May/June 2020


These are magical stories, full of imagination and fun that take children into a world of delightful imagination, adventure, and present storytelling at its best.

Humor and Adventure

Humor and adventure are essential to life. They keep things in balance and refresh the mind and add another dimension to the pleasure found in children’s books. We hope you will enjoy our selections.


written by Nancy Shaw, illus. by Margot Apple, (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, (2015, Board 2016), 32p, Ages 2-5

At the end of a busy day, five sheep, from the beloved “Sheep” series, stroll home and settle into their straw bed, but are unable to fall asleep due to nighttime noises. The patient, friendly Border collie calms them down, one by one, with a hug, a drink, a song, a lullaby, a teddy bear, and a quilt. “The last one wants a cozy quilt / to snuggle on the bed she built. / The collie gives a weary grin. / He fetches one and tucks her in.” But who will tuck the collie in? This delightful story with its rhyming text and gentle humor is a comforting choice for bedtime.
Themes: Animals, Bedtime, Humor, Rhythm/Rhyme, Series


written/illus. by Adam Stower, (Orchard Books, 2012), 32p, Ages 3-6

“This morning, the zookeepers were shocked to discover a large hole in the fence.” Lily has always wanted a dog, so when she spies a bear in her backyard, she promptly adopts him and gives him the name of Doggy. Aware of his shortcomings, (grumpiness, dislike of dog food, and distaste for fetching), Lily still loves him. She explains her discovery to Mom, who is too busy to notice and recommends posting a sign for the owner. Much to Lily’s sadness, the zookeeper claims Doggy.

With other zoo animals still at large, the next day she finds another animal in the yard—Kitty! With themes of love, patience, curiosity, and adventure, kids will fall in love with these adorable characters.
Themes: Adventure, Animals, Humor, Pets


Ages 4 - 8

written/illus. by Janet Stevens, (Harcourt Brace Children’s Books, 1995), 40p, Ages 4-7

In the tradition of European folktales and the American south, this trickster tale takes trickery to a comical extreme. Bear and Hare decide to go into a gardening partnership. Bear donates the land, and Hare plants the vegetables, but Bear is extremely lazy and expects Hare to do all the work. Discover how Hare outwits Bare and still manages to feed his hungry family. The book is unique in that it opens vertically.
Themes: Animals, Folk Literature, Humor, Series
Other Book in the Series: The Donkey Egg


written by Megan McDonald, illus. by Katherine Tillotson, (Antheneum Books, 2014), 40p, Ages 3-7

“Dog wanted a home, a real home. A place full of hundreds of nose kisses, dozens of tummy rubs. A place as warm as soup and cozy as pie.” A lovable puppy is adopted from the Animal Shelter by a new owner, “She, Herself”, who is unaware of Dog’s pesky habit.

When he relentlessly searches out and chews every available shoe, punishment follows—no petting, no loving, and confinement in the basement (“The Land of Sad Puppies and Scratched-Up Cats and One-Eared Bunnies”). Undeterred, Dog continues to chew on flip-flops, sneakers, and boots, until he finds a new shoe, one that he will never chew, but love forever.
Themes: Animals, Humor, Pets


7 ATE 9: The Untold Story
written by Tara Lazar, illus. by Ross MacDonald, (Disney-Hyperion, 2017), 32p, Ages 4-7

In this whodunit mystery, math puns, concepts, and jokes surround an investigation by Private I of the Al F. Bet detective agency into an accusation made by frantic number 6 against number 7. “‘Word on the street is that 7 ate 9! And now he’s after me,’ said 6.” Private I responds, “‘Well, technically, he’s always after you. There’s 5, then 6, then 7.’” With white gloves, stripped tie and fedora, Private I interviews various numbers and decides that the facts don’t add up.

Putting two and two together, he comes up with a clever solution to the mystery that is guaranteed to entertain adults as well as kids. “The next day, while dozing in my chair, my phone bolted me awake. I’d recognize her voice anywhere. It was 2 . . . with another problem to solve. I’ve really got to change my number!”
Themes: Concept, Humor, Mysteries


written/illus. by Lorna Balian, (Humbug Books, 1990), 32p, Ages 4-8yrs

Wilbur and Violet enjoy their simple life in the country, but one day they realize that gradually people had moved into their peaceful valley, and it was no longer the clean, quiet place they loved. Surrounded by smog, trash, garbage, and pollution, Wilbur decides to build a space machine. In fact, Wilbur’s machine creates so much space that they cannot find enough containers to hold it all. Advised by Violet to capture the space in balloons, he ties them to the porch railing, the house floats up, and Wilbur and Violet unexpectedly find their peaceful place to live.
Themes: Adventure, Families, Humor, Outer Space


THE TOUGHEST COWBOY: or How the Wild West Was Tamed
written by John Frank, illus. by Zachary Pullen, (Simon & Schuster, 2004), 48p, Ages 5-8

