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Staff Picks 4 Kids

Countdown by Deborah Wiles

CountdownIn Countdown by Deborah Wiles, Franny and her brother have to practice what to do if a nuclear bomb falls on their city. It is 1962, and President Kennedy is trying to manage the Cuban Missile Crisis. There are pictures, songs, and actual news stories interspersed in the story to give a feel for what it was like to live in 1962. Franny is growing up and having a hard time keeping her friendships going. Uncle Ott is having war flashbacks and is trying to get the whole neighborhood ready to build their own bomb shelter. Franny’s older sister keeps getting mysterious letters that she locks in her trunk and won’t let anyone see. Will Franny find out what her older sister is hiding? Will Uncle Ott destroy the front yard to build his bomb shelter? Will Franny and her best friend get to save their friendship? Read more to find out!

Book reviewed by Anne W., Youth Services Assistant

By bjones on September 17, 2012 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Historical Fiction, Picks by Anne W.

Emily’s Fortune by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Emily's FortuneTry Emily’s Fortune by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor for a rootin’ tootin’ good read.  Follow Emily’s adventure after she is suddenly orphaned and has to head out west to live with her aunt.  Along the way Emily has to outsmart Child Catching Services and hide from a greedy Uncle who is after her fortune. But how in tumblin’ tarnation could she do that? Well, with the help of fellow orphan Jackson that’s how. So hold on to your hat for a wild ride through the wild west filled with crazy cliffhangers and exciting illustrations.  Recommended for cowboys and girls looking for a fast fun read.

Book reviewed by Keary B., Youth Collection Specialist



By bjones on February 10, 2012 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Historical Fiction, Picks by Keary B.

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

One Crazy SummerIn One Crazy Summer eleven year-old Delphine has been taking care of her younger sisters since her mother, Cecile, abandoned them seven years ago.  When her father sends the girls to spend the summer with Cecile in California, they are hoping for trips to Disneyland and a chance to get to know their mother.   At first, Cecile is too busy writing poetry to spend time with her daughters.  Then Cecile is arrested, and Delphine learns some surprising information that changes the way she thinks about her mother.
Although I enjoyed getting to know Delphine, the plot of the book moved rather slowly.  I would mainly recommend this title to die-hard historical fiction fans who are interested in learning more about the Civil Rights Movement.  

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head


By MPPL on April 11, 2011 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Historical Fiction, Picks by Mary S., Realistic Stories

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Moon Over ManifestIf you like mysteries and old-fashioned stories, then this Newbery-award-winning book is for you. In Moon Over Manifest, Abilene Tucker’s father, Gideon,sends her to live with his friend Pastor Shady in Manifest, Kansas, where he grew up. Abilene hopes to find out more about her father from the people who live there. Abilene finds an old box of treasures and some letters from World War I between two people named Ned and Jinx. With help from Miss Sadie, the town fortuneteller, Abilene discovers why these objects and letters are important. The story jumps between Abilene’s time in 1936 and Ned and Jinx’s time in 1917. Who is Jinx? Will Abilene solve the mystery of who the Rattler is? Read more to find out!

Book reviewed by Anne W., Youth Services Assistant

The Great Death by John Smelcer

Great Death The Great Death by John Smelcer. When white men came to explore and settle in Alaska among the Native Americans early in the 1900’s, they didn’t bring only food, canoes, and other supplies. They also inadvertently brought along diseases, diseases that they had immunity to, but diseases that killed many, many Native Americans, sometimes erasing entire villages and whole tribes. Native Americans called it the time of “The Great Death.” And yet, occasionally, inexplicably, some few Native Americans would survive the plague. This is the story of two young sisters who did survive, and their long travel in search of other survivors, people they might be able to live with. With wild dogs, wolves, bears, and moose, this is an exciting, fast moving tale!

