The Bookbag, Books for Ages 4 to 8, January/February 2007

The bad news is we’re slow getting our short-list of favorites published. The good news is that we have been caught up in reading some really great books. So on with the show …

Exploratopia by Pat Murphy, et al. You may already know about the Exploratorium, an inter-active, hands-on museum for kids. Well, this is the do-it-home version of the museum’s experiments. Although billed for older kids, parents and teachers will find plenty of ideas for helping pre-readers study and understand the world around them. “This book is a valuable resource for [people] looking for interesting projects that capture student curiosity and reinforce the process of logical problem solving. Curious students will find the book a treasure-trove of fun things to do.” (Little, Brown and Company, 2006)

The Bee-Man of Orn by Frank B Stockton. The Bee-Man is an elderly, unkempt, recluse who has allowed swarms of bees to turn his small hut into a giant beehive. One day, a young “sorcerer-in-training” visited him and told the Bee-Man that once upon a time he was someone special and that he, the “sorcerer” would help the Bee-Man discover who he once was. “This book is a triple treat. Frank Stockton’s fairy tale is a model of the genre. P.J. Lynch’s illustrations provide children with unforgettable images. The DVD “Making Fairy Tales” that is included with the book adds to the thrill of the story.” (Candlewick Press, 2003)

Royal Koi and Kindred Spirits by Richard Wainwright. The Takeda family has raised world class Koi for generations. They have decided to start a joint venture with an American customer and friend to raise Royal Koi near Washington DC. Although saddened about leaving Japan, the Takedas are excited about their new venture. “This is as wholesome and positive a story that one can find. The author and the illustrator are masters of their respective crafts. This is children’s literature at its very best.”(Family Life Publishing, 2005)

Unicorn Races by Stephen J Brooks. Every little girl will see themselves as young princess Abigail. Mom thinks she’s asleep, but Abigail and Lord William (her lavender unicorn) have traveled far into the night to watch the unicorn races and celebrate with the fairies. “The illustrations are captivating … keeping our five-year-old glued to the pages for days on end.” (Purple Sky Publishing, LLC, 2007)