Who can tame a wild cowboy like Grizz Brickbottom who flosses his teeth with barbed wire and keeps a rattlesnake in his bedroll to warm his feet? Well, a miniature poodle named Foofy, who fears everything out on the range, but loves to catch flying dinner plates.
Themes: Adventure, Animals, Humor, Tall Tales, The Wild West

Ages 7 - 11

(Tales from Deckawoo Drive, Bk 1)

written by Kate DiCamillo, illus. By Chris Van Dusen, (Candlewick Press, 2014), 96p, Ages 6-9

Employed by the Bijou Drive-In Theater to work the concession stand, Leroy Ninker dreams of becoming a cowboy and riding into the sunset like the cowboys from the double feature westerns on Wednesday nights. With a “Yippie-i-oh,” hat, boots, and rope, Leroy realizes that the only thing missing is a horse. When he finds Maybelline, old and almost toothless, it's love at first sight. However, she needs lots of sweet compliments, grub, and is never to be left alone for long periods.

When Leroy accidentally leaves Maybelline alone, she runs away, but old friends from the Mercy Watson series come to the rescue with lots of buttered toast. Now, every evening Leroy rides Maybelline to work, where she eats popcorn, loves the movies, and on the way home, listens to Leroy's sweet compliments. Kids will love the four-toothed, spaghetti-loving Maybelline, who Leroy believes is, “the most splendiferous horse in all of creation.”
Themes: Adventure, Chapter Books, Humor, Pets, Series


A Math Adventure

written by Edward Einhorn, illus., Adam Gustavson, (Charlesbridge Publishing, 2008), 32p, Ages 7-10

What are the odds of awaking with a talking cat on one’s head? One morning Ethan wakes up with Odds attached to his head, and apparently, the cat won’t leave until Ethan wins a game of probability. With a soccer game imminent, Ethan tries everything to pull the cat off (cats do not like showers), but nothing works, until he agrees to play Odds’ game. Ethan tries many probability games: picking a penny from coins on a high shelf, (he picks a nickel), picking two matching socks without looking, (he loses), and picking two white marbles from a stack with his eyes closed (one was yellow).

Ethan wins when he successfully chooses two breakfast cereal shapes that are the same. Odds leaves and Ethan decides to apply the lesson to his soccer game. End papers give a history of two French mathematicians who developed the theory of mathematical probability in 1654.
Themes: Animals, Concept, Humor

Ages 10-13

(The Genius Factor series)

written by Paul Tobin, illus. by Thierry Lafontaine, (Bloomsbury, Mar. 2016, ISBN 978-1-61963-840-2), 272p, Ages 10+

Sixth grader Nate Bannister is an off-the-charts genius usually, but on Friday the 13th he tries to accomplish three not-so-smart things. This time he teaches his caterpillar math, mails a love letter, super-sizes Proton the family cat, turns him invisible, reverses the formula, and places sections of it onto seven people or things.

When Proton escapes and is determined to destroy the city, Nate enlists the help of his only friend, Delphine. They use every gadget, invention, and theory of Nate’s, including his talking Scottie dog, Bosper, and Betsy, his self-driving car, to avoid the criminal Red Death Tea Society, turn Proton back to normal, and try to survive until Friday the 14th.

Funny, silly, and kooky, kids will love the huge Catnip Incense Burner, Costume Disintegration Ray, Molecular Scanner, String Theory Net, and the Mechanical Hypnotizing Robot Octopuses.
Themes: Adventure, Fantasy, Friendship, Humor, Series
Other Books in the Series: How to Outsmart a Billion Robot Bees | How to Tame a Human Tornado


Ages 12 - 15

THE LAST DRAGONSLAYER: #1 The Chronicles of Kazam
written by Jasper Fforde, (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012), 304p, Ages 12+

Sixteen-year-old Jennifer Strange, foundling from the Blessed Ladies of the Lobster, oversees the Kazam Mystical Arts Management, an employment agency for magicians. With magic slowly drying up, Jennifer hires out one powerful sorcerers and wizards to magically repair plumbing and electrical systems, deliver pizza, and perform various low-level spells around the town of Herford, part of the UnUnited Kingdom. After magicians begin predicting the death of the last dragon, Jennifer is appointed to kill him. Her negotiating skills are tested as she wrestles with duty, political maneuvering, corruption, and greed.
Hilarious characters, unpredictable magic, a Transient Moose, and a Quarkbeast round out this wacky, imaginative tale.
Themes: Adventure, Fantasy, Heroes, Humor, Series
Other Books in the Series: The Song of the Quarkbeast #2 | The Eye of Zoltar #3


written by Josh Lacey, (Houghton Mifflin, 2012, $15.99, ISBN 978-0-547-76327-9), 240p, Ages 11-14

“I didn’t mean to burn down our garden shed. But now I’m glad I did. If I hadn’t, none of this would have happened. The island. The gold.”

Sent to stay with his Uncle Harvey, the only one willing to take him in when his parents leave on vacation, Tom Trelawney convinces his uncle to take him along on a supposed business trip to Peru. Tom soon discovers Uncle Harvey’s urgent business is hunting for South American treasure rumored to belong to Sir Frances Drake. However, his not-so-honest uncle omitted several important details about the gold and its location.

Matters become complicated when Tom and Uncle Harvey escape the clutches of a notorious gangster, find themselves in a Peruvian prison with a crooked warden, decode a priceless journal, and discover treasure beyond their wildest dreams. Intrigue, adventure, and excitement, risk-taking, consequences, and some history await readers, especially reluctant ones.
Themes: Adventure, Families


written by Gavin Rohan, (Bloomsbury, 2014), 272p, Ages 12-15

Alan Knightley, a brilliant, dedicated, but obsessive detective suddenly awakens from a four-year coma ready to take on the Combination, an ancient criminal organization responsible for his coma and all unexplained crime in the world. Escaping the hospital, Alan seeks out his 13-year-old son, Darkus, who holds the key to his stolen records. With the help of Darkus’ deductive and observation skills, they unravel the mystery behind a self-help mystical book, THE CODE, tied to spontaneous criminal activity.

When Alan is kidnapped, Darkus continues the investigation, narrowly avoiding death at the hands of his stepfather, who has been hypnotized by THE CODE to kill him. Conspiracy theories, high speed car chases, irrational criminal behavior, secret WW II underground railway stations, and blended family dynamics, make this Sherlock Holmes-like read a great page-turner for the start of a new father-son detective series.
Themes: Adventure, Heroes, Mystery, Suspense, Series
Others in the Series: Knightley & Son: K-9 | Knightley & Son: 3 of a Kind


OPERATION RED JERICHO: The Guild of Specialists: Book 1
written by Joshua Mowll, illus. by Joshua Mowll, Julek Heller, Niroot Puttapipat, Benjamin Mowll, (Candlewick Press, 2005). 288p, Ages 13+

Full of mystery, adventure, intrigue, and science fiction, teenager Rebecca and her younger brother, Doug, are sent to live with their uncle in 1920 China following the disappearance of their parents.

Their tale begins aboard their uncle’s research ship, Expedient, and continues through the streets of Shanghai as they encounter Chinese mercenaries, a pirate warlord, a Texan heiress, and a stolen cache of explosives called zoridium. Not only do they expose a heinous plot involving their parents, but uncover a secret society hidden from the world for hundreds of years. Sidebars, graphics, photos, newspaper clippings, a Morse code chart, diagrams of inventions, and descriptions of vessels round out this great adventure novel.
Themes: Adventure, Families, Mysteries, Series
Other Books in the Series: Operation Typhoon Shore | The Guild of Specialists


Ages 16+

(Wars of the Realm)

written by Chuck Black, (Multnomah Books, 2014), 320p, Ages 16+

At the age of twelve, Drew Carter’s father, a member of a Special Forces unit, dies in action. Since then, tragedy and heartache seem to follow Drew from one school to another. Over the years his father’s best friend and fellow soldier, Jake Blanchard, helps Drew through his grief, takes him on camping trips, and eventually teaches him combat training.

When college offers Drew a chance to start over, a physics experiment explodes leaving him blind and his high school friend, Ben, missing. After his sight miraculously returns, Drew discovers he has skills and sight beyond the normal and can observe what he calls invaders influencing humans for good or evil.

Determined to thwart the invaders, Drew moves to the inner-city of Chicago, locates Ben, discovers a long lost love Sydney, and protects his neighborhood from a local gang, earning him the nickname of “The Guardian,” which brings him to the attention of the FBI.

Teens will enjoy this first book in the Wars of the Realm series containing humor, heartache, suspense, action, a touch of romance, and an insight to the real spiritual battle between angels and demons. Endpapers provide readers with Biblical facts versus the author’s fictional account of each chapter.
Themes: Adventure, Friendship, Heroes, Suspense, Intrigue, Series
Others in the Series: Rise of the Fallen #2 | Light of the Last #3 Rise of the Fallen #2 | Light of the Last #3


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Touch the Heart,
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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.

The best children's books and filled with imagination and fun. Stories that take children into a world of delight and adventure present storytelling at its best. Children need stories for pleasure, laughter and fun; imaginative and nonsensical stories that may not have a scrap of useful information or lesson, but cheerful and delightful lunacy. Give as many as possible to your children, because imagination and fund are essential to life.

