Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: Picks by Amy M.

The Gathering by Dan Poblocki

Cover image for The gatheringLooking for a chapter book that sends cold shivers up your spine? Look no further than The Gathering, the first book in the “Shadow House” series by Dan Poblocki.  Five children from across the U.S. are lured to the mysterious Larkspur House under false pretenses. Is it a music academy? Is it the residence of a long-lost great aunt?  What they find inside the immense building is something completely different. Once the kids are behind the locked doors, they may never leave again.  One of the strengths of this unique title is its connection to an app called “Shadow House” which can be downloaded for free from the Google Play app for Android smartphones or from the Apple app store for iPhones. Once the app is downloaded, the reader can access additional ghost stories every time a sigil, or symbol, is discovered on a book page. I enjoyed the app’s creepy music and stories as well as the spooky illustrations. The book will entice you without the app, but I recommend trying the app to add to the chilling experience.

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant

Masterminds by Gordon Korman

Cover image for MastermindsEli Frieden has enjoyed a comfortable life in Serenity, New Mexico. What makes the town so perfect? There is no crime and every house in the small town has a pool and a basketball net. Eli and the 29 other kids who live there have never cared that they haven’t explored the world outside the city limits.  Why would they? Everything they could ever want or need is right in Serenity! Eli’s life begins to change when his best friend, Randy, must suddenly move away from Serenity. No other kid has left before!  Once Eli reads a secret note left by his friend, he discovers everything he knows about himself, his family, and even his hometown, has been a lie.  With the help of a few trusted friends, Eli tries to uncover the answers to the questions swirling in his head:  Why aren’t we allowed to leave? What is Project Osiris? Trust me, you won’t want to put this book down until you, too, discover the truth behind Serenity.

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant

The Jumbies by Tracey Baptiste

Cover image for The jumbiesWhen a prank finds Corinne La Mer chasing a furry agouti through her island’s forbidden forest, she comes face to face with a mysterious creature hidden in shadow. After dodging it, her terror quickly fades. What she comes to find out later, however, is that some thing followed her out of the trees. That thing is a jumbie, a dark creature of the night. The villagers know that jumbies exist only in old stories. They can’t be real, can they?  The unique island setting and ever-present suspense means that this story is a can’t-miss; just don’t forget to leave your nightlight on!

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant

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

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 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

Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks

Cover image for Save me a seatImagine starting fifth grade at a new school in a new country. It’s tough! Ravi, who has just moved from India, is stunned to learn that his classmates and teacher at Albert Einstein Elementary do not seem impressed by his previous stellar grades, popularity among his former classmates, and his athletic prowess at cricket. At first, he feels his only hope for climbing the social ladder involves befriending Dillon Samreen, an outgoing classmate. Joe, a fellow student who sits behind Ravi, is bullied frequently by Dillon and notices that he has his sights now set on Ravi. With viewpoints of Ravi and Joe alternating every chapter, you’ll root for each one as they both do their best to navigate life in the fifth grade.

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George

Cover image for Tuesdays at the castleCelie is an ordinary princess who lives in a castle with her royal family. Castle Glower, however, is anything but ordinary. It has a mind of its own, and it seems to have taken a shining to the royal family, especially Celie.  The Kingdom of Sleyne is happy and safe, until one day, the King and Queen, along with Bran, one of Celie’s brothers, disappear while on a trip.  Celie and her other two siblings struggle to solve the mystery of their missing family members. Where did they go? Are they truly gone?  Come along for an adventure through the many twists and turns inside Castle Glower. You won’t be disappointed!

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant

Booked by Kwame Alexander

Cover image for BookedThis novel-in-verse follows Nick, a boy who LOVES soccer and has a crush on April,  a girl at his school.  When a double-whammy comes up in his life in the form of his parents deciding to separate (with his mom moving away) and an emergency stay in the hospital, Nick struggles with staying calm and facing his fears.  Nick wants things to be like they were before, but that isn’t an option anymore.  If you enjoy lightning-fast reads that take place in a school setting, this one’s for you!

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant