Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: For Grades 4-6

Helen Thayer’s Arctic Adventure: A Woman and a Dog Walk to the North Pole by Sally Senzell Isaacs

Cover image for Helen Thayer's Arctic adventure : a woman and a dog walk to the North PoleExperience the thrill of a real-life adventure in this non-fiction picture book. Follow the unbelievable story of Helen Thayer, an outdoorswoman who fulfilled her dream of being the first woman to hike solo from Canada to the magnetic North Pole with only a sled, supplies, a tent, a dog, and a radio. With no outside help and only her two feet as transportation, she and her dog, Charlie, traveled mile after mile for many days with the constant threat of cracking ice, dangerous polar bears, and killer weather. The detailed illustrations pull you into the story and make you think you are hiking with her!

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant

Restart by Gordon Korman

Cover image for Restart : lose your memory, find your lifeWhat do you think it would be like to lose your memory? You don’t remember your family, friends, or what you were like before the amnesia. That’s what happened to Chase Ambrose in Restart by Gordon Korman.

Nobody really knows why he was up there, but Chase fell off the roof of his house and was lucky to survive with only bumps, bruises, and a concussion with the loss of his memory.

It turns out that Chase was a star football player at his middle school and was quite the bully. But he doesn’t remember any of that! The other kids at his school remember all too well and it takes some time for them to trust and adjust to the new Chase Ambrose who is nice, helpful, and hard-working…unlike the old Chase Ambrose who was mean, hurtful and, quite possibly, a thief.

Everyone wonders whether Chase will go back to his old ways as his memory gradually returns or move forward with this fresh start. Very few people ever get a second chance like this and the question remains: Will Chase take this chance?

I recommend this book for 4th through 6th graders who like realistic, humorous fiction, with the slightest touch of mystery.

Book reviewed by Carol C., Elementary School Liaison

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

Cover image for The wild robotIn The Wild Robot, readers are introduced to Roz, a robot who wakes up alone on a remote island. She was not built for the wilderness and at first finds it difficult to adapt to the wildness of the island. Slowly though she learns to survive by observing the other inhabitants and eventually making friends with the animals. Roz even adopts a gooseling and begins to raise him as her son.  Great for fans of animal stories and those looking to ponder some deeper questions about what feelings are and who has them. Stay tuned for a sequel, The Wild Robot Escapes, coming out in October.

Book reviewed by Keary B., Youth Collection Librarian

Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt

Cover image for Fish in a tree : a novelSixth-grader Ally gets into trouble during class enough to be a frequent flyer in the principal’s office. Not only does she struggle with her father’s absence due to an overseas deployment, she dreads going to school since she has no friends and she knows she’ll be forced to act out in order to protect a secret. Her life drastically changes when her strange behavior causes a move to a new classroom. Ally initially panics as Mr. Daniels, her new teacher, uncovers her secret. As the school year goes on and new friends are made, however, Ally begins to blossom. If you enjoy reading books that feature a main character who faces challenges in a school setting, this book is for you!

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant

The Most Amazing Creature in the Sea by Brenda Z. Guiberson

Cover image for The most amazing creature in the seaWhale shark vs vampire squid! Nothing is more amazing then this book under or above the sea! Read it and debate with your friends which animal really is the most amazing creature in the sea. Maybe it’s the mimic octopus who is a master of disguise or the box jellyfish with deadly venom. You decide! Teachers and parents this would make a good read aloud if you are looking for short nonfiction or a conversation starter.

Book reviewed by Keary B., Youth Collection Librarian

One Dead Spy: The Life, Times, and Last Words of Nathan Hale, America’s Most Famous Spy by Nathan Hale

Cover image for One dead spy : the life, times, and last words of Nathan Hale, America's most famous spyNathan Hale is an unlucky spy for the American rebels during the American Revolution. On his first mission, he gets caught and sentenced to be hung. As he bravely faces the hangman, he says, “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country,” and then gets swallowed by a giant history book. Literally. When he returns, he has witnessed the history of America. While the hangman is interested in hearing his story, the British soldier is ready to hang him. However, Nathan Hale goes on to tell his story as an American spy during the Revolution through pictures in a graphic novel format.  This book is packed with battles, spy work, and really great characters that lived in real life. Another thing about this book is that it is written by Nathan Hale. Not the Nathan Hale in the story, but a graphic novelist with the same name.

Book reviewed by Laura B. Youth Technology Librarian

The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood & Co. series) by Jonathan Stroud

Cover image for The creeping shadowDo you enjoy slightly spooky stories that feature a hint of mystery and a dash of adventure? Then dive into this 4th installment from the thrilling Lockwood & Co. series! Once again, the reader is returned to the alternate-London world in which deadly ghosts are a daily part of life, and only children can detect their presence. Lucy Carlisle, a freelance agent who can communicate with ghosts, is getting used to her independent life. A surprise break-in at her home, however, forces her back to her former place of employment to seek help. Lockwood & Co. may have just what she needs to help solve the break-in mystery. Trust me; you will not believe what Lucy and her friends discover by the end of this gripping tale!

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant

Blind Guide to Stinkville by Beth Vrabel

Cover image for A blind guide to StinkvilleImagine moving across the country and leaving your best friend when your Dad gets a new job. Now imagine doing all of that with a depressed mom who barely gets out of bed and an older brother who barely speaks to you. Oh, you are also blind and have albinoism. Sound rough? Well, Alice handles it all like a champion and proves along the way the difference between having a vision and having sight.

Book reviewed by Keary B., Youth Collection Librarian

The Matchstick Castle by Keir Graff

Cover image for The matchstick castleFans of Pippi Longstocking are sure to enjoy the The Matchstick Castle by Keir Graff. Brian is stuck spending the summer with his boring uncle’s family in Boring, Illinois while his dad is researching in Antarctica. Instead of spending his days playing soccer with his friends, he must work on a summer school computer program which his uncle is developing. However, once he and his cousin venture into the forest (which is forbidden by his uncle) and encounter the strange castle and its eccentric residents, summer takes a turn for the exciting! With wild boars, swarms of gigantic wasps, a boat resting precariously on the roof of the house, and some unusual new friends, can Brian and Nora help to save the house from destruction? Fans of realistic fiction and adventure are sure to enjoy this book recommended for 4th – 6th graders.

Book reviewed by Carol C., Elementary School Liaison

I am Drums by Mike Grosso

Cover image for I am drumsDrums are Sam’s life. She hears music everywhere she goes, even when she is dreaming. She even makes her own drum kit out of her encyclopedias and her Calvin and Hobbes books so she can practice all the time. Sam wants to become a better drummer, and she has to figure out how she can pay for lessons. This story is funny, sad, and cool.

Book reviewed by Anne W., Youth Services Assistant