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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Archive | Quirky Book Lists

Theater Geeks!

If your children (or you) are captivated by talent shows on TV, or dreams of acting on the stage, or the next theater production at school, there are a chorus line of books just waiting to audition for your next favorite. Here’s a mixture of classic and new stories, ranging in interest from grades 3 through 7.

All the World's a Stage  

All the World’s a Stage
written by Gretchen Woelfle, illus by Thomas Cox
Holiday House, 2011

Twelve-year-old Kit Buckles has come to London to make his fortune. Unfortunately, he’s caught up in crime to stay alive. Immediately caught in his first pickpocketing assignment, Kit is enthralled by the Lord Chamberlain’s Men to do odd jobs for their Theater Playhouse. When the acting troupe is evicted, Kit is caught up in the plot to steal the theater! William Shakespeare is a character is this story and the well-researched history that defines this novel is exciting. Highly recommended.

 

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

 

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
written by Barbara Robinson
HarperCollins, 1971

It can be argued that this is one of the funniest books ever published for children. When the Herdman children learn that there are free snacks at the church in their neighborhood, they attend Sunday School even though they haven’t heard of Jesus and the Christmas story before. When they’re cast in the Christmas pageant, the story of Jesus’ birth takes unusual—and eye-opening—turns. It’s a laugh-out-loud book with a heart-tugging ending. Many families read this out loud each year as part of their holiday celebrations but it’s a well-written book that works well any time of year.

Better Nate Than Never  

Better Nate Than Ever
written by Tim Federle
Simon & Schuster, 2013

Thirteen-year-old Nate Foster has been growing up in small-town Pennsylvania in a school and town that doesn’t appreciate his showmanship. His dream is to be on Broadway, a life plan he and his best friend Libby have been rehearsing for forever. When an open casting call is advertised for E.T. The Musical, Nate is determined to be there. By turns funny and heart-rending, Nate’s story will strike a chord with every kid who wants to be a performer on the spotlit stage.

Sequel: Five, Six, Seven, Nate!, Tim Federle, S&S, 2014

Drama  

Drama
written by Raina Telgemeier
Golden Books, 1947

In this book for early teens, Callie gives up her ambition to be in her school’s musical when an audition fails to impress the casting committee. She isn’t a singer. Instead, Callie becomes a part of the backstage crew, a circumstance many disappointed kids can relate with. But Callie discovers that she likes working on the set. She doesn’t know what she’s doing but she’s enthusiastic. And there’s as much drama backstage as there is onstage. Callie goes from one crush to another, maintaining suspense with humor. This graphic novel is a big hit with readers.

Forget-Me-Not Summer  

Forget-Me-Not Summer
written by Leila Howland
HarperCollins, 2015

Marigold, Zinnie, and Lily Silver have their LA summer all planned out—until their dad and mom, both working for the film industry, get jobs out of town. The girls are sent to a small, coastal, Massachusetts town to live with their aunt. They’re not happy because Marigold, twelve, had plans to audition for a movie being made of her favorite book. And life in Pruet, MA, is unplugged. No cell phone reception. Then Marigold discovers the movie’s producer has a summer home nearby. Zinnie writes a play to feature Marigold’s talents and the girls create a talent show in a community that is accepting and friendly. A heart-warming book.

Goblin Secrets  

Goblin Secrets
written by William Alexander
Atheneum, Simon & Schuster, 2012

Rownie’s older brother, Rowan, his only living relative, has disappeared. Rowan is an actor in a city that has outlawed acting. To find Rowan, Rownie joins a Goblin theater troupe that performs in Zombay, managing to get around the law. They’re up to more than is apparent and soon Rownie is caught up in the drama of life. There are touches of steampunk in this fantasy world. Rownie is taken in by Graba, a woman with mechanized chicken legs. Yes, the books is that inventive! National Book Award for this debut novel.

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!  

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!
Voices from a Medieval Village
written by Laura Amy Schlitz, illustrated by Robert Byrd
Candlewick Press, 2007

Set in 1255, this engaging set of monologues create medieval vignettes that transport the reader, or performer, to a well-researched, involving era. From the singing shepherdess to the town’s “half-wit,” to the peasant’s daughter, we learn the stories of 22 people in this community. This book isn’t about theater, it is theater, offering a dramatic opportunity for understanding of a time long past. Winner of the Newbery Medal.

King of Shadows  

King of Shadows
written by Susan Cooper
Margaret McElderry Books, Simon & Schuster, 1999

One of the best time-travel novels ever written, this is the story of Nat Field, a member of the American Company of Boys, an acting troupe. An orphan, this opportunity provides a home for Nat, who travels with them to London to star at the new Globe Theater as Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. When he goes to sleep, he discovers he has been whisked back to 1599 where he becomes the protege of William Shakespeare with a time-traveler’s ability to save the Bard’s life. Replete with historical detail, an exciting plot, and memorable characters, this is a book to beckon readers toward modern-day excitement about Shakespeare’s plays. 

The Life Fantastic  

The Life Fantastic
written by Liza Ketchum
Simon Pulse, 2017

Fifteen-year-old Teresa is drawn to the vaudeville stage. She feels the need to sing, to perform. Her parents were vaudevillians, but they chose a conventional life of 9-to-5 jobs and staying in one town to take care of their two children. Teresa wants to try her own career on the stage but her father is vehemently against it. She sneaks away from home to New York City where she eventually ends up with a national vaudeville troupe. There are fascinating, well-researched details of vaudeville, racism in the theater and 1910 America, and life as a daring girl before women had any rights. A very good story for middle grade and older, including adults.

Okay for Now  

Okay for Now
written by Gary D. Schmidt
Clarion Books, 2011

Formerly cast as the bully in The Wednesday Wars, Doug Swieteck is starting over in a new town. His father is abusive, his mother doesn’t stand up against his father, and his older, unkind brother is off fighting in Vietnam. Doug realizes he has an opportunity to make himself over into someone with a different reputation. He makes friends with Lil Spicer, becomes spellbound by a library book with plates of Audubon’s birds, and sets off on a grand adventure with Lil to appear on a Broadway stage. Funny, heart-wrenching, and absorbing, this book is not be missed.

Replay  

Replay
written by Sharon Creech
HarperCollins, 2005

Leonardo is the middle child in a loud, chaotic Italian family. He’s a dreamer, a thinker, and perhaps an actor. He is cast in the disappointing role of the Old Crone in Rompopo’s Porch, a play his teacher wrote. At home, he discovers the journal his father wrote when he was thirteen years old, the same age Leo is now. These two disparate occurrences will give him more confidence, solve a family mystery, and change his life. The full text of the play is included in the book so creative thespians can put on their own show.

Romeo and Juliet Together (and Alive) At Last  

Romeo and Juliet Together (and Alive) At Last
written by Avi
Scholastic, 1987

A lighthearted rendition of Romeo and Juliet is written and produced by a class of eighth-graders whose true goal is to get shy Peter Saltz and shy Anabell Stackpole to realize they’re just right for each other. The matchmaking attempts, the earnest but laugh-out-loud funny production of Shakespeare’s classic play (often taught in eighth grade), and the ringing-true thinking, planning, and missteps of this group of kids make this one of my favorite of Avi’s books.

The Shakespeare Stealer  

The Shakespeare Stealer
written by Gary Blackwood
HarperCollins, 2005

Ordered by his nefarious “owner,” and Shakespeare’s competitor, to steal the unpublished “Hamlet” from the Bard himself, the orphaned Widge is bound to obey. The only problem is that once he’s cleverly inserted himself into the troupe at the Globe Theater, he finds real friends for the first time in his life. How will he avoid the repercussions of disobeying his owner? How can Widge find a way not to disappoint his new friends? The plot twists, turns, and ultimately provides a riveting reading experience.

Snow White  

Snow White
written and illustrated by Matt Phelan
Candlewick Press, 2016

You may be thinking Snow White and the theater? What’s the connection? In Matt Phelan’s compelling re-imagining of the fairy tale, Samantha White (called Snow by her dying mother) is the daughter of the King of Wall Street. It’s the late 1920s and life is giddy. Her father marries the Queen of the Follies (as in Ziegfield, our minds supply), who turns out to have very evil intentions. She sends Samantha off to boarding school and somehow Samantha’s hale and hearty father dies. Seven street urchins and Detective Prince round out the cast in this highly readable and discussion-worthy graphic novel. 

The Cruisers A Star is Born  

A Star is Born, The Cruisers series
written by Walter Dean Myers
Scholastic Press, 2012

Eighth graders Zander, LaShonda, Kambui, and Bobbi run an alternative newspaper, The Cruiser, at their high school for gifted and talented students in Harlem, New York. In this third book in the series, LaShonda earns a scholarship to the Virginia Woolf Society Program for Young Ladies, honoring the costumes she designed for a play the Cruisers produced. Once she’s completed the program, she’ll be eligible for financial assistance for college. But there’s a wrinkle. LaShonda will have to move to be a part of the program and she’s hesitant to leave her autistic brother behind. The friends work to solve this conundrum in a realistic way. A great friendship story told with Walter Dean Myers’ deft and sure touch, using interjected poems, essays, and articles that are published in The Cruiser.

Starstruck  

Starstruck
written by Rachel Shukert
Delacorte Press, 2013

For readers mostly aged 16 and older, this 1930s Hollywood novel tells the tale of Margaret Frobisher, who is literally discovered in a drugstore. Because she looks like a movie star who’s gone missing, she is swept into the studio system, renamed Margo Sterling, and is suddenly starring in a movie. It’s a lot for a young woman to handle and it turns out that Hollywood isn’t all glamour and bright lights. Evil and darkness are a part of this new world and so are heartache and stark reality. The details are good, the characters are well-drawn … it’s a good book to read if you’re hungry for Hollywood as it was in its Golden Age.  

