December 05, 2008

Best Kids Books 3

Here's the third -- and final -- installment of our Best Books for Kids 2008. This list focuses on non-fiction, graphic novels, folktales and poetry, and some re-issued classics.

There should be something for every reader on one of these lists!

Part 1: Board books and picture books
Part 2: Books for beginning readers, novels for middle grade readers, and teen novels.

Happy Reading,
Karen MacPherson, children's and teen librarian



__ Bodies From the Ice (Houghton Mifflin, $17). It’s not a book for everyone, but many kids will be interested in how global warming has uncovered treasures buried for centuries. Among the finds noted by author James Deems is a 5,300-year-old body discovered in the Austrian Alps. (Ages 8-12).

__ Boys of Steel (Knopf, $16.99). With the explosion of interest in graphic novels for kids these days, this engrossing book about the creators of Superman comes along at a perfect time. Author Marc Tyler Nobleman and illustrator Ross MacDonald do a wonderful job at showing how two such mild-manned young men from Ohio developed the idea for the world’s first superhero. (Ages 5-10).

__ Fartiste (Simon & Schuster, $16.99). At first glance this book looks like the latest in a series of lowest-common denominator kids’ books focused on flatulence. But there’s the difference: this book, written by Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer and illustrated by Boris Kulikov, is true. As a result, this offbeat picture book biography about a Frenchman with an unusual skill, is sure to be a hit with both kids and adults. (Ages 4-8).

__ Frogs (Scholastic, $17.99). Author/photographer Nic Bishop showcases the amazing variety of frogs in this book filled with interesting facts and photographs about everything from a strawberry dart poison frog to a red-eyed tree frog. (Ages 4-8).

__ Helen’s Eyes (National Geographic, $17.99). In this photobiography of Annie Sullivan, author Marfe Ferguson Delano captures the joy, anguish and courage of the woman who opened the world to Helen Keller. (Ages 8-12).

__ How I Learned Geography (FSG, $16.95). Caldecott Medalist Uri Shulevitz tells how his father’s decision to buy a map instead of bread one day changed his life. Shulevitz’ simply-worded picture book can be read to preschoolers, but it packs an emotional punch that will resonate with older readers and even adults. (Ages 4-8).

__ Knucklehead (Viking, $16.99). Jon Scieszka, the first National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, is a master at making reading fun for kids, as he proves once again in this book. In 38 short, photo-filled chapters, Scieszka vividly details what it was like to grow up with five brothers (he was the second oldest) who were always getting into some sort of trouble. This hilarious book is great for reading aloud. (Ages 8 up).

__ Our White House (Candlewick Press, $29.99). More than 100 of the nation’s best known authors and illustrators for children provide their own unique view of America’s most famous address. This book, filled with poems, stories, photos and illustrations, should attract the interest of even reluctant readers, including adults. (Ages 8 up).

__ Pale Male (Knopf, $16.99). In a plethora of recent books about the hawk who took New York City by storm, this picture book stands out, both for the clarity of Janet Schulman’s text and the beauty of Meilo So’s watercolor illustrations. (Ages 7-10).

__ Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum (Simon & Schuster, $16.99). Author/illustrator Robert Andrew Parker recounts how jazz great Art Tatum embraced music the minute he could reach the keys of a family piano by standing on tiptoes. This inspiring picture book biography features beautiful watercolor and ink illustrations. (Ages 4-8).

__ Planting the Trees of Kenya (FSG, $16.95). Written and illustrated by Claire A. Nivola, this picture book tells the inspiring story of Wangari Maathai, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her work in convincing her fellow Kenyans they could help restore the environment simply by planting trees. (Ages 5-10).

__ Sandy’s Circus (Viking, $16.99). Best known for his oversized sculpture and mobiles, artist Alexander Calder also liked to work on smaller pieces as this entertaining book by Tanya Lee Stone demonstrates. The illustrations by Boris Kulikov add further energy and color to this picture book biography. (Ages 4-8).

__ Science Warriors: The Battle Against Invasive Species (Houghton Mifflin, $17). In this latest entry from the excellent “Scientists in the Field” series, author Sneed B. Collard III highlights the way scientists are battling such invasive species as fire ants and zebra mussels. (Ages 8-14).

