Good Books for Your Kids This Summer


  • Larry Loves Washington DC!

    by John Skewes

    Little BigFoot, 2016, $9.99.

    Follow the adventures of Larry, the dog, on his family’s vacation. The Larry Loves series includes 11 colorful board books, each featuring the sights of a particular city (Boston, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle). In “Larry Loves Washington DC,” the playful pooch scampers through the nation’s capital, making stops at the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument and the Capitol. He even checks out the enormous elephant at the National Museum of Natural History. Older kids will enjoy the rhyming story and informative sidebars of the companion picture book series “Larry Gets Lost.” They can track Larry through the verse and learn intriguing facts about the White House, Library of Congress and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial.

ages 3 – 7

  • Vampirina at the Beach

    by Anne Marie Pace

    illustrated by LeUyen Pham

    Disney-Hyperion, 2017, $16.99

    Surf’s up, for everyone’s favorite ballerina of the night! Kids will love seeing how Vampirina and a new human friend make sand castles and jump the waves with their playful monster buddies. This tale of beach fun has a surprise twist. As the day turns to night and a full moon rises, the human friend undergoes a fanged and furry transformation. After reading about the campfire sing-along and marshmallow roast, young readers will clamor for such a finale to their own visit to the shore. This is a sprightly, superbly paced addition to the charming Vampirina series.

  • Animal Ark

    by Kwame Alexander, with Mary Rand Hess and Deanna Nikaido

    photos by Joel Sartore

    National Geographic, 2017, $15.99

    As your family travels, encourage your kids to look for natural wonders, be they a grove of ancient sequoias or a single intrepid grasshopper. In this way, your usual walk to the playground, as well as summer sojourns at the beach or a National Park, become opportunities to seek out and appreciate the local flora and fauna. This poetic book of beautiful photos allows youngsters to linger over the sights of amazing wild animals, including the curious monkey and gentle fruit bat, and to listen to everything from the “rumble” of elephants to the tiny mice, “scurrying inside dunes.”

  • Over and Under the Pond

    by Kate Messner

    illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal

    Chronicle, 2017, $16.99

    Youngsters can take a refreshing dip in this quiet pond and learn about the “hidden world of minnows and crayfish, turtles and frogs” in the water, and the heron, raccoon and goldfinch that live above it. The lyrical text and restful color palette, as well as the day-to-evening story arc, make this a particularly lovely bedtime book. After a busy, observant day in their canoe, the little boy and his mother head for home as a “far-off loon calls good night” and the “sky turns from sunset to dusk to dark.” The informative back matter provides facts about the pond ecosystem and additional information about the featured animals.

  • Shark Lady

    by Jess Keating

    illustrated by Marta Alvarez Miguens

    Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2017, $17.99

    Readers can take two journeys through this lively biography, one to the sea and the other through the life of an eminent scientist. According to the long subtitle, the book tells “the true story of how Eugenie Clark became the ocean’s most fearless scientist.” As a girl, Eugenie loved gazing at the sharks in the aquarium and reading about them. As she grew up, though, she had to push against sexist notions about suitable work for women (secretary or mother) in order to become a zoologist. Eugenie’s research not only helped debunk popular myths about sharks, but also safeguarded them from destruction by humans who labeled them as mindless killers. Eugenie’s dream was as big as a whale shark, and this book shows the many steps, large and small, she took to achieve it.

ages 9 – 12

  • One Shadow on the Wall

    by Leah Henderson

    Atheneum, 2017, $16.99

    Recently orphaned, Mor and his younger sisters plan to stay together in their Senegalese village, though there is no one to care for them. When their only relative, an aunt, arrives, she decides to split them up since she can’t afford to bring them all with her. But when Mor swears he will find a job, and his mother’s best friend promises to check on them, the aunt reluctantly agrees to a short grace period. Mor wants to prove himself capable, but he makes many mistakes, as a child would. Danger and despair dog his efforts, from an inability to find adequately paying work to vicious bullies that steal his food, harass his sisters and frequently attack him. Leah Henderson’s nuanced, compassionate novel is so compelling that you won’t be able to glance up until you’ve turned the last page.

  • The Warrior Sheep Down Under

    by Christine and Christopher Russell

    Soucebooks Jabberwocky, 2012, $6.99

    A fair ewe named Tuftella is locked in a tower, but the five plucky Warrior Sheep vow to save her, even if they are in England and she is in Australia. The quirky quintet bickers, connives and blunders its way across the sea to deal with a cricket match, kangaroos and a fairy godmother with an avaricious heart. Hilarious and wackily plotted, this third book in the series will enchant fans and win new ones. It’s the perfect companion for a lazy summer afternoon or a long car or plane trip. Why, the sheep even have their own troubadour, so to speak, a rapping ram named Links.