November 2019


Stories from the Past to
Read, Share, and Treasure

Holiday Books

written by Tony Johnston, illus. by Rich Deas, (Scholastic, Inc., 2004), 32p, Ages 3-7

When ten goofy turkeys walk along the top of a fence, one by one they fall off in extremely creative ways. Swinging from a vine, strutting on a boar, doing a noodle dance, roller-skating, balancing bricks, diving, whistling in a shoe, and jumping on a pogo stick, these jolly turkeys will delight children with their silly antics. When the fence collapses, the turkeys perch in a nearby tree and it begins again. “Just a minute—what is this? / BIBBLE BABBLE JIBBLE JOBBLE / ‘Looky! Look at me!’ / 10 fat turkeys, fooling in a tree.”
Themes: Animals, Concept, Holidays


written by Karma Wilson, illus. by Jane Chapman, (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2012), 40p, Ages 2-6

Bear would love to invite his friends for dinner, but the cupboard is bare. Not deterred, Bear’s friends stop by with food, enthusiasm, and generosity. Mouse brings a huckleberry pie, Hare donates muffins, Badger strolls in with fish, Gopher and Mole present honey nuts, and Raven and Wren offer pears and herbs.

After every gift, “Bear always remembers to say “Thanks!” As he sighs and moans with nothing to share, “Mouse squeaks, ‘Don’t fret. / There’s enough, dear Bear. / You don’t need any food, / you have stories to share!’ ” Stories of sharing, gratitude, and thankfulness are great any time but especially around the season of Thanksgiving.
Themes: Bears, Friendship, Holidays, Rhythm & Rhyme, Series


GOBBLE GOBBLE CRASH!: A Barnyard Counting Bash
written by Julie Stiegemeyer, illus. by Valeri Gorbachev, (Dutton Children’s Books, 2008), 32p, Ages 3+

Children will delight in this counting and rhyming barnyard story where four noisy turkeys disturb a sleeping farm one night. The wild turkeys smash into the chicken coop, bang into the house, and slop in the pigpen. “Gobble-Gobble-Crash! Turkeys landed with a thump / In the middle of the barnyard, / right beside the water pump. EIGHT little goats laughed and wrestled in the straw ,/ And the crows from next door called, “Caw! Caw! Caw!”

Mama Hen and Mrs. Maggie Mouse scold the turkeys, but the Farmer threatens to make dinner out of them, and the animals help conceal the rowdy visitors from the farmer. The counting reverses to depict sleeping animals from 10 baby robins, 9 pink pigs, 8 little goats, 7 tiny mice, 6 chicks, 5 white geese, 4 sheep, 3 kittens, 2 baby cows, to 1 horse. The barnyard finally quiets down, including the farmer, until the commotion begins again.

This noisy, action-filled counting story is great fun for all. Children will enjoy finding the hidden turkeys, who manage to outsmart the farmer.
Themes: Animals, Concept, Humor, Holidays, Rhythm & Rhyme


written by David Steinberg, illus. by Liz Conrad, (Price, Stern, Sloan, 2005), 10p, Ages 3-6

A group of happy turkeys prepare for an evening of fun at the social event of the season. Told in rhyme, the stylish turkey’s board the Turkey Bus, and are greeted at the ball by the turkey mayor. “So they touched their wings together / And twirled all night, / And they danced till their feathers / Met the morning light.”
Themes: Animals, Holidays, Rhythm & Rhyme


Holiday Books
Ages 4 - 8

written by Alison Jackson, illus. by Judith Byron Schachner, (Dutton Children’s Books, 1997), 32p, Ages 4-7

Invited to Thanksgiving dinner by an unsuspecting family, this ravenous senior citizen devours the pie she brought, consumes a jug of cider, and proceeds to polish off the entire Thanksgiving dinner. The family resolves the crisis with a perfect holiday solution — their own Thanksgiving Day parade balloon.
Themes: Food, Holidays, Humor


written by Lydia Maria Child, illus. by David Catrow, (Henry Holt & Co., Inc, 1996), 32p, Ages 4-7

Based on a favorite Thanksgiving poem and song, and first published in 1844, this modern, comical interpretation surrounds one family’s attempt to travel through holiday traffic to grandfather’s house for a Thanksgiving dinner. Caught in a traffic jam, due to the Thanksgiving Day Parade, the youngest member of the family experiences a series of mishaps with a tuba, a gorilla, and airplane, but the family eventually arrives safely at grandmother’s house for dinner. This humorous tale is also a good lesson for children to remain in their car seats.
Themes: Adventure, Families, Holidays, Humor


written/illus. by Loren Long, (Philomel Books, 2014), 40p, Ages 3-7

“It was summer when the scarecrow first came to the farm where the friendly little tractor named Otis lived, back when the corn was tall and ripe.” Otis is overjoyed to meet the new arrival, but the scarecrow, with its sour-looking face, stares at the cornfield and is far from friendly.

