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July 23, 2008 > Footnotes: Some fun books for summer reading

Footnotes: Some fun books for summer reading

By Joyce Peters and Dominique Hutches

"The Perfect Nest" by Catherine Friend illustrated by John Manders, Candlewick Press hardback, $16.99. (2007)

When Jack the Cat wants an omelet, he hatches a great plan to get an egg - he builds the perfect nest! He puts in a cushion, a basket, hay, lights, a fan, even a welcome mat! He puts out a sign, "Perfect Nest" and waits. Sure enough chicken comes along...followed by a duck and a goose! "MMMMM", thinks Jack, "three eggs would make three omelets."

Unfortunately all three birds want the perfect nest for themselves, and after laying their eggs they begin fighting. Fighting could break the eggs! Jack has to get them off of there! He manages that, but then comes...crack! Oh no!

Recommended for kindergarten and first grades. Reviewed by dh.


"Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little" by Peggy Gifford and Valorie Fisher, Yearling paperback, $5.50. (2008)

Poor Moxy Maxwell has a bit of a problem. She was assigned the book "Stuart Little" for summer reading, and now it's just a couple days until school starts. It's not like she didn't try; she brought the book with her everywhere! She took it to the pool when she went to practice her routine as a daisy petal in the water ballet. She took it with her on errands. There just never seemed to be time to read, there was too much more interesting things to do.

Now Moxy's mother has told her that she won't get to be a daisy petal if she doesn't read the book. So Moxy comes up with a plan, involving peach pits, her brother and her best friend. To add to the fun there are photos of the disaster, submitted by Moxy's brother. The story is hilarious, and the photos add to the fun.

Recommended for third grade. Reviewed by dh.


"Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs" by Betty G. Birney, Aladdin paperback, $5.99 (2007)

As soon as he's old enough Eben is going to travel, far beyond the borders of his little Midwestern home of Sassafras Springs. Surely anywhere has more excitement than here!

Reading a book about the seven wonders of the ancient world has only made his wish to get away increase. Then Eben's dad comes up with a challenge. If Eben can find seven wonders within his own small town, he'll earn a trip to Colorado. The catch is that he'll have to find the seven wonders in seven days. What wonders could Sassafras Springs possibly contain?

A reader familiar with the Soup stories by Richard Peck will love this book as well - there's comfort to be found in simpler times that don't talk about drugs, politics, cell phones or the other things we all hear about so frequently these days. The seven 'wonders' that Eben uncovers at first seem like simple things; it is the telling of the stories attached to these wonders that make the book so charming. Recommended for fourth grade. Reviewed by dh.


"The Gollywhopper Games" by Jody Feldman, illustrated by Victoria Jamieson, Greenwillow hardback, $16.95. (2008)

The Golly Toy & Game Company is holding a grand competition for which Gil Goodson has been preparing for months. He knows everything about their games, the company's history and even the company's founder. His dad used to work for Golly Toy, and left its employ years ago under suspicious circumstances. There's a lot riding on this competition - if Gil can just win this contest he can clear his dad's name and his family can have a better life. He passes the first hurdle, which was tough enough. Now he's in a team with others, all as determined to win as he is. The competition is team versus team, but eventually the teammates will have to turn on each other. Gil will really have to prove himself if he's going to be able to come out of this a winner with his head high, whether or not he wins the Gollywhopper Games!

Did you ever see the television show put on by the Milton Bradley Game Co. called "Shenanigans," where kids had to act out the games in full-size, real life? Just like that show, the "Gollywhopper Games" is an adventure with puzzles to solve and people to watch out for. Lots of fun to play or read.

Recommended for fifth graders. Reviewed by dh.

Joyce Peters grew up on the lower east side of Manhattan without much money but access to a world-class, safe and free library. After earning a Masters Degree in Public Health & Nutrition, Joyce worked with low income households and found many lacked books or other reading materials. She says, "To me there is a strong connection between reading skills and success in life." While raising her children, she rediscovered children's books and opened Giant Steps Children's Books in Fremont. After 14 years as a storefront business, Giant Steps became online-only.
Dominique Hutches is the proud mom of three extraordinary daughters, three dogs and one very dignified cat. An avowed bookaholic, she has volunteered with the Alameda County Library Bookleggers, a literacy project bringing terrific books into the classrooms of children grades K-8, for 17 years. She is also a self-taught webmaster who designed and manages the website www.giantstepsbooks.com.
(510) 226-1058
giantsteps@comcast.net
www.giantstepsbooks.com

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