__ She Touched the World (Clarion, $18). Laura Bridgman, a deaf and blind girl who lived in early 19th century America, learned to read and write with the help of some talented and inspiring teachers. In fact, as husband-and-wife author team Robert Alexander and Sally Hobart Alexander show, Bridgman’s accomplishments laid the groundwork for Helen Keller’s success 50 years later. Although she was a world-wide celebrity in her day, Bridgman is now all but forgotten, something that this excellent biography should remedy. (Ages 10-14).

__ Sisters & Brothers (Houghton Mifflin, $16). The sibling relationship may be the longest of our lives, but it also can be fraught with challenges. Here author Robin Page and her husband, artist Steve Jenkins, detail the various ways animal siblings interact. Jenkins’ collage illustrations bring further color and energy to a subject of inherent interest to most young readers. (Ages 4-8).

__ The Trouble Begins at 8 (Greenwillow, $18.99). Newbery Medalist Sid Fleischman gives readers a rip-roaring look at how Samuel Clemens transformed himself into master storyteller Mark Twain. Fleischman is a master storyteller himself, infusing even further humor into this look at one of the nation’s comic geniuses. (Ages 10-14).

__ The Way We Work (Houghton Mifflin, $35). Caldecott Medalist David Macaulay offers readers a meticulously-research, humor-filled look at the human body. Anyone interested in biology will love the way Macaulay clearly explains everything from the respiratory system to bile ducts. (Ages 10 up).

__ We Are the Ship (Hyperion, $18.99). Author/artist Kadir Nelson hits a homerun in this sumptuously illustrated book about the Negro Leagues. Nelson uses the voice of an elderly everyman ballplayer to related the achievements of players like Josh Gibson, Satchel Paige, Jackie Robinson and other athletic giants who rose above racism to play baseball that was fast, flashy and often dangerous. (Ages 8 up – adult baseball fans also will love this book).

__ What to Do With Alice? (Scholastic, $16.99). Kids will love how this book, written by Barbara Kerley and illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham, highlights how the unruly Alice Roosevelt drove her father – President Theodore Roosevelt – to distraction. (Ages 6-10).


__ The Bill Martin Jr. Big Book of Poetry (Simon & Schuster, $21). This treasury of great children’s poetry was the brainchild of Bill Martin Jr., known for books like Brown Bear, Brown Bear. After Martin’s death, Michael Sampson completed editing the volume, which also showcases eye-catching illustrations by well-known children’s book illustrators. (All ages).

__ The McElderry Book of Greek Myths (Simon & Schuster, $21.99). Author Eric Kimmel and illustrator Pep Monteserrat take an old subject and make it new again in this captivating collection. (Ages 7-12).

__ Trick of the Tale (Candlewick, $18.99). Young readers will learn about tricksters from around the world in this wonderful collection of tales retold by John and Caitlin Matthews. (Ages 8-12).


__ Chiggers (Aladdin, $9.99). Author/illustrator Hope Larson explores the ups and downs of summer camp life in this hard-to-put-down graphic novel. (Ages 10 up).

__ Ellie McDoodle: New Kid In School (Bloomsbury, $11.95). Written and illustrated by Ruth McNally Barshaw, this is another hybrid graphic novel. The second in the series staring a likeable but imperfect middle schooler, this book details Ellie’s trials and tribulations in having to move and subsequently make new friends. (Ages 8-12).

__ Monster Mash (Random House, $5.99). Feisty Babymouse wants to have the best Halloween ever. But, as usual, there are obstacles as author Jennifer Holm and illustrator Matthew Holm detail in this latest volume in the popular Babymouse graphic novel series.

__ Rapunzel’s Revenge (Bloomsbury, $18.99). Author Shannon Hale twists the oft-told tale into a new story in which Rapunzel uses her hair to rescue herself from the tower before setting out to find her true mother. Nathan Hale’s colorful illustrations add further zip to this entertaining graphic novel. (Ages 8 up).

__ Roderick Rules (Amulet, $12.99). This book, another hybrid graphic novel that features both lots of text and lots of pictures, is the second in the wildly popular Diary of a Wimpy Kid series written and illustrated by Jeff Kinney. Many kids have read this book, but it’s still a good gift if they don’t own it. If you want to make your young reader really happy, promise him or her a copy of the next book in the series, The Last Straw, due out January 13th. (Ages 8-12).

