Thursday, May 23, 2013

Summer Reading

Here are some summer reading recommendations, by grade level, from Jane in the Children's Loft. . . 

Pre-K - Kindergarten
Fun, new (and a few older) picture books for kids entering school for the first time.

This rhyming book celebrates the way children get to school around the world. Can be an interesting way to introduce new riders to the school bus.

This is part of a successful series that draws you into our seasonal habitats (forest, snow, pond and garden) and helps you discover who lives in each. Simple text and helpful factual information that's not overwhelming for little people.

Another perfectly summertime tale in which a boy feels like he "owns a piece of moonlight" though he realizes he must set the fireflies free.

A magical story about growing a sunflower house and all the creativity it inspires. A perfect summer story.

The infamous Pigeon helps create the fun in this wildly imaginative activity book. Will keep the summer rainy day blues in check.

This sweet picture book depicts a seemingly silly fight between best friends, but helps us understand how important it is to embrace differences and new things (even if it is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich! yuck!)

This is a stunningly illustrated introduction to nature and poetry.

It's never too early to make the connection between what we pull out of our lunch boxes and what grows in our gardens and on our farms. Lots of Vermont kids may already be steeped in this knowledge but it is the first picture book to do a decent job with the topic.

Bailey is a dog who enjoys going to school-- he just gets distracted sometimes, and eats his homework. But he always tries his best. Kids will love the idea of sharing their day in the classroom with a character as likeable as this.

This sweet story explores the first day jitters as Bill decides he absolutely needs to bring a few favorite things with him on the first day.

First - Second Grades (ish)
These are a mixture of early readers, picture books and short chapter books for emergent readers.

Watch the transformation of Velma from a less-than-noticeable brand new first grader to a person of great interest (especially to the monarch!) in this sweet and informational tale.

There’s just something about Pete-- is it his groovy shoes or his groovy attitude? You just can’t resist this cool cat’s charm, even if he is a little afraid of the ocean.

Penny isn’t groovy-- but she has all the charm and earnestness of a spring day. Henkes hits all the right notes with this series.

In their own words, cartoon-style these familiar birds invite young people to pay attention and get out a sketchbook. Quirky and interactive, this book invites a whole new generation to an age-old hobby.

This is a new series based on the definitive book The Way Things Work, pared down and simplified for the needs of emerging readers. The series also includes castles, the eye and (my favorite) the toilet.

Vermonter and horse woman Haas introduces us to a girl who has been looking for a horse to love. Bramble has been looking for someone to take her away from her life of routine--is it a perfect match? With genuine horsey wisdom and humor Haas brings her love of animals to a fresh new series.

This chapter book is filled with humor, heart and wonderful illustrations. Lulu is a biracial child portrayed in a multi-racial classroom which is plenty welcome in the genre. Classroom chaos provides for plenty of comic relief for animal lovers and the rest of us, too.

The odd couple-- fussy rabbit and logical robot-- provide much amusement on a sleepover that Rabbit has planned from start to sleep. However, things don’t quite go as planned (who would’ve thought that Robot like nuts and bolts on his pizza?) and the reader has a blast watching these two figure it out. Simple text, but much to love. 
  • Dog Diaries by Kate Klimo
This early chapter series (like the much loved Horse Diaries) tells each story from the dog’s point of view, each dog being a different breed. Dog facts, history and lore in each.

Fans of Fancy Nancy can grow up with her as she becomes a young detective in this new series. Another beloved character-- Amelia Bedelia now stars in her own chapter book series, too.

  • Heroes in Training by Joan Holub
This is a great age to introduce Greek Myths-- there are many ways to begin (D’aulaire’s, Mary Pope Osborne’s Tales from the Odyssey) but here is a action-packed series for new readers not quite ready for Percy Jackson.

Third - Fourth Grades (or so)
Increasing depth, complexity and comprehension

Max reinvents himself at summer camp, and has a bumpy time merging his two personae when he returns to his regular life and old friends. Max is a likable kid who makes some questionable choices, like we all do. A great summer camp read.

  • Bliss by Kathryn Littlewood
A little magic, and a bake shop is the perfect recipe for summer fun. The Bliss family is a little eccentric, one of those zany families we’ve all wished to be a part of at one point or another.

When friendships get a little complicated, Anna turns to her books for comfort. However, real life friendships can be much trickier to navigate. Book lovers will find a lot to love in this quiet, well-written gem.

  • Pie by Sarah Weeks
Yes, another book about food! But who doesn’t like pie?! And well, this has a fun mystery twist that involves a not-so-loveable cat named Lardo. Need I say more?

The Lunch Lady serves lunch....and justice! This is a friendly, action-packed graphic novel series for kids who like serious fun. The graphics are easy to follow, and the story keeps them coming back for more.

From the same author who brought us Calamity Jack and Rapunzel’s Revenge, here are some seriously well-crafted graphic novels that tell about some of the livelier events in history. Big Bad Ironclad covers the history of the amazing ironclad steam warships used in the Civil War. One Dead Spy tells the strange but true story of an officer and spy for the American rebels during the Revolutionary War.

Justin is a worrying kind of kid, but his (mis)adventures are comic and his heart is big. Fans of Diary of a Wimpy Kid will enjoy Justin’s will appreciate the doodle-like illustrations though Justin is thoroughly his own winsome character---- even if he does worry a lot.