Summerlost  

Summerlost
written by Ally Condie
Dutton Books, 2016

Cedar could be forgiven for moping around in her new summer home. Her father and younger brother Ben were just killed in an accident. And yet she’s intrigued when she sees a boy in a costume riding past her house on a bicycle. She follows him and discovers the Summerlost theater festival. Soon Cedar is working concessions at the festival and she’s caught up in the mystery of a ghost and mysterious gifts that show up in surprising ways. Edgar Award nominee. It’s a good middle grade novel that reads with great warmth and understanding of loss.

Surviving the Applewhites  

Surviving the Applewhites
written by Stephanie S. Tolan
HarperCollins, 2002

Thirteen-year-old Jake Semple is a tough nut. He’s been kicked out of schools until there are no options left. That is until a homeschooling family, the Applewhites, offer to let him attend their Creative Academy. Everyone in the family has an artistic talent. Dad’s producing The Sound of Music at their local theater. Mom is a mystery writer who’s taking a break to write the Great American Novel. Uncle is a woodcarver and Aunt is a poet. Even Cordelia and Destiny have their unique talents. All except for E.D., who is quite possibly the only Applewhite who is organized enough to keep the family running. The book is told from Jake’s and E.D.’s alternate viewpoints. And it turns out that Jake might not be as impenetrably tough as he believes.

Swish of the Curtain  

Swish of the Curtain
written by Pamela Brown
Longwater Books (reprinted edition), orig. 1941

Most Seven children from three families organize The Blue Door Theater Company, renovating an old chapel and producing their own plays. They write, direct, stage, sew costumes, design scenery, and rehearse on their own. Their goal is to compete in the drama contest at the end of the summer, the prize for which is a scholarship to attend drama school. The group has the goal to be in the professional theater. Pamela Brown began writing this book when she was 14, but it wasn’t published until she was 17! She was a UK author, and her series of books about this drama troupe was immensely popular, being translated to radio, television, and movies. A true classic. 

Theater Shoes  

Theater Shoes
written by Noel Streatfield
Yearling, originally published in 1946

The three Forbes siblings are orphaned. Their grandmother, a famous actress, forces them to go to a theater school. They can’t afford the tuition but the Fossil Sisters (yes, the sisters from Ballet Shoes) sponsor them with a scholarship. They don’t believe they have any talents but they’re determined to live up to their sponsors’ expectations so they make their best effort. And they discover that they are talented indeed. The “Shoes” books were favorites for readers who grew up in the ’50s and ’60s. They still read well today. Many children of those years pursued careers in the arts because of Noel Streatfield’s stories!

The Wednesday Wars  

Wednesday Wars
written by Gary D. Schmidt
Clarion Books, 2007

Holling Hoodhood, seventh-grader, has a lot of challenges. He’s the only Presbyterian in his Catholic and Jewish school. He’s being forced to read Shakespeare by his teacher, Mrs. Baker. His father is demanding that Holling and his sister are always on their best behavior so his business can succeed. There’s a bully that won’t leave Holling alone. And Holling’s baseball heroes are coming to town to sign autographs on the same day he has to put on yellow tights and appear in a play. If that weren’t enough, the anxiety of the Vietnam War surrounds Holling’s life. A book that’s thoroughly enjoyable to read and unforgettable. It received a Newbery Honor.

Will Sparrow's Road  

Will Sparrow’s Road
written by Karen Cushman
Clarion Books, 2012

Will Sparrow’s father sells him to an innkeeper in exchange for a daily supply of ale. The innkeeper is cruel so 13-year-old Will runs away … to a world that is not kind. Stealing food to eat, lying, Will thinks of himself as a bad person. When he meets Grace and her traveling theater troupe of “oddities,” he discovers an assembled family that cares for one another. Wills learns the performing skills necessary and he realizes that he is somebody with worth in his Elizabethan England world. Filled with Karen’s Cushman’s elegant and funny language, the era comes alive because of her careful research.

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Read Out Loud for Easter

As you prepare to celebrate Easter, we encourage you to include books in your celebration. A tradition of reading out loud before Easter dinner, after Easter dinner, as you awaken on Easter morning … perhaps each day during Holy Week? Here are a few gems we believe you and your family will treasure. Happy Easter!

At Jerusalem's Gate  

At Jerusalem’s Gate: Poems of Easter
written by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by David Frampton
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2005

There are twenty-two free-form poems in this book, each from the point of view of a witness to the events of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Each poem could be read by a different family member or the poems could be read separately throughout the Easter weekend. The woodcut illustrations will engender conversations about the style, technique, and details.

The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes

 

The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes
written by Du Bose Heyward, illustrated by Marjorie Flack
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1939

Little Cottontail Mother is raising 21 children, but it’s her dream to become the Easter Bunny. As she assigns her children chores and teaches them life’s lessons, she gains confidence to audition for the job of one of the five Easter Bunnies who deliver eggs and baskets on Easter Sunday. It’s a sweet story still, nearly 80 years after it was first published. The brightly colored illustrations are memory-making for new generations of readers.

The Easter Story  

The Easter Story
written and illustrated by Brian Wildsmith
Alfred A. Knopf, 1994

The events of Holy Week, the Last Supper, the crucifixion, and the Resurrection, are recounted through the eyes of the little donkey that carried Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. With Wildsmith’s distinctive illustrations, this book has been published in many editions and many languages. A good read-aloud book to add to your Easter bookshelf.

Egg  

Egg
written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes
Greenwillow Books, 2017

Four eggs, each a different color, hatch (one doesn’t) and the chicks set off—and return for the unhatched egg. When the egg hatches, there’s a surprise! When the book ends, there’s another surprise! This is a book about friendship and growing up, just right for reading out loud and for emerging readers to read on their own. With simple lines and appealing colors, the illustrations are irresistible.

The Golden Egg Book  

The Golden Egg Book
written by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard
Golden Books, 1947

A true classic among Easter books, a small bunny finds a blue egg. He can hear something moving around inside so he conjectures what it might be. As the bunny tries to open the egg, he wears out and falls asleep. Only then does the young duckling emerge from the egg. With richly colored illustrations from the masterful Leonard Weisgard, this is a treasured book for many children and families.

Simon of Cyrene and the Legend of the Easter Egg  

Simon of Cyrene and the Legend of the Easter Egg
written by Terri DeGezelle, illustrated by Gabhor Utomo
Pauline Books & Media, 2017

Based on a few lines about the legend of Simon of Cyrene that the author found while researching, this book brings to life the experience of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, as told through the perspective of Simon. He takes eggs to Jerusalem to sell for Passover when he becomes caught up in the procession following Jesus as he carries his cross to Calvary. As Jesus stumbles and falls, a Roman soldier forces Simon to bear the cross instead. Told with a lively narrative and brightly colored, satisfying illustrations, this is a good story to choose for read-alouds, opening up an opportunity to discuss the many aspects of the Easter story.

Story of Easter  

Story of Easter
written by Aileen Fisher, illustrated by Stefano Vitale
HarperCollins, 1997

With an informative text and glorious illustrations, this book explains both how and why people all over the world celebrate Easter. It tells the biblical story of Jesus’ Resurrection and then describes how people honor this day and the origins of these traditions. Hands-on activities help draw children into the spirit of this joyous celebration of rebirth.

Story of the Easter Bunny  

Story of the Easter Bunny
written by Katherine Tegen, illustrated by Sally Anne Lambert HarperCollins, 2005

Most people know about the Easter Bunny, but how did the Easter Bunny get his job and how does he accomplish the distribution of so many colorful eggs each Easter? It all began in a small cottage with an old couple who dye the eggs and weave the baskets. One Easter, they sleep in and it’s their pet white rabbit’s decision to deliver the eggs and chocolate, thereby starting a tradition. Told in a matter-of-fact style with appealing, detailed illustrations, this is a good addition to your Easter tradition.

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Thanksgiving is a Good Time for a Book

Thanksgiving is fast approaching, As food is being prepared and family gathers, as food is being digested and some people are napping, as sports and shopping beckon, perhaps it’s a good time to take out a stack of Thanksgiving books to read aloud as a family. Here are 11 books that reflect the Thanksgiving holiday with many different stories, ranging in age from very young to teens … with books adults will enjoy as well. Happy Thanksgiving!

1621: a New Look at Thanksgiving  

1621: a New Look at Thanksgiving 
written by Catherine O’Neill Grace
National Geographic Children’s Books, 2004

“Countering the prevailing, traditional story of the first Thanksgiving, with its black-hatted, silver-buckled Pilgrims; blanket-clad, be-feathered Indians; cranberry sauce; pumpkin pie; and turkey, this lushly illustrated photo-essay presents a more measured, balanced, and historically accurate version of the three-day harvest celebration in 1621.”

 

Balloons Over Broadway:
the True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade

written and illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011

“Everyone’s a New Yorker on Thanksgiving Day, when young and old rise early to see what giant new balloons will fill the skies for Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Who first invented these “upside-down puppets”? Meet Tony Sarg, puppeteer extraordinaire! In brilliant collage illustrations, Melissa Sweet tells the story of the puppeteer Tony Sarg, capturing his genius, his dedication, his zest for play, and his long-lasting gift to America—the inspired helium balloons that would become the trademark of Macy’s Parade.”

Boy in the Black Suit  

Boy in the Black Suit
written by Jason Reynolds
Atheneum, 2016

A book for older children and adults, Matt’s mother has just died and his father isn’t doing well. Matt’s on his own so he gets a job at a funeral home, where he’s surprised by how moving he finds the stories behind these funerals. When he meets one young woman whose beloved grandmother just died, he goes on his first “date” with her … at the homeless shelter where she and her grandmother have always served Thanksgiving dinner. This is an uplifting story of friendship, caring, and healing.

Cranberry Thanksgiving  

Cranberry Thanksgiving
written by Wende Devlin
illustrated by Harry Devlin
Purple House Press, 2012

“First published in 1971, this beloved favorite shares the story of Grandmother inviting a guest for Thanksgiving dinner and allowing Maggie to do the same. “Ask someone poor or lonely,” she always said. Thanksgiving was Grandmother’s favorite day of the year. The cooking was done and her famous cranberry bread was cooling on a wooden board. But she wasn’t happy to find out Maggie had invited the unsavory Mr. Whiskers to dinner. Would her secret cranberry bread recipe be safe with him in the house?”