Book Reviewed by Loreen S., Youth Services Assistant

By MPPL on June 6, 2010 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Historical Fiction, Picks by Loreen S.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

Evolution of Calpurnia Tate In The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, it’s 1899 in Texas and 11-year-old Calpurnia is expected to knit socks and study the proper use of a hankie, but instead she’d rather be a scientist.  Together with her grandfather, she conducts scientific experiments and writes her observations in a notebook.  Her experiments lead to many surprises such as when sweet, woolly Petey the Caterpilllar turns into a giant (and frighteningly creepy) moth.  Wasn’t he supposed to be a beautiful butterfly?  Or when the Smithsonian Institute officially declares that she and her grandfather have discovered a new species of plant.  Whether she is cutting off her hair an inch at a time so her mother won’t notice or getting her brother in trouble for having a new girlfriend, tomboy Calpurnia is sure to make you smile.  (For grade 5 and up)

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head


By MPPL on May 10, 2010 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Historical Fiction, Picks by Mary S., Realistic Stories

Wishing for Tomorrow: The Sequel to A Little Princess by Hilary McKay

Wishing for Tomorrow If you enjoyed reading A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett, you will probably like Wishing for Tomorrow: The Sequel to A Little Princess by Hilary McKay also! I always wondered what happened to the girls in Miss Minchin’s School after Sara Crewe left. Now you can find out too! Lavinia, Ermengarde, and Lottie all have numerous adventures. Good for third grade and up.

Book reviewed by Anne W., Youth Services Assistant


By MPPL on April 26, 2010 Categories: For Grades 2-4, Historical Fiction, Picks by Anne W.

The Mozart Question by Michael Morpurgo

Mozart Question Stories of the Holocaust can pull at your heart, and that is certainly true of The Mozart Question by Michael Morpurgo.  Even as a very young boy in post World War II Venice, Paoli Levi was drawn to play and study the violin.  He knew his parents would never approve though–but why?  Slowly, gently, he learns the reason that lay hidden for many years in his parents’ memories of their imprisonment in a concentration camp.  A story told through words and drawings, this book looks not only at the cruelty and sadness of war, but also at the healing power of music and family.  I recommend it to 4th through 7th graders who would like to read a heartfelt, sensitive book.

Review by Mary Ann S., Assistant Head of Youth Services

When young journalist Lesley is sent to Venice to interview world-renowned violinist Paolo Levi, she is warned not to ask the forbidden “Mozart Question”. As she meets Paolo, it is the musician himself who decides to speak about his mysterious background. Paolo heartfully reveals the truth about his haunting past, and the journalist begins to see how one group of musicians were kept alive by playing their music. This story reveals the beauty of music to bring people together, and inspire the heart even through the most difficult times.

Review by Darice C., Youth Services Assistant

By MPPL on August 11, 2009 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Historical Fiction, Picks by Darice C., Picks by Mary Ann S.

The Houdini Box by Brian Selznick

syndetics-lcRecently I started reading about the legendary magician and escape artist, Harry Houdini, and I think he’s fascinating.  The Houdini Box by Brian Selznick is about a boy who wants to be just like Houdini.  Victor attempts to perform tricks like escaping from a locked trunk and walking through a wall.  Then by a VERY lucky coincidence, Victor actually gets to meet Houdini!  What happens next might show Victor just what he’s been looking for his whole life– the keys to performing Houdini’s magic.  If you’re a fan of Hugo Cabret, definitely check this one out! 

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Programming Coordinator

By MPPL on April 21, 2009 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Historical Fiction, Picks by Erin E.

Uprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix

syndetics-lcUprising by Margaret Peterson Haddix is a story about three girls working in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory during the horrible fire there in 1911 that killed almost 200 people. People were unhappy with the poor pay and terrible working conditions and had gone on strike.  One thing the owners of the factory would do was lock the girls in because they were worried they might steal things and run away.  The first girl is Bella, from Italy, who is trying to send money home to support her mother and siblings.  The second girl is Yetta, a Jewish girl from Russia who is living with her sister and is active in the strike movement.  The third girl is Jane, a rich widower’s daughter, who is tired of having a governess and having to deal with silly social engagements.  Who survives the fire and who does not? 


By MPPL on September 2, 2008 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Historical Fiction, Realistic Stories