnic

By: Ginnie Lo
Illustrated by: Beth Lo
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

While on a visit to her aunt and uncle in Illinois, the narrator and her family unexpectedly find a field of growing soybeans which begins a 40 year tradition. Based on the author's experiences, text and child-like illustrations reveal a caring, surprisingly modern family story from times past.

Boy + Bot

By: Ame Dyckman
Illustrated by: Dan Yaccarino
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

When a boy meets a robot they became fast and caring friends who worry about each other and share everyday activities and play. Simple language and bright, precise illustrations combine to present a fantastic and very gratifying friendship.

Bug Off! Creepy Crawley Poems

By: Jane Yolen
Illustrated by: Jason Stemple
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Short, imaginative poems combine with brief facts and handsome, full color photographs to introduce a variety of insects. Fact or fiction can be shared independent of the other to find out about everything from the common house fly to the colorful lovebug and many more insects.

Clothesline Clues to Jobs People Do

By: Katherine Heling, Deborah Hembrook
Illustrated by: Andy Davies
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Clothes on lines and a rhyming description ask readers to figure out what job the wearer might do. The first is a mail carrier who delivers to community workers until all come together for a rocket launch in a presentation with crisp illustrations on white pages and simple clues.

Crustacean Vacation

By: Brian Benoit
Illustrated by: Marty Kelley
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Humans are sure to see themselves in the beach vacation taken by a crab family. From playing in the sand to waterpark slides, energetic, humorous cartoon illustrations continue until "Another crustacean vacation is done,/Filled with marvelous memories of fun in the sun."

How to Babysit a Grandpa

By: Jean Reagan
Illustrated by: Lee Wildish
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Babysitting can be fun, especially if you get to babysit your grandpa! A child's advice makes for an active and very funny time together as they share snacks, a walk, and more before the parents' return. Straightforward text is enhanced by spirited, comical illustrations.

It's Raining, It's Pouring

By: Peter, Paul & Mary
Illustrated by: Christine Davnier
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The rain starts when a grandfather bumps his head, winds up in bed, and the children must play indoors. Lively illustrated vignettes of their games and concern for their granddad accompany the lyrics to what some may recognize as a song of the 1960s. A CD of the now classic children's tune (plus 2 others) is included in the package but isn't necessary to enjoy the book.

Lady Hahn and Her Seven Friends

By: Yumi Heo
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Long ago, Lady Hahn sewed with the help of her seven friends — needle, thimble, etc. — until each thought that their special job was most important. Swirling, detailed illustrations evoke the story's origin and early Korean setting and provide personalities to typical sewing tools.

My Body

By: Andrea Pinnington, Penny Lamprell
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Brief explanations of both the inside and outside of the human body are presented in direct text and full-color photographs with overlaid drawings. Also included are: a table of contents, index, glossary, and code to a download an interactive web-based book from the publisher.

My No, No, No Day!

By: Rebecca Patterson
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Bella tells readers all about her grumpy day which starts early. Families with grumpy children (as well others who witness one) will see the humor seen in Bella's bad behavior, her bedtime apology, and the cheerful next day in the simple, expressive illustrations and honest narration.

Out on the Prairie

By: Donna Bateman
Illustrated by: Susan Swan
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

The prairie is home to lush and unique plants and animals. Here they are introduced in the cadence of a familiar rhyme ("Over in the Meadow") which is followed by brief factual information. All is accompanied by eye-catching, textured mixed media illustrations that inform and engage.

Plant a Little Seed

By: Bonnie Christensen
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Two children start to plan their community garden while snow is still on the ground. Come spring they "plant a little seed or two...or more" and wait. They work and wait until the harvest and enjoy the fruits (and vegetables) with neighbors. Illustrations in vivid color and strong line paint the garden, its visitors, and the dedicated gardeners.