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written/illus. by Alexandra Boiger, (Philomel Books, $17.99, Oct. 2019, ISBN 978-0-525-51566-1), 32p, Ages 3-5

Max and Marla’s adventures continue as Max patiently encourages his friend Marla to fly, but the little barn owl isn’t so enthusiastic. “Flying is not her favorite thing, and besides, it’s rather cozy inside.” When the windy Autumn weather arrives, Max builds a kite to help Marla fly beside it. Marla is still having none of it. The next day as Max rakes up leaves, Marla hides beside the kite, unaware that she is soon to be swept up with the kite into the air. Kids will love this latest adventure of facing fears with a best friend at your side.
        Themes: Adventure, Animals, Friendship, Families, Series


written/illus. by Emily Snape, (Feiwel and Friends, $9.99, March 2020, ISBN 978-1-250-24000-2), 32p, Ages 2+

Who knew that there were so many kinds of clever hugs in the world? Fun animal characters will delight children with their inventive hugs from A to Z, featuring hugs at bath time, bedtime, sad times, happy times, celebrations, mornings, tickle hugs, and many more. From bunnies After-the-bath hugs and mice Everything will be okay hugs to owls “Just-one-more? hugs and penguins Up-in-the-air hugs, kids will especially love the sloths ZZZZ sleepy hugs and a pig happily hugging his birthday cake with, “I love you” hugs. Kids may enjoy making up their own alphabet of hugs.
        Themes: Animals, Concept, Families, Humor


written by Raven Howell, illus. by David Barrow, (Doodle and Peck Publishing, $19.99, Feb 2020, ISBN 978-1-73371708-3), 34p, Ages 3+

A small boy, ready for bed with his blanket and stuffed animal, notices a curious moon peeking in his window and it shines so brightly that he is unable to sleep. He decides to count sheep but doesn’t realize these mischievous cuties are far from ordinary. They are noisy, climb through his window, crawl under his sheet, tickle his feet, invade his toy chest, steal snacks, dive into his laundry, try on his underwear, and generally wreak havoc. “They read my books out loud for fun— / ‘Sheep in a Jeep,’ their favorite one.” Tired, they all nod off to sleep, with the young boy thinking that snails might have been a better choice.

The next evening the snails drop by, leaving glistening trails across the bedroom as well as snore. “Then I knew I’d rather keep / my noisy laundry-diving sheep!” With plenty of giggles, kids will love the bedroom wallpaper depicting snails and whales, the wide-eyed moon, and might wonder about counting snails.
        Themes: Animals, Bedtime, Humor, Rhythm & Rhyme

Ages 4-8

written/illus. by Vanessa Roeder, (Dial Books, $17.99, Feb. 2020, ISBN 978-0-7352-3050-7), 40p, Ages 4-7

When a new baby turtle is born without a shell, his parents provide him a name, Terrance, and a cardboard box for a shell. It’s perfect as a shelter from the rain, a place to hide, and even room enough for a friend, until one day when other turtles criticize his shell, Terrance abandons it and searches for a substitute.

His friend, a hermit crab, supports him as he tries on a mailbox, a hat box, a jack-in-the-box, a boombox, a flower box, a pirate’s chest, and a kitty litter box. All are rejected for obvious reasons, until his trusty friend offers his own tiny shell. This act of generosity inspires Terrance to search for his old beloved cardboard box, which is greatly in need of repair. However, with a little tape, paint, and nails, Terrance discovers that it was perfect all along. With messages of friendship, working together, and being different, kids will love this little turtle’s courage and perseverance.
Themes: Animals, Friendship, Humor, Values


written by Christine McDonnell, illus. by Jeanette Bradley, (Viking Children’s Books, $16.99, March 2020, ISBN 978-1-9848-3545-1), 36p, Ages 4-7

Four babies mysteriously arrive on an island, one via a mail bag, two on a ferry boat, and one is found on the pier asleep on the fishing nets. The notes pinned to their blankets ask that someone keep them safe, raise them well, and provide them with shelter. After reading the notes, the librarian, who lives above the library, brings them home with her, names them alphabetically, and gives them the last name of Book.

As they grow, the whole town pitches in to help raise them. “The fisherman taught them to cast from the pier. The ferryman showed them charts of the sea. The harbormaster taught them to recognize birds. The librarian taught them to read, of course.” When they begin to question their origins, the librarian gently explains that families don’t always look alike, and that where they are going is more important than where they’ve been. Readers and listeners will enjoy this non-traditional family, the unconditional love and acceptance they are shown, and the names for the babies taken from famous people (Agatha Christie, Bram Stoker, Charles Dickens, and Dorothy L. Sayers).
        Themes: Families, Concept, Friendship, Heroes


IMAGINE THAT: A Hoot and Olive Story
written/illus. by Jonathan D. Voss, (Henry Holt & Co., $17.99, July 2019, ISBN 978-1-250-31455-0), 40p, Ages 4-7

“Olive had a great big imagination, which was only just a smidge smaller than her huge heart. Her best friend Hoot had a heart that was equally big. His imagination, however, … Well, one rainy day, Hoot discovered something unexpected.”

