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Originally published Saturday, June 26, 2010 at 7:03 PM

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New summer reading will keep kids, teens and young adults cracking the books

Washington state authors, including Thatcher Heldring, Chelsea Campbell and Deb Caletti, have produced a crackerjack set of new books that kids, from toddlers to mature teens, will snap up for summer reading.

Special to The Seattle Times

Young readers will recognize local spots and universal themes in Washington state authors' books this summer. From poetry and sports to the paranormal and superheroes, local authors and illustrators' offerings should appeal to all types of readers.

Get ready to move when you read Bainbridge Island author Lindsey Craig's "Dancing Feet" (Knopf, 40 pp., $16.99, ages 1-4). Lady bugs groove on "tippity" feet and ducks boogie on "slappity" feet in this lively picture book, illustrated with bright collages by Marc Brown. With its repetitive questions ("Who is dancing that clickity beat?") and "happy, happy dancing feet" ending, this will be popular for preschool story times.

With its mishmash of poems, palindromes and puns, "The Wonder Book" (Harper, 80 pp., $17.99, ages 5-9) by Amy Krouse Rosenthal is a fun pick for light summer reading. Expressive black-and-white drawings by Seattle artist Paul Schmid, a former Seattle Times illustrator, will charm young readers as they consider one little girl's "Typical Day:" "Can I wear pajamas to school? No. Can I put stickers on the car? No. Can I get a monkey for my birthday? No. Can you tuck me in? Yes."

Rufus desperately wants a dog, but his fastidious, work-from-home dad refuses. Rufus rejects the lame guinea pig his mom buys as a compromise, until Fido turns out to be a "Guinea Dog" (Egmont, 192 p., $15.99, ages 7-10) who wags her tail, sits on command, and plays fetch. Despite this fantasy element, Port Townsend author Patrick Jennings keeps his tale grounded in real-life themes of friendship, family and fitting in. The skateboarding first-person narrator and edgy humor will appeal to even reluctant readers.

Sports players will identify with eighth-grader Roy's horror when his parents insist he drop out of his all-star baseball team to focus on his lagging schoolwork in Seattle author Thatcher Heldring's "Roy Morelli Steps Up to the Plate" (Delacorte, 240 pp., $15.99, ages 10-13). Now Roy has to deal with the losers on a rec-league team, a dad distracted by a new girlfriend, a failing grade in history and a cute girl who can't stand him. Even when Roy is at his most conceited, readers will keep wishing him a home run.

Mind readers and superheroes

Teens who can tear themselves away from vampires may enjoy a different type of paranormal in Seattle first-time novelist Phoebe Kitanidis' "Whisper" (HarperTeen, pp. 282, $16.99, ages 13-17), about two very different sisters who can hear other people's unspoken desires. Joy uses her knowledge to make other people happy, while her older sister Jessica — dubbed Icka by cruel classmates — is an anti-social loner. When Jessica is in danger, Joy must trust an outcast boy with his own secret to help save her.

A snarky protagonist, laugh-out-loud quips and fresh twist on superheroes (who knew there could still be one?) make Bellingham author Chelsea M. Campbell's debut teen novel, "The Rise of Renegade X" (Egmont, 352 pp., $16.99, age 14 and up) a surprising hit. Damien Locke will be a supervillain when he grows up — his DNA even says so. Or so he thinks, until a shocking discovery on his 16th birthday about the identity of his real father shows that he is actually part-superhero. Now he has to live with his flying, square-jawed, upright dad, and do his very best not to save the world. The edgy humor and language makes this best for older teens.

With poetic phrases that make readers consider the ordinary in new ways, "The Six Rules of Maybe" (Simon Pulse, 332 pp., $16.99, age 14 and up) boasts Seattle author Deb Caletti's always lyrical writing and a San Juan Islands-like setting. Seventeen-year-old Scarlet's flighty older sister, Juliet, comes home unexpectedly with a handsome, adoring husband (and a baby on the way). They upset the quiet life Scarlet shares with her single mom, who "mistrusted squirrels and birds and men and anything that had the capacity to surprise." Subplots about Scarlet's oddball neighbors and friends threaten — but fortunately don't succeed in — overwhelming this meaningful coming-of-age story.

Stephanie Dunnewind, a former Seattle Times reporter, starts work this fall as a children's librarian.

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