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Staff Picks 4 Kids

Where I Live by Eileen Spinelli

syndetics-lcWhere I Live by Eileen Spinelli is a novel in poems written by a young girl, maybe about 9 years old. She writes about her house, her family, and most of all her best friend, Rose. She is devastated when her father loses his job and they have to move to Pittsburgh and live with Grandpa Joe. The poems vary in length and style, and some are much deeper than others. The pencil illustrations add to the story.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

By lbos on July 22, 2013 Categories: For Grades 2-4, Picks by Erin E., Realistic Stories

Secret Letters from 0 to 10 by Susie Morgenstern

syndetics-lcHumdrum and boring, that is the sad life of our hero, ten-year-old Ernest Morlaisse, who lives in Paris with his very old, very quiet grandmother.  It’s the same old breakfast, same old route to school, same old healthy snack, no phone, no TV, and no computer.  But, believe it or not, Ernest is actually okay with all this, since he doesn’t really know any better.  That is, until Victoria, the new girl in class, scoops him up into her boisterous, messy, wonderful life in a huge, loving family, and he discovers the fun of even simple everyday things like grocery shopping, running in the park, and holding a baby.  He even gets the courage to search for his long-missing father.  Secret Letters from 0 to 10 by Susie Morgenstern is a feel-good story, packed with humor and heart that says it’s okay to live life in a BIG way!

Book reviewed by Mary Ann S., Assistant Head of Youth Services

By lbos on June 24, 2013 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Picks by Mary Ann S., Realistic Stories

Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy

syndetics-lcLife in rural Afghanistan is pretty tough for thirteen-year-old Zulaikha, the main character in Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy.  Born with a cleft lip and teeth that stick straight out, she is constantly teased by the boys in her neighborhood and endures stares every time she goes to the market place.  Her older sister, Zeynab, is beautiful, and her strongest supporter.  Her real mother is deceased and instead she now has to deal with a crabby, pregnant, stepmother who only cares about having a son.  Things start to look up for her when, by chance, she meets an American soldier who says that he has a way that she can get corrective facial surgery at the Army base-and for free!  Also, around the same time, she meets a kind literature professor who offers to teach her how to read and write, in hopes that she can maybe attend school one day.  However, Zulaikha must juggle all of that with her sister’s upcoming wedding to a not-so-nice older gentleman, as well as problems with the helicopter flight that is supposed to take her to meet the American doctor.  Will she have the facial surgery? Does she learn to read and write and eventually attend school?  You will have to read the book to find out!


By lbos on June 3, 2013 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Realistic Stories

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

About Average by Andrew Clements

syndetics-lcIn the book called About Average, Jordan was a sixth-grader who considered herself very average.  She made a special list of things she was good at (just a few), things she was okay at, and things she stunk at.  Unfortunately, the list got into the hands of a girl who made her life miserable because of it. Jordan’s goal was to do something extraordinary by the end of the year.  During the last week of school, she accomplished this in a very surprising way.

Book reviewed by Mary Lou H., Youth Services Assistant

By lbos on February 25, 2013 Categories: For Grades 2-4, For Grades 4-6, Picks by Mary Lou H., Realistic Stories

Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur

syndetics-lcIn Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur, 11-year-old Aubrey thinks she can live on her own. She pretends everything is fine and survives on Cheerios, Spaghetti-Os, crackers, and cheese and even buys a pet fish to keep her company!  In time, her grandmother learns that she is living alone and takes Aubrey back with her to Vermont for some healing, love, and structured family life.  While learning how to heal, Aubrey makes a best friend and receives some good advice.

Will she find her mother?  Will her physical and mental pain ever subside? Can she overcome the terrible tragedy that has turned her life upside down?  This 4-tissue book is heartfelt and beautifully written!  Recommended for grades 4-6.

Book reviewed by Carol C., Elementary School Liaison 

By lbos on December 10, 2012 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Picks by Carol C., Realistic Stories

Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume

syndetics-lcTales of a Fourth Grade Nothing by Judy Blume. Peter Hatcher has a two-and-a-half-year-old little brother named Fudge who is a one kid wrecking crew.  This little kid is constantly causing trouble for Peter in one way or another: Fudge scribbles all over his poster project for school, throws a fit in a restaurant and smears mashed potatoes on the wall, tries to fly at the playground while Peter is supposed to be watching him and breaks out his front teeth, and refuses to eat unless he can pretend he’s a dog and eat with his plate on the floor.  Peter wishes they could just trade Fudge in for a real Cocker Spaniel. Worst of all, Fudge gets all the attention and almost NEVER even gets in trouble for anything he does!  Luckily Peter has his best friend Jimmy and his cool pet turtle Dribble.  But Fudge goes way too far when he messes with Dribble the turtle—I don’t want to give away the ending, but Fudge ends up in the hospital! If you have a little brother or sister, you will definitely be able to relate to Peter’s story—but anybody who likes funny stories will love this book.


By bjones on November 26, 2012 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Funny, Realistic Stories

The Thing About Georgie by Lisa Graff

Thing About GeorgieThe Thing About Georgie by Lisa Graff. The thing about Georgie is he is short, really short–in fact, he is a dwarf.  This was okay when Georgie was an only child, but now his parents are having another baby.  How long, Georgie wonders, before Baby Godzilla (as Georgie likes to call his sibling-to-be) is taller than he is?  If that wasn’t bad enough, Georgie has been cast as Abraham Lincoln, the tallest president, in the school play.  Oh, and did I mention that his best friend is no longer talking to him?  Life does not seem to be going his way.  But the thing about Georgie is, there is a lot more to him than just one thing.  In the end, he will surprise you.  I loved this book and hope you will also love learning all the things about Georgie. 

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

By bjones on November 5, 2012 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Picks by Mary S., Realistic Stories

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Dead End in NorveltIn Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos, Jack ends up getting grounded for an ENTIRE SUMMER through no fault of his own—he couldn’t have known that rifle was loaded, and his dad actually told him to cut down his mom’s corn plants. Instead of playing baseball with his best friend, he ends up helping his crazy elderly neighbor write obituaries as the oldest residents of their town die one after the other.  Oh, and he gets nosebleeds about every other page—especially when he sees dead bodies (yes, he sees more than one!).  This is a very, very funny and sometimes slightly ghoulish story about a kid who, like it or not, learns a little about life—and death.


By bjones on October 22, 2012 Categories: Award Winners, For Grades 4-6, Funny, Realistic Stories

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

WonderIn Wonder by R. J. Palacio, August (Auggie) Pullman’s favorite things are anything Star Wars related and his Xbox.  As a result, he sounds like every other 10-year-old boy out there except for one major factor—he has some pretty jarring facial deformities. Auggie has been homeschooled all of his life, due to the numerous surgeries he has had to have over the years.  Now that he will be starting fifth grade, his parents think that it is time for him to start at a regular school.  He is both excited and worried at the prospect of this idea. While he longs to play sports and make friends like every kid, once he starts at Beecher Prep he quickly becomes an easy target for the class bully.  He also is very close with his older sister, Via, who has just started high school and is having her own issues with friendships and finding herself.  I think that the author was very smart to have the different chapters of the book told from various points of view—not just from Auggie’s and Via’s perspectives, but also from several of his classmates.  I also believe that this book teaches a lot of good lessons on how to be a good friend and a good sibling.


By bjones on September 10, 2012 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Realistic Stories