Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: Picks by Claire B

Milo Speck, Accidental Agent by Linda Urban

Cover image for Milo Speck, accidental agentThis is the story of Milo Speck, a boy whose father travels a lot for work, and leaves him with Grandmother, a woman who is not actually his grandmother, and who makes him wear dorky clothes with squawking ducks on them. He’s emptying out the laundry machine one day when a sock pulls him in…suddenly he’s in a world called Ogregon, filled with, you guessed it, ogres! They are giant, not very smart, and obsessed with eating children. Milo is desperate for a way to escape, until he hears that his father might be trapped there as well. So he goes to rescue his father, and learns along the way about secret agents, turkeys that obey commands, the mysterious Dr. El, and something called a whatzit that promises to bring the ogres lots of kids to eat. This book is exciting and explores worlds very different from our own, but it should also make you laugh. If you’re looking for something magical with a sense of humor, check out this book!

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian

Hidden: A Child’s Story of the Holocaust by Loic Dauvillier

Cover image for Hidden : a child's story of the HolocaustElsa can’t sleep and she finds her grandmother sitting up. Grandma Dounia tells the story of her childhood in France. Her life was pretty normal, with a best friend and a boy they both had a crush on. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, people start treating her different because she is Jewish. To survive, Dounia must stay hidden and separated from her parents and everything she knows. This graphic novel tells one story of the Holocaust that took place in Europe in the 1940s. This book gives you an idea of what it was like to live through a sad part of history, but tells the story in a gentle way with a hopeful ending.

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian

Lowriders in Space by Cathy Camper

Cover image for Lowriders in space. Book 1Lupe, Flapjack, and Elirio work in an auto shop, and they love what they do. Lupe is a mechanic, while Flapjack cleans the cars, and Elirio is a detail artist. They also live in outer space, and are an impala, octopus, and mosquito, respectively. They would like to own their own garage, but they don’t even have enough money for a car of their own. That all changes when they find a car competition that promises a carload of cash. The three find a beat up car to fix, but will it win the race? This book was illustrated in black, blue, and red ballpoint pens, because that is what the artist liked to use when he drew as a child. It might inspire you to start drawing your own comics, or learning Spanish, since they use a lot of Spanish slang in the book. This is an enjoyable read for people who like cars, fantasy stories, and wacky adventures.

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian

Lost in NYC: A Subway Adventure by Nadja Spiegelman

Cover image for Lost in NYC : a subway adventurePablo’s family moves around a lot. On his first day at his new school they take a trip to the Empire State Building, and they ride the famous New York subway to get there. Along the way, Pablo and his classmate, Alicia get separated from the rest of the class and have to find the group, using regular trains, express trains, and walking through the streets of New York City. As we go on the journey with them, we learn about how the subway was constructed, and other fun facts about the largest city in the United States. Each page and illustration has so much detail; you can spend plenty of time just looking at the different people and sights. The illustrator also has a fun story about how he researched the subway before he drew the pictures, and includes himself in most of the pages for an extra hide and seek activity while you’re reading. Check this book out for an adventure in another part of the country!

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian

The Great Greene Heist by Varian Johnson.

Cover image for The great Greene heistJackson Greene is known for a couple of things: his blazer jacket and red tie, and big scale tricks or cons like the “Blitz at the Fitz” or incidents like the “Mid-day PDA.” But for the past four months, things have been different. After his last con blew up, he’s decided to stay on the straight and narrow. That was until he found out that Keith Sinclair is planning on running for student council president against Gabby de la Cruz, Jackson’s former best friend/almost girlfriend who kind of hates him right now.  Jackson knows he shouldn’t get involved, but Keith is known for playing dirty, and he has the greedy principal on his side. So Jackson gets together a group of students, each talented at something different, to make sure the election goes according to plan. And if Jackson wins back Gabby’s respect in the process, and stays out of trouble, that will just be the icing on the cake. If you like mystery, adventure, and fast paced stories, check out this entertaining book.

