Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: For Grades 4-6

Tru & Nelle by G. Neri

Cover image for Tru & Nelle : a novelWhen Nelle and Tru first meet, they don’t seem to have much in common.  Nelle’s a tomboy, and Tru likes fancy clothes.   It’s their mutual love of mysteries that brings them together.  Soon they have formed their own detective agency and are off solving cases and having adventures.  One particularly funny scheme involves a plan to make money using a monster fish, a two-headed chicken, and pickled baby pig.  Things don’t go quite as planned when the two-headed chicken escapes, knocking the dead piglet onto the minister’s wife’s feet, causing her to faint.  Needless to say, no money was made that day.

Tru & Nelle is based on the childhood friendship of the famous writers Truman Capote and Harper Lee. I highly recommend this book for readers who like historical fiction, mysteries, and stories about friendship.

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

Bugged: How Insects Changed History by Sarah Albee

Cover image for Bugged : how insects changed historyThere are ten quintillion insects in the world and they have contributed to how this world has been shaped. For instance, did you know that the red color in some foods, drinks, and clothing is from crushed insects? Or that some bugs suck blood out of your body, eat dead people, or can make you very sick? This book will talk about all these gross things and more including how scientists used the Millennium Falcon from the Star Wars movies to figure out how locusts fly in swarms. If you enjoyed the books, How They Croaked or Poop Happened, check this book out.

Book reviewed by Laura B. Youth Technology Librarian

The Girl in the Well is Me by Karen Rivers

Cover image for The girl in the well is meEleven-year-old Kammie only wanted to be friends with the popular girls. When they say she has to pass an initiation to join their club, Kammie agrees and lets them cut off her hair. Next, she follows their demands to stand on top of some boards that cover a well, and she falls through. The girls try half-heartedly to help her, but then they run off. As it grows darker, Kammie doesn’t know whether they have gone to get help or if she’ll die alone in the well. Cold, hungry, thirsty, and scared, Kammie begins to imagine that a French-speaking coyote, goats, and all kinds of creepy-crawlies are in the well with her. During this time Kammie also reflects on her past: her dad, who is in prison for stealing money from a fund to help children with cancer; her older brother Robby, who used to be nice until he turned 14 and her former home and friends before moving to “Nowheresville, Texas.”

If you like stories about trying to fit in and finding your true friends—and with a little bit of suspense—check out The Girl in the Well is Me.

Book reviewed by Dana F., Assistant Head of Youth Services

The McVentures of Me, Morgan McFactoid: Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow by Mark S. Waxman

Cover image for The mcventures of me, Morgan McFactoid : hair today, gone tomorrowMorgan McCracken is a 13 year old genius who loves to invent, and his most recent discovery might mean a lot of money for his family. While working on a hair removal formula, a little bit of lightning turns his experiment into a miracle hair growth discovery which everyone wants to get their hands on for profit. By reading this humorous and heartwarming adventure, you’ll also learn a lot of amazing facts (or McFactoids as he calls them) that are interesting and fun.  For example, did you know that the muscle that lets the human eye blink is the fastest muscle in your body?  It allows you to blink five times a second! (I bet you’re trying it right now.)

Will he remember the formula?  Will he become a millionaire? Will the girl across the street talk to him again? Can science answer every question? Will he ever learn to enjoy shaving?

The answer to these and other questions awaits you in this recommended book for 4th-6th graders who like science, trivia, adventure and friendship stories.

Book reviewed by Carol C., Elementary School Liaison

The Wishing Spell (Land of Stories series #1) by Chris Colfer

Cover image for The wishing spell“…and they lived happily ever after.”  You may have wondered how so many people know that familiar fairy-tale ending, or even how so many people know the details of stories and characters from countless fairy tales passed down through the generations. From the time they were little, Conner and Alex Bailey loved hearing their parents and Grandma read fairy tales to them from a very special book called the Land of Stories. Since the cherished book had been in the family for years, it was presented to the twins just before their twelfth birthday. Curiously, one night the book made a dull humming sound and began to glow, which eventually lead the twins to discover that they could actually go into the book! Can you imagine their shock and excitement, encountering danger and delight as they wandered along, meeting the fairy tale characters face-to-face in the actual stories they knew by heart? Suddenly, the twins were swept up in a race against time to earn a single wish by collecting eight objects scattered throughout the magical fairy tale kingdoms in the Land of Stories. Will they crush the Evil Queen’s plan to use the last wish for herself when they know it is their only hope for returning home? Discover creative stories beyond the stories with some new twists for “happily ever after” endings as you read The Wishing Spell, the first adventure in the Land of Stories series by Chris Colfer.

