Ready to read

When summer comes, it’s time to put away the books the teacher assigns and pick out the ones that remind us all how magical reading can be. Like these books here. We love them all – and not just because they all have Minnesota or Midwest.

The Dragonfly Door
By John Adams
Illustrated by Barbara L. Gibson
Feather Rock Books, Inc., $17.95

Baby dragonflies Lea and Nym live together under a rock in the weeds. When Lea disappears, Nym is left alone for the first time. This gentle story helps children deal with change and loss.

– Valerie Tukey

The End
By David LaRochelle
Illustrated by Richard Egielski
Arthur A. Levine Books, $16.99

“The end” is usually just that: how a book wraps up. But in this unique fairy tale the story begins with the end and works backwards to visit a flying teacup, dragons, a princess, and a very hungry giant.

– Monica Wright

Kelly of Hazel Ridge
By Robbyn Smith van Frankenhuyzen
Illustrated by Gijsbert Van Frankenhuyzen
Sleeping Bear Press, $17.95

Kelly can’t think of a topic for her school assignment: write about something very important in your life. So she wanders the woods, ponds, and fields of her home at Hazel Ridge to clear her mind. She rediscovers what makes farm life so special – and finds the topic for her paper.

– Monica Wright

Lazy Days of Summer
By Judy Young
Illustrated by Kathy O’Malley
Sleeping Bear Press, $15.95

Monkey in the middle, sharks and minnows, kick the can – do kids still play this way on lazy summer days? They do in this sweet and informative book, mixing rhymes and bits of history.

– Tricia Cornell

Minn from Minnesota
By Kathy-jo Wargin
Ann Arbor Media Group, $14.95

The second book in the Mitt and Minn series follows a white-footed mouse who comes to Minnesota in a bushel of cherries and sees much of the state on her search for a friend.

– Valerie Tukey

My Grandma Likes to Say
By Denise Brennan-Nelson
Illustrated by Jane Monroe Donovan
Sleeping Bear Press, $16.95

Grandparents have a treasure trove of meaningful sayings that capture the mentality of generations past. This follow-up to My Momma Likes to Say builds a bond between the ages.

– Maura Keller

Nature’s Yucky! 2: The Desert Southwest
By Lee Ann Landstrom and Karen I. Schragg
Illustrated by Rachel Rogge
Mountain Press Publishing Company, $12.00

In this sequel to Nature’s Yucky!, children can explore the gross and repulsive habits that some animals in the Southwest can’t seem to break. Find out why regal horned lizards spew blood from their eyes and why red satyr butterflies sip on soupy mud.

– Valerie Tukey

Nightlight
By Jeannine Anderson
Illustrated by Nikki Johnson
Windward Publishing, $7.95

The forest comes alive as animals celebrate the northern lights. Dancing bears Aurora Mae and Borealis Burl join owls, moose, and frogs in watching a sky ablaze with color.

– Monica Wright

The OK Book
By Amy Krouse Rosenthal
Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
HarperCollins Children’s Books, $12.99

Children are often pushed to excel at everything they do, from sports to academics. This books celebrates being OK – OK at catching lightning bugs, OK at playing soccer, OK at climbing trees.

– Maura Keller

Out of the Ballpark
By Alex Rodriguez
Illustrated by Frank Morrison
HarperCollins Children’s Books, $16.99

Baseball superstar Alex Rodriguez wrote this wonderful book based on his own childhood, celebrating America’s favorite pastime and a young boy’s determination.

– Maura Keller

P Is For Princess: A Royal Alphabet
By Steven Layne & Deborah Dover Layne
Illustrated by Robert and Lisa Papp
Sleeping Bear Press, $17.95

This alphabetical tour of all things princess, from castles to Queen Victoria, will entice and educate princess lovers and wannabees.

– Maura Keller

Peter, Peter, Pizza-Eater and Other Silly Rhymes
By Bruce Lansky
Illustrated by Stephen Carpenter
Meadowbrook Press, $15.95

Yankee Doodle rides a poodle instead of a pony, Peter Piper paints pickles, and Mary has given up her lambs for a very mean dog – and kids will get plenty of laughs.

– Monica Wright

Reach Out and Give and Accept and Value Each Person
By Cheri J. Meiners
Illustrated by Meredith Johnson
Free Spirit Publishing, $10.95 each

Reach Out and Give explains how sharing is like a circle that brings goodness back to you. Accept and Value Each Person delves into diversity. Big lessons are explained in simple terms so children can use the concepts in everyday life.

