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The Angle, August 2018 – Book Picks

Summer is a great time to enjoy a good book, and catalogue new experiences through vacationing and travel. Whether you’re able to venture far or stay close to home during these warm-weather months, we offer suggestions that will evoke the romance of travel with your littlest readers—helping you to easily escape into the pages and explore new places through the portal of reading.

Angel in Beijing

by Belle Yang (Candlewick $16.99) Ages 3-8

Taiwan-born artist Yang presents a sweet tale of friendship and generosity set in a nostalgic vision of the Chinese capital. Readers transported to this exotic setting, as the young narrator explores urban parks, alleys and squares on bicycle, accompanied by her fluffy white rescue cat, Kitty.

There they’ll discover musicians playing the ehru (the traditional Chinese violin featured in the movie “Kubo and the Two Strings”), colorful animal kites flown during Beijing’s annual Dragon Boat Festival, and the intriguing way Chinese cats say “niaow” instead of “meow.” The details are well-served by simple sketches painted over with rich and lively colors, inviting little eyes to explore every scene.

Curiosity eventually gets the best of Kitty, who becomes (temporarily) lost. The little girl searches their favorite places ringing her bicycle bell (“trrring-trrring”) and wondering if her feline friend has already forgotten her. The ending provides a touching lesson about the enduring power of love.

Bob the Railway Dog

by Corinne Fenton, illustrated by Andrew McLean (Candlewick $16.99) Ages 4-8

There really was an adventurous mutt who rode the rails in late 19th-century Australia, and his name really was Bob; (There’s even a small exhibit dedicated to his memory at the National Railway Museum in Port Adelaide!) Seasoned with a smattering of history and geography, this engaging picture book combines a colorful travelogue with a timeless story of man’s best friend.

Rescued by a compassionate train guard in South Australia’s outback, Bob quickly adapts to his new life and charms the railway workers spread across this vast region. The unfamiliar towns provide some tongue-twisting comic relief: we learn, for example, there was hardly a town “…he did not visit, from Oodnadatta to Kalangadoo.”

The book features glorious illustrations equally adept at evoking the golden expanse of Australia’s wide-open landscape—or the soulful eyes that endeared Bob to all who met him.

Our Great Big Backyard

by Laura Bush and Jenna Bush Hager, illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers (HarperCollins $18.99) Ages 4-8

Among former First Lady Laura Bush’s favorite causes are education, books and America’s national parks, so it’s no surprise to feel her passion jumping from the pages of this book co-authored with daughter Jenna.

Published on the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary in 2016, this comprehensive story follows young Jane, who imagined an ideal summer of video games and homebound fun before being “dragged” by her parents on the Great American Road Trip to visit national parks from coast to coast.

Over the course of the summer, the glory and diversity of the parks—many described with appealing and well-illustrated vignettes—seduce Jane away from her electronic toys so much, that upon returning home she invites her friends for an unplugged backyard sleepover!

**Fun addition: The book includes a state-by-state list of every park for families who might want to chart their own adventure in America’s backyard.

Note: Age recommendations are based upon publisher guidelines and parent feedback. Prices are publisher’s list; discounts are usually available.

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