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Originally published June 17, 2012 at 5:01 AM | Page modified June 18, 2012 at 5:53 AM

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Reading fun in the sun for children, teens and young adults

Seattle-area authors offer up summer-reading possibilities for children, teens and young adults, with new books by Paul Schmid, Julie Paschkis, Ben Clanton, Brenda Peterson, Stephanie Barden, Richelle Mead and Kimberly Derting.

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An (almost) all-Seattle cast of authors and illustrators offers charming picture books and thrilling young-adult novels for reading out in the sunshine this summer.

Strong-willed Petunia returns in Seattle author/illustrator Paul Schmid's newest picture book, but this time she wants to be a pet in "Petunia Goes Wild" (Harper, 36 pp., $12.99, ages 3-6). Wearing a pinned-on tiger tail (Schmid's spare but emotive charcoal drawings are accented with purple and orange watercolors), Petunia, an all-too-human little girl, snorts her breakfast off the floor and roars at the neighbors. She decides to ship herself off to Africa because being human is "too combed" and "too clothed." Parents will enjoy the humor — even when it's poked at them — and kids will identify with Petunia's desire for both freedom and love.

Seattle author/illustrator Julie Paschkis' brightly painted patterns perfectly fit "Mooshka, a Quilt Story" (Peachtree, 32 pp., $16.95, ages 4-8). A blanket soothes a young girl to sleep with stories about its many pieces: the blue kerchief that Grandpa wore around his neck when he proposed, Grandma's yellow tablecloth that doubled as a pretend tent. Then a stinky, crying baby sister shows up in Karla's room, and Mooshka falls silent. Karla finds storytelling is more fun with an audience in this gentle tale of sibling — and generational — sharing.

Just in time for the upcoming presidential election, Seattle author/illustrator Ben Clanton's "Vote for Me!" (Kids Can Press, 40 pp., $16.95, ages 4-9) skewers the current political climate in kid-friendly terms. The candidates pander (candy for a vote), emphasize the superficial ("I'm a super cute elephant!") and finally, blatantly call names ("nincompoop" and "booger-breath"). Even young readers who don't completely understand the significance of the donkey and elephant losing to the "independent mouse" will get the underlying message that acting like jerks makes politicians look, well, jerky.

Seattle's beach season is starting, and "Leopard & Silkie" (Henry Holt, 32 pp., $16.99, ages 5-9) reminds families how to respect infant seals left onshore by their hunting moms. Seattle author Brenda Peterson focuses on young Miles, a volunteer with the nonprofit Seal Sitters, as he protects a seal pup dubbed Leopard. The "awww" photographs by Seattle resident Robin Lindsey capture Leopard nursing, catching a ride on his mom's back and staring wide-eyed into the camera. An extensive author's note provides additional information about Puget Sound's harbor seals.

Seattle author Stephanie Barden's Cinderella Smith may share literary company with Ramona and Clementine, but as Cinderella would say in her second early chapter book, "The More the Merrier" (Harper, 140 pp., $15.99, ages 7-10). The sweet first-person narrator tries giving Rosemary, the neighborhood bully, the silent treatment, but ends up telling her "what's what" — an honest confrontation which, surprisingly, does not solve the problem. With Cinderella vs. Rosemary in a school spelling bee, the winner is also unexpected, but there's still a happy ending. Black-line illustrations by Diane Goode add to the charm.

"Brainy vampire" book might sound like an oxymoron, but the main character in Seattle-area author Richelle Mead's second Bloodlines novel, "The Golden Lily" (Razorbill, 418 pp., $18.99, ages 14 and up) is actually nerdy. Readers will chuckle at Sydney's budding romance with a fellow geek (one date is to a textile museum), while anticipating some true heat from a handsome-but-forbidden vampire. Even those new to the series will get caught up in Mead's complicated supernatural world as Sydney tries to protect her friends from a cult of vampire hunters.

With a creepy serial killer and numerous dead bodies, "The Last Echo" (Harper, 368 pp., $17.99, ages 14 and up) is best read in daytime hours only — or risk nightmares. Bonney Lake author Kimberly Derting's second book in the Body Finders series finds Violet working with a team of psychics to find murderers. Unfortunately, the "girlfriend collector" killer — whose skin-crawling perspective is included in italicized chapters — thinks Violet might be his true soul mate.

Stephanie Dunnewind, a former Seattle Times reporter, is a school librarian in Bothell.

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