It’s summer, and with summer comes summer reading season – the best season of all, right? I have a suspicion that my own summer reading may be curtailed this year; I’m predicting that most of my time will be spent in the water with a certain small Pisces who can’t get enough swimming. So I’ll leave the “books to pack in your beach bag” posts to other blogs and instead tell you about some absolutely gorgeous picture books that we are reading to celebrate summer in all its glory.
Time of Wonder, by Robert McCloskey. Naturally starting with a classic! Time of Wonder is an absolutely gorgeous book – one of the tribe of children’s books that is more like poetry than prose, and the accompanying illustrations are perfect as well. Time of Wonder is perhaps less well-known than some of McCloskey’s other works, like Blueberries for Sal and Make Way for Ducklings, but it is a treasure. Written in the second-person singular, it meanders through late spring, when “you” arrive on “your island” in Penobscot Bay, through summer’s high season, through a hurricane, and finally to the end of the season and a bittersweet goodbye (don’t forget to pack your toothbrush!) until next season. The night-boating scene is simply gorgeous, and the approach of the hurricane is one of the most beautifully written suspense scenes I’ve read in any literature.
Hattie and Hudson, by Chris Van Dusen. From an old favorite to a new favorite! We recently brought Hattie and Hudson home, and the kids are OBSESSED. Hattie is a young girl who loves to explore in her canoe, and Hudson is a lake monster who is lured out of his isolated cave and to the surface when he hears Hattie singing one day. The two immediately become good friends, but their friendship seems as if it may be short-lived when the townspeople discover Hudson’s presence and decide to remove him from their lake. Can Hattie save her new friend? It’s a beautifully illustrated book – not to mention a sweet story about getting to know someone before you judge them – and as we prepare to head to my parents’ lakeside camp for a mini-break this summer, the kids are having so much fun reading it (and speculating on the possibility that there might be a Hudson in the Sacandaga…).
Good Night Beach, by Adam Gamble. The Good Night Our World series gets a lot of airtime in our house. We have a stack of them now – everything from Good Night California to Good Night Mermaids. Both kids love them, but Nugget is particularly into Good Night Beach. He’s a total beach bum, and when he can’t actually be splashing in the waves, he is always happy to relive the glory days through Gamble’s fun writing and Cooper Kelly’s joyful illustrations. As with the other Good Night books, Good Night Beach begins with a “Good morning!” and “Are we ready to share a wonderful day?” It progresses through a day of sandcastle-building, tidepool-watching and sandwich-munching until the sun sets and we sleepily murmur, “Good night, beach. Thank you for sharing a wonderful day.”
And Then Comes Summer, by Tom Brenner. I just discovered Brenner’s books last fall, and And Then Comes Summer is his newest. Rather like Time of Wonder, it’s almost more poetry than prose. There’s no plot to speak of – it’s just page after page of gorgeous writing celebrating the season, accompanied by sweet, happy, and utterly captivating illustrations. Brenner’s neighborhood kids sell lemonade, visit the ice cream stand, ride their bikes to a Fourth of July parade, and beat the heat at the lake – sounds like a perfect summer to me!
What’s your favorite summer-themed children’s book?