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Staff Picks 4 Kids

The Great Trouble: A Mystery of London, The Blue Death, and A Boy Called Eel by Deborah Hopkinson

syndetics-lcWant to read an action-packed historical fiction novel that is set in the 1850s? Then look no further! Follow Eel, a boy who spends his days searching for small treasures in the disgusting muck of the river Thames. As if his luck isn’t bad enough, bad guy Fisheye Bill Taylor is after him AND his neighbors are beginning to get sick and die of cholera, a horrible disease. Read this riveting book to discover if Eel can keep out of Fisheye’s way while he tries to help his friends and keep his secrets safe.

Book reviewed by Amy S., Youth Services Assistant

By lbos on August 18, 2014 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Historical Fiction, Picks by Amy S.

Waiting For the Queen: A Novel of Early America by Joanna Higgins

syndetics-lcMeet Eugenie:  a teen from a noble family who must travel to a French settlement in America to escape possible execution in the midst of the French Revolution.  Meet Hannah:  a young Quaker girl who lives a simple life with her family. In Waiting For the Queen, by Joanna Higgins, these girls’ lives intersect when Hannah’s family is hired to wait on Eugenie and her fellow French aristocrats as they struggle to adapt to the rustic settlement. Eugenie suffers major culture shock when she discovers her new house is a shack instead of a palace, while Hannah has difficulty being forced to curtsy when her religion teaches that everyone is equal.  Read this riveting novel to find out how they try to adjust to their constantly changing lives.

Book reviewed by Amy S., Youth Services Assistant

By lbos on July 14, 2014 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Historical Fiction, Picks by Amy S.

Odette’s Secrets by MaryAnn MacDonald

syndetics-lcOdette lives in Paris with her father and mother, and the only thing that could make her life better is if she could have a cat, but that is about to change when the Nazi army invades Paris. In this historical fiction novel in verse, Odette’s Secret by Mary Ann MacDonald, Odette and her family face the challenge of surviving World War Two. This is an even harder challenge for them, because Odette’s family has Polish Jewish heritage. Odette’s mother, fearing for her daughter’s safety when her father is taken as a prisoner of war, sends Odette to the countryside to stay safe. In the country, Odette must act like any other child that is not Jewish. If she can do this, she could be safe, but will the rest of her family be safe too? This novel is based on the true story of Odette Meyer and is written in free verse, which is like poetry, but tells a story like a regular novel. If you are interested in the courageous journey Odette and her family took in World War Two, I would check out Odette’s Secret.


Book reviewed by Laura B., Youth Technology Librarian

By lbos on February 24, 2014 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Historical Fiction, Picks by Laura B.

The Ugly One by Leanne Statland Ellis

syndetics-lcMicay thinks that she will be bullied forever because of the large scar on her face. In her ancient Incan village, boys constantly call her the ugly one. However, one day a stranger comes to their mountain village on his way to the Sacred Sun City of Machu Picchu. He gives Micay a baby macaw as a gift. Will this new friend help Micay find her voice against her bullies or will she be destined to be the ugly one forever?

Book reviewed by Laura B., Youth Technology Librarian


By lbos on December 23, 2013 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Historical Fiction, Picks by Laura B.

A City Tossed and Broken: The Diary of Minnie Bonner (Dear America Series) by Judy Blundell

syndetics-lcCan you imagine your family being so poor that at 14 you were contracted to a wealthy family to be a servant?  Not only that, but you had to leave your home in Philadelphia and cross the country to San Francisco.  Part of Minnie’s job was to be a companion to Lily, a girl who was close to her own age.  A short time after they arrived in San Francisco, a powerful earthquake hit.  Minnie was in the kitchen when it happened and was safe, but Lily and the rest of the family did not survive.  The lawyer/guardian thought that Minnie was Lily, and she decided to continue this pretense so she would be taken care of.  Minnie had also found a strongbox of money and bonds that she was able to bury until she could come back for it.  Will Minnie be able to live a life of luxury or will she decide she can’t live a lie and tell the truth?  The ending will surprise you.

Book reviewed by Mary Lou H., Youth Services Assistant

By lbos on June 10, 2013 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Historical Fiction, Picks by Mary Lou H.