It was a day just made for adventure, but Hoot, her stuffed animal owl, finds that he has lost his imagination. No matter what Olive suggests, nothing works, until she realizes the secret ingredient to imagination is Hoot’s heart. From then on, they sailed to faraway places, built castles, tamed dragon, were heroes and kings, and friends forever. Kids will love the colorful illustrations depicting giants, fairies, flowers, ships, and knights in shining armor, as they join Olive and Hoot in their second book filled with wonderful imagination and fun.
        Themes: Adventure, Fantasy, Friendship, Toys, Series
Other Book in the Series: Brave Enough for Two


written/illus. by Simon James, (Candlewick Press, $16.99, Sept. 2019, ISBN 978-1-5362-0935-8), 32p, Ages 4-8

In this heart-warming tale of dogs and their owners, most of the dogs featured have names that rhyme with their owners. Polly belongs to Molly, Eric belongs to Derek, Minnie lives with Vinnie, Mick rides with Rick, and Lawrence resides with Florence. But Mr. Scruff, a large unkept dog that lives at the rescue shelter, has no one, until little Jim decides to take him home.
Enter Mr. Gruff, who comes to the shelter and finds a perfect little dog and gives the puppy the perfect name— Tim. It really doesn’t matter if the names don’t rhyme, if one is old and the other young, it’s more important that they have found each other and are now a happy family. Kids will enjoy this entertaining tale of family, friendships, diversity, and finding home.
        Themes: Families, Friendship, Humor, Pets


written by Katrin Hirt, illus. by Laura Fuchs, (NorthSouth Books, $18.95, March 2020, ISBN 978-0-7358-4395-0), 48p, Ages 7+

Based on a true story of a special bond between an orphaned rhino and a sea captain, this historical picture book tells of a gentle giant, who won the hearts of everyone from India to Europe in the mid-18th century.

Orphaned as a baby, Clara is taken to a merchant’s home, where she is treated as a family member. As she grows, the family realizes her size presents a problem, and she is given to a gentle sea captain from Holland, Douwe van der Meer, who takes her home with him to Holland. As their friendship grows, they travel to many countries where everyone from villagers to royalty clamor to see Clara. Now famous, her portrait decorates posters, coins, and even statues.

Exhausted from travelling, Douwe decides to take Clara home with him permanently, where she lives out her days in quiet and peace. “He built a fine stable for Clara and bought a large pasture for her to graze in. It had a little stream and a lovely mud hole. Clara bathed in the mud hole, ate the grass in the field, and was happy.” Endpapers contain maps of Clara’s travels around Europe. True stories are always fascinating to most children as well as adults, and this gentle story is no exception.
        Themes: Adventure, Animals, Countries & Cultures, Friendship, Pets

Ages 7-11

written by Pam Berkman/Dorothy Hearst, illus. by Claire Powell, (Margaret K. McElderry Books, $17.99, August 2019, ISBN 978-1-5344-3333-5), 192p, Ages 6-9

A small five-pound Pomeranian stows away in Paul Revere’s saddlebag on his famous midnight ride to Lexington in 1775 to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams of their imminent arrest by the British.

Thrown out by a British family for causing problems, Filigree is found by Paul Revere and given to his daughter, Frances. She gives Filigree his new name, but the neighborhood dogs, the Patriot Pack, see him as a Redcoat, until Filigree helps Paul Revere avoid the British patrols by using his strong sense of smell. This first book in the series, “At the Heels of History” is a great way for kids to experience history. The Author’s Note explains the real story behind Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous poem, The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere, and the role of slavery in the Revolution.
         Themes: Adventure, Animals, Heroes, Historical Fiction Pets


written by Julie Falatko, illus. by Colin Jack, (Scholastic, $9.99, May 2019, ISBN 978-1-338-18955-1), 192p, Ages 7-12

Waldo and Sassy, the two adorable and hilarious pets from Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Go to School (2018), return in a hilarious field trip to the History Museum with their class. They are excited about the lunches, dinosaur bones, and ice cream party (if everyone is well-behaved). What could go wrong?

They have trouble following the rules, they ruin the space rocket books, the dinosaur bones are delicious, and they decide to start their own tour. The museum guards are angry and determined to find the troublemakers but realize that they might not be dealing with humans. Kids will love this latest fun installment in the series and root for Waldo and Sassy all the way through.
         Themes: Adventure, Animals, Friendship, Humor, Pets
Other Books in the Series: Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Go to School | Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Start a Club by Accident | Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Enter Stage Left

Ages 10-13

written by Jason Henderson, (Feiwel and Friends, Macmillan Publishing, $16.99, March 2019, ISBN 978-1-250-17322-5), 288p, Ages 10+

Seventh grader Gabriel Nemo, descendant of the infamous Captain Nemo, loves the ocean and resolves to create a safer place for its inhabitants. Aided by two friends, Peter and Misty and using technology from his parents’ underwater research lab, they attempt to rescue sinking ships, face mutant sea creatures, thwart the Navy, and elude Peter and Misty’s parents.

When Gabriel’s infamous sister, Nerissa, asks for help in saving a newly discovered ocean creature from being destroyed by the US Navy, little do Gabriel and his crew realize that these creatures have strange and deadly abilities, inhabit old sunken World War II planes and ships, feed on plastic pellets from the Great Garbage Patch, and do not appreciate any help.

Readers will enjoy Gabriel’s Nemotech submarine, daring rescues, undersea battles, fantastic inventions, and unusual technology in this first middle-grade series.
        Themes: Adventure, Families, Friendship, Machines, Science Fiction, Series


written by Jonathan W. Stokes, illus. by David Elliot, (Philomel Books, 2019), 384p, Ages 11+

Publisher’s Synopsis: “Fresh off a victorious treasure hunt and rescue mission in South America, Addison Cooke just can’t seem to steer clear of rogue bandits, deadly booby traps, and hidden treasures. It sure beats sitting around in school all day.

When Addison’s aunt and uncle become pawns in a dangerous gang’s plan to raid the tomb of the notorious Mongolian leader Genghis Khan, Addison and his friends once again find themselves caught in the middle of a multi-million-dollar international heist. Armed with nothing but their wits and thirst for adventure, they travel across Asia in an attempt to rescue Addison’s family and prevent the treasure from falling into the wrong hands.

Brimming with round the clock action and tons of laughter, Addison Cooke and the Tomb of the Khan is perfect for fans of Indiana Jones, ancient history, and James Patterson’s Treasure Hunter series.”
        Themes: Adventure, Countries & Cultures, Friendship, Heroes, Historical Fiction, Humor, Mysteries, Series
Others in the Series: Addison Cooke and the Treasure of the Incas #1 | Addison Cooke and the Ring of Destiny #3

Ages 11 - 14

written by Katherine Rundell, (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, $17.99, 2019, ISBN 978-1-4814-1948-2), 272p, Ages 11-13

In 1920’s New York City, a young girl, Vita Marlow, discovers that her grandfather has been swindled out of his home and possessions by a shady real estate tycoon, and she devises a plan to take it back. Two young circus performers, Arkady, an animal tamer, Samuel, a trapeze artist, and Silk, an orphan pickpocket, join the seemingly impossible quest— to break into the ramshackle Hudson River castle, steal a valuable emerald to pay for an attorney, and reclaim her grandfather’s castle from the evil Sorrotore.

Despite Vita’s handicap from a bout with polio, there are many obstacles to overcome, including Sorrotore’s henchmen, disapproving families, and the weather. “The night city was swept by a premature winter. An ice snap froze the water in the pipes. Sleet washed down the city, swept the detritus of the mud and the old newspaper and the furious cats out from the murky alleyways into the main roads.”

With determination, courage, hope, and a just cause, they are four kids to be reckoned with and cheered on throughout the entire adventure. Fighting for justice is always a dream worth pursuing. Great stories always contain heart, heroes, humor, hope, and helping others.
        Themes: Adventure, Families, Friendship, Heroes, Humor


Illustrated Edition

written by J. K. Rowling, illus. by Jim Kay, (Arthur A. Levine Books, $47.99, Oct. 2019, ISBN 978-0-545-79142-7), 464p, Ages 11+

Harry is now fourteen and interested in a mysterious competition, the Triwizard Tournament, that will take place at Hogwarts involving two other rival schools of magic. Apparently, it was cancelled in the past due to too many deaths. One representative, at least age 17, is chosen from each school by the Goblet of Fire. What a surprise when Harry’s name is drawn as the fourth candidate. Facing death-defying tasks, dragons, and dark wizards, Harry faces his most challenging adventure so far. Readers will enjoy the Quidditch World Cup tournament, the Hogwarts House Elves, the Yule Ball, and the pranks, schemes, intrigue, danger, and triumph in this fourth illustrated volume. As always, Jim Kay’s artwork is marvelous.
        Themes: Adventure, Fantasy Friendship, Heroes, Mystery, Series

Ages 12 - 15

written by James Ponti, (Aladdin, $17.99, March 2020, ISBN 978-1-5344-1491-4), 384p, Ages 12+

Five kids from around the world are recruited by England’s MI6 Secret Intelligence Service to form a spy team for missions where adults would prove to be conspicuous. 12-year-old Sara Martinez, the latest recruit, is rescued from the New York Juvenile Court System after hacking into the foster care computers to report her foster parents, who are committing abuse fraud. Sara is saved from spending years in jail by Mother, a mysterious man, who offers Sara a second chance at life and a new home with the MI6 agency.

Arriving at the F.A.R.M (The Foundation for Atmospheric Research and Monitoring), a covert facility in Scotland, Sara meets the four other members of the team: 15-year-old Paris from Rwanda, 14-year-old Sydney from Australia,13-year-old Kat from Nepal, and 12-year-old Rio from Brazil Their unique personalities, backgrounds, and skills—sleight of hand, breaking and entering, observation, and explosives——will enable them to invade the world of espionage where adults cannot go.

