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Back to School Books for your kids to Enjoy. – 08/30/12

Posted on: Thursday, August 30th, 2012

The new school year has started for some kids and for others, the Labor Day holiday is the last one before school begins.  This week’s book suggestions are fun reading to help get your kids back into the “reading mode” as school begins.

First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg is for kids in grades K – 3.  “Sarah is hiding under her covers as Mr. Hartwell asks, “You don’t want to miss the first day at your new school do you?”  From under the blanket she replies, “I’m not going.”  When he reminds her how much she liked her other school and asks her to think of all the new friends she’ll meet, she imagines a classroom where a paper airplane is flying, a boy is pulling his neighbor’s pigtail, and another is blowing a gigantic bubble.  Mr. Hartwell finally gets Sarah to stumble out of bed, eat a bit of toast, and get into the car where she slumps down into her seat.  At school, the principal cheerfully welcomes her and takes her to the classroom where she is introduced as “Mrs. Sarah Jane Hartwell,” the new teacher.  There is a bit of foreshadowing that Sarah is an adult, but as she is always partially hidden, the ending will come as a surprise to most readers.  The ink-and-watercolor illustrations are full of action and maintain the lighthearted tone.  A little subplot in the paintings shows the family cat and dog having their own contest of wills while their owner is trying to get his wife up and out.  The joke provides a good laugh and children may find it reassuring that they are not alone in their anxieties about new situations.

Adele Greenlee, Bethel College, St. Paul, MN Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.” Review from Amazon.

How I Spent My Summer Vacation by Mark Teague is for kids age 3 – 7.  “Her spectacles perched on her nose and her hair coiffed in a Father Knows Best pompadour, Wallace Bleff’s teacher looks on as the boy delivers an oral report on that classic topic, How I Spent My Summer Vacation.  The classroom setting gives way to an expanse of Western plains, across which a locomotive train rumbles, bringing Wallace to visit his aunt.  His parents have sent him there for a reason: “‘Your imagination,’ they said, ‘is getting too wild./ It will do you some good to relax for a while.’“  It won’t take kids long to realize that Wallace’s imagination is as fertile as ever, as he tells of being captured by cowboys, who outfit him in spiffy Western garb and teach him all their “cowboy tricks.”  When “Kid Bleff” finally calls his aunt (from a phone booth comically plunked down in the middle of nowhere), she invites him to bring his pals to her house for a barbecue-Teague’s (The Field Beyond the Outfield) boy buckaroo, however, still has a few tricks up his sleeve.  Told in rollicking rhymed verse, this is one rootin’ tootin’ tall tale.  Playful period illustrations brim with droll detail, including some laugh-out-loud funny expressions on animal faces. Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.”  Review from Amazon.

Miss Child Has Gone Wild! (My Weirder School, Book 1) by Dan Gutman is for kids age 7 and up.  My Weirder School weirder than ever!  The third grade has won a weird contest, so they get to go on a field trip to the zoo. That’s how they meet Miss Child, the weirdest zookeeper in the history of the world.  She thinks animals are smarter than people!  She thinks elephants can paint pictures!  She keeps snakes in her pockets for fun!  Guess who’s going to wind up in a cage with a lion?”  Review from Amazon.  (A note about the author:  “I aim for kids who DON’T like to read, and hopefully the kids who DO like to read will enjoy my stuff too.”)

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