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Books for Grandparents July 2009

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

FOR PRESCHOOLERS

All of Baby Nose to Toes

By Victoria Adler, illus. by Hiroe Nakata (Dial Books for Young Readers, $14.99; up to age 2)

Perfect for lap reading, this book celebrates a baby's features—from "round as pie eyes" to an adorable "honks when it blows nose." The baby's entire family, from grandparents to cousins to the dog, gets in on the action, professing their love. The cheery verse, which invites tickles and hugs, is infectious.

Dinotrux

By Chris Gall (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $16.99; ages 3-6)

Trucks combined with dinosaurs—nowthose are some hybrid vehicles that kids, especially boys, will thrill over! Gall takes readers back to a time when fierce creatures known as Craneosaurus, Dumplodocus, and Rollodon ruled the earth. The bold artwork, rambunctious narrative, and ingenious mash-ups will all win fans.

The Nine Lives of Rotten Ralph

By Jack Gantos, illus. by Nicole Rubel (Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, $16; ages 3-7)

It's the ninth outing for this famously feisty cat, and his misbehavior has caught up with him: Ralph is on his last life, and his owner Sarah is determined to keep him out of trouble. Rotten as ever, Ralph will keep kids in stitches.

Always

By Alison McGhee, illus. by Pascal Lemaitre (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, $15.99; ages 4-8)

There are cat people and there are dog people. For those in the latter group, Always provides a humorous but heartfelt tribute to one canine's devotion. With increasing bravado, a puppy tells his young owner just how far he'll go to protect her home: "I will tame the squirrels," "I will divert meteors," and so on. Why? "Because you live here."

The Frogs and Toads All Sang

By Arnold Lobel, color by Adrianne Lobel (HarperCollins Children's Books, $16.99; ages 4-7)

Arnold Lobel's daughter, Adrianne, recently discovered a collection of her late father's poems and artwork by chance; from it, she selected the verse and colored the sketchlike artwork that appears here. The gentle, amusing poems, which predate the senior Lobel's beloved Frog and Toad books, are just as appealing as those classics.

FOR THE ELEMENTARY SET

The Dunderheads

By Paul Fleischman, illus. by David Roberts (Candlewick Press, $16.99; ages 6-10)

A group of kids with unusual talents—and nicknames to match, such as Junkyard, Clips, and Einstein—get revenge on their tyrannical teacher. Great for kids with a wicked sense of humor—and for anyone who roots for the underdog.

Extra Credit

By Andrew Clements (Simon & Schuster/Atheneum, $16.99; ages 8-12)

Clements's novel unfolds as an Illinois schoolgirl exchanges letters with a pen pal in Afghanistan to boost her grades so she won't have to repeat sixth grade. Abby's world-view is broadened by her exchange with Sadeed, who has grown up in strife, but with his aspirations undaunted. Timely and thought-provoking.

Kaleidoscope Eyes

By Jen Bryant (Knopf Books for Young Readers, $15.99; ages 9-13)

This novel-in-free-verse is set in 1968 New Jersey in the midst of the Vietnam War. Though Lyza, 13, and her friends get wrapped up in a mystery involving pirate treasure, but life's harsh realities—war, prejudice, family troubles—are never far away. The memorable characters and setting will stay with readers.

Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell in Love

By Lauren Tarshis (Dial Books for Young Readers, $16.99; ages 10-14)

This sequel to Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree is as funny and honest as its predecessor. Idiosyncratic Emma-Jean's analytical observations remain both astute and hilarious. Here she is, for example, on cafeteria roughhousing: "Adolescent males engage in conspicuous displays to attract the attention of females." Readers will recognize plenty of themselves in Emma-Jean and her friends.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

By Jacqueline Kelly (Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, $16.99; ages 10 and up)

In 1899 Texas, Calpurnia (aka Callie Vee), a middle child with six brothers, finds herself drawn to the natural world and into scientific investigation with her naturalist grandfather. Kelly expertly depicts the historical setting, and Callie's stubbornness and wit will appeal to readers with an independent streak.

FOR TEENS

Along for the Ride

By Sarah Dessen (Viking Children’s Books, $19.99; ages 12 and up)

Sarah Dessen's books deliver nuanced portraits of ordinary adolescent dramas, and teen girls will be thrilled to get hold of her latest novel. Studious Auden opts to spend the summer with her divorced academic father and his young wife and newborn baby, leading to a romance, self-discovery, and the chance to enjoy some childhood activities she missed out on the first time around.

The Summer I Turned Pretty

By Jenny Han (Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing, $16.99; ages 12 and up)

Far more rewarding than your average beach read, Han's novel follows a 15-year-old girl to the beach house she and her family have shared for years with another family. This year, though, romantic feelings rush to the surface, and comfortable old relationships are thrust into new territory. Readers will be rapt.

See No Evil

By Jamila Gavin (Farrar, Straus & Giroux Books for Young Readers, $16.95; ages 12 and up)

Having recently moved to a posh London mansion, 12-year-old Nettie leads a spoiled and sheltered existence. But her world is thrown into tumult when her beloved tutor disappears, leaving behind only a journal—written in Bulgarian. As Nettie investigates, the shocking answers hit close to home.

The Morgue and Me

By John C. Ford (Viking Children's Books, $17.99; ages 12 and up)

The summer before heading to college, high-school valedictorian Christopher takes a job at the local morgue and quickly gets caught up in a mystery involving murder, corruption, and blackmail. Debut author Ford crafts a complex and compelling tale that will appeal just as much to adults as to teenagers.

The Uninvited

By Tim Wynne-Jones (Candlewick Press, $16.99; ages 14 and up)

This creepy family mystery is made all the more unsettling by its bucolic setting—an idyllic country cottage. Teenaged Mimi, fleeing New York City and a professor who is stalking her, heads for her father’s cabin in Canada. Once she arrives, family secrets are rapidly revealed, and Mimi can’t shake the feeling she's being watched. Dark and gripping.

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