Give Thanks to the Lord  

Give Thanks to the Lord
written by Karma Wilson
illustrated by Amy June Bates
Zonderkidz, 2013

“Celebrate the season in this heartwarming story that references Psalm 92 in tender rhyme from award-winning author Karma Wilson. Told from the point of view of one young member of an extended family, Give Thanks to the Lord celebrates joy of all kinds, from the arrival of distant relatives to a cozy house already filled with merriment, to apple cider and the delicious smells of roasting turkey and baking pie.  And just when your mouth is watering, sit down and join a thankful child in prayer, praising God for ‘food and fun and family, all the wonderful things I see.'”

Giving Thanks  

Giving Thanks:
Poems, Prayers, and Praise Songs of Thanksgiving 

written by Katherine Paterson
illustrated by Pamela Dalton
Chronicle Books, 2013

“Katherine Paterson’s meditations on what it means to be truly grateful and Pamela Dalton’s exquisite cut-paper illustrations are paired with a collection of over 50 graces, poems, and praise songs from a wide range of cultures, religions, and voices. The unique collaboration between these two extraordinary artists flowers in this important and stunningly beautiful reflection on the act of giving thanks.”

Gracias, the Thanksgiving Turkey  

Gracias, the Thanksgiving Turkey
written by Joy Cowley
illustrated by Joe Cepeda
HarperCollins, reissued in 2006

Miguel’s trucker father is on the road and Miguel is worried about him making it home in time for Thanksgiving. But then Papa sends a big wooden crate with the message, “Fatten this turkey for Thanksgiving. I’ll be home to share it with you.” Miguel names the turkey Gracias and takes him for walks in New York City. Adventures follows. Miguel wants desperately to save Gracias from the Thanksgiving table. Fun and high-spirited tale.

How Many Days to America?  

How Many Days to America? a Thanksgiving Story
written by Eve Bunting
illustrated by Beth Peck
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1990

When soldiers come to their home in the middle of the night, father and mother decide they must flee their country for their family’s safety. This is the tale of that journey and their landing in America on the Thanksgiving holiday, where the family is thankful for freedom and safety.

Squanto's Journey  

Squanto’s Journey: The Story of the First Thanksgiving 
written by Joseph Bruchac
illustrated by Greg Shed
Silver Whistle, 2000

“In 1620 an English ship called the Mayflower landed on the shores inhabited by the Pokanoket people, and it was Squanto who welcomed the newcomers and taught them how to survive in the rugged land they called Plymouth. He showed them how to plant corn, beans, and squash, and how to hunt and fish. And when a good harvest was gathered in the fall, the two peoples feasted together in the spirit of peace and brotherhood.”

Thankful  

Thankful
written by Eileen Spinelli
illustrated by Archie Preston
Zonderkidz, 2016

A book that conveys “the importance of being thankful for everyday blessings. Like the gardener thankful for every green sprout, and the fireman, for putting the fire out, readers are encouraged to be thankful for the many blessings they find in their lives.”

Thanks a Million  

Thanks a Million
written by Nikki Grimes
illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera
Greenwillow Books, 2006

A very appropriate book for your Thanksgiving celebration, there are sixteen poems that range in form from a haiku to a rebus to a riddle, Nikki Grimes reminds us how wonderful it is to feel thankful, and how powerful a simple “thank you” can be. This book can be used throughout the year as well. In classrooms, this is a good mentor text for creating poems of thanks and gratitude.

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Third Grader Reading at a Sixth Grade Level

Responding to a parent request for books that would interest her third-grader-reading-at-a-sixth-grade-level, we crowd-sourced a list. Big thanks to Sara Alcott, Linda Baie, Lesley Mandros Bell, Karen Cramer, Caren Creech, Melinda Fant, Ellen Klarreich, Vickie LoPiccolo, Ellen McEvoy, Laura Moe, Tunie Munson-Benson, Vicki Palmquist, Carrie Shay, Faythe Dyrud Thureen, Cindy Walker, and Sharon J. Wilson.

Unlike our usual annotated booklists, we are presenting this one in alphabetical order by book title due to the length of the list. We hope you find books here that lead you to read more books by these authors. Of course, there are many more just-right books to suggest for this type of reader–we’ve included only books suggested by our “crowd.”

bk_alcaponeshirtsAdam Canfield of the Slash, Michael Winerip

Adventures of Sir Lancelot the Great (Knights Tales series), Gerald Morris

Al Capone Does My Shirts (series of 3 books), Gennifer Choldenko

Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery

Betsy-Tacy Treasury (series, Betsy and friends get older in the books), Maud Hart Lovelace

BFG, Roald Dahl

Birchbark House, Louis Erdrich

Black Stallion (series), Walter Farley

Boggart, Susan Cooper

Catherine, Called BirdyBook of Three (Prydain series of 5 books), Lloyd Alexander

Borrowers, Mary Norton

Bud, Not Buddy, Christopher Paul Curtis

Catch You Later, Traitor, Avi

Catherine, Called Birdy, Karen Cushman

Chasing Vermeer, Blue Balliet

Children of Green Knowe (series), Lucy M. Boston

D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths, Ingri d’Aulaire and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire

Dark is Rising (series of 5 books), Susan Cooper

Dragons in the Waters, Madeleine L’Engle

Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking RatEmmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat, Lynne Jonell

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, Chris Grabenstein

Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School, Candace Fleming

False Prince (series of 3 books), Jennifer A. Nielsen

Flora & Ulysses, Kate DiCamillo

Frindle, Andrew Clements

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsberg

Girls Think of Everything, Catherine Thimmesh

Greenglass House, Kate Milford

Half Magic, Edward Eager

HatchetHarriet the Spy, Louise Fitzhugh

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (series of 7 books), J.K. Rowling

Hatchet, Gary Paulsen

Holes, Louis Sachar

Home of the Brave, Katherine Applegate

How to Steal a Dog, Barbara O’Connor

How to Train Your Dragon (series), Cressida Crowell, “It’s funny, sophisticated, appealing, and has 12 volumes.”

Indian Shoes, Cynthia Leitich Smith

I Survived the Sinking of the Titanic, 1912 (series), Lauren Tarshis

Invention of Hugo CabretInvention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick

Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley and Me, Elizabeth, E.L. Konigsberg

Julie of the Wolves, Jean Craighead George

King of the Wind, Marguerite Henry

Lightning Thief (many books in this series and other series), Rick Riordan

Lincoln and His Boys, Rosemary Wells

Long Walk to Water, Linda Sue Park

Making Friends with Billy Wong, Augusta Scattergood

Maniac Magee, Jerry Spinelli

Old WolfMother-Daughter Book Club (series of 7 books), Heather Vogel Frederick

Mozart Season, Virginia Euwer Wolff

Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, Robert C. O’Brien

Nation, Terry Pratchett. “A bit mature for the average third grader, but this doesn’t sound like an average kid. Make it a point of discussion.”

Old Wolf, Avi

On My Honor, Marion Dane Bauer

One and Only Ivan, Katherine Applegate

One Crazy Summer, Rita Williams-Garcia

Owls in the Family, Farley Mowat

People Could FlyPeople Could Fly, Virginia Hamilton

Peter Nimble and the Fantastic Eyes, Jonathan Auxier

Pushcart War, Jean Merrill

Randoms, David Liss

Savvy, Ingrid Law

Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (especially around Halloween), Alvin Schwartz (these are scary, so please know your child’s ability to handle this book)

Scooter, Vera B. Williams’

Stella by StarlightSingle Shard, Linda Sue Park

Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White, Melissa Sweet

Stella by Starlight, Sharon M. Draper

Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome

Tales from the Odyssey, Mary Pope Osborne

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (Fudge series), Judy Blume

Tom’s Midnight Garden, Philippa Pearce

True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle, Avi

Tuck Everlasting, Natalie Babbitt

Uncertain Glory, Lea Wait

Untamed: the Wild Life of Jane GoodallUntamed: the Wild Life of Jane Goodall, Anita Silvey

Walk Two Moons, Sharon Creech

Westing Game, Ellen Raskin

Whales on Stilts! M.T. Anderson

When You Reach Me, Rebecca Stead

Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, Grace Lin

Witch of Blackbird Pond, Elizabeth Speare

Wonder, R.J. Palacio

Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle

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Books about Chocolate

February is National Chocolate Month, so how could we let it pass by without an homage to chocolate … in books? Far less costly on the dental bill! “In 2009, more than 58 million pounds of chocolate were purchased and (likely) consumed in the days surrounding February 14th — that’s about $345 million worth. (Kiri Tannenbaum, “8 Facts About Chocolate,” Delish) Were you a part of the national statistic? Here are a list of 12 books about chocolate to feed your craving.

Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake  

Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake 
written by Michael Kaplan
illustrated by Stephane Jorisch 
Dial Books, 2011

Betty Bunny wants chocolate cake. Her mother wants her to learn patience. Betty Bunny would rather have chocolate cake. This is a funny, droll book about a spunky girl for whom waiting is a challenge. The illustrations are filled with humor, too.

Candy Bomber

 

Candy Bomber: The Story of the Berlin Airlift’s “Chocolate Pilot”
written by Michael O. Tunnell
Charlesbridge, 2010

When the Russians maintained a blockade around West Berlin after World War II, US Air Force Lieutenant Gail S. Halvorsen arranged to have chocolate and gum dropped over the city by handkerchief parachutes.  Russia wanted to starve the people of West Berlin into accepting Communist rule, but the Air Force continued its sanctioned delivery of food and goods for two years. Halvorsen would drop the candy for the kids of West Berlin with a wiggle of his plane’s wings so they’d know it was him. A true story with a lot of primary documentation.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory  

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
written by Roald Dahl
illustrated by Quentin Blake
Knopf, 1964

Inspired by his schoolboy experiences of chocolate makers sending test packages to the kids in exchange for their opinions alongside tours of the chocolate factories with their elaborate machinery, Roald Dahl created what might be the most famous book about candy, and chocolate in particular, in the world. As children vie for a golden ticket to enter the chocolate factory, Charlie Bucket finds the fifth ticket. Living in poverty, it’s quite a sight for him, especially when the other four winners are ejected ignominiously from the factory, leaving Charlie to inherit from Willy Wonka. This book celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2015.

