The Top Five: Summer Reading

By Linas Alsenas. Scholastic; $16.99
A dour senior citizen finds companionship via a baby elephant that she believes is a puppy. Despite his indifference to dog food and rolling over, Peanut brings joy and playfulness to her lonely life. Author-illustrator Alsenas shows that happiness can be found based on feelings as well as intelligence. Picture book, ages 3 to 5.

By James Harpur. Simon & Schuster; $21.99
Kids really do want to know lots of detail about Vikings, ninjas, Alexander the Great, and the like, so little knights in shining (or aluminum-foil) armor will charge for this text-heavy nonfiction book about premodern warfare. Lots of fun spreads, such as a manual of Roman-army formations. For elementary-schoolers on up.

How to Be a Girly Girl in Just Ten Days
By Lisa Papademetriou. Scholastic; $4.99
The fourth volume in the sassy Candy Apple Books series to be published this year, Girly Girl is akin to chick lit for angsty preteen (read, pre-sex) readers. This time around, they’ll find a tomboy going for a makeover to attract a cute boy. Naturally, she finds out she was doing just fine before. Ages 9 and up.

Sea Stories
Compiled by Cooper Edens. Chronicle Books; $19.95
An illustrated compendium of timeless characters—Robinson Crusoe, Sinbad—and mythical tales and poems of mermaids, sea monsters, and water babies. The compilation also contains taut book excerpts (The Old Man and the Sea) and lighthearted song lyrics (“Under the Boardwalk”). Exactly the kind of book that encourages beach reading, as each self-contained section is only a few pages long. Ages 3 and up.

Jack Plank Tells Tales
By Natalie Babbitt. Scholastic; $15.95
The Tuck Everlasting author returns with her first novel in 25 years (she says she was busy raising her kids). This time it’s about a pirate in search of employment. Instead of turning up a job, the search becomes a way of entertaining his boardinghouse cohorts. Ages 8 and up.

The Top Five: Summer Reading