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Books for Grandparents — May 2011

We've teamed up with the editors of Publishers Weekly to scour the latest titles — from books for babies to cutting-edge fiction for teens — to help you find that perfect book for your grandchild.


Book List

Press Here, by Henré Tullet

Press Here

By Hervé Tullot
(Chronicle, $14.99; all ages)

Reading a picture book? Yup, there’s an app for that — hundreds of ’em, as a matter of fact. But in this format-bending book, Tullot proves that print titles can be just as interactive and rewarding. Readers are invited to press a yellow dot; then, as additional dots and instructions appear on subsequent pages, they’ll be delighted by the “results” as they rub, shake and tilt the book. It’s low-tech, high-impact fun.

Leap Back Home to Me, by Lauren Thompson

Leap Back Home to Me!

By Lauren Thompson, illus. by Matthew Cordell
(Simon & Schuster/Margaret K. McElderry Books, $15.99; ages 2-6)

In a tender story that celebrates a child’s burgeoning independence as well as the security that a parent or guardian offers, a small frog leaps ever farther from its mother — eventually over mountains, and even into outer space. But — as in a much earlier book, The Runaway Bunny — the frog’s mother is always ready and waiting at home, cementing the message about unconditional love and support.

You're Finally Here! by Mélanie Watt

You’re Finally Here!

By Mélanie Watt
(Disney-Hyperion, $15.99; ages 3-6)

An egomaniacal rabbit alternately celebrates, berates and apologizes to readers in this funny meta-narrative from Watt, in which the bunny makes it clear to readers just how rude it was to keep him waiting before they finally showed up to read the book. Great for fans of Mo Willems’s Pigeon books; Lauren Child’s Charlie and Lola series; and other larger-than-life protagonists.

Ladder to the Moon, by Maya Soetoro-Ng

Ladder to the Moon

By Maya Soetoro-Ng, illus. by Yuyi Morales
(Candlewick Press, $16.99; ages 4-8)

Soetoro-Ng (President Obama’s half-sister) and Morales team up for a tale of global connectivity and love. In the story, young Suhaila is visited by her late grandmother during the night. They ascend to the moon, whence they look back at Earth, inviting those in need of reassurance or consolation to join them. A warm, nontraditional story of spiritual healing.

Queen of the Falls, by Chris Van Allsburg

Queen of the Falls

By Chris Van Allsburg
(Houghton Mifflin, $18.99; ages 6-9)

Best known for The Polar Express, The Mysteries of Harris Burdick, and Jumanji, Van Allsburg returns with his first work of children’s nonfiction, which is as impeccably illustrated as its predecessors. Here he tells the bittersweet story of 62-year-old charm-school instructor Annie Edson Taylor, who in 1901 became the first person to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

The Trouble with Chickens, by Doreen Cronin

The Trouble with Chickens

By Doreen Cronin, illus. by Kevin Cornell
(HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $14.99; ages 8-12)

Ideal for newly independent readers, this humorous chapter book spoofs detective noir films as retired search-and-rescue dog J. J. Tully is reluctantly drawn into the hunt for a pair of missing chicks. J. J.’s hardboiled narration — especially as it pertains to mother hen “Moosh” and J. J.’s nemesis, Vince the Funnel — will have kids cackling.

Emerald Atlas, by John Stephens

The Emerald Atlas

By John Stephens
(Knopf, $17.99; ages 8-12)

This epic first book in Stephens’s Books of Beginning trilogy is just the thing for fantasy-loving children who have already devoured the Harry Potter books, Spiderwick Chronicles and other contemporary classics of the genre. This time-traveling adventure stars orphaned siblings Kate, Michael, and Emma as they unlock secrets about their lineage in their mysterious new home in the Adirondack Mountains.

A Dog's Way Home, by Bobbie Pyron

A Dog’s Way Home

By Bobbie Pyron
(HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books, $16.99; ages 8-12)

Fans of dog stories such as The Incredible Journey and Lassie Come-Home are a natural audience for this moving and suspenseful story in which Tam, a champion sheltie, struggles through a 400-mile journey to return home to his 11-year-old owner, Abby. It’s a heartwarming portrait of the mutual devotion between dogs and the children who love them.

Dogtag Summer, by Elizabeth Partridge

Dogtag Summer

By Elizabeth Partridge
(Bloomsbury, $16.99; ages 8-12)

Set in 1980, this powerful coming-of-age novel centers on sixth-grader Tracy, who was born in Vietnam and whose father is a veteran of the conflict dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder. The discovery of a dogtag among her father’s possessions leads to a series of painful revelations for both Tracy’s family and that of her best friend.

A World Without Heroes

By Brandon Mull
(Simon & Schuster/Aladdin, $19.99; ages 8-12)

This first book in the Beyonders trilogy starts with a bang — or rather a gulp — as 13-year-old Jason falls into the gaping mouth of a hippopotamus and is transported to the magical world of Lyrian. (How’s that for original?) On Lyrian, Jason is drawn into an action-packed quest to depose the sorcerer who rules the realm; in the process he meets creatures both good and evil — as well as a fellow refugee from Earth.

Chime, by Franny Billingsley


By Franny Billingsley
(Dial, $17.99; ages 12 and up)

Set in the early 20th century, this fantasy novel starring a teenager who is convinced that she is a witch and a murderer has garnered early critical acclaim. From the very first pages, it’s clear why: Billingsley’s rich language makes the backwater setting of Swampsea — and her deeply conflicted heroine, Briony — feel extraordinarily real.

Between Shades of Grey, by Ruta Sepetys

Between Shades of Gray

By Ruta Sepetys
(Philomel, $17.99; ages 12 and up)

A heartbreaking piece of historical fiction, Sepetys’s first novel focuses on the little-known story of Lithuanians sent to Siberian work camps by Stalin during WWII. Fifteen-year-old narrator Lina conveys the brutal conditions and impossible choices that she and her family endured, bringing to light the persecution that she and millions of others faced.

Recovery Road, by Blake Nelson

Recovery Road

By Blake Nelson
(Scholastic Press, $17.99; ages 13 and up)

After a stint at a halfway house, 16-year-old Maddie is trying to start her life afresh. But the influence of old “friends” — and a verboten romance with a boy she met in rehab — complicates matters. Nelson doesn’t sugarcoat the difficulties, the dangers of relapse or the serious consequences that attend drug and alcohol addiction.

Blink & Caution, by Tim Wynne-Jones

Blink & Caution

By Tim Wynne-Jones
(Candlewick, $17.99; ages 14 and up)

This taut crime novel, shot through with themes of social justice, stars a pair of teenagers caught up in a fake kidnapping with national consequences. Wynne-Jones maintains a rapid-fire pace even as he effortlessly weaves into his story some big issues — among them homelessness, domestic abuse and racism.

Clarity, by Kim Harrington


By Kim Harrington
(Scholastic/Point, $16.99; ages 14 and up)

Funny, gripping, and mysterious, Harrington’s first novel stars a modern teen detective with a twist: Picture a sardonic version of Nancy Drew, with psychic gifts to boot. Clarity Fern’s ability to uncover memories and emotions by touching objects pulls her into a murder investigation in her Cape Cod town — where both the victims and the suspects are close to home.

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