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Summer Reading Roundup 2009 

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PICTURE BOOKS

Funny Farm
Mark Teague
Orchard Books, 2009, $16.99
Edward the proper Boston terrier makes a mess of things on his first visit to Hawthorne Farm, but who cares? This is a place where sheep brush their teeth, cows play tetherball, and pigs do-si-do at the barn dance. Richly imaged illustrations humorously counterpoint the deadpan text by Columbia County author/illustrator Teague (LaRue for President).

Humpty Dumpty Climbs Again
Dave Horowitz
G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2008, $16.99
From rebel gefiltes to rock-climbing eggs, Horowitz is the grandmaster of eloquent ovals. Humpty’s great fall occurs in an upwardly mobile kingdom whose cliff-top tower recalls Mohonk’s Skytop. Grounded by fear, he bottoms out (literally) before finding the courage to climb again. This read-aloud hoot may be the only picture book ever to mention Tenzing Norgay in its acknowledgments.

Ladybug Girl and Bumblebee Boy
David Soman and Jacky Davis
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2009, $16.99
As any preschooler knows, playing is easy and cooperating with others can be hard, but when Ladybug Girl and her friend Sam argue at the playground, imagination saves the day. When Sam is dubbed Bumblebee Boy, a squirrel becomes a monster, the slide turns into a giant snake, and more bug superheroes appear. Another delightful offering from the Rosendale husband/wife team who created the best-selling Ladybug Girl.

Lazy Little Loafers
Susan Orlean, illustrated by G. Brian Karas
Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2008, $16.95
Orlean’s superbly snarky New Yorker column about the idleness of babies gets a grade-school makeover, as a resentful rant by the big sister of a pampered slacker who gets to “hang out in the park, relaxed and cheerful—and mostly naked.” Dutchess County illustrator Karas wittily saddles the narrator with piles of dull gray homework and a backpack twice her size.

More Pocket Poems
selected by Bobbi Katz, illustrated by Deborah Zemke
Dutton Children’s Books, 2009, $17.99
Port Ewen poet Katz gathers 44 poetic petit fours by Emily Dickinson, Ogden Nash, Jorge Torres, William Shakespeare, and others in this teacher-friendly sequel to her Parenting Book Award winner Pocket Poems. As one of Katz’s own contributions deftly observes, “You can carry a sunset / people, the sea, or a home / neatly tucked inside a pocket / when they’re tucked inside a poem.”

Nit Pickin’
written by Nancy Van Laan, illustrated by George Booth
Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2008, $15.99
If there’s anything more awful than head lice, it’s head lice cures. Grandma’s nit picking and mayonnaise shampoo doesn’t work, nor does Momma’s plastic head wrap, but Grandpa’s kerosene dip is worse than all of them. This silly, rhyming read-aloud is the second collaboration between award-winning local author Van Laan and New Yorker cartoonist Booth, the Picasso of itch.

Peter Pan: A Pop-up Adaptation of J. M. Barrie’s Original Tale
Robert Sabuda
Little Simon, 2008, $30
In the hands of New Paltz’s master paper engineer Sabuda, this classic story springs to life: Mermaids frolic three-dimensionally, Captain Hook’s pirate ship throws up its sails, and the boy who won’t grow up literally leaps off the page. Dramatically large pop-ups show dazzling detail, and there’s also an abbreviated version of the story in mini-book form.

Sugar Would Not Eat It
written by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Giselle Potter
Schwartz Wade, 2009, $16.99
Kingston illustrator Potter (Wynken, Blynken, and Nod) works her distinctive magic on this clever parable about finicky eaters and bad parental psychology. In spite of Leo’s best efforts at coaxing, cajoling, and good old-fashioned guilt, his new kitten has no interest in eating a slice of his birthday cake...but a chicken sandwich and a glass of milk? That’s a different story!

A Very Smart Cat
written by Mario Picayo, illustrated by Yolanda Fundora
Campanita Press, 2008, $19.95
There is such a thing as a pet that’s too smart. If you let this cat sit on the table, it eats your lunch. If you forget to put away the TV clicker, it changes the channel. And if you leave your truck keys sitting around…. This book’s text shines in both English and Spanish, and some illustrations feature familiar Ulster County businesses.

You and Me as Big as the Sea
Lisa LaMonica
PublishAmerica, 2008, $15
LaMonica based this tale of escapism and boundless maternal love on a tantrum thrown by one of her sons. When his plans to play his new video game “for hours!” are thwarted, an angry boy slams out the door of his imagination and travels the dangerous world, coming back home content. The Hudson artist’s watercolors are as fresh and spontaneous as her hero’s adventure.

MIDDLE-GRADE & YOUNG ADULTS

All the Broken Pieces
Ann E. Burg
Scholastic Press, 2009, $16.99
Matt Pin is a sensitive, smart young Vietnamese refugee adopted by a caring American family. Through first-person verse, Rhinebeck author Burg takes us inside his head and heart as he struggles to define home and loyalty. His clear and forthright young voice brings life and depth to the people around him, in a tale with much to teach about differences, courage, and love.

Bill Pennant, Babe Ruth, and Me
Timothy Tocher
Cricket Books, 2009, $16.95
A boy, a Babe, and...a wildcat? 2007 Chronogram fiction contest winner Tocher hits a home run with this rollicking tale of a resilient 16-year-old hired to tame the 1920 Giants’ sharp-clawed new mascot. When the team that shares their stadium, an upstart franchise called the Yankees, asks Hank to wrangle their equally unruly slugger, the fur really flies.

Charlotte in London
written by Joan MacPhail Knight, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Chronicle Kids, 2008, $16.99
Charlotte is the turn-of-the-century child of a prosperous artistic family, outspoken and at ease in painters’ studios and grand hotels. Her travel diaries read like a who’s who of the art world circa 1895. Woodstocker Knight’s charming introduction to art history offers a glimpse of a gilded and glittering time and place, illustrated with scrapbook-style period art and postcards.

The Runaway Dolls
Ann M. Martin, Laura Godwin, and Brian Selznick
Hyperion Books for Children, 2009, $16.99
Anyone who’s ever enjoyed the notion of dolls coming to life when humans aren’t watching will enjoy the fanciful, slightly eerie world conjured by Selznick’s evocative drawings and Martin and Godwin’s lively text. Facing a mysterious package, kind-hearted Annabelle Doll lets her curiosity get ahead of her common sense, kicking off a logistical nightmare that ends happily.

Sword
Da Chen
Harper Collins Children’s, 2009, $16.99
Miu Miu’s feeling sorry for herself because she won’t be visited by the matchmaker on her 15th birthday. But that slight longing to be like everyone else is swept away by the far more exciting prospect of a heroic quest full of danger, disguise, and martial arts magic. Highland author Da Chen’s fluid and muscular prose takes young readers to ancient China on an unforgettable journey.

The Yggyssey
Daniel Pinkwater
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2009, $16
When all the best ghosts in LA start disappearing, Iggy Birnbaum sets out for another plane of existence to find out why. Joined by some compatriots from Pinkwater’s The Neddiad, she learns seven names for skunk, discovers Leprechaun clog dancing, meets a cat-whiskered girl, and is warned (to no avail) not to piss off a witch. Dutchess resident Pinkwater has penned yet another madcap delight to tickle readers of all ages.

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