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Bookmonger: Books for reluctant young readers

Published on February 28, 2018 5:29PM

Have you been trying to convince a youngster you know that reading can be fun, not a chore? Two new juvenile fiction books, aimed at ages 3 to 8, may help you win the day.

I find it rather curious that both books, so similar in purpose, were published in the same month by the same publisher. On top of that coincidence, it’s also interesting that while Pelican Publishing is located in Louisiana, it has tapped into Northwest talent for both of these stories.

Not that any of that will be consequential to the kids who get their hands on these books, so let’s get on with the review!

Poulsbo, Washington, author Kimberly Long Cockroft has had several stories published in children’s magazines, but “Reading Beauty” looks to be her first juvenile fiction hardcover. This story follows best friends Gabe and Ellie, who love to hang out together playing soccer, chewing bubble gum and riding bikes.

Another thing they have in common is that neither of them likes to read, until one day Ellie makes the mistake of opining that reading is boring — right in front of the school librarian, Ms. Molly.

In the blink of an eye and the ominous shivering of a potted plant, kindly Ms. Molly momentarily turns tall and terrible, and casts an enchantment upon Ellie: that she will fall into a deep read forevermore.

Sure enough, Ellie is mysteriously captivated by the next book she sets eyes upon, and from then on Gabe cannot convince her to do anything besides read, read, read. His friend’s fixation with books becomes so pronounced that even the mayor shows up, with a news truck not far behind, to address the situation.

It appears that only one person can help Ellie snap out of her reading trance — and that’s Gabe — but can he deliver the cure without succumbing to the curse?

With colorful illustrations by Mary Grace Corpus, “Reading Beauty” demonstrates that there are books on every topic under the sun, and promises that even kids who profess not to like books can wind up finding something fun to read.

If you’re looking for a high-energy barrel-of-laughs book for that same pre-K to second-grade age range, check out Eric Ode’s latest swashbuckler. In “Paulina and the Pirate’s Hat,” the Bonney Lake, Washington, author/illustrator throws together a young heroine who loves to read with a shipful of zany buccaneers.

They are led by a captain who has a penchant for alliterative expletives — Bilge rats and barnacles! Fish bones and flippers! — and a hankering for a fine chapeau. This prompts a rollicking escapade across the seven seas in search of the finest hat-making materials available.

Ode’s illustrations are bright and cartoonish — serviceably amusing, if not accomplished.

But where this book really sparkles is in the zippy pacing, the zest for knowledge, the humor and the crackerjack word choice.

Sit down with a youngster today and read with them!

The Bookmonger is Barbara Lloyd McMichael, who writes this weekly column focusing on the books, authors and publishers of the Pacific Northwest. Contact her at bkmonger@nwlink.com.


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