Out of the Best Books: Summer Reading Fun


All the books listed have been reviewed by the Friend editorial staff and are generally available in libraries/bookstores.
“Of all the needs a book has, the chief need is that it be readable.”—Anthony Trollope

Up and Down on the Merry-Go-Round The bright illustrations and oom-pah-pah rhythm of the text make these pages the next best thing to being there. Bill Martin, Jr., and John Archambault 2–5 years

Little Toot This story of the little tugboat that learned to be responsible is just as appealing as when it was first published, over sixty years ago. Hardie Gramatky 3–5 years

The Guinea Pig ABC Only capital letters are used, but one-word concepts (high, itchy, vain) are taught well with endearing illustrations. Kate Duke 3–6 years

Faye and Dolores Dolores always wants to do what Faye does, and she makes Faye a sandwich that you have to see to believe (and then won’t!). Yet despite broken crayons, monsters on the dresser, and that sandwich, they know how lucky they are—they have each other! An easy-to-read book. Barbara Samuels 3–7 years

Look at Me! A beginning book about a few of the things that people do. Diecuts in the sturdy paper pages allow the reader first to see what the bus driver, pilot, teacher, farmer, sailor, or forest ranger sees, then to see each in a more panoramic setting. Dorothy Marcic Hai 4–6 years

Little Polar Bear When Lars, the little polar bear, is carried far away by the sea, he meets some wonderful new friends who help him return to his worried father and mother. Hans de Beer 4–7 years

Clara and the Bookwagon Clara wanted to learn to read, but Papa said that there wasn’t time, that they had to keep busy working on their farm. Then the bookwagon came. … Based on a true story. Nancy Smiler Levinson 4–8 years

My Favorite Time of Year In fall, Kelly jumps into piles of leaves. In winter, she goes sledding with Daddy. In spring, there are puddles to splash in. In summer, at the family reunion, everyone spits watermelon seeds. Much more happens throughout the year in this charming book. Susan Pearson 5–8 years

Prince Boghole The princess was as good as she was beautiful, but Prince Brian’s father’s kingdom was so small and poor that it was considered only a bog, and Brian was nicknamed Boghole. How could he hope to win the princess as his bride? Christian Erik Haugaard 5–10 years

Mister King The king has no subjects and sees none of the beauty of his kingdom until a stray cat helps him learn to serve others. Raija Siekkinen 6–8 years

In Nate the Great and the Fishy Prize, Nate the Great and the Phony Clue, and Nate the Great Goes Down in the Dumps, a boy solves neighborhood mysteries. His faithful dog, Sludge, helps him. These are funny, clever books for beginning readers who can solve the mysteries—where the fishy prize was, what the phony clue meant, and why Nate was down in the (garbage) dumps—along with Nate. Marjorie Weinman Sharmat 6–9 years

The Star Maiden A long time ago, this Ojibway legend begins, “Bird-song rang from every tree and the earth was rich with everything the people needed.” It was a time of peace and beauty, and Star Maiden looked for a place to settle with her sky-sisters. Barbara Juster Esbensen (Reteller) 6–11 years

Perkins David really needed a pet, but Dad was allergic to cats. When Grandpa came, he told them that it was Dad’s brother who was allergic, and David finally gets Perkins. Then, when they come home from a trip, a double has taken Perkins’s place. Linda Yeatman 7–10 years

The King’s Chessboard The wise man doesn’t want a reward, but the king insists. So the wise man asks for a reward that will teach the king a lesson. And it all starts with a single grain of rice on a chessboard. David Birch 7–11 years

Lucky’s Crash Landing, Lucky Breaks Loose, and Lucky’s Gold Mine Lucky’s a fun-loving Mormon boy who seldom lives in one place for more than three weeks. Even so, he has all kinds of adventures with a boy who’s ostracized by others because of his family’s lifestyle, a boy in his Blazer B class who can’t wait to grow up and leave the Church, and a girl who doesn’t know how to be a girl. You’ll laugh and cry with him as he also learns a lot the hard way about skateboarding, football, and snowmobiling. Dean Hughes 8–12 years

The Hornbeam Tree For nature lovers. Along with the beautiful art are short poems about various birds and forest and “neighborhood” animals. Charles Norman 8 years and up

Eleanor Because their school was always last at the yearly city-wide field day, their float was always at the end of the parade. Then a pro-basketball superstar was coming to town, and everything was going to be on nationwide television! But their float broke, and when they remade it, it dissolved the day before field day. That’s when they turned to Eleanor. Mary Francis Shura 9–12 years

Along Came a Dog Each time Joe drove the homeless dog away from the farm and dumped him, the dog came back. Then Joe’s pet red hen disappeared, and Joe found the dog with egg on its muzzle. Meindert DeJong 9–13 years

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz The movie version of this book is wonderful, but there is even more going on in the book, which is divided into short, easy-to-read chapters. You can read it just for fun and adventure, or you can find lots of ideas to think about. Frank L. Baum 9–14 years

The Antrian Messenger Scott isn’t like other kids—he sometimes knows things that are going to happen before they do, he’s haunted by visions of exploding planets, and government agents spy on him. He learns that he isn’t who he thought he was and that he must leave behind all that he loves. G. Clifton Wisler 10–14 years

Harry Newberry and the Raiders of the Red Drink This hilarious, wildly exciting science-fiction parody will have you looking at your mother with new eyes. After all, she may be another Tuatara, superhero daughter of a crazy scientist whose experiment worked—but only once before he lost the formula. Mel Gilden 10 years and up

Nonfiction

What Happens to a Hamburger Not just hamburger but all foods start to change the minute you bite into them. This book explains in simple terms and with easy-to-understand, cartoonlike pictures just what happens to the food you eat. Paul Showers 5–9 years

Blimps You almost feel as if you are actually riding in one of these giant airships as you look at the illustrations and read about why blimps are so big and how they are made and how they fly and what they’re used for. Roxie Munro 7–12 years

A Kid’s First Book of Gardening If you’re really interested in doing it right, this book will tell you how to grow not just the usual beans, tomatoes, and so forth, but also mammoth fruits, meat-eating plants, herbs, fancy flowers, and several unusual plants, such as “chocolate peppers.” Derek Fell 8–14 years

Leonardo da Vinci Leonardo’s inventions included a submarine, an alarm clock, a city sewer system, musical instruments, a helicopter, a mechanical roasting spit, spectacular city pageants, an army tank. He did medical research of incalculable worth as well as paint the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper. Yet his fifteenth-century fellow citizens considered him a little crazy and laughed at or ignored him. John Thomas 9–13 years

A Horse of a Different Color Palominos, bays, roans, pintos, points, saddles, stars, blazes, and much more are explained for the serious horse lover. Dorothy Hinshaw Patent 9 years and up

The Young Detective’s Handbook The most successful crimebusters, including Scotland Yard and the FBI, will tell you that weapons don’t beat criminals—brains do! William Vivian Butler 10 years and up

[illustration] Illustrated by Taia Morley