Chock Full of Chocolate  

Chock Full of Chocolate
written by Elizabeth MacLeod
illustrated by Jane Bradford
Kids Can Press, 2005

A great way to talk about math and process and writing instructions, cookbooks are appealing to those kids who can’t get enough of the Food Network. This book has 45 recipes featuring chocolate with easy-to-understand instructions for dishes such as S’more Gorp, Dirt Dessert, and Candy-Covered Pizza.

Chocolate Fever  

Chocolate Fever
written by Robert Kimmel Smith
illustrated by Gioia Fiammenghi
Coward McCann, 1972

Henry Green loves chocolate. He eats chocolate all the time in every form and shape. He’s so enamored of chocolate that he contracts Chocolate Fever. Henry runs away from the doctor and straight into a zany adventure filled with humor and action. A good read-aloud.

Chocolate  

Chocolate: Sweet Science & Dark Secrets
of the World’s Favorite Treat
 

written by Kay Frydenborg
HMH Books for Young Readers, 2015

This book on chocolate for middle grade readers covers chocolate from its light to dark aspects, from the way it was discovered to the slaves that were used to grow and harvest it. This book addresses the history, science, botany, environment, and human rights swirling around the world’s obsession with chocolate.

Chocolate Touch  

Chocolate Touch
written by Patrick Skene Catling
illustrated by Margot Apple
HarperCollins, reissued in 2006

John Midas loves chocolate. He loves it so much that he′ll eat it any hour of any day. He doesn′t care if he ruins his appetite. After wandering into a candy store and buying a piece of their best chocolate, John finds out that there might just be such a thing as too much chocolate. This take on the legend of King Midas is written with humor and action. First published in 1952, this is a charming story.

Chocolate War  

Chocolate War
written by Robert Cormier
Pantheon Books, 1974

In this classic young adult novel, Jerry Renault is a freshman at Trinity who refuses to engage in the school’s annual fundraiser: selling chocolate. Brother Leon, Archie Costello, the Vigils (the school gang) all play a part in this psychological thriller. Cormier’s writing is game-changing.

Milton Hershey  

Milton Hershey: Young Chocolatier
(Childhood of Famous Americans series)
written by M.M. Eboch
illustrated by Meryl Henderson
Aladdin, 2008

As a young boy, Hershey had to drop out of school to help support his family. He was a go-getter. Working in an ice cream parlor gave him ideas about sweets and selling chocolate to the public. He started his own business, work long and hard to perfect the chocolate his company sells to this day, and learned a good deal about economics, marketing, and running a company. An interesting biography for young readers.

No Monkeys, No Chocolate  

No Monkeys, No Chocolate
written by Melissa Stewart and Allen Young
illustrated by Nicole Wong
Charlesbridge, 2013

A good look at the ecosystem and interdependence of a chocolate tree and the lively monkeys that chew on its pods as they swing through the jungle, distributing seeds. Readers look at the one tree’s life cycle, examining the flora, fauna, animals, and insects that contribute to the making of cacao. Two bookworms on each page comment on the information, making this information even more accessible.

Smart About Chocolate  

Smart About Chocolate: a Sweet History
written by Sandra Markle
illustrated by Charise Mericle Harper
Grosset & Dunlap, 2004

A book sharing many facts about the history and making of chocolate, it’s short and engaging. Illustrated with cartoons and dialogue bubbles, photos and charts, this is a good survey of chocolate. Includes a recipe and suggestions for further reading.

This Books is Not Good For You  

This Book Is Not Good for You
written by pseudonymous bosch
Little, Brown, 2010

In this third book in the series, Cass, Max-Ernest, and Yo-Yoji work to discover the whereabouts of the legendary tuning fork so they can get Cass’s Mom back after she’s kidnapped by the evil dessert chef and chocolatier Senor Hugo. High adventure with a fun attitude.

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Books about Chickens

Whether a chicken makes you cluck, BAWK! or cheep-cheep-cheep, books about chickens make us laugh. We may not have been introduced to a chicken in real life but, trust me, some people keep them as egg-laying wonders and other people keep them as pets. These fowl have been around in many colors, types, and breeds in most countries in the world … and quite recently they have become the subject of many books. Go, chickens! We’ve suggested 19 books. What would you add as the 20th book on this list?

The Perfect Nest  

The Perfect Nest
written by Catherine Friend
illustrated by John Manders
Henry Holt, 2011

Farmer Jack, the cat, is building a nest to attract a chicken who will lay eggs for his mouth-watering omelet. Things don’t go quite as planned. Other birds find the nest to be perfect, too. The eggs hatch and Jack is suddenly tending to little chicks who think he’s their father. The book is laugh-out-loud funny and makes a great read-aloud. Each of the perfect nest’s occupants speaks with a different accent.

Hoboken Chicken Emergency

 

The Hoboken Chicken Emergency
Daniel Pinkwater
illus by Jill Pinkwater
Simon & Schuster, 1977

A classic book that will keep your kids laughing with every page turn. Arthur Bobowicz is sent to get the Thanksgiving turkey but there are none to be had. On the way home, he sees a sign in Professor Mazzocchi’s window (you know him, the inventor of the Chicken System). Arthur ends up taking a chicken home but it’s a 266-pound live chicken named Henrietta. She gets loose … and causes disaster all over Hoboken, New Jersey. A good read-aloud but also the perfect book for 9- and 10-year-olds to read.

Beautiful Yetta  

Beautiful Yetta: the Yiddish Chicken
Daniel Pinkwater
illus by Jill Pinkwater
Feiwel & Friends, 2010

Yetta, the chicken, escapes from a poultry truck in Brooklyn and is soon lost, lonely, and hungry, shunned by the rats and pigeons she encounters. Heroically, she saves a little green bird, Eduardo, from a cat, winning the gratitude of his friends, the parrots. They teach Yetta how to find food and how to get along in an unfamiliar place. The book is filled with Yiddish, Spanish, and English phrases and Yetta’s speech appears in both Hebrew and English alphabets. Your kids will soon be exclaiming about the “farshtunken katz”!

The Little Red Hen  

The Little Red Hen
Paul Galdone
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011 (reissued)

When the Hen asks for help planting wheat, the cat, the dog, and the mouse all say “No!” They won’t help her water it, or harvest it, or grind it. They are quite lazy. When the Little Red Hen bakes a delicious cake, who will be invited to eat it? Ages 4 to 11.

Chicken Man  

Chicken Man
written and illustrated by Michelle Edwards
1991, republished in 2009 by NorthSouth Books

Rody lives on a kibbutz in Israel, where he is assigned to tend to the chickens. He comes to love them and they him. He sings loudly with joy. And thus other kibbutz workers think the chicken house must be the best place to work and Rody is re-assigned to another job.  The chickens stop laying eggs. And Rody misses his chickens.  How will Rody find his way back to his favorite job? A good look at life on a kibbutz.

Chickens to the Rescue  

Chickens to the Rescue
written and illustrated by John Himmelman
Henry Holt, 2006

On the Greenstalk farm, things are continually going wrong. Monday through Saturday, when things need to be done, it’s the chickens to the rescue! In hilarious attire, with laugh-out-loud results, the good-intentioned chickens help animals and humans alike. Except on Sunday. Then they rest. The illustrations in this book are delightful.

Interrupting Chickens  

Interrupting Chicken
written and illustrated by David Ezra Stein
Candlewick Press, 2010

Papa is good about reading bedtime stories to Little Red Chicken, but she can’t help but interrupt his reading to warn the characters in the books about what’s to come. Which, of course, brings an abrupt end to the stories. Papa asks Little Red to write her own story but Papa interrupts … by snoring. It’s a charming book, sure to cause giggles … and it brings some classic tales to life. Caldecott Honor book.

First the Egg  

First the Egg
written and illustrated by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Roaring Brook Press, 2007

It’s a book of transformations, from caterpillar to butterfly, from tadpole to frog, from egg to chicken, and more. Illustrated with luscious color and simple die-cuts, this is an engaging concept book for the preschool crowd. Caldecott Honor book.

Chicken Cheeks  

Chicken Cheeks
Michael Ian Black
illustrated by Kevin Hawkes
Simon & Schuster, 2009

Bear enlists all the other animals to make a tower so he can get at some elusive honey. The hilarity comes from the view of many animal bottoms, 16 ways to refer to those bottoms, and the unstable, improbable, teetering tower of giggle-worthy animals.

Chicks and Salsa  

Chicks and Salsa
Aaron Reynolds
illustrated by Paulette Bogan
Bloomsbury, 2007

The animals on Nuthatcher Farm are bored with their food. The rooster looks around and hatches a plan. They will eat chips and salsa made from the ingredients on the farm! The salsa recipe changes to accommodate each animal’s preferences. It’s so exciting they decide to have a fiesta! But when the day comes, the humans have absconded with their ingredients to enter into the state fair. What will the animals do? Thanks to the quick-thinking rooster and a resourceful rat, the party goes on!

Chicken in the Kitchen  

Chicken in the Kitchen
Nnedi Okorafor
illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini
Lantana Publishing, 2015

Set in Nigeria, a young girl awakes to a noise in the middle of the night. When she investigates, she discovers a giant chicken in the kitchen. Hilarity ensues. Nothing is quite what it seems. Will Anyaugo be able to protect the traditional foods her aunties have prepared for the New Yam Festival? Gorgeous illustrations and a good look at the masquerade culture of West Africa. 

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?  