__ Simon’s Dream (Simon & Schuster, $16.99 hardback, $8.99 paperback). In this hybrid book – part graphic novel and part regular novel, Thelonius Chipmunk and his friends discover a time machine. Written by Susan Schade and illustrated by Jon Buller, this is the third novel in the Fog Mound series. (Ages 7-12).


__ The Austin Family Chronicles (Square Fish/Macmillan, $6.99 each). Newbery Medalist Madeleine L’Engle is most famous for her science fiction/fantasy books, such as A Wrinkle In Time. But she also was a master of the realistic novel, as evidenced in her quintet of books about the Austin family. These books really deserve to be much better known than they are. The books’ main character, Vicky Austin, is a deeply nuanced character whose teenage difficulties will readily resonate with young readers. The books in the series are: Meet the Austins, The Moon By Night, The Young Unicorns , A Ring of Endless Light (a Newbery Honor book), and Troubling a Star.

__ The Blossom Family books (Holiday House, $6.95 each). Twenty-two years ago, Newbery Medalist Betsy Byars began publishing a quintet of books about the Blossom family; now Holiday House has re-issued them with new covers. Kids will be entertained by this family, which consists of a rifle-toting grandpa named Pap, a mother who’s away on the western rodeo circuit, three children who somehow attract trouble, plus a dog named Mud who’s always in the middle of everything. Kids who like humorous books will love the Blossom family series. The books in the series are: The Not-Just-Anybody Family, The Blossoms Meet the Vulture Lay, The Blossoms and the Green Phantom, A Blossom Promise, and Wanted… Mud Blossom. (Ages 8-12).

Posted by at 06:14 PM

Best Kids Books 2

Here's the second installment of our listing of Best Kids Books of 2008. This list focuses on books for beginning readers, novels for middle grade readers (those ages 7-12), and teen novels.

Part 1: Board books and picture books
Part 3: Non-fiction, graphic novels, folktales and poetry, and some re-issued classics.

Happy Reading!
Karen MacPherson, children's and teen librarian



__ Annie and Simon (Candlewick, $15.99). Author/illustrator Catharine O’Neill spotlights the special relationship between two siblings in this delightful book for beginning readers. (Ages 6-8).

__ Dodsworth In Paris (Houghton Mifflin, $15). Dodsworth, a debonair mouse, takes to the streets of the City of Lights with his duck friend in this comic sequel to “Dodsworth in New York,” written an illustrated by Tim Egan. (Ages 5-8).

__ Hooray for Fly Guy (Scholastic, $5.99). Author/illustrator Tedd Arnold tells what happens when Fly Guy makes the football team in this guffaw-producing addition to a popular series for beginning readers. (Ages 5-8).

__ Houndsley and Catina and the Quiet Time (Candlewick, $14.99). Author James Howe and illustrator Marie-Louise Gay bring readers the latest adventures of this lively dog/cat duo, who already are justly popular with beginning readers. (Ages 5-8).

__ I Will Surprise My Friend!, I Love My New Toy! and Are You Ready To Play Outside? (Hyperion, $8.99 each). Author/illustrator Mo Willems brings his signature humor and artwork to this series featuring best friends Elephant and Piggie. While designed as early readers, these books also work well as read-alouds to younger children. (Ages 4-7).

__ Mercy Watson Thinks Like a Pig (Candlewick, $12.99). Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo recounts the latest adventures of the irrepressible Mercy, a pig who just can’t stop eating. As usual, the stylized illustrations by Chris Van Dusen top off the humor nicely. (Ages 6-8).

__ Ms. Wiz Spells Trouble and In Stitches With Ms. Whiz (Marshall Cavendish, $12.99). Her students love Ms. Whiz, but parents sometimes wonder about her methods in these entertaining books written by Terence Blacker and illustrated by Tony Ross. (Ages 6-10).


__ Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School and Other Scary Things (Random House, $15.99). Alvin Ho finds the world – particularly his school -- a pretty scary place. Author Lenore Look offers a humor-filled look at a second grader who’s torn between his desire to be a superhero and his fear of talking in school. (Ages 7-10).

__ Bird Lake Moon (Greenwillow, $15.99). The multi-talented Kevin Henkes (he's won the Caldecott Medal for Kitten's First Full Moon and a Newbery Honor for Olive's Ocean , now offers a beautifully-written novel about two boys who become friends as they deal with family crises. The subject matter -- divorce and a sibling death -- is grim, but Henkes' humor and compassion lighten the load of this memorable book. (Ages 9-12).

