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Staff Picks 4 Kids

Our Eleanor by Candace Fleming

Cover image for Our Eleanor : a scrapbook look at Eleanor Roosevelt's remarkable lifeWhat do you know about Eleanor Roosevelt?  Did you know that she was friends with Amelia Earhart and flew with her from Washington D.C. to Baltimore?  Eleanor even considered getting her own pilot’s license.  However, her husband, Franklin, vetoed the idea saying, “I know how Eleanor drives a car.  Imagine her flying an airplane!” (Eleanor was a terrible driver and once had as many as 3 car accidents on one journey.)

Did you know that she traveled at least 40,000 miles her first year in the White House?  She wanted to meet people firsthand and see the effects of the Great Depression.

Most importantly, Eleanor was a friend to the people.  She took a trip 2 1/2 miles underground to check the conditions of coal miners.  She visited the Puerto Rican slums and then urged the president to create a housing project there. She read aloud to orphan children and inspected their asylum.

These are just a few of the facts you will learn if you read Our Eleanor by Candace Fleming.  I promise you will be amazed by what you learn about this groundbreaking first lady.

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

By MPPL on October 7, 2014 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Non-fiction, Picks by Mary S.

Jinx by Sage Blackwood

syndetics-lcEvery child in Urwald Forest knows you never ever wander off the path.  So imagine six-year-old Jinx’s terror when his stepfather abandons him there.  Will he be eaten by trolls?  Or torn apart by werewolves?  Or maybe a witch will cast a spell on him?  Luckily, he is found by a wizard named Simon who needs an assistant.  Life as a wizard’s apprentice isn’t glamorous.  There’s the cleaning and the fetching and the cats—all 27 of them, but Simon doesn’t seem dangerous, only very grumpy.  Simon even decides to teach Jinx a little magic.  The problem is even though Jinx knows four languages, can speak to trees, and reads people’s minds, he is absolutely hopeless at learning spells.  He can’t even move the tiniest pebble with his mind or learn a concealment spell.  It seems to Jinx that he must be completely lacking in magical ability.  So imagine Jinx’s surprise when Simon casts a spell on him, making him collapse on the floor while his magic floats through the air in a golden ball for Simon to capture in a bottle.  It turns out that Jinx did have magical ability– a special kind of forest magic that Simon has stolen for his own.  Now Jinx must find Simon’s sworn enemy to ask him for help.  Will Jinx be able to get his magic back or will he just make things worse?

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

By MPPL on September 8, 2014 Categories: Fantasy, For Grades 4-6, Picks by Mary S.

Rooftoppers by Katherine Rundell

syndetics-lcSophie’s childhood has always been unusual, which might be expected from someone who began her life life floating the ocean in a cello case.  She is adopted by Charles, a scholar who knows more about Shakespeare than about raising children.  When Sophie breaks the plates, they begin eating off books.  When Sophie has an idea, Charles encourages her to write it on the walls.  And when Sophie believes she can find her mother, Charles helps her look even though everyone else assures her that her mother died in a shipwreck.  Because as Charles says, “Never ignore a possible.”   Her search brings her to France, where she meets Matteo, a boy who lives on the rooftops of Paris.  Matteo introduces Sophie to climbing drainpipes, eating roast pigeon, and exploring the world from above.  It is up here that Sophie hears the cello music that may lead her home.

After reading about Sophie’s exploits, you will never think about life down on the ground in quite the same way. This book is for readers in fourth grade and up who love magical adventures, quirky characters, and happy endings.

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

By lbos on July 21, 2014 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Picks by Mary S.

Zebra Forest by Adina Rishe Gewirtz

syndetics-lcEleven-year-old Annie lives in a house by the forest with her younger brother Rew and her grandmother.  One night she hears something suspicious in the kitchen and finds an escaped convict breaking in.  When Rew tries to run for help, the man grabs Annie in a chokehold and threatens to hurt her.  During the commotion Gran comes into the kitchen and says, “Andrew Snow.  Let go of my Annie B.”  Suddenly, Annie’s world is turned upside down.  Andrew Snow is her father, who is supposed to be dead.  Her life will never be the same again.

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

By lbos on May 5, 2014 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Picks by Mary S., Realistic Stories

Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

syndetics-lcHoly Bagumba, do you know what happens when a poor unsuspecting squirrel is sucked up by a super-duper vacuum cleaner and has to be given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation?  A superhero squirrel named Ulysses is born.

Mission 1:  Find food.  Being a superhero is hungry work.

Mission 2:  Find a place to live.  Flora, the girl who saved him, seems nice.

Mission 3:  Save the world.

Dangers are everywhere:  Flora’s mom wants to kill him.  A man attacks him with a knife.  And when he tries to fly, he lands smack into the door and gives himself a head injury.