– Monica Wright

Rudy Rides the Rails: A Depression Era Story
Dandi Daley Mackall
Illustrated by Chris Ellison
Sleeping Bear Press, $17.95

With his family hit hard by the Depression, 13-year-old “Ramblin'” Rudy Phillips hops on a train, hoping for a better life out West, but instead becomes a hobo. Ride the rails with Rudy to find out whether Mulligan stew, Hoover blankets, and nickel flops can beat mom’s homemade apple pie.

– Monica Wright

Shep: Our Most Loyal Dog
By Sneed B. Collard III
Illustrated by Joanna Yardley
Sleeping Bear Press, $16.95

This is the true story of how Fort Benson, Mont., adopted a loyal dog who lurked around the train station waiting for his dead owner to return. Word of Shep’s loyalty spread around the world, making him a celebrity for refusing to give up on the owner he loved.

– Monica Wright

Wishing I Was Fishing
By Eva Wells
Illustrated by Chandra Dale
Beaver’s Pond Press, $16.95

As the snow melts, a young boy peers out his window, wishing he could go fishing with his father. Spring slowly approaches and the child’s excitement builds. Wells clearly knows the strong bond between parents and kids together on the lake.

– Valerie Tukey

AGES 9-12

The American Reader
By Kathy-jo Wargin
Illustrated by K.L. Darnell
Sleeping Bear Press, $12.95

Poems and riddles spice up this eclectic sampling of American stories, from the writing of the Pledge of Allegiance to the founding of the National Parks system. Short chapters make this book easy to put down and pick up again.

– Monica Wright

Are All the Heroes Gone?
By Margaret Olson Webster
Bluepearl Books

Heroes from the Finnish epic Kalevala come to life for modern-day Teddy. Young readers will learn tidbits of Finnish history and vocabulary.

– Monica Wright

Horns and Wrinkles
By Joseph Helgerson
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, $16

Blue Wing, Minn., doesn’t show up on many maps, but that’s where Claire and cousin Duke live, exploring the nearby Mississippi River. Magical adventures start when Duke dives into the river and comes back up with a horn on his head.

– Tricia Cornell

Time of the Eagle: A Story of an Ojibwe Winter
By Stephanie Golightly Lowden
Midwest Traditions, $18.95

Autumn Dawn, a young Ojibwe woman in the 1700s, and her brother Coyote Boy flee a smallpox outbreak and must survive a freezing winter storm to find help.

– Valerie Tukey

The Voyageur’s Paddl
Kathy-jo Wargin
Illustrated by David Geister
Sleeping Bear Press, $17.95

Young Jacques longs to take up a red paddle and become a voyageur like his father, despite the daily dangers. History mixes with mystery when his father doesn’t make it home from his latest voyage, leaving Jacques to try and guide him from afar.

– Monica Wright

Three Names of Me
By Mary Cummings
Illustrated by Lin Wang
Albert Whitman & Company, $15.95

Ada has three names: the name her American parents gave her; the name she had at the orphanage in China; and the name that her Chinese mother whispered to her when she was first born. She explores her identity in straightforward ways children will understand.

– Valerie Tukey

AGES 12 AND UP

Dragonwell Dead: A Tea Shop Mystery
By Laura Childs
Berkley Hardcover, $23.95

The eighth book in the Tea Shop Mystery series begins when flower enthusiast Mark Congdon wins a rare flower at a Charleston flower auction and immediately dies. Heart attack? Foul play? Young readers can figure it out for themselves.

– Valerie Tukey

Falling Boy: A Novel
By Alison McGhee
Picador, $13

After a strange accident leaves him paralyzed, 16-year-old Joseph moves to Minneapolis with his father. Two new friends, Zap and Enzo, become convinced Joseph is a superhero and set out to discover the truth to his past. This literary novel shows that superheroes don’t always need super powers.

– Valerie Tukey

Horseradish: Bitter Truths You Can’t Avoid
By Lemony Snicket
Illustrated by Brett Helquist
HarperCollins Children’s Books, $12.99

From the renowned author of A Series of Unfortunate Events, Horseradish compiles Mr. Snicket’s dryly humorous insights on emotional health, travel, family, and more.

– Maura Keller

A Scholar of Magics
By Caroline Stevermer
Tor Fantasy, $19.95

A little Jane Austen and a dash of Harry Potter come together in this sequel to A College of Magics. Jane Brailsford is a magic instructor who finds herself working with Samuel Lambert, whom the college has hired to work on a secret defense research project.

– Monica Wright

Shadow Island: A Tale of Lake Superior
By Raymond Bial
Partners Pub Group, Inc., $12.95

In this teenage ghostly comedy, three girls find themselves stranded on a haunted island during a family vacation. They investigate further and discover the truth about the island, as well as the importance of family and friends.

– Valerie Tukey

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