Ride, Fly Guy, Ride

By: Tedd Arnold
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Join Buzz, his pet fly Fly Guy, and Buzz's dad on a car ride that turns into an exciting adventure when Fly Guy is swept out of an open window and into the mouth of a passing truck driver. Can Fly Guy survive? Will he be reunited with Buzz? This installment of the funny saga is presented in short, easier to read chapters, and signature illustrations of bug-eyed characters.

San Francisco, Baby!

By: Ward Jenkins
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

From Alcatraz to the Mission District, join an enthusiastic little girl and her dad as they tour highlights of San Francisco (CA). Bright illustrations and brief, rhyming text give a whirlwind tour of the city. A companion book presents another family on equally jaunty and animated tour in New York, Baby!.

Scooter in the Outside

By: Anne Bowen
Illustrated by: Abby Carter
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Scooter, a pudgy golden hound, explores the outside — all by himself — after Lucy (his friend and owner) leaves for school. His adventure is exciting and exhausting until Scooter and Lucy are reunited at her school. Cartoon illustrations and humorous dog-speak present a rollicking tale.

Secrets of the Garden

By: Kathleen Zoehfeld
Illustrated by: Priscilla Lamont
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

A child and her family plan and plant a garden and observe it as it grows. Her narration includes information about the process while conversations between two hens add humor and information. The appealing, light-lined, cartoon-like illustrations vary format while adding information and wit.

Silly Doggy!

By: Adam Stower
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Lily has always wanted a dog and so was thrilled to find something wonderful, big and brown with a wet nose, in her garden. The unusual dog's owner collects it soon enough but not before Lily and her pet share routine but fun, doggy adventures. The understated humor is presented in comic illustrations and restrained text which lead to a very satisfying conclusion.

Suryia Swims! The True Story of How an Orangutan Learned to Swim

By: Bhagavan Antle, Thea Feldman
Illustrated by: Barry Bland
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

How Suryia, a highly photogenic orangutan, learns to swim with other animals in the South Carolina wildlife preserve is presented as a photograph album. Though most orangutans dislike water, Suryia enjoys swimming with the tigers and his best friend Roscoe (introduced in Suryia & Roscoe). Color photographs and simple text are sure to engage a range of readers.

The Duckling Gets a Cookie!?

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

Pigeon (of Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! fame) is back. Here, he's irritated that a very polite duckling gets a cookie by simply asking! Could good manners really matter? Understated humor abounds in both minimal text and characteristic illustration.

The Monster Returns

By: Peter McCarty
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

Jeremy preferred no disturbances when he was drawing but the unexpected return of his blue monster causes Jeremy to think of a creative and highly satisfying solution. Similar in style to Jeremy Draws a Monster, this stand-alone is equally enjoyable.

Willie & Uncle Bill

By: Amy Schwartz
Age Level: 3-6
Reading Level: Beginning Reader

When the doorbell rings three times, Willie knows that Uncle Bill has arrived to watch Willie while mom is away. In three short vignettes, Willie and his uncle make memories over a haircut, cooking and music. Jaunty illustrations portray lively and engaging characters and the warmth shared among them.

For 6-9 year olds

Aunt Ant Leaves Through the Leaves

By: Nancy Coffelt
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Like the well-known Little Red Hen, all of the animals Monkey asks for help to get pie-making ingredients home are too busy. The cleverly told tale uses pairs of homonyms & homophones. These are differentiated by bold print and clarified in textured illustrations for a satisfying story that can be enjoyed on several levels.

Bink and Gollie: Two for One

By: Kate DiCamillo, Allison McGhee
Illustrated by: Tony Fucile
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Best friends don't have to be alike, just look at tall Gollie and short Bink! They share a day at the state fair playing Whack-a-Duck, a talent show, and a visit to Madame Prunely. The line drawings capture the humor, the fun of a fair and the solid friendship of this appealing duo first introduced in Bink & Golly.

BookSpeak! Poems about Books

By: Laura Salas
Illustrated by: Josee Bisaillon
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Sophisticated readers will appreciate the themes of the poems presented in this large, attractively illustrated collection of poems. In varied forms, each poem celebrates books and reading and the pleasure it brings even to "The End/…an invitation back/to the beginning."

Captain America Joins the Mighty Avengers

By: Rich Thomas
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

How Captain American becomes one of the Avengers — superheroes that included Thor and the Hulk — is told in this new picture book format sure to please young Marvel Comic book fans and superhero aficionados. Bright illustrations move the text along to its exciting conclusion — and likely the next book.

Chloe and the Lion

By: Mac Barnett
Illustrated by: Adam Rex
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

The author introduces himself as the author, the book's illustrator, and the main character, Chloe, as the book opens. The conflict between author and illustrator has a significant impact on Chloe's book adventure in this funny, sophisticated presentation. As the author and illustrator pop in and out, style of illustration and text is varied for maximum effect.

Crouching Tiger

By: Ying Chang Compestine
Illustrated by: Yan Nascimbene
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

When Vinson's grandfather visits from China, the boy has conflicting feelings about his grandfather's old ways. A visit to Chinatown to experience the lion dancers celebrate the Chinese New Year bring Ming Da (Vinson) and his grandfather closer. Watercolor and ink illustrations add power to the warm, plausible story.

Daisy's Perfect Word

By: Sandra Feder
Illustrated by: Susan Mitchell
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Daisy loves to collect words and decides that the perfect word is just the right gift to give to her teacher as a wedding present. Daisy's daily activities, her friendships, and even dealing with a bully are sure to resonate with newly independent readers.

Frogs! Strange and Wonderful

By: Laurence Pringle
Illustrated by: Meryl Henderson
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Many different types of frogs, frog lifecycles, etc. are presented through brief but illuminating information and highly realistic watercolors. A concluding note about the impact of humans on frogs, insight into the author's interest and additional resources conclude this handsome and engrossing look at this animal.

Get Outside: The Kids Guide to Fun in the Great Outdoors

By: Jane Drake, Ann Love
Illustrated by: Heather Collins
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Outdoor adventures await adults and children throughout the year. Illustrated, easy to follow instructions and a can-do approach are sure to inspire readers of all ages to learn as they choose from a range of games and activities with background information included.

How Georgie Radbourn Saved Baseball

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

Baseball and a boy named Georgie Radbourn are the reason that America's perpetual winter came to an end. It was his perseverance and love of baseball that finally cracked failed player Boss Swaggert's hold on the game. Dark hued illustrations evoke a time past and celebrate the triumph of innocence over evil

If You Lived Here: Houses of the World

By: Giles Laroche
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

People all around have homes in which to live, but not all of them look alike. Dwellings old and new, in the U.S. and around the world, small and large, are presented in highly detailed, colorful collages and brief but informative text. A final map places the locations on a simple world map.

Lunch Lady and the Mutant Mathletes

By: Jarrett Krosoczka
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Can the Lunch Lady protect the Breakfast Bunch of Thompson Creek School from evil mutants posing as "mathletes" in a school math competition? Readers will find out in the latest installment of kids and their offbeat superhero done in signature black/white illustration in graphic format.

Mason Dixon Basketball Disasters

By: Claudia Mills
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Mason winds up joining the basketball team under relentless encouragement from his best friend, Brody, even though Mason knows he's a klutz. The disasters mount especially when the class bully joins an opposing team. Children will appreciate the situations Mason finds himself in and enjoy the gratifying resolutions.

One Dog and His Boy

By: Eva Ibbotson
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Hal is lonely and knows that a dog would become his companion and best friend. His adventure begins when his wealthy parents return a rented pup leaving Hal with only one option: running away. The adventure involves a poor but worthy friend, valiant dogs, and a series of improbably but engaging events that culminate happily.

