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Great Books for Great Kids!

08/30/2013 10:08AM ● Published by Nancy Babin

Maybe I am just getting old, but time just seems to fly faster and faster. It feels like summer just started and suddenly it was gone and here we are immersed another busy school year.

In keeping with the fact that our kids are in school now and already working hard on science projects, spelling words, math tests and such, I am including for this month books that aren’t quite so long. Kids can get frustrated when they are busy and settling into new routines and then they have lengthy more “thought provoking” books pushed on them. There is a time for that type book, and then there are times for books that are more of the type of book that we adults would call “beach reads.” For kids’ leisure time, I personally think summer is the better time for the more difficult books and the school year is a better for the kids’ version of “beach reads.”

The first one is “Salt” by Helen Frost. If you have ever read my articles before, you already know how much I like historical fiction – when it is done well. “Salt” is done quite well. It is fast paced and interesting and will draw kids in. The book takes place during the War of 1812 and is centers on a friendship between 2 boys. Anikwa’s family are members of the Miami Indian tribe and James’ family are fur traders. Because of James’ family having ties to both the Miami tribe and also to the American soldiers at the fort, things get really interesting when war breaks out. Immediately, commodities like salt become critical to the army and the friendship of the boys and the relationship between James’ family and the Miami tribe is put to the test. The book is interesting and takes a real look at a very difficult time in American history. Anyone ages 11 and up will enjoy this one.

Next is a completely different and new book by one of my favorite children’s authors, Richard Peck. “The Mouse With the Question Mark Tail” is a lively, fun book that parents and children will all enjoy. We tried it out as a read aloud this summer and loved it. The main character is, obviously, a mouse – the smallest mouse in London’s Royal Mews Mouse Academy. He is such a small insignificant mouse, he doesn’t even have a real name. So the mouse with the question mark tail runs away from school and heads to Buckingham Palace to find out who he is and what he is supposed to become. This book is fun and different. If you enjoyed the Tale of Despereaux you will love this one. I recommend it for boys or girls ages 9 and up, and I encourage you to consider it as a read aloud. Sometimes during the school year a lively story is a nice way to end the day.

As remakes of fairy tales seem to be all the rage these days, I found a book that does just that. “Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin” by Liesl Shurtliff is the story that goes behind the scenes of the commonly known tale to tell about Rump, a 12 year old boy who is a big joke to everyone. When Rump discovers an old spinning wheel he discovers he has the magical ability to weave straw into gold. His best friend, Red Riding Hood, warns him he is in danger and she turns out to be right. To get out of danger, Rump goes on a perilous adventure, but throughout there is humor that will delight the reader. This book is fun and different and I think your child will have a great time reading it. I recommend for anyone ages 10 and up.

Finally, for this month I include “Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library” by Chris Grabenstein. This is true proof that “last is not least” because this was my favorite one of the bunch. It is one of the most innovative story lines I have seen in a while. Luigi Lemoncello, a famed game designer, is involved in designing a town library. For the library opening, 12 town kids are chosen to spend the night in the library for an overnight of fun, food and games. Kyle, a game lover, is one of the winners of a spot to attend and the kids all have a great time. However, the next morning the library doors remain locked and the kids discover that they have to solve an intricate puzzle to figure their way out. Your child will love this book, the characters are funny and quirky and you just cannot figure out what is going to happen next. In our family, it inspired us to come up with some games on our own that are derived from the original ideas set forth in this book. I see some great birthday party ideas! Anyone ages 8 and up will enjoy this one. Don’t be fooled by the age 8 I placed here. At 40+ I found it really enjoyable!

I truly hope your family has settled in to a new school year. Try to slow down every once in a while. Your kids are going to be gone before you know it and a few minutes at night reading together can create a bond that will last.

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