Book Reviews: Summer Journeys

Some of us will be buried in the new Harry Potter this summer – others will want real life. Catching fish, for example. Watery adventures will be vastly improved with a copy of Hook, Line, & Seeker: A Beginner’s Guide to Fishing, Boating and Watching Water Wildlife (Scholastic, $12.95; ages 9 to 12). Veteran nature-writer Jim Arnosky compiles a fascinating handbook for lovers of nature – directions, advice, lists of fish from different regions, drawings and photographs of everything he writes about. The book is packed with personal stories and useful stuff – such as how to row your boat, how to choose tackle, and what to do with the fish you’ve caught. Flexible binding makes this ideal for carrying aboard a boat.

Or do some armchair-traveling to faraway lands with Tales Told in Tents: Stories from Central Asia (Francis Lincoln; $16.95; ages 6 to 10). Sally Pomme Clayton traveled to the “stan” countries – Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tadjikistan and Afghanistan – and brought back 12 tales about life in these nomadic cultures. In “Zarina’s Orchard,” a girl brings help to her dry and dusty land by fighting off the Dev, a demon with one red eye and a long black tongue. Other selections – all well-told – present local traditions, creation myths, rhymes and riddles, trickster tales, folksongs, and stories of magic carpets. Includes illustrations by Sophie Herxheimer, a handy map and interesting notes on the origin of each tale.

Finally, travel to Pajama Land in a most original nighty-night story: Sleepy Cadillac: A Bedtime Drive, by Thacher Hurd (HarperCollins, $15.99; ages 4 to 8). A big blue car floats up to a boy’s bedroom window and takes him for a ride through the skies, stopping at the dream station to fill up the tank. As the boy eventually climbs “into bed, soft and warm all around,” listeners will have fallen fast asleep.