Out of this World: Poems and Facts about Space

By: Amy Sklansky
Illustrated by: Stacey Schuett
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Poems combine with information and evocative illustrations to create a sense of wonder about space and space-related topics. Beginning with a countdown ("T-minus:/10/9/8…./Spaceship soaring!") and concluding with a child wondering about "My Place" in the universe, this intriguing collection is sure to delight readers.

Pinch and Dash Make Soup

By: Michael Daley
Illustrated by: Thomas Yezerski
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Pinch is too lazy to make his own soup so visits his friend, Dash who is making some. With ingredients from both kitchens, however, the friends make a tasty soup which turns into an inedible disaster. Short chapters and engaging illustrations create an accessible, engaging book for newly independent readers.

Seeing Symmetry

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

The word "mom" has it; so does a butterfly. Once you know what it is, you see it everywhere! A clear introduction to the topic is presented in accessible language and crisp, well-labeled illustrations in a colorful format. Suggestions for activities, a lucid explanation of its importance in math, and a glossary conclude this attractive volume.

Silent Star: The Story of Deaf Major Leaguer William Hoy

By: Bill Wise
Illustrated by: Adam Gustavson
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

William Hoy wasn't born deaf but lost it as a boy growing up in rural Ohio. In spite of his hearing loss, Hoy went on to become a remarkable major league baseball player at the end of the 19th century. His little known story is sure to inspire contemporary readers who will meet him in this handsome, detailed picture book biography.

Spunky Tells All

By: Ann Cameron
Illustrated by: Lauren Castillo
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Spunky speaks only Dog but understands Human and has a special affinity for Huey (first introduced in the Stories Julian Tells). Spunky's narration provides insight into Dog customs and human behavior as well has his frustration when they bring a snobby cat into the family as a friend for Spunky! Readers will laugh at Spunky's observations in this fast-paced family story.

Those Rebels, John and Tom

By: Barbara Kerley
Illustrated by: Edwin Fotheringham
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson were very different in everything from appearance to what they liked to do. But they agreed on one thing: King George of England was a tyrant! This lighter look at American history is factual and informative and may be just the introduction to Independence Day as well as two of its key figures.

Tornado! The Story Behind these Twisting, Turning, Spinning and Spiraling Storms

By: Judith Fradin, Dennis Fradin
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Sophisticated readers curious about weather science will be riveted by this highly illustrated, well documented, and clearly written look at tornadoes and their power. Photographs from satellites and the ground, newspaper headlines and more are presented album-like to dramatically present the storms power.

Wanted! A Guinea Pig Named Henry

By: Wendy Orr
Illustrated by: Patricia Castelo
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

When Nelly's family could no longer keep the small brown dog, she came to the Rainbow Street Animal Shelter and became a special part of it. Nelly quieted all of the anxious animals when they arrived and even inspired Sam (who met her pet there) to suggest a program to help reluctant readers. Warmly told, this engaging novel is just right for animal lovers.

Zapato Power: Freddie Ramos Makes a Splash

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

Freddie Ramos' super running and jumping powers and his confidence disappear after the loss of his zapatos. When his special-soled shoes are found, Freddie is able to successfully confront a bully as well as his own swimming fears. Easy but lively language and line drawings present an engaging story for new readers.

Audio Books

Clementine and the Family Meeting

By: Sara Pennypacker
Illustrated by: Marla Frazee
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

Clementine is afraid that she's in trouble but instead finds out that a new baby is on the way when the family meeting is called.

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.

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!

Songs from the Baobab

By: Chantal Grosleziat
Illustrated by: Elodie Nouhen
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Family

This handsomely illustrated book is accompanied by a CD of songs and lullabies from various parts of Africa.

The Penderwicks at Point Mouette

By: Jeanne Birdsall
Age Level: 6-9
Reading Level: Independent Reader

This summer vacation is different without father and the oldest Penderwick but offers lots of laughs along the way.

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

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