Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: For Grades 4-6

Apocalypse Bow Wow by James Proimos III

Cover image for Apocalypse bow wowBrownie and Apollo are dogs that love their home and the people that take care of them. The people know when to feed them, let them out of the house to do their business, and play with them. However, that changes one day when their people don’t come back and they start to get really hungry. In fact, it looks like there are no people around at all. Something has happened. Feeling really hungry and wanting to go outside, they decide to make the journey to see if they can find their people and food. On the way, they meet a police dog, a rat, and gasp, a cat along with others. They also find a grocery store with food, but still no people. Where have they gone? What will Brownie and Apollo do, especially since their group isn’t the only group of animals’ hungry and wanting food?

Book reviewed by Laura B. Youth Technology Librarian

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox

Cover image for The charmed children of Rookskill CastleSomething is terribly wrong at the castle.  Is  it haunted by ghosts?  Is it a secret hideout for Nazi spies?  Or is it under the control of an evil witch?  Twelve-year-old Kat and her siblings have been sent to boarding school in the castle in order to avoid the bombing in London.  But when the students start disappearing, Kat is worried that the children may be in even more danger than if they had stayed in London.

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

Finders Keepers by Shelly Tougas

Cover image for Finders keepersTen year old Christa loves her family’s cabin in Wisconsin but because of hard times, her family is going to sell it, leaving her without her favorite summer place! Fortunately, she and her friend, Adam, have wonderful imaginations and learn some stories about Al Capone and his stash of cash which is possibly hidden right under their noses. This book is about her search for this fortune and her quest to save the family summer home.

Trying to solve this mystery proves to be more dangerous than they could have ever imagined and her friends and loved ones are at risk.

I recommend this book for 4th-5th grade fans of mystery and adventure that enjoy a touch of humor, friendship and family sprinkled in.

Book reviewed by Carol C., Elementary School Liaison

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