As the seasons change, Otis helps with the harvest, pulls wagonloads of kids seeking pumpkins, and plays games with his farm friends, always mindful of the silent and stern scarecrow up on the hill. How Otis brings friendship to the lonely scarecrow, and maybe receives a smile in return, is a great lesson to children on friendship, and compassion.
Themes: Animals, Friendship, Holidays, Rhythm & Rhyme, Series


written/illus. by Derek Anderson, (Simon & Schuster, 2005), 40p, Ages 4-8

In this clever version of a favorite holiday song, Mama, Papa, and Baby Turkey are on their way to Grandmother’s house, only to discover that they are being pursued by a boy and dog who are hunting for their Thanksgiving dinner. The lyrics and music are found in the endpapers.
Themes: Animals, Holidays, Humor


written by Diane Mayr, illus. by Laura Rader, (Walker Books, 2007), 32p, Ages 4-7

The day before Thanksgiving Turkey is determined to avoid becoming the holiday dinner. Pursued by a determined farmer, Turkey pretends to wallow in the mud with the pigs, submerge in the duck pond, and eat from the feed bucket with the horses, but the farmer isn’t fooled.
With the barnyard animals cheering him on, Turkey runs into the forest and masquerades as a tree. While the farmer and his family eat grilled cheese sandwiches, Turkey gives thanks. Then he remembers that Christmas is coming.
They meet again when the farmer searches for a Christmas tree, and the fun begins again. This story is a good choice for story time, and only the turkeys will be frightened.
Themes: Animals, Holidays, Humor


TURK AND RUNT: A Thanksgiving Comedy
written by Lisa Wheeler, illus. by Frank Ansley, (Antheneum 2002), 32p, Ages 4-7

Come November on the Wishbone Farm customers begin arriving to choose their holiday turkeys. Turk’s parents, oblivious to the truth, believe their son, Turk is bigger and stronger than any bird on the farm and will be chosen for his athletic abilities.

Only the younger brother, Runt, understands that Turk’s assets may be his downfall, and drives the customers away. The family has a change of attitude when a little old lady picks Runt for her table. “Turk saw the look in the little old lady’s eyes. He saw the drool on her lips. He saw the fork in the little old lady’s pocket. He saw the roasting pan in her backseat!”

After the lady is frightened away, the brothers begin to prepare for Christmas customers, this time as camouflaged snowmen. This hilarious holiday tale begs to be read again and again.
Themes: Animals, Holidays, Humor


written & illus. by Dav Pilkey, (Orchard Books, 1990), 32p, Ages 4-8

During a school field trip, a bond of friendship develops between the children and the turkeys of Mack Nuggett’s turkey farm. When the children discover that Ollie, Stanley, Larry, Moe, Wally, Beaver, Shemp, and Grouch are destined for the dinner table, they are devastated and decide to rescue the gobblers from the farmer’s ax.

Sneaking eight turkeys aboard the bus in front of an unsuspecting teacher and farmer is hilarious. What happened to the turkeys? “The very next evening, / Eight families were blessed / With eight fluffy Thanksgiving turkeys / As guests.”
Themes: Animals, Holidays, Humor, Rhythm & Rhyme


written by Jane Yolen, illus. by Bagram Ibatoulline,( Simon & Schuster, 2009), 32p, Ages 4-8

On a spooky, windy autumn evening, a lonely scarecrow blows off his perch in a cornfield. He leaps and dances happily across the fields, past the tractor, barn, silent cows, and sleeping pigs, until he reaches the farmhouse where a window light catches his attention.

Peeking in the window, he watches a young boy pray beside his bed, “And bless tonight / Our old scarecrow / Who guards the fields / And each corn row / So that tomorrow, / When we reap, / There will be lots / Of corn to keep.”

Reflecting on the child’s prayer, the scarecrow realizes he alone has the responsibility of guarding the crops and keeping the fields from danger. Children will enjoy the delightful language and beautiful artwork, while parents will approve of the duty and responsibility message.
Themes: Fantasy, Heroes, Holidays


PUMPKIN TOWN!: Or Nothing is Better and Worse Than Pumpkins
written by Katie McKy, illus. by Pablo Bernasconi, (Houghton Mifflin, 2006), 32p, Ages 4-8

José and his family grow pumpkins of every size imaginable. There are Jack-B-Littles (small enough for pockets), sturdier Happy Jacks (just right for carrying), and Big Moons (only for rolling). After the harvest, José and his brothers toss the leftover seeds into a field. However, they are blown into town, settling on houses, streets, and every nook and cranny. When spring comes, the town has a decidedly orange color from the explosion of pumpkins. Feeling responsible, the brothers work through the night to remove the pumpkins and vines and are rewarded with delicious watermelons (the ones with seeds).
Themes: Families, Holidays, Humor, Seasons