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian

Boys of Blur by N.D. Wilson

Cover image for Boys of blurCharlie’s family has just moved back to the town his father and step-father are from. It is where football is a way of life and boys chase rabbits through the sugar cane for fun. There’s something different about this town. It starts when Charlie’s cousin takes him out at night, and they see a man wearing a silver helmet and carrying a sword who is accompanied by a panther. Then there’s the awful smell that usually makes people unnaturally angry all of a sudden. Charlie is trying to move past the pain his father caused in the past, and adjust to a new happier life in a different place, but the secrets of the town are too much to ignore. He and his cousin find themselves right in the middle of a war between good and evil that threatens everyone in their town. This book has zombies and other fantastical elements, but paints a realistic place you can clearly imagine. It is a fast and exciting read that should appeal to readers in 4th-6th grade, especially those who like adventures and fantasy.

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian

El Deafo by Cece Bell

Cover image for El deafoWhen Cece was young, she lost her hearing because of an illness and her whole life changes. She starts wearing a bulky hearing aid around her neck, and has to learn not only how to use that, but how to read people’s lips. There are all sorts of adjustments she has to make. Worst of all, people start treating her differently, speaking to her really slowly, like there’s something wrong with her. She starts dreaming about being the good kind of special, like a superhero and having a best friend. However, it’s not really a sad book. Even though Cece has to deal with a lot of hard things, there are plenty of funny moments too! I’d recommend this book for fans of Smile by Raina Telgemeier, and people who like funny and heartfelt stories.

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian

Cities: Discover How They Work by Kathleen M. Reilly

Cover image for Cities : discover how they workDo you know how to get water to the top of a building? Or why potholes occur? If you’ve ever wondered how cities work, or enjoy real life applications of science, technology, engineering, and math, you’ll probably like this book. It explains why cities came about and how and why they work the way they do. Along the way, there are fun activities and experiments so you can get hands-on experience with things like building a skyscraper, making a battery, or simulating an earthquake to see what causes buildings to fall or stay standing.

I also liked learning about the history of cities, and seeing how we’ve made things better. For example, before flush toilets, you used to have to use a pot, which got dumped into the street and caused a lot of diseases; or how city planners work to help blind people know when to cross the street. Some signs make a loud beeping noise, like a chirping bird, when it’s time to cross. Others have a raised arrow you can feel with your fingers that vibrates and tells people when to cross and how much time they have. Pick up this book to learn even more interesting facts about cities, and try your hand at planning and building your own city!

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian

Almost Super by Marion Jensen

Cover image for Almost superRafter and Benny Bailey are about to learn their super powers. In their family, everyone gets a super power the year they turn 12 so they can battle the supervillains, the Johnsons. Except this year, their powers are duds. Even Juanita Johnson admits that her power isn’t so super. Despite the warnings of their parents, the three decide to work together to try and figure out what went wrong. Along the way, they learn more about each other’s families and about what it means to be super. This is a funny and exciting read that should appeal to chapter book readers who enjoy movies like The Incredibles.

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian

Saving Audie by Dorothy Hinshaw Patent

syndetics-lcAudie is your average puppy: energetic, caring and devoted to his family. But he wasn’t always this way. He and 48 other pit bulls used to belong to the Bad Newz Kennels where they were used for dog fights. When the dog fights were discovered, most people believed that the dogs would be dangerous and might need to be put down. With the help of some caring people, they found that almost all of the dogs were safe, and soon they were able to leave and start their lives over. Even though Audie had a difficult life when he was young, he now lives with a loving family and spends his time training for competitions, helping train other dogs, and of course, playing! I liked this story because it shows that animals are capable of some amazing things, like surviving an abusive childhood and learning how to trust and get along with humans and other dogs again. If you like books about animals and the surprising things they can do, check this book out!

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian