Manhattan Country School will continue MCS En Casa, our distance learning program, for the remainder of the school year.
6-7s Building Study: Progressive Education

Jay’s Holiday Shopping List: Books for Lower School Readers

Jay’s Holiday Shopping List: Books for Lower School Readers

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Hi, everyone! Happy Holidays! You will notice that the format of this year’s holiday book list is a bit different. Instead of giving a summary of all of the books, a selection of books is highlighted by a synopsis. This makes for a hopefully neater and less lengthy version. Just a reminder that these are only suggestions and not anyone’s idea of a “best of” anything or “must-read” assignment thingy list. Also, the ages are only a suggestion. Any of these books would be appropriate for a myriad of ages. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at

Waiting by Kevin Henkes - What are you waiting for? An owl, a puppy, a bear, a rabbit and a pig—all toys arranged on a child’s windowsill—wait for marvelous things to happen in this irresistible picture book by the New York Times–bestselling and Caldecott Medalist Kevin Henkes. Waiting is a big part of childhood—waiting in line, waiting to grow up, waiting for something special to happen—but in this book, a child sets the stage and pulls the strings. Timeless, beautiful and deeply heartfelt, this picture book about imaginative play, the seasons, friendship and surprises marks a new pinnacle in Caldecott Medalist Kevin Henkes’ extraordinary career. (Picture book – ages 3-6)

Tiger in My Soup by Kashmira Sheth - An unnamed narrator is left in the care of his older sister while their parents are away for the day. Although he asks her to read him a book about a tiger, she would rather read her own book. He captures her attention long enough to get her to heat up some alphabet soup, but she then tunes him out and doesn’t even notice when a tiger rises up out of the steaming bowl. The boy uses a spoon, chair and other handy utensils to fend off the raging beast until his sister finally puts down her book and agrees to read to him. But her tiger roar is so convincing that he vows to keep a watchful eye on her as he finishes his soup. Ebbeler’s vibrant acrylic illustrations include a variety of perspectives both outside their unusual house and within. The boy’s imagination is vividly portrayed in pictures that show the tiger magically appearing in the steam and on his sister’s face when she roars. Action shots of the narrator defending himself against the menacing cat move the story along, while the girl’s inability to see her brother’s plight adds some comic relief. (Picture book – ages 4-7)

This Is Sadie by Sara O’Leary - Sadie is a little girl with a big imagination. She has been a girl who lived under the sea and a boy raised by wolves. She has had adventures in wonderland and visited the world of fairytales. She whispers to the dresses in her closet and talks to birds in the treetops. She has wings that take her anywhere she wants to go, but that always bring her home again. She likes to make things—boats out of boxes and castles out of cushions. But more than anything Sadie likes stories, because you can make them from nothing at all. For Sadie, the world is so full of wonderful possibilities…This is Sadie, and this is her story. (Picture book – ages 5-10)

Robo-Sauce by Adam Rubin - Fans of the best-selling Dragons Love Tacos will devour Adam Rubin and Daniel Salmieri’s newest story, a hilarious picture book about robots that magically transforms into a super shiny metal ROBO-BOOK. FACT: Robots are awesome. They have lasers for eyes, rockets for feet and super computers for brains! Plus, robots never have to eat steamed beans or take baths or go to bed. If only there were some sort of magical “Robo-Sauce” that turned squishy little humans into giant awesome robots…Well, now there is. Giggle at the irreverent humor, gasp at the ingenious foldout surprise ending and gather the whole family to enjoy a unique story about the power of imagination. It’s picture book technology the likes of which humanity has never seen! (Picture book – ages 5-9)

Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick – Before Winnie-the-Pooh, there was a real bear named Winnie. And she was a girl! In 1914, Harry Colebourn, a veterinarian on his way to tend horses in World War I, followed his heart and rescued a baby bear. He named her Winnie, after his hometown of Winnipeg, and he took the bear to war. Harry Colebourn’s real-life great-granddaughter tells the true story of a remarkable friendship and an even more remarkable journey—from the fields of Canada to a convoy across the ocean to an army base in England…And finally to the London Zoo, where Winnie made another new friend: a real boy named Christopher Robin. Here is the remarkable true story of the bear that inspired Winnie-the-Pooh. (Picture book – ages 6-10)

Dory and the Real True Friend by Abby Hanlon - The star of Dory Fantasmagory is heading to school. Her older siblings, Luke and Violet, warn her to leave her imaginary friend, Mary, at home—or better yet, leave her whole imagination at home! Dory is determined to behave like a “regular old girl who never gets in trouble,” but on her very first day she meets a new friend, a girl whose imagination and style are just about as wild as her own. Now she just has to convince her siblings that she’s not making it all up! Filled with plenty of funny pictures, this book bursts with charm and impudence, making this a must-read for the chapter book set. (Early chapter book – ages 6-10) 