Holiday Books
Ages 7 - 10

adapted by Elizabeth Spurr, illus. by Wendy Anderson Halperin, (Antheneum Books, 2005), 32p, Ages 7-10

Adapted from Lucretia Hale’s nineteenth-century classic, The Peterkins Papers, a goofy family nearly misses Thanksgiving dinner when the turkey gets stuck in the dumbwaiter on route from the kitchen to the dinner table. After some discussion, they adjourn to the kitchen and decide to call the carpenter, who tells them that the problem is the weight. With their usual zany logic, Mrs. Peterkins’ replies, “I’ve never waited so long for any meal.”
Themes: Families, Holidays, Humor


THANK YOU, SARAH: The Woman Who Saved Thanksgiving
written by Laurie Halse Anderson, illus. by Mat Faulkner, (Simon & Schuster, 2012), 40p, Ages 7-11

Realizing that people were beginning to ignore Thanksgiving, Sarah Hale, widowed mother of five, managing editor, author, and educator, campaigns to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday. Sarah wrote thousands of letters to politicians and articles imploring her readers to help. States began to comply, but not presidents.

After 38 years, a president finally considered her argument about reuniting the nation, and in 1863 President Abraham Lincoln declared the fourth Thursday in November a national holiday. Endpapers offer additional information on Sarah Hale’s achievements, Thanksgiving history, the year 1863, and the Civil War. “Selected Sources” round out a marvelous account of one woman’s dedication and persistence to make a difference in the world.
Themes: Historical Fiction, Holidays

Holiday Books
Ages 8 - 11

written by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor, illus. by Vivienne Tu, (Atheneum Books, 2017), 176p, Ages 8-11

Zack loves working on his grandparents’ farm every weekend, except when Tailpipe spies him. That giant turkey-pecking monster chases him around the farm and delights in accosting him. Determined to find a way to scare the monster away for good, Zack uses various things from his grandfather’s machine shed to build a “turkey-blaster trouble-shooter.”

With the help of two friends, they use a croquet ball, rain gutter, pie tin, gum-ball machine, sewing machine stand, bellows, propeller, washing machine wringer, steering wheel, bicycle pump, water balloons, and marbles to construct a one-of-a-kind contraption.

When Josie informs them of a mysterious robber prowling around the neighborhood taking bracelets, necklaces, and coins, they discover strange V-shaped footprints that the robber leaves behind. Find out how the burglary is solved and Tailpipe receives his comeuppance in this humorous homespun novel of family and friends by award-winning Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.
Themes: Friendship, Holidays, Inventions, Mysteries


Holiday Books
Ages 12 - 15

written by Sheila Turnage, (Kathy Dawson Books, Oct. 2015), 368p, Ages 12-15

Shortly before Thanksgiving in Tupelo Landing, North Carolina, Mo LoBeau, Dale Earnhardt Johnson, and the newest addition to their Desperado Detective Agency, Harm Crenshaw, involve the town in their effort to find Dale's no-good, kidnapping daddy, Macon Johnson, who escaped jail before his trial.

With Tupelo Landing in lock down, Dale's brother in danger, break-ins, fires, and bank robberies, evidence is mounting against Macon. Dale refuses to believe that his father is guilty of the current crime spree, but Mo wants to get even for Macon's crimes against her family.

A who-done-it mystery, delightful Southern language, similes (“Miss Lana says reality is like cheap shampoo. Sometimes it takes a while to sink in.”), metaphors, and non-stop action surround three amateur detectives as they cope with sixth grade, desperate criminals, and loyalties to family and friends. Charm and humor abound with screeching guinea hens, adorable puppies, a touch of Hollywood, and an unusual Thanksgiving dinner
Themes: Adventure, Families, Friendship, Holidays, Mysteries, Series


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Welcome to The Storytellers, a monthly newsletter of outstanding children’s literature to read and read aloud from preschoolers to teens.

This month we celebrate Thanksgiving with great holiday stories from the past, as well as tales of adventure, families, humor, and mystery. We hope that you will enjoy our selections for the young and young at heart.

