There’s still more summer reading time, whether relaxing in your favorite lawn chair, next to a burbling creek, sitting in the middle of your garden, or soaking in a wading pool.
When do I read? I always read before going to sleep. I read when I first get up in the morning—it’s a great way to greet the day. I take reading breaks throughout my workday. Reading to collect information, find out what’s going on in the world (I prefer words to images), and to set fire to my imagination. Why do you read? When do you read? And where do you read?
Here are some more series books to intrigue the younger readers in your life:
Ivy + Bean (1-Ivy + Bean; 2-Ivy + Bean and the Ghost that Had to Go; 3-Ivy + Bean Break the Fossil Record; 4-Ivy + Bean Take Care of the Babysitter; 5-Ivy + Bean Bound to Be Bad; 6-Ivy + Bean Doomed to Dance; 7-Ivy + Bean What’s the Big Idea?) written by Annie Barrows, illus by Sophie Blackall (Chronicle Books). Early chapter books. In Bound to Be Bad, Ivy learns about Saint Francis of Assisi and decides that she would like birds and animals to come to her because she’s pure of heart. Bean, who has fewer boundaries than Ivy, can’t imagine how they can be pure of heart unless they’re bad first. They have a hard time doing something bad enough that the neighborhood kids think will require them to reform … which sets off a rash of trying to be bad among the whole gang. Annie Barrows paints word pictures of utterly believable children and Sophie Blackall interprets them with frequent illustrations. Young readers will recognize themselves and their friends among the cast of frequent characters and each of us is made of a little bit Ivy and a little bit Bean. Perfect for kids who love to laugh out loud.
Dyamonde Daniel (1-Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel; 2-Rich; 3-Almost Zero) written by Nikki Grimes, illus by R. Gregory Christie. When Dyamonde moves to Washington Heights with her newly divorced mother, she is lonely. She sees a lot of subtraction in her life and it doesn’t make her happy. In spite of all this, she has a dedicated attitude, which makes reading about her good fun. “Dyamonde Daniel was a gem waiting to be discovered. Just ask her. So what if she had wild-crazy hair and was skinnier than half a toothpick? On the inside, she was extraordinary. Plus super smart. As a matter of fact, she had more brains in her tiny little pinky than most kids had in their whole entire bodies.” We could all adopt some of her attitude. But “If I’m so smart, thought Dyamonde, how come I’ve been in this new school three whole weeks and I still don’t have a new best friend?” Friendship comes from an unlikely source. These books are right on the mark with story, characters, and appeal. Dyamonde frequently talks about books she loves to read and how much she enjoys writing. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Time Spies (1-Secret in the Tower; 2-Bones in the Badlands; 3-Giant in the Garden; 4-Magician in the Trunk; 5-Signals in the Sky; 6-Rider in the Night; 7-Horses in the Wind; 8-Gold in the Hills; 9-Message in the Mountain; 10-Flames in the City) by Candice Ransom (Mirrorstone / Wizards of the Coast). Grades 2 and up. Alex, Mattie, and their younger sister Sophie are moved to Virginia when their parents buy the Gray Horse Inn and 70 acres of Wildcat Mountain. Disgruntled, they’re surprised to discover a secret room in the Inn, a magic spyglass, foreshadowing postcards, and a Travel Guide, all of which send them time traveling back in history. In their first adventure, they’re quite unprepared to visit the Revolutionary War. In Bones in the Badlands, the Travel Guide Ms. Van Hoven sends them to the Badlands, where they work with Walter Granger, the paleontologist who discovered North America’s greatest dinosaur fossil quarry in 1898. I’ve always loved fiction, but I liked it even better when I could explore the world beyond my small town. Whether that exploration took the form of travels in history, georgraphy, science, art, or cooking, a book was even better when I learned something new. These books do just that—they frame discoveries and history within tales of magic and time travel. My interest in paleontology was piqued by the skills the three siblings learned during their time with Granger and his field workers. Maybe my next job should be a dinosaur cowboy.
Ripley’s Bureau of Investigation (1-A Scaly Tale; 2-Dragon’s Triangle; 3-Running Wild; 4-Secrets of the Deep; 5-Wings of Fear; 6-Sub-Zero Survival; 7-Shock Horror; 8-The Lost Island) by Kay Wilkins, illus by Ailin Chambers (Ripley Publishing). In a cross between the X‑men’s Xavier Institute and the most-checked-out-books-in-the-library, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, a team of kids with special abilities (controlling the weather, extraordinary strength, psychometry, among many others) works for Ripley High, guided by a “fully interactive holographic Robert Ripley.” Several of the kids are sent on a mission in each book, meant to discover if something seemingly impossible is fact or fiction. Based on real exhibits, investigations, and facts in the Ripley files, these books are ideally designed for the same “fact” readers who can’t imagine themselves reading fiction but for whom kids with super-abilities are irresistible. I was fascinated to learn about Erik Sprague, an entertainer living in New York, who spent years having his body tattoed and modified to look like a human lizard. He began his transformation at the age of 10. Then there’s Dennis Avner in Nevada whose tattoes and plastic surgeries are turning him into a cat. Who knew?
The Sherlock Files (1-The 100-Year-Old Secret; 2-The Beast of Blackslope; 3-The Case That Time Forgot) by Tracy Barrett (Henry Holt). I’ve read The 100-Year-Old Secret several times now and I continue to uncover gems in Ms. Barrett’s storytelling. Xena and Xander are immensely appealing siblings whose parents have moved to England so dad can teach music and composing at a college there. The kids are resentful but trying to adapt. They’ve brought The Game with them. Wait! Nothing digital here. These two play The Game by noticing the details in their surroundings, people, and the sights and sounds of England. They deduce what people are doing, what their jobs are, and where they’re going. When a friendly conspiracy leads them to the Society for the Preservation of Famous Detectives, the sister and brother discover they are the great-great-great-grandchildren of Sherlock Holmes. And the Society expects that they will tackle some of Sherlock’s unsolved cases, starting with the identity of the subject in a famous missing painting, The Girl in the Purple Hat. Clues abound and sometimes seem obvious and then the detection heads in a different direction. These are well-planned mysteries, very satisfying to read. I look forward to new volumes in the series.
You’ve probably observed that we’re listing the series of books in order. Librarians and teachers (and grandparents) all over the country have written to say they wish they knew which book to pick off the shelves next. So look for a guide to series in order coming soon to the CLN site.
On Wednesday, we’ll talk about series books for older readers.