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?
illustrated by Jon Agee, Tedd Arnold, Harry Bliss, David Catrow, Marla Frazee, Mary GrandPre, Lynn Munsinger, Jerry Pinkney, Vladimir Kandunsky, Chris Raschka, Judy Schachner, David Shannon, Gus Sheban, and Mo Willems
Dial Books, 2006

When 14 illustrators are asked “why did the chicken cross the road?” their answers are fresh and fun and varied. They’ll delight you with their original takes on this old chestnut.

Hattie and the Fox  

Hattie and the Fox
Mem Fox
illustrated by Patricia Mullins
Simon & Schuster, 1987

In a cumulative tale with plenty of opportunity for different voices and great energy while reading out loud, we learn that Hattie, the black hen, spies a fox in the bushes. She tries to warn the other animals but they don’t believe her. A wonderful pastiche of anticipation, repetition, and the illustrator’s vivid use of tissue paper collage and conte crayon make this an excellent choice for storytime and anytime.

Hen Hears Gossip  

Hen Hears Gossip
Megan McDonald
illustrated by Joung Un Kim
Greenwillow, 2008

“Psst. Psst. Psst.” Hen is addicted to gossip, especially about herself. When she overhears Pig whispering a secret to Cow, Hen spreads it around until it returns to her with a not-so-nice rendition. Reading this book provides a good opportunity to talk about the ways gossip hurts. 

Big Chickens  

Big Chickens
Leslie Helakoski
illustrated by Henry Cole
Dutton, 2006

When a wolf threatens the chicken coop, the chickens RUN! They’re terrified and they want to get away. The fun ensues as they get into one hilarious predicament after another. It’s the exact kind of silly kids love and Henry Cole’s illustrations reinforce the goofy chickens’ reactions to the chaos they create.

Chicken Followed Me Home!  

A Chicken Followed Me Home:
Questions and Answers about a Familiar Fowl
Robin Page
Beach Lane Books, 2015

What would you do if a chicken followed you home? You’d learn to tell what kind of chicken it is, what it would like to eat, and how to keep it safe and healthy. You’d observe how many eggs a chicken lays in a year and how a chicken is different than a rooster. With bold illustrations, this book will appeal to both younger and older children.

Kids Guide to Keeping Chickens  

A Kid’s Guide to Keeping Chickens:
Best Breeds, Creating a Home,
Care and Handling, Outdoor Fun, Crafts and Treats
Melissa Caughey
Storey Publishing, 2015

Filled with wonderful photos and practical advice for kids who would like to raise chickens … whether in the city or out in the country.  The book suggests ways to consider chickens as pets, offering crafts to connect with your barnyard beauties: build them a fort, learn to speak chicken, and create a veggie piñata for them. Egg-celent egg ecipes are available, too.

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer  

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer
Kelly Jones
illus by Katie Kath
Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2015

Moving from Los Angeles to a farm her family inherited, Sophie Brown and her mother and father are reluctant farmers. Sophie feels isolated, which she tackles by writing letters to her abuela and to Agnes of Redwood Farm Supply. You see, Sophie’s great-uncle kept chickens. One-by-one they come home to roost and Sophie discovers they are not ordinary chickens … they have powers. Are they magical? Supernatural? They’re certainly unusual and neighbors will do just about anything to claim them. A funny, middle-grade novel, Unusual Chickens will have reader wanting to become Exceptional Poultry Farmers.

Prairie Evers  

Prairie Evers
Ellen Airgood
Nancy Paulsen Books, 2012

Prairie Evers moves from North Carolina to upstate New York, where her family claims an inherited farm. She’s going to attend a public school for the first time. Up until now, Prairie has been homeschooled and having classmates is a new experience. When Ivy Blake becomes her first-ever friend, Prairie realizes Ivy’s home life is not a happy one. The Evers invite Ivy to spend time with them … and Prairie finds that a new experience, too. This middle-grade novel  has great information about the chickens Prairie is raising … and a lot about friendship, optimism, and loyalty.

Cheater for the Chicken Man  

Cheating for the Chicken Man
Priscilla Cummings
Dutton, 2015

A serious YA novel set on a chicken farm, this is a companion to two earlier books in the Red Kayak series. Now Kate is dealing with her father’s death, her mother’s grief, and her brother J.T.’s return home from a juvenile detention camp where he served a sentence for second-degree murder. She wants to give her brother a chance at a fresh start but it’s a daunting task.

My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me  

My Painted House, My Friendly Chicken, and Me
Maya Angelou
photographs by Margaret Courtney Clarke
Crown, 2003

“Hello, Stranger-Friend” begins Maya Angelou’s story about Thandi, a South African Ndebele girl, her mischievous brother, her beloved chicken, and the astonishing mural art produced by the women of her tribe.  With never-before-seen photographs of the very private Ndebele women and their paintings, this unique book shows the passing of traditions from parent to child and introduces young readers to a new culture through a new friend. Thanks to Nancy Bo Flood for suggesting this title.

 

Our commenters have added:

  • The Plot Chickens by Mary Jane and Herb Auch
  • Wings: a Tale of Two Chickens by James Marshall
  • Chicken Squad: the First Misadventure by Doreen Cronin, illus by Kevin Cornell
  • Henny by Elizabeth Rose Stanton

chicken books

How about you? What’s your favorite chicken book?

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Books about Trees

With hats off to our friends at the tree-festooned Iowa ArboretumMinnesota Landscape Arboretum, Chicago Botanic Gardens, and Omaha’s Lauritzen Gardens, this list is dedicated to arborists everywhere, professional and amateur … you take care of an essential part of our ecosystem. Thank you. Here’s a list of books for younger and older children, fiction and nonfiction. We hope you’ll savor each one.

Celebritrees  

Celebritrees: Historic  & Famous Trees of the World
written by Margi Preus, illustrated by Rebecca Gibbon
Henry Holt, 2011

Preus tells the true stories of fourteen outstanding trees from around the world, including a bristlecone pine in California that is 4,000 years old and the Tree of One Hundred Horses in England that sheltered the Queen of Aragon and her soldiers during a rainstorm. Back matter includes additional information about tree varieties in the book, a bibliography, and website links. Illustrated throughout this is a charming book for ages 8 and up.

The Cherry Tree

 

Cherry Tree
written by Ruskin Bond, illustrated by Manoj A. Menon
Penguin Books, 2012

In northern India, young Rakhi plants a cherry tree in the Himalayan foothills where fruit trees are sparse. She nurtures it and cares for it and grows older along with the tree.  A gentle, reflective story. Ages 3 to 7.

Crinkleroot's Guide to Knowing the Trees  

Crinkleroot’s Guide to Knowing the Trees
written and illustrated by Jim Arnosky
Simon & Schuster, 1992

Crinkleroot is a wise woodsman who takes readers on a journey through the forest, sharing wisdom about hardwood and softwood forests and the importance of a mixed forest for a healthy ecosystem for plants, animals, and insects. Crinkleroot shares how trees get their shapes, that dead trees play an important role, and the factors that play a role in a tree’s development. It’s fascinating information and the watercolor illustrations are engaging. Ages 4 to 8.

Grandpa Green  

Grandpa Green
written and illustrated by Lane Smith
Roaring Brook Press, 2011

As a farm boy grows older, he shapes topiary in a garden that reflects his memories. Noah Galvin, a child, learns more about his great-grandfather as he wanders through the narrative of this garden, growing to understand that Grandpa Green did not lead an ordinary life. There are details on each page that provide a layered reading experience and there is ample impetus for discussion. This book would be helpful after the loss of a loved one. Caldecott Honor book. Ages 4 to 11.

Lord of the Rings  

Lord of the Rings
written by J.R.R. Tolkien
George Allen and Unwin, as well as Houghton Mifflin, 1965

The epic story of good battling evil in Middle Earth, focusing on the story of the hobbit Frodo Baggins and his companion Sam Gamgee traveling to Mordor to throw the Ring into the fires there, thus ending the cycles of greed and wars for power, cannot be overlooked in a booklist of trees. More than trees, but appearing as trees, the Ents are an old and wise race, slow to action but a turning point in the quest and the final war that frees Middle Earth from Sauron’s tyranny. Ages 10 and up.

Redwoods  

Redwoods
written and illustrated by Jason Chin
Flash Point, 2009

When a boy discovers a book about redwoods while waiting for his subway train, reading it takes him to explore the trees in his imagination, showing the reader facts about these trees, some of which are as old as the Roman Empire. Roman soldiers appear next to him on the train, helping him understand the historical context. As he emerges from the subway, he is in the midst of the redwoods in California, offering him an opportunity to explore their habitat and their surroundings. The watercolor illustrations are stunning and filled with ways to observe these trees that are among the oldest and most magnificent on Earth. An intentional blend of fact and fantasy, readers from age 3 to 9 will find this absorbing.

Swiss Family Robinson  

The Swiss Family Robinson
written by Johann D. Wyss,
William Godwin, 1816 (originally published in German in 1812).
Penguin Books, 2012 (closely adheres to Godwin edition)

A pastor’s family is cast up on an island in the South Pacific after their ship founders and sinks. Fortunately, their ship was full of supplies that wash up on shore. It’s an action-packed adventure in which the island’s trees provide sustenance and shelter. This book may be solely responsible for people’s dreams of living in treehouses. This will be a challenging but worthwhile classic for ages 10 and up

The Tree Book for Kids and Their Grown-ups  

Tree Book for Kids and Their Grown-ups
written and illustrated by Gila Ingoglia, ASLA
Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 2008, updated in 2013

A clear-spirited book about the importance of trees, with guides for identifying their flowers, leaves, and shapes. You’ll learn about feeding systems, ancestry, and the roles they play in our lives. The illustrations are essential to this book and our understanding. It’s an essential guide for children and parents to enjoy together, learning while enjoying the information presented about 33 tree species, most of which are native to North America. Ages 4 and up.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn  

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
written by Betty Smith
Harper & Brothers, 1943

In this classic story of immigrants trying to improve their circumstances in Brooklyn from 1902 to 1919, Francie Nolan, her brother Neely, and their parents go through tough times as immigrants who are shunned, struggling through near-starvation but persevering as a family whose love pulls them through. Francie is an engaging character who grows, much like the tree outside the window of their tenement, because she is resourceful and finds joy in simple pleasures, books, and her family. Ages 12 and up.