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RUBY & RUFUS: Love the Water
written/illus. by Olivier Dunrea, (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $9.99, March 2019, ISBN 978-0-547-86760-1), 32p, Ages 3-7

Two little goslings, Ruby, in a polka dot swim cap, and Rufus, sporting a striped cap, swim in the pond every day. “Ruby stands on her head underwater. Rufus chases fish across the water.” They have an abundance of fun every day, until one cold winter morning they find a frozen pond. Their surprise turns to delight, when they discover that sliding and tubing over the ice is just as much fun as swimming in the pond. As always, Olivier Dunrea’s loveable characters are endearing, fun, and irresistible, especially when unexpected circumstances result in delightful possibilities.
        Themes: Adventure, Animals, Friendship, Humor, Series


written by Jane Godwin, illus. by Blanca Gomez, (Dial Books for Young Readers, $16.99, Aug. 2019, ISBN
978-0-525-55381-6), 40p, Ages 3-5

An adventurous little mouse packs a suitcase and journeys around the world. Along the way young ones are invited to count, identify, answer questions, and search for the little mouse that is hidden on each page. Houses, flowers, animals, numbers, vehicles, trains, and hot air balloons are among the manly colorful objects displayed in this simple, rhyming, seek-and-find concept book. “Green train / Red train / Speeding Silver Train / See the trains sparkle / in the sun and in the rain?” Kids will also enjoy matching the travel patches on the endpapers to the various story images throughout the book.
        Themes: Adventure, Concept, Humor, Rhythm & Rhyme


written by Hannah Stark, illus. by Bob Kolar, (Clarion Books, $17.99, August 2019, ISBN
978-0-544-80181-3), 40p, Ages 4-7

“Trucker loved to rule the road. He loved the sound of his engine. He loved the size of his tires. And most of all, Trucker loved his mighty horn.” Bigger and stronger than the other vehicles, Trucker blasts his way through the city as king of the road, until he meets a freight train in the country. “But Trucker’s tough horn was nothing next to Train’s engine and whistle.” When he realizes that the smaller vehicles ahead are in danger at the next train junction, can Trucker learn to swallow his pride and save the day? Full of fun and sounds to mimic, kids will love the expressive faces of the vehicles, as well as need these lessons of selflessness, helping others, and sharing the road.
        Themes: Friendship, Heroes, Transportation

Ages 4-8

written by Steve Smallman, illus. by Caroline Pedler, (Tiger Tales, $16.99, Sept. 2018, ISBN 978-1-68010-100-3), 32p, Ages 4-7

“Little Bob was the bravest of bunnies. He LOVED exploring, but he DIDN’T LIKE going to bed.” He pleads with mom to go out and play rather than sleep, but she explains that the scary creature, Big Hairy, lives in the dark forest. After Little Bob sneaks out to explore, he spies an owl hunting for dinner. Fleeing for his life, he dives into the nearest bush and discovers a frightened bear with no name or friends.

As their friendship grows, Little Bob calls him Big Bob, tells him about the Big Hairy, and vows to protect him. When a fox attacks Little Bob, it’s Big Bob who roars to the rescue. Realizing that Big Bob and Big Hairy are the same, they have a good laugh and share a big carrot for dinner. Kids will like the expressive illustrations, and parents will enjoy this tale of overcoming fears and budding friendships.
Themes: Adventure, Animals, Friendship, Heroes


written by Wendi Silvano, illus. by Lee Harper, (Two Lions, 2009), 32p,
Ages 4-7

Poor Turkey realizes that he is slotted to become the main meal on Thanksgiving Day. What does a terrified turkey do? He disguises himself to resemble the other animals on the farm (horse, cow, pig, sheep, rooster), but the Farmer isn’t fooled by a saddle, paintbrush, boxing glove, pail, eyeglasses, and a rubber glove.

Things look hopeless as the Farmer, unable to locate Turkey, considers cooking the Rooster for dinner. “Oh, no, not Rooster! Thought Turkey. He looked around desperately for one more idea. Then he found it …” Find out how the family enjoys a vegetarian pizza for Thanksgiving, delivered by a strange looking pizza guy. Kids will love the slapstick humor and enjoy the clever illustrations.
        Themes: Animals, Holidays, Humor, Series


written/illus. by Lisa Anchin, (Dial Books for Young Readers, $17.99, April 2019, ISBN
978-0-735-23073-6), 40p,
Ages 4-7

“The Little Green Girl, like so many great things, began as a tiny seed. One bright morning, she unexpectedly blew into Mr. Aster’s garden, and he was just as surprised as she was.” Even though Mr. Aster prefers his normal routine, he places the seedling into the greenhouse, carefully cultivates her, and then moves her into the garden as a topiary. There the birds tell her about the outside world and far away places.

Desiring to see for herself, the Little Green Girl tries to convince Mr. Aster of her need to travel by stretching her roots, but he thwarts her every attempt to leave. Find out how the little topiary convinces Mr. Aster to leave his comfort zone, broaden his horizons, and explore the world in this father-daughter friendship/adventure.
        Themes: Adventure, Friendship, Humor, Nature

Ages 7-10

written by Megumi Iwasa, illus. by Jun Takabatake, (Gecko Press, $16.99, Oct. 2018, ISBN 978-1-776572-06-9), 104p. Ages 7-10

This delightful follow up from Yours Sincerely, Giraffe (2017) finds Professor Whale retired from teaching and lonely. Hoping for a pen pal, he sends letters around the world via the delivery seal, Pelican. When a response is received from the grandson of an old friend, it leads to reviving the Whale Point Olympics. Together they convince whales, seals, and penguins to compete in the seal swimming race, the penguin walking race, and the whale spouting contest. They also invite Giraffe as a special guest.

