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What-Kids-Who-Don't-Like-To-Read-Like-To-Read: The Reading List

Nationally and internationally recognized experts select, with groups of children, books which entice reluctant readers to reading - and keep them reading.

Ages 4-8 Years

Sam Goes Trucking
Ages: 4 - 8
Author: Henry Horenstein
Houghton Mifflin

Sam's father is a trucker; he drives an eighteen-wheeler. The day he takes Sam with him is depicted in a photodocumentary picture book format that leaves no doubt about Sam's feelings for his dad, his dad's feelings for him, and the boy's fascination with his father's work.

Julius, the Baby of the World Julius, the Baby of the World
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Kevin Henkes  
HarperCollins/William Morrow, $11.19 (Hard Cover)   

When Lily found out she was going to be a big sister she was the best big sister in the world. She sang lullabies to the unborn baby, she gave him things, she told him secrets. But-"After Julius was born, it was a different story. "Trust me. Babies are dreadful," a new Lily says candidly, and while child and adult reader laugh aloud Kevin Henkes works his text and pictures to a more than reasonably happy conclusion.

John Patrick Norman McHennessyJohn Patrick Norman McHennessy: The Boy Who Was Always Late
Ages: 4 - 8
Author: John Burningham   Illustrator: John Burningham

John Patrick is a child who is always late to school, and for very good reasons: a crocodile tries to eat his book bag, a lion chases him up a tree, a tidal wave carries him off. The adventures are spelled out in full bright colors, while his attempts to convince his teacher (drawn as an enormously predatory figure) are in somber tones. The illustrations are mixed media. Childlike handwriting decorates the endpapers where the humor begins and never misses a beat.

The Stupids Step Out
Ages: 4 - 8
Author: Harry Allard    Illustrator: by James Marshall
Houghton Mifflin

The comical Stupids will give children a serious case of the giggles with their absurd misadventures. Who can resist a family that names their dog Kitty, eats mashed potato sundaes, and wears socks on their ears? Other books in the series (The Stupids Have a Ball, The Stupids Die, and The Stupids Take Off) supply additional fine, silly fun.

Uncle Nachos HatUncle Nacho's Hat / El Sombrero del Tío Nacho
: 4 - 8
Author: Harriet Rohmer   Illustrator: Mira Reisberg
Childrens Book Press

His niece Ambrosia brings Uncle Nacho a brand-new hat because the old one is full of holes. Whenever he tries to get rid of the ancient sombrero it somehow gets back to him. One way or another Uncle Nacho's hat comes home. The amusing story, in Spanish as well as in English, is complemented by the bold and bright-as-shellacked-paint illustrations typical of most books from the Children's Book Press.

If You Give A Moose A MuffinIf You Give a Moose a Muffin
: 4 - 8
Author: Laura Joffe Numeroff   Illustrator: Felicia Bond

The proverbial warning against letting a camel's nose in the tent apparently applies to a moose as well; in this instance, one of the hulking creatures lumbers into the house to obtain homemade blackberry jam. The jam will go with the muffin that a boy has rashly given him. (This is the very lad who, in an earlier book, was unwise enough to "give a mouse a cookie.") Augmented by cheerfully ridiculous illustrations, and with a rhythmic, circular text, this book brims with chaos and infectious nonsense.

Iktomi and the BoulderIktomi and the Boulder
Ages: 4 - 8
Author: Paul Goble
Orchard Books

All solid citizens, particularly young ones, can instantly deduce that Iktomi is looking for mischief. He wasn't working, he wasn't helping his mother, he was walking along… The tone of this Native American trickster tale is apparent from the first line. The mischievous, lazy, and legendary boy cavorts colorfully across the book's white pages and in and out of trouble. The illustrations, posterlike, are bold, handsome, and authentically painted by Paul Goble, who knows how to use white space better than anyone.

I Hate English!
Ages: 5 - 8
Author: Ellen Levine   Illustrator: Steve Björkman

Although she was an excellent student at her old school in China, Mei Mei resists learning English at her new school in New York. She quickly learns to comprehend what her teacher is saying, but refuses to speak or write a language she considers strange and ugly. She steadfastly, and understandably, maintains, "I hate English!" Humorous, sketchy watercolors enhance this story of the assimilation of a reluctant little immigrant. It will appeal especially to children learning to cope with a new language-or with new classmates.

