Books With an Accent on Adventure
Action books are a favorite with boys. From rescues at sea to cattle roundups, there's plenty to keep kids reading this spring.
'Children's books are written and edited largely by women," notes Bruce Coville, author of more than 50 books for kids. "As a result," he explains "most books published don't have a male sensibility, male sense of humor, or male energy."Skip to next paragraph
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Perhaps that's why boys seem to read far less than their female counterparts, and more boys than girls take remedial reading classes. In an effort to close the gap, here's a roundup of recently published books geared especially for boys.
AN anthology of sports poems, selected by popular author/editor Lee Bennet Hopkins, will surely catch the interest of young athletes. Opening Days, a collection of 18 short poems about karate, weightlifting, soccer, and skiing, to name a few topics, represents a variety of authors. Such poets as Walt Whitman, Jane Yolen, Gary Soto, and Hopkins himself are featured.
Scott Medlock's magnificent oil paintings give this book almost irresistible appeal for sports lovers. And if your reader is a baseball fan, go into "Extra Innings: Baseball Poems" (published by Harcourt Brace). Hopkins and Medlock collaborated on that 1993 award-winning volume with equally successful results.
Husband-and-wife team Ted and Gloria Rand have created another book in their likable Salty Dog collection. This boy-and-his-dog story, Aloha, Salty!, takes readers on a sailing adventure across the Pacific Ocean to a Hawaiian paradise. Together, Zack and his dog watch dolphins, keep wary eyes on sharks, and weather a terrifying storm - with almost-tragic results. Realistic descriptions of long-distance sailing, correctly used boating terms, and accurately detailed illustrations provide authentic touches to this story.
British author/illustrator Roy Gerrard gives kids an opportunity to blaze a trail through history in Wagons West! Told in bouncy, read-aloud verse, this is the fictional saga of a family that follows an intrepid guide, Buckskin Dan, along the Oregon Trail. On their journey, the pioneers shoot buffalo, ford rivers, find a lost Indian child, fight off bandits, and finally settle in the lovely Willamette Valley. This charming book is Gerrard's 10th and, once again, features the sing-songy rhymes and half-pint character illustrations that make his work distinctive and delightful.
Dav Pilkey is the author and illustrator of many silly and appealing children's books. In The Paperboy, he's lost the silliness and kept the appeal.
Evocative paintings and poetic text capture the mood and magic of a paperboy's early morning routine. An unnamed boy and his Welsh corgi dog wake in the dark, deliver papers on a heavily-laden bike, and return to bed as the rest of the family wakes up. This is a dreamy "every boy" tale.
Paperboy, by Mary Kay Kroeger and Louise Borden, tells how the 1927 Jack Dempsey vs. Gene Tunney boxing championship affects the life of one young boy.
Willie sells newspapers on the street corner to help his family during the Depression. He and his working-class neighbors are Dempsey fans, caught up in the excitement of Dempsey's attempt to win back his heavyweight title.
Understanding the importance of newspapers to relay the news and sure his hero will win, Willie signs up to sell special editions that will describe and analyze the fight. Although Dempsey doesn't win, a disappointed Willie still honors his promise to try to sell the extra papers.
The next day, Willie's boss calls him a "champ of a paperboy" and promotes him to the busy corner of Ninth and Main.
In Ted Lewin's gorgeous watercolors, a subdued pallet of warm browns, shadowy grays, brick reds, and midnight blues depicts details of an epoch and adds a soft beauty to this book.