Archive for Sunday, June 22, 2008

Summer tales: Lawrence experts recommend vacation reads for kids

Jun Huh, 16 months old, picks up books from an aisle inside the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt.

Jun Huh, 16 months old, picks up books from an aisle inside the Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vt.

June 22, 2008


Linda Clay, children's library assistant for the Lawrence Public Library, reads to toddlers, including Joey Prisinzano, 2, during the Wednesday morning Books and Babies Storytime. Visit Lawrence Public Library's Web site,, for more storytimes.

Linda Clay, children's library assistant for the Lawrence Public Library, reads to toddlers, including Joey Prisinzano, 2, during the Wednesday morning Books and Babies Storytime. Visit Lawrence Public Library's Web site,, for more storytimes.

On the street

What do you think would be a good book for kids to read during the summer?

I was always a fan of ‘Le Petit Prince,’ by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. It’s a French children’s book, but I think they have a translated version.

More responses

Twelve-year-old John Eakes reads so many books he can't even remember the exact name of the one he's in the middle of.

"Right now, I'm reading a book called Stone something," he says. "It's about a dragon."

Dragons and the like take up much of his reading these days. He also is into the Harry Potter series.

John is among the legions of local children and teens who are turning to books to help pass the summer months, those who realize a good book often makes the hours pass by quickly and offer the imagination a place to prosper through the months.

The Journal-World asked two book experts at the Lawrence Public Library to give their recommended list for children and teens for the time until school starts again. Here are their suggestions, along with their comments.

Joyce Steiner, youth service coordinator

¢ "Red Racer" by Audrey Wood
"Nona tries desperately to get rid of her junky old bike so that she can get the Deluxe Rocket Racer which she sees in the store window. She tries leaving it at the city dump and pushing it over the pier into the water, but it is always returned to her - in even worse shape. When she leaves it on the train track, she is surprised to find her parents have bought everything they need to fix her old bike and make it look brand new - including red paint. Can she make it to the train track before the five o'clock train smashes her bike? Children will relate to this."

¢ "Princes Pigsty" by Cornelia Funke
"Unlike her sisters Drusilla and Rosalinda, Isabella, the youngest of three princesses, tires of being a princess and having everything done for her, and throws her crown out the window. To teach her a lesson, her father the king sends her to work in the kitchen and to help clean out the pig sty. But instead of changing her mind, she finds happiness in these tasks. In the end it is the father who learns a lesson. This is a fun story to share out loud."

¢ "The Invention of Hugo Cabret" by Brian Selznick
"An unusual novel in that the illustrations play an important part in telling the story. Young Hugo Cabret keeps the clocks of the huge Paris train station all running on time after his father dies in a fire and his uncle disappears. Hugo lives in the walls of the station, and after the fire, brings the automaton his father found in the museum and begins fixing it - stealing parts he needs from a toy shop owner. When the owner catches him, he makes him work for him to pay back for the stolen parts, Hugo fears his undercover life and his biggest secret are in jeopardy of being discovered."

¢ "No Talking" by Andrew Clements
"The fifth-grade class is known as the Unshushables by the teachers at Laketon Elementary. That is until Dave gets into an argument with Lyndsey and challenges her & the other fifth-grade girls to not say a word for 48 hours - claiming the boys can do so better than the girls. Certain rules are set - such as you can answer teachers with three words only and only if spoken to first. But no talking at home. What follows is a learning experience and a shared respect none had expected."

¢ "Archer's Quest" by Linda Sue Park
"When an arrow whizzes through his baseball cap and fastens it to the nearby wall, 12-year-old Kevin frantically tries to stay calm and remember what to do when an intruder enters the house. At the same time he is trying to figure out how this guy with a bow & arrow got into his room. 'I lost my balance, fell off the tiger, and landed here,' explains the Archer. Thus begins this fast paced adventure and fantasy, where Kevin must help Chu-mong, a legendary king of ancient Korea, return to his own time before history is changed forever."

¢ "Punished!" by David Lubar
"While playing tag with his friend in the library, Logan runs right into a mysterious-looking man who tells Logan he must be punished because he did not apologize sincerely. Logan quickly heads back to the children's area, only to find out that he did not escape his punishment, for every time he tries to talk, puns pour out of his mouth."

