"From your parents you learn love and laughter and how to put one foot before the other. But when books are opened you discover you have wings." - Helen Hayes with Sanford Dody, On Reflection.

Books provide our lives with richness and variety. A book can be our friend and constant companion. A book can be our teacher. Books can make us happy with pleasant thoughts and laughter, or evoke sadness and tears. Books can help our imaginations to soar and provide us with new thoughts. Books can help us understand more about ourselves, others, and the world around us.

The books reviewed below and those recommended by your local librarian under "Librarian's Choice" touch upon many of these categories. If you don't find what you are looking for, ask your librarian or bookseller to point you in the right direction.

As a parent, grandparent, teacher or care-giver, you are the one who teaches a child love and laughter and how to walk. Be the one who also teaches a love of books and reading. Open a book every day and give that child wings.

Books to Borrow

The following book is available at many public libraries.

"Tuck Everlasting" by Natalie Babbitt, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 139 pages

Read aloud: age 8 and older.

Read yourself: age 9 - 10 and older.

Sometime things come together in strange ways with no apparent connection. But, like pieces in a puzzle, one begins to see how they fit. So it is for ten-year-old Winnie Foster, the Tuck family, and the strange man in the yellow suit.

Winnie Foster is an only child and doted upon by her mother and grandmother. What Winnie really wants is to be by herself for a change, do something interesting. Fed-up with being over-protected, Winnie decides to run away, just for a little while, into the woods. It was there that she meets Jesse Tuck.

The Tuck family had stumbled upon eternal life after they drank from a magic spring eighty-seven years ago. From that time on they never aged and couldn't die. They are stuck, exactly the age they were when they drank that water.

When Winnie discovers the Tuck's secret, Jesse and his family are frantic. No one must find out about the magic spring, and the Tucks must make Winnie understand why-that living forever is not the blessing one might think. But a strange man in a yellow suit follows Winnie and Jesse and, having a different opinion of eternal life, tries to cash-in on the Tuck's long-kept secret. It's up to Winnie to save the Tucks and ultimately do what she's longed for-to make a difference in the world.

Magnificently written, it is little wonder that this classic story continues to be enthusiastically embraced since it was first published over two decades ago.

Librarian's Choice

Library: Carroll County Public Library, 136 Court St., Carrollton, Ky.

Library Director: Hillary Arney

Youth Services Librarian: Leslie Sutherland

Choices this week: "Farm Flu" by Teresa Bateman; "What's the Time, Grandma Wolf?" by Ken Brown; "Leonardo the Terrible Monster" by Mo Willems

Books to Buy

The following books are available at favorite bookstores.

"Python" by Christopher Cheng, illustrated by Mark Jackson, Candlewick, 2013, 28 pages, $15.99 hardcover

Read aloud: age 5 and older.

Read yourself: age 7 - 9.

In the Australian bush, Python quietly emerges from her protected resting place into the open to warm herself in the sun. She is beautiful but a dangerous predator when she is looking for food. Python smells the air and waits in ambush. Just one large meal will be enough to last her for many weeks. Will today be the day she succeeds?

Brief text accompanied by lush illustrations and bonus facts make "Python" a fascinating journey into the world of the python.

"Sea Otter" written and photographed by Suzi Eszterhas, Francis Lincoln Children's Books, 2013, 28 pages, $15.99 hardcover

Read aloud: age 3 - 7.

Read yourself: age 7 - 8.

In the Pacific Ocean, a baby sea otter is born. No bigger than a kitten, she lies safe and toasty on her mother's warm belly. The otter pup is tenderly cared for by her mother who feeds her, grooms her, keeps her safe and, over the next six months will teach her how to find food, keep warm, and stay out of danger.

With breathtaking, adorable photographs and clear, concise text, this very interesting, approachable book is certain to educate and fascinate young readers.

Nationally syndicated, Kendal Rautzhan writes and lectures on children's literature. She can be reached at her website: www.greatestbooksforkids.com.