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Staff Picks 4 Kids

The Year Money Grew on Trees by Aaron R. Hawkins

syndetics-lcIn The Year Money Grew on Trees by Aaron R. Hawkins, Jackson is only 14 years old when he makes an unusual deal with the neighbor lady next door.  She owns an orchard with 300 apple trees, but since her husband died a few years ago, no one has taken care of it.  If Jackson could get the orchard to produce apples again and make over $8,000, he could “maybe” become the owner.  He has no idea how to grow apples or how much money the apples would make if he did get to sell them.  He talks his cousins into helping him, and it is amazing what they go through to get the trees to produce apples.  After all their hard work, will he really get to keep the orchard, or was he being tricked by the neighbor lady and her son? 

Book reviewed by Mary Lou H., Youth Services Assistant


By bjones on February 20, 2012 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Picks by Mary Lou H., Realistic Stories

Greetings From Nowhere by Barbara O’Connor

Greetings From NowhereMost people send postcards from fun and exciting places they have visited such as Florida, Hawaii, or Australia.  In the book entitled Greetings From Nowhere by Barbara O’Connor, you probably wouldn’t find anyone sending a postcard from the Sleepy Time Motel in the Great Smoky Mountains.  Even the name sounds dull!

It is a run-down motel in the middle of nowhere, and there has not been a visitor there in almost three months!  But something very interesting happens when four families meet under somewhat unusual circumstances.  Read this book to find out how sometimes with a little bit of hope, you can find exactly what you need even in the middle of nowhere.

Book reviewed by Carol C., Elementary School Liaison

By bjones on January 16, 2012 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Picks by Carol C., Realistic Stories

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

WonderstruckIf you loved The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick’s latest novel Wonderstruck–told as two stories, one in words and one in pictures–will keep you reading until the very last page.  In 1977, twelve-year old Ben first loses his mother and soon after his hearing when he is struck by lightning. After discovering some clues in his mother’s belongings, he runs away to New York in search of his father.  Fifty years earlier, a deaf girl named Rose departs to find the movie star Lillian Mayhew, who we learn is her mother.  Each child’s personal quest leads them to an adventure at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.  The two stories weave back and forth until they form a special connection in the conclusion.
A wonderful comparison can be made if you read an earlier classic, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg where two children run away to the Metropolitan Museum in New York.  Then plan your own scavenger hunt uncovering similarities that Selznick has included in Wonderstruck.

Book reviewed by Marsha D., Youth Services Assistant

By MPPL on January 9, 2012 Categories: Award Winners, For Grades 4-6, Picks by Marsha D., Realistic Stories

Trouble-maker by Andrew Clements

Trouble-makerSixth-grader Clay Hensley has been a trouble-maker in school since the middle of kindergarten, following right in his older brother’s footsteps. His most recent trip to the principal’s office involved a picture he drew in art class of a donkey with an amazing resemblance to Principal Kelling. When Clay’s older brother makes him promise to change his ways, Clay learns that it is much easier to get into trouble than it is to stay out of trouble. Trouble-maker is another great book you’ll love from favorite author Andrew Clements.

Book reviewed by Barb M., Youth Outreach and Programming Assistant

By MPPL on September 12, 2011 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Funny, Picks by Barb M., Realistic Stories

Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holm

Turtle in Paradise“Everyone thinks children are sweet as Necco Wafers, but I’ve lived long enough to know the truth:  kids are rotten,” says 11-year-old Turtle in Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holm.  It is 1935.  Turtle’s mom is a live-in housekeeper, so she has had plenty of experience with mean kids like the ones who set her cat’s tail on fire.  Turtle’s opinion of kids seems unlikely to change after she is sent to live with her aunt, uncle, and three cousins in their crowded house in Key West, Florida.  But before she knows what has happened, Turtle finds herself coming out of her “shell” as she hangs with the Diaper Gang and looks for buried pirate treasure.  Turtle is smart, feisty, and lots of fun.  I hope you enjoy her adventures as much as I did. 

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head


By MPPL on August 8, 2011 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Picks by Mary S., Realistic Stories

No Passengers Beyond This Point by Gennifer Choldenko

No Passengers Beyond This Point After Dad died, life became hard for the Tompkins. Then the day came when Mom could no longer even afford to keep their home. India, Finn, and Mouse would have to go and live with their Uncle Red. Despite their misgivings, the three set off on a plane to Denver, Colorado. But their plane lands in the strange town of Falling Bird instead. And what a mysterious place that is! Riding in a feather-covered taxi seems almost normal in Falling Bird. They have to decide whether to stay in Falling Bird or not, and when they decide to leave, they’re in real trouble! No Passengers Beyond This Point is an engaging mixture of realistic fiction and fantasy.

Book reviewed by Loreen S., Youth Services Assistant

By MPPL on June 20, 2011 Categories: Fantasy, For Grades 4-6, Picks by Loreen S., Realistic Stories

One-Handed Catch by M.J. Auch

One-Handed Catch One thing that I thought was really interesting about One-Handed Catch by M.J. Auch was that it is loosely based on the childhood experiences of the author’s husband.  The setting for this book is just after the end of World War II, and the main character is an 11-year-old boy named Norm, whose family owns a meat market.  On the fourth of July while helping his dad in the store, his hand got caught in the meat grinder and he lost it.  Shortly after he was released from the hospital, there were a few times when Norm felt sorry for himself, and he was tempted to use his new disability to try and get special treatment from people.  However, his mom quickly put a stop to that when she found out because she wanted him to learn to become independent.  His dad felt terribly guilty about the accident so he suddenly didn’t spend time or joke with Norm the way that he used to.  Luckily, his best friend Leon still stayed friends with him, and once he knew what it was like to be teased, Norm also ended up befriending Carl, the quiet, new kid in town. However, he still had to face several other challenges.  How would he ever fulfill his lifelong dream of being a professional baseball player?  What instrument would he be able to play in the school band?  How would he ever re-learn how to do a simple thing like tying his shoes? You will have to read this inspirational story (and 2012 Rebecca Caudill Award nominee) to find out!


By MPPL on June 6, 2011 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Realistic Stories

Zora and Me by Victoria Bond

Zora and MeZora Neale Hurston was a famous author who loved to tell stories from the time she was a child. Zora and Me is a  fictionalized story of Zora and her best friend Carrie growing up in Eatonville, Florida (a town with only African-Americans in it). Will the Gator Man get Zora and Carrie? Will Zora and Carrie be able to learn the differences between truth, lies, and storytelling? Read this book to find out!

Book reviewed by Anne W., Youth Services Assistant


By MPPL on May 2, 2011 Categories: Award Winners, For Grades 4-6, Picks by Anne W., Realistic Stories

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

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

One Crazy SummerIn One Crazy Summer eleven year-old Delphine has been taking care of her younger sisters since her mother, Cecile, abandoned them seven years ago.  When her father sends the girls to spend the summer with Cecile in California, they are hoping for trips to Disneyland and a chance to get to know their mother.   At first, Cecile is too busy writing poetry to spend time with her daughters.  Then Cecile is arrested, and Delphine learns some surprising information that changes the way she thinks about her mother.
Although I enjoyed getting to know Delphine, the plot of the book moved rather slowly.  I would mainly recommend this title to die-hard historical fiction fans who are interested in learning more about the Civil Rights Movement.  

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head


By MPPL on April 11, 2011 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Historical Fiction, Picks by Mary S., Realistic Stories