"Captain Sky Blue," story and pictures by Richard Egielski (Scholastic Press, ages 3-7, $17.95), is sure to get future pilots "spooled up" (excited).
Captain Sky Blue is delivered to Jack for Christmas, and the toy and boy have great adventures. When the Captain is lost in a thunderstorm and crashes into the ocean, he thinks he may never see Jack again.
Egielski uses more than 20 pilot talk words and phrases from the common "Roger" and "Goo" to the more obscure "check for light leaks" (closing your eyes for a nap). His daring story is complemented by fabulous illustrations.
Parents will appreciate the glossary of pilot talk. It is so necessary that it is printed both in the back and the front of the book!
"Disappearing Desmond," written and illustrated by Anna Alter (Knopf, ages 5-8, $17.99), is a charming look at shyness in children.
Desmond likes to disappear. Whether on the playground, in the classroom, or at the beach, he has always found a way to blend in as if he wasn't even around. Then Gloria joins his class. She loves to be noticed, and starts to notice Desmond, too. At first he is surprised, but discovers he likes being recognized.
Alter's story is warm and reassuring. Her characters don't judge each other, but find gentle ways to help each other grow. Young readers will love searching for the shy Desmond in the brightly colored acrylic illustrations and may notice other reluctant students as well.
Wallflowers and starlets alike will adore "Disappearing Desmond."
Another great book about friendship is " Everyone Needs a Friend," written and illustrated by Dubravka Kolanovic (Price Stern Sloan, ages 6-8, $9.99).
Jack the wolf finds that long winter nights get lonely. When Walter the mouse is lost, Jack happily invites him to spend the night. He enjoys having a friend to play with, but soon discovers that Walter is a noisy sleeper and oh so messy!
Kolanovic may live and work in Zagreb, Croatia, but her picture books have worldwide appeal. Her gentle text is simple without being simplistic and her full-page colored chalk illustrations fill out the story line completely.
Walter never learns to be as neat as Jack is, but he does learn how to knit and make jam. Jack learns that a little messiness is worth it to have a friend around.
"Hide and Seek," written by Katy Grant (Peachtree Publishers, ages 8-12, $15.95), features the high-tech hobby of geocaching to tell an adventurous crime story.
Fourteen-year-old Chase is eager to go on his first solo geocaching trip. Armed with his new GPS, he heads out on his bike to coordinates a few miles from his home. Along with the expected trinkets and messages from fellow geocachers, he finds a cryptic note: "HELP WE NE" in the cache.
Grant artfully describes the nuances of geocaching without detracting from her story. Believable characters, credible subplots, and adventure with an air of mystery combine to form a heart-pounding young-reader novel.