• Surfing Cat
    James & the Giant Peach

    by Roald Dahl
    James Henry Trotter leads a happy life until his parents are eaten by an escaped rhinoceros and he is thrust into the world of his nasty aunts, Sponge and Spiker. Then he becomes "the saddest and loneliest boy you could find." When a little man in a dark green suit gives James a bag of magic crystals, the story takes off. James finds an "ancient peach tree that never gave any peaches," but with the magic crystals, it suddenly does! A single peach grows and keeps growing until James can climb inside and roll away from his horrible aunts to a whole new life. James befriends overgrown garden dwellers, Grasshopper, Earthworm, Miss Spider and Centipede. James and the Giant Peach is considered by many to be one of the finest children's books ever written. 126 pages.


    by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
    Nothing is simple in this taut, unforgettable drama. Kids love this edge-of-the-seat story of a boy going up against a really scary mean man to protect an abused dog. 144 pages. Newbery Medal Award.

    Horse Hooves and Chicken Feet: Mexican Folktales

    by Neil Philip
    Alternately funny, spooky, thought-provoking and magical, this is a vividly illustrated and accessible collection of Mexican folktales. 83 pages.

    Math Curse

    by Jon Scieszka
    Jon Scieszka, a former teacher and a popular author for boys, presents a hilarious read for anyone who suffers from a math phobia. Imagine how you would feel if your math teacher told you, "You can think of everything as a math problem." Would your head immediately start hurting? Would your heart start to race? Spend the day with a girl who wakes up one morning to find that every event in her life has been reduced to some sort of math problem. Have fun solving the problems she encounters, and see if you agree that she has been cursed! 32 pages.

    Diary of a Wimpy Kid

    by Jeff Kinney
    The main character Greg is a kid who usually doesn't do the right thing the first time around. His cluelessness about what would keep him out of trouble and why parents, teachers and friends are upset with him is part of the book's humor, which leads the reader to any lesson Greg should be learning. Parents will appreciate that his friend's dad looks up video games on a parent Web site to see if they have too much violence. Also, you can tell that Greg's mom is working hard to raise respectful sons. When a bikini picture from her oldest son Rodrick's heavy metal magazine ends up in her youngest son's hands for show-and-tell, she makes Rodrick apologize to all women on paper. Parents will also be thrilled to know that despite the fact that the book is written in less-formal journal style with fun cartoons, everything is spelled correctly (i.e., no texting slang in sight!). 244 pages.

    Tuck Everlasting
    by Natalie Babbit
    Doomed to - or blessed with - eternal life after drinking from a magic spring, the Tuck family wanders about trying to live as inconspicuously and comfortably as they can. When ten-year-old Winnie Foster stumbles on their secret, the Tucks take her home and explain why living forever at one age is less a blessing that it might seem. Complications arise when Winnie is followed by a stranger who wants to market the spring water for a fortune. 
    Sideways Stories from Wayside School

    by Louis Sachar
    On the 30th floor of the wacky Wayside School is Mrs. Jewl's class. Sharie falls asleep and rolls out the window. Joe counts all wrong and gets the right answer. Calvin is sent to the 19th floor to deliver a note, but there is no 19th floor - the builder forgot it. This nutty world is built on the sort of playful twists of logic that kids love. 128 pages.

    Boy of a Thousand Faces

    by Brian Selznick
    Ten-year-old Alonzo King is an expert about monster movies. He spends hours with Scotch tape and makeup trying to master his beloved monster faces in the mirror. When a mysterious beast is rumored to be stomping on flower beds and scratching up cars, Alonzo is called on for his monster expertise. 48 pages.
    Do the Funky Pickle

    by Jerry Spinelli
    Eddie Mott has been in love with his friend Sunny from the first time he met her. The school dance is coming up and he has asked his friends Pickles and Salem for help. This hilarious story describes Eddie's varied and unsuccessful attempts to get Sunny to notice him, while avoiding Angelpuss and her boyfriend Weasel, a tough and nasty eighth-grader, whose attention Eddie's antics has attracted. 133 pages.

    Love That Dog

    by Sharon Creech
    A terrific book for reluctant readers and discussion groups, it packs a load of emotional and intellectual depth into a very accessible package. 95 pages. Good for kids age 8+.