__ The Cabinet of Wonders (FSG, $16.95). Petra Kronos heads to Prague to recover her father’s magical eyes (he can move metal with his mind) in this debut novel by Marie Rutkoski that combines fantasy with history in an intriguing new way. (Ages 10-14).

__ Chicken Feathers (Putnam, $16.99). Author Joy Cowley tells a story reminiscent of Robert McCloskey’s small town tales in this story of a boy named Josh who has a talking chicken named Semolina. But Semolina talks only to Josh and gets him into hot water with his father and grandmother before things can be resolved. Cowley’s book is filled with humor, which is extended by the comical line drawings by David Elliott. (Ages 7-10).

__ The Diamond of Drury Lane (Roaring Brook, $12.50). Both mystery lovers and historical fiction fans will enjoy this book by Julia Golding that features an orphan named Cat Royal who lives in the Theater Royal. Golding brings alive Cat’s 18th century world as she shows how the feisty, red-haired girl fends of one of London’s worst gang leaders in this book that won Britain’s prestigious Smarties prize. (Ages 8-12).

__ Dolphin Song (Dial, $16.99). Martine has the amazing ability to communicate with animals. As author Lauren St. John shows, Martine’s talent is crucial when she and several classmates are stranded on a desert island and must rescue 21 dolphins who have been stranded on the beach. Fans of Martine’s first adventure, The White Giraffe, will particularly love this new book. (Ages 8-12).

__ “Julia Gillian (Scholastic, $15.99). Author Alison McGhee presents the first of a planned trilogy about a girl with two first names and her interesting life in Minneapolis. In this first book, Julia learns to overcome her fear of scary and sad stories with the help of her parents and two quirky young adult siblings who live in her apartment building. (Ages 7-10).

__ Keena Ford and the Second Grade Mix-Up (Dial, $14.99). Keena Ford mistakenly reverses the numbers of her birthday and then has to figure out what to do when the class plans a celebration for the wrong day. Author Melissa Thompson’s story will ring true with young readers. (Ages 7-10).

__ The London Eye Mystery (Random House, $15.99). Author Siobhan Dowd asks readers to solve a type of “locked room” mystery in this intriguing story set in a London of the near future. The protagonist is a boy named Ted who has an Asberger-type disorder that sometimes makes it difficult for him to connect with people. But Ted often can make other types of connections and this ability may help him and his sister find their missing cousin Salim before it’s too late. (Ages 10-14).

__ Masterpiece (Henry Holt, $16.95). An unlikely friendship between a lonely boy and a beetle is the focus of this delightful novel by Elise Broach. With echoes of such classics as Charlotte’s Web and The Borrowers, the story recounts how James and his beetle friend Marvin team up to determine who stole a priceless Durer drawing from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. (Ages 8-12).

__ Nathan Fox: Dangerous Times (Feiwel and Friends, $16.95). Fans of the Alex Rider books by Anthony Horowitz will love this action-filled spy story set in Elizabethan England and starring 13-year-old Nathan Fox. Author L. Brittney’s book is the first of a series starring the impulsive, courageous and likeable Nathan Fox. (Ages 10-14.).

__ The Penderwicks on Gardam Street (Knopf, $15.99). Sequels can be tricky – it’s hard to recreate the magic of a much-loved first book. But author Jeanne Birdsall shows she is more than up to the task in this book, which outlines the further adventure of four sisters determined to guide their widowed father as he begins dating again. (Ages 8-12).

__ Playing With Fire (HarperCollins, $16.99). Skulduggery Pleasant may be the most interesting detective around – he’s a skeleton. In this sequel to his first book, Skulduggery Pleasant, author Derek Landy relates the further adventures of Skulduggery and his teenaged sidekick, Valkyrie as they work to save the world from evil. (Ages 10-14).

__Steinbeck’s Ghost (Feiwel and Friends, $17.95). As thirteen-year-old Travis Williams joins the battle to prevent the closure of the library in his Salinas, Calif. hometown, he begins to see what appear to be characters from the books of John Steinbeck – and he’s not the only one. Author Lewis Buzbee offers readers an unusual tale of magical realism that will be a big hit with kids who really love to read. (Ages 8-12).

__ The Totally Made-Up Civil War Diary of Amanda MacLeish (FSG, $16.). Amanda MacLeish loves doing the U.S. Civil War diary assigned to her fifth-grade class; as a child whose parents are going through a separation, she’s all too familiar with what it feels like to live in a situation where battle lines are drawn. Author Claudia Mills blends history, reality and a bit of humor in this book that will resonate with young readers. (Ages 8-12).

