Archive for April, 2012

I’m reluctant to title this blog as “Great Books for Boys” when, in fact, I know that it’s not reasonable to assume that there are books that are really only geared for boys or girls.  I do know, however, that this post won’t include any of the Fancy Nancy books or the story of Cinderella or the Angelina Ballerina  stories — which, by the way, is one of my very favorite series.  I’ve selected books that I do feel, however, are sure fire hits with most boys who love the idea of adventure and exploration.  Watch out boys!  The girls will be stealing these books out from under your noses to read when you’re not looking!

My own sons while growing up, couldn’t put the books down.  My oldest son is standing here in front of the Atlantic Ocean on the OuterBanks of North Carolina, totally oblivious to the dancing dolphins and parading pelicans as he’s absorbed in some wild adventure.  He was too engrossed in the story to even sit down to read!  This is as it should be!

Now let’s talk about some of these books and tell me what you think.



                                           Spy Cat by Peg Kehret

This Newbery Award winning book is a fun read.  The story is written from two perspectives—a cat and a young boy who loves to spy.  While the story isn’t riveting, it does have a contemporary theme about burglars and kidnapping.  It demonstrates the bravery of a young boy along with the intelligence and creativity of a pet cat.  Good read for those young readers. Ask kids to talk about what were smart things the young spy did and maybe some things that might not have been such a good idea.  Ages 8-11.


                                  The Indian in the Cupboard – by Lynne Reid Banks

Now here’s a winner.  My boys absolutely loved this series when they were young.  And while I heard them talking about it, I never read it.  What a clever idea for a story,,,magical.  This even makes a dandy read-aloud to all ages.  What could be more exciting than following the ad ventures of a plastic miniature cowboy and Indian as they magically become alive?  It’s a great opportunity to talk about friendship and the responsibilities that are an important part of friendship.  You know…always a lesson to be learned and talked about.  Ages 7-10


                           Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca

Even though the U.S. space program may be on a temporary (we hope) hiatus, kids still love learning all about the original astronauts and going to the moon.  The illustrations and story here about the Apollo 11 flight to the moon will have even the die-hard fiction readers intrigued.  Kids who love learning about space flight will love it the best.  It’s a winner. Ages 4-10

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

             Looking for good books for young adult boys?  Well—look no further.  This book really surprised me—nothing like anything I’ve read before.  It’s sort of autobiographical of the Native American author, Alexie.  It’s written from a young 14 yr. old Indian’s view and talks about living on a reservation “rez” in Washington.  He’s bound and determined to fight against the odds thrown at him—a disability at birth, poverty and alcoholism on the rez and in his family, dysfunctional school and bullies all around.  Pick it up and read it together.  The cartoon illustrations are great fun.  A must read for boys, especially boys who live on a reservation.  Highly motivational.  A note…there are some references to “boy stuff” and some language some may shrink at, but it’s real and heart wrenching yet said with humor.  See—I can’t stop talking about it!  Ages 13-16+







                                    Incredible Explosions by Stephen Biesty( illustrator) and Richard Platt (text)

Stephen Biesty, who illustrated the book Egypt in Spectacular Cross-Section  and Into the Unknown , creates a fascinating close up look at a variety of things from windmills, a base station in the Antarctic and even the human body.  We’re supposed to provide more non-fiction sources for our children these days and this is a great place to look.  You can spend hours—OK, maybe not hours—but a good long time, looking closely and learning the minute details about how things are built and work.  Guaranteed hit with the older guys.  Ages 9+


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You see?  What have I been telling you?  It’s never too early to start reading aloud to the little guys.  OK, I’ll admit that these are my grandchildren and their Dad (my son) loves to read aloud to his kids so maybe I’m just slightly biased.  So here it is…I challenge anyone who reads this blog to select at least 3 books from the books I’ve reviewed and provide a comment including your own feedback about reading those books aloud to kids, grandkids, students, the babysitting coop or just providing the books in local Little Free Libraries ( see littlefreelibrary.org. If you’re not sure what Little Free Libraries are, just check out this link). Let’s just see what the rest of you think about the books I’ve recommended.  The public library is a great place to start.  You can use some of the books I review below or others from previous blogs.  TAKE THE CHALLENGE!  While I’m at it…let’s not leave the Mom out of this picture.  This child is doubly lucky to have adoring parents who LOVE to read!