After taking the Olympic oath, the games begin. In the middle of the Penguin Walking Race Professor Penguin stumbles, but all 20 penguins lift him up and cross the finish line together. Published originally in Japan in 2003, this chapter book reminds us of what friendship, kindness, helping others, and just having fun is all about.
         Themes: Adventure, Animals, Friendship, Heroes, Series


SPY PENGUINS: The Spy Who Loved Ice Cream #2
written by Sam Hay, illus. by Marek Jagucki, (Feiwel and Friends, $13.99, Sept. 2019, ISBN 978-1-250-18858-8), 240p, Ages 7-10

Jackson and Quigley, the adventure-loving and gadget-obsessed penguins from Spy Penguins (2018), return in another hilarious story involving mind-altering ice cream and bank-robbing zombies. When Jackson’s favorite uncle is kidnapped, hypnotized, and forced to rob businesses, Jackson and Quigley set out to prove his innocence. Secret Agents 00Zero and Q track the culprits to an ice cream factory, while evading the evil owner, Mom, and the FBI with their crazy gadgets. Kids will love Quigley’s latest inventions (Robo SCRUB Skates, Poop Protector Hats, a Chain Saw Comb, and Barf Bubbles).
         Themes: Adventure, Heroes, Humor, Mysteries, Series

Ages 8-12

written by Betty G. Birney, illus. by Matt Phelan, (Antheneum Books for Young Readers, 2007), 224p, Ages 8-12

During the summer of 1923 in the small farming community of Sassafras Springs, Missouri, eleven-year-old Eben McAllister yearns for adventure as he reads about the Seven Wonders of the World (The Great Pyramids at Giza, Colossus of Rhodes, Statue of Zeus, Lighthouse at Alexandria, Mausoleum at Halicarnassus, Temple of Artemis, and The Hanging Gardens of Babylon).

Tired of Eben’s moping, his father challenges him to find seven wonders in Sassafras Springs in seven days. If he does, Pa will buy him a ticket to visit his cousins in Colorado to see its marvelous majestic mountains. Eben reluctantly agrees, and with his journal and faithful dog, he records wonders that families in the community are eager to share. A Sunday school teacher whose applehead doll saved her life, a bookcase that ended a drought and saved a man’s life, an outhouse flying in a cyclone, a musical saw that fended off crop-eating locusts, a floating table, and a truth-telling loom. Find out if Eben McAllister finds his seventh wonder in this heartwarming, coming-of-age tall tale, where wonders can be found in the most extraordinary places.
        Themes: Adventure, Classics, Families, Heroes, Humor, Tall Tales


written by Karina Yan Glaser, (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers, $16.99, Sept. 2019, ISBN
978-1-328-57757-3), 364p, Ages 9-12

The warm-hearted Vanderbeeker family of Harlem returns in another adventure with a mystery to solve and a mission to correct a mistake, all in one week. It’s spring break and the household is getting ready for a city inspector’s visit to approve their mom’s baking business. When an unexpected visit results in the permit being denied, mom’s kitchen bakery in the old brownstone apartment is in jeopardy, and the kids are responsible.

Who knew that the newly painted walls would turn out to be fuchsia in the daylight? Where did all the orphaned kittens, guinea pigs, and lost chickens come from in the middle of the night? It’s one catastrophe after another, but the Vanderbeeker kids are up for the challenge. “And the Brownstone creaked in agreement, wrapping the kids in warmth on that very cold, very bitter spring day.”

Reminiscent of great family stories from the past, readers will not only love this charming family that work together to solve problems and help others, but they will want to make the Vanderbeekers a part of their own family.
        Themes: Families, Friendship, Heroes, Humor, Series

Ages 10-13

PAWS VS CLAWS #2 (A Queenie and Arthur Novel)
written by Spencer Quinn, (Scholastic Press, Sept. 2019, $16.99, ISBN
978-1-338-24580-6), 320p, Ages 10+

Arthur, the lovable but not-so-bright dog and Queenie, the too-smart-for-her-own-good cat return in their second mystery/adventure with their beloved family (twins Harmony and Bro and their mom) at the Blackberry Hill Inn, Vermont. Problems arise when a mysterious woman, Mrs. Pryor, checks into the Inn, Sweet Lady Em, a neighbor’s famous cow, goes missing, and an 11-year-old friend of the twins, Jimmy Doone, is accused of a theft and a life threatening injury to his father. As the clues pile up, more questions arise: Why was Mr. Doone attacked and his property wanted? Why is Ms. Pryor sniffing around Catastrophe Falls and causing near accidents? Why was Sweet Lady Em deliberately let out of the barn? Can Arthur and Queenie save the day, as they hilariously narrate alternating chapters in this tale of family, friendship, loyalty, and heroes?
        Themes: Animals, Families, Friendship, Heroes, Humor, Mysteries, Series

