No column is more eagerly awaited than our annual summer reading list for kids, courtesy of Liz Price Patel, the librarian at Redwood Day School in Oakland. And here's this year's:
"The Day the Crayons Quit" by Drew Daywalt. The crayons have spoken. In a series of clever letters to their child artist/owner, Duncan's crayons tell him exactly how they feel about their jobs.
"Maria Had a Little Llama" by Angela Dominguez. A bilingual version of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" is set to lovely Peruvian-inspired illustrations.
"Battle Bunny" by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett. Young Alex "redesigns" Birthday Bunny, the book his Gran Gran gives him for his birthday. This playful reinterpretation of a youngster's picture book is also the story of fleeting childhood.
"Little Sister Is Not My Name" by Sharon M. Draper. Thanks to her special shiny sack, her spunk -- and her grandmother -- Sassy learns that being the youngest in the family isn't always a bad thing.
"Journey" by Aaron Becker. Wordless picture books like this one help our early readers grow. Join a young girl on a trip through a fantasyland of her own artistic creation.
"Nelson Mandela" by Kadir Nelson. A reader can lose himself in Kadir Nelson's rich illustrations of the life of South African leader Nelson Mandela.
"Magic Treehouse Fact Trackers" by Mary Pope Osborne. Take the Jack and Annie stories to the next level by reading the facts behind their adventures.
"Flora and Ulysses" by Kate DiCamillo. Families can be tricky and sometimes even dangerous to navigate. Nobody knows this better than Flora and Ulysses. Part chapter book, part graphic novel, this Newbery Medal book about a girl and her superhero squirrel sidekick is curiously believable in all the right ways.
"One Crazy Summer" and "P.S. Be Eleven" by Rita Williams-Garcia. In 1968 Oakland, sisters Delphine, Vonetta and Fern meet their poet mother, Cecile; go to summer camp with the Black Panthers; and make unexpected friends. In the sequel, the girls carry on back home in Brooklyn, changed by their experience in Oakland and their new relationship with their mother.
"How to Catch a Bogle" by Catherine Jinks. Ten-year-old Birdie is apprentice to a bogler, or monster catcher. While some folks don't believe in the spirits that Birdie and Alfred face down regularly, monsters are very real to the bogle-catching team as they investigate the disappearance of several orphan children. This book is an interesting combination of chilling and sweet.
"Doll Bones" by Holly Black. A childhood game of pretend turns into a coming-of-age adventure as Zach, Poppy and Alice run away to solve a murder mystery and fulfill the destiny of a ghost who takes the form of an antique china doll.
"The Giver" by Lois Lowry. If you have not yet read this book, do yourself a favor and read it now, before the movie comes out in August. If you already read it as a younger student, try it again with a new lens.
"Better Nate than Ever" by Tim Federle. With the help of his best friend/drama coach -- and behind his parents' backs -- 13-year-old Nate sets off for a Broadway audition. He hits speed bumps and total roadblocks along the way, but his humor and heartfelt nature see him through.
Have fun, kids!
Reach Martin Snapp at firstname.lastname@example.org.