A Tree is Nice  

A Tree is Nice
written and illustrated by Janice May Udry
HarperCollins, 1987

For the very young, this book explores all of the many benefits that trees bring to our lives. From planting trees, to enjoying their shade, to using their branches for drawing in the sand, this charming book will foster a respect for the trees around us. Caldecott medal. Ages 3 to 8.

The Tree Lady  

Tree Lady:
the True Story of How One Woman Changed a City Forever
written by H. Joseph Hopkins, illustrated by Jill McElmurry
Beach Lane Books, 2013

In 1881, Katherine Olivia Sessions was the first woman to graduate from the University of California with a degree in science. Although she moved to San Diego to teach, she quickly became involved in her dream to bring greenery to the city’s desert climate. She wrote to people around the world to request seeds that would thrive in this area, planting and nurturing trees that would create San Diego’s City Park and grow throughout the city. In 1915, the Panama-California Exposition was held in the park, providing a lush setting for the world to experience. With a foundation of science, a sense of biography, and evocative illustrations, this is a beauty to inspire new tree lovers. For ages 5 to 11.

Tree of Life  

Tree of Life: the World of the African Baobab, written and illustrated by Barbara Bash, Sierra Club Books, 2002

In this dramatically illustrated book, we learn of the life cycle of this long-lived and hearty tree that survives in the desert, providing shelter and sustenance for insects, birds, animals, and humans. It’s a wonderful book for teaching interdependence and learning more about the African savannah. Ages 4 to 10.

Tree of Wonder  

Tree of Wonder: the Many Marvelous Lives of a Rainforest Tree
written by Kate Messner, illustrated by Simona Mulazzani
Chronicle Books, 2015

In Latin America, the rain forest is home to the Almendro tree, which hosts more than 10,000 organisms, including a great green macaw and a blue morpho butterfly. The number of creatures double with each turn of the page so that the sense of the enormity of life inside this tree can be understood. It is a math book, an ecology book, and a poetry book that will be enjoyed in your classroom or home. Ages 6 to 11.

Tree, Leaves and Bark  

Trees, Leaves and Bark
written by Diane Burns and Linda Garrow
Cooper Square Publishing, 1995

From crown to roots, a great deal of information is presented in a friendly, understandable way about tree seeds and grown trees. It’s a good take-along guide for identifying leaves in the forest and urban settings. Ages 8 and up.

Wangari Trees of Peace  

Wangari’s Trees of Peace
written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2008

In this true story of Wangari Maathai, environmentalist and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, we follow her life from a young girl growing up in Kenya to her founding of the Green Belt Movement. Alarmed to see large swaths of trees being cut down, she enlists the help of other women to plant trees in their surroundings. Today, more than 30,000,000 trees have been planted through her efforts. One person can make a difference. Winter’s illustrations are warm and enlightening. Ages 4 to 12.

Winter Trees  

Winter Trees
written by Carole Gerber, illustrated by Leslie Evans
Charlesbridge Books, 2009

Illustrated with woodcuts, this book helps children and their parents identify trees in the wintertime when their leaves have fallen and the skeletal structure of the trees helps us see more clearly how the tree grows. The narrative takes a closer look at seven trees, including the sugar maple, burr oak, and paper birch. Ages 3 to 8.

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Books about Boxes

Boxes have many stories to share, stories to inspire, and stories to help us learn and be creative. Here are a few of the stories that boxes have to tell. You might well expect to find books about creative play and cardboard boxes, but there are books for a range of young readers here and boxes comes in many shapes and colors.

 

365 Penguins

written and illustrated by Jean-Luc Fromental
Holiday House, 2012

A family find a penguin mysteriously delivered in a box to their door every day of the year. At first the penguins are cute, but with every passing day they pile up and they cause the family significant problems. Who on earth is sending these critters? This book holds math concepts and environmental concerns within its story, which is quite fun. Ages 4 to 8.

Beryl's Box

 

Beryl’s Box

written by Lisa Taylor
Barron’s Juveniles, 1993

When Penelope and Beryl must play together at Penelope’s house, Beryl isn’t interested in Penelope’s plentiful toys. She wants to play in a cardboard box, imagining all sorts of adventures. Penelope is intrigued and soon the girls become friends. Ages 3 to 6.

A Box Story  

Box Story

written by Kenneth Kit Lamug
illustrated by Rabble Boy
RabbleBox, 2011

The author and illustrator uses pencil drawings to convey all the ways in which a box is not just a box. Ages 3 to 7.

A Box Can Be Many Things  

A Box Can Be Many Things

written by Dana Meachen Rau
Children’s Press, 1997

An early reader about a box that’s being thrown away and the two kids who rescue it for their own adventures, slowly cutting the box up for the supplies they need, until there isn’t much left of the box. Ages 3 to 6

Boxes for Katje  

Boxes for Katje

written by Candace Fleming
illustrated by Stacy Dressen-McQueen
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2003

A heartwarming story about a community in Indiana which, upon hearing about Holland’s struggles to find enough food, clothing, and practical items after World War II, sends boxes of supplies to Olst, Holland. Ages 5 to 10.

Cardboard  

Cardboard

written and illustrated by Doug TenNapel
GRAPHIX, 2012

In this graphic novel, Cam’s dad is feeling depressed and there isn’t a lot of money to buy Cam something for his birthday. He gives him a cardboard box and together they work to create a man from the box. It magically comes to life and all is well until the neighborhood bully strives to turn the cardboard man to his evil purposes. Ages 10 and up.

Cardboard Box Book  

Cardboard Box Book

written and created by Roger Priddy and Sarah Powell
illustrated by Barbi Sido
Priddy Books, 2012

If you’re in need of ideas and tips for making your own cardboard creations, or even if you are full of ideas, you’ll be inspired by this book that helps you figure out how to make some amazing but simple cardboard contraptions. All you need is simple household art supplies like a pencil and glue and scissors. And maybe a little paint. Ages 5 and up (with adult supervision).

Cardboard Creatures  

Cardboard Creatures: Contemporary Cardboard Craft Projects for the Home, Celebrations & Gifts

written and created by Claude Jeantet
David & Charles, 2014

What else can you do with cardboard? Sculptures, of course. There are clever animals to make here, designed by an architect who has her own shop in Paris where she sells her intriguing cardboard art. You and your children can make these things, too! Ages 5 and up (with adult supervision)..

Christina Katerina and the Box  

Christina Katerina and the Box

written by Patricia Lee Gauch
illustrated by Doris Burns
Boyds Mills Press, 2012

When Christina Katerina’s family buys a new refrigerator, her mother is excited about the refrigerator but Christina Katerina is excited about the box. She can do all kinds of things with a box, including a castle and a playhouse. Ages 3 to 7.

Harry's Box  

Harry’s Box

written by Angela McAllister
illustrated by Jenny Jones
Bloomsbury, 2005

When Harry and his mom come back from the grocery store, he grabs the box the groceries came in and sets off for adventure with his dog, traveling the high seas, hiding from bears, and everything he can think of before he falls asleep to dream of more! Ages 3 to 7.

Henry's Freedom Box  

Henry’s Freedom Box: a True Story of the Underground Railroad

written by Ellen Levine
illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Scholastic Press, 2007

This is the true story of Henry Brown, a boy born into slavery who is forcibly separated from his mother to work in his owner’s factory. As a man, his wife and three children are sold away from his life. He makes plans with other abolitionists and mails himself in a box to freedom in Philadelphia. Ages 5 and up.

Meeow and the Big Box  

Meeow and the Big Box

written and illustrated by Sebastien Braun
Boxer Books, 2009

For the preschool set, this book about a cat who creates a fire truck from a box is filled with bright colors and textures, and just enough text to read aloud. There are several more Meeow books. Ages 2 to 4.

My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes  

My Cat Likes to Hide in Boxes

written by Eve Sutton
illustrated by Lynley Dodd
Parent’s Magazine Press, 1974; Puffin, 2010

A rhyming text for beginning readers which also makes a good read-aloud, this dynamic duo tells the story of an ordinary cat who likes to hide in boxes while cats around the world do astounding things. Ages 3 to 7

Not a Box  

Not a Box

written and illustrated by Antoinette Portis
HarperCollins, 2006

Narrated by a rabbit, this story of the many possibilities of a box (It’s NOT A BOX! Oops, sorry.) are drawn with a simple line that inspires anything but simple ideas. New York Times Best Illustrated Book. Ages 3 and up.

Roxaboxen  

Roxaboxen

written by Alice McLerran
illustrated by Barbara Cooney
Lothrop, Lee & Shepard, 1991

A rhyming text for beginning readers which also makes a good read-Based on a true story from the author’s childhood, the kids in Yuma, Arizona use found objects, but particularly boxes, to create a city where they spend endless hours playing and making up stories and creating memories that will last a lifetime. The book has inspired children around the world. There’s a park in Yuma to commemorate the site of the original Roxaboxen. Ages 4 to 7.

Secret Box  

Secret Box

written and illustrated by Barbara Lehman
Houghton Mifflin, 2011

There are secret messages hidden in secret boxes to be discovered in secret places … a wordless book provides beautifully crafted images with intricate details that provide much to think and wonder about, ultimately encouraging the reader to create the story. There’s time travel, magic, and puzzles within this book. Good for ages 4 and up.

The Secret Box  

Secret Box

written by Whitaker Ringwald
Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins, 2014

When Jax Malone receives a gift in a box for her 12th birthday, she and her friend Ethan soon discover it’s not a gift but a cry for help from an unknown great-aunt. Setting off to solve the mystery of the box and provide the requested help, the kids are soon on a wild, crazy, and dangerous road trip … a fast-paced tale and the beginning of a series of books. (The author’s name is a pseudonym, by the way, a mystery in itself.) Ages 8 to 12.

