Books for young readers: Great stories to read as summer fades into fall
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As summer slides by, make time to share a few more stories as school gets under way.
Local illustrator Anne Lee makes her debut as an author with "When You Are Camping" (Kane Miller, $14.99, ages 4-8). Two young sisters share simple activities like watching a caterpillar, floating on an inner tube, standing perfectly still to see a deer and watching fireflies. They have fun and love camping.
And who wouldn't when there's so much to do outdoors? Even in the rain, there are puddles, wet grass, mud and frogs that come out to play. And no one would pass up marshmallows for breakfast!
The evening brings popcorn, stories by the campfire, climbing into sleeping bags and crickets that sing you to sleep.
Ms. Lee has taken this down-to-earth activity and made it memorable. Soft watercolor illustrations fit the simple yet evocative text perfectly. Even if you're not a camper, you won't want to miss this trip.
Jilli, Jim and their dog Fiercely see hammers, saws and lots of other tools, and they hear men shouting. What are they building? It looks big and red.
And there's a lady with a pointy hat painting ice-cream cones and gumdrops on a wall. Is she the witch from Hansel and Gretel?
They're determined to find out in "The Big Something" (Orchard Books, $16.99, ages 6-8) by award-winning author Patricia Reilly Giff.
The mystery builds when Fiercely suddenly goes missing. The surprise ending will keep young readers engaged to the end.
Ms. Giff displays her usual good humor and warmth in this fun tale. Diane Palmisciano's pastel illustrations bring out the playful personalities of the characters.
Patience, perseverance and family are the themes in "Kunu's Basket: A Story From Indian Island" (Tilbury House, $16.95, ages 5-8). Kunu, a young Penobscot boy, is learning how to make baskets.
This tradition that has been carried on by men of his tribal nation for generations. Frustrated at his first attempts, he turns down his father's help, saying, "I want to do it myself."
Only after his grandfather gently encourages him does Kunu slowly build confidence -- and a basket.
First-time author Lee DeCora Francis tells the story in a contemporary setting, reminding readers that native peoples are not just a part of history.
Susan Drucker's softly colored illustrations emphasize the accuracy and detail necessary in this important craft. In addition to reflecting the action, the illustrations offer images of different types of woven baskets.
Caldecott Honor winners Ted and Betsy Lewin take their readers on a trip to the Westman Islands off the coast of Iceland in "Puffling Patrol" (Lee & Low Books, $19.95, ages 6-11). Puffins return here each spring to breed and raise their young, called pufflings.
By August, the adult puffins fly away for the winter, and the young will be on their own. This is when the children of The Puffling Patrol come into play.
Eight-year-old twins Dani and Erna are part of the patrol that the Lewins follow. They witness the capture and special care the birds are given before being released into the Atlantic Ocean.
Vibrant and expressive illustrations include large watercolor paintings and smaller informal pen-and-ink drawings. Puffin facts, a glossary and pronunciation guide are included.
With the recent games in London just over "Gold Medal Summer" (Arthur A. Levine Books, $16.99, ages 9-12) should easily find an enthusiastic audience.
Thirteen-year-old Joey Jordan has had one goal for pretty much her entire life -- win a gold medal in gymnastics.
Her older sister, Julia, won the gold medal at Nationals a few years ago. Joey feels certain this is her year and is determined to follow in her sister's footsteps.
Joey faces problems, though. Her best friend and squad-mate, Alex, is thinking of leaving the sport. And one of her childhood friends is back in town. He's cute and becomes her first crush. But her squad has a rule: "Boys and gymnastics Do Not Mix."
Drawing from her real-life experiences, author Donna Freitas reveals issues particular to girls' gymnastics. She also includes quotations from famous gymnasts.
Florence Mills could sing and dance just about as soon as she could talk and walk. "Baby Flo" (Lee and Low Books, $18.95, ages 6-11) chronicles the remarkable life of this African-American child during the early 20th century.
Growing up in Washington, D.C., Florence's parents encouraged her to sing and dance. She performed on stage at age 3, entered cakewalk (a popular dance) contests and sang for powerful people in their homes in Washington. Word quickly spread about her lively personality and superb talent.
In 1903, when Florence was 7, she entered a dance contest sponsored by a traveling show. Although she didn't win, she was asked to perform during the show's intermission for a week. Her name was now on the marquee!
Author Alan Schroeder concentrates on Florence's early life. He includes comprehensive notes about her adult life as readers will surely be curious about her accomplishments.
Rich watercolor illustrations by husband-and-wife team Cornelius Van Wright and Ying-Hwa Hu make the story shine.
First Published September 11, 2012 12:00 am