Mother’s current mission is to infiltrate a youth environmental summit in Paris and stop an attack from a global criminal organization. Little do they realize that the threat is in the form of a deadly virus, and it will take all of the team’s combined talents and dynamics to stop the imminent threat. Kids will love the humorous Motherisms, little sayings of Mother’s to help the kids remember key principles of spying. “Bad guys never wait, so good guys can’t be late.” More adventures to come.
        Themes: Adventure, Families, Friendship, Heroes, Humor, Mysteries, Series, Suspense

Ages 16+

written by Cindy Anstey, (Macmillan, Swoon Reads, $17.99, April 2019, ISBN 978-1-250-17489-5), 343p, Ages 16+

In 1833 England, a young woman is involved in a carriage accident due to a reckless prank of a teenage boy. Suffering from amnesia, she is taken to Hardwick Manor by the boy’s brother, Lord James Ellerby. With the help of his sister, Caroline, they seek to solve the mystery of the young woman’s identity and the events that brought her to them.

Taking the name of Beth, she realizes that the only clue to her circumstances is the reoccurring nightmare of a dagger in the shape of a hummingbird, dripping blood from its beak. When targeted for murder, her maid killed, and hunted by a mysterious foe, Beth and the Ellerby clan fight to recover the mysteries of her past and regain her memory. From the dangerous cliffs of Dorset to the treacherous streets of London, danger awaits from the least expected places. Readers will enjoy this clean, action-packed tale of mystery, memory loss, and mistaken identity.
        Themes: Adventure, Heroes, Mystery, Suspense & Intrigue


Stories from the Past to Read, Share, and Treasure


written by Linda Newbery, illus. by Catherine Rayner, (Atheneum Books, 2009), 32p, Ages 2-5

Little Posy is a “whiskers wiper / crayon swiper, / Playful wrangler, / kitting tangler.” As Posy romps across the pages, she catches spiders, scratches sofas, guzzles ice cream, collects leaves, and inspects socks. After a busy day, this delightful little fur ball is more than ready to cuddle with mama. The charming illustrations are sure to catch the fancy of budding artists.
        Themes: Animals, Humor, Pets


written/illus. by Joseph Kuefler, (Balzer + Bray, 2018), 48p, Ages 3-7

It’s a great day for Crane, Dozer, and Digger as they begin to clear space for buildings, bridges, and roads on a construction project in the city.

When Digger spies a tiny blue flower in the rubble, he decides to abandon his mission and care for it. “Every day, while the other big trucks built, Digger visited the flower. He watered it when its leaves looked dry. And just before he switched off for the night, Digger sang the flower a bedtime song.”

Deciding that their digging was more important than the flower, Dozer cuts it down. Find out how Digger discovers a way for the flower to flourish in this simple and charming story of compassion, heroism, and rebirth.
        Themes: Heroes, Nature, Machines


written by Martha Brockenbrough, illus. by Israel Sanchez, (Arthur A. Levine Books, 2013), 32p, Ages 4-7

Theoretically, dinosaurs are extinct; however, one remains in a museum. As its resident tooth fairy, she polishes her collection of huge fangs and reminisces about the good old days. When a little girl loses a tooth in the museum, the dino tooth fairy follows her home in hopes of collecting it. Battling doorknobs, slobbery dogs, and noisy parrots, she finds herself competing with a human counterpart for the tooth. Common ground and a new friendship provide both tooth fairies with a simple solution to their dilemma. Who knew that dinosaurs and loose teeth would make for a fun read aloud?
        Themes: Adventure, Bedtime, Dinosaurs


CHOO CHOO: The Story of a Little Engine Who Ran Away
written/illus. by Virginia Lee Burton, (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1937, 2017), 48p, Ages 4-7

A black and shiny little locomotive pulls cars full of passengers, baggage, and fuel from the city to the country and back again. One day she said, “I am tired of pulling all these heavy coaches. I could go much faster and easier by myself, then all the people would stop and look at me, just me, and they would say, ‘What a smart little engine! What a fast, little engine! What a beautiful little engine! Just watch her go by herself!’”

