“Avoid large places at night—keep to small.”
This is the warning that 11 year old Olivia “Ollie” Adler gets from a distraught woman trying desperately to throw a book in the river. Ollie, a lover of books, steals it from the woman, and finds the story within is one she can’t put down. It is the story of two brothers, the girl they love, and a bargain they’ve made with a sinister figure known only as “the smiling man.” Ollie dismisses it as a made up ghost story, until a field trip to Misty Valley Farm—the location of the story—ends in a broken down bus and a warning on her previously broken digital watch to “RUN.” Can Ollie help save her classmates from the horrors lurking in the woods? Maybe—if she remembers to stick to small spaces until sunrise. For fans of Mary Downing Hahn and Goosebumps, Small Spaces by Katherine Arden is a must-read.
Book reviewed by Julie J., Assistant Head of Youth Services
The first rule of punk is to be yourself. How will Malú do that in a new city and school while living with her Mom? They have nothing in common. Malú likes punk music, skateboarding, and making zines, a type of collage magazine. Malú’s mom seems to only like things connected to her Mexican heritage. Malú is being forced to move from Florida to Chicago, Illinois. It’s away from her father, who also likes punk music. Plus, she has to start a new school and on the first day, she accidentally breaks the dress code and clashes with a mean girl. She can’t talk to her mom, because her mom just doesn’t understand her. Malú will have to find friends to help her survive Chicago and a new school, but how do you make friends in a new city? She looks for people who also like music, and creates a band, but there’s a big problem: punk isn’t allowed.
Book reviewed by Laura B., Youth Technology Librarian
Little girl Fern senses that her grandma, Nanna, is not like she used to be. There’s no longer a sparkle in her eye, nor the warm smile on her face. Nanna needs more joy, and little Fern is determined to find it for her. Little Fern takes all of her best tools, and off she goes, searching for joy to share with her grandma. But little Fern doesn’t know what joy looks like, or where to find it. Have you ever seen joy before? Do you know all the secret places to look? And if Little Fern finds the joy that her grandma needs, will she be able to share it with her Nanna?
As you read this delightful tale, you will discover how Fern solved her dilemma of how to put more joy in her Nanna’s life.
Book reviewed by Darice C., Youth Services Assistant
The author of Raindrops Roll and Best in Snow has come out with another celebration of nature and its wonders. This book is full of stunning photographs and rich descriptive words. The back matter gives information on how to turn your “thank you” into actions—skipping straws, for example. Sayre also gives location and species detail for all of the photographs, in case you’re wondering WHAT or WHERE some of the amazing pictures are. Thank You, Earth is biology, ecology, math, and life lessons wrapped in a gorgeous package.
Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator
Levi is tired of being told what he can’t do, of having his mother and brother always hovering and worrying about him. He was born prematurely, and still has some health issues, but that doesn’t mean that he wants to be treated like a baby. His dad encourages him to try a new sport, and he discovers boxing. It turns out he LOVES it, but he can’t tell his mom or brother or they will freak out. This story is a novel in verse, or written in poetry, which makes it a fast read. Levi is a funny guy, who has found that if he clowns around, he will get people laughing with him, instead of at him. I enjoyed the concrete poetry, where the poem takes the shape of something, and Levi’s funny and determined attitude. Pick this book up if you are looking for a fun and fast read about sports, friends, and family.
Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian