Are you finding time to read aloud now that summer is here? (I know it’s not really summer yet, but you know what I mean.) I confess that this week our read-aloud time has been very limited due to the fact that the girls have been on the go this week. I’m renewing my commitment to read-alouds as soon as Vacation Bible School ends and our normal relaxed summer schedule (or what passes for a schedule around here) resumes. Today I’m sharing a picture book and chapter book, one old and one new, that would make a really fun (and cool!) summer read.
One Cool Friend by Toni Buzzeo is the completely delightful story of “a very proper young man” named Elliot who reluctantly agrees to attend Family Fun Day at the aquarium with his father. (“Kids, masses of noises kids,” Elliot thought, but he was much too polite to say no.) The ho-hum trip turns into a real adventure when Elliot discovers the penguin display and his father unwittingly agrees that he can take home a penguin. Dad thinks he’s taking home a penguin of the stuffed variety, but Elliot actually takes home a real, live penguin to whom he gives the name Magellan. Elliot goes to great lengths to make their home suitable for Magellan, even to the point of setting up a miniature ice rink in his bedroom. Dad finally figures out just what sort of penguin Magellan is after he leaps before looking into the bathtub and finds a small, tuxedoed bird has taken up residence there. This book ends perfectly with a wonderful little twist at the end, thanks to quirky old Dad. David Small‘s illustrations couldn’t be more perfect: pen and ink drawings in muted colors, mostly black and white, with an occasional unexpected pop of brightness. He perfectly captures the propriety of Elliot and the quirkiness of his father. (I’m a little partial to David Small’s illustrations anyway because he illustrated some of my favorite picture books, including The Gardener and The Library, both by his wife, Sarah Stewart.) One Cool Friend earns an enthusiastic Highly Recommended from the House of Hope. (Dial Books for Young Readers, 2012)
The obvious tie-in here is Mr. Popper’s Penguins, right? The 1938 Newbery honor book by Richard and Florence Atwater is one that we have enjoyed in audiobook format so many times that it has entered into our family’s intellectual culture, so my girls knew immediately which book I was going to suggest as a companion for One Cool Friend. I mean, come on–one book has a penguin named Magellan and one has a penguin named Captain Cook! 🙂 Both of these stories are just plain delightful. (Please note that I am not endorsing the movie Mr. Popper’s Penguins in the link on the right; this just happens to be the newest book cover. I haven’t seen the movie.)