Heat-beater books for readers of all ages, from Candlewick Press

As sweltering summer temps currently scorch much of the United States, many folks — from babes to boomers and beyond — have staked out spots in the shade or indoors in front of the air conditioner (or fan, for poor souls like myself with no A/C) to while away the hours.

Candlewick Press offers a cool collection of compelling and creative books for readers of all ages to help beat the heat — and boredom — of these hottest days of summer.

Here are some of my recent favorites, courtesy Candlewick:

shaun the sheep 

Shaun the Sheep: Pranks A Lot! Tales from Mossy Bottom Farm by Martin Howard, illustrated by Andy Janes  ($4.99 paperback, ages 5-8) Shaun the Sheep gives Blitzer the Sheepdog a mustache, and Blitzer reciprocates the prank by painting Shaun pink. But the gags and giggles really get out of hand when Shaun ends up with a hurt leg — at the bottom of a hole. Will the two make up? How will Blitzer get revenge upon learning Shaun's a faker? Where to squirting flowers play into the silliness? Another installment of the wacky happenings on Mossy Bottom Farm.


the princess in black

The Princess in Black and the Hungry Bunny Horde by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, illustrated by LeUyen Pham ($14.99 hardback, ages 5-8) Princess fans will get a kick out of this new breed of princess. More adventurous than adorable, more clever than cute, Princess in Black and her faithful pony Blacky — alter egos of pretty-in-pink Princess Magnolia and Frimplepants her unicorn — battle bunnies beyond belief in this colorful and quirky tale of fluffy yet ferocious furballs with monstrous appetites.


Cody and the Fountain of Happiness

Cody and the Fountain of Happiness by Tricia Springstubb, illustrated by Eliza Wheeler ($6.99 paperback, ages 7-10) A warm tale of friends and family and summer that turns out perfect after all. Plus a cat named MewMew, a grandma named Grace (aka GG) who — grandmas will love this one — is described as "GG's hair was a silver nest, only instead of birds, several pairs of glasses lived there." Sweet description, sweet story. A book readers will hug when done.


julius Zebra 

Julius Zebra: Rumble With The Romans! by Gary Northfield ($15.99 hardback, ages 7-10) Julius Zebra, Milus the Lion, and Cornelius the Warthog are nabbed from their waterhole on the African savannah and dropped smack dab in the center of the Colosseum. It's madcap mayhem as the not-so-fearsome friends must fight for their freedom, playing gladiators and winning the hearts of the Roman crowd. Not just fun (and fear) and games, though, the wacky and wild ride features highlights of Roman ways plus a lesson in Roman numerals and glossary at the back of the book. Zany edutainment.


Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo ($16.99 hardback, ages 10 and up)


hour of the bees

Hour of the Bees by Lindsay Eagar ($16.99 hardback, ages 10-14) Twelve-year-old Caroline (aka Carol) faces a boring summer in New Mexico helping her parents move Grandpa Serge — her cranky grandfather whom she hadn't previously met — into a home for those with dementia. Though she'd much rather be enjoying slumber parties and fun with friends, Carol soon falls under the spell of Grandpa Serge's magical stories of his life and tales of a desert oasis with a tree that can end the area's 100-year drought... and make villagers immortal. Lessons for Carol are aplenty as she learns to embrace her roots and consider what's real versus what's possible.


dan vs nature

Dan vs. Nature by Don Calame ($17.99 hardcover, ages 14 and up) Though I've not (yet!) read this one, the Candlewick description makes it a must-read for me, as it surely will be for older teen boys for sure, possibly a fair share of teen girls, too:

Shy and scrawny Dan Weekes spends his time creating graphic novels inspired by his dream girl and looking out for his mom as she dates every man in the state of California. Then his mom drops a bomb: she and her latest beau, Hank, are engaged, and she’s sending her “two favorite men” on a survivalist camping trip to “bond.” Determined to trick Hank into showing his true — flawed — colors on the trip, Dan and his nerdy germaphobe best friend, Charlie, prepare a series of increasingly gross and embarrassing pranks. But the boys hadn’t counted on a hot girl joining their trip or on getting separated from their wilderness guide—not to mention the humiliating injuries Dan suffers in the course of terrorizing his stepdad-to-be. With a man-hungry bear on their trail, no supplies, and a lot of unpleasant itching going on, can Dan see his plan through now that his very survival depends on Hank?


fill me in moose allain 

Fill-Me-In: Write, draw, and color with the World of Moose by Moose Allain ($16.99, ages 6-9) An activity book filled with prompts to spark the imagination. The 37 full-spread activities provide plenty of options for wondering and writing, coloring and creating, pondering and putting down on paper one's unique stamp and squiggles, all on various themes. Despite the recommended age range, the workbook sparks ideas in all ages. (From Big Picture Press, a Candlewick Press imprint)


Where's Waldo? The Coloring Book: The Ultimate Coloring Challenge by Martin Handford ($12 softcover, all ages)


adult coloring books 

The Coloring Book of Cards and Envelopes: Flowers and Butterflies and The Coloring Book of Cards and Envelopes: Nature by Rebecca Jones ($10.99 softcover, all ages). Both have 24 card designs, 24 envelope designs, and 24 stickers. (From Nosy Crow, a Candlewick Press imprint)


Disclosure: I received these books free for revew; opinions are my own.