__ The Willoughbys (Houghton Mifflin, $16). Two-time Newbery Medalist Lois Lowry spoofs classic children’s books in this tale of four children who want to become orphans to get rid of their neglectful, mean-spirited parents. (Ages 8-12).


__ The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Volume II: The Kingdom on the Waves (Candlewick Press, $22.99). The first volume of this epic story of a Revolutionary War-era slave named Octavian Nothing won the 2006 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. Now, M.T. Anderson completes the tale in this second volume that finds Octavian fighting for the British in the hopes of winning his freedom. Like the first volume, this book offers a wonderfully rich reading experience for teens (and adults) who love history and densely-written novels. (Ages 14 up).

__ Chains (Simon & Schuster, $16.99). Thirteen-year-old Isabel and her younger sister Ruth were promised freedom upon the death of their mistress. Instead, they become the property of a cruel family loyal to King George. Desperate to gain her freedom, Isabel becomes a spy for Gen. George Washington’s rebel troops, but as author Laurie Halse Anderson shows in this well-researched novel, freedom for slaves isn’t at the top of anyone’s agenda in the Revolutionary War. (Ages 12 up).

__ The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks (Hyperion, $16.99). Frankie Landau-Banks, a student at an exclusive boarding school, loves her boyfriend, but she hates the fact that the secret society of which he is a member excludes girls. In this comic novel, author E. Lockhart recounts what happens when Frankie – under a male alias – takes over the leadership of the secret society. (Ages 12 up).

__ Graceling (Harcourt, $17). This is author Kristin Cashore’s debut novel, but you’d never know it because of the author’s assured storytelling and ability to create memorable characters. Cashore’s romance-and-action-filled tale centers on Lady Katsa whose Grace – or special ability – is killing, and who must learn how to harness that skill to effectively battle an evil king whose Grace hides his true nature. (Ages 13 up).

__ The Hunger Games (Scholastic, $17.99). Author Suzanne Collins provides a chilling look at a world where tends compete against each other to the death on live TV. It sounds grim, but Collins hooks readers with her page-turning plot and characters – especially 16-year-old Katniss – who will really resonate with tends. (Ages 14 up).

__ Nation (HarperCollins, $16.99). Best known for his Discworld books, author Terry Pratchett has crafted a quirky, richly complex tale of how two tsunami survivors work together to create a new world despite the ruin around them. Vivid scenes from this thought-provoking book will long linger with readers. (Ages 13 up).

__ Paper Towns (Dutton, $17.99). John Green's first book, Looking For Alaska won the Printz Award, the equivalent of the Newbery Medal for teen books. His second book, An Abundance of Katherines, won a Printz Honor. Green's latest book also is Printz material, as he details a teen's search for his charismatic neighbor, who has disappeared. (Ages 13 up).

__ The President’s Daughter, White House Autumn, Long Live the Queen, and Long May She Reign (Feiwel and Friends, $9.99 each for the first three titles, $15.95 for the last). In this compulsively readable quartet of books, author Ellen Emerson White details the life of Meghan Powers, an athletic, likeable teen whose life is turned upside down when her mother becomes the first woman President. (Ages 12 up).

__ Princess Ben (Houghton Mifflin, $16). Author Catherine Murdock crafts a wonderfully rich twist on fairy tales in this book starring a rebel princess who must learn a bit of self-discipline as she works to save her kingdom – and herself – from the enemy. Readers will readily identify with Ben's rebellion against her cruel aunt, and cheer her refusal to be forcibly transformed into well-mannered young lady. (Ages 12 up).

__ Sunrise Over Fallujah (Scholastic, $17.99). Award-winning author Walter Dean Myers offers a gut-wrenching, thought-provoking look at the Iraq war. Myers focuses on how an idealistic young soldier named Robin Perry (nephew of Richie Perry, the protagonist of Myers’ earlier novel Fallen Angels) deals with the horrors of a war whose mission is a moving target. (Ages 12 up).

__ What I Saw and How I Lied (Scholastic, $16.99). This dark-edged novel by Judy Blundell won this year’s National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. In this heady brew of romance, history and intrigue, Blundell tells the story of 15-year-old Evie, whose family is caught in a web of lies after her stepfather returns from World War 2. (Ages 12 up).

