Summer can be boring when you’re a kid on break from elementary school. There are just so many camps, TV shows, video games and bike rides. Then what? Well, a book can divert a restless child for a long time. And if a parent reads to the child or, even better, has the child read to him or her, some real sharing can result. Here are a few recent offerings of good quality to share with your little one:
MOTHER’S LOVE, INSPIRING TRUE STORIES FROM THE ANIMAL
By Melina Gerosa Bellows
National Geographic Books, $9.95 hardcover; 92 pp.
Bellows is a mother herself as well as chief creative officer for books, kids and family at National Geographic. A harrowing experience with one of her own children drove home the power of the maternal instinct for her.
“There may be no stronger power on Earth than a mother’s love. Mothers have lifted cars, taken bullets, charged into burning buildings, and fought off bears to protect their children. But humans are the only ones to go to such elaborate lengths for the sake of their young — so do mothers in the animal kingdom,” Bellows writes. She decided to mine the wealth of images at National Geographic, combine those with tidbits about how animals parent, quotes from high-profile people and short anecdotes about heroic animal mothers. It’s a winning combination.
A photograph of a mama giraffe nuzzling her calf is accompanied by the information that “Giraffe mothers give birth on their feet — and their newborns drop six feet to the ground, headfirst. The fall actually helps them take first breaths.” Who needs a slap on the bottom from the family doctor?
There are tales of a heroic mama cat rescuing her kittens from a fire, a mother grizzly letting a male bear know he’s not to mess with her cubs, a goose whose goslings find themselves in a fix and who finds a human to come to their aid and many more inspiring and touching true stories.
The photos are what you expect from National Geographic, the best. This is a wonderful book to share with your child or any child to let them know how much their mothers love them. As author Elizabeth Stone says in her quote, “Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”
This book is suitable for ages 6-8.
GIANT PEACH YODEL
By Jan Peck,
illustrated by Barry Root
Pelican Publishing, $16.99
This is a big board book that is illustrated with whimsical pastel drawings by Root. It’s a funny tale about a family of country people — Tall Papa Tom, Pretty Mama May, Sweet Sister Isabelle and Little Buddy Earl — who load into the family truck to head to the Peach-Pickin’ Festival. Little Buddy Earl sits in the back and sings to the crops they pass. “Corn in the fields,/How dod you do?/I love grits/And yodel-ay-dee-hoo!”
Isabelle likes the tune but has a question, “‘Well, for fleas in a frying pan,’ said Sweet Sister Isabelle. ‘Little Buddy Earl sure can yodel. But what’s the use of that?’”
Sure enough, the family learns the use of Little Buddy Earl’s yodeling in the course of the story, and it involves giant peaches and good fun and a parade. This tall tale-like offering is great fun and the characters are silly and sweet and just right for a summer read for a child 6-8. There’s even a recipe for peach cobbler at the back that children can make with their parents.
By I.C. Springman,
illustrated by Brian Lies
Houghton Mifflin Books
for Children, $16.99
A magpie is an acquisitive animal. They’ll collect anything and carry it to their nest. The magpie in this story starts with a marble — something— and quickly escalates to a coin and Lego piece — more. Then the magpie finds other things to bring to the nest and has “Lots,” “Plenty,” “A bit much,” “Much too much” and “Way too much.” The stuff the bird has collected is overwhelming the nest.
When the magpie moves past “Enough” and “More than enough,” it seems like it has “Everything.” Little mice help the bird by pushing some of the stuff out, making “Less” “and less.” It’s a lesson about clutter and hoarding that many of today’s children can use as they sort through fast-food toys, videos, gaming boxes, stuffed animals, toy cars, plastic swords, even books and coloring crayons that litter their rooms. Parents can use some help here too.
Lies’ illustrations are brightly colored and rendered in a figurative style well-suited to this simple story. This is a good book for children ages 4-6.
PECOS BILL INVENTS
THE TEN-GALLON HAT
By Kevin Strauss,
illustrated by David Harrington
Pelican Publishing, $16.99
Pecos Bill is out on the Plains one day herding cattle, and he realizes that the sun is just burning down on his bare head and neck. It’s hot and uncomfortable. So Bill rides up under a tree to enjoy the shade. He is, the cattle don’t follow him. He can’t herd them from under the tree — or can he?
Bill tries to move the tree and manages the feat, but it’s all for naught because the cattle don’t want to get under the fallen limbs. So Bill fastens a limb to his back so that it juts up above his head and shades him.
That works fine while he’s out with the cows, but when he goes to town, he finds his tree limb is a bit bulky to carry into stores and banks and such. So he decides he needs something else, some kind of hat.
As Bill tries out different hats, comic consequences ensue. He tries many kinds of hats, but finally decides to invent something and that’s how cowboys started wearing those big old hats.
This is a pure fun adventure filled with some good laughs and exaggerations. Little cowboys and cowgirls will love it. For ages 5-7.
A COLOR GAME
FOR CHESTER RACCOON
By Audrey Penn, illustrated
by Barbara L. Gibson
Young Chester Raccoon spies a bird with white feathers in a tree, and that sets off a game. Chester starts spotting different colors in the world around him.
He sees a blue flower, orange butterfly, a yellow balloon and more. He has so much fun that his friend Cassie joins in the game.
This is a sweet and simple little board book with cartoon-style illustrations. It’s sturdy enough to withstand rough handling from children ages 3-5.