Vacation reads for 4th graders
Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer
by: Kelly Jones, illustrated by: Katie Kath Yearling - (Dgs edition, 2016) 224 pages.
When Sophie Brown’s family moves from Los Angeles to a small rural town where hers is the only Latino family, she finds herself the caretaker of some very odd chickens. This funny, warm story about family and fitting in is told through Sophie’s letters to her recently deceased Abuelita and great uncle, along with quizzes, newspaper stories, and lists of facts about chickens.
Perfect for: Kids who like realistic fiction with magical chickens.
Find Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer at your local library.
by: Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller - (Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2014) 368 pages.
Charlie Laird is sure his new stepmother, Charlotte, is a witch. Ever since he, his dad, and his little brother moved into her creepy purple mansion, Charlie’s nightmares have been out of control. When the over-the-top characters haunting his dreams creep into his waking life, Charlie has to face his fears. The first book in a trilogy, it’s a scary-funny and touching treatment of what it’s like to stand up to real fears with good friends by your side.
Perfect for: Kids who loved Monsters, Inc.
Find Nightmares at your local library.
by: Jennifer Chambliss Bertman - (Henry Holt and Co., 2015) 368 pages.
Emily’s favorite game is a geocaching treasure hunt that involves clues and puzzles leading to hidden books all over the country. When she moves to San Francisco, she stumbles upon a mystery — the creator of the game has been attacked just as he was about to release a new game and now lies in a coma. In the first book of the Book Scavenger series, Emily and her friend James must crack codes, decipher clues, and identify literary allusions to discover the secrets behind the new game.
Perfect for: Kids who loved Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library.
Find Book Scavenger at your local library.
Double Dog Dare
by: Lisa Graff - (Puffin Books, 2013) 320 pages.
At his old school, Kansas was the King of Dares. There was no dare he wouldn’t do, from popping wheelies backward on his bike to eating chili with mashed up banana in it. Francine is the most dedicated member of the school media club. When the two compete for the role of news anchor, the class decides it should be settled with a series of dares. The dares are funny but the friendship issues the book addresses are genuine.
Perfect for: Kids who’d rather lick a lizard than give up.
Find Double Dog Dare at your local library.
Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen
by: Donna Gephart - (Yearling, 2013) 288 pages.
Trivia-loving Olivia is dying to get on Jeopardy! She’s hoping it will mean a chance to see her dad, who left their family and moved to California from their home in New York. When everyone in her household mobilizes to help Olivia prepare, she realizes how supported she is.
Perfect for: Trivia buffs.
Find Olivia Bean, Trivia Queen at your local library.
Wings of Fire series
by: Tui T. Sutherland - (Scholastic, 2012) 336 pages.
Five dragonets are raised in a cave to fulfil a prophecy — to end a long and terrible war. So begins this series about a battle between seven dragon tribes. With lots of action (and some gory fighting), this book has lots of characterful details that make the dragons resonate with readers. What will happen when the dragonets resist their destiny?
Perfect for: Kids who wished Erin Hunter’s Warriors series had been about dragons.
The Wednesday Tales series
by: Jon Berkeley - (Harper Collins, 2007) 464 pages.
Miles Wednesday is an orphan. Little is a tiny girl with silver hair and wings, held captive by the weirdly wicked Circus Oscuro. Colorful characters with big hearts help Miles and Little escape the circus’ clutches and discover the secrets of Miles’ lost family.
Perfect for: Kids who love language and appreciate the quirky.
by: Wendy Orr, illustrated by: Kerry Millard - (Yearling Books, 2001) 125 pages.
Take a spunky heroine competently surviving on her own on a deserted island (the ultimate kid fantasy). Add in animal friends who seem to understand, the vaguest of villains hovering in the background and easily overcome, a smattering of scientific information effortlessly absorbed and a very satisfying conclusion. Then write it in breezy style, making the various pieces of the story fit together in a nicely coincidental, jigsaw-puzzle way. All together it makes for one delightful story.
Want to see the movie? Check out the sweetly imaginative, family-friendly 2008 film starring Jodie Foster.
Perfect for: Kids who like adventure stories.
Find Nim’s Island at your local library.
The Cricket in Times Square
by: George Selden - (Ariel Books, 1960) 144 pages.
The Cricket in Times Square has been initiating bookworms since 1960 and shows no sign of stopping. These days, fantasy-series books rule the bookshelves, yet this quiet tale of friendship endures. 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.
Perfect for: Kids who like adventure stories.
Find The Cricket in Times Square at your local library.
The Little Prince
by: Antoine de Saint-Exupery - (Harcourt Brace, 1943) 96 pages.
A pilot crashes in the Sahara Desert. A thousand miles from any habitation, while attempting to fix his plane, he meets a strangely dressed little boy who seems to have come from nowhere, and who demands that he draw a sheep. “When a mystery is too overpowering, one dare not disobey,” so the pilot attempts to draw a sheep. Gradually the Little Prince reveals his story. He comes from a small asteroid, where he lives alone until a rose grows there. But the rose is demanding, and he is confused by his feelings about her. Eventually he decides to leave and journey to other planets in search of knowledge. After meeting many confusing adults, he eventually lands on Earth, where he befriends a snake and a fox. The fox helps him to understand the rose, and the snake offers to help him return to his planet — but at a price. Many adults look back on this book with a catch in the throat and have a special place for it in their hearts. This gentle picture book, concerned with the true “matters of consequence,” was as much a part of growing up for those of a certain age as The Lord of the Rings or the Beatles. There quite literally has never been anything like it, though others have certainly tried.
Perfect for: Kids who like fantasy stories.
Find The Little Prince at your local library.
Porch Lies: Tales of Slicksters, Tricksters, and Other Wily Characters
by: Patricia C. McKissack, illustrated by: Andre Carrilho - (Random House, 2006) 160 pages.
Pour the lemonade, climb aboard the porch swing and prepare to pass the time listening to these nine original stories hung on the bones of the “slicksters, tricksters and other wily characters” the author came to know and love as a child growing up in the rural south. The storytelling cadence is just right; the characters are a colorful mix of guile and gumption; and the lessons vary from laugh-out-loud funny to touching. … A thoroughly engaging collection handsomely presented: what more can you ask?
Perfect for: Kids who like myths and folktales.
Find Porch Lies at your local library.