For a young lover of books, a summer off from the 9-to-3 grindstone is nirvana.
For the reluctant reader, it’s an opportunity for growth.
Here are some recommendations for either kind of kid, from preschool on up.
“Sleepover at Gramma’s House” by Barbara Joosse, illustrated by Jan Jutte. A delightful rhythmic romp showcases a grandmother-daughter bond. The child bids a blithe goodbye to her parents and “you baby in the bed.” At Gramma’s, there are party hats, dances and stories, with repeated refrains of “Oh. We love each other so.” Jutte’s illustrations complement and elevate the story by the talented Joosse (“Mama, do You Love Me?). It’s an arty elephant family, both at home in the city and at Gramma’s country house, with pictures full of delicious detail. (Philomel, 40 pages, $17.99, ages 3 to 7.)
“Ladybug Girl at the Beach” by David Soman and Jacky Davis. This is the third in this sweet, charmingly illustrated series about imaginative preschooler Lulu, who dresses in ladybug garb. She excitedly traipses over the dunes with her mom, dad, big brother and basset hound Bingo for her first beach trip. She races toward the waves, only to be daunted by their size. Instead she builds sand castles, digs for pirate treasure and processes her fear. Eventually, she braves the ocean – with mom watching, of course. A warm tale about summer family fun and facing fears. (Dial, 32 pages, ages 3 to 6, $16.99)
“Thunder-Boomer!” by Shutta Crum, illustrated by Carol Thompson. “It’s a hot day,” Mama says. “We need a thunder-boomer.” Sure enough, a big thunderstorm is coming. Crum and Thompson vividly capture the spectacle as it plays out for a farm family. Chickens squawk and scatter. The dog thinks it’s playtime and grabs underwear off the line. Hail threatens the cornfields. One chicken acts especially strange. At storm’s end the family discovers a tiny, bedraggled kitten under her wing. They name it Thunderboomer. Marvelous illustrations, lovely family, poetic text. (Clarion Books, 36 pages, $16, ages 4 to 8.)
“Pigs Make Me Sneeze!” and “I Am Going!” by Mo Willems: These are the latest in the “Elephant & Piggie” series by the creator of “Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus.” I’ve featured this series before, but great is great and it’s tough to find books for the newest readers with rounded characters, a developed plot and real humor. There are 12 titles so far. (“Can I Play Too?” comes out this week.) Reticent, anxious Elephant and confident calm Piggie are BFFs. (Hyperion, 58 pages, $8.99, ages 4 to 8.)
“Wolf Pie” by Brenda Seabrooke, illustrated by Liz Callen. The Pygg brothers get a visit from wolf Wilfong in a clever send-up of “The Three Little Pigs” for new chapterbook readers. At first it seems Wilfong might like to eat the brothers, who live in a brick house, but eventually he just wants shared meals and companionship. The Pyggs are leery at first, but Wilfong proves himself loyal. With abundant humor, Seabrooke explores the time and effort it takes to grow a true friendship. (Clarion Books, 48 pages, $16, ages 5 to 9.)
“How to Clean a Hippopotamus: A Look at Unusual Animal Partnerships” by Steve Jenkins and Robin Page. A Nile crocodile will eat any animal it can catch, except the Egyptian plover. That’s because the little bird picks scraps of meat from between the croc’s teeth. The bird gets fed, the reptile gets clean teeth. That’s one of many fascinating stories that this husband-andwife team have gathered. With gorgeous torn-and-cut paper illustrations by Caldecott Honor winner Jenkins, this is book nonfiction lov ers will pore over. (Houghton Mifflin, 32 pages, $16, ages 5 and older.)
“Gator on the Loose” by Sue Stauffacher. The first volume in “Animal Rescue Team,” a promising new series, stars an appealing family that runs Carters’ Urban Rescue. Stauffacher’s characters are delightful. The Carters are bright, sensitive 10-year-old Keisha; wild, imaginative 5-year-old Razi; baby Paulo – and a quirky, great mom, dad and grandmother. In this tale, they’re given the task of capturing and rescuing an adolescent alligator taken as a pet, then abandoned. The story is full of humor, action and a tremendous store of information about animals and their proper treatment.