Sitting in My Box  

Sitting in My Box

written by Dan Lillegard
iilustrated by Jon Agee
Two Lions, 2010

From the safety of a cardboard box, a little boy reads a book about Wild Animals and—behold!—they come to visit him. How many animals can fit in the box? It’s a cumulative story and the wording makes it a good choice for a read-aloud. Ages 2 to 5.

Tibet Through the Red Box  

Tibet Through the Red Box

written and illustrated by Peter Sís
Greenwillow, 1999

When the author was little, his father kept things inside a red box that his children were not allowed to touch. When the author is grown, he receives a letter from his father, telling him the red box is now his. The red, lacquered box holds secrets about his fathere’s experiences in the 1950s when he was drafted into the Czechoslovakian army and sent to China to teach filmmaking. At the time, Czechoslovokia is a secretive country behind the Iron Curtain. The father is soon lost in Tibet for two years, where his adventures must be kept secret but are shared with his son. The book’s illustrations are inspired by Tibetan art. Caldecott Honor Book, Boston Globe Horn Book Award. Ages 7 and up.

What to Do with a Box  

What To Do With a Box

written by Jane Yolen
illustrated by Chris Sheban
Creative Editions, 2016

What can’t you do with a box? If you give a child a box, who can tell what will happen next? It may become a library or a boat. It could set the scene for a fairy tale or a wild expedition. The most wonderful thing is its seemingly endless capacity for magical adventure. Read this out loud to your favorite kids and watch the ideas light up their eyes. Ages 4 to 7.

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Quirky Book Lists: Classroom Pets

Thinking about adding a classroom pet? Read and think again!

 

8 Class Pets + 1 Squirrel [÷] 1 Dog = Chaos
written by Vivian Vande Velde
illustrated by Steve Bjorkman
Holiday House, 2012

Squirrel likes living near a school playground. He’s not so sure about going inside, though, especially when he’s chased there by a dog and all the classroom pets get involved. Each animal gets to tell its side of the story.

 

Arthur and the School Pet

written by Marc Brown
illustrated by Marc Tolon
Random House (Step into Reading 2), 2003

Speedy, the class gerbil, needs a home over Christmas vacation. D.W. volunteers to take care of Speedy. Surprises ensue.

 

Chicken, Pig, Cow and the Class Pet  

written and illustrated by Ruth Ohi
Annick Press, 2011

When Girl takes Chicken, Pig, and Cow to school with her one day, the three friends meet the class hamster. One of several Chicken, Pig, Cow picture books by the acclaimed Canadian author-illustrator.

 

Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat
written by Lynne Jonell
illustrated by Jonathan Bean
Henry Holt, 2007

Emmy hardly sees her parents, she doesn’t like her new nanny, and she feels invisible in her new school. Then she discovers  she can understand the class pet—a rat—and everything changes.

 

I.Q. Gets Fit

written and illustrated Mary Ann Fraser
Walker & Company, 2007

During Fitness Month, I.Q., the class pet, learns important lessons about staying healthy as he tries to win a gold ribbon in the School Fitness Challenge.

 

Malcolm at Midnight

written by W.H. Beck
pictures by Brian Lies
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012

Malcolm the rat is the new class pet at a school were all the class pets have formed a secret society, the Midnight Academy. When the Academy’s iguana leader is kidnapped, Malcolm must prove his innocence and disprove the Academy members’ belief that rats can’t be trusted. (There’s also a sequel, Malcolm Under the Stars.)

 

Missy’s Super Duper Royal Deluxe #2: Class Pets

written by Susan Nees
Scholastic, 2013

Missy wants to take home the class pets, but another girl, Tiffany, has already asked their teacher. Can Missy and her friend Oscar come up with a plan to make Tiffany change her mind? Book two in a series.

 

Smashie McPerter and the Mystery of Room 11

written by N. Griffin
illustrated by Kate Hindley
Candlewick, 2015

Hamster feet are creepy, and that’s one reason Smashie’s not a fan of Room 11’s beloved, Patches. But when Patches goes missing, Smashie suits up and with her best friend, Dontel, launches an investigation to bring the thief to justice.

 

Stop That Frog (Here’s Hank #3)

written by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver
illustrated by Scott Garrett
Grosset & Dunlap, 2014

When the principal has to be away from school at a conference, Hank’s class agrees to take care of the principal’s special pet frog, and Hank is chosen to take the frog home for the weekend.

 

Teacher’s Pets

written by Dayle Ann Dodds
illustrated by Marilyn Hafner
Candlewick, 2010

One by one the students in Miss Fry’s room bring a pet for sharing day. And one by one, the pets get left behind. What will happen when the school year’s over?  

 

The Wacky Substitute

written by Sally Derby
illustrated by Jennifer Herbert
Marshall Cavendish, 2005

When Mr. Wuerst, the substitute kindergarten teacher at Merryvale School, drops his glasses into the frying pan one morning, he ends up wearing a dish towel to school instead of his scarf and he mistakes the class gerbils for fur caps.

 

The World According to Humphrey

written by Betty G. Birney 
Putnam and Sons, 2004

Humphrey, pet hamster at Longfellow School, learns that he has an important role to play in helping his classmates and teacher. First book in a series. 

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A Trip to the Art Museum

by Vicki Palmquist

Arlo's Artrageous Adventure!  

Arlo’s Artrageous Adventure!

David LaRochelle
Sterling Children’s Books, 2013

When Arlo’s grandmother drags him to the art museum, he can’t imagine how he’ll be interested. Something odd catches his eye and he soon realizes the paintings have things to say that surprise and delight him—and the reader. Fun and quirky, with illustrations that will make you smile and flaps to lift that will reveal nuances in much the same way you discover something new in a painting each time you look at it … this is a good choice to prepare a child for a trip to the museum.

Art Dog  

Art Dog

Thacher Hurd
HarperCollins, 1996

When the moon is full, Arthur Dog, security guard at the Dogopolis Museum of Art becomes Art Dog, a masked artist painting masterpieces. When an art heist occurs, Arthur must find the true criminals. Your readers will have fun recognizing the works of Pablo Poodle, Henri Mutisse, and Vincent Van Dog.

Behind the Museum Door  

Behind the Museum Door:
Poems to Celebrate the Wonder of Museums

Lee Bennett Hopkins, ed.
illus by Stacey Dressen-McQueen
Harry N. Abrams, 2007

An ideal read-aloud to prepare for a  class trip, this collection of poetry will be useful when discussing art and artists. The poems are energetic and informative while Dressen-McQueen’s illustrations do an admiral job of visually representing each poem.

Chasing Vermeer  

Chasing Vermeer

Blue Balliett
Scholastic, 2004

Petra and Calder, 11-year-olds, become friends when they team up to solve the theft of a Vermeer painting which was en route to a museum in Chicago, where they live. The thief leaves clues in the newspaper and our clever duo work hard to solve the puzzles and mysteries that result. Your readers will learn about art while playing detective.

Dog's Night  

Dog’s Night

Meredith Hooper
illus by Alan Curless
Frances Lincoln, 2006

With a setting at London’s National Gallery, this is a tale of that one night a year when the dogs in the museum’s paintings are set free to come to life and play. A good way to introduce young people to fine art.

Eddie Red Undercover  

Eddie Red, Undercover: Mystery on Museum Mile

Marcia Wells, illus by Marcos Calo
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013

Edmund, an 11-year-old boy with a photographic memory and a talent for drawing, is hired by the NYPD to help them look for thieves planning a major art heist. Filled with humor, interesting characters, and a lot of clues to a satisfying mystery.

Framed  

Framed

Frank Cottrell Boyce
HarperCollins, 2006

When Dylan’s father leaves because their business, Snowdonia Oasis Auto Marvel, is faltering, Dylan’s family tries to improve their circumstances. At the same time, paintings from the National Gallery are being moved to storage near Dylan’s Welsh town. Filled with art history and colorful, charismatic characters, this book is sure to hook readers.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler  

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

E.L. Konigsburg
Atheneum/Simon & Schuster, 1970

A classic in which Claudia plans carefully for a week’s stay in the Metropolitan Museum of Art to break the monotony of her life. She invites her younger brother, James, because he has money. A new sculpture in the museum is possibly a marble angel created by Michelangelo, but no one knows for certain. Claudia and James are determined to help solve the mystery.

 

Going to the Getty  

Going to the Getty

Vivian Walsh
illus by J. Otto Seibold
J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997

The creators of Olive, the Other Reindeer have created a picture book that introduces young visitors to the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, including artwork, gardens, and behind-the-scenes work spaces.

Katie and the Sunflowers  

Katie and the Sunflowers

James Mayhew
Orchard Books, 2001

When Katie visits the museum, it’s an adventure indeed! She finds she can reach into the paintings, such as Van Gogh’s Sunflowers, while other paintings come to life. There are a number of Katie books in which she learns more about fine art, but this particular title features Gaugin and Cezanne, the Post-Impressionists. Back matter helps elucidate more information in a friendly way.

Masterpiece  

Masterpiece

Elise Broach
illus by Kelly Murphy
Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt, 2008

An excellent mystery weaving together the world of art and the world of art theft. Marvin is a beetle who lives under the sink in James’ apartment. Marvin has a marvelous talent for drawing in miniature. So marvelous that his drawings become a media sensation … for which James receives the credit. Art forgery is required but the friendship between Marvin and James, neither of whom can speak to the other, is tested.

Matthew's Dream  

Matthew’s Dream

Leo Lionni
Random House, 1995

When Matthew the mouse goes on a field trip to the art museum with his class, he is overcome with the beauty and power of the artwork hanging there. Inspired, he returns to his dusty and uninspired attic and creates art with things he’s never recognized as having beauty, creating paintings “filled with the shapes and colors of joy.”

Mrs Brown on Exhibit  

Mrs. Brown on Exhibit and Other Museum Poems

Susan Katz
illus R.W. Alley
Simon & Schuster, 2002

A book of poetry is written in the children’s own voices about their exuberant teacher, Mrs. Brown. She loves field trips to art exhibits and other exotic museums. A good book to show the breadth of collections encompassed by museums.

