Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: For Grades 2-4

Helen Thayer’s Arctic Adventure: A Woman and a Dog Walk to the North Pole by Sally Senzell Isaacs

Cover image for Helen Thayer's Arctic adventure : a woman and a dog walk to the North PoleExperience the thrill of a real-life adventure in this non-fiction picture book. Follow the unbelievable story of Helen Thayer, an outdoorswoman who fulfilled her dream of being the first woman to hike solo from Canada to the magnetic North Pole with only a sled, supplies, a tent, a dog, and a radio. With no outside help and only her two feet as transportation, she and her dog, Charlie, traveled mile after mile for many days with the constant threat of cracking ice, dangerous polar bears, and killer weather. The detailed illustrations pull you into the story and make you think you are hiking with her!

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant

Weekends with Max and His Dad by Linda Urban

Cover image for Weekends with Max and his dadThis sweet beginner chapter book will make readers of all ages (including adults) have some real emotion. It is about a boy whose parents are divorced, and yet the word divorce is never even mentioned, because what it’s really about is the relationship between a boy and his dad—how they communicate, how they play together, and also how things are a little different now than they used to be. Each of the three chapters has a theme and a short story within the overall narrative arc. It’s amusing and lovable, without glossing over some of the issues, such as Max’s dislike for how his dad decorated his new room, but his hesitance to tell him because it would hurt his feelings. This is the first of three books in a new, engaging series!

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

The Most Amazing Creature in the Sea by Brenda Z. Guiberson

Cover image for The most amazing creature in the seaWhale shark vs vampire squid! Nothing is more amazing then this book under or above the sea! Read it and debate with your friends which animal really is the most amazing creature in the sea. Maybe it’s the mimic octopus who is a master of disguise or the box jellyfish with deadly venom. You decide! Teachers and parents this would make a good read aloud if you are looking for short nonfiction or a conversation starter.

Book reviewed by Keary B., Youth Collection Librarian

Sam the Man & the Chicken Plan by Frances O’Roark Dowell

Cover image for Sam the Man & the chicken planEveryone else in his family has a job. Sam wants to earn money too, so he turns to his neighbors to see if they need help doing chores. He lands himself not one, but two jobs! –walking cranky old Mr. Stockfish, as well as helping Mrs. Kerner care for her chickens. Luckily, Sam the Man has a knack for watching chickens, and sets out to get a chicken of his own– one that lays blue eggs, which he can then sell to his classmates to make even MORE money! What will Sam the Man do with all his earnings?

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

One Dead Spy: The Life, Times, and Last Words of Nathan Hale, America’s Most Famous Spy by Nathan Hale

Cover image for One dead spy : the life, times, and last words of Nathan Hale, America's most famous spyNathan Hale is an unlucky spy for the American rebels during the American Revolution. On his first mission, he gets caught and sentenced to be hung. As he bravely faces the hangman, he says, “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country,” and then gets swallowed by a giant history book. Literally. When he returns, he has witnessed the history of America. While the hangman is interested in hearing his story, the British soldier is ready to hang him. However, