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.
Books are keys to wisdom’s treasure;
Books are gates to lands of pleasure;
Books are paths that upward lead;
Books are friends. Come, let us read.

—Emilie Poulsson

Everyday Children, Everyday Pets, Everyday House, and Everyday Town These sturdy board books have delightful cut-paper art and three four-line stanzas of poetry. A sample stanza from Everyday Town: “There’s a lovely parade with tubas and drums / and people who wave and wave. / The town pigeons coo, the town trucks beep-beep, / the town squirrels search for nuts they can save.” Cynthia Rylant 2–4 years

Whistle for Willie Peter whirls around and around, draws with chalk, pretends to be his dad, and does other child-things while trying to learn to whistle for Willie, his dog. The mood is what’s special in this gentle book. Ezra Jack Keats 3–5 years

The Farmer in the Dell Not only is the music provided for this traditional children’s game but also instructions on how to play it and a short paragraph on its history. Mary Maki Rae 3–6 years

Baseball, Football, Daddy and Me he boy goes to games of all sorts with his father—baseball, football, basketball, hockey, soccer, tennis, golf, more—and he loves it. Even more, he loves when his father takes him to the park and plays catch with him. David Friend 3–7 years

Oliver Pig at School Oliver is happy about going to school for the very first time—until he gets on the bus. Then he starts to worry. But he has a wonderful teacher, does all kinds of fun things, and makes a new friend—who also likes dinosaurs. Easy-to-read. Jean Van Leeuwen 4–6 years

Keep Looking! Where do the animals go in the winter? The yard looks empty, and snow covers the ground—but if you are patient and look carefully, you will see all kinds of wildlife. Millicent Selsam and Joyce Hunt 4–7 years

The Dove’s Letter The dove finds a letter in the woods. Sure that it’s important, she tries to deliver it. But each person who reads it gets very happy and excited and runs off without it, and the dove has to take it to someone else. … Keith Baker 4–8 years

What Mary Jo Shared Everything Mary Jo thought of for Show and Tell had already been brought by someone else. When she finally did bring something, it was so special that everyone else wanted to share theirs, too—but she brought hers first! Janice May Udry 5–7 years

Last One in Is a Rotten Egg Freddy was the “rotten egg” because he had to go down to the shallow end of the pool. Even worse, he was pushed into the deep end, and the life guard, who pulled him out, didn’t see the two big boys who did it. So what could Freddy do? Very easy to read. Leonard Kessler 5–8 years

Stradivari’s Singing Violin Antonio played the violin better than just about anyone else—and he was just ten years old! But he didn’t want to be a violin player, and he didn’t want to be a composer. He wanted to make better violins. Catherine Deverell 5–9 years

Danger at the Breaker This easy-to-read book is about eight-year-old Andrew, who had to go to work at the coal mine in a time when the workers were forced to shop at the company (mine owner’s) store for high prices and didn’t even have running water in their homes. There were few safety measures at the mines. Cave-ins and explosions, such as Andrew experienced his first day on the job, were everyday happenings. Catherine Welch 6–8 years

Baseball Ballerina The Sharks’ shortstop’s mother makes her take ballet. Mary Ann, her best friend and the Sharks’ catcher, has to take it, too, even though both girls think ballet is for “wimps.” Then—oh, oh!—Mary Ann starts to like it. Easy to read. Kathryn Cristaldi 6–9 years

Gulliver’s Adventures in Lilliput It is 1699, and Lemuel Gulliver, thirsting for adventure, sets sail for the East Indies. When he is shipwrecked on an island of people only inches high, he gets more adventure than he ever dreamed of. Ann Keay Beneduce’s retelling of this classic novel is very well done. Jonathan Swift 6–9 years

Kate Shelley and the Midnight Express One very stormy night, fifteen-year-old Kate Shelley saved hundreds of lives when she crawled on her hands and knees across the railroad bridge. Because her lantern had blown out, she had to feel her way so that she wouldn’t fall through where the boards were missing! This easy-to-read story is true. Margaret K. Wetterer 7–9 years

A Smooth Move When Gus has to move, he writes about saying good-bye to his friends with a big pizza party, living in a hotel until the moving van gets there, telling jokes while riding the elevator with his cat, and much more. Berniece Rabe 7–10 years

Rookies Kenny, Jacob, and Harlan may have made the Little League Angel Park Dodgers team, but they still have problems. In Making the Team, even though they ace the tryouts, they still have to prove to the older guys that they, the rookies, really are good. In Big Base Hit, Harlan is going to be kicked off the team if he doesn’t come through for it. Find out how the team got out of its awful slump in Winning Streak. In What a Catch! veteran player Brian will have to quit the team unless he can show his dad that he can play well. Jacob and Harlan are convinced that Kenny thinks that he is too good for them in Rookie Star. Dean Hughes 7–11 years

The Bridge Dancers Maisie’s mother has gone across the dangerous old footbridge to help a woman who’s about to have a baby. Maisie and her sister, Callie, have been forbidden to go on the bridge, and Maisie is grateful because she is afraid of it. But when Callie has an accident, Maisie must cross the bridge. You’ll have to read this slim paperback to see how she succeeds after turning back from the bridge in fear. Carol Saller 8–11 years

Plain Girl Life wasn’t simple for Esther anymore. Her beloved brother had been banished, she was the only one at school wearing plain black clothes, and Mary (not one of the Plain People) was very kind to her and wanted them to be best friends—something her father would never approve of. Virginia Sorensen 8–12 years

AJ’s Best Friends When Grandma and her dog, Miranda, come to live with AJ’s family, AJ is thrilled. Then Miranda digs up a neighbor’s flowers, and he calls the police. Although AJ’s grandma and Primary class help, she gets so involved with trying to solve her problems that she almost loses her best friend. Karla Erickson 8–12 years

The Beggar’s Bible Thirteen-year-old Arnold wanted to go to school in a time when the son of a serf (which he was) was not allowed to be educated. This story of his struggles is also about the struggles of John Wycliffe, who wanted the Bible to get to the common people so that the corrupt priests would lose their hold over them. Louise A. Vernon 9–14 years

Nonfiction

The Glorious ABC This book features the illustrations of classic children’s-book artists of the past. A brief note about each is at the end. Cooper Edens (compiler) 3–5 years

Animal Camouflage What animal is so transparent that you could read a book through it? Why do polar bears cover their noses? These and lots of other interesting questions are answered here, and the animals are illustrated with both photographs and art. Anita Ganeri 4–7 years

Great Stories from Mormon History Many of these short, exciting, very readable stories may be familiar, such as Joseph Smith’s leg operation when he was a boy. Others you probably won’t know. But all are of genuine heroes. The authors, in an afterword, talk about the hero you may be: “There is still plenty of grit in the Church. … Crossing the plains was tough, but living a good life in a corrupt world is also tough. Faith, nobility, goodness, love, heroism—all these qualities are still with us, and our own journals will someday give courage to those who come after us.” Dean Hughes and Tom Hughes 8–12 years

Fantastic Flying Paper Toys Kites and airplanes are only minor features in this book. The tubes and discs and spinners—even UFOs—are more fascinating yet. Everything is clearly explained and illustrated, and very little more than paper, scissors, and tape is needed for these toys that really go! E. Richard Churchill 8–13 years

Simple Weather Experiments With Everyday Materials Learn why clouds look white and the sky looks blue (most of the time), what Foucault’s pendulum proved, what all the major weather records are (for example, it didn’t rain for four hundred years in the desert of Atacama, Chile!), how to make rain and lightning, and much more in this fascinating, easy-to-read book. Muriel Mandell 9–12 years

[illustration] Illustrated by Dick Brown