Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: Non-fiction

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

Five-Minute True Stories: Animal BFFs by Aubre Andrus

Cover image for Five-minute true stories : animal BFFsYou don’t usually see a 500-pound lion and an 11-pound dachshund playing together, cuddling, or licking each other’s faces. In Animal BFFs, readers are introduced to Bonedigger the lion and Milo the wiener dog, as well as eleven other unlikely animal friendships. Each story is meant to be read in about five minutes, and there are large photographs on nearly every page. There is even a pair from Chicago: Riff Ratt the rat and Osiris the dog. They are such good friends that sometimes Riff Ratt crawls into Osiris’ mouth! Some of the other BFFs include Gerald the giraffe and Eddie the goat; a lion-tiger-bear trio named Leo, Shere Khan, and Baloo; Miwa-chan the Japanese monkey and Uribo the wild piglet; and a cat named Morris and his best horse friend Champy. The stories tell readers how the animals became best friends, what they like to do together, and why their friendship is so rare. At the heart of each story is the fact that friends can come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors—which is true for animals and people!

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

Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems by Bob Raczka

Cover image for Wet cement : a mix of concrete poemsIt takes great skill to say a lot without a lot of words and even more so to do that within the constraints of a specific format, like a haiku or other type of poem. Bob Raczka’s collection of 21 concrete poems presents fun, clever, and surprising poems that kids can relate to and be inspired by. Concrete poetry’s meaning is conveyed partly or wholly by visual means, using patterns of words or letters and other typographical devices. Down to the wordplay in the title, there is not a word wasted in this collection. If you enjoy this one, check out one of Bob Racka’s other poetry books—he has written several.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

Are you an echo?: The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko illustrated by Toshikado Hajiri, narrative by David Jacobson

Cover image for Are you an echo? : the lost poetry of Misuzu KanekoIn early 1900’s Japan, Misuzu Kaneko became a beloved children’s poet. Her life ended prematurely, her poetry was soon forgotten. After the Japanese tsunami in 2011, her poetry was rediscovered, and this beautiful book tells Misuzu Kaneko’s life story, which ends tragically and which the book describes sensitively.  The book includes many of her poems in both English and the original Japanese. The illustrations are stunning and depict both the poet’s life and her beautiful poems. The poems show Misuzu’s unique way of looking at the world, and this lovely picture book is an introduction to this little known Japanese poet. Because of the sensitive nature of the poet’s death, this book is best enjoyed by older readers (grade 5 and up).

Book reviewed by Amy S., Youth Outreach and Programming Assistant

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

Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery and Other Haunted Places of the Midwest by Matt Chandler

Cover image for Bachelor's Grove Cemetery and other hauntings of the midwestImagine taking a walk in the woods and coming upon an old cemetery. It’s by a pond that is covered in algae and it looks as if no one has been there in a very long time. It’s quiet, but kind of creepy, and you think that maybe you are not alone. That is exactly what happens when you visit Bachelor’s Grove cemetery in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. This eerie cemetery supposedly has many ghosts and is just one location in this book. If cemeteries aren’t creepy enough, there are haunted houses, theaters, and even the Great Lakes. Do you believe in ghosts? Either way, this book has some fun information about the area where we live and is really fun to read.

Book reviewed by Laura B. Youth Technology Librarian

Kid Pickers: How to Turn Junk into Treasure by Mike Wolfe

Cover image for Kid pickers : how to turn junk into treasureHave you ever heard the saying, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure?” It basically means that the things you don’t want or like could be wanted by someone else. This book is all about that. Mike Wolfe is from the show, American Pickers, which airs on the History Channel. In this show, Mike goes around finding items that some people consider junk and he either buys them or is given them. He then cleans them up and sometime sells them. What this show doesn’t tell you is that Mike has been doing this since he was a kid. It started with old bikes, cigar boxes, and comic books, and it soon grew to more items. This book is great resource for learning how to pick items and will help you either begin a collection or start a new one. Mike explains places you can go to find items, how to research the item, and even how to re-purpose the item into something new. I especially liked reading about the repurposing of items. I also liked that each chapter ends with a kid picker and their collection. So check out this book to start your picking and have a fun summer doing an interesting activity outside.

Book reviewed by Laura B. Youth Technology Librarian

The Boy Who Fell Off the Mayflower or John Howland’s Good Fortune by P.J. Lynch

Cover image for The boy who fell off the Mayflower or John Howland's good fortuneThis longer non-fiction picture book immerses the reader in the early life of John Howland, an indentured servant who, in the year 1620, sailed across the ocean on the Mayflower with his master to become one of the first settlers in Plymouth, Massachusetts. The incredibly rich illustrations and  first-person narrative detailing the unbelievable challenges he faced will easily capture your attention.  Who doesn’t enjoy a true tale of survival?

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant