June 15, 2014

Books for kids during the dog-eared days of summer

Ahhh, summertime: no school, no worries, no problem curling up with a book and a lemonade.

Ahhh, summertime: no school, no worries, no problem curling up with a book and a lemonade.

The best part about summer reading is the freedom to find a good book and dive in without stressing about book reports or reading points. Whether your young reader is listening to you read or venturing out on his or her own with easy readers and chapter books, the list of choices is long and varied.

Here is a sampling of recently released books to get young readers started on their summer reading adventures.

“Little Roja Riding Hood” by Susan Middleton Elya with illustrations by Susan Guevara (Putnam Juvenile; ages 5-8; $16.99). The fascinating element of this picture book is in the detailed illustrations. Readers who study the characters find a Wolf who wears a bandana and skull necklace, Grandma using a laptop, Mama watching telenovelas and Little Roja zooming around on an ATV.

The story is recognizable, and the rhyming Spanish words will help teach pronunciation. You’ll find the explanation of the little trickster sprites (duendes) who appear in the illustration backgrounds buried in the illustrator’s biography, though I would have preferred it in the story or glossary.

“Three Bears in a Boat“ written and illustrated by David Soman (Dial; ages 3-5; $17.99). Despite the recommended age range, I advise everyone to read this picture book and enjoy the subtle acknowledgments of past classics “Moby Dick” “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” “Little Bear” and “Where the Wild Things Are.”

Three little bears break their mama’s blue seashell and set off to find a replacement in this charming picture book. A wild ride on the high seas brings them to follow the advice of a salty old sea bear and “just look in the right place” with a comforting conclusion that teaches a lesson in forgiveness and love.

The fact that the naughty little bears get no dessert also reinforces in a kind way that actions have consequences.

“The Worst Princess” by Anna Kemp with illustrations by Sara Ogilvie (Random House Books for Young Readers; ages 3-7; $18.99). One of my favorite books to read to my daughter 20 years ago was “Paperbag Princess” by Robert Munch. This delightful picture book reminds me of that classic, with an unconventional princess and her fire-breathing dragon searching for Prince Charming.

She finds him, but his idea of happily ever after is a bit more traditional than our liberated Princess Sue can stand. Definitely a story that encourages girl power, but I would change the title to “The Worst Prince.”

“Hooray for Hat!” written and illustrated by Brian Won (HMH Books for Young Readers; ages 4-8; $16.99). When the morning grumpies strike, bring out this picture book and a stack of hats and before long, youngsters will join the parade with a shout, “Hooray for Hat!”

This celebration of friendship and sharing, with a catchy phrase that will help beginning readers, will bring a smile to their faces with its creative illustrations of various animals in their hats.

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