Back-to-school books for all ages, including grandmas

I've always resisted any hoopla about "summer reads" and such, as summer has always been the time I'm least likely to read. Unless I'm sitting in a car or plane while traveling, there's far too much to do and see and enjoy outdoors during the summer, so reading gets put on hold. As far as I recall, reading was similarly shelved, for the most part, by my daughters during the summers of their childhoods.

Whether you're a summer reader or not though, once the school bells ring, it's time to return to the books — for enjoyment as well as edification. Following are a few books I recently received free for review, with something sure to entertain and enlighten readers of all ages.


FOR AGES 2 to 5

Peppa Pig

Peppa Pig and the Busy Day at School by Candlewick Press, illustrated by Ladybird ($12.99 hardcover) Many a youngster — and parent — knows and loves Peppa Pig, the Nick Jr. star. In this new adventure, Peppa hems and haws about which special talent of hers she should share during Special Talent Day at school. She and her classmates first have lessons in counting, the alphabet, painting, playing store and more, followed by Special Talent time. Lo and behold, other classmates show off the very same talents Peppa had hoped to share. What is she to do? Madame Gazelle offers guidance to the perky little pig — and readers, too.


FOR AGES 4 to 7

Blue is Happy

My Blue Is Happy by Jessica Young, illustrated by Catia Chien ($15.99 hardcover) Ever since I had a boss who painted his entire office blood red, I've been intrigued by how colors have different meanings (and feelings) for each individual. This book made my heart sing as I read about a little girl's journey of discovering what others think of some of her favorite and least favorite colors. I was especially pleased the little girl saw pink a little different than most girls, stating that to her, "pink is annoying, like an itchy bug bite." An unexpectedly delightful read with adorable illustrations.


FOR AGES 5 to 8


How Did That Get In My Lunchbox? The Story of Food by Chris Butterworth, illustrated by Lucia Gaggiotti ($7.99 paperback) Sometimes the best part of the school day is lunch time. But where does all that food in one's lunchbox come from? No, not the grocery store. This book — named Book of the Year by the American Farm Bureau — educates hungry kiddos on where everything from their sandwich bread and cheese to tomatoes, carrots, apple juice, clementines and even chocolate chip cookies come from. You might want to pack a lunch before setting out to read it, for you will end up hungry.


FOR AGES 7 to 12

Electrical Wizard

Electrical Wizard: How Nikola Tesla Lit Up the World by Elizabeth Rusch, illustrated by Oliver Dominguez ($16.99 hardcover) Nikola Tesla is a former and much beloved resident of my city. Until a year or so ago, in fact, my city boasted a Tesla Historical Museum dedicated to honoring the man who pioneered modern electrical engineering. Tesla changed not only the course of local history, though, he rivaled Thomas Edison in his contributions to lighting up our world at large. This intriguing book tells of Tesla's seemingly magical powers that lit up not only the Chicago World's Fair and New York City of yesteryear, but that impact modern inventions used today.




Bluefish by Pat Schmatz ($6.99 paperback) Travis is 13, a difficult age for any kid. Making matters worse, he's stuck living with Grandpa in a new town where he must attend a new school. Worst of all? Travis has a secret, something that makes him consider himself a Bluefish — stupid, angry and alone. Until, that is, an unorthodox girl nicknamed Velveeta offers blunt honesty and plenty of humor that shows Travis he is so much more. Though meant for middle readers, this coming-of-age story — winner of numerous awards and honors — will resonate with anyone who was 13 years old once upon a time.



Letters from Skye

Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole ($25 hardcover) Like I said, back-to-school time is great for grownups. As the kids toil away at school during the day and on homework come evening, grandmothers and others have more uninterrupted time to dedicate to good books of their choosing. I recommend Letters from Skye next time you're choosing. I was captivated by the love story played out in letters shared across continents between a Scottish poet and a feisty American college student, beginning in 1912 and spanning decades. The trailer:


Disclosure: I received the books above free for review, though that did not influence my opinions nor my desire to share them with you.

Today's question:

What book(s) are you currently reading?