Tua and the Elephant is a fun adventure story that makes you feel like you've been transported to Thailand.
In brief: Orphaned mouse Mona has never had a real home—until a storm drives her into the cozy safety of the Heartwood Hotel. Working as a maid at the grandest hotel in Fernwood Forest, Mona’s happier than she’s ever been. But Mona’s not sure she really belongs at Heartwood—and danger may be lurking in the woods.
Why it’s a great readaloud: Sometimes you want a gentle, reassuring book that the world is a good place and kindness is usually the right choice. This book delivers, with a likable protagonist who uses her brains and her courage to problem-solve when she runs into problems. It’s hard not to love the details of the hotel where adorable woodland creatures come for their holidays, and there’s a surprising depth to this simple story that can launch interesting conversations about community, family, home, and friendship.
But be aware: If you’re in the mood for adventure and excitement, you may want to save this book for a quieter time.
Quotable: “We live by PROTECT and RESPECT, not by TOOTH and CLAW.”
In brief: Billy rescues two great horned owls and brings them to his family’s Saskatchewan home, and hijinks ensue. Wol is a comedy genius, battling it out with skunks (during dinner) and terrorizing everyone from the minister to Billy’s French teacher, while Weeps is afraid of everything except the family dog.
What makes it a great readaloud: This old-fashioned, episodic novels lets kids peek into truly free-range childhood: Billy and his friends roam their neighborhood and the surrounding prairie with enviable freedom, and the owls’ (and boys’) antics provide plenty of laugh-out-loud entertainment.
But be aware: You may want to remind your kids that we know more now than we did then about how to treat wild animals—some of Billy’s stories (such as when he robs birds’ nests of their eggs) don’t jibe with current environmental ethics.
Like Redwall and the Warriors series, Lasky's Guardians of Ga'Hoole pulls readers into a complex animal society—this time, the world of the owls. Young Soren is rescued from the forest floor by mysterious owls, but instead of returning him to his nest, they take Soren to a secret school for orphaned owls where brainwashing and military training are key parts of the syllabus. But Soren, bolstered by new friendships and the stories of the legendary owls of Ga'Hoole, is determined to escape and to prevent whatever nefarious plans his captors have underway. This is the first book in the series and a great summer reading kick-off.
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