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Your must read kids' books just got longer : suggestions from the Ottawa Public Library

Have you joined the Summer Reading Club (SRC) at the Ottawa Public Library (OPL)? You can join at any of the 33 branches, and even the 2 bookmobiles!

Have you put all of the stickers on your really neat poster that you received when you joined the Summer Reading Club (SRC), drawn by Kim LaFave? Have you checked out Kim LaFave? Have you done the word puzzles, connected-the-dots, and coloured the wonderful pictures in your SRC booklet? All done? Then it is time to read! (Actually, anytime is the time to read!) Here are some great books, not to be missed. All available at your favourite Ottawa Public Library branch (or bookmobile).

First of all, let me tell you about my favourite books illustrated by Kim LaFave.

Amos's Sweater by Janet Lunn; illustrated by Kim LaFave

“Amos was old and Amos was cold and Amos was tired of giving away all his wool.” But despite his noisy objections, Aunt Hattie shears Amos once again and knits his wool into a brightly colored sweater for Uncle Henry. Poor Amos decides that this time he's had enough – I think one of the best illustrations in Canadian picture books is in this book. Poor Amos was “old and he was cold and now he was angry”. And the illustration is superb! Superb! I invite you to head to the library, and take this book out. You will enjoy reading it, and enjoying LaFave’s superb (yes, they are superb) illustrations.

A Very Unusual Dog by Dorothy Jean Harris; illustrated by Kim LaFave.

Jonathan has a very unusual dog. It likes to go to the park, watch TV, and eat toast crumbs. And it's invisible. His big sister Elizabeth says Dog isn't real, but Jonathan and Grandma know better... A story about imagination and sharing, perfectly illustrated by award-winner Kim LaFave. I give this book to every grandmother who comes into our branch.

We'll All Go Sailing. Richard Thompson & Maggee Spicer. Illustrated by Kim LaFave.

The young narrator and his friends, Maggee and Jesse, travel to a myriad of places to look at sea life that is every colour of the rainbow. Children will delight in the pink octopus, the blue manatee, and the orange barracuda. Richard Thompson and Maggee Spicer have created a rhythmic poem that will encourage the very youngest of new readers. Together with Kim LaFave's bold and playful illustrations, this delightful poem will make a fine book: “To show what we'll see, when we all go sailing on the rainbow seas.”

And some more books that you will have lots of fun sharing:
Stanley at Sea by Linda Bailey; illustrated by Bill Slavin.
Stanley and his pals embark on an adventure that makes seadogs of them all! Its picnic time in the park -- but not for Stanley. He knows he's not supposed to beg, but his people are always eating. And Stanley is always hungry! After he's told to "get," Stanley wanders down by the river where he runs into Alice, Nutsy and Gassy Jack. Soon their keen noses lead them to a delicious treat on a small boat with no people in sight. When the boat's mooring comes loose, they float away with the current down the river, under a bridge and then out to sea! It's a scary new world where the sky stretches in every direction and big waves crash. The dogs know that when you're Outside, sooner or later you always come to a fence. When suddenly through the mist they see what looks like a very tall fence, they know they've come to the End of Outside! But what kind of fence is this? (p.s. if everyone emails Bill Slavin, and tells him I told you what a great illustrator he is, maybe he will come to Ottawa, and visit the Carlingwood Branch!)
Stella, Star of the Sea By Marie-Louise Gay *
Stella and her little brother are spending the day at the sea. Stella has been to the sea before and knows all its secrets, but Sam has many questions: "Does a catfish purr? Does a seahorse gallop?" Stella has an answer for them all. The only thing she isn't sure of, and neither are we, is whether Sam will ever come into the water.

Exquisite, evocative watercolors bring a diaphanous day at the beach alive in this perfect summer story. Gently humorous, Stella, Star of the Sea also captures the relationship between an older sister and her baby brother -- a responsibility that can be both lots of fun and very trying.

Wave by Suzy Lee.
Have you discovered the world of wordless picture books yet? This is a wonderful one to start with. A sunny day, a curious little girl and a playful wave - artist Suzy Lee has taken these three simple elements and created a visual tour-de-force that needs absolutely no words to tell its universal story. With masterful use of line and color, she explores the power of the natural world, the nuance of friendship, and even the very components that make a book.
The Sandcastle Contest. Robert Munsch; illustrated by Michael Martchenko.
Matthew’s family is off to the cottage. When they arrive, there is a sandcastle contest going on. Matthew builds a magnificent sand house . . . one so good that the judges can’t even tell it’s not real!
The Party by Barbara Reid.
It's Gran's birthday, and the whole family is celebrating with a big party!   While the adults enjoy the festivities, the children have their own kind of fun! There are hiding places to find, fabulous make-believe games to play, delicious food to eat, and a scrumptious birthday cake along with a rousing family rendition of "Happy Birthday to You!" (Yes, I am including a Barbara Reid in this blog too!!)
Scaredy Squirrel at the beach, by Melanie Watt.
We know by now that Scaredy Squirrel only feels safe when he's at home in his nut tree, with his defenses, his emergency kit and his back–up plans at the ready. So even though the sun is shining and it's time for a vacation, Scaredy does not want to go to the beach — that vast, frightening place where a squirrel could get stranded. (Not to mention other hazards such as sea monsters, falling coconuts, seagulls, pirates and lobsters.)

Instead, Scaredy builds his own safe beach getaway under his nut tree, complete with germ-free inflatable pool, artificial beach scenery, a flashlight and a plastic flamingo.

Still, the lure of the genuine beach is strong — even a dedicated homebody such as Scaredy can't resist it forever. Can his back–up plans save him from its perils? Will his No.65 sunscreen protect his delicate complexion?

Camping by Nancy Hundal, illustrated by Brian Deines
Who can forget their first camping trip? "Holidays, lolling days. Mom wishes for museums and art galleries. Dad talks about fancy hotels. My sister Laurie wants malls, anywhere. Duncan dreams of arcades. And I long for Disneyland." This year won’t be like the others. There will be no paintings or fluffy towels, clothes racks, jackpots or mouse ears. Nancy and her family are going camping. Just the thought of camping is bad enough. Outhouses, mosquito bites, burnt food and lots of work -- what kind of holiday is that? But from the moment their campsite is established, the family slowly begins to discover the magic of life in the wild. Nights so quiet and dark, it's like being wrapped in a blanket. Food that warms the stomach and awakens the senses. Swimming in the lake, climbing trees and lolling in the sun. And millions, no, bajillions of stars. More time, less o’clock. That's what camping is about.
A Camping Spree with Mr. Magee by Chris Van Dusen
Mr. Magee and his trusty dog, Dee, are enjoying a peaceful camping trip when all of a sudden they find themselves plunging down a mountain and teetering on the edge of a huge waterfall! How will they find their way out of this slippery situation? Chris Van Dusen, the creator of Down to the Sea with Mr. Magee, has filled this new adventure with charming illustrations and a playful, rhyming text. A fun read-aloud for children (and adults!) on campouts or snuggling at home!
Rain, Rain by Maryann Kovalski
Jenny, Joanna and Grandma -- the irrepressible trio from the best-selling Wheels on the Bus and Jingle Bells -- are back! In Maryann Kovalski's latest song-filled adventure, a rainy day dashes the girls' hopes for fun at the beach, until Grandma's spirited ingenuity makes it a day they'll never forget.

I hope that you have lots of “reading parties” in August, and enjoy these books. Remember, next time you are at the library, ask your librarian which authors, illustrators, and books, are her favourites. She will have a long list too! Margaret Kirkpatrick, Children’s Librarian, Carlingwood Branch.