How is the kids’ summer reading going? Any good books to recommend? Here are some of the books we’ve been loving so far this summer.
Oh, how I do love Kate Beaton! Her humour is acerbic and wry and her Hark! A Vagrant is a brilliant revisionary romp through history (and definitely for adults). I was thrilled to hear she had a children’s book out, and it does not disappoint. The Princess and the Pony not only undermines the usual princess in distress story format, it also undermines our ideas of what strong female characters have to do or be. You can download colouring sheets and cool stuff here.
For a more quiet read, Sidewalk Flowers is a beautiful wordless picture book that follows a girl and her dad on their walk through the city. I love that JonArno Lawson is the author of a wordless picture book! There is so much to talk about with your child when you look through this book, and you will see that the author has done a great job of setting scenes that invite discussion and speculation. Watch for how the use of colour changes, too, as you make your way through the book.
How I love William Steig! And how surprised I was when browsing in the library that I had not yet read Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. Steig is so effortlessly masterful in this story, as the reader sinks deep with its suffering and flies high with its rejoicing. His illustrations are perfect too – 1970 Caldecott winner – it’s all deceptively simple and utterly captivating for readers of all ages. Every time I see the last page, I fall in love with it anew.
Peter in Blueberry Land by Elsa Beskow
In predictable summer fashion, we don’t get to the library as often as we usually do, and have found ourselves enjoying old favourites from our own shelves. Elsa Beskow’s books are gentle and dreamy, with an understated by ever present reverence for nature. Peter in Blueberry Land gets pulled out often, but the truth is we love and read them all: The Sun Egg, The Land of Long Ago, Children of the Forest, Christopher’s Harvest Time and many more. These books are hard to find in libraries, but we’ve acquired them ourselves and through birthday presents, and I’ve never regretted it. A hundred years after writing these gems, Beskow is as enchanting as ever.
This popular series of biographies are a hit with my kids. My eldest is a baseball fanatic and read this book cover to cover without much coaxing. He’s a reluctant reader, and prefers non-fictionto stories and this book, plentiful with stats and pictures made for a perfect fit. He read this book aloud and the content, namely the Civil Rights Movement, sparked many discussions. What I enjoy about biographies, is the ready opportunity to source more information. To follow-up I found several videos on-line about Jackie Robinson, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other key historical figures that were part of the Civil Rights Movement.
My middle son devours books. He reads in his bed every night long after I have insisted he turn out his light. I will admit to enjoying hearing his laughter echo through the quiet house while he ploughed through Kung Pow Chicken by Cindi Marko. Gordon Blue is not an ordinary chicken. He’s been transformed into a superhero and along with his sidekick he fights crime in the exotic city of Fowldelphia. The witty text, captivating storyline and humorous illustrations are a winning trifecta, so it comes as no surprise that this book won the Silver Birch Express Award for 2015.
Your Alien by Tammi Sauer, illustrations by Goro Fujita
This beautifully illustrated story about a little boy befriending a lost alien tugs at the heartstrings and reminds us that everyone, in the entire universe, needs to feel loved. Sauer engages even the earliest of readers with her little alien’s signature phrase Meep! Oog! and Fujita’s illustrations, crafted to convey earnest emotion, do just that. In fact, my littlest boy told me that he knows the little alien is sad just by looking at his eyes . . .even if he doesn’t listen to the story. High praise from a 4 year old!
This humorous story about a fearless kitten that is on mouse hunt . . .and that mouse hunt turns out to be quite the adventure! Ed Vere’s light-hearted story makes for great entertainment but there’s also the underlying message of self-acceptance. This is the kind of story that appeals to kids long after they (think) they’ve outgrown the picture book stage (does this ever happen?). I read this story with my 5 and 7 year-olds and judging by the laughs they enjoyed it immensely. Here’s a trailer, guaranteed to excite your little one.