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Published: Sunday, 5/29/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Summer reading brings excitement to lazy days

LOCAL REVIEWERS

Long summer days bring more time for falling into books by your favorite authors and for meeting new ones. The books presented here include both types, with lots of excitement and adventure. Books for younger readers feature stunning art.

The following reviews were written by four area teachers of children's literature: Barbara Britsch (BB), professor emerita of Lourdes College; Melissa Cain (MC) of the University of Findlay; Barbara St. John (BSJ), retired from Bowling Green State University; and Alexa Sandmann (AS) of Kent State University.

Preschool (Ages 1-5)

LITTLE WHITE RABBIT. Written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes. Greenwillow. $16.99.

Little white rabbit hops through a summer landscape, wondering what it would be like to be green as grass, to fly as high as butterflies, or to be still as a rock. Each question leads to a matching experience: He becomes green as the grass; he flies high in the air, and he becomes perfectly still. Home at last, he knows who loves him. Henkes' distinctive style in full-color art perfectly captures rabbit's adventure. (BB)

A PET FOR PETUNIA. Written and illustrated by Paul Schmid. HarperCollins. $12.99.

Petunia is a little girl who loves skunks. Desperate to have one for a pet, she bugs her parents with every argument imaginable. Insulted when they say skunks stink, she storms off into the woods, where she encounters the real deal. Horrors! Her parents were right! Sketchy drawings in a limited palette of purple, yellow, and black charmingly illustrate Petunia's story. (MC)

NO SLEEP FOR THE SHEEP. By Karen Beaumont. Illustrated by Jackie Urbanovic. Harcourt. $16.99.

As evening approaches sheep wants to go to sleep in the big red barn. One by one other animals join him -- a duck, goat, pig, cow, and horse. Each time sheep's sleep is disturbed. So when rooster announces morning's arrival the other animals greet the day but sheep and his teddy bear snuggle down for another nap. Little ones will giggle. Great animals! (BSJ)

TONY BALONEY. By Pam Munoz Ryan, Illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham. Scholastic Press. $16.99

Tony Baloney, a macaroni penguin, is in the middle -- of an older sister and two "bothersome babies." All have a habit of making his life difficult, the eldest because she always makes him pretend to be a kitty and the younger ones because they are so "exasperating." So, sometimes, trouble finds Tony. Eventually, all is forgiven -- and Tony doesn't even have to be a kitty anymore, but …. This delightful story, told in an explosion of color, is great fun for siblings of all ages. (AS)

Primary (Ages 6-9)

ALL THE WATER IN THE WORLD. By George Ella Lyon. Illustrated by Katherine Tillotson. Atheneum. $15.99.

Lyon relates the water cycle with a minimum of words that splash across each page. Welcome rain comes down, or in deserts, is longed for. "Living things dream of water . . . to drink . . .wash in, splash in." Tillotson's dramatic art spills off each double-page spread, urging us to conserve this precious element. Perfect for both classroom and home. (BB)

THE BOOK WITH A HOLE. Written and illustrated by Herve Tullett. Tate Publishing. $14.50.

There is a big hole in the middle of this oversized paperback book. On the bright red cover, it is a man's open mouth. Open the book and you'll see black and white graphic designs that allow children to interact with the hole in a variety of ways. For example, they can put their arm through to make the elephant's trunk, trace a pattern, or make their fingers into teeth for the monster. (MC)

THE QUIET BOOK and THE LOUD BOOK! By Deborah Underwood. Illustrated by Renata Liwska. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. $12.95.

The Quiet Book explores the many quiet moments in a child's life. Children will relate to the friendly little creatures who move through these pages. The Loud Book! follows these little creatures finding loud noises --things like the fire truck and fireworks and experiences which demand loud responses. Parents may want to encourage children to create their own pictures (or books). What is your favorite quiet and loud experience? (BSJ)

CLARA LEE AND THE APPLE PIE DREAM. By Jenny Han. Illustrated by Julia Kuo. Little Brown and Company. $14.99

Third grader Clara Lee hopes to become "Little Miss Apple Pie" in the parade celebrating the annual Apple Blossom Festival. Clara Lee doesn't think her chances are very good when Dionne shares in the speech competition that her lineage in the town of Bramley goes back generations. American born but with a Korean grandfather, Clara Lee fears she is not as "American as apple pie." Han writes a poignant story of friendship, family, and self-worth. (AS)

Intermediate (Ages 10-12)

THEODOSIA AND THE LAST PHARAOH. By R. L. LaFevers. Illustrated by Yoko Tanaka. Houghton Mifflin. $16.99.

