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Staff Picks 4 Kids

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

Cover image for Bud, not BuddyThings have not been going well for ten-year-old Bud.  First, Todd, his foster brother, sticks a pencil up his nose while he’s sleeping.  Then when he defends himself, Todd beats him up and Bud is the one who is punished by being locked overnight in the shed.  There he sees a huge vampire bat, which he attacks with a rake.  Only it turns out the bat is really a hornet’s nest with about 6000 hornets heading straight for him.

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

By lbos on June 8, 2015 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Historical Fiction, Picks by Mary S.

Greenglass House by Kate Milford

Cover image for Greenglass HouseIt’s the middle of winter at Greenglass House, a smuggler’s inn on the side of a steep hill.  The only way up is a creaky old cable car or a long hike up the stairs.  The house used to belong to the famous smuggler Doc Holliday, who disappeared mysteriously some years ago.   Twelve-year old Milo thinks he will spend a relaxing vacation snowed in with just the owners (his parents), because who would want to stay at the hotel at this time of year?  Wrong!  Guests begin arriving out of nowhere, each one with their own secret agenda, turning Milo’s quiet holiday into chaos. Strange things begin to happen.  Milo finds a mysterious nautical map.  Who does it belong to and where does it lead?   Then items begin disappearing from the guests’ rooms.  Now it is up to Milo and his friend Meddy to follow the clues to find the thief and discover the secrets of the Greenglass House.

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

By lbos on March 23, 2015 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Mystery & Suspense, Picks by Mary S.

The Mark of the Dragonfly by Jaleigh Johnson

Cover image for The mark of the dragonflySince her father died, Piper has been dreaming of a way to buy herself an easier life.  When she finds an injured girl in the middle of a meteor storm, she thinks she has found her answer.   The girl, Anna, carries the Mark of the Dragonfly, which means she is under the protection of the king.  Piper thinks she will return Anna to her family, collect her reward, and begin her new life.  Things get more complicated when a scary man forces his way into Piper’s house and tries to kidnap Anna.  Piper and Anna begin a dangerous journey to find Anna’s family, during which they are stolen by slavers, discover magic, and even make some unexpected friends.

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

By lbos on December 29, 2014 Categories: Fantasy, For Grades 4-6, Picks by Mary S.

The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee by Laurie Cinotto

Cover image for The Itty Bitty Kitty CommitteeWhat’s not to love?  This book is full of cute photographs, useful tips for kitten care, and even advice letters from older cat Charlene Butterbean to her young charges.  Author Laurie Cinotto and her husband are foster parents for young kittens.  Six years ago, they adopted a fostered kitten named Charlene Butterbean.  When Charlene was about a year old, they tried fostering their first kitten.  Six years later, they have cared for nearly 200 kittens.  If you want a laugh, be sure to check out the kitten doing a Michael Jackson impression on page 57 or extreme naughtiness beginning on page 50.

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

By lbos on December 1, 2014 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Non-fiction, Picks by Mary S.

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.