    The School Story

    by Andrew Clements
    Readers will grin from beginning to end of this enchanting story. A kid getting a novel published — too ridiculous to be believable, right? Just ask Gordon Korman, whose first novel, which he wrote as a seventh-grade English project, was published when he was 12. It sold very well, and he had five more published before he graduated from high school. Publishers are looking for good school stories — who better to write one than a kid? This book should prompt many fruitful family discussions, and inspire young authors to reach for their dreams. 196 pages

    There's a Boy in the Girl's Bathroom

    by Louis Sachar
    This book tells the story of Bradley Chalkers, a boy who tells enormous lies, picks fights with girls, spits on people and is considered by his teachers to have behavioral issues. Bradley has no friends, is disliked by all the students and teachers in the school and, always sits by himself in the last seat, last row. Things start to change when Jeff Fishkin, a new student, arrives and is placed in the only empty seat left in the room, right next to Bradley. The school hires a new counselor, Carla, who sees potential in Bradley and works with him to make him see the potential in himself, a difficult task for a boy who sees himself as a monster. 195 pages.

    Brian's Winter

    by Gary Paulsen
    In the Newbery Honor book, Hatchet, 13-year-old Brian Robeson learned to survive alone in the Canadian wilderness, armed only with his hatchet. As millions of readers know, he was finally rescued at the end of the summer. In this sequel to Hachet, Paulsen imagines our hero as if he hadn't been rescued, revisiting Brian at the onset of a punishing Canadian winter and portraying him surviving a winter in the wilderness. This book easily stands alone; one need not read Hatchet first, although it does make for an interesting discussion. Full of cliffhangers and tension, this is the perfect winter read for the adventurous child in your life. 144 pages.

    Extreme Animals: The Toughest Creatures on Earth

    by Nicola Davies
    A book to engender a lot of "Did you know...?" conversations, Extreme Animals will amaze readers with facts about animals that withstand earth's extreme conditions. The most amazing animal of all can live through all of the extremes scientists can produce. 64 pages.

    The World Record Paper Airplane Book

    by Ken Blackburn and Jeff Lammers
    This revised new edition of the popular paper-airplane book soars with 112 ready—to—crease airplanes based on 20 very cool and colorful designs — all of them easy enough for young paper—plane pilots to cut out of the book, fold according to directions and toss into the air. The co-authors are gurus in the world of amateur aerodynamics. Aerospace engineer Blackburn holds the Guinness World Record for paper airplane tossing "time aloft," and Lammers is an engineer and part-time pilot. Together they share folding and tossing secrets that will make anyone into a paper—airplane connoisseur. ... But this book isn't about educational text; it's about educational experience and the thrill of flight. The real stars here are the paper airplanes themselves. From the Stunt plane to the Eagle, and the Space Shuttle replica to a Hammerhead, this book is fueled by science and fun. ... 256 pages.

    The Best of Times: Math Strategies That Multiply

    by Gregory Tang
    Does the thought of memorizing your multiplication facts drive you crazy? Are you tired of those pesky speed drills in math class? If you want a fun way to learn how to multiply, you must read this clever picture book. Tang uses simple rhymes and puzzles to help students understand the concept of multiplication. Today's kids are mesmerized by rap and rhyme, so this book is sure to motivate as well as encourage children to use different strategies to solve multiplication problems. 32 pages.

    Natural Disasters

    by Claire Watts
    With many natural disasters in the news recently, this book should answer questions that kids might have. Part of the Eyewitness Books series, it presents an overview of a wide variety of disasters, including earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, volcanoes, landslides, hurricanes, tornadoes and epidemics. Written in plain language and illustrated with spectacular photos, maps and diagrams, there is a wealth of valuable information contained here. The book includes a timeline of major disasters throughout history, a glossary of technical terms, an index and a "Find Out More" page that directs readers to useful Web sites and places to visit to learn more (in this case, natural history and science museums). There are more than 100 titles in this series, from Amphibian to World War II--something for every reader. 72 pages.
    Reading grade level: 6, Interest grade level: 3-8.

    Top Secret: A Handbook of Codes, Ciphers, and Secret Writing

    by Paul B. Janeczko
    This book has everything a budding spy or cryptographer wants to know about creating codes, ciphers, and the methods of concealment. An answer key provides a great opportunity to practice new skills from pictographs to Igpay Atinlay. 144 pages

    The Cricket in Times Square

    by George Selden
    Chester Cricket, Tucker Mouse and Harry Cat meet at a newsstand in a New York subway station when a lonely little boy, Mario Bellini, finds the cricket in a pile of trash. He decides to keep Chester as a pet, and a series of adventures follow. Perfect for a quiet read on a long trip this summer. 144 pages.