A Pet For Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold, Orchard Books, 32 pages, $18.99
To get a pet or not to get a pet – that is the question that's been echoing around our house and it's why both Phoenix and Frida were immediately attracted to A Pet For Fly Guy. Written and illustrated by Tedd Arnold, this book tells the story of a boy, Buzz, who wants to find a pet for his pet fly, Fly Guy. It's a pretty convoluted premise but that's kinda the charm of this book. Buzz and Fly Guy move through numerous unsuccessful possible pets, from a cricket to a kitten to the very unfortunate incident of the frog. It is not often that I feel it would be wrong to give away the ending in a children's book review but this is one of those times. Although admittedly both Phoenix and Frida saw the twist coming, that didn't diminish their enjoyment of it.
I Can Make That! by Mary Wallace, Owlkids, 152 pages, $18.95
As parents we like to think that summer means bike rides, pick-up soccer and games of tag. But if your house is anything like ours, the reality is arguments about screen time while trying to answer the dreaded question, "What can I do?" I Can Make That! provides 149 pages of homespun craft-projects that had Frida mesmerized. She really fell in love with this book and literally carried it around for three days. But beware – the title is a little misleading. While Frida could make all of these crafts, she couldn't do it alone. There's a lot of cutting and stitching and gluing that requires a parent as co-pilot. There are also materials to round up, although one trip to the dollar store got pretty much everything we needed. At the end of the day, watching Phoenix and Frida put on a play with monsters made from sponges was worth it all.
It's Catching: The Infectious World of Germs and Microbes by Jennifer Gardy, illustrations by Josh Holinaty, Owlkids, 64 pages, $19.95
There are few things cooler to an eight-year-old boy than monsters. It's even better when those monsters are real, even if they're microscopic. Viruses! Bacteria! Fungi! Parasites! All their gross glory is profiled in It's Catching. This book gives an in-depth look into the simultaneously bizarre and everyday world of germs. If anything, Gardy, who's a regular on the Discovery Channel's Daily Planet, goes a little too deep. It's Catching is closer to a textbook than a picture book, although the information is presented in a tone and style that Phoenix, at eight, could read on his own. There's just a lot of it. I guarantee the grown-up reader will learn a couple of things too. And really, what's not to love about a book that makes an eight-year-old think science is cool?