When left alone on the tracks with her engineer, fireman, and conductor having coffee, she whizzes off on an exciting adventure racing through fields, past crossings, jumping draw bridges, and into the country where she becomes lost and alone on a track that has been unused for 40 years. Discover how one small engine realizes that running away is not as exciting a she thought in this wonderful classic in print for 80 years.
        Themes: Adventure, Classics, Machines


written by Dick King-Smith, illus. by Jon Goodell, (Crown Publishers, 1997, ISBN 978-0-517-70974-0), 112p, ages 6-9

“Wolfgang Amadeus Mouse was the youngest of thirteen children. He was also the smallest.” When his mother decides he should have an important name, “to make up for his size,” she borrows the name from sheet music found on the piano of the owner’s home in which they reside. Wolf enjoys Mrs. Honeybee’s piano playing twice a day, and as he listens to the beautiful tunes, he begins to sing along, eventually working up courage to accompany her playing. As their friendship develops, Wolf begins to sing along to everything from children’s nursery rhymes to Chopin. One day Mrs. Honeybee breaks her ankle and it’s up to Wolf to find help. Kids will fall in love with this delightful small mouse and thoroughly enjoy the way Wolf defeats the household cat.
        Themes: Animals, Classics, Friendship, Heroes


variouswritten by Betty G. Birney, illus. by Matt Phelan, (Antheneum Books for Young Readers, 2007, ISBN 978-1416934899), 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.

With his journal and faithful dog, Eben 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


writtenwritten by Mike Lupica, (Philomel Books, 2010), 276p, Ages 10+

Because of his passion for baseball and relationship to an ex-major league player, 14-year-old Brian Dudley wins a coveted place as summer batboy for the Detroit Tigers’ home games at Comerica Park. Brian realizes his greatest dream as he hustles with batboy responsibilities of keeping the equipment ready, stocking snacks, shining shoes, cleaning up after the team, and running errands for players. In addition, there are sleepovers at the ballpark and front row seating for home games. On days off, Brian plays for a summer travel team with best friend Kenny.

When his all-time idol, Hank Bishop, returns to baseball and joins the Tigers after a 50-game steroid suspension, both struggle with issues in their lives. Brian, who desperately needs a hero, wrestles with family and batting problems. Hank, who treats everyone with distain, especially Brian, needs someone to believe he can be a hero. Their friendship grows as each teaches the other about overcoming slumps, perseverance, respect, and a love of baseball. The behind-the-scenes major league action, engaging characters, and great storytelling will win over baseball fans as well as those who are unfamiliar with the sport.
        Themes: Families, Friendship, Sports


11-14 Mysteries, Adventure, Fantasy

written/illus. by Cornelia Funke, (Chicken House, 2010, ISBN 978-0-545-22770-4), 376p, Ages 11+

An abandoned movie theater, a magical carousel, a soft-hearted disguise-obsessed detective, two orphaned run-away brothers, evil relatives, a greedy shop owner, a kind photographer, and a cocky young thief combine to make this tale one of the most fascinating in print.

After their mother’s death, twelve-year-old Prosper and five-year-old Bo run away to Venice and try to avoid their aunt, uncle, and a detective, hired to locate them. In Venice, they join street children, who live in an old abandoned theatre under the protection of a youth called the Thief Lord. When offered a job by a nasty shop owner on behalf of his mysterious client, the Thief Lord and kids search for a missing carousel lion’s wing. According to legend, the wing belonged to a lion, one of four animals attached to a magical merry-go-round, which was donated to an orphanage by a wealthy Venice merchant 150 years earlier. “People said that a few turns on the merry-go-round of the Merciful Sisters made adults out of children and children out of adults.” The missing wing now belongs to a Venice photographer, who joins the children in hunting for the magical carousel.

Find out whose lives are altered by riding it, how the children find a permanent home, and if the young Thief Lord finds happiness. Endpapers contain interesting information and facts about the lovely city of Venice.
        Themes: Adventure, Fantasy, Friendship, Mysteries


written by Jean Ferris, (Harcourt Children’s Books, 2006), 272p, 13+

The year is 1888, and according to sixteen-year-old Arley Pickett, nothing ever changes in Grubstake, a failed mining town in Colorado. Since her father’s death, Arley runs the only boardinghouse in town, where grumpy boarders sometimes forget to pay their rent. She becomes suspicious when a stranger offers to buy all the mines around Grubstake, including hers. The story comes alive with amusing and appealing characters—a tough and independent teenager, oddball miners, a mysterious black-clad stranger, and a city slicker with a mean streak. Elements of mystery, humor, and surprise make for a fun read.
        Themes: Adventure, Humor, Mysteries, Western Lore


written by Mike Lupica, (Philomel Books, 2006, $7.99, ISBN 978-0-1424-0942-8), 288p, Ages 15+

Josh Cameron, superstar point guard to the Boston Celtics, has fame and fortune. When confronted by an unknown 12-year-old daughter, Josh is reluctant to assume fatherhood, but upbeat Molly Parker wants a father badly. As their relationship grows, Josh realizes that maybe he needs a daughter after all.

Eventually they both come to understand that love and forgiveness can break down barriers of selfishness and doubt. A host of wonderful supporting characters—a plucky and warmhearted housekeeper, loyal friends, and a greedy agent—round out this beautifully written story of friendship, family, and unconditional love at Christmas. (Holiday books are fun to read anytime of the year.)
        Themes: Families, Holidays, Sports

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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