¢ "Lewis and Clark and Me: A Dog's Tale" by Laurie Myers
"Seaman, Meriwether Lewis' Newfoundland dog, describes highlights as he remembers them while on Lewis and Clark's expedition. So this is Seaman's story, told from the perspective of a dog whose loyalty and love for his master lead him into many courageous acts."

¢ "The Quiltmaker's Gift" Jeff Brumbeau
"There was a quiltmaker who made the most beautiful quilts. She would not sell them for any price, but only gave them to the poor who needed their warmth. When a greedy king hears of these wonderful quilts, he demands that the woman make him a quilt. She agrees to do so, but only if he gives away all that he has. This angers the king, so he has the woman chained into a bear's den. When he and his soldiers return, they find the woman has befriended the bear and made him a soft pillow out of her shawl. The king's attempt to drown her likewise fails, for she is rescued by a flock of sparrows for which she has made tiny purple coats out of her vest. In the end, the king does begin to give away his things, and finds true happiness in the act of giving."

¢ "I Will Surprise My Friend!" by Mo Willems
"Best friends Elephant and Piggie decide that they will play a game of surprise each other, with unexpected results. When they loose track of one another, the surprise turns out not to be as much fun as they had planned. This new addition to the Elephant & Piggie Book series is easy enough for beginning readers to read to themselves, but the humor will be appreciated by even the older children."

¢ "Field Trips: Bug Hunting, Animal Tracking, Bird Watching, Shore Walking" by Jim Arnosky
"Summer is a great time to be outdoors and explore. With Jim Arnosky as a guide, an ordinary hike can become an eye-opening experience. He helps children know where to look and how to interpret what they are seeing as they explore the great outdoors. His simple black-and-white drawings will help children recognize a hawk overhead by it's shape or how to identify the animal tracks they see."

Kim Patton, young adult specialist

¢ "The Twilight Saga" by Stephanie Meyers
"Almost every teen girl everywhere is re-reading the series in anticipation of the August 2nd release of Breaking Dawn. For those not in the know ... Edward, Jacob and Bella; a vampire, a werewolf and a teen ready to take a bite out everything life (or un-life) has to offer."

¢ "Unwind" by Neal Shusterman
"This book had such a huge gross-out factor and was so super scary that it was hard for me to finish it. But it was so thought provoking that I just couldn't stop reading it. In this futuristic story, the U.S. has just come out of the dark time of the second civil war. As a compromise to settling the many issues the war was over, abortion has been outlawed. Instead any unwanted baby can be left on anyone else's doorstep and that family must take them in. Until they turn 13. Then, if they choose to, they can unwind the unwanted teen. Unwinding is a process of harvesting body parts and donating them to those in need. Risa is a problematic teen who pushes all the buttons. He has just turned thirteen and his parents have had enough. It's time for them to sign the unwind order."

¢ "Airhead" by Meg Cabot
"Two girls: Em, who is smart, funny, and not too popular and Nikki, beautiful and famous, a mega superstar. One split second tragic accident and the next thing Em knows she's waking up in the hospital with her own thoughts and Nikki's body. Guys ... spy ... a kidnapping ... and the hottest fashions around - what's not to like?"

¢ The Clique series by Lisa Harrison
"Ultra Queen Bees Dylan, Kristen, Alicia, and Massie have it all and rule the world (or so it seems). Anyone who knows this group knows they have more money than sense, can be mean and cruel just for laughs and are just plain used to having their own way. So how is newcomer Claire ever going to fit in with the pretty committee when she is so clearly everything they are NOT? Could anyone really limo ride through life this perfectly or is all just a lip glossed, shiny illusion?"

¢ "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" by Sherman Alexie
"Junior is a Native American growing up in difficult circumstances on a reservation in the 1970s. Born with physical disabilities (water on the brain), being raised by an alcoholic father and a mom who just can't cope, this bright kid decides to leave the res and attend a private all white school in a nearby town. Trying to fit in is an everyday struggle, much like it was back home. Junior stands tall as he tries to straddle both worlds and keep his head above water in this semi-autobiographical tale of hope and triumph."

