Running and jumping outside is fun, but sometimes it’s time for a quiet read. Here are a few fun books for six- to nine-year-olds (give or take a couple of years!).
Scamp the dog is unhappy with his life, and finally runs away from his boy, Orvie. A witch takes pity on the poor sad canine, who wants to be a great and noble creature, not just a dumb ole dog. But the well-meaning sorceress doesn’t turn Scamp into a mighty Percheron — she grants his deepest desire by turning him into something fantastically magically one of a kind. Scamp becomes a truly special creature, a whingdingdilly.
“Zum zum zaroot most anything goes,” chants the witch.
“So how about a rhinocerous nose.
“Then elephant ears ker-flippety flop
“And reindeer horns zilly-zop! Out the top.”
Scamp is now unique, all right. And then goes all wrong for poor Scamp. He might be a kind-hearted soul, but he looks like a monster.
Whingdingdilly is written and illustrated by Bill Peet (1970).
Fans of puzzles and conundrums will enjoy matching wits with the author of a beautiful picture book, The Eleventh Hour: A Curious Mystery, by Graeme Base (1988). It’s a book you’ll want to pore over again and again — because you won’t find the solution to the mystery unless you can solve all the puzzles within.
Horace The Elephant turns 11, and has a costume party. Everyone’s invited (“The Mouse came as a Muskateer, his head and hat held high,/ A swagger in his footsteps and a twinkle in his eye./ The Cat was Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt and the Nile/ And, masquerading as a Judge, was Sam the Crocodile”).
After hours of summer fun and games, the guests crowd to the buffet table for a Horace-made feast, only to discover the food has been stolen. There’s nothing but crumbs left! Talk about terrifying, there’s a party full of hungry guests — and no snacks.
Who is the rotten scoundrel who gobbled up the food? There is a clue on every page. But if you haven’t discovered the answer by the end, the solution is in the back… “I hope you found The Eleventh Hour entertaining and intriguing,” the author writes. “If you also found it annoying and frustrating, this booklet was written especially for you!”
Matt Christopher’s wide-ranging sports stories feature all sorts of sports. Lacrosse Firestorm (2008) follows the Rockets team, but young Gary is being bullied by teammate Michael — and Gary responds with fury. If these two can’t figure out what teamwork is really about, the team will lose the lacrosse tournament. But there’s more than just sports in life– there’s a fire, and it looks like arson. And there’s still a game to win.
The Bionicle Chronicles is another popular series, this one based on the Lego characters (and it’s marketing the figurines to kids, of course). Six amnesiac warriors — ice, water, fire, earth, air and stone — swear to defend the land of Mata Nui from the dark being, Makuta. Beware The Bohrok, by C.A. Hapka (2003) is the second in the series. The Bohrok (being the Pahrak and the Kohrak, the Gahlok, Tahnok, Nuhvok and Lehvak) have awakened, assisted by the Bohrok Va, and their krana. This is a completely realized world with a complex set of creatures and gadgets, for the reader who loves new words (that their parents won’t understand) and who loves this kind of complexity. Each warrior has their own battle against the bad guys, and the solo group members all come together at the end, in a show of cooperation, to defeat evil.
Last but not least, Young Marian’s Adventures in Sherwood Forest, by Stephen Mooser (1997), is the first in the Girls To The Rescue series of short novels. (This one is the longest and most challenging read.)
Thirteen-year-old Marian and her best friend Robert of Locksley have no love for the Sheriff of Nottingham, a cruel and greedy man who hangs anyone who won’t hand over their taxes. Since the tax rate leaves citizens starving or freezing to death in the winter for want of food and firewood, the people are in a bad way.
Marian’s efforts to trick the Sheriff and return her father’s life savings, however, get dad arrested and scheduled for death. Her pal Robert, better known by his nickname, Robin, agrees to help rescue the father and further annoy the Sheriff. This is billed as the first adventure of the two rebels who would become Maid Marian and Robin Hood, stealing from the rich to give to the poor.
All these children’s books are filed with a yellow dot, suggested reading for ages 6 to 9. Check the New Arrivals shelf and the regular stacks!
– Eleanor Brown, July 22, 2011