Picture books can be fun and quick reading, especially during summer months when outside activities fill family schedules. Here are some great books perfect for those times and good for all ages.

The Pirate Cruncher, by Jonny Duddle, is a story filled with pirates, adventure and of course treasure. This rhyming tale has colorful full page illustrations that are rendered in digital media. There is much humor found throughout and the dialogue is great fun and begs to be read aloud. The story builds to a dramatic conclusion which includes a fold-out page.

What Color is Caesar?, by Maxine Kumin, celebrates self identity and acceptance. Caesar, a Dalmatian, can’t figure out if he’s a black dog with white spots or a white dog with black spots. He sets out on a quest in search of this vital question. He comes upon similarly colored animals, such as a zebra and a cow, and asks them what their main color is. But their answers completely surprise him. The bovine answers that his color is the color of milk. The pony answers that he is the color of green as in the grass. The illustrations, by Alison Friend, are done in an array of colorful gauche. You’ll be surprised with what Caesar discovers about himself and a great life lesson.

Never Smile at a Monkey, by Steve Jenkins, will have you learning as you read through the different types of animals that could be very dangerous to people. For instance, “Never collect a cone shell.” If you pick one off the ocean floor, it will defend itself by launching poisonous barbs. As with Jenkins’ other award winning books, this is artistically illustrated with collages of cut and torn paper.

Sunday Love, by Alison Paul, is a wordless, comic book style story where each frame features Bruno the Burglar as he escapes from prison. The few words expressed are actually sound effects except for the shouts of “Halt! Halt!” from the police. The only colors used throughout, including the front and back covers, are white, black and red. These types of books force the reader to pay attention to the details which include the title of the book where there’s a double meaning involved.

All The World, by Liz Garton Scanlon, and illustrated by Marla Fazee, is a beautifully painted celebration of a sunny day in the life of a young family. As they go through their active day with the expression of a simple, yet meaningful, text. They begin their day by digging deep into the sandy beach. From there, they choose a tree to plant at the farmers’ market and climb a tree and enjoy a midday thunderstorm. The texture of watercolor and words blend to make the ambience of pleasure and “Hope and peace and love and trust in All The World“.

Stretch, by Doreen Cronin, and illustrated by Scott Menchin, is a “moveable” tale with a dog at the helm of an exercise class where they are about to stretch beyond believable lengths. The opening stretch shows the dog in front and paws, hooves and feet of different animals which will be shown later as they stretch and stretch. The text is simple enough with repeating words to make this an excellent beginning reader. But it’s the blend of both word and picture that will make the possibilities stretch!

Louise The Big Cheese and the La-Di-Da Shoes, by Elise Primavea, and illustrated by Diane Goode, is an innumerable tale of wishes and desires, and ultimately of what’s truly important. Louise is desiring a fancy pair of shoes as she is tired of her old brown and boring shoes. Her cute little sidekick, PeeWee, adds greatly to the story as her worthy pet pup and carries over Louise’s expression and attitude on every page. Louise becomes jealous of her best friend, Fern, when she ends up with the shoes Louise so desperately desired. But a lesson is about to be learned that what one greatly desires is not always the greatest thing to have. The watercolor and drawings throughout go hand-in-hand with the story making this a pleasure to read and a lesson to learn. And don’t forget to check out the inside covers both front and back.

Hip Hop Dog, by Chris Raschka, and illustrated by Vladimir Radunsky, is a story about a forlorn pup who no one seems to want. But it’s the way this story is told that makes this a terrific read-aloud, along with Radunsky’s wonderful broad brush strokes of genius.

The rap-like poetry swirls along with the paint and by the end your foot will be tapping.

Herbert: The Tru Story of a Brave Sea Dog, by Robyn Belton, is an amazing story about a dog who went along with his owners on a small boat when a sudden storm caused him to be washed overboard. His young owner, Tim, along with the rest of his family, thought the dog drowned. But miraculously, he showed up the next day still swimming. The watercolor pictures make this an amazing adventure and the endpapers showing actual news clippings add to the miracle and celebration in New Zealand.

My Heart is Like a Zoo, by Michael Hall, is full of similes, metaphors and alliteration all woven in and around symbolic shapes of different colors and hues that create animals such as “silly as a seal” or “bothered as a bull”. The rhyming text and simple length of each line make this a perfect beginning reader.

Here Comes The Garbage Barge!, by Jonah Winter, is an amazing fictionalized account about a true event that happened back in 1987 with a garbage barge. Mr. Winter takes this event and combines some of the people involved in making the decision of taking garbage down the coast and dumping it somewhere else. These people become the main character, Gino Stroffolino, as they try to find a port to park. The amazing 3-D effect of the illustrations by Red Nos Studio makes this story enjoyable along with enlightening the reader about refuse.