The Impudent Rooster adapted by Sabina Rascol/illustrated by Holly Berry

  This adaptation of a classic Romanian story is absolutely wonderful.  It’s a folktale about greed vs. selflessness.  Caring and sharing overcome greed and meanness.  It’s a good story for helping kids appreciate the importance of sharing and helping those less fortunate than themselves.  Oh—couldn’t we all use this lesson?  Ages 3-7


The Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers

         Where has this book been all my life?—Hilarious, marvelous, creative illustrations.  What a creative way to encourage young children about the wonderful value of reading.  Parents, you’ll love it as much as the kids.  Notice the last page—a surprise.  Ages 3-7



                           Maxine in the Middle by Holly Keller

Great for any middle child or child feeling left out – cute illustrations.  This might even be good for siblings getting a new sibling and who feels left out.  I should know—I was the middle child in the  middle of five.  My mother always said, “Well you’re in the middle which is the best part of the sandwich”, when I felt left out.  Ages 2-5




                        Winter Waits  by Lynn Plourde/ illustrated by Greg Couch

This is a beautiful book – gorgeous, imaginative illustrations.  Young children who frequently ask, “Can you come play with me now?  Look at me.  Look what I made.  Look now.  Look now!” and who often get the response, “ Not right now, honey.  In a minute.  I’ll be there in a few seconds”….will love this book.  The rhyming and creative words add to the magic.  Ages 2-5



How Snake Got His Hiss by Marguerite W. Davol/illustrated by Mercedes Mc

For those of you who have read Kipling’s Just So Stories when you were young, you’ll love this variation.  Snake is a bit of a bully so that’s also a good lesson for all young listeners.  Have fun talking together about all the changes snake has as he moves towards getting the look snakes have today.  The words appear on the page as the shape of the snake.  How fun is that??

Ages 3-5

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Grandma has a special reading time with her granddaughter.

Grandpa reads all about dinosaurs to his grandson.

Some of my own children’s favorite memories were being read to by their grandparents.  They were so lucky because all of their grandparents had a love for reading and enjoyed sharing their enthusiasm for books with all of their grandchildren whenever they visited.  My children had an extra bonus because one of their grandmothers was a children librarian and was one of the best storytellers around.  It was always such a treat for our kids to be able to sit down and have that very special one-on-one time with their granma or grandpa.  So the message here is…whether you’re a grandparent, parent, aunt, uncle, or guardian, make those moments special and I guarantee that they will be filed away forever in those wonderful memory file cabinets.  Here are a few books you can read to the younger guys.  Don’t forget, however, that the older grandkids love to be read to just as much as the little ones.  Pull them away from the TV and video games for awhile!  I promise that it will be worth it.

                                      The House in the Night by Susan Marie Swanson

          This wonderful cumulative good night book sort of reminds us of Goodnight Moon.  The story is comforting and perfect for a nighttime story to help the little ones fall asleep.  The illustrations done in pen and ink with touches of yellow are intriguing.  Great read aloud.  Ages 1-4


                                The Art Lesson by Tomie dePaola

How does Tomie dePaola write so many wonderful books for children that have basic themes but are so wonderful?  He talks about writing books related to his own experiences growing up so that’s what makes them so easy to identify with.  He shows how important it is to let kids have a chance to be creative—even if it’s not part of the regular curriculum, plan, or day.  Let them go!  Ages 3-6


                                                The Baby Sister by Tomie dePaola

         It looks like Tomie dePaola had to cope with adjusting to a new baby sister AND a grumpy grandmother to boot!  What a fun story to show how they all learn to adjust together and Grandma even softens a bit, of course.  Notice how no one talks about those sleepless nights with all the night feedings and wake-up  time, however.  Fun read for a little one getting a new sibling.  Ages 2-7


                                                  Pinduli by Janell Cannon

            The author/illustrator of this book wrote the beautiful book, Stellaluna.  It is a perfect book to help children gain some confidence—especially for those who might be introverts or frightened of other children.  The illustrations are really fun and kids will love how even the king of beasts gets frightened.  Lots of great information in the back about animals.  Good read.  Ages 3-8

                                      Who Wants a Cheap Rhinoceros? By Shel Silverstein

          Fabulous!  Where does Shel Silverstein get his ideas?? I laughed right out loud with this one.  Of course, his illustrations just make it a winner but the story is so imaginative.  Could this be the best imaginary pet ever??  A must read for all of us!  Ages 1-5

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