This summer vacation, prepare yourself before your kid can utter that dreaded "b" word no parent wants to hear — bored! Look for the following titles — each outstanding in its own way — from a bookstore or library branch.
Each book is newly released, so you're unlikely to hear your child complain, "But I've already read that one!" This list features a mix of beloved authors and impressively talented up-and-coming writers.
Board Books/Pre-Readers (infant–2)
(By John Skewes, Sasquatch Books, $9.99; available June 17.)
Larry is an exuberant and curious little brown pup. (He may be familiar to you from the Larry Gets Lost series.) Join him as he romps his way throughout the City of Roses, from OMSI to the Oregon Zoo.
(By Steve Light, Chronicle Books, $9.99; coming in August 2014)
Prepare for takeoff! Toddlers will love the energy and silly sound effects in Planes Go. This board book is bound to become dog-eared, thanks to its fun oversize format — it's a foot long — and illustrations bursting with energy. The illustrations are so vivid, the planes feel like they're bound to fly right off the pages. Light is also author of three more titles, on trucks, trains and diggers, which have also been heaped with praise.
Early Readers (Ages 3–5 years)
(By Bonnie Verburg and Mark Teague; Orchard Books, $17.99. Ages 3–5.) This enchanting hardcover puts a sweet spin on a classic, with a menagerie of unexpected animals — a parrot, a monkey, lizard, crabs and frogs. The animals join Jack in a tree house that's not only turreted, but also bedecked with hammocks, tire swings, pulleys, a water wheel, and more. A gorgeous gift book.
(By Sue Ganz-Schmidt and Shane Prigmore; Chronicle Books, $16.99. Available in July. Ages 3–5)
Kindergarten is full of alien experiences, but Planet Kindergarten brings them all down to earth with hilarious, cartoon-like illustrations that show just how similar the first day of kindergarten is to a space mission. ("At recess, we test the conditions outside our capsule.") It's all good fun that's sure to boost the confidence of brand-new and apprehensive "astronauts."
Young Readers (ages 8–12)
(By Jude Watson, Scholastic Press, $16.99. Available June 24.)
Fans of the 39 Clues won't want to miss Loot, the latest by Jude Watson, author of that mega-popular series. (She also writes under the name Judy Blundell, and she's won a National Book Award.) Loot introduces March McQuin, the beyond-clever son of a late con man. March has had no formal education, but his dad "taught him math at the race track."
Follow March as he meets his long-lost twin sister and they collaborate (when they're not driving each other crazy) to untangle a mystery centered around a witch-like woman they met at their dad's funeral. Loot is arranged in super-short chapters, each filled with cinematic action. Even the most reluctant of readers should find themselves enjoying the roller coaster of this twisty, turn-filled plot.
(By Peter Johnson; HarperCollins Publishers; $16.99. Available June 24.)
Benny is coming to terms with his grandfather's rapidly worsening health. He's also confronting a hyperactive little brother and an obnoxiously smart-aleck older sister. Throw a crush on classmate Claudine into the mix, and Benny's in the center of a maelstrom of adolescent emotions.
(By Cammie McGovern, HarperTeen; $17.99.)
What could have been an even heavier version of The Fault in Our Stars is far from that, much to its credit. Amy is a high school senior with cerebral palsy. Knowing that CP could cut her life short, she's grown up bold — sometimes too much so. Her romance with Matthew, a student with health issues of his own, is by turns heartbreaking (especially the emails never sent) and exhilarating. As Amy's teacher says, "When you're a teenager, being different — if it's not by choice — seems like the worst thing imaginable. But is it really?"