Out of the Best Books: Summer Reading Fun


All books listed here have been reviewed by the Friend editorial staff and are generally available in libraries/bookstores.

Mom’s Gift

By Amber Spackman (with some help from Dad, Gary Lynn Spackman)

I’ve been to London to visit the queen,
I’m friends with Jack Sprat, who could eat only lean,
I’m acquainted with Aesop, and all of his fables,
And I’ve become friends with Anne of Green Gables.
I’ve met Abraham Lincoln and Benjamin Harrison,
And Georgie, who kissed all the girls—how embarrassin’!
I’ve shivered with fright next to brave Nancy Drew,
Helped the Grinch steal Christmas from each Whoville Who.
I’ve lived in the future, traveled backward in time,
I won the Olympics, even though I’m just nine.
I could not have found red ferns, or ’coons that were treed,
If Mom hadn’t helped me to learn how to read.

Hugo at the Window When Hugo’s friend leaves, Hugo looks for him out the window. Hugo can’t see him, but we can if we look hard among the shops and other interesting places that are shown. And when the friend comes back, he brings something that makes Hugo very happy. Anne Rockwell 2–4 years

Will You Come Back for Me? A tender story about how Suki knows for sure that when she goes to the Child Care Center, her mother will always come back for her. Ann Tompert 2–5 years

Off to School Appealing, detailed art illustrates Button Brown’s first day at school: the things in his pencil box and backpack, a nice teacher, the special place for his own coat and things, all kinds of classroom and recess activities, new friends, and much more. Ann Schweninger 2–6 years

Things to Play With Some of the things pictured (the only words are labels) are things that are noisy, things that are quiet, things in the yard, things at the beach, things on snow and ice, and things in your room. Anne Rockwell 3–6 years

The Wheels on the Bus While waiting for the bus, Grandma teaches Joanna and Jenny this favorite song (the simple tune is included). As they sing it, you see Grandma’s rib-tickling memories of a double-decker bus in England. As the song ends, the trio realize that they’ve missed their own bus! Maryann Kovalski 3–7 years

Dear Daddy … Bound by love, but separated by distance, Sophie writes lively, seasonal letters to her daddy, which are not only illustrated themselves but also have a wordless picture story above them about Daddy’s life at sea until the family is happily reunited at last. Philippe Dupasquier 3–8 years

The Midnight Farm The sun has gone down; the moon has not yet come out. Gentle rhymes count the cows and other familiar farm animals and the mice and other timid wild animals that a mother and son see as they explore the farm in the quiet darkness of late evening. Reeve Lindbergh 4–6 years

Rosa’s Special Garden Papa spades and Mama rakes Rosa’s garden for her. Joe and Mary offer her some of their seeds to plant. But she doesn’t want them—her garden isn’t for growing vegetables or flowers. Everyone likes it, though. Rosa’s garden is special. Dale Fife 4–7 years

Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia All the Amelia Bedelia books are hilarious, and this is one of the funniest. Amelia is the zaniest baseball player that ever was, and you don’t have to be nuts about the game to laugh your head off at her off-base efforts as a substitute Grizzly. Peggy Parish 4–8 years

“B” Is for Betsy School is a little different now than it was when this story was written over fifty years ago, but the first day can still be scary, and watching tadpoles and putting on a circus are still a lot of fun. Carolyn Haywood 5–7 Years

Herbert Binns and the Flying Tricycle When McTabbity, Zip, and Weasly try to ruin Herbert Binns’s demonstration of his invention by stealing his special starting pin, he foils their plan—not with trickery but with using his brain. Caroline Castle 5–9 years

Stan the Hot Dog Man When Stan retires from the bakery, he opens a hot dog stand. He sells a lot of hot dogs—until a blizzard comes. An easy-to-read book. Ethel and Leonard Kessler 6–9 years

The Boxcar Children The four children’s parents have died, and they are running away so that their mean grandfather won’t find them. When they find an empty, abandoned boxcar in the woods, it makes a perfect home for them—until Violet gets very sick. Very easy to read. Gertrude Chandler Warner 6–10 years

A. A. Seagull You probably already know the Church story of the seagull miracle, but have you ever wondered about it from the gulls’ point of view? This small, easy-to-read book is the account as told by the fictitious Archibald Airmaster the Seventeenth. Susan Evans McCloud 7–10 years

Jenny Archer, Author When Jenny writes the story of her life for a school assignment, she tells about her birth on the banks of the Amazon. She exposes her great-grandfather as a bloodthirsty pirate. She reveals the dark secrets of Great-Great-Grandmother Buffalo Belle Archer, the notorious stagecoach robber and opera star. And she unmasks Horrible Hortense, her evil twin sister. It is clearly an A+ effort. So why does her teacher send a note home to her parents? Ellen Conford 7–10 years

Seymour, the Formerly Fearful Seymour was a klutz. And he was afraid of everything, even of learning to ride a bike. The only thing he was good at—he thought—was making excuses. Then his cousin came from Israel and decided to make him a mensch (regular guy). Eve B. Feldman 8–11 years

The Other Side of the Door It’s 1910, your name is Dora, you are literally tongue-tied and can’t go to school, so you are called Dumb Dora. This story tells about your trials, successes, and exciting times as your family moves from Holladay, Utah, to Clovis, New Mexico. One of the exciting times is when Indians ride up. It’s a very good thing that Papa’s father served a mission among that very tribe—Papa’s plan results in a VIP (Very Important Present). … Joy N. Hulme 8–12 years

Robin Hood This brief version of the legend includes how Robert Locksley was forced to become an outlaw, how Little John and Friar Tuck joined his band, how they rescued three young boys from the gallows, and other major events before he was slain by an enemy. Sarah Hayes (reteller) 9–12 years

The Snow Pony Jannie hated recess. Marigold bragged about her boyfriend, and Jannie was either left out or laughed at. Then the “mad hermit of Winterfield” hired her to tame a pony for his grandson. But Jannie didn’t know anything about horses—and the grandson didn’t want it. Anne Eliot Crompton 9–13 years

Mystery at the Mall Jelly did some amateur sleuthing when a valuable gold coin—and food and boy’s clothing and a fur coat and other things—were stolen from mall stores. She didn’t expect the thief’s father to try to kidnap her right under the nose of the security guard. Marian Hostetler 10–13 years

Soccer Duel Terry had been Windsor High School’s star in baseball, basketball, and football and was expected to follow his father’s footsteps as a college football All-American. When he switched to soccer, he was no longer the star, and his hotdogging only made enemies. Thomas J. Dygard 10 years and up

Nonfiction

Christopher Columbus This easy-to-read book tells, in an interesting way, just the main parts of Columbus’ discovery of America. For instance: “The ships are loaded with food and water. There are extra sails and spare wood. In fact, so much is stored below, the sailors must sleep on deck.” The colorful pictures help to tell the story in careful detail. Stephen Krensky 5–7 years

Sunshine Makes the Seasons, revised There are lots of colorful step-by-step pictures in this little book—be sure to get the revised edition—to help you understand how/why we have seasons. It is very easy to read. Franklyn M. Branley 6–10 years

Follow the Dream If you don’t like to read much but are intrigued by old maps and clever pictures, this book about Christopher Columbus is for you. Peter Sis 7–10 years

Reynard: The Story of a Fox Returned to the Wild This is the true story of a baby fox that was found near a toll booth of a busy New York highway. His story is told, with many photographs, until his return to the wild. Alice Mills Leighner 8–11 years

Louisville Slugger: The Making of a Baseball Bat Ted Williams believed that a bat was a better hitter if the tree it was made from had narrow growth rings. One of Babe Ruth’s bats—he liked pin knots in the bat barrel—had a notch for every home run he hit with it. Jan Arnow 9–13 years

Smart Spending Included are tips on how to avoid getting gypped by others—and by yourself! A small sample: “There is no one ‘right’ way to budget.” “All merchandise is covered by what is known as an ‘implied warranty.’” “Warranties must be written in ordinary language, not ‘legalese.’” Much more of real value is in the book, all with interesting and easy-to-read case studies. Lois Schmitt 10–15 years