Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: Picks by Erin E.

If You Plant a Seed by Kadir Nelson

Cover image for If you plant a seedKadir Nelson’s art is just brilliant. In his latest picture book, If You Plant a Seed, the pictures are so vibrant and colorful that they jump off of the page. Nelson has written a tale about planting seeds with a double meaning. The pictures show the literal planting and harvesting of vegetables, while the text talks about planting seeds of kindness rather than selfishness. There’s no question about the message here, and there is much to enjoy in the faces and gestures of these charming animals.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

Chasing Secrets by Gennifer Choldenko

Cover image for Chasing secretsIn Chasing Secrets by Gennifer Choldenko, Lizzie’s father is a doctor and one of her favorite things to do is visit patients with him, even though that’s not something girls really do in 1900. She discovers a hidden dark side of the city of San Francisco where she lives, including rumors that the plague is there. Then the family’s Chinese cook goes missing just when Chinatown is quarantined, and Lizzie is determined to find him—he is part of her family after all. Ignoring the rules of race and class, Lizzie must put the pieces together in a heart-stopping race to save the people she loves. This book brought to life a time and place in America’s history that children may not know much about.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

Kate & Pippin by Martin Springett

Cover image for Kate & Pippin : an unlikely love storyWho doesn’t love a good unlikely animal friends story? Kate & Pippin by Martin Springett is a true story, complete with adorable photographs! Kate is a Great Dane. When a fawn who has been abandoned by her mother wanders onto Kate’s farm, she cares for her. Though Pippin can’t stay with Kate forever, they will always have a bond. This early reader nonfiction is perfect for 1st graders.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff

Cover image for Lost in the sunIn Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff, 12-year-old Trent used to love sports and had lots of friends, but 6 months ago all that changed—a boy died after getting hit in the chest with a hockey puck. And guess who hit that hockey puck? So Trent is having a rough year to say the least. His tense visits with his standoffish dad aren’t helping. His homeroom teacher, who he calls the “wrinkled old crone,” forcing him to water her plants after school isn’t helping. The only things that may be helping are his “Book of Thoughts” and the unexpected friendship that’s springing up with Fallon Little, the outcast girl with the scar across her face. Lost in the Sun is a heartfelt and emotional story from a boy’s point of view, with a little bit of sports thrown in.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley

Cover image for The war that saved my lifeThe War That Saved My Life by Kimberley Brubaker Bradley is the profoundly moving story of how one girl’s life is forever altered by events surrounding World War II. Ada has never left the tiny apartment she shares with her mother and younger brother Jamie; her mother won’t let her because she is ashamed of Ada for being born with a clubfoot. Lacking any support, Ada has never even really learned to walk. But when word spreads that London may soon be bombed, families begin shipping children out of the city, and Ada does not want to be left behind. She secretly teaches herself to walk and sneaks out with Jamie to board a train to the countryside. In the care of Susan Smith, Ada’s world expands beyond what she ever imagined. She teaches herself to ride a pony, watches for German spies, and even learns to read. At the same time, she is struggling with learning how to trust Susan and to believe in herself. The War That Saved My Life is an inspiring story of triumph against all odds. Ada’s journey will stay with you long after you turn the last page.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

Shooting at the Stars: The Christmas Truce of 1914 by John Hendrix

Cover image for Shooting at the stars : the Christmas truce of 1914During the First World War, enemy soldiers were often camped out in trenches, with only a hundred feet of “No Man’s Land” between them. A virtual miracle occurred one Christmas Eve, when soldiers on both sides came out of their trenches singing “Silent Night” and shaking each other’s hands. The strangers ceased fighting while they exchanged personal items and even struck up a game of football with an old biscuit tin. History comes to life in this amazing story, told through vivid illustrations and a letter from a young soldier to his mother back home. Shooting at the Stars and other Picture Books for Older Readers are not only useful for the classroom, but they are just plain fun and fascinating to read.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

The Numberlys by William Joyce

Cover image for The NumberlysOnce upon a time, there was no alphabet. Only numbers. Everyone liked numbers, but there weren’t any books or colors or jellybeans or pizza. Then five friends started wondering if they could so something… MORE. In The Numberlys, most of the book is read sideways, and the illustrations (though mostly in only gray tones) are vibrant and almost 3-dimensional. The author William Joyce is the creator of The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore, which is a book, an app, and an Oscar-winning short film. 

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

Mix it Up by Herve Tullet

Cover image for Mix it up!This French author first got my attention with Press Here, which came out in the U.S. a few years ago. He has several interactive books. They look very simple…and yet are so ingenious! Tullet takes the idea of a touch screen and puts it in a book. Readers are invited to push, rub, tilt, and otherwise interact with the books. To see the results of your actions just turn the page.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

Hilda and the Black Hound by Luke Pearson

Cover image for Hilda and the black houndI read a lot of graphic novels, and the Hilda series is one of my all-time favorites! First of all, just look at her—she’s got blue hair and cute red boots. The setting of each of the Hilda books is sort of a realistic world but with some mythical, magical, and fantastical elements, such as little elves that live in your house (who are mostly invisible to you). Hilda is very curious and a little mischievous; she does not always do what she is told, but she does always have noble and kind intentions. In Hilda and the Black Hound, Hilda is trying to earn patches for the Sparrow Scouts, but gets distracted by a creature she meets in the woods after wandering away from camp. Meanwhile, the whole town is terrified because of multiple sightings of an enormous wolf-like creature.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

10 Little Insects by Davide Cali 

Cover image for 10 little insects10 Little Insects by Davide Cali is a graphic novel parody of Agatha Christie’s 10 Little Indians (also titled And Then There Were None). Even if you haven’t read that, you may still recognize this classic mystery formula. A bunch of people, or in this case bugs, are invited to a mansion for the weekend. Each has been lured there for a different reason and once there, they begin dying mysteriously one by one. The surviving insects work together to solve the mystery of which one of them is the killer and the real reason why they have all been brought there. I would recommend this for kids who like graphic novels, mysteries, and have an off-the wall sense of humor. The comic panels work particularly well for throwing in a lot of extra jokes!

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator