In Childrens' Books
My Grandmother Tanney (Nannie Tanney) had a wonderful screened-in porch and no TV….the perfect combination for spending an afternoon reading. When the little kids took their naps, I would go out on that porch and settle into a Nancy Drew or one of those orange Childhoods of Famous Americans biographies.
I liked it best was when it was raining. I can still recall the smell of those afternoons….and how cozy and peaceful that porch was. And then, around 5 o”clock, my Aunt Betty would drive by on her way home from work and honk her horn – oh, we lived for that moment (remember, there was no TV at Nannie’s!)
Years later, my husband and I brought our sons to Nannie’s often in the summer, and we played games and read on that very same porch. Of course, I shared my memories of the fun times I’d had on that porch, but nothing I could say grabbed their attention like hearing that we never had a TV to watch!
Kids need us to show them how to relax and restore themselves, no matter what time of year it is. Reading stories together is a lovely way to practice what we’re preaching, and can you think of a better way to rest your body than with a reading buddy on your lap or at your side?
I will be relaxing and rejuvenating with family and friends until August, so I leave you with a long list of delightful books to read with someone you love.
I’ve also included just a few books YOU might enjoy during your “time on the porch,” wherever your porch may be!
Here are some books for the young listeners and new readers in your life:

Bad Dog by David McPhail

Forgiveness and love triumph in this charming, easy-to-read story of a family dog who is rarely on his best behavior, but whose heart is always in the right place.
Tom the dog is being bad. He ruins Mom’s flowers. He breaks the TV. He chases Kit the cat. Finally Dad says Tom must go. “No!” the children protest. “We love him so!’ Luckily when Kit goes missing, it takes someone with four legs and a powerful nose to find her.

Flip and Finn: We Rule the School! by Timothy Gill

Flip and Fin are sand shark twins who live at the bottom of the sea. The two are getting ready for joke day at school, but Flip is having some trouble finding good ones to share. He practices and practices, but when joke day comes, he freezes in front of the entire school. Fortunately, Flip’s brother and his friends are in the audience; they yell out jokes, and Flip delivers the punch lines. Soon the whole school is laughing and Flip and Fin exclaim that they are super sharks who rule the school.

I’m Not Reading! by Jonathan Allen

Adorable, irresistible Baby Owl (I’m Not Sleepy!) is back! This time, he has a beloved book in hand and he’s eager to begin. But then along comes Tiny Chick, who begs Baby Owl to read to him. Before you can say “once upon a time,” they’re joined by a crowd: Tiny Chick’s brothers and sisters and cousins and friends all want a story, too. Soon Baby Owl is smothered by lots of fluffy chicks. How can he EVER read? Fantastic fun with a favorite character.

The Loch Mess Monster by Helen Lester

Ever since Angus was a wee baby monster, living below the surface of Loch Ness, his parents tried to teach him to be a proper monster. But as Angus grows bigger, he gets sloppy. Puggy-nit shells (peanuts) are piling up; his grottie (dirty) laundry is in a heap; tatties (potatoes) litter the floor. It’s a mountain of a mess! And as Angus’s trash heap grows, pushing him away from the comforts of home, a surprising Loch Ness sighting of his own awaits on the surface of the lake….

My Friend is So Fun! by Mo Willems

Gerald the elephant and Piggie the pig have been best friends forever or at least since Mo Willems’ lovable series began in 2007. In this sweet episode, Gerald wrestles with what first seems to be a disturbing problem: Ever since Piggie found a new mouse friend, his old pachyderm buddy has been wondering where he fits in.

Meet the Parents by Peter Bentley

It might seem like parents spend an awful lot of time telling kids what to do. And, well, that’s true! But there’s so much more to them: Parents are towels for wiping your grime on. They’re whirlers and twirlers and tree trunks to climb on. Parents sort out all your messes and muddles. And best of all, parents give cuddles! Bently and Ogilvie’s spirited romp celebrates the love between chaotic kiddos and their steadfast parents.

Froodle by Antoinette Portis

In a normal neighborhood, on a typical day, the birds chirp, the dogs bark and the cats meow. When Little Brown Bird decides she doesn’t want to sing the same old song, out comes a new tune that shakes up the neighborhood and changes things forever in this funny, innovative book that kids will love to read out loud.

Puddle Pug by Kim Norman

Adorably irresistible Percy, a puddle-loving pug, makes a map of all the puddles he comes across while searching for the perfect one. He tries swamp puddles, stomp puddles, ready-for-a-romp puddles, foggy puddles, froggy puddles, and deeper-than-a-doggy puddles, but none reach perfection. When Percy finds his dream puddle, he sees that it’s already occupied by Mama Pig and her piglets, and he cannot win her acceptance. He tries to blend in, attempts to share a tasty treat, and even uses an underwater route to get to the puddle, but Mama Pig pitches him out. Then, when Petunia goes missing, it is Percy who knows where to find the little piglet.

Picnic by John Birmingham

One day, Boy and Girl head down the hill with a picnic basket and meet a fancily dressed Sheep, Pig, and Duck. They all set off to find the perfect place to sit outside — until they see Bull coming! A short-lived chase segues into a gentle interactive text as the friends wend their way from an idyllic outdoor world to a welcoming house on a hill. (Can you find Pig’s ball? Shall we find your bed?) Reminiscent of a simpler day, this book is a breath of fresh air—a time out of a busy schedule to enjoy the beauty of a picture book with a young child.

When the Wind Blew by Alison Jackson

We all know the story of the old woman who lived in a shoe with her many children. But not everyone knows about the day when the wind blew very hard, and an unexpected guest arrived (cradle and all), setting off a chain of events that involves the three little kittens, Jack and Jill, Little Bo Peep, Little Boy Blue, and many other beloved nursery characters. Can the old woman restore order to their world and still manage to get her children to bed on time? But, of course!

Tyrannosaurus Wrecks! by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen

In this read-along picture book, a classroom full of young dinosaurs plays with toys, does art projects, and reads books. But each activity is another opportunity for the over-enthusiastic Tyrannosaurus Rex to wreak havoc. Parents and young children will love the call-and-response nature of the book, and young dinosaur fans will appreciate the listing (and pronunciation guide) for a dozen different dino species. The format is extra vertical in order to accommodate T. Rex’s biggest messes.

Joy in Mudville by Bob Raczka

It had been only twenty-four hours since Mighty Casey struck out, plunging fans of the Mudville team into gloom and despair. But a new game day dawned, and Casey once again proved his might with a homer in the eighth. The Mudville nine took a one-run lead, but in the bottom of the ninth, their hurler walked three straight.
Bases loaded and the starting pitcher spent, the Mudville manager was not bullish about his bullpen. With the game on the line, he called for rookie Joy Armstrong to take the mound. Could she bring joy to Mudville again—and prove that a girl can play ball as well as any boy?

And Now, Some Good Books For Independent Readers:

Cousin Cupcakes by Kate Hannigan

Baking a fluffy pink cupcake is awesome, but wearing a dress that looks like one? No, thank you!
Cousins Willow and Delia can’t wait to spend a week vacationing together with their families. Their aunt is getting married, and Willow and Delia are hoping their tasty baked goods will be enough to get them out of being flower girls in the wedding.
But with a mischievous little brother, a bacon-loving dog, and a misbehaving blender in the mix, their treats don’t exactly turn out as planned. When a real emergency threatens to ruin the wedding, will their baking skills be enough to save the day?
Join Willow and Delia in the kitchen by following their scrumptious recipes for whoopee pies, peach pancakes, and other tasty treats!

Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff

Half-Korean 10-year-old Albie is being forced to switch from his private New York City school to P.S. 183. His new school gives him more specialized attention, but it also means dodging a name-calling bully and making friends other than his buddy Erlan, whose family is starring in a reality TV show. Because of Albie’s academic struggles (especially in spelling and math), his mother hires Calista, a college art student, to tutor and spend time with him. Albie isn’t happy about these and other developments, and his matter-of-fact observations are often both humorous and poignant: “I didn’t think the book was for babies at all, because for one thing babies can’t read,” he thinks after his mother tells him he’s “way too old” for Captain Underpants and hands him a copy of Johnny Tremain. Graff’s (A Tangle of Knots) gentle story invokes evergreen themes of coming to appreciate one’s strengths (and weaknesses), and stands out for its thoughtful, moving portrait of a boy who learns to keep moving forward, taking on the world at his own speed.

The Kid’s Guide to Duct Tape Projects by Sheri Bell-Rehwoldt

The newest titles in the prolific Kids’ Guides series offers up the basics on some of the hottest topics around. Duct Tape includes every kid’s go-to project the wallet but also outlines step-by-step instructions for simpler items, like a book cover, and more involved items, like a vest. A simple introduction to the basics of duct taping at the beginning of the book is helpful in ensuring your project won’t take a turn for the sticky-wad worse.

Jack the Castaway by Lisa Doan

Jack’s parents have been chased out of Tokyo, gone broke in Greece, and hosted Nairobi’s least successful safari. Next they’re taking Jack on a Caribbean vacation—whether Jack wants to go or not. The Berensons are about to start a snorkeling business. It’s their latest get-rich-quick scheme. With these experienced world travelers at the helm, what could go wrong?
Jack’s used to staying indoors and not taking chances. When his parents take him out on the water, he ends up shipwrecked. Now Jack has to survive on a tropical island…and avoid a whale shark that’s swimming near the beach.

Wonders of the World by Tom Jackson

Highlighting the seven wonders of the world — the Pyramids of Giza, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Temple of Artemis, the Statue of Zeus, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, the Colossus of Rhodes, and the Lighthouse of Alexandria, Wonders of the World showcases these architectural feats and the marvels of engineering behind these timeless treasures.

The Greatest Star on Earth by Kate Klise

The stars of Sir Sidney’s Circus are back. This time, they are competing for a trophy to be given by Polly Pumpkinseed to “The Greatest Star on Earth.” Of course, each performer thinks he or she should win and their squabbling over who is best starts to get to Sir Sidney. In fact, he develops a worrywart and is sent off to his peanut farm to rest. Barnabas Brambles returns to run the show and circus mice Gert and Bert have their paws full trying to keep him on track.

Punished by David Lubar

Logan knows he shouldn’t have been playing tag in the library reference stacks and he’s sorry that he crashed into Professor Wordsworth. But what did the strange old man mean when he said that Logan should be “punished?” Suddenly, the boy starts speaking in puns-really awful puns-and he can’t stop. His family and friends think he’s just smarting off, but Logan quickly realizes that he is under a curse. According to the professor, there is only one way to break the spell. Logan has three days to collect seven oxymorons, seven anagrams, and seven palindromes-or the “pun”-ishment will continue forever!

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Graberstein

Kyle Keeley is the class clown, popular with most kids, (if not the teachers), and an ardent fan of all games: board games, word games, and particularly video games. His hero, Luigi Lemoncello, the most notorious and creative gamemaker in the world, just so happens to be the genius behind the building of the new town library. Lucky Kyle wins a coveted spot to be one of the first 12 kids in the library for an overnight of fun, food, and lots and lots of games. But when morning comes, the doors remain locked. Kyle and the other winners must solve every clue and every secret puzzle to find the hidden escape route. And the stakes are very high. In this cross between Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and A Night in the Museum, Agatha Award winner Chris Grabenstein uses rib-tickling humor to create the perfect tale for his quirky characters. Old fans and new readers will become enthralled with the crafty twists and turns of this ultimate library experience.

Junonia by Kevin Henkes

Returning to the beach cottage—a cottage named Scallop—where she has always celebrated her birthday is a special occasion for Alice Rice.
Who will see the first dolphin this time? The first pelican? What will have changed? Stayed the same? And will this be the year she finally finds a junonia shell?
Alice’s friends are all returning, too. And she’s certain her parents have the best party planned for her 10th birthday. Alice can’t wait. If Alice is lucky, everything will be absolutely perfect. Will Alice be lucky?

And last – but not least – some of my favorite books for those of you who nurture and encourage these young readers:

The Light Between Oceans by M. L Stedman

*Starred Review* Stedman’s haunting tale opens in 1918 with the return of Tom Sherbourne to his home in Australia after serving four years in the Great War. He applies for a job as a lighthouse keeper and is assigned to the light on Janus Rock, a remote island off the southwest coast where he hopes to erase his horrific memories of war. Several years later, Tom brings to the island his bride, Isabel, a free-spirited young woman who is determined to adapt to Tom’s solitary life with their only contact with the mainland a quarterly visit from the supply boat. Four years later, after Isabel has suffered two miscarriages and a very recent stillbirth, an event occurs that forever changes them. A dinghy washes up on the beach carrying a dead man and a newborn baby girl, giving Isabel hope that she may become, at last, a mother. The choice they make as a couple comes to haunt them, their unexpected happiness replaced by guilt and mistrust. Stedman draws the reader into her emotionally complex story right from the beginning, with lush descriptions of this savage and beautiful landscape, and vivid characters with whom we can readily empathize. Hers is a stunning and memorable debut.

The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman

Hoffman makes ancient history live and breathe in this compelling story, set in 70 CE, detailing the siege of the mountain stronghold Masada, where 900 Jews held out for months against the Romans. Hoffman’s novel follows four extraordinary women. Red-haired Yael has long been shunned by her father, a renowned assassin, because of her mother’s death in childbirth. Forced to flee from Jerusalem, she makes a tortuous journey across the desert, during which she becomes involved with a married man, and after finally reaching Masada, is assigned to the dovecote, where she meets three charismatic women: Revka, a baker’s wife who witnessed her daughter’s horrific death at the hands of Roman soldiers; Shirah, a tattooed wisewoman; and Shirah’s daughter Aziza, a warrior of uncommon skill. Forced to deal with the outside forces intent on eradicating them and with their people’s patriarchal system, which is quick to condemn unconventional behavior, the women draw great strength from their own inner resources and from each other.

Beneath a Marble Sky: A Love Story by John Shors

Shors’s spirited debut novel tells the story of the eldest daughter of the 17th-century emperor who built the Taj Mahal. From her self-imposed exile, Jahanara recalls growing up in the Red Fort; the devotion her parents, Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal, had for each other; and the events that took place during the construction of the fabulous monument to their love. Although Jahan is the emperor and has many wives, Mumtaz (he calls her Taj) is his soul mate, a constant companion and wise political consultant. She even travels with him into battle, where she eventually dies giving birth to their 14th child. Fortunately, she has the foresight to begin preparing her favorite daughter, Jahanara, by instructing the girl in the arts of influence and political strategy. Thus the young woman is able to pick up where her savvy mother left off. From then on it is Jahanara who advises the emperor, often instead of her dreamy brother, Dara, who is the rightful heir to the throne. It is she who helps with construction of the magnificent mausoleum for Mumtaz’s remains and who falls in love with its architect, Isa, a man whom she can never marry. And it is she who leads a failed effort to defend the throne against a coup by her evil brother, Aurangzeb. With infectious enthusiasm and just enough careful attention to detail, Shors give a real sense of the times, bringing the world of imperial Hindustan and its royal inhabitants to vivid life.

Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan

When mother of two Corrigan struggles with cancer, she remembers a mother she never met more than 20 years earlier in 1992 in Australia. Back then, seeking money to enhance the next leg of her round-the-world travels, Corrigan became the nanny for a widower, John, whose family five-year-old Martin and seven-year-old Milly as well as a garage-living stepson and an in-law-apartment-living father-in-law had just lost their matriarch to cancer. Though it’s a true story, Corrigan has changed the names and some of the details to disguise identities. Here, the memories of her work as companion, surrogate mom, and onetime lover to various family members are filtered through Corrigan’s experiences, good and bad, of herself as mother and herself as daughter (her mom’s admonitions and pronouncements, served up in italics, support the young nanny as well as the text, then and now). The flavor of what a youthful, journal-writing Corrigan probably once hoped this book would be – a spectacle of travel and awesome experience – comes through in the writing but doesn’t disturb this touching, hard-won paean to mothering and parenting, living and losing.
May the rest of your summer be filled with good books, good times, and people you love!
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