Museum  

Museum

Susan Verde
illus by Peter H. Reynolds
Harry N. Abrams, 2013

On a visit to the museum, a young girl reacts with differing emotions to each painting she sees, expressing herself with movement and sound and facial expressions. Drawn in a cartoon style, this book will help kids move beyond that feeling of reverence that museums sometimes inspire to examine the works for a personal connection.

Museum ABC  

Museum ABC

New York Metropolitan Museum of Art
Little Brown, 2002

An alphabet book introducing children to the collection of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, including Roy Lichtenstein’s Red Apple and Degas’ ballerinas. It works well as a discussion starter about art and as a guide to the museum’s treasures.

Museum Book  

Museum Book: a Guide to Strange and Wonderful Collections

Jan Mark
illus Richard Holland
Chronicle Books, 2007

There are anecdotes, historical facts, and invitations galore in this book to look at museums from different perspectives. Top-notch.

Museum Trip  

Museum Trip

Barbara Lehmann
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006

When a boy gets separated from his class on a field trip to a museum, wondrous things happen when he stops to tie his shoe and gets separated from his class. He goes on an adventure that will have readers asking, “Is that real?” Well, look for clues in the illustrations. It’s a wordless book, so your children will have an opportunity to tell the story in their own way.

Norman the doorman  

Norman the Doorman

Don Freeman
Penguin, 1959

In a book that has not aged, a dormouse is a doorman at the Majestic Museum of Art. He leads tours of small creatures to marvel in the paintings and sculptures stored in the museum’s basement. Inspired by a competition, Norman creates his own entry out of mousetraps set to catch him by the Museum guard. Filled with puns both verbal and visual, this is a must-have for your collection.

Seen Art?  

Seen Art?

Jon Scieszka
illus by Lane Smith
Viking Books, 2005

In a quirky play on words, the narrator is looking for his friend Art, but he’s directed to the Museum of Modern Art by a lady who thinks he’s looking for … art. While continuing to look for his friend, he encounters paintings by Van Gogh, Lichtenstein, Matisse, Klee, and more. A humorous way to approach fine art.

Shape Game  

Shape Game

Anthony Browne
Farrar Straus Giroux, 2003

In an inspirational, autobiographical picture book, Anthony Browne shares his family’s visit to the Tate Museum in London that changed his way of looking at art. He examines actual paintings hanging in the Tate in a manner that encourages the reader to look more intentionally at art. The Shape Game is a family tradition, one that Anthony’s mother shares with him on the way home from the museum.

Speeding Down the Spiral  

Speeding Down the Spiral: an Artful Adventure

Deborah Goodman Davis
illus by Sophy Naess
Life in Print, 2012

A somewhat longer picture book that frames a look at artwork in the Guggenheim Museum in New York City with a visit by a bored girl, her father, and her baby brother in a stroller. When the stroller gets away from her and heads down the spiral, a group of people give chase … and look at the artwork along the way!

Squeaking of Art  

Squeaking of Art: the Mice Go to the Museum

Monica Wellington
Dutton, 2000

Using reproductions that look somewhat like the original works of art, this book teaches the vocabulary and concepts that are so helpful when one visits a museum.

Under the Egg  

Under the Egg

Laura Marx Fitzgerald
Dial Books, 2014

In this novel, 13-year-old Theo inherits a painting after her grandfather dies unexpectedly. Isolated by poverty and the lack of a responsible adult, Theo gains friends as she attempts to figure out if the painting is one of Raphael’s and why her grandfather had it. It’s a charming book with a riveting mystery and fast-paced action.

Visiting the Art Museum  

Visiting the Art Museum

Laurene Krasny Brown
illus by Marc Brown
Dutton, 1986

When a young family goes to a museum, there is a great deal of complaining and expectations of boredom. Instead they are drawn in by work ranging from Renoir, Pollack, Cezanne, Picasso, and Warhol. Reproductions by Marc Brown of those famous paintings make this book accessible by younger and older children.

You Can't Take a Balloon Into the Metropolitan Museum  

You Can’t Take a Balloon Into the Metropolitan Museum

Jacqueline P. Weitzman
illus by Robin Preiss Glasser
Dial Books, 1998

When a young girl and her grandmother visit the museum, the guard tells them she can’t take her yellow balloon in with her. He ties it to a railing. The two museum visitors view works of wart while the yellow balloon is untied by a pigeon to float through and explore New York City, often in parallel adventures.

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Quirky Book Lists: Go Fly a Kite!

by The Bookologist

Curious George coverCurious George Flies a Kite

H.A. Rey
HMH Books for Young Readers, 1977 (reissue of 1958 edition)
Ages 5-8

First George is curious about some bunnies, then about fishing, and then about his friend Billy’s kite. All’s well that ends well. Ages 5-8.

 


cover imageDays with Frog and Toad

Arnold Lobel
1979 HarperCollins
Ages 4-8

Five stories with the two famous friends, including “The Kite,” in which Frog’s optimism and Toad’s efforts prevail over the predictions of some nay-saying robins. 

 

 


cover imageThe Emperor and the Kite

Jane Yolen and Ed Young (illustrator)
Philomel, 1988 (reissue)
Ages 4-8

Princess Ojeow Seow is the youngest of the Emperor’s children, and no one in the family thinks she’s very special. But when the emperor is imprisoned in a tower, the princess’s kite-building skills prove everyone wrong. 1968 Caldecott Honor book. 


coverimageKite Day

Will Hillenbrand
Holiday House, 2012
Ages 3-7

Bear and Mole decide it’s the perfect day to fly a kite, but first they have to build one. 


cover imageThe Kite Fighters

Linda Sue Park
Clarion, 2000
Ages 9 and up.

A story about three friends in 15th Century Korea: a boy who builds beautiful kites; his younger brother, who is an expert kite flyer and kite fighter; and a boy who is the king of Korea. 

 

 


cover imageKite Flying

Grace Lin
Knopf, 2002
Ages 4-8

Everyone has a job to do when a family builds a dragon kite. Includes cultural and historical notes on kites and kite flying. 


cover imageKites for Everyone: How to Make Them and Fly Them

Margaret Greger
Dover Publications, 2006
Ages 8 and up
Easy-to-follow, illustrated instructions for creating and flying more than fifty kites. Includes history and science of kites. 

 

 


bk_KiteTwoNationsThe Kite That Bridged Two Nations: Homan Walsh and the First Niagara Suspension Bridge

Alexis O’Neill, Terry Widener (illustrator)
Calkins Creek, 2013
Ages 8-11

True story of 16 year-old Homan Walsh, who loved to fly kites and especially loved to fly kites over the magnificent Niagara Falls that separates New York from Ontario. 


cover imageStuck

Oliver Jeffers
Philomel, 2011
Ages 3-7

Floyd’s kite is stuck in a tree! What can he throw that will knock it free? What can he throw that won’t get stuck? 

 

 


 

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Books Starring Dachshunds

by Vicki Palmquist

The Hallo Weiner  

The Hallo-Wiener

Dav Pilkey
Scholastic, 1999

Oscar, the dachshund, wants to wear a scary costume for Halloween but his mother has other ideas. She sews him a hot-dog bun with mustard and he must wear it so he doesn’t hurt her feelings. It’s hard to navigate and his friends get to the treats before he does, but when the pack is threatened by some monster cats, it’s Oscar to the rescue! Preschool through Grade 2.

Hot Dog Cold Dog  

Hot Dog, Cold Dog (board book)

Frann Preston-Gannon
POW! 2014

Dachsunds go everywhere, in every style of fashion, in every weather, engaging in every activity. Funny, colorful, and endearing to engage baby. A large-format board book for a good read-aloud. Young babies.

Lumpito and the Painter from Spain  

Lumpito and the Painter from Spain

Monica Kulling, illustrated by Dean Griffiths
Pajama Press, 2013

Do you know the true story of Pablo Picasso’s enchantment with a dachshund named Lump, who was the pet of photographer David Duncan? When photographer and dog visited Picasso, it was the beginning of a beautiful relationship. When Duncan realizes how much the artist and the dog care for each other, he leaves Lump in his new home. A charming story about friendship and art.

Moxie  

Moxie, the Dachshund of Fallingwater

Cara Armstrong
Bright Sky Press, 2010

An introductory look at the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, and what is now a public museum at Fallingwater in southwest Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands, from the viewpoint of Moxie, one of the dachshund gang that gamboled about the house when the Kaufmann family lived there. Written by the curator of education at Fallingwater. Kindergarten through Grade 3.

Noodle  

Noodle

by Munro Leaf, illustrated by Ludwig Bemelmans
Arthur A. Levine Books, 2006 (originally published in 1937)

Noodle, the dachshund, feels he’s too long and his legs are too short to successfully dig for bones. Granted one wish by the dog fairy, he asks all the animals in the zoo what shape he should wish to be. They teach him a good deal about being proud and content with the body we have. Preschool.

Pretzel  

Pretzel

by Margret Ray, illustrated by H.A. Rey
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1997

Greta, a petite dachshund, doesn’t care for long-in-body dachshunds, which is exactly what Pretzel wins a blue ribbon for being. This is a tale of puppy love. A classic from the team who created Curious George. PreK through Grade 2.

10 Little Hot Dogs  

10 Little Hot Dogs

John Himmelman
Two Lions, 2014

A progressive counting book, one then two and finally ten dachshunds join their friends in a comfy chair, settle down for a nap, then wake up and leave the chair. They’re full of antics and play. A good read-aloud for a small group or one child. Preschool to K.

Wiener Wolf  

Wiener Wolf

Jeff Crosby
Disney-Hyperion, 2011

A good choice for early readers, the minimal text and emotional artwork will be satisfying to read. Wiener dog sees a nature documentary and realizes he’s bored with his pampered life, so he runs off to join a pack of wolves! Weiner Wolf soon realizes the difference between wild and domesticated, returning home to Granny and his new pack in the dog park. PreK through Grade 2.

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