The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano by Sonia Manzano

syndetics-lcRosa Evelyn Serrano doesn’t like living in Spanish Harlem. Everyone is named Rosa, so she goes by Evelyn. It smells all the time, because the city doesn’t clean up the garbage. And she can’t understand her mother, with her ugly decorations and how she’s practically a slave to her husband and the bodega. Then Evelyn’s grandmother comes to town, with her brightly dyed hair, too high heels, and radical ideas that Evelyn’s mother can’t stand. When some college kids start cleaning up the streets and demanding food and shelter for the neighborhood’s poor, everyone takes a side. Abuela is reminded of the protests she went to in Puerto Rico for its independence, and Evelyn is inspired by the promise of change. But can they convince Evelyn’s mom and the rest of the neighborhood that this is a good change? And will it make a difference? Read this book for a heartfelt, but fun story about growing up, learning where you come from, and standing up for what you believe in.


Book reviewed by Claire B., Outreach Coordinator

By lbos on May 20, 2013 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Historical Fiction, Picks by Claire B

Sophia’s War by Avi

syndetics-lcSophia believes that the United States of America should be free from British rule. While her brother fights for freedom with General Washington, she lives with her parents in British occupied New York City. When her parents are forced to house a British soldier, Lieutenant John Andre, Sophia finds him quite interesting. However, when her brother ends up captured and later dies, she blames Andre for his inaction to help her family. Wanting to avenge her brother and fight for freedom, she becomes an American spy, and uncovers a betrayal and plan that could end the American Revolution with the British winning. Will she be able to let the American troops know about the plan in time? Read Sophia’s War to find out!

Book reviewed by Laura B., Youth Technology Librarian

By lbos on March 11, 2013 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Historical Fiction, Picks by Laura B.

Crow by Barbara Wright

syndetics-lcMoses is an African American boy, living in North Carolina 30 years after slavery ended. He’s having a lazy summer, finding shells at the beach, going swimming in the watering hole, and listening to the stories his boo nanny (grandmother) tells. But then his father’s boss publishes an article in the paper that makes a lot of people angry and everything changes. That’s when militia men start taking over the city, and it becomes clear that it is not safe to be African American anymore. Moses has to decide whether to be brave and stand up for what’s right, or keep quiet to avoid trouble.

If you like historical fiction and want to learn more about the time after slavery, check out this book. The story does deal with some tough topics, but it will give you a better idea of a time that isn’t covered in a lot of history books. It moves a little slow at the beginning, but once the story really gets going, you’ll be glad you stuck around. The characters are well developed and there is a sense of place that makes you feel like a part of the action, and makes it hard to put the book down.

Book reviewed by Claire B., Outreach Coordinator

By lbos on January 28, 2013 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Historical Fiction, Picks by Claire B

Black Radishes by Susan Lynn Meyer


Gustave and his family are Jewish, and they live in Paris, France. During World War II, Gustave and his family leave Paris as the Nazis are getting closer to France. Ultimately, the Nazis do invade France, and a group of French citizens start the French Resistance to help Jewish people get to safer places. If you are interested in historical fiction, Black Radishes by Susan Lynn Meyer is a great example, really giving the reader a glimpse of what it was like to be Jewish in France during World War II. There are multiple viewpoints, with some characters supporting the Jews, and some characters against the Jews. Caudill Nominee. Appropriate for fifth grade and up.

Book reviewed by Anne W., Youth Services Assistant

By lbos on January 14, 2013 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Historical Fiction, Picks by Anne W.

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Inside Out & Back AgainInside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai. This novel was written in short, free-verse poems which initially made it hard to get into, but eventually I didn’t even notice it anymore.  The book is set in Vietnam during the time of the Vietnam War. 10-year-old Ha sadly learns that her mother wants to get her and her three brothers out of there before things get even worse.  Traveling by boat, their first stop is a tent city in Guam and from there they move on to Florida.  After finally finding a sponsor there whom Ha calls “the cowboy”, they are taken to live with him and his unfriendly wife in Alabama.  There, Ha and her family experience major culture shock, and she is constantly teased and tormented by her classmates.  She slowly begins to assimilate with the help of a nice neighbor/teacher who had lost a son in the Vietnam War.  I found this book to be very interesting, especially after reading that it was somewhat based on the author’s own experiences.


By bjones on November 19, 2012 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Historical Fiction