Posted by at 04:46 PM

December 04, 2008

Best Kids Books

As the children's librarian and a children's book reviewer for Scripps Howard News Service, I see more than 1,000 new books each year. Most of them aren't worth reading; some of them are good and a relative small proportion of them are great. Because books make a great holiday gift for kids, I've put together a list of the best kids' books of 2008. This first installment looks at board books and picture books. Check back in a few days for a listing of novels, non-fiction and graphic novels.

Part 2: Books for beginning readers, novels for middle grade readers, and teen novels.
Part 3: Non-fiction, graphic novels, folktales and poetry, and some re-issued classics.

Happy Reading! Karen MacPherson, children's/teen librarian, Takoma Park Maryland Library


BOARD BOOKS (For babies and toddlers through age 2)

__ Baby Happy Baby Sad and No No Yes Yes (Candlewick Press, $6.99 each). Babies and toddlers, as well as their parents, will love the humorous way that author/illustrator Leslie Patricelli tackles teaching the concept of opposites in these books. The comic scenes help retain the book’s entertainment value through repeated readings.

__ Bow-Wow Hears Things (Harcourt, $4.95). Bow-Wow, the appealing start of the picture book Bow-Wow Bags a Bug, teaches little readers about sounds in this board book. Written and illustrated by Mark Newgarden and Megan Montague Cash, this book is the latest in a series of Bow-Wow board books that offer just the kind of comedy that tickles the fancy of little ones, while adults will enjoy the simple but expressive illustrations.

__ Peekaboo Morning (Putnam, $7.99). This is a gem of a board book. Written and illustrated by Rachel Isadora, the book, first published in picture book form in 2002, riffs on the favorite baby and toddler game of peekaboo as it follows a child through a busy morning at home. Isadora’s color-saturated images burst with cheer, while her simple text allows young readers to play peekaboo along with the young protagonist.

__ You and Me Baby (Knopf, $6.99). Babies will love looking at the photographs of other smiling babies in this chunky board book. Featuring a lilting text by Lynn Reiser, the book’s main attractions are the photographs by Penny Gentieu, who shows a diverse group of babies and parents hugging, splashing, waving and laughing.


__ 1, 2, Buckle My Shoe (Harcourt, $16). Author/illustrator Anna Grossnickle Hines takes a well-loved nursery rhyme and updates it with sparkling new illustrations. An expert quilter, Hines combined fabrics with lots of color and patterns to create the illustrations, which feature a toddler acting out the rhymes. (Ages 2-4).

__ A Kitten Tale (Knopf, $15.99). Three kittens are afraid of snow, but one can’t wait to jump into the snowdrifts in this comical adventure story written and illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Eric Rohmer.

__ Baby Face (Simon & Schuster, $16.99). In six lilting poems, author Cynthia Rylant takes readers through the major milestones of a baby’s first year. The illustrations by Diane Goode are filled with humor and love. (Ages 1-3).

__ Bats At the Library (Houghton Mifflin, $16). Anyone who loves books and libraries will love this book by author/artist Brian Lies. (Ages 4-7).

__ Carl’s Summer Vacation (FSG, $12.95). Carl, a Rottweiler who is – believe it or not -- every family’s dream babysitter, is back with his favorite toddler Madeleine in a new adventure written and illustrated by Alexandra Day. (Ages 3-6).

__ Chester’s Back! (KidsCan, $18.95). In this funny picture book, an egotistical cat named Chester attempts to take over the creation of his book from author/illustrator Melanie Watts. (Ages 3-6).

__ A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever (Harcourt, $16). Author/artist Marle Frazee comically spotlights the contrast between the kind of summer activities well-meaning adults plan for kids and the kinds of things kids really want to do. (Ages 4-7).

__ The Day Leo Said I Hate You (Little, Brown, $16.99). Author Robie Harris and illustrator Molly Bang spotlight how the successful way a mother deals with her preschool son’s first use of the four-letter word. (Ages 3-6).

__ Dog and Bear: Two Friends, Three Storie (Roaring Brook, $12.95). Award-winning author/artist Laura Vaccaro Seeger continues the adventures of her popular animal duo in the book featuring bold-colored art filled with humor.(Ages 3-6). Look also for One Bo” (Roaring Brook, $14.95), in which Seeger uses die-cut illustrations to create an entrancing counting book. (Ages 2-4).

