It’s summer and time for fun and games. Keep your kids reading and loving books with this selection of stories that will also keep them laughing and asking for repeated readings.
- “The Itchy Book” by LeUyen Pham will teach tender readers the importance of looking for clues. When a dinosaur notices a sleeping turtle in front of a rock with the words “Dinosaurs do not scratch” etched on it, he finds it interesting. A dinosaur walks by scratching his knee. The first dinosaur points out that he’s breaking the rule — Dinosaurs do not scratch. The second dinosaur complains that he’s itchy as do the other colorful dinosaurs who show up with itches of their own. They get itchier and itchier, redder and redder, and just when it seems that they can’t take any more…the turtle moves away and they get to read what was covered by the turtle all that time. Kids will laugh. It’s a Mo Willems “Elephant & Piggie Like Reading” book so it’s sure to please. (Hyperion Books for Children)
- “Let’s Go” by Sarah Williamson is a very silly story. Adults (like me) may not get it at all, but toddlers love it. An elephant in a taxi called Tuski drives along picking up very strange items — strange in what they are and how large they are. The first item is a very large blue bird lying on a mattress who is as big as the elephant. They immediately come across a lemon in the road, a lemon that is bigger than the taxi! And a pea. Along the way they pick peaches, find a trumpet that the elephant plays, and see brightly colored fish, ladybugs, pancakes and worms. The going gets tough when there is a steep hill to climb, but it all works out in the end. Again, young kids love it! (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers)
- “Papa Bear’s Page Fright” by Wade Bradford and illustrated by Mary Ann Fraser is a lovely and clever takeoff of “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” However, in this story Goldilocks never actually gets to do anything because Papa Bear gets “page fright” (instead of stage fright) and messes up his lines. There’s a hint of what is to come on the page after the title page, where Papa Bear sticks his head out from between some book pages. On the first page of the story, Goldilocks is in the bottom left corner, turning the page (drawing) and saying, “Hello! Welcome to my story.” That becomes ironic when it turns out that it’s not really her story at all! Like some other picture books, this book really encourages the young reader (listener) to use critical thinking when, for example, Papa Bear says, “Who said that?” after the narrator says, “And Papa Bear said…” Eventually the characters actually talk to the Narrator and ask why the Narrator didn’t stop Papa Bear when he ran out of the book! It’s all very funny and will encourage dialogue about what the roles of narrator and characters in a book are. Truly one that kids will adore and want to read over and over. (Peter Pauper Press, Inc.)
- “The Book about Nothing” by Mike Bender and illustrated by Hugh Murphy is beautifully conceived and created. Even the endpapers, bright blue with synonyms for “nothing,” written in different type and different directions are eye-catching. “Zilch, null, empty, zero, bupkus, zippo, void, diddly squat, nada, nil, none, blank…” The book makes it clear that it is NOT about a large list of things like “rainbows, clouds, stars…” Rather, it’s all about nothing. For example, “Take this cookie jar. If you eat all the chocolate chip cookies, the jar will be empty. Right? Wrong. It will be chock-full of nothing.” There’s much more clever word play about how important nothing is and how we interact with nothing more often that we might realize. You’ll never use the word “nothing” again without thinking twice! (Crown Books for Young Readers)
- “If You Had a Jetpack” by Lisl H. Detlefsen and illustrated by Linzie Hunter is a picture book about imagination and creativity and jetpacks. It’s similar to the ever-popular “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” in that one antic leads to another and then another. But there’s much more going on here, and kids will love looking at the colorful, image-filled pages as they try to figure out what is happening and what will happen next. There’s a lot to see and a lot to read and a lot to laugh at. It’s really outlandish, and that’s exactly what will make kids laugh. (Random House Books for Young Readers)
- “Company’s Coming” by Arthur Yorinks and illustrated by David Small is a really, really funny book that might be enjoyed more by the adults reading it than the kids. The illustrations of the elderly couple who are visited by an alien spaceship are hysterical. When Shirley first sees the ship, she complains to her husband, “Moe, you had to buy that barbecue? It’s too big.” The alien visitors just need to use the bathroom, and Shirley is gracious and directs them there. Moe is not as trusting. Shirley invites them for dinner, but this is the night the cousins are also coming to dine. The story manages to show we all (even the aliens!) love to be included and befriended. (Disney-Hyperion)
- “Company’s Going (A Sequel to Company’s Coming)” is the follow-up book in which the aliens love Shirley’s cooking so much that they invite her to be the caterer for their sister’s wedding on the planet Nextoo. The dialogue is fabulous. Moe asks where the planet is, and they tell him it’s next to Uranus. Shirley responds “Oh I love Uranus! Not that we’ve ever been there, but I hear it’s very nice.” When they land, the aliens see Shirley and Moe and think that they are being invaded by Martians. A nervous uncle fires his ray gun and fells Shirley and Moe. The bride-to-be is a wreck. “How could Uncle Irving shoot the caterers,” she sobs. But all’s well that ends well, and they wake in time to make meatballs for the whole planet. The clever dialogue, the illustrations of Shirley with her huge smile and oversized glasses, and Moe, a little stooped, white-haired and bald, all make these stories ones that kids will enjoy hearing many times. (Disney-Hyperion)
Please note: These reviews are based on the final, hardcover book provided by the publishers for review purposes.