Light reading list fills bill for summer vacation

Now that school is out, you can stop reminding the kids of the final assignments and taxiing them to end-of-year events and games.

Slowing down in the summer means your children will have time for pleasure reading. It may not be the blockbuster summer of a "Harry Potter" book, but there are plenty of engaging books. Many of them are magical, others are mysteries, and some are modern tales with a humorous twist that fit with summer's lighter reading. Call them cottage or beach books for kids, they're all page-turners.

Here are a few that top the list of summer must-reads.

"Charlie Bone and the Invisible Boy" (Orchard Books/Scholastic, $9.95) by Jenny Nimmo is the third book in the fantasy series about Charlie Bone, a magical child who can look at photos and hear what conservations take place. Although he does attend a school, Bloor Academy, for children with special powers, this is not Harry Potter and the school isn't Hogwarts. Charlie has to confront family and friends who are not always what they seem, solving school problems with a twist.

"Toad Rage" by Morris Gleitzman (Random House, $14.95) seems just right for the summer when your reader is likely to catch a toad or frog at camp. This book is from the land Down Under, where Gleitzman is a popular author. The book follows the adventures of the critter called Limpy, a cane toad, who sets off on a quest to make sure humans know how cool a critter this species is.

"The Anybodies" by N.E. Bode (HarperCollins, $15.99) has the

look of the popular "Lemony Snicket" series, with clever illustrations by Peter Ferguson, and the use of a pen name. This magical mystery takes place in summer when Fern, who finds out she'd been swapped at birth and maybe doesn't really belong to her dull family called the Drudgers, is un-swapped for the summer to head off with her real father. Readers will enjoy the adventure, the humor and the introduction of some fresh new characters. Expect to hear more from N.E. Bode (writer Julianna Baggott). Check out www.theanybodies.com.

Writer Judy Blume cast a spell over a generation of readers. Now you can share six of her books, from lower elementary to middle school, repackaged with a fresh new look by Random House in paperbacks for $6.99 or $7.99 each. A great treat is the "Best of Judy Blume Box Set" ($22.49) which features four favorites, "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret," "Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself," "Iggie's House" and "Blubber."

Two others reprinted for younger readers are "Freckle Juice" -- a boy's quest to get freckles -- and "The One in the Middle Is the Green Kangaroo."

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