__ Ghosts in the House (Roaring Brook, $12.95). Young readers will delight in this story of a girl who’s really a witch and who knows how to vanquish ghosts, and they’ll love author/artist Kazuno Kohara’s creative, unusual illustrations. (Ages 3-6).

__ Hello, Day! (Greenwillow, $16.99). Young readers get a first look at the sounds animals make in this cheery book written and illustrated by Anita Lobel. (Ages 2-4).

__ In a Blue Room (Harcourt, $16). Author Jim Averbeck joins forces with artist Tricia Tusa to offer a beautifully illustrated bedtime story about a girl whose creative mother gradually coaxes her to sleep. (Ages 3-6).

__ “Louise, the Adventures of a Chicken (HarperCollins, $17). Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo hilariously recounts the adventures of a chicken who fights pirates, runs away to the circus and escapes near death. The illustrations by Harry Bliss add to the humor. (Ages 4-7).

__ Madam President (Hyperion, $16.99). Author/illustrator Lane Smith shows oung girl ready and willing to take on the nation’s top job in this book filled with inventive illustrations. (Ages 5-8).

__ Monkey and Me (Simon & Schuster, $15.99). A little girl and her monkey see a variety of animals in this raucous picture book written and illustrated by Emily Gravett. (Ages 2-5).

__ Old Bear (Greenwillow, $17.99). Caldecott Medalist Kevin Henkes demonstrates his mastery of the picture book form once again in this tale of an old bear cavorting through the seasons. (Ages 3-6).

__Rain Play (Henry Holt, $16.95). In this book, author Cynthia Cotton uses a lyrical, rhyming text to illuminate the many pleasures of playing in the rain. The spectacular collage illustrations by Javaka Steptoe bring texture and perspective to Cotton’s story. (Ages 2-5).

_ The Retired Kid (Hyperion, $16.00). At the age of eight, Brian decides he’s tired of being a kid and decides to retire. But, as author/illustrator Jon Agee demonstrates in his uproariously funny new book, being retired isn’t necessary entertaining if you’re a kid. (Ages 5-8).

__ Scoot! (Greenwillow, $16.99). The pond is busy as green frogs leap/beetles creep/ finches perch/ herons lurch” Author/illustrator Cathryn Falwell shows what happens in the day of a life of a pond in this book filled with action verbs and radiant collage illustrations. (Ages 2-5).

__ Sheep Blast Off! (Houghton Mifflin, $15). Author Nancy Shaw and artist Margot Apple team up again in this latest winning entry in the series that began years ago with“Sheep In a Jeep. (Ages 2-5).

__ Smash! Crash! (Simon & Schuster, $16.99). Young vehicle fanatics will adore this book written by Jon Scieszka, the first National Ambassador of Young People’s Literature, and illustrated by David Shannon, Loren Long and David Gordon. The book is part of a new series called Trucktown that includes board books like Meet Jack Truck and Who’s That Truck? (both $5.99).

__ Sourpuss and Sweetie Pie (Scholastic, $16.95). Reprising the energetic young narrator from their Caldecott Medal-winning book, The Hello, Goodbye Window, author Norton Juster and illustrator Chris Raschka offer a hilarious riff on the mercurial moods of preschoolers. (Ages 4-7).

__ Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little Toes (Harcourt, $16). Parents and little ones will love this perfect picture book, written by Mem Fox and illustrated by Helen Oxenbury. (Ages 1-3).

__ There Are Cats in this Book (Candlewick Press, $15.99). Readers will love the feline festivities in this lift-the-flap book written and illustrated by Viviane Schwartz. (Ages 3-6).

__ Too Many Toys (Blue Sky/Scholastic, $16.99). Author/artist David Shannon comically details the battle between Spencer and his mother over Spencer's mountain of playthings -- a scenario that will resonate immediately with young readers and their parents. (Ages 3-6).

__ Uh-Oh (Harcourt, $16). A toddler’s day is filled with exploration and fun, but it’s also full of mess and mischief as author/artist Rachel Isadora illustrates in this book. (Ages 1-3)

__ Wave (Chronicle Books, $15.99). In this spectacular picture book, author/artist Suzy Lee vividly captures a young girl’s reactions as she plays in the waves. Overall, Wave is one of those memorable picture books that can easily sustain repeated readings. (Ages 3-7).

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