Swimmer, bookworm, artist or jokester — Newsbee’s got you covered with his “Sizzlin’ Summer” Picks. Take one along on a road trip or zip over to a blanket in the shade and lose yourself in tales that’ll keep you glued to the page. Newsbee’s July offerings are brand new, but sure to become old favorites.

Keep “Paging On!” no matter the season.

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“Crankee Doodle” is a crazy take on a revolutionary ditty everyone knows. Author Tom Angleberger and his wife, illustrator Cece Bell, revamp “Yankee Doodle,” set it marching to a brand new beat.

Crankee, a peevish patriot, is reclining in a field with his horse at his side when he starts beefing about being bored.

“We could go to town,” his sweet steed suggests. Whoa, Nellie! The very idea opens the floodgates of Crankee’s ire. “Town? No Way. I hate going to town. There are too many people in town. They all run around in a hurry and ring bells and eat pies…”

The optimistic equine doesn’t throw in the hay bale. He continues to try and convince Crankee to go shopping, buy a hat with a feather and call it macaroni! The horse’s attempts to quell Crankee’s crossness continue until his master finally trods on his pony’s hooves.

There’s plenty of “Ye-Haw” in this picture book that’s perfect for the Fourth of July or any time you need a good laugh.


What a dull world it would be without green-yellow and blue-violet. Gray, that’s for certain. Author Drew Daywalt imagines this premise in “The Day the Crayons Quit,” a zany book with illustrations by Oliver Jeffers, one of Newsbee’s fav artists.

When little Duncan reaches for his crayons he sees a handwritten packet of notes attached to the box. “To Duncan,” it reads. So begins the hilarity. Each color takes a stab at airing its complaints in a personal letter to the boy.

Red feels overworked and unappreciated. Duncan uses him for everything from fire engines to Christmas decorations. Pink has the opposite problem. Duncan never takes pink out of the box. The color implores the boy to consider coloring a dinosaur, monster or cowboy his cheery hue, much better than blue.

The peach crayon has a rather embarrassing problem — he’s lost his paper wrapping, and black is dejected because he’s only used for outlining.

Duncan hears them out and comes up with a solution, creating a picture that uses each of the crayons in a way that’s totally outside their box.

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Born with undeveloped lungs, 12-year-old Casey, the main character in “Below,” has to swim laps to improve her breathing. But laps in a pool can be boring; Casey longs for the solace of practicing her strokes at the lake near her town. She does just that in “Below,” by Meg McKinlay, an intriguing book about friendship, perseverance and courage.

Casey has always lived in New Lower Grange, but her parents, sister and brother originally resided in Old Lower Grange. On the night Casey was born the mayor threw a lever and flooded the old town in the name of progress — the area was growing and water was needed.

Casey has a swimming buddy named Liam, a boy badly scarred in a tragic car crash that left his brother dead and his father brain damaged. Though signage is posted in an area of the lake warning people not to swim there, the friends do so anyway. The restricted area is right above their old flooded community.

As the friends visit the lake and explore, they uncover secrets and become embroiled in a mystery that threatens to pull them under. They eventually learn that “you can’t just drown a town and call it over….things have a way of floating to the surface.”