It’s ALL about the story when you think about what holds a young reader’s attention. These selections will hold’em and then some.
Ages 6 – 8
by Abby Hanlon
(Dial, 153 pages, $14.99)
For the reader who has run out of Junie B. Jones titles to devour, the spirited and irresistible Dory is just the ticket. The author drew inspiration from first graders she used to teach. Dory is constantly tormented by older siblings, and her story is superbly enhanced by Hanlon’s own goofy, childlike drawings.
Leroy Nicker Saddles Up
by Kate DiCamillo
illustrated by Chris Van Dusen
(Candlewick Press, 96 pages, $12.99)
Two top talents in children’s lit launch Tales from Decawoo Drive, a new series. The series features Leroy, who wants to be a cowboy, his most particular horse, Maybelline, and an entertaining cast of supporting characters.
Ages 7 – 9
The Diamond Mystery
and The Hotel Mystery
by Martin Widmark
illustrated by Helena Willis
(Grosset & Dunlap, 80 pages, $5.99 each)
Widmark is a “literary giant” in Sweden; his entertaining Whodunit Detective Agency series with delightful color illustrations has sold millions of copies there. This entertaining series starring two kid detectives, Jerry and Maya, is just hitting this country.
The Yeti Files: Meet the Bigfeet
by Kevin Sherry
(Scholastic Press, 122 pages, $8.99)
A yeti, of course, is a cryptid, and a cryptid is a “hidden animal whose existence has never been proven.” Here’s the start to another new series, this one entirely for kids who want crazy pictures on every page, and laughs above all else.
Ken Jennings’ Junior Guides: Outer Space
by Ken Jennings
illustrated by Mike Lowery
(Little Simon, 160 pages, $19.99)
Jennings, the all-time “Jeopardy!” champ (74-game winning streak), produces this fact-packed series for kids who love to know more than their parents. Wowza.
Lug, Dawn of the
by David Zeltser
(Egmont USA, 182 pages, $15.99)
Laughs worked for The Flintstones, and there’s plenty of fun in this startup to a new series set in the Stone Age. The title character is a cave boy who prefers to paint in his secret cave, rather than act like the wild savage others expect him to be.
Ages 10 & Older
Hello, I’m Johnny Cash
by G. Neri
illustrated by A.G. Ford
(Candlewick Press, $16.99)
It’s unusual to choose an extra-large picture-book format for a meaty biography aimed toward older kids. It might not seem cool, reading a book in the style typically for those still being read to. But please consider this a worthy exception. The Man in Black rose from harsh times in Arkansas to become a legend (and died in Nashville in 2003). His story can be hugely inspirational to any youngster with big dreams. Ford’s dark and expansive oil paintings lend an extra layer of richness to a life told here in free verse life. Gather the family around for this one, and enjoy it together over a period of time.
Try This: 50 Fun
Experiments for the
Mad Scientist in You
by Karen Romano Young
photographs by Matthew Rakola
(National Geographic Kids, 160 pages, $16.99)
Toothbrush robots! Racing rocket balloons! Blue-glow your own hands! Cricket training (the bug not the sport)! Step-by-step instructions and loads of awesome facts.
The Fashion Book
(DK, 169 pages, $15.99)
Kids are into fashion like never before. Here’s a feast for that set, with everything from history and how-to’s to bios on fashion icons and detailed information on fabrics, materials, fashion terminology, you name it.