Will Ulysses recover from his head wound?  Will he be able to accomplish heroic deeds?  And most importantly, will he be able to finish his poetry (He’s a writer as well as a superhero)?

Part comic strip, part novel, this story is a hoot!!   I defy you to stop laughing as you see Ulysses get his feet stuck in the waitress’ beehive hairdo or read his love poem to a donut.  I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did.

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

By lbos on March 31, 2014 Categories: Fantasy, For Grades 4-6, Picks by Mary S.

Tangle of Knots by Lisa Graff

syndetics-lcEleven year old Cady has lived in the orphanage with Miss Mallory since she was a baby.  Although Miss Mallory has a “Talent” for finding new homes for orphans, she does not seem to be able to find a place for Cady.  While Cady waits, she utilizes her Talent to bake cakes, hoping one day to bake a cake for her own adoption day.  Cady’s adventures intertwine with a family of children searching for their own Talents, a runaway balloonist, a missing dinosaur bone, and even a Talent thief until her story looks like a tangle of knots, but it may not be as tangled as it seems.  How this story unwinds will surprise you.

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

By lbos on January 20, 2014 Categories: Fantasy, For Grades 4-6, Picks by Mary S.

Hold Fast by Blue Balliett

syndetics-lcIn one short week, Early loses her father, her home, and her whole way of life. Her family is forced to stay in a homeless shelter while Sum, a stay-at home mom, looks for work. Early refuses to believe that her father abandoned his family and sets out to uncover the truth. Her detecting leads to unexpected twists and turns as she discovers what may be the answer to a years-old diamond theft mystery.  Will Early be able to find her father and save her family?

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

By lbos on December 16, 2013 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Mystery & Suspense, Picks by Mary S.

As Simple as It Seems by Sarah Weeks

syndetics-lcWhat would you do if you discovered everything you thought you knew about yourself was a lie? Feisty Verbena Colter gets mad. Then she goes supernatural. Since she doesn’t like who she is, she pretends she is a ghost. When she meets Pooch, a boy from New York City, she tricks him into believing she is the spirit of a drowned girl. This quickly complicates their budding friendship. Did you know that ghosts can only eat white food, get wrinkled when they are wet, and can only fly when they are well rested? The lies keep coming as Verbena struggles to stop Pooch from learning the truth. Then one day Verbena and Pooch get themselves into a mess and need her ghostly powers to save them. What will a very human girl do to save her friend?

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

By lbos on November 4, 2013 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Picks by Mary S., Realistic Stories

The One and Only Ivan by Kathy Applegate

syndetics-lcIt’s not easy being a gorilla.  Just ask Ivan, who lives at the Big Top Mall.  He once roamed the jungle.  Now he lives in a small cage where he drinks Pepsi, eats old apples, and watches reruns on TV.   The good things in his life are Bob the stray dog, Stella the performing elephant, and his art.  Most days Ivan likes to draw.  His drawings sell for $20 each in the gift shop.  But when he gets tired of drawing, he eats the crayons.

Ivan thinks he will live in the mall for the rest of his life.  Then one day Ruby arrives.  Ruby is an elephant, kidnapped from the wild and brought to the mall to do circus tricks.  The problem is she is just a baby and doesn’t know how to perform.  Suddenly, Ivan sees his life differently.  He has someone to protect and a purpose—finding a new home for Ruby and himself.  Will he be able to use his art to make it happen?

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

By lbos on April 22, 2013 Categories: Award Winners, For Grades 4-6, Picks by Mary S.

Mr. and Mrs. Bunny—Detectives Extraordinaire! by Polly Horvath

syndetics-lcMadeline’s granola-eating, tie-dye wearing, hippie parents aren’t the most responsible adults, but now they have gotten themselves kidnapped by foxes and it’s up to Madeline to save them.  Luckily for her, she stumbles upon Mr. and Mrs. Bunny—Detectives Extraordinaire!  The only clue to her parents’ whereabouts is a note on the fridge signed “The Enemy” and a file card written in secret code.  Every bunny knows that marmots are the best decoders.  Unfortunately, bunnies don’t like marmots.  They are annoying and never bring cake when they come to visit—how rude!!  Undeterred, Madeline and the bunnies bring The Marmot to the Olde Spaghetti Factory, where he is supposed to crack the code.  Just as it seems that they are about to get the first break in the case, The Marmot loses the card and can only remember one word “rubber.”   What does this mean and will it be enough to save Madeline’s parents?

This book will make you laugh out loud as you read about Mr. Bunny’s inventions (hopping roller skates) and Mrs. Bunny’s hobbies (lint art).  And you won’t want to miss the daring rescue—bunnies dressed as bloodhounds—need I say more?  I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

By lbos on April 1, 2013 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Funny, Mystery & Suspense, Picks by Mary S.