‘Someone Like Me’

By Patricia MacLachlan

With Hallmark sentiment by Patricia MacLachlan and burnished illustrations in autumnal shades by Chris Sheban, “Someone Like Me” is a treasure. Its story returns us to yesteryear, when sipping lemonade on a porch swing was the norm, as was lying on a blanket under an apple tree with a good book.

This lovely book is told in a series of scenes from MacLachlan’s childhood, experiences that led to her becoming a writer. The stories her family told include one about “Jack the horse and 12 cows (that) broke through the fence and walked all the way to town,” to tales about a beloved dog with three names, “Tommy, Rascal and Come Along.”

At a young age, MacLachlan’s passion for books and visits to the library also are highlighted, seeds planted that led to her love of literature and writing.

“Someone Like Me” has spreads that are certain to illicit chills, and return readers to a simpler time, in text and illustration. There’s an extra perk to this beaut — it may spark a conversation between grandparents and grandchildren about the past and prompt personal anecdotes to be shared.

“Someone Like Me” is great buy-ahead for the holidays — a memorable gift for children in kindergarten through third grade.

‘Pig the Winner’

By Aaron Blabey

A pug with a piggish appetite for winning gets his just deserts in “Pig the Winner,” a rhyming story by Aaron Blabey with laugh-out-loud illustrations.

No matter what competition Pig participates in, he has to come out on top — If he doesn’t win “ . . . he’d throw a pink fit. He’d scream and he’d cry and he just wouldn’t quit.”

Pig’s competitive nature and sore loser traits get old pretty fast, and strain the buddy-bond he has with his wiener dog pal Trevor, who observes his friend’s behavior with shock and disgust. Trevor tries to warn Pig when he takes his drama too far, in a move that positively bowls the pug over.

There are laughs aplenty in this lighthearted read —and a serious moral lesson too — about the graceful art of losing, something children have to be reminded of from time to time.

“Pig the Winner” is for readers ages 3 to 5 and for adults who can’t stand to be outbid at the bridge table or resist counting all their strokes on the back nine.

‘Swing It, Sunny’

By Jennifer L. and Matthew Holm

If you haven’t read a graphic novel, don’t assume this popular genre isn’t “really reading.” Some graphic novels have meat on their bones, engrossing plots with admirable characters and the added appeal of a colorful, easy to follow comic-book style.

Such is the case with the husband and wife writing/illustrating team of Jennifer L. and Matthew Holm. The couple has a boatload of graphic novels under their belt, including the popular “Sunny Side Up.”

It’s the story of 10-year-old Sunny Lewin, sent to stay in Florida with her grandfather in the summer of 1976. He lives in a retirement home on a golf course, where a “ginormous” alligator lurks. Readers gradually find out why Sunny is with Gramps — a situation with her brother Dale has forced her parents to get her out of the picture — hints are dropped about bad choices that he is making.

In the Holms’ new graphic novel, “Swing It, Sunny,” hitting bookstores Sept. 12, the perky blonde is back, her life re-examined from the fall of 1976 to spring 1977. In flashbacks, readers are brought up to speed on Sunny’s brother, now residing in a boy’s academy, to hopefully get the discipline he needs to change his behavior.

The beauty of this story is the light-handed manner the Holms use to share Sunny’s struggles in coming to grips with her brother; his visits home over the holidays create havoc for her parents and cause Sunny to feel guilty. She loves Dale, but she hates the upset that occurs when he’s around — his vandalism and drug use affecting the entire family.

While the theme of the Sunny books has serious overtones, there are light-hearted moments too. In “Swing It, Sunny,” the bitty blonde has to adjust to middle school, has laughs with Gramps, spends time with her best friend and makes a new pal of an older girl who moves in next door. Adding to the fun are lots of references to life in the ’70s, from Jiffy-Pop popcorn, to TV dinners, to Pet Rocks, and soap operas.

Suggest “Swing It, Sunny,” to your 8-12-year-old reader, and you’re sure to get rave reviews for being open to graphic novels. This one’s a real honey seniors are sure to enjoy too.

Books suggested in “Book Sprouts” can be purchased at Neighborhood Reads in Downtown Washington.