Lola Levine is Not Mean! By Monica Brown - Lola Levine likes writing in her diario, sipping her mom’s cafe con leche, eating her dad’s matzo ball soup and playing soccer with her team, the Orange Smoothies. So what if she doesn’t always fit in?  Lola is fierce on the field, but when a soccer game during recess gets too competitive, she accidentally hurts her classmate Juan Gomez. Now everyone is calling her Mean Lola Levine! Lola feels terrible, but with the help of her family, her super best friend, Josh Blot, and a little “pencil power,” she just might be able to turn it all around. In this first book in a series, young readers will be inspired by Lola’s big heart and creative spirit as she learns to navigate the second grade in true Lola style! (Chapter book – ages 7-11)

Ninja Timmy by Henrik Tamm - Timmy the cat, his pal Simon the mink and the pig brothers Jasper and Casper are inventors, and they’re hoping to sell their fabulous new contraption to a local merchant. With high hopes, they haul their machine through the crowded streets of Elyzandrium—and are promptly robbed by a gang of bullies. With the help of two new friends, Alfred, a kindly old toymaker, and Flores, a skilled cat pilot, Timmy and his pals set out to get back what is rightfully theirs. As it turns out, they’re not the only victims of these dastardly criminals. But what can this band of misfits do? In this action-packed adventure, the intrepid Timmy and his wily friends transform themselves into crime-fighting ninjas—and quite possibly heroes! (Chapter book – ages 8-12)

The Seven Wonders of Sassafras Springs by Betty G. Birney - Life in Sassafras Springs has always been predictable, boring even, but one afternoon that changes when Eben McAllister’s pa challenges him to find Seven Wonders in Sassafras that rival the real Seven Wonders of the World. The reward? An adventure that Eben’s been craving—a trip to Colorado. Eben doesn’t think he’ll have any luck—he can’t think of one single thing that could be considered wondrous in Sassafras—but he’s willing to try. Little does he know that the Wonders he’ll discover among his neighbors, friends, relatives and family will give him the adventure of a lifetime…without ever leaving his home. (Chapter book – ages 8-12)

Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty - Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of Biltmore Estate. There’s plenty to explore in Mr. and Mrs. Vanderbilt’s vast and opulent home, but she must take care to never be seen. None of the rich folk upstairs know that Serafina exists; she and her pa, the estate’s maintenance man, have lived in the basement for as long as Serafina can remember. She has learned to prowl through the darkened corridors at night, to sneak and hide, using the mansion’s hidden doors and secret passageways. But when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows the clues to follow. A terrifying man in a black cloak stalks Biltmore’s corridors at night. Following her own harrowing escape, Serafina risks everything by joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of Biltmore’s owners. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak’s true identity before all of the children vanish one by one. Serafina’s hunt leads her into the very forest that she has been taught to fear, where she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic. In order to save the children of Biltmore, Serafina must not only face her darkest enemy, but also delve into the strange mystery of her own identity. (Chapter book – ages 9-12)

Picture books (Various ages)

Little Elliot, Big City by Mike Curato
You Can Do it, Bert by Ole Konnecke
Toys Meet Snow: Being the Wintertime Adventures of a Curious Stuffed Buffalo, a Sensitive Plush Stingray, and a Book-loving Rubber Ball by Emily Jenkins
Race. Car. Count by Rebecca Kai Dotlich
Mr. Postmouse’s Rounds by Marianne Dubuc
Mango, Abuela, and Me by Meg Medina
How Machines Work: Zoo Break! by David Macaulay
One Today by Richard Blanco
Strictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantchev
Lost. Found. By Marsha Diane Arnold
Thank You and Good Night by Patrick McDonnell
Stella Brings the Family by Miriam B. Schiffer

Chapter Books (Various ages)

The Story of Diva and Flea by Mo Willems
Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret by Bob Shea
Piper Green and the Fairy Tree by Ellen Potter
The Magical Animal Adoption Agency: The Enchanted Egg by Kallie George
Ruffleclaw by Cornelia Funke
Timmy Failure: Sanitized for Your Protection by Stephen Pastis
The Mystery of the Missing Lion: A Precious Ramotswe Mystery by Alexander McCall Smith
The Adventures of Miss Petitfour by Anne Michaels
Escape from Baxters’ Barn by Rebecca Bond
The Fairy Swarm by Suzanne Selfors
Star Wars Jedi Academy: Attack of the Journal by Jeffry Brown
Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
Firefly Hollow by Allison McGhee