Staff Picks 4 Kids

Let’s Count Goats! by Mem Fox

Cover image for Let's count goats!The Library has many picture books about counting, but Let’s Count Goats is the only one to feature an airport goat, three pilot goats wearing goggles, and a fireman goat! This playful rhyming book is silly and colorful, with pictures done by Jan Thomas, author of the also-funny books Rhyming Dust Bunnies and Can You Make a Scary Face. Not only can you practice counting with this book, but you can also try to guess which goats could be real and which ones could not. A soccer goat? What about a mountain goat? Check out this book—you’ll want to read it a number of times!

Book reviewed by Dana F., Assistant Head of Youth Services

Are you an echo?: The Lost Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko illustrated by Toshikado Hajiri, narrative by David Jacobson

Cover image for Are you an echo? : the lost poetry of Misuzu KanekoIn early 1900’s Japan, Misuzu Kaneko became a beloved children’s poet. Her life ended prematurely, her poetry was soon forgotten. After the Japanese tsunami in 2011, her poetry was rediscovered, and this beautiful book tells Misuzu Kaneko’s life story, which ends tragically and which the book describes sensitively.  The book includes many of her poems in both English and the original Japanese. The illustrations are stunning and depict both the poet’s life and her beautiful poems. The poems show Misuzu’s unique way of looking at the world, and this lovely picture book is an introduction to this little known Japanese poet. Because of the sensitive nature of the poet’s death, this book is best enjoyed by older readers (grade 5 and up).

Book reviewed by Amy S., Youth Outreach and Programming Assistant

The Sound of Silence by Katrina Goldsaito

Cover image for The sound of silenceYoshio makes his way through the bustling city of Tokyo on his way to school, listening to all the different sounds. He asks a koto player if she has a favorite sound, and she replies that it is “the sound of ma, of silence.” So Yoshio starts looking for silence. Who knew it would be so difficult to find? Warm, rich illustrations show a variety of perspectives that you don’t always see in picture books, such as Yoshio’s family around the dinner table pictured from above. The illustrations will invite you into this book, and then you will be captivated by the story. It is a beautiful representation of daily life in another country as well as a gentle reminder for all of us to take time to pause in life. The Afterword includes an explanation of the Japanese concept of ma, or the silence between sounds.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff

Cover image for Absolutely almostAlbie is not the smartest in his class or the best at sports or even the greatest artist. In fact, Albie is considered “almost.” When he gets his spelling test and doesn’t get an “A” on it, it’s “almost” an “A” to his Dad. The fact that his favorite book series is Captain Underpants and not the book, Johnny Tremaine, is an “almost” since his mom thinks he should be reading something harder. The same for all the other things he does. When his parents send Albie to a new school, he thinks that maybe he can finally be better than “almost,” but that’s before he meets the bullies in his class. However, then his parents hire a new babysitter for him after school named Calista.  Calista doesn’t think he is an “almost,” but rather that he is good and that he has talent. Sometimes, you just need to work really hard to make that talent shine. However, soon Calista is gone, the bullies are at school are starting to be meaner, and his parents just don’t understand him. Albie realizes that he needs to be the good kid Calista thinks he is, but can he do it?

Book reviewed by Laura B. Youth Technology Librarian

Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea! by Ben Clanton

Cover image for Narwhal : unicorn of the seaMany people think that Narwhal are imaginary creatures.  Actually, like Belugas, they are a part of the whale family.  Narwhal have a horn like a unicorn, but it is more like a tusk or a tooth.

In Ben Clanton’s first book in his Narwhal and Jelly series, Narwhal: Unicorn of the Sea!, readers are introduced to Narwhal and his new friend, Jelly Fish.  Together with their other underwater friends, they form a pod (that’s what a group of Narwhal is called), have parties, create imaginative stories, and eat yummy waffles.  With a lot of fun illustrations and brief text, beginner chapter book readers will enjoy this new series while learning a little bit about Narwhal, fact and fiction.

Book reviewed by Carol C., Elementary School Liaison

Booked by Kwame Alexander

Cover image for BookedThis novel-in-verse follows Nick, a boy who LOVES soccer and has a crush on April,  a girl at his school.  When a double-whammy comes up in his life in the form of his parents deciding to separate (with his mom moving away) and an emergency stay in the hospital, Nick struggles with staying calm and facing his fears.  Nick wants things to be like they were before, but that isn’t an option anymore.  If you enjoy lightning-fast reads that take place in a school setting, this one’s for you!

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant

The Inquisitor’s Tale or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz

Cover image for The inquisitor's tale, or, The three magical children and their holy dogIt all begins with a dog.  A poor peasant couple leaves their baby daughter with only a dog for a babysitter.  When they return, they find the dog covered in blood.  Crazy with grief, they kill the dog only to find their daughter safe and sound in her crib.   Years later, their daughter Jeanne sees the ghost of this dog, and Saint Gwenforte, the one and only canine saint is born.  Seeing ghosts is not popular with the church so Jeanne has to go on the run so she won’t be burned at the stake.  On her journey she meets Jacob, a Jewish boy who can heal any wound, and William, a young monk with supernatural strength.  You will laugh your way through the children’s adventures as they defeat a deadly farting dragon (it turns out he’s just allergic to cheese), convince evil knights to cover themselves in poop, and generally avoid being martyred.

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

Comics Squad: Recess! edited by Jennifer L. Holm, Matthew Holm & Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Cover image for Comics Squad : recess!In each of these short comic stories, recess plays a part. This book features stories by some of the best graphic novel writers today: Gene Luen Yang, Dav Pilkey, Raina Telgemeier, and more! You’ll hear stories about familiar characters, like Babymouse, Betty from Lunch Lady, and George and Harold from Captain Underpants. You’ll also meet people like Daryl, who wants to join the Super-Secret Ninja Club but needs to prove his skills first, and Jiminy Sprinkles, a cupcake who faces off against the vitamin-fortified Green Gang.  Along the way you’ll find fun activities like a comic character mashup and instructions for drawing different characters.

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian

My Pen by Christopher Myers

Cover image for My penIn My Pen by Christopher Myers, a boy celebrates the power of imagination by creating images with the simplest of supplies. For example, his pen rides dinosaurs…has x-ray vision…and tells everyone that he loves them. The phrases and images are thought-provoking, moving, and beautifully drawn. This book will inspire the artist and the humanitarian in all of us. It asks kids, “What can your pen do?”

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

Apocalypse Bow Wow by James Proimos III

Cover image for Apocalypse bow wowBrownie and Apollo are dogs that love their home and the people that take care of them. The people know when to feed them, let them out of the house to do their business, and play with them. However, that changes one day when their people don’t come back and they start to get really hungry. In fact, it looks like there are no people around at all. Something has happened. Feeling really hungry and wanting to go outside, they decide to make the journey to see if they can find their people and food. On the way, they meet a police dog, a rat, and gasp, a cat along with others. They also find a grocery store with food, but still no people. Where have they gone? What will Brownie and Apollo do, especially since their group isn’t the only group of animals’ hungry and wanting food?

Book reviewed by Laura B. Youth Technology Librarian