Staff Picks 4 Kids

The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood & Co. series) by Jonathan Stroud

Cover image for The creeping shadowDo you enjoy slightly spooky stories that feature a hint of mystery and a dash of adventure? Then dive into this 4th installment from the thrilling Lockwood & Co. series! Once again, the reader is returned to the alternate-London world in which deadly ghosts are a daily part of life, and only children can detect their presence. Lucy Carlisle, a freelance agent who can communicate with ghosts, is getting used to her independent life. A surprise break-in at her home, however, forces her back to her former place of employment to seek help. Lockwood & Co. may have just what she needs to help solve the break-in mystery. Trust me; you will not believe what Lucy and her friends discover by the end of this gripping tale!

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant

Blind Guide to Stinkville by Beth Vrabel

Cover image for A blind guide to StinkvilleImagine moving across the country and leaving your best friend when your Dad gets a new job. Now imagine doing all of that with a depressed mom who barely gets out of bed and an older brother who barely speaks to you. Oh, you are also blind and have albinoism. Sound rough? Well, Alice handles it all like a champion and proves along the way the difference between having a vision and having sight.

Book reviewed by Keary B., Youth Collection Librarian

The Matchstick Castle by Keir Graff

Cover image for The matchstick castleFans of Pippi Longstocking are sure to enjoy the The Matchstick Castle by Keir Graff. Brian is stuck spending the summer with his boring uncle’s family in Boring, Illinois while his dad is researching in Antarctica. Instead of spending his days playing soccer with his friends, he must work on a summer school computer program which his uncle is developing. However, once he and his cousin venture into the forest (which is forbidden by his uncle) and encounter the strange castle and its eccentric residents, summer takes a turn for the exciting! With wild boars, swarms of gigantic wasps, a boat resting precariously on the roof of the house, and some unusual new friends, can Brian and Nora help to save the house from destruction? Fans of realistic fiction and adventure are sure to enjoy this book recommended for 4th – 6th graders.

Book reviewed by Carol C., Elementary School Liaison

The Water Princess by Susan Verde

Cover image for The water princessThis story takes place over just one day in the life of Gie Gie (or Princess Gie Gie as she likes to be called) as she and her mother travel to and from a well to get water for drinking, cooking, and washing. Verde’s words and pictures by Peter Reynolds work together to bring the African setting to life. You can almost feel the hot sun and dry dust, as well as Gie Gie’s thirst. When she finally drinks, readers will feel refreshed. This story was inspired by the childhood experiences of a model named Burkina Faso, who has worked to build more wells in Goundi where she is from. Back matter asks children to imagine their lives without water and explains that some people have to struggle to find clean water every day. The Water Princess is a satisfying story as well as a cultural lesson.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

Five-Minute True Stories: Animal BFFs by Aubre Andrus

Cover image for Five-minute true stories : animal BFFsYou don’t usually see a 500-pound lion and an 11-pound dachshund playing together, cuddling, or licking each other’s faces. In Animal BFFs, readers are introduced to Bonedigger the lion and Milo the wiener dog, as well as eleven other unlikely animal friendships. Each story is meant to be read in about five minutes, and there are large photographs on nearly every page. There is even a pair from Chicago: Riff Ratt the rat and Osiris the dog. They are such good friends that sometimes Riff Ratt crawls into Osiris’ mouth! Some of the other BFFs include Gerald the giraffe and Eddie the goat; a lion-tiger-bear trio named Leo, Shere Khan, and Baloo; Miwa-chan the Japanese monkey and Uribo the wild piglet; and a cat named Morris and his best horse friend Champy. The stories tell readers how the animals became best friends, what they like to do together, and why their friendship is so rare. At the heart of each story is the fact that friends can come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors—which is true for animals and people!

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

I am Drums by Mike Grosso

Cover image for I am drumsDrums are Sam’s life. She hears music everywhere she goes, even when she is dreaming. She even makes her own drum kit out of her encyclopedias and her Calvin and Hobbes books so she can practice all the time. Sam wants to become a better drummer, and she has to figure out how she can pay for lessons. This story is funny, sad, and cool.

Book reviewed by Anne W., Youth Services Assistant

Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks

Cover image for Save me a seatImagine starting fifth grade at a new school in a new country. It’s tough! Ravi, who has just moved from India, is stunned to learn that his classmates and teacher at Albert Einstein Elementary do not seem impressed by his previous stellar grades, popularity among his former classmates, and his athletic prowess at cricket. At first, he feels his only hope for climbing the social ladder involves befriending Dillon Samreen, an outgoing classmate. Joe, a fellow student who sits behind Ravi, is bullied frequently by Dillon and notices that he has his sights now set on Ravi. With viewpoints of Ravi and Joe alternating every chapter, you’ll root for each one as they both do their best to navigate life in the fifth grade.

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant

The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and John Jory

Cover image for The terrible twoIf you like funny books and are up for a good prank or two, then have I got the book for you, The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and John Jory. In it, Miles Murphy assumes he will be the school prankster when he moves to Yawnee Valley, “the cow capital of the United States, this side of the Mississippi, excluding a couple of towns that cheat.” Unfortunately, his new school already has a resident prankster. An epic prank war ensues to prove just who can pull the best prank and trick their principle, teachers, and classmates. My favorite prank involves cows, but don’t worry you don’t have to like cows to enjoy the hilarity of it all.

Book reviewed by Keary B., Youth Collection Librarian

As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds

Cover image for As brave as youEleven-year old Genie and his older brother Ernie are sent to live with their grandparents in rural Virginia for the summer while their parents go on a trip to work on their relationship. Coming from Brooklyn, and barely knowing their grandparents, this comes as a shock– there is no internet, no TV, and they have to do chores, including shoveling dog poop! What also comes as a shock is that Grandpop is blind. Genie has so many questions, about Grandpop and just about everything else. From, “Where do crickets go when it rains?” and “Why am I so stupid?” To, “How does [Grandpop] match his clothes?” and “Why would a blind man have a gun?” Genie keeps a notebook of these burning questions and also grills Grandpop at every opportunity…especially about the private room he calls his “nunya bidness” room and also why Grandpop never leaves the house. The dialogue and growing bond between Genie and Grandpop is hilarious and heartwarming. Readers learn about generations of family and community issues, as Genie and Ernie question what it means to be brave. This book is one of my favorites of the year because it just feels so real, and is also one of the best audiobooks I’ve listened to in a while. Reader Guy Lockard has the perfect intonation and pace.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

The Flying Beaver Brothers and the Evil Penguin Plan by Maxwell Eaton

Cover image for The flying beaver brothers and the evil penguin plan. 1Ace and Bub are the flying beaver brothers and love living on Beaver Island. While Ace prepares for the surfing competition and loves adventure; Bub just wants to take a nap. That changes though when Ace’s surf board is almost stolen by some penguins. While Ace and Bub try to catch the penguins and get Ace’s board back, they end up coming across a large building at the bottom of the ocean. This is unusual, but what makes it even weirder is that is where the penguins are going. When they look in a window, they see a bunch of penguins looking at blueprints. What are these penguins up to? It’s up to Ace and Bub to find out their plan and save Beaver Island all before the surfing competition. Can they do it? Check out this fun graphic novel and if you really like it, follow Ace and Bub on more adventures in the sequels.

Book reviewed by Laura B. Youth Technology Librarian