¢ "Sunrise over Fallujah" by Walter Dean Myers.
"Robin Perry was a great student in high school. He could have gone to just about any college he wanted to, in fact he was offered scholarships to a couple. He chose to go to war. Against the wishes of his family, he enlists in the army in 2003. Shortly thereafter he finds himself fighting a war in Iraq that he doesn't understand. The rules keep changing. There are no answers that make sense. The only one he can really count on is himself. He always wondered why his uncle Richie could never be persuaded to tell his family stories about his time in Vietnam. Robert Perry understands now. He has learned that Harlem isn't anything like Iraq."

¢ "The Fold" by An Na
"Plain Jane Joyce will never be as pretty or smart or special as her older sister. Her aunt eccentric Gomo who is the head of the family reminds her of that fact everyday. What matters on the outside is what matters most to Gomo. Appearances are everything. The more American the Better she always says. When Gomo wins the lottery, she wants to do something special for everyone in the family. Her special surprise for Joyce is blepharoplasty, or eyelid surgery. She sets up an appointment for Joyce to visit a plastic surgeon so that she can have the fold cut out of her eyes to make them wider, and less Asian looking. But does Joyce really want to go that far just to fit in?"

¢ "Evil Genius" by Catherine Jinks
"So there are schools to learn how to be a superhero. There are schools to train spy heroes to save the world. So just how does someone learn to be an evil genius and take over the world. Is there a school for that? Ask Cadel Pigget. He has always been smarter than your average, well, you know. When he was ten years old, he accidentally shut down the electrical grid for the entire city. His parents are at their wits end and just don't know what to do so they take to him a psychiatrist to find out what is wrong with this kid. This is no ordinary shrink. Dr. Roth is really good. He knows exactly what is going on with Cadel and how to talk to him. Dr. Roth is very helpful and provides lots of encouragement. He encourages him to commit even more criminal activities. Dr. Roth only has one rule: Don't get caught. Rollicking fun! Laugh out loud! And don't miss the sequel 'The Genius Squad.'"

¢ "Lock and Key" by Sarah Dessen
"Ruby has a secret. For months she has struggled to keep it. But Ruby's life is beginning, again to spiral out of control. Ruby needs to turn 18 in a hurry. Not so she can get out from under the controlling discipline of overbearing parents. No, Ruby has all the freedom she could ever want. In fact, she has too much freedom. She's been living on her own for months now, ever since her mother took off and never came back. The last thing Ruby wants is to finish out high school as somebody's pathetic foster kid so Ruby carries own as if her mother was still in the picture. She can manage just fine on her own. She goes to school; she has a job, a roof over her head. Ruby thought she was managing just fine on her own. When the walls finally come crashing down (literally) she is sent to live with the sister she never knew. The sister who left her alone with mother while she went off to college, made a great career for herself and married a great (and rich) guy. This is NOT going to be a shiny, happy family reunion."

¢ "City of Bones/City of Ashes" by Cassandra Clare
"In City of Bones, artsy Clary is pretty much oblivious to what's going on in the world around her. Until that is she stumbles upon a supernatural murder at the Palladium Club in New York where she lives. Shaken, she returns home to find the apartment she shares with her mother in shambles and her mother lost to her forever. In city of Ashes, Clary, now knows that she is a shadowhunter, one of the gifted, whose job is to hunt down demons and all things scary. Where before, Clary was artsy quiet, and pretty shy; she has changed. A LOT. This girl is tough, smart and kicks demon-vampire and werewolf butt. She is still artsy though."


A look at children's reading activities remaining this summer at some area libraries:

¢ Lawrence Public Library: Multiple children- and teen-related events through the summer. Visit for a full listing.

¢ Baldwin City Library: Reading program, 10 a.m. Wednesdays through July 9.

¢ Eudora Public Library: Children's reading program, 10 a.m.-noon Wednesdays through July 30. Teen reading program, noon to 1 p.m. Mondays.

¢ Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library: Multiple children- and teen-related events through the summer. Visit for a full listing.

¢ Johnson County Public Library, De Soto and Shawnee branches: Multiple children- and teen-related events through the summer. Visit for a full listing.

¢ Tonganoxie Public Library: Reading program, 10 a.m.-11 a.m. Thursdays through July 24; movie time, 11:30 a.m. Fridays.


booklover 10 years ago

Good job but the link is wrong for the Lawrence Public Library. It should be or just type in Then go to the children's room or teen zone for summer programming information.Thanks!

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