What does a comedian, an astronaut, a basketball star and The Fonz have in common? All have written a children’s book for readers of various ages. Children, and the adults who read with them, will now recognize these author for their talent with the written word.

“Here’s Hank: Fake Snakes and Weird Wizards” by Henry Winkler & Lin Oliver. 2015, Grosset & Dunlap, 124 pages, ages 6-8.

Hank Zipzer enjoys fun, adventure, and making his friends laugh. He is not so crazy about spelling, or math, or reading. School learning is challenging for Hank. His creativity and energy leads him into zany situations in this series of easy chapter books written by actor, producer, director Henry Winkler with children’s author Lin Oliver. Winkler speaks publicly about the learning challenges he faced as a child and hopes to inspire others. In this edition, Hank creates a wacky plan to give his sister a birthday present she will not soon forget. Can he literally pull a surprise out of a hat?

“Your Baby’s First Words will be Dada” by Jimmy Fallon, 2015, Feiwel and Friends, ages birth to 3.

Television comedian and entertainer, Jimmy Fallon, hoped to hear “dada” as the first word from his daughters Winnie and Frances. This hope inspired Fallon’s second book, this one aimed at preschool children. Various animal fathers try to teach their younglings the word “dada”, in hope this will be their first spoken word, rather than words like “woof” or “meow”. By the end of the story the young animals seem to catch on, and young children will also catch on to the animal sounds and simple patterned text.

“Little Shaq” by Shaquille O’Neal, 2015, Bloomsbury, 74 pages, ages 6-8.

Basketball legend, Shaquille O’Neal, moves from center court to children’s author in an early chapter book series promoting friendship, family, and community. Based on experiences from Shaq’s life, this first book introduces Little Shaq and his cousin Barry, who use ingenuity and hard work to earn extra money for a new video game controller. Simple text and diverse boy and girl characters will make this book and the next ones in the series popular with all types of young readers.

“Astrotwins – Project Blast Off” by Mark Kelly & Martha Freeman, 2015, Simon & Schuster, 224 pages, ages 8-12.

Kids building a rocket to orbit the earth? It’s a crazy idea, but eleven year old twins, Mark and Scott Kelly, and their friends set out to do the impossible. The story is set in the late 1970’s, when space travel was still relatively new and exciting, and is loosely based on the childhood of real astronauts, Mark and Scott Kelly, the first siblings in space. Space travel buffs will appreciate the detailed descriptions of physics, math and science used to create and launch this spaceship. Young Mark and Scott, and their friends, each add a bit of knowledge to this complex science project, creating layers of relationships among the children and adult characters that extends the story beyond mere science.

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