Ages 12-15

written by Stuart Gibbs, (Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, $17.99, Sept. 2019, ISBN
978-1-5344-2476-0), 400p, Ages 12-15

According to Albert Einstein, “The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.” 12-year-old Charles Thorne is highly athletic, a daredevil, an admirer of Albert Einstein, and an extremely intelligent tween with the ability to solve crimes that bewilder adults. She is also capable of stealing 40 million dollars from a tech firm.

Charlie finds herself kidnapped by two CIA agents and manipulated into helping them locate Pandora, a complex equation created by Albert Einstein and hidden in the 1930’s somewhere in the world. Thus begins an adventure around the globe, to locate and solve a mystery code that could create clean energy as well as a weapon of mass destruction.

Defying foreign agents, world powers, and evil organizations, Charlie begins to question not only the motivations of everyone involved, but whether Pandora should ever come to light. From the ski slopes of Colorado to the tundra of Greenland, to the secret tunnels underneath Jerusalem, to the Hubble laboratory in California, readers will enjoy puzzles on top of puzzles, breakneck chases, lessons on cryptography, Einstein, and a bit of history.
        Themes: Adventure, Families, Heroes, Historical Fiction, Mysteries, Series

Ages 14-18

written by Peter Stone, (Simon & Schuster, 2018, $18.99, ISBN
978-1-5344-2217-9), 384p, Ages 16+

18-year-old Cameron Carter, a recent high school graduate from a small town in California, is thrilled to accept an internship in his congressman’s Washington DC office. Lacking polish and connections, he navigates office politics, social ladders, and DC’s geography. After a fellow staffer, who asks for his help on a secret project, is killed in a drunken driving accident, his low profile makes him a perfect candidate for the FBI investigation.

As Cameron begins to uncover DC’s dark secrets of power, greed, conspiracy, and murder, he realizes that even with help from friends, fellow interns, and a new girlfriend (the Mexican Ambassador’s daughter), he may not be ready for the Washington D.C. life and its political intrigue.

Readers, who love thrilling plots, buried secrets, and likeable protagonists, will enjoy this fascinating look into world of politics. Note: Underage drinking and sexual harassment scenes should be weighed as potential markers for younger teens.
        Themes: Adventure, Friendship, Mysteries, Suspense & Intrigue

Stories from the Past to Read, Share, and Treasure

written & illus. by Ken Brown, (MacMillan Publishing, 1993), 28p, Ages 4-7

There’s a knot in Nellie’s trunk and she can’t remember why, which creates a few difficulties in eating and washing behind her ears. Her jungle friends know just the thing to make Nellie’s day a memorable one, by blowing up balloons, hanging streamers, and baking a birthday cake. As she blows out the candles, the knot unties, and she finally remembers it’s her birthday!
        Themes: Animals, Friendship


written/illus. by Ken Brown, (Dutton Children’s Books, 1997), 32p, Ages 3-7

A loveable and cheerful little farm pup wants nothing more than to find a playmate, but most of the animals feel superior to the scruffy, mud-covered puppy and refuse to play with him. One day he discovers a friend, who enjoys the same pleasures and fun in life—a friend who absolutely loves mud. Together they form a lasting friendship proving that wonderful friends can come in different shapes and sizes, as long as they share the same ideas about having fun.
        Themes: Animals, Friendship, Humor, Pets


written/illus. by Betsy Lewin, (Clarion Books, 1995), 32p, Ages 4-8

Children will enjoy this simple and charming study of the life cycle of a blue-footed booby from the Galápagos Islands. After hatching, Pépe is fed and protected by his parents until he learns to fly and dive for food. As an adult, he meets his mate, and the cycle begins again with a little white egg. Endpapers show a map of the booby’s nesting area on Hood Island, along with other rare animals and sea life.
        Themes: Animals, Nature


written by Elizabeth MacDonald, illus. by Ken Brown, (Dutton Children’s Books, 1998), 32p, Ages 4-8

This cumulative tale begins when father rabbit warns his family that a hungry wolf is approaching. They seek refuge in the hen coop, but since the treacherous wolf keeps advancing, the rabbits and chickens decide to flee to the pigsty. By now, space is at a premium, and the crowd takes sanctuary in the cow shed. Since the dangerous wolf keeps coming, they need to keep on the move. Finally squeezing into the donkey’s shack, they hold their breath in order for everyone to fit. Find out what happens when the rickety old shack explodes from too many animals. The expressions alone make this book worthwhile.
        Themes: Animals, Humor, Rhythm & Rhyme


written by Antonia Barber, illus. by P. J. Lynch, (Candlewick Press, Oct. 1994) 48p, Ages 7-11

