Looking for Some Good Books This Summer?

Life has been pretty dang exhausting lately, but then I get these sweet moments that make me raise my voice to the heavens and say, “Thank you.”

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Last night, I was happy to get on my bed and have some down time.  But then Davy came in.  “Are you going to read Bad Unicorn to me?”

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“Sure.  Why don’t you see who else wants to read it with us tonight?”  He rounded up Ricky and Deborah who immediately protested Davy’s book choice.

“I want you to read my book,” Debi said to me.

“Well go get it,” I said.  She came in with a sheet of paper, both sides filled with pencil drawings and misshapen letters.  Oh.  She meant her book as in the book that she had actually written and illustrated.

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Debi’s remarkable book.

I gave a phonetically accurate reading of her book which went like this, “LSURCAZVOL L ULCASL DFDMCADE iLiZV.”

“No, that’s not it,” she replied.

“Oh really?”  I asked.  “Why don’t you tell me the story?”

“I forgot it.”

“Oh really?”

“So you need to read it to me.” I told her the story of an ice princess that could make castles and funny snowmen.  That satisfied her.  It was so nice to have her and Ricky close to me, leaning against my bed as I told them the story.

Davy loves Bad Unicorn.  We read our chapter together, and no book makes me laugh like that one does.  I just have to give you the first page, it’s so good.

Princess the Unicorn was having a bad day.  Probably not as bad a day as the happy-go-lucky frobbits she’d eaten, but a bad day nonetheless.  First of all, the frobbits weren’t satisfying.  As a whole, frobbits were short, moderately salty creatures with big ears, hairy feet, large eyes, and bodies that were roundish as the result of long days of eating, drinking and making merry.  Frobbits had always been considered tender folk–both emotionally and when slowly roasted.  But the frobbits of late were just . . . bland.  And then there was the frobbit musician chained to the nearby tree.  Sure, he was playing all the right notes on his little frobbit mandolin, but he wasn’t really feeling the music—perhaps because Princess had eaten his band mates.  And if there was anything Princess despised it was bland frobbits and music without soul.

The author is Platte F. Clark.  I met him at a book signing, and he is not only funny but really really nice.  I could read that every day and laugh every time.

Finally, when all the kids had gone to bed, I read the last chapter of 7 Tipping Points that Saved the World by Chris and Ted Stewart.  The book has seven different moments of history that changed the world.  A chapter is dedicated to the heroic stand of King Leionidas at Thermopylae, the defeat of the Islam armies at Poiters, the failure of the Mongols to secure Europe, the discovery of America, and my favorite, The Battle of Britain in World War II.

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That last chapter about the 1000 young pilots who saved England from an invasion by Germany is riveting.  It changed the entire course of World War II.  The boys were seventeen or eighteen years old, barely trained, and sent into these little planes to fight off hundreds of German bombers and fighter planes.  Many of the boys would get out of training school and get shot down their first mission, their suitcase still not unpacked.  The boys worked under exhausting and very rigorous conditions, hardly getting time to sleep.  Many crashed into the English channel only to die of hypothermia while others were trapped in their fiery cockpits, their hands too burned to open the canopy and get out.

It was a fight against time, the British hoping they could fend the Germans off until fall, when the English Channel would become too unreliable and dangerous to attempt a ground invasion.  Finally, mid-September, the Germans called their bombers off.  That just gives me one more reason to love England.

I was really moved by what they did, what they sacrificed, and it’s always good to read a book like that when you’re feeling just a wee bit sorry for yourself.  The book is so well-written, so easy to read, and such a page turner that tonight I might read some of that with my boys too.  It’s so hard to believe that those pilots were just a few years younger than my sons.

Warning:  Some of the 7 Tipping Points chapters have some strong violence, and you may want to edit them before reading them aloud to your children.

Here are a few of our favorites for young children.

fancy nancy My little girl loves reading all about Fancy Nancy, who uses all sorts of fancy words to describe her day, but then explains what the words actually mean.  Words such as accessories, entourage, parasol, and boa are some of our favorite words. Nancy is adorable, and she’ll be teaching your children vocabulary without them even knowing it.

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Shark vs. Train has got to be one of my favorites of all time.  The illustrations are hilarious, and you really get into this intense rivalry.  My kids read it over and over again!

What books have you read lately?

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