School may have started once again, but that doesn't mean the fun is over. When you need a break from school work, reminisce about your summer adventures with these books. And if we're lucky and get some warm, Indian summer days, let these pages inspire you to make some last vacation-like memories before the chill of autumn sets in.
OLIVIA FORMS A BAND, by Ian Falconer, Atheneum, $17.95; ages 3-7.
When I'm on vacation, I enjoy sending postcards to family and friends. Recently the U.S. Postal Service offered a series of stamps featuring characters from children's books, including Curious George, The Wild Thing, The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Olivia. In this fourth Olivia book, the family is getting ready to go see fireworks. When Olivia finds out there will be no band, she suggests her family could do it. She gathers, among other things, pots and pans and begins to practice while everyone else covers their ears to block out the noise. When the time comes, Olivia decides she really doesn't feel like being in the band. Olivia and her ideas present challenges in an entertaining way.
JOURNEY AROUND CHICAGO FROM A TO Z, by Martha Day Zschock, Commonwealth Editions, $17.95; all ages.
From letter to letter, Zschock not only highlights the spots the city is known for, but also gives background information. Each page is devoted to one letter of the alphabet. For example, the letter Z shows the Zephyr at the Museum of Science and Industry. The information tells about Chicago as a hub of railroad transportation in the 1800s. Included is an insert picture relating to travel today out of O'Hare. Then a detail item is included about ships arriving in Chicago filled with Christmas trees from Wisconsin and people purchasing the holiday trees right from the ship. Other books included in the Journey Around series are Washington, D.C., San Francisco, New York, Boston and Cape Cod. What fun to look through the others in preparation for visiting any of these cities.
TERRIFIC, by Jon Agee, Michael Di Capua Books, $15.95; ages 5-9.
What would you say if someone offered you a trip to Bermuda? "Terrific," Eugene says when he wins a trip to go there, but his ship runs into a storm and instead he lands on a small island. "Terrific," Eugene says again. He finds a parrot on the island who helps him find a way to be rescued. Through each adventure/misadventure Eugene replies, "Terrific."
For a similar book, read Fortunately by Remy Charlip. It's fun to use ideas like these to create stories from your own experiences. As an example, how can a rainy day change plans and then turn out to be an exciting afternoon?
THE MOST PERFECT SPOT, by Diane Goode, HarperCollins, $16.99; ages 4-8.
Where is your most perfect spot for a picnic? Jack thought he knew-Prospect Park. He wanted to take mom on a picnic to the park. The afternoon didn't work out quite like Jack had planned. They were bothered by ducks, horses, dogs and finally rain, which led them to the most perfect spot. When all else fails, read the story to find out where this spot is located.
ONCE UPON A TIDE, by Tony Mitton, illustrated by Selina Young, David Fickling Books, $16.95; ages 4-6.
Did your summer vacation include a trip to the beach? Bess and her friend did that and what an adventure they had. First they built themselves a sailboat. Then they went to visit Capt. Bart to get a map. They sailed in their boat to an island and followed the map and found a buried treasure. This story, told in rhyme, can lead to many other adventures when children travel to the beach and they build their castles.
PIRATES, by John Matthews, Atheneum, $19.95; all ages.
With a new "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie and the revision of the ride at Disneyland, pirates were quite popular this past summer. If you want to learn about the history, the famous pirates or what it would be like aboard a pirate ship, this is a book that will give you the answers. Included is a timeline of events and a glossary of nautical terms. Some of the pages include sealed envelopes with examples of a wanted notice and a copy of the articles (rules) that the pirates must follow while aboard the ship. One section gives information about pirates in fiction, such as Treasure Island, as well as in movies and plays. This is a book the whole family can enjoy.
PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS, by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, illustrations by Greg Call, Disney Editions, $17.99; ages 10 and up.
Have you ever wondered how Peter Pan and the lost boys arrived on the island and why it is called Neverland? Where does that magic dust come from that allows Peter to fly? Then there is Tinkerbell; where did she come from? What is the story behind Capt. Hook and how did he lose his hand? I'll get you started on the adventure. Peter and four other boys from the orphanage are put on the ship Neverland, which is going to England. On the same ship is a young lady named Molly, who is on her way to England to meet her father and a mysterious trunk. A pirate ship is also traveling in the same direction and because of bad weather, they all end up on an island. You will just have to read the book to find the answers to the rest of the questions.
THE BOO BOO BOOK, by Joy Masoff, illustrated by Jack Dickason, Lark Books, $9.95; ages 4-8.
Most times a boo boo is cured with a simple Band-Aid brightly decorated with a favorite character. But sometimes-maybe on the playground at recess-boo boos can be more serious. This book, with its lift-up flaps, will help children understand a variety of injuries and how they can be fixed to help them heal. On the page that explains about a broken bone, when you lift the flap, it shows an X-ray of how the bones look underneath. Another page illustrates a scar left after stitches are removed. Everyone hopes that no serious accidents happen, but we all know they sometimes do, and this book will help children prepare for and understand that all boo boos aren't just covered with a Band-Aid.
Judy Belanger is Chicago Parent's children's book reviewer and a retired elementary learning resource center teacher who lives with her husband in Addison. They have two grown children and four grandchildren. She continues to substitute in grades K-6 in the school where she taught.