Catkin, a tiny and magical golden kitten is given the job of protecting little Carrie, the only daughter of a farmer and his wife. Distracted by a butterfly, Catkin unknowingly allows Carrie to be captured by the Little People. To rescue the child, Catkin ventures into an enchanted land where he must solve three riddles to free her from the Lord and Lady of the Little People. With courage and compromise, the child is returned, and two families learn the meaning of sharing.
        Themes: Families, Folk Literature, Heroes


WILLIAM THE CURIOUS: Knight of the Water Lilies
written/illus. by Charles Santore, (Applesauce Press, 2014), 40p,
Ages 6-9

“William was a small green frog who lived in the moat with his brothers and sisters, and his fishy friends. William wasn’t the handsomest frog in the moat, nor the largest, nor the strongest. He was, you might say, a pretty ordinary fellow.”

When the Queen of the Land of Far and Wide decrees that every imperfect item in her castle should be discarded, furniture, books, garbage, and toys begin contaminating the moat. When William volunteers to confront the queen about the pollution problem, he puts on the clothes and armor of a discarded toy soldier, carries the moat’s last surviving lily as a peace offering, and fights his way past the castle guards to speak with the queen. Convincing her that little things should never be forgotten and neglected in pursuit of perfection, the Queen promises to restore his home and knights him “Sir William, Knight of the Water Lilies, Protector of the Castle Moat.” Underneath the clever tale are lessons about caring for our environment, perfection, and overcoming obstacles.
        Themes: Animals, Heroes, Folk Literature


retold/illus. by Charles Santore, (Applesauce Press, 2018), 64p,
Ages 6-9

The wisdom of Aesop and the lessons learned from each tale are richly captured by Charles Santore in this collection of twenty-four fables. Among the more famous tales presented are The Hare and the Tortoise, The Lion and the Mouse, The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse, The Grasshopper and the Owl, as well as many lesser known stories. The last fable, The Hare and the Tortoise, contains a foldout scene depicting characters from all the previous fables, who gather together at the finish line to cheer on the competing animals. As always, Charles Santore’s illustrations are marvelous.
        Themes: Anthologies, Classics, Folk Literature


written by Lloyd Alexander, illus. by Trina Schart Hyman, (Dutton Children’s Books, 1992), 32p,
Ages 7+

Dissatisfied with his career choice, a young carpenter seeks a certain fortune-teller about his future. The cagey old fortune-teller promises him a fortune, “On one condition: that you earn large sums of money,” promises that he will live a long life, “Only one thing might cut it short: an early demise,” promises that he will marry his true love, “If you find her and she agrees,” and he will be happy forever, “if you can avoid being miserable.”

When he runs back with more questions for the fortune-teller, the carpenter finds him missing. Little does he realize that the fortune-teller’s predictions will change both their lives in a very unusual way. Set in the beautiful country of Cameroon, this folktale is full of adventure, wisdom and humor will be enjoyed more by upper elementary students.
        Themes: Adventure, Countries & Cultures, Folk Literature, Humor


THE BOY WHO FELL OFF THE MAYFLOWER: Or John Howland's Good Fortune
written/illus. by P. J. Lynch, (Candlewick Press, $17.99, Sept. 2015,), 64p, Ages 7-10

Based on historical facts, this memorable story surrounds a young indentured servant, John Howland, who sailed on the Mayflower with his master from 1620 London to the New World. The crossing was difficult especially during a storm when John was swept overboard. “Far up above, I saw the Mayflower's keel. I thought, That's my ship . . . She's taking me to America! A flash of lightning lit up a long rope trailing down from the ship. I pulled myself over toward it. My lungs were bursting now, but I caught hold of the rope and held on tight in the freezing water.” Once land was reached, the settlers faced more difficulties with the onset of winter, lack of food, sickness, and aggression toward the natives, which all contributed to the death of more than half of the original settlers.

With the arrival of Spring the community prospered with the friendship of Squanto, the organization of a new government, and John's decision to stay in America. Endpapers feature a Bibliography and Author's Note on John Howland's future. This dynamic depiction of one Pilgrim's adventure on the Mayflower and early experiences in America is one story not to be missed.
        Themes: Adventure, Historical Fiction


written by Mal Peet/Elspeth Graham, illus. by P. J. Lynch, (Candlewick Press, $15.99, ISBN 978-0-7636-6232-5), 48p, Ages 7-9

“The riders came desperately fast, pushing through the howling desert storm, carrying with them their most precious cargo: a baby hidden in a basket. But the storm proved to be too much, and the swirling sands swallowed them all, except for one: the baby.” Issa, famous for his knowledge of desert and mountains, discovers the baby and decides to raise her. Little does he realize that Mariama will become his eyes when blindness strikes.

