Summer Reading! – Five Picture Books We Have Enjoyed

While summer has officially arrived, we have been enjoying hot and humid days for weeks. One way to beat the summer heat is to enjoy a good book or two in the shade or with a lovely fan blowing your way. Perhaps you are looking for a book or two to add to the summer reading list? Here are several picture books that have been enjoyed here:

A Visitor for Bear – (author, Bonny Becker; illustrator Kady MacDonald Denton) – Bear has no interest in having a visitor. Why not? Well, there is a sign on his door that clearly states that “No Visitors are Allowed”. So. No visitors. All Bear wants to do is to enjoy a nice cup of tea and perhaps a slice of bread. Unfortunately his food preparations keep getting interrupted by Mouse!! Bear repeatedly asks (at varying levels of frustration) for Mouse to leave but Mouse just wants a small cup of tea, please. Bear relents and shares a cup of tea and conversation. Then Bear realizes that maybe he does enjoy visitors after all.
This book was delightful! It was great fun reading this aloud. The language and vocabulary make me smile. Vamoose, begone, intolerable and one of my favorites, “I am undone” are just a taste of  what this text has to offer. The illustrations worked perfectly to capture my children’s eyes and the essence of this cute, engaging story.  When the visitor happens to be a mouse, we can definitely support Bear’s desire to send him away. And it is oh so fun to see where Mouse will appear next!  We can all understand the moment that you realize a bit of quiet company in a friend is beautiful gift. A fun read that will likely have your little ones laughing and asking you to read it again. There are more Bear books to check out as well!

Bear & Hare Go Fishing – (Emily Gravett) – My younger ones really enjoyed Bear & Hare Where’s Bear? so I grabbed this one at my last visit to the library. The tale is a simple one; Bear and Hare go fishing but well, things don’t go exactly as planned. Bear succeeds in fishing out a hat and roller skates but the big catch of the day seems to elude him. Hare? He doesn’t seem to be enjoying the day of fishing. It was his hat, after all! But Hare might bring in the biggest catch of the day!

I think the beauty in the Bear & Hare books are the simplicity. Simple, short text paired with illustrations that keep Bear and Hare front and center make this a win for young listeners and early readers. No doubt you will find yourself smiling at the end.

I Am (Not) Scared – (author, Anna Kang; illustrator, Christopher Weyant) – My children love this series about two fuzzy animals. When I pulled out I Am (Not) Scared even a couple of my older children gathered around to hear me read it aloud. These two friends are facing something scary….a ride on a roller coaster!! But there are scarier things, right? Hairy spiders, fried ants, and snakes!!!! Can these two friends find the courage to face the Loop of Doom!?!!?!?! Perhaps they might even learn that scary things can sometime be fun, too.

I am not sure that my children gained deep understanding about facing scary things. They did however enjoy reading this over and over. Sometimes you just need a fun and silly book, right? And, well, we can all appreciate being scared of hairy spiders and snakes.

Now we shall leave our furry characters behind and move on to the creepy, crawly creatures.

Hank’s Big Day The Story of a Bug – (Evan Kuhlman and Chuck Groenink) – Hank is a pill bug (we call them Roly Polies here) and has quiet the adventure. He climbs a stick, eats a dead leaf, survives a close encounter with a skateboard, and meets his best friend, Amelia (Isn’t she a cutie?). An exciting day in the life of a bug!

We all enjoyed Hank’s adventure. The illustrations were detailed using natural colors and they served Hank’s story well. Not only do we get Hank’s view of the day but we see it from our perspective as well. It really gives us a glimpse into the life (joys and struggles) of being a bug. You might find that you watch your step a bit more closely just in case one of Hank’s friends is close by. This would be a fun way to introduce an afternoon of nature study on insects. I can see my children wanting to check Hank out again and again. Can you really go wrong with a bug named Hank? Also, Hank’s friend, Amelia, pretends to be Amelia Earhart. Subtle way to bring in a bit of history for those interested.

Cricket in the Thicket: Poems about Bugs – (Carol Murray, author and Melissa Sweet, illustrator) I like to keep a poetry book or two available for my children to read and enjoy. Cricket in the Thicket is a perfect poetry selection for summer! When we first brought this book home, I planned to read just one or two poems. The poems were so engaging and fun that my kiddos kept asking me to read one more.

Poems about a cricket in the bedroom (Cricket’s Alarm), cicadas leaving behind shells (Cicada’s Surprise) and dragonflies gliding around (Dragons Fly the Sky) were enjoyable. Dung Beetles, Walking Sticks, Preying Mantis, and Grasshoppers all have delightful a place in the book. Never fear there are poetic words about Mosquitoes, Ticks, Flies and even Cockroaches including as well. Yes. A poem about cockroaches that enlightens us as to who loves them. At the bottom of the pages, there is information given on the highlighted bug and a couple of pages in the back give information as well. This is a great one to have available during summer to encourage reading, writing, and nature study. Any bug lover is sure to want to flip through this book.

What have you been reading this summer?

