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Staff Picks 4 Kids

A Drowned Maiden’s Hair by Laura Amy Schlitz

syndetics-lcIn A Drowned Maiden’s Hair by Laura Amy Schlitz, eleven-year-old Maud was thrilled when the Hawthorne sisters chose her to adopt over all the other little girls in the orphanage. She was given new clothes, her own books and her own room – so what did it matter that she was supposed to be a “secret child,” never to be seen by anyone outside the family, never to go out of the house? When eventually Maud learns what her role in the “family business” is, she eagerly joins in. Until she understands how she’s part of a scam, and actually hurting people she cares about. How much does Maud owe the Hawthorne sisters? And what will it cost Maud to do what she knows is right?

Book reviewed by Loreen S., Youth Services Library Assistant

The Last Rider: The Final Days of the Pony Express by Jessica Gunderson

syndetics-lcThe Last Rider: The Final Days of the Pony Express by Jessica Gunderson is a great book.

Matt Edgars longs for his life the way it used to be when he lived in Kansas and helped his dad with the horses and the farm.  Since his dad had died, he and his Mom moved to San Francisco, but as he got older, he eagerly watched for ways to fill his life with new adventures.  When he saw a poster advertising for boys his age to become riders on horseback to carry the mail between San Francisco, California and St. Joseph, Missouri, he was thrilled to get a job as a Pony Express Rider.  He worked hard getting the mail delivered, with the added challenges of wild animals, dangerous snakes, and desert heat — even keeping ahead of someone who was setting fire to the Express stations!  Delivering President Abraham Lincoln’s Inaugural Address took seven days and seventeen hours — the fastest piece of mail delivered by the Pony Express riders.  If you like historical fiction, you’ll enjoy this story about the last days of the Pony Express, which helped make quick communication possible between the new Western States and the East before the telegraph was invented.

Book reviewed by Jan P., Preschool and Child Care Liaison

By MPPL on May 6, 2008 Categories: Historical Fiction, Picks by Jan P.

Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi

syndetics-lcCould you ever imagine yourself living in 14th century England, in a land oflords and bishops, knights and pilgrims, a  strange place eloquently landscaped with medieval castles and  cathedrals, small  towns  and….devastated by The Plague?  Avi’s mystery, Crispin: The Cross of Lead, begins with a 13 year-old boy who lives in a poor peasant village. Soon after his mother’s death, the evil village steward, John Aycliffe, falsely accuses the young orphan of stealing and even murder. Afraid and  alone, Crispin flees for his life, through the vast wilderness to a nearby town, where he meets a large, gruffy street jugglerwho calls himself “Bear.” Crispin, in fear for his own safety, reluctantly swears to become Bear’s servant. The mystery grows, as Crispin learns his friend is involved with an underground society and this digs them into a more dangerous plot.  Off they go together, anxiously in pursuit of freedom: Crispin, searching for his real identity, and Bear, defending his new friend and his own life as well. Terror at every corner, filled with complicated turns and twists, this adventure story is guaranteed to be a page turner for all ages.

Book reviewed by Darice C., Library Assistant

By MPPL on October 30, 2007 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Historical Fiction, Picks by Darice C.

Yankee Girl by Mary Ann Rodman

syndetics-lcDid you ever wonder what it was like for kids during the civil rights movement in 1964?  In Yankee Girl, by Mary Ann Rodman, a white sixth-grader named Alice Ann Moxley moves to Mississippi from Chicago.  She is surprised and dismayed at how she is treated by the people in the South because of her accent and her ideals.  It is very difficult for her to make friends.  When the first of two black students at her school arrive, she ends up in the midst of racial turmoil, especially because her dad is an FBI agent sent to Mississippi to help keep peace.  She has a hard decision to make—whether to follow the crowd or to follow her heart.  As you’re reading the book, see if you would make the same decisions that Alice did.

– Book reviewed by Mary Lou H., Youth Library Assistant

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Accents and Southern custom, it turns out, are the least of Alice Ann Moxley’s troubles in her new Mississippi hometown in the novel Yankee Girl by Mary Ann Rodman.  The year is 1964, and Alice’s FBI-agent father has been reassigned from Chicago to Jackson to protect black people who are registering to vote.  Alice knows from the news that down South the Ku Klux Klan has burned down Negro churches and that civil right workers have been murdered.  She is torn between reaching out to the one black girl in her class in a newly-integrated school and doing what it takes to hang out with the popular crowd.  And when you’re finished reading the book, I’m sure you’ll be wondering, “What would I have done in her place?”

By MPPL on September 17, 2007 Categories: Historical Fiction, Picks by Mary Lou H.