By Hank Pellissier
The Cello of Mr. O
By Jane Cutler, Illustrated by Greg Couch
Sarajevo is the unnamed, bombed-out setting in this somber view of wartime. The cold, famished, despairing residents enjoy brief pleasure and relief every Wednesday at 4 o'clock when Mr. O plays his cello in the square. A triumphant reminder that art can transcend the ugliness of war, with luminous illustrations.
The Name Jar
By Yangsook Choi
Unhei arrives in the U.S. from Korea. After she is teased because her name is difficult to pronounce, she decides to abandon it for an American name by picking from a jar filled with options like Amanda and Suzy. The happy conclusion promotes acceptance of cultural diversity.
The Wind in the Willows
By Kenneth Grahame, Illustrated by Robert Ingpen
The madcap adventures of Mr. Toad, Badger, Ratty, and Mole have enchanted children for over a century in this timeless English treasure. Enjoy the flawed but loyal friendships, weasel-ly villains, exciting battles, masterful illustrations, worthy themes, and sublime descriptions of the rural Thames riverbank. Great rollicking fun to read out loud!
The Complete Ramona Collection
By Beverly Cleary, Illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers
All the delightful mishaps of impulsive Ramona are captured in this eight-book box set that tells suburban family stories from the perspective of the intrepid and endearing heroine. Wholesome, emotionally candid, funny, imaginative; ideal for adventurous and feisty girls. Deeply explores sibling relationships. Worth reading repeatedly and saving for the next generation.
By Sharon Dennis Wyeth
An African-American girl in an impoverished, trash-strewn inner city is searching for the definition of "beautiful." As she roams her neighborhood, she runs into acquaintances who identify what's valuable and comforting in their lives. The conclusion, in the words of her mother, is lovely. With photo-realistic watercolors that enhance the heartwarming theme.
Where the Sidewalk Ends
By Shel Silverstein
Fantastical tales and common childhood fears and habits (the dentist, snakes, nose picking, etc.) are the chosen topics here, in the best selling children's poetry book ever. Exuberant cartoons — by the author himself — amplify the humor. Simultaneously outrageous and profound, it connects deeply with young imaginations. Delightful to read out loud over and over.
Three Tales of My Father's Dragon
By Ruth Stiles Gannett
This nonsensical trilogy starring Elmer Elevator and a flying baby dragon was written sixty years ago, but its appeal is still soaring fantastically. With ridiculous weapons, our 9-year-old hero subdues the fierce beasts on Wild Island. It’s simple vocabulary makes it an ideal first chapter book.
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
By Kate DiCamillo, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline
A china rabbit (Edward Tulane) is happily owned and pampered by a girl named Abilene until he's tossed into the sea by cruel boys. The rabbit subsequently suffers a long, circuitous series of misfortunes that sadden and enlarge his heart. Gorgeous illustrations enhance the moving narrative.
By Sara Pennypacker
Clementine gets an A+ at getting in trouble, both at home and at school, often with her neighbor friend Margaret. First person narration reveals the twisted thoughts of this likable, naughty heroine. Clementine is as weird and adorable as other literary goofy-girls-in-chaos, like Ramona, Judy Moody, and Junie B. Jones.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
By Roald Dahl
Willie Wonka's chocolate factory invites five lucky lottery winners to tour the facility and observe its amazing secrets. Four of the visiting children are nasty brats who will get exactly what they deserve. Only Charlie is worthy. Wild, hysterical, irreverent but ethical — it's a classic modern fable that ridicules greed.