 

Disclaimer – This blog post contains affiliate links. Nothing happens when you follow the links except I might earn a dollar or two if you happen to buy a book. The money I earn is used to buy books because we love books.

Above – Roland Smith

As a mom I have been quite successful at sharing a love of reading with  my children. This success has also given me one of my greatest challenges: finding books for my teenage son to read. This young man loves to read, reads often, and unfortunately for me, he reads fast. When I found Beneath by Roland Smith, well it kept my son in reading material for an afternoon. However, there was to be a sequel to Beneath and, as only I can do, I completely and absolutely forgot about it until a couple of weeks ago. Thankfully my library had a copy!

Above immediately jumps back into the action with the lives of two brothers: Coop and Pat. The brothers escaped from an underground cult and turned the information over to  the FBI. Now, Coop and Pat are on the run from the cult leaders. They are joined by Katie, granddaughter of the cult leader, who has spent her entire life beneath. Can these three stay together and stay safe? Will LOD succeed in his plan for a new life with his underground cult?

I will confess that I read Above before it made the rounds with my older kiddos. While the relationship between sons and parents is disappointing, it is one of the reasons why Coop and Pat are such great brothers. No matter what life throws in their path, they have each others back. I love their relationship. Some of their conversations and interactions make me smile and chuckle.

Above provides an enjoyable action and adventure read. While there is conflict and violence, it isn’t overdone.  Even with a male and female interest/relationship, there was no inappropriate content or language. Our library had this shelved in the Young Adult section, but I am unsure why. My eleven year  old daughter even read this with no issues.

I definitely recommend Above if you are looking for books for boys. My girls (11 and up) would recommend it as well. Make sure you read Beneath first!!

What’s On My Nightstand

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links.  Using these links provides a small percentage to me that I use to purchase books for our home and school.

Last year I failed at my plans to share about the books I was reading regularly. I  told myself that I would do better in 2017. What’s On Your Nightstand is a great way to hold myself accountable, so I am going to try to participate each month.

What I Read in January:

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend (Katarina Bivald) – This was recommended on my library’s website. I perused a few reviews and saw it compared to 84 Charing Cross Road (which I loved) and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society (another book  I loved). I had no expectations that this would be a gripping, powerful story. I was looking for a light enjoyable book that used the love of literature as an element of the story.

Unfortunately this was a disappointment. The main character, Sara, was not interesting or engaging. While other characters added some life to the story, you never learn enough about them to pull it all together. I cringed at the depiction of “Christians”. The weak pastor who is lead by the uptight town busybody. There is also much focus on various views of appropriate relationships. This is one selection that I can not recommend. I may need to re-read 84 Charing Cross Road.

The Lilac Girls (Martha Hall Kelly) – It is no secret that I am drawn to stories set during World War II. Naturally, I had to read Lilac Girls. Lilac Girls brings together the lives a New York socialite, a Polish teenager, and a young, female German doctor. The story travels from New York, Poland, France, and the concentration camp, Ravensbrück.

For me. this story lacked a continuity and depth compared to other WWII books I have read. What I found interesting is a fact I realized when I finished the book. The New York socialite, Caroline Ferriday was a real person; her name and work for those ladies that suffered in Ravensbrück was new to me. I wonder if she would be pleased with how she was portrayed?

Trouble (Gary D. Schmidt) – Can we go wrong with Mr. Schmidt? I do not think so. Trouble introduces us to Henry Smith. Henry is from a well-established family in Maine. His life is forever changed when his brother, Franklin, is hit by a car.  Henry is driven to hike Mt. Katahdin to try to make sense of what has happened. This is a story of grief, hurt, friendship, sacrifice, prejudice, and love. Henry learns that Trouble can’t be kept away.

My teens and I all enjoyed reading Trouble. Schmidt has a gift at telling a moving story in a subtle way. As always a bit of comic relief is offered up to balance the emotional impact of the story. I also appreciate books that give some great male characters for me teen son to read.

Counting Thyme (Melanie Conklin) – I read a bit about this several months ago and passed over it. Then I saw a review of it at Semicolon and was swayed to give it a go.  Thyme, age 12, I think, has to move across the country so her brother, 5, can have cancer treatment. Thyme struggles with wanting to go back home and knowing her brother needs to be here.

Conklin does an excellent job of showing the various aspects of Thyme’s relationships, struggles, and emotions. The other characters in the story are engaging. I must confess that I wish I had a Ravioli. It is a sweet story of a family that is facing a serious struggle and need each other to stand strong. An excellent middle grade read. There is a bit of young “romance” that is handled appropriately and sweetly. Just noting that for those who prefer books with no romantic leanings.

What will I be reading in February? /So far I have these selected:

  • The Woman in Cabin 10 (started tonight and not sure if I will push through)
  • Above – Roland Smith
  • Gertie’s Leap to Greatness  – Kate Beasley
  • Brave New World – Aldous Huxley
  • The Circle – Dave Eggers

I have a few more requested but I’m not sure if they will be available in February or not.

What is on your nightstand?
What's On Your Nightstand

(Pop back in  later this week when I’ll share what I have been reading aloud with my children.)

 

Save