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Staff Picks 4 Kids

Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Anything but TypicalIn Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin, Jason Blake is just like any twelve-year-old that enjoys writing stories.  Expect for that fact that he is autistic, which he often describes in his stories as “differentness”.  He is smart and sensitive and often writes about what it is like to see the world through his eyes.  Jason particularly enjoys posting on a writing website.  He even makes a friend on this site, another young writer named Rebecca, who often posts positive comments about his stories.  However, when he might finally get a chance to meet Rebecca in person at an upcoming writing conference, Jason is terrified!  You will have to read the book to find out if he decides to go meet her or not. 


By bjones on July 30, 2012 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Realistic Stories

The Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis

Mighty Miss MaloneThe Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis. The Malones of Gary, Indiana have a motto.  “We are a family on a journey to a place called Wonderful.”  Unfortunately, it is the Great Depression, and it seems to be taking awhile to get there.  Twelve-year-old Deza (otherwise known at the Mighty Miss Malone) is the smartest child in her class, but her father is unemployed, and the family must eat buggy oatmeal or go hungry.  First, her father leaves to find work.  Then when her mother loses her job as a maid, the family packs up and sets off to find him.  Deza’s journey is filled with adventures, which include riding the rails, staying in a homeless camp, and going to a night club to hear her brother sing.  Throughout it all, Deza  keeps her sense of humor and her belief that someday her family will be reunited and find their way to Wonderful.

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

By bjones on July 16, 2012 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Picks by Mary S., Realistic Stories

With A Name Like Love by Tess Hilmo

With a Name Like LoveWhat would it be like to not have a permanent home? In With A Name Like Love by Tess Hilmo, you can find out. Ollie is the oldest in her family, and her dad is a traveling preacher. Normally the family puts up fliers, invites the people of the town to hear the sermons in the evenings, and then they move on. When Ollie and her family get to Binder, Arkansas, however, they encounter Jimmy Koppel, who is living by himself on the outskirts of town because his mom is in jail for murdering his dad. Jimmy insists his mom did not do it, but no one will believe him. Will Jimmy and Ollie be able to save Jimmy’s mom? Will Ollie and her family leave before they find out who murdered Jimmy’s dad? Read more to find out!

Book reviewed by Anne W., Youth Services Assistant

By bjones on June 25, 2012 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Mystery & Suspense, Picks by Anne W., Realistic Stories

The Boy Who Ate Stars by Kochka

Boy Who Ate StarsAre you looking for a quiet, heartfelt story about a very different sort of friendship?  Then you will like The Boy Who Ate Stars, by Kochka.  Twelve-year-old Lucy has just moved to a new apartment in Paris and met someone who changes her life–little four-year-old Matthew.  He’s so different, he behaves differently and he communicates differently.  Lucy finds out that this is because he is autistic.  As Lucy says, it’s like he’s his own little planet, spinning around in his own little universe.  They are an unlikely pair of friends.  But, as they spend time together and share experiences, they develop a trust and understanding that connects their two different worlds in a very unique way. 

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

By bjones on June 13, 2012 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Picks by Mary Ann S., Realistic Stories

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

Out of My MindWhat would it be like if you could not walk, talk, or write? What if you had so many ideas and words you wanted to express but could not communicate with other people? In Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper, Melody is an 11 year old girl who wants to have the same experiences as other people. She wants to be a part of the things her classmates are doing. She is very smart, but she is also in a wheelchair and can’t walk, talk, or write. She figures out a way to communicate with her class and the other people around her, and enters a competition for her school. Will her team win? Will she get to make friends with her classmates? Read this book and find out!

Book reviewed by Anne W., Youth Services Assistant

By bjones on May 29, 2012 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Picks by Anne W., Realistic Stories

The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon

Rock and the RiverI listened to the audiobook of The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon and really enjoyed it. The story takes place in Chicago in the 1960’s. Thirteen-year-old Sam’s father is very involved in the Civil Rights Movement; the family has even had Dr. King over for dinner! Sam’s older brother and best friend, “Stick,” gets involved with the Black Panthers, a group that seems at odds with the non-violent protests that Stick and Sam have grown up with. After the assassination of Dr. King, things around the city start to heat up, and Sam gets more involved.

Book reviewed by Erin E. Youth Services Programming Coordinator

By bjones on May 14, 2012 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Picks by Erin E., Realistic Stories

Sparrow Road by Sheila O’Connor

Sparrow RoadSparrow Road by Sheila O’Connor. It’s so odd–really! For no good reason that Raine can figure out, her mom decides all of a sudden the two of them have to leave their home in Milwaukee and move to creepy old Sparrow Road, an artist retreat out in the middle of nowhere. Turns out, there are secrets everywhere in and around Sparrow Road, and Raine makes some very personal discoveries about friendship, family, forgiveness and love.  If you like stories that tug at your heart a bit, you’ll like this one. 

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

By bjones on May 8, 2012 Categories: For Grades 4-6, Picks by Mary Ann S., Realistic Stories

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