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Staff Picks 4 Kids

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

Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz

syndetics-lcClara Wintermute disappears on her twelfth birthday. Her parents are devastated, after having lost her three siblings to cholera. Everyone suspects the puppet master Grisini who performed at her birthday party. When he too disappears, his assistants, orphans Lizzie Rose and Parsefall, are left to figure out what happened to Clara. A mysterious letter from a faraway land adds to the mystery:  a rich older woman wants to leave all of her money to Lizzie Rose and Parsefall. But what she wants in return could change their lives forever. This is a pretty complex story, but it is also very exciting. Fans of historical fantasy and mystery may want to give Splendors and Glooms a chance. It’s also a 2013 Newberry Honor!

Book reviewed by Claire B., Outreach Coordinator


By lbos on April 15, 2013 Categories: Fantasy, For Grades 4-6, Mystery & Suspense, Picks by Claire B

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

syndetics-lcFrom the beginning, Georges can tell that Safer and his family are different. For one thing Safer and his sister are always home, and their parents let them choose their own names. But he’s happy to have a friend, especially since Georges father lost his job, they had to move from their house to an apartment, and his mother is never home. Georges becomes Safer’s first spy recruit and his mission is to uncover what their neighbor, the mysterious Mr. X is hiding. As Safer becomes more demanding, Georges starts to wonder about the boundaries of friendship. How far should he take this new game?

Book reviewed by Claire B., Outreach Coordinator

By lbos on March 25, 2013 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Picks by Claire B, Realistic Stories

Who Could That Be at This Hour? by Lemony Snicket

syndetics-lcFans of Lemony Snicket rejoice! He is back with the first book in a series about his strange childhood. When Lemony is 11, he goes to work as an apprentice for a detective. Their first job is to find a priceless sculpture that was stolen, but the mystery gets more complicated the more they find out. Lemony has to deal with a bully whose parents are the town police officers, a girl who seems like his friend, but keeps stealing from him, and a villain who seems to be behind it all. This book is written in the same style as the Series of Unfortunate Events, and is full of quirky humor and weird goings-on.  Just be prepared for a cliffhanger…don’t worry, there’s a sequel on the way!

Book reviewed by Claire B., Outreach Coordinator



By lbos on March 4, 2013 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Funny, Mystery & Suspense, Picks by Claire B, Uncategorized

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

Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom by Susin Nielsen

Dear George ClooneyDear Reader,

Meet Violet, the funny and quirky main character of Dear George Clooney, Please Marry My Mom by Susin Nielsen.  She’s a little bit angry these days because her father left her mother to live in a fancy house in LA with his new wife and adorable toddlers. Meanwhile, she’s still living in a falling-apart house in Vancouver, Canada, while her mother dates a series of losers. Also, the girls from school (Thing One and Thing Two) keep teasing her, and the boy she likes doesn’t seem to like her back. Things aren’t looking good for Violet, but that’s about to change because she has a plan. And it starts with getting rid of the newest boyfriend of her mother’s, Dudley Wiener, and finding a better one…like George Clooney! Along the way, Violet does some things she shouldn’t, visits the hospital twice, and makes some surprising friends. Get ready to cringe, laugh, and root for Violet!

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Coordinator

By bjones on November 12, 2012 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Funny, Picks by Claire B

50 Poisonous Questions by Tanya Lloyd Kyi

50 Poisonous QuestionsWhen you read 50 Poisonous Questions by Tanya Lloyd, you will learn a lot about poison, obviously, but also about history. Like the crazy medical treatments doctors used for George Washington’s fever…that ended up killing him! You’ll learn how to hunt with a frog.  Find out why the government is conspiring with your mom to make you eat vegetables. And learn whether some poisons can actually help people. With all your new knowledge you can solve the book’s puzzles about how people and animals have been poisoned. Prepare to be surprised and amused by these amazing true facts!

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Coordinator

By bjones on October 8, 2012 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Non-fiction, Picks by Claire B

Mirrorscape by Mike Wilks

MirrorscapeIn Mirrorscape by Mike Wilks, Mel lives in a world sort of like ours, except where he lives the five Mystery organizations control “pleasures”, or everything to do with the senses. That means you have to pay extra for your clothes to have color in them, or to eat food besides bread, water, and homegrown vegetables. Mel has lived in the country his whole life, drawing pictures in his spare time, until a famous artist asks him to come to the city and be one of his apprentices. It’s a dream come true…until he gets there. The head apprentice is jealous of Mel’s talent and the High Bailiff of the Fifth Mystery has got it in for him. Then he discovers a secret world inside of paintings where fantastical creatures, talking houses, and mines that seek inspiration (instead of minerals) exist. Mel and his friends find themselves in the middle of an epic battle between the Fifth Mystery and the people who want to keep pleasures affordable for everyone. This book celebrates art and creativity, and makes me want to start drawing. It also reminds me of another story with evil forces, a two-boy-and-one-girl trio of friends, and adventures that can’t seem to be avoided… Harry Potter, anyone?

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Coordinator

By bjones on July 23, 2012 Categories: Fantasy, For Grades 4-6, Picks by Claire B

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Dead End in NorveltGetting grounded for an entire summer was not Jack’s idea of a good time, but that’s what happens when he fires his dad’s WWII rifle by accident and cuts down all of his mother’s corn. (His dad made him cut down the corn!) Then his mother volunteers him to help his elderly neighbor with a strange task: writing obituaries for the Norvelt newspaper. Along the way, he dresses up as the Grim Reaper to check on an elderly resident, drives underage, has a run in with the Hells Angels, has quite a few nosebleeds, and learns that history is “the reason you remind yourself of the stupid stuff you’ve done in the past is so you don’t do it again.” Not to mention, he helps solve the mystery of why all the original residents of Norvelt keep dying. It’s a funny story with plenty of excitement and interesting characters. This year, Dead End in Norvelt won the Newbery Award! But just to warn you, this book talks about bloody noses and dead bodies.

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Coordinator

By bjones on March 13, 2012 Categories: Award Winners, For Grades 4-6, Funny, Picks by Claire B

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

Out of My Mind School is hard enough for most of us…imagine what it would be like if you couldn’t talk, or walk, or even feed yourself.  In Out of My Mind, Melody has this very problem. She has cerebral palsy, which makes it hard for her to even hold things. But she has an amazing mind and the capacity to remember almost everything she hears. She’d like to share her thoughts with her family, the kids at school, and be able to participate like everyone else, but most people just look right past her.
But things start to look up for Melody. She gets a communication device that talks for her and an aide who begins taking her to regular classes. Before you know it, she is taking a test to be on the school’s trivia team, and gets every question right! Will the other students finally start seeing the person she is and not just the disability? This book made me laugh, made me angry and sad at some of the things that happened to Melody, but also really happy to see the positive changes that happen for Melody. Give it a chance and this book will surprise you.

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Coordinator


By MPPL on April 18, 2011 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Picks by Claire B, Realistic Stories