Great Books: Summer Adventures

These summer-themed picture books focus on getting outdoors, nurturing imaginations, and savoring time spent with family and friends.
Whether depicting a trip to the beach or a ramble through the neighborhood, these summer-themed books focus on getting outdoors, nurturing imaginations, and savoring time spent with family and friends. Busy-Eyed Day. by Anne Marie Pace. illus. by Frann Preston-Gannon. Beach Lane/S&S. Apr. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781481459037. PreS-K–Staccato rhymes and sumptuous mixed-media paintings depict an action-filled visit to a sprawling city park. Sammi and her family try out the playground equipment (“Closed-eyed rider./Open-eyed slider”), look closely at nature (“Squirrel-eyed girl. Girl-eyed squirrel”), greet other park-goers on sidewalks or near a pond (“Two-eyed skater./Carp-eyed baiter”), and delight in sharing new experiences—and hugs. Fun to look at and listen to, this inviting tale will hone observation skills inspire youngsters to discuss their own summertime outings. Daddy, Me, and the Magic Hour. by Laura Krauss Melmed. illus. by Sarita Rich. Sky Pony Pr. May. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781510707917. PreS-Gr 1–At the end of a busy day, a boy and his father head out for a twilight stroll, greeting their neighbors, stopping at the playground, and cherishing time spent together. The lovely, dusky-hued collage artwork alternates between full-bleed spreads and snapshot-style panels that spotlight details—the smiling youngster splashing in a puddle, a feather found beneath a tree, or the small treasures he stows in his red pail throughout the evening. Told in softly lilting text, this gem conveys a loving relationship and the wonder found in everyday moments. Dude! by Aaron Reynolds. illus. by Dan Santat. Neal Porter/Roaring Brook. Apr. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626726031. PreS-Gr 4–Two pals, a beaver and a platypus both wearing swimsuits, run across the beach and plunge their surfboards into the ocean for a madcap adventure that includes an encounter with a toothy shark, an unexpected friendship, a gnarly wave, and plenty of ice cream with sprinkles on top. This zany picture book cleverly conveys the happenings utilizing only the title word (presented in dialogue balloons with different inflections and font styles) and shimmering color-amped artwork bursting with action and humor. Everything You Need for a Treehouse. by Carter Higgins. illus. by Emily Hughes. Chronicle. Apr. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781452142555. K-Gr 4–“Everything you need for a treehouse/starts with time/and looking up.” Showcasing an array of outdoor settings, whimsically conceived architectural styles, and an inclusive troupe of packed-with-personality kids, this lovely book offers an ode to above-ground play places and the pleasurable pursuits, flights of imagination, and friendships they inspire. Children will linger over each spread’s lyrical language and distinctively detailed visuals, while envisioning their own special secret hideaways. How to Code a Sandcastle. by Josh Funk. illus. by Sara Palacios. Viking May. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780425291986; ebook $10.99. ISBN 9780425292013. PreS-Gr 2–Pearl has tried all summer long to build a sandcastle without success, but today, with the help of her rust-proof robot Pascal and her effectively applied coding skills, she just might build an entire kingdom. Lively text and sunny artwork tell an engaging tale while also introducing concepts such as breaking a problem into smaller parts, sequence, a loop, and if-then-else (more detailed explanations are appended). The Little Red Fort. by Branda Maier. iIlus. by Sonia Sánchez. Scholastic. Mar. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780545859196. PreS-Gr 2–After formulating a plan to build a backyard playhouse, Ruby asks for help from her three brothers, but Oscar Lee, Rodrigo, and José always claim to be too busy to lend a hand. Never fear, this self-starting heroine knows how to persevere and get the job done. This updated version of “The Little Red Hen” sparkles with vivacious mixed-media artwork, rhythmic chant-along text, and unadulterated girl power. Pie Is for Sharing. by Stephanie Parsley Ledyard. illus. by Jason Chin. Neal Porter/Roaring Brook. May 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781626725621. PreS-Gr 1–Set against the verdant backdrop of a Fourth of July town picnic, this effervescent picture book blends playful text and winsome paintings to extol the glories of sharing food and fun times, showcase the delights of a day spent outdoors, and celebrate the joys of friendship, family, and community. Pignic. by Matt Phelan. illus. by author. Greenwillow. Mar. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780062443397. PreS-Gr 1–It’s the perfect day for picnic, and Phelan’s sweet-faced porcine characters prove again and again that small setbacks can be overcome to guarantee a fun time. Succinct text and charming watercolor artwork convey the excursion’s ups, downs, and up-agains with humor and unfaltering optimism: there’s a tree to climb but it’s too tall (until a tortoise rambles by to act as step stool); there’s a kite to fly but no wind (until that somewhat menacing wolf proves willing to provide a huff and puff); and a sudden rainstorm results in mud (“Mud? Mud!”…as in just-right for wallowing!). Run Wild. by David Covell. illus. by author. Viking. Jun. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780670014118; ebook $10.99. ISBN  9780698170865. PreS-Gr 4–When a gleeful girl sprints past his window, a boy leaves behind his dark house and glowing handheld screen to join her outside—“Hey, you./Sky’s blue!/(forget your shoes)/Open that door and…/Sprout, you’re out!” Together, the exuberant youngsters race a rabbit through a forest, pause to “Meet a beetle./Talk to worms,” explore a cave, plunge into the ocean, brave a sudden storm, and jubilantly roam until sunset…and beyond. Rhythmic rhyming text and loose-lined color-splashed illustrations command children to get outside to play, explore, contemplate, take chances, and run wild. Saffron Ice Cream. by Rashin Kheiriyeh. illus. by author. Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic. May. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781338150520. PreS-Gr 3–Excited about her first trip to Coney Island, Rashin compares the sights and sounds of the beach in her new home with those of Iran, recalling the long drive to the Caspian Sea, sharing a saffron ice cream cone with her friend Azadeh, and the uproar that resulted one time when a group of mischievous boys peeked through the curtain that divided the ocean between men and women (black-robed female beach guards quickly repaired the holes). The social norms might be different in Brooklyn, and there is no saffron ice cream, but there are plenty of new experiences to be had and Rashin just might end the day with a new friend. Heartfelt storytelling and detailed, color-saturated paintings depict both settings and bring the story to life. Summer Color! by Diana Murray. illus. by Zoe Persico. Little, Brown. May. 2018. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780316370943. PreS-Gr 1–Buoyant rhymes and lush-hued artwork detail the adventures of two siblings as they explore the wonders—and the colors—to be discovered near their rural home on a spectacular summer’s day. Both the onomatopoetic text and the detailed depictions of woodsy scenes bubble with imagination-stirring imagery as the pair observe the yellow of sunflowers, the misty white of a waterfall, the dark gray of a sudden rainstorm, the silvery droplets left behind, or the blue of the now-clear-again sky. Sun. by Sam Usher. Illus. by author. Templar/Candlewick. Jun. 2018. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780763699499. PreS-Gr 2–One sizzling morning, a boy and his grandfather pack up a lunch, pull out a map, and head out their door in search of “the perfect spot” for a picnic. After navigating across the sun-scorched landscape, they finally find a place that is appropriately “picturesque,” shady, and cooled by breeze, only to discover that someone else has beaten them to it (a treasure-hunting pirate crew, in fact—but there are plenty of picnic provisions for all!). The open-ended first-person text and increasingly fantastical details in the witty ink-and-watercolor illustrations will have readers adventuring—and imagining—along with the narrator. See Snow (2015) and Rain (2017; both Candlewick) for more mesmerizing and magical weather-related tales starring this close-knit duo.
Other recent book lists by Joy Fleishhacker include "Great Books: Things That Go!" and "Through the Lens: Great Books About Photography."
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