One day, three travelers from the east seek Issa’s help in guiding them on a difficult journey. Learning of his blindness, they leave in disgust, only to encounter a disastrous sand storm. Upon rescuing the travelers, neither Issa, Marimama, nor one particular traveler realize that their lives are destined to change forever. Author’s Note explains Peet and Graham’s interest in Timbuktu of Mali, West Africa, traders of salt and gold, and one blind guide. P. J. Lynch elegantly captures the magnificent and harsh environment in which people endure and survive.
        Themes: Folk Literature, Heroes, Countries & Cultures


PAUL REVERE’S RIDE: The Landlord’s Tale
written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, illus. by Charles Santore, (HarperCollins, 2003), 40 p, Ages 8-11

“Listen, my children, and you shall hear / Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere, / On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five; / Hardly a man is now alive / Who remembers that famous day and year.” So begins Longfellow’s Revolutionary war poem of Paul Revere’s famous ride, to prepare Colonial villages to take up the battle cry for American independence and arm themselves against the arrival of the British.

A signal light from the old North Church alerts Paul Revere to begin his dramatic horseback ride across the Colonial landscape. One can almost hear the thundering hoofs of Paul Revere’s horse as they cross over village cobblestones and bridges. “In the darkness and peril and need, / the people will waken and listen to hear / The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed, / And the midnight message of Paul Revere.”

Narrated by the landlord of the Wayside Inn, this story-within-a-story is an exciting tale of adventure, courage, and patriotism. Charles Santore’s marvelous illustrations bring to life the urgency of this race against time that no one should miss.
        Themes: Adventure, Classics, Heroes, Historical Fiction


BALARAMA: A Royal Elephant
written/illus. by Ted/Betsy Lewin, (Lee & Low Books, 2009), 56p, Ages 6-11

Elephants stir the imagination like no other animal on Earth. In India these mammoth creatures are honored and admired, and for centuries they have been a part of religious, cultural, and social life throughout the country. Based on one of the Lewin’s trips to Mysore, India, Ted Lewin tells of a centuries old festival that is always led by a Royal Elephant. In a forest camp, where elephants are trained and cared for by mahouts, Drona is chosen as the lead elephant in the annual parade, due to her aura, energy, and friendliness. Upon returning the following year, the Lewin’s learn of her death, and become acquainted with a new chosen elephant, Balarama.

Huge, impressive, and gentle, the Lewin’s trace Balarama’s preparation, from forest camps to the palace of the maharaja, and finally preparation for the parade. A photograph of the parade is included along with facts about elephants, brief biographies of past royal elephants, and a glossary and pronunciation guide.
        Themes: Animals, Countries & Cultures, Historical Fiction


retold by Margaret Hodges, illus. by Trina Schart Hyman, (Holiday House, 2004), 32p, Ages 9-12

In this beautiful abridged collection of three Arthurian legends, “The Sword in the Stone” tells of Arthur’s young years under the training of Merlin, his obtaining the sword Excalibur, and his becoming King. “Excalibur” deals with the wicked Morgan le Fay and her treachery to steal the magic sword and scabbard. The final tale, “The Lady of the Lake,” involves Arthur attacking Lancelot’s castle, fighting his enemy Mordred, and being taken to the island of Avalon mortally wounded.

Trina Schart Hyman’s stunning acrylic paintings make this tale of beauty, danger, and glory come alive for a younger audience. In the Author’s Note, Margaret Hodges explains that the three tales are based on the Winchester College manuscript of Sir Thomas Malory’s collection of Arthurian legends. He believed along with many others that, “Arthur was a real king in the history of early Britain and that in time of need Arthur would come again.”
        Themes: Adventure, Classics, Folk Literature, Heroes


translated by George Webbe Dasent, illus. by P.J. Lynch, (Candlewick Books, 1992/2005), 48p, Ages 9+

Translated from Norwegian in 1859, this romantic fairy tale tells of a young girl who reluctantly travels with a white bear to a far kingdom, only to discover that the bear is a prince under an evil spell. Only her love and persistence save him from a disastrous marriage to a troll princess.

As with all great fairy tales, there are quests, a magic spells, strangers bearing gifts, impossible roads to travel, and good triumphing over evil. P. J. Lynch’s realistic illustrations, especially of the North Wind, dangerous forests, and drooling trolls, are marvelous.
        Themes: Classics, Folk Literature

Over the years, we have researched thousands of children's books, and can recommend some of the best in outstanding children's literature for parents to read aloud and children to read.

Our recommendations must meet certain criteria: fun, creative and imaginative stories, delightful illustrations, and excellent for age appropriate listening and reading. We hope that you enjoyed our recommendations. If you desire further information some of the best in children's literature, please visit our website,

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