Tar Beach Tar Beach
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Faith Ringgold  
Random House Children's Books/Crown, $18.00 (Hard Cover)   

Tar Beach is the roof of a Harlem apartment building where Cassie Louise Lightfoot spends hot summer evenings with her family. She lies there under the heavens, feeling rich. To own anything, she knows, all she needs to do is fly over it and it becomes hers.

In bold and energetic brushstrokes, bright lights and stars sparkle against dark sky. In an affecting, autobiographical book a little girl uses her imagination to free herself as the slaves did-by "flying" away.


Ages 5-10 Years

Lon Po Po: A Red-Riding Hood Story from China
Ages: 5 - 10
Author: Ed Young   Illustrator: Ed Young
Paper Star

This exquisite version of Little Red Riding Hood is set in long-ago China. The illustrations, painted by artist and author Ed Young, attract and hold the eyes and hearts of young readers.

The Stories Julian Tells
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Ann Cameron   Illustrator: Ann Strugnell  
Random House Children's Books, $13.00 (Hard Cover)    $4.99 (Paperback)

Julian is great at telling stories, and he can make people- especially his younger brother, Huey- believe just about anything. But Julian's creative tendencies often land both of them in hot water. Everyday adventures, such as losing a tooth, finding a new friend, and planting a garden, are depicted with humor and warmth. More Stories Julian Tells, The Stories Huey Tells, and More Stories Huey Tells continue the series.

Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters Mufaro's Beautiful Daughters
Ages: 5 - 8 yrs.
By: John Steptoe  
HarperCollins Children's Books / Amistad, $11.89 (Hard Cover)   

Mufaro's daughters are indeed beautiful, but there the similarity between them ends. Nyasha is generous and good; Manyara is proud, vain, and selfish. When the Great King announces his desire for a wife, Mufaro plans to present both daughters as candidates. But Manyara is determined to be the Queen, and schemes to be first to appear before the King. As one might expect from folklore, her attitude brings about her downfall.

Inspired by an African folktale much like the European Cinderella, Steptoe tells this one with an original and graceful eloquence. Set near what is now Zimbabwe, the magnificent paintings breathe new life into traditional landscapes.

Mandela: From the Life of the South African Statesman
Ages: 5 - 10
Author: Floyd Cooper

Few figures have inspired as much respect or admiration as Nelson Mandela. From his childhood in the South African countryside, to his election as the first black president in South Africa's history, Mandela's extraordinary life is a story of courage, persistence, hope and belief.

The Magic School Bus: Lost in the Solar System
Ages: 7 - 10
Author: Joanna Cole   Illustrator: Bruce Degen

Ms. Frizzle's class is disappointed when the planetarium they want to see is closed. However, on the way back to school, an amazing this happens. The Magic School Bus tilts back, blasts off, and zooms through space. It visits all the planets and the students see and learn a lot, but will anyone believe it really happened? Like a string of cartoons with additional text, this heavily illustrated book will lure most young readers and teach them about the solar system. Other titles in this series include: At the Waterworks, Inside the Human Body, Inside the Earth, and On the Ocean Floor.

Weird Stories from the Lonesome CafeWeird Stories from the Lonesome Café
Ages: 7 - 10
Written by Judy Cox   Illustrated by Diane Kidd
Scholastic, $3.99

A funny fantasy chapter book about a 10 year old who is spending the summer in the middle of Nevada, working at the remote Lonesome Café. And the HELP WANTED sign in the window brings some very strange visitors-Bigfoot, Elvis, a jolly fat man from the North Pole, and a young girl and her dog who blow in on a tornado from Kansas. And then there's the spaceship that crashes nearby and its little green passenger ...

Brainboy and the Deathmaster
Ages: 9 - 11 yrs.
Author: Tor Seidler  
HarperCollins Children's Books / Laura Geringer, $16.99 (Hard Cover)   

Darryl, almost catatonic after the death of all his relatives in a fire, has been stuck in the Masterly Children's Shelter. The only things that interest him are computer games at which he is a genius. The streetwise Boris temporarily becomes Darryl's roommate, tells him about his missing sister, Nina and introduces him to an extremely difficult computer game on the laptop bolted to the table in their room. A game Nina played before she disappeared and one Darryl continues playing until an ancient face with one red eye appears on the screen.

Darryl is whisked away to become a foster child of Mr. Masterly, the benefactor of the shelter, and founder of the world's largest computer company. In a convoluted frenetic plot, the characters interlace in unexpected exciting ways. This is a book that both computer geeks and kids-who-don't-like-to-read will like-to-read.

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