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To help you get through the dog days of summer, the Daniel Boone Regional Library invites you to participate in our "pawsome" Summer Reading theme "Tails & Tales."

This theme encourages readers to explore the great outdoors and learn more about animals, both real and fictional. Our annual program launches June 1, and we have versions for all ages. The following tales will transport you into the captivating worlds of creatures of all kinds.

For Ages 0-5

My first book recommendation is a delightful combination of sophisticated and silly: "Animals Brag About Their Bottoms" (Greystone Kids, 2020) by Maki Saito. I love books where children get to hypothesize about which animal is on the page based on a body part, and this book is particularly exciting because you get to guess based on beautifully illustrated posteriors!

Scarlet, a cute little girl with an even cuter fox tail, stars in "Scarlet's Tale" (Disney Hyperion, 2020) by Audrey Vernick. Scarlet thinks she's pretty normal until she starts preschool, where her enthusiastic tail knocks things over and draws disappointed stares and whispers. But when her classmates realize her tail can do some pretty amazing things, like propel her high into the sky when she's on a swing, they learn to embrace and even celebrate her differences.

In another story of finding friendship, "Once Upon a Dragon's Fire" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2021) by Beatrice Blue, two children go on a trip through the mountains, seeking an evil dragon who has caused a terrible snowstorm. But when they find the dragon, they realize he's not scary at all — he's just afraid, lonely and very cold. The children transform the dragon's tale, making him a kind dragon. This thaws his heart, and he ignites a fire that warms the village and ends the blizzard.

For Ages 5-12

For a book full of bright illustrations, genuine camaraderie and lots of adventure, try "Sydney and Taylor Explore the Whole Wide World" (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2021) by Jacqueline Davies. Sydney the skunk is a homebody who loves quiet and peace. Taylor the hedgehog has grand visions of seeing the whole wide world. Taylor convinces Sydney to go on a quest where their roles quickly reverse, and Sydney steps up with solutions when Taylor loses his nerve. This is a heartfelt story of how, when you have a friend by your side, you can be braver than you ever imagined.

Another dynamic duo are the two hungry squirrels in the graphic novel "Donut Feed the Squirrels" (Random House, 2020) by Mika Song. When their breakfast of pancakes is scorched, squirrels Norma and Belly smell the delicious aroma of donuts. They try to pay the curmudgeonly doughnut truck man with chestnuts, but they aren't taken seriously. What are they to do now? Run away? Or, launch the greatest donut heist in the history of squirrels!

If you're craving even more adventure, try "Braver: A Wombat's Tale" (MacMillan Publishing Group, 2020) by Suzanne Selfors and Walker Ranson. Spunky wombat Lola doesn't fit in with other wombats. Lola bubbles with energy and mischief while her peers are shy and quiet. When her parents are captured by a Tasmanian devil, Lola must channel all of that energy into finding them and saving the kingdom.

For Teens

"The Green Ember" (Story Warren Books, 2015) by S.D. Smith tells the story of some extraordinary rabbits who have lost their cherished king to enemies. Heather and her little brother Picket are young rabbits who must face an unfair world and solve the mystery of a missing prince. This epic book is great to read aloud with the whole family and contains my favorite kinds of bunnies — brave, daring and sword-wielding!

The brilliant fiery phoenix on the cover of "Crown of Feathers" (Simon & Schuster, 2019) by Nicki Pau Preto draws the reader into this original story and the rich plotline will keep you entranced. Veronyka, a war orphan, spends years seeking phoenix eggs with her sister, hoping to one day become a legendary Phoenix Rider. When Veronyka is betrayed by her sister, she finds a fleet of male Riders and disguises herself as a boy to join them. This page-turner will have fantasy readers eager to read "Heart of Flames," the next book in the series.

For Adults

"Everyone's a Aliebn When Ur a Aliebn Too" (Harper Perennial, 2017) by Jomny Sun is a simple yet meaningful graphic novel that brings the reader along on an adorable rollercoaster of emotion. Jomney is sent to Earth to observe the animals who are inhabiting it, though one type of creature is distinctly missing: humans. The lonely alien finds some sweet friends, such as hedgehogs, trees and otters, and presents his existential crises in ways that are charming yet achingly relatable.

Kristy Toplikar is a children's librarian at Daniel Boone Regional Library in Columbia.

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