April 23, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Great Books About Summer

Jump into the season with these hot-off-the-press, delightful-to-share picture books.

And Then Comes Summer. by Tom Brenner. illus. by Jaime Kim. Candlewick. May 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763660710.

PreS-Gr 2–“When the days stretch out like a slow yawn/and leaves and grasses sparkle with dew…Then throw on flip-flops and breathe the sweet air.” From first bountiful bloom to sweltering dog days, this timeless ode to summer abounds with hopscotch and hide-and-seek, thrumming lawn mowers, and ice cream cones and sticky smores. Vivacious verses a tingle with sensory details are paired with lush, light-filled artwork to depict friendships, family time, and fun.

Away. by Emil Sher. illus. by Qin Leng. Groundwood. Apr. 2017. Tr $18.95. ISBN 9781554984831; ebook $16.95. ISBN 9781554984848.

K-Gr–4–Busy with work and school, a mother and daughter don’t get to spend much time together, but manage to communicate through hastily scribbled sticky notes, a correspondence that grows ever more important as Skip’s much-dreaded first-ever trip to sleep-away summer camp draws near. This inventive narrative technique, combined with lovely ink-and-watercolor artwork, conveys the girl’s trepidations (“I’m not packing. NOT EVER”), her mother’s gentle but firm reassurances, and the comforting and empowering love they share.

Charlie’s Boat. by Kit Chase. illus. by author. Putnam. May 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN9780399257025.

Toddler-PreS–When three animal friends go fishing, Charlie (a rabbit) becomes frustrated that he can only catch sticks, and even when the game switches to sailing twig boats, he is once again unsuccessful. Never fear, Lulu (an owl) and Oliver (an elephant) find an activity that encourages working together, makes their friend feel better, and results in a perfect day. This entry in a toddler-accessible series pairs adorable animal characters with sweetly appealing artwork.

Jabari Jumps. by Gaia Cornwall. illus. by author. Candlewick. May 2017. Tr $15.99. ISBN 9780763678388.

PreS-Gr 2–On a beautiful summer day in the city, Jabari heads to the community pool with his father and baby sister, sure that he’s ready to jump off the diving board, but the boy has second thoughts when it comes time to climb the very tall ladder. It will take words of quiet encouragement from his dad and a heartening deep breath before he is able to gather his courage and take the plunge. Captivating mixed-media illustrations utilize visual perspective and winsome personality to express the emotional enormity of this feat and the affection found in a loving family.

Little Pig Saves the Ship. by David Hyde Costello. illus. by author. Charlesbridge. May 2017. Tr $14.99. ISBN 9781580897150.–

PreS-Gr 1–Little Pig is sad that he is too small to go to summer sailing camp with his older siblings, but things improve when his grandfather brings over a hand-carved model ship. The two spend the week sailing it in a nearby stream—until a gust of wind blows the boat into the current and into danger, and it’s up to Little Pig to come to the rescue. Illustrated with warm-hued artwork, this second book about an endearing protagonist features an exciting everyday adventure, a look at a loving intergenerational relationship, and a reassuring message that small does not mean powerless.

Mud Book. by John Cage & Lois Long. Princeton Architectural Pr. Apr. 2017. Tr $14.95. ISBN 9781616895525.

PreS-Gr 2–Created by avant-garde composer Cage and textile-artist Long in the mid-1950s and issued in a limited edition in 1983, this mud-play how-to has been published in a square, small-size book perfect for tiny hands. Simple directions and minimalist graphics (and lots of grimy splatter) present recipes for a basic mud pie and a mud layer cake (requiring pebbles, pie pans, and dried-up dandelions for a candle topper) that will inspire kids to dig right in and get creative (and messy).

A Perfect Day. by Lane Smith. illus. by author. Roaring Brook Pr. Feb. 2017. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626725362.

PreS-Gr 2–It was the perfect summer afternoon in Bert’s backyard: Cat is sunbathing in the flower bed, Dog is cooling down in the wading pool, Chickadee is feasting at the bird feeder, and Squirrel is munching a corncob snack…until a large brown bear arrives on the scene. An enchanting tale told with clever wordplay, beguiling illustrations in sunny hues and earthy textures, and perfect comedic timing.

Pip and Posy: The New Friend. by Axel Scheffler. illus. by author. Nosy Crow. Jun. 2017. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9780763693398.

PreS-Gr 1–In their seventh outing, two best pals (a rabbit and a mouse) are enjoying a day at the beach until Pip makes a new friend and Posy feels left out. Reluctantly trailing along when the two boys go to get ice cream cones, Posy watches as a sea gull steals Zac’s treat, leaving him in tears, and makes a generous gesture that facilitates a friendship trio. Told with simple text, this primer on basic relationship dynamics sparkles with charismatic characters and colorful gouache illustrations.

The Seashore Book. by Charlotte Zolotow. illus. by Wendell Minor. Charlesbridge. May 2017. $16.99. ISBN 9781580897877.

PreS-Gr 2–When a boy who lives in the mountains asks his mother what the seashore is like, she describes a pretend day soaking in the sunshine, combing for treasures, observing wildlife, sharing lunch on a seaweed-covered rock, and reveling in each other’s company. Pairing lyrical language with elegant, opulently hued watercolor paintings, this summertime classic has been published in a redesigned 25th anniversary edition.

There Might Be Lobsters. by Carolyn Crimi. illus. by Laurel Molk. Candlewick. May 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763675424.

PreS-Gr 2–Sukie, a small dog, is scared of everything at the beach—the entryway stairs are big and sandy, the beach ball might knock her down, the “whooshy” waves could carry her off to Tasmania, and there’s the ever-present possibility that there might be lobsters. Despite the patient prodding of Eleanor, her human girl, the pooch remains frozen with worry and doubt, until an even-smaller friend—Sukie’s toy monkey—is placed in danger, and the dog finds her courage and jumps to the rescue. Children will relate to this tale of overcoming fears, told with a gently humorous narrative and charming artwork.

Vampirina at the Beach. by Anne Marie Pace. illus. by LeUyen Pham. Disney/Hyperion. Apr. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781484773420.

PreS-Gr 2–The summer moon is full, and this ballet-loving, sweetly fanged girl and her monster entourage head to the beach for a night spent romping in the waves, building sand castles, and enjoying a midnight dance contest. In this third book about Vampirina, spirited text and humorously detailed color-saturated artwork depict familiar seashore undertakings with a fetchingly fiend-filled twist, while portraying a protagonist who consistently navigates her world with grace, quiet persistence, and compassion whether compassion whether onstage or off.


Joy Fleishhacker About Joy Fleishhacker

Joy Fleishhacker is a librarian, former SLJ staffer, and freelance editor and writer who works at the Pikes Peak Library District in southern Colorado.

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