The fourth in this popular series opens with Theodosia off to Egypt with a list of very important tasks. In addition to returning magical objects to their rightful places, she hopes to check on her mother's archeological digs and to pursue the mystery of her birth. When her camel boy, Gadji, is kidnapped, the adventures heat up. Ancient magic, the Orb of Ra, and a fake Emerald Tablet all figure largely in this highly entertaining story. (BB)

THE DRAGON OF CRIPPLE CREEK. By Troy Howell. Amulet/Abrams. $16.95.

This debut novel by the illustrator of Brian Jacques' Redwall series features a dragon in a Colorado gold mine. When Kat falls down a shaft, she discovers him and the touching secret that gold is the remains of dragons. Though desperately poor, Kat resists taking the gold -- except for one nugget. Unfortunately, this causes a gold rush. Howell provides a rollicking, yet thought-provoking adventure peppered with colorful characters. (MC)

YOUNG FREDLE. By Cynthia Voight. Illustrated by Louise Yates. Knopf. $16.99

Fredle was a house mouse. He and his family lived in a cozy nest behind the pantry wall. But Fredle discovered chocolate, ate too much, became ill, and was pushed out of the nest. He landed outdoors -- and adventures began. Fredle learned about grass, flowers, rain, and sun, moon, and stars. He was awed by all of nature. Other animals fascinated him. He knew them by name and respected their skills. After this amazing adventure, Fredle returned to the nest in the pantry. Will he stay or will he follow other paths to more adventures? Fredle is an unforgettable character. (BSJ)

WARP SPEED. By Lisa Yee. Scholastic Press. $16.99

Passionate about Star Trek, seventh grader Marley hangs with the other guys in the AV club -- or Technical Sciences, as it is now called. Given this connection, it is not surprising Marley and his friends are teased unmercifully by their classmates, so they find comfort in the club. Marley's passion for Star Trek is highlighted throughout the book by his "Captain's Log," revealing thoughtful insights as he negotiates bullies, girls, and home life. From "invisible" to "invincible," Marley is one memorable guy. (AS)

Young Adult (Ages 13-up)

THE BETRAYAL OF MAGGIE BLAIR. By Elizabeth Laird. Houghton Mifflin. $16.99.

In 17th-century rural Scotland, magic and the devil are very real. When Maggie's grandmother is accused of witchcraft, Maggie must run for her life from their seaside cottage. A long, exhausting journey brings her to her uncle's home, Ladymuir. But sanctuary is brief, as deceit and betrayal come from within her own family. A well-crafted tale of life in Reformation Scotland with a remarkable heroine. (BB)

CLOAKED. By Alex Flinn. Harper Teen. $16.99.

Johnny works in his family's failing shoe repair shop in a South Beach luxury hotel. One day a hot princess hires him to find her cursed brother, now a frog, and gives him a magic traveling cloak. His dreary world is turned up side down. His friend, Meg, who has secrets of her own, joins him on his quest. Brownies, scorpions, witches, and giants are among the creatures they encounter. (MC)

AWAKEN. By Katie Kacvinsky. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. $16.99.

The year is 2060. Few people are seen on the streets; crime is at an all-time low. Students attend Digital Schools - K-college. Madeline's father is in charge of all the schools and he believes in the digital programs, but her mother enjoys paper books and magazines.

Maddie meets Justin and his friends, young people dedicated to changing society -- encouraging more interaction among people and, most importantly, encouraging people to think for themselves. Will Maddie defy her father? Can the young people change society? How close are we to the society Kacvinsky describes? This is a great book for discussion. (BSJ)

VIOLA IN THE SPOTLIGHT. By Adriana Trigiani. HarperCollins. $16.99

Sequel to Viola in Reel Life, Viola is back in Brooklyn after spending her freshman year in boarding school in Indiana because her parents were working abroad. Anticipating a summer back home with best friends Andrew and Caitlin, she is unprepared when the first goes to camp and the other has a job -- and a boyfriend. Her grandmother "rescues" her with the chance to be an overworked lighting intern on Broadway, and helps her understand that listening to her inner voice is key to who she is -- and will be. (AS)



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