Book reviewed by Jan P., Youth Services Department Patron Assistant

Inspector Flytrap and the Big Deal Mysteries by Tom Angleberger and Cece Bell

Cover image for Inspector FlytrapInspector Flytrap is a venus flytrap (that’s a plant that eats insects) on a skateboard, who solves mysteries with the help of his sidekick, Nina the Goat. They only take “Big Deal” mysteries, like the case of a mysterious blob on a famous painting or a single giant stinky shoe! This book has mysteries that need to be solved, but also a lot of funny parts like Nina eating everything in sight or the mysteries too small for Inspector Flytrap to take.  The first in the Inspector Flytrap series is a fun and quick read, especially for someone just starting to read chapter books. You might also like it if you’ve read other books by Tom Angleberger (like Origami Yoda) or Cece Bell (like El Deafo). The second in the series is already out, so there’s a lot to enjoy!

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Cover image for The girl who drank the moonEvery year the villagers in the Protectorate sacrifice a baby to the “evil” witch of the forest.  And every year, this witch (who isn’t evil at all) wonders why these crazy people abandon their babies.  Before the child can be torn to bits by wild animals, the witch, whose name is Xan, rescues it and delivers it to a deserving family on the other side of the forest.  This continues until one year Xan accidentally feeds the baby moonlight which turns the ordinary child into an extraordinary child filled with dangerous magic.  This means Xan must raise the child, whom she names Luna, herself.  For a while she is able to bind Luna’s magic but as Luna’s thirteenth birthday approaches her magic begins to return with dangerous results.  And what about Luna’s biological mother?  Maybe she didn’t abandon her baby as Xan first thought.  What will happen when Luna gets her magic back?

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai

Cover image for Listen, slowlyMai is ready for summer vacation in California. She plans to spend it on the beach with her best friend and maybe even talk to the guy she likes, but her parents have other ideas. Mai’s family is from Vietnam. Her grandmother left with her children after the Vietnam War. Her grandfather was never found after the war. Now, a detective thinks he has found some information on what happened to her grandfather and her grandmother wants to return to Vietnam for answers. Mai’s parents insist that Mai accompany her grandmother on the trip, which means no beach for Mai. Soon, Mai is in Vietnam, a place she considers hot, smelly, and with a lot of extended family. She doesn’t speak the language well and Vietnam is very different than California. It’s even worse when she finds out that her best friend in California is on the beach hanging with the guy she likes. If only the detective and grandmother could work something out. Then, she would get to go home, but that doesn’t seem likely. Now, she must try to find a balance between California life and Vietnam life, and maybe even try to give Vietnam and her extended family a chance.

Book reviewed by Laura B. Youth Technology Librarian

Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

Cover image for The Night gardener : a scary storyWhen Molly and Kip lose their parents on their way over from Ireland to England, they are forced to work as servants at a crumbling Victorian mansion in the middle of a creepy forest.  At first they are grateful just to have food and a place to sleep, but the house and its family are not quite what they seem.  What is behind the mysterious green door?  How can the lady of the house be wearing a ring that her husband sold only that morning?  And most importantly, who is the mysterious creature that thumps around the house at night leaving a trail of leaves and mud?

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Cover image for Nine, ten : a September 11 storyIt is September 9, 2001. A day like any other day. Children in school, parents working, families settling down to their dinners – nothing out of the ordinary in any way. Our story begins here, introducing us to four children and their families, one each in Chicago, Illinois; Shanksville, Pennsylvania; Brooklyn, New York; and Columbus, Ohio. All of them will soon feel the impact of the events of September 11, 2001, each in their own special way. The tragedy of 9.11 is gently brought home through the stories of these ordinary children. The history of the day becomes more personal as we see it unfold through their eyes. If you like historical fiction, and would like to understand 9.11 in a new way, this is the book for you.

Book reviewed by Loreen S., Youth Services Assistant