Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: Picks by Amy M.

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

Space Case by Stuart Gibbs

Cover image for Space caseTransport yourself to Earth Year 2041 in Space Case by Stuart Gibbs. After months of living inside Moon Base Alpha, Earth’s first human colony on the moon, twelve-year-old Dash Gibson has some choice words to say about his experience:  “Life in outer space sucks. Trust me, I know.” The furniture is inflatable and uncomfortable, the food is iffy, and the faraway toilets clog…A LOT.  He’s resigned to the fact that he’s stuck there until his scientist parents have completed their assignments, so he deals with the monotony until a 2 a.m. bathroom run pulls him into a serious mystery involving the death of the base physician. He decides to investigate the death with the help of friends. What else will he do in this boring place? Crack open this quirky mystery and you too can travel to Moon Base Alpha.

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant

Lockwood & Co: The Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud

Cover image for The screaming staircaseImagine working full-time and earning a salary even before your 16th birthday. In The Screaming Staircase, Book 1 of the Lockwood & Co. series by Jonathan Stroud, most children need to work. Why? Because of “the Problem.”  In London, ghosts have become an all too familiar sight, and anyone who is touched by one endures deadly ghostlock. Since adults can’t see ghosts; only children and teens can be agents, and daily use of lavender, iron, and salt to ward off ghostly “visitors” is the new normal. Without any adults in the new agency, Lockwood & Co. who is run by Anthony Lockwood and his two associates, Lucy and George, who are agents trained in the use of rapiers (swords) and are hired to clear areas of ghosts while solving mysteries in the process. Join them on their next case as they go down into the dark on The Screaming Staircase. Beware:  this new series is only for those who like spooky thrills and chills with a touch of mystery.

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant

Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur

Cover image for Love, AubreyPut this book on your must-read list if you are a fan of stories where the main character must struggle to overcome real-life obstacles. Although Aubrey is only eleven, she has had her share of hardships. Her father and younger sister suddenly pass away in an accident. Then, her mother is unable to cope with their deaths and drives away from the house, leaving Aubrey to fend for herself. Aubrey quietly accepts her abandonment and lives alone for days before her grandmother discovers the truth and whisks her away to her house in Vermont.  With a new place to live and new people in her life, Aubrey searches for what will help her move forward but won’t let her forget precious memories. There are many moments of hope and happiness in this book, but also many sad moments, so get your tissues ready!

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Programming Assistant

Closed for the Season: A Mystery Story by Mary Downing Hahn

Cover image for Closed for the season : a mystery storyIn the book Closed For the Season by Mary Downing Hahnmiddle-schooler Logan Forbes is clearly NOT having a good summer.  His primary goal is to find some normal friends to hang out with so he can fit in at school in the fall, but moving into the “murder house” throws a wrench into that plan. When Logan and his neighbor uncover the details surrounding an earlier murder at his new house, they are immediately thrown into the middle of a sinister plot involving embezzled money, lies, and a nighttime trek into an old abandoned amusement park called The Magic Forest. In the dark, among the graffiti-covered structures and the overgrown paths, the boys confirm it—they are in over their heads in a deathly serious way.  Do you dare to join them as they uncover the mystery behind a murder?

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Programming Assistant

Chomp by Carl Hiaasen  

Cover image for ChompTo those that enjoy a book with lots of action and reptiles:  this book is for you! Wahoo is a normal middle-schooler living in Florida with his parents. What’s not normal about him is that his dad is a professional animal wrangler, and they have Alice, an alligator, living in their backyard. Once his dad suffers a freak accident, Wahoo needs to assist his dad with wrangling animals for the filming of a survival reality show. It turns out the reality show star, Derek, is a self-absorbed jerk and is incredibly difficult to work with. Things get even more hairy once Derek goes missing in the swampy Everglades. It’s up to Wahoo and his dad to locate the reality star in the wilderness, but a gun-toting man makes a dramatic entrance and makes the stakes suddenly much higher.

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Programming Assistant

Touch Blue by Cynthia Lord

Cover image for Touch blueThis realistic fiction story focuses on 11 year-old Tessa, a born and bred Maine islander who enjoys helping her dad fish for lobster off of their family’s boat. When her school might close due to low enrollment, the town hatches a plan to keep it open by bringing several foster children to live with them on the island. Tessa’s father comes back with Aaron, a reserved 13 year-old boy who is not at all like she expected.   Tessa keeps her good luck charms with her always, but as Aaron spends more time with the family, her worries and secrets begin to multiply despite her efforts to stay lucky.

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Programming Assistant

The Last Apprentice:  Revenge of the Witch by Joseph Delaney     

Cover image for Revenge of the witchTom Ward, the seventh son of a seventh son, has the disturbing ability to sense ghosts and other beasties that go bump in the night. He’d rather not have this “gift, but it is something from which he can’t escape.  When Tom reluctantly begins an apprenticeship with the Spook, a person who rids the County of harmful beings like boggarts and witches, he thinks he might be in over his head. With mortal danger lurking behind every dark corner, Tom struggles to conquer his fear while protecting those he cares about. This book is only for those brave enough to stomach truly scary tales. Are you brave enough?

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Programming Assistant

Eglantine:  A Paranormal Adventure by Catherine Jinks    

Cover image for Eglantine : [a paranormal adventure]Allie (short for Alithea) is a girl in need of some good luck. She thought she was having good luck when her family moved into a bigger house complete with her own bedroom.  But her luck abruptly changes when her brother, Bethan, now refuses to sleep in his own room due to the creepy writing that appears on his walls.   Allie would do anything to get her room to herself again…even try to confront a possible ghost. What do the mysterious words mean? Will Allie ever get her bedroom back? The book’s events take place on another continent, so you will be introduced to names and phrases that are uniquely Australian.

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Programming Assistant

The Five Lives of Our Cat Zook by Joanne Rocklin

Cover image for The five lives of our cat ZookOona has a pretty good life. She lives with her brother, mother, and their quirky cat, Zook, in a cozy apartment, and she and her brother enjoy earning fried zucchini by dancing in front of a pizza place. When Zook becomes very ill and her mom begins to date again after the death of her father, Oona quickly realizes that keeping certain secrets is much harder than she first thought.  What are her secrets, and why must she keep them from her family and her mom’s new boyfriend? Read to find out!

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Programming Assistant