This is the start of a perfectly tailored fantasy series for readers who might not be ready for Harry Potter-- it is engaging and engrossing without being “too much” for younger readers. And at the heart of this story is an ever-changing magic castle that can grow a new room or change a few hallways depending in the day and its mood. Castle envy anyone?

A wonderful and necessary addition to the nature investigations genre, this book can be used in multiple situations, but as the title suggests, is best used in the backyard and in your community. Wonderful photography, resources and project ideas, I can’t recommend this highly enough.

This East Montpelier author just gets better and better--- her third novel is expertly crafted and is infused with her signature humor. Ruby Pepperdine is about to give her first public speech at the local Fourth of July parade, and as the story spirals backward we get a glimpse into her hopes, wishes and sadness. Character-driven and smart, Linda’s novels are also great for book groups.

When the Star-Spangled Banner is taken from its super-secure Smithsonian vault, three kids connected by their Vermont background and family membership in a secret artifact-protection society band together to find the irreplaceable national treasure. A little history, a lot of adventure and mystery.

Fifth and Sixth Grades (or thereabouts)
Reading with confidence and fluency.

A real western and a mystery to boot, P.K. (Pinky) is a plucky hero (with asperger’s) who has excellent powers of observation and a keen memory. Funny, filled with plenty of misfits and period detail and some gory details, this should appeal to most fans of high adventure.

A perilous quest that involves swashbuckling pirates and treasure, poor Egg, orphaned and living with the wealthy Pembroke family, discovers all is not as it seems. He must discover why his benefactor is trying to kill him why trying to find his courage and wits as well.

Another quest --this time involving three friends who are trying to deliver the ashes of a young girl to a cemetery in Ohio and put her ghost to rest. This unique tale dons the cloak of a creepy ghost tale to deliver bittersweet meditations on the nature of friendship, the price of growing up and the power of storytelling.

  • Twerp by Mark Goldblatt
It’s 1969 Queens, and as punishment, Julian is told he must journal about the events leading up to a school incident (about which we don’t actually learn until the latter part of the story). Until then, we are treated to various other mishaps with his gang of friends, and other bumps in the road into adolescence. Timeless issues and humorous sketches of boyhood mischief make this an engaging read.

Starring in her own series is the favorite fictional heroine of Clarice Bean, as any Child fan will know. With nods to Harriet the Spy and enough wisecracks to keep you chuckling throughout, this new detective series is charming and witty from start to finish.

This graphic novel series gives a fresh look to the Underworld and ingeniously preserves the old tale’s archetypal quality without ever losing sight of its human dimension. A popular series that just keeps getting better.

Alone in her belief that a found body is not her sister’s, plucky Georgie sneaks away in the dead of night, determined to retrace her sister’s steps in order to solve the mystery of her disappearance and, she hopes, to bring her home. Set in rural 1870’s Wisconsin, against the almost surreal setting where passenger pigeons are migrating, this historical novel grabs you from start to finish, and it’s hard to find a more charismatic character than Georgie.

This story of Vietnam is told through the eyes of a German Shepherd that becomes trained as a military canine to help soldiers sniff out booby traps, and through the eyes of Willie- the boy who had to let him go. A heartfelt tale that explores the close bond of the scout-dog team and gives insight to a little known piece in history.

A delightfully creative spin on some of the most well-known fairy tales, where princes aren’t so charming. This review pretty much sums it up: “This is the most fun you can have short of rounding up King Arthur’s knights, filling their armor with laughing gas, and driving them to a roller disco.” author Frank Cottrell Boyce

Young Adults-- ages 12 and up

Stiefvater's novel, inspired by Manx, Irish, and Scottish legends of beautiful but deadly fairy horses that emerge from the sea each autumn-- utterly beguiling.

A cast of well-defined characters and a unique magic system completes this lavishly imagined world, where light doesn’t always conquer dark and deception runs so deep that it becomes truth. High fantasy with a twist of Russian fairy tale.

An unforgettable and un-put-down-able story of WWII bravery and friendship told through the eyes of two young women serving as a spy and a pilot. Intelligent writing and perfect pacing-- adults should read this one, too!

A dystopian novel set in Brazil, where the matriarchs rule and technology is restricted. This meditation on art, creativity and passion fuels a unique ride.

A thrilling and dark exploration into the mind and drive behind Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, this gothic tale does not let up.

A post-apocalyptic alien invasion story with a smart, vulnerable heroine. Another non-stop thrill ride that is deftly plotted.

This starts as a well-written, quirky romance and turns into an all but predictable story about the dark secrets that, when kept, can take down a community. Thoughtful, sweet and poignant.

The perfect summer beach read--a tongue-in-cheek take on the Regency romance. Clever and witty, with a memorable protagonist who is smart and savvy.

An alternate fantasy that borrows heavily from the New England witch trials-- well-written with the perfect amount of romance that never overshadows the feminist plot.

Vivid imagination and deft storytelling make for refreshing speculative fiction in this time-travel tale.

This is the story of building of the first atomic bomb and it reads like a spy thriller. It has won multiple awards and is loaded with archival photos and primary-source documents, though the story at the heart of this non-fiction book is what shines through.