Seek out the best books
Quality literature opens a world of possibilities
With the endless number of children's books available at libraries, bookstores and online, it's a challenge to know which ones are the real cream of the crop. Finding them has been my job for 25 years, and I take that job very seriously.
So, too, do your local librarians. As you read this column, take note of "Librarian's Choice," which features your local libraries in a regular rotation. Your librarians have carefully selected books they recommend as excellent choices that kids will really enjoy.
In addition to this column, further ideas on the best books for kids can be found on this column's companion website, Greatest Books for Kids (greatestbooksforkids.com).
Expose your kids to the best that children's literature has to offer because the child in your life deserves nothing but the best.
Books to Borrow
The following book is available at many public libraries.
"The Giant Jam Sandwich" written and illustrated by John Vernon Lord with verses by Janet Burroway, Houghton Mifflin, 30 pages
Read aloud: age 2 and older
Read yourself: age 6 — 7
One hot summer day, the village of Itching Down had a big problem on their hands when 4 million wasps flew into their town. There was a lot of stinging going on, and the villagers held a meeting to decide what to do.
Fortunately, Bap the Baker came up with an excellent idea: Make a giant strawberry jam sandwich and trap the wasps in the sticky mess!
Everyone sprang into action to help create the largest jam sandwich in the world. Teamwork and clever thinking resulted in a very successful (and amusing) result, leaving Itching Down free from wasps forever.
Rhyming, clever text and hilarious illustrations combine to make "The Giant Jam Sandwich" pure delight in every regard.
Library: Sutter Branch Library, 2147 California St., Sutter
Library Director: Karen Crocker
Choices this week: "Stanley's Party" by Linda Bailey; "The Magic Tree House" series by Mary Pope Osborne; "Hatchet" by Gary Paulsen
Books to Buy
The following books are available at your favorite bookstores.
"Taka-chan and I: A Dog's Journey to Japan" by Runcible, as told to Betty Jean Lifton, photographs by Eikoh Hosoe, The New York Review of Books, 2012, 64 pages, $16.95 hardcover
Read aloud: age 4 and older
Read yourself: age 8 — 9
First published in 1967, it is most fortunate The New York Review of Books has selected this treasure for a second printing.
Runcible (a dog) narrates his extraordinary adventure that begins on the beach in Cape Cod. Runcible was happily digging a deep hole in the sand when he discovered a long dark hole in front of him. Unable to turn around, he pressed forward. Exhaustion had almost taken its toll when suddenly he emerged from that tunnel to find himself on a beach in Japan.
It was there that he met a young Japanese girl, Taka-chan, who shares her terrible fate of being held prisoner by the Black Dragon. In order for Taka-chan (and now Runcible as well) to be released, Runcible is tasked with finding the most loyal person in Japan and place a white flower at the person's feet. With Taka-chan by his side, the two have until sundown to succeed in their mission or forever be prisoners of the dragon.
Filled with adventure, bravery and strong themes of loyalty, friendship and honor, this selection is nothing short of magical.
"Infinity Ring, Book One: A Mutiny in Time" by James Dashner, Scholastic, 2012, 192 pages, $12.99 paper-over-board hardcover
Read aloud: age 8 and older
Read yourself: age 8 — 9 and older
This is the first book in a seven-book series that incorporates historical events, time travel and an online game component where players can take on the role of the book's main characters. All of this is wrapped-up in the riveting plot that history is broken and it must be fixed.
Best friends Sera Froste and Dak Smyth have found the key to time travel — the Infinity Ring. Suddenly, they are swept through time, recruited by a secret society that needs them to fix the "Great Breaks" in history that caused events to go off course. If they can't fix the breaks, it could mean disaster for all of civilization.
Hang on to your seat — this one guarantees a breathless ride.
Kendal A. Rautzhan writes and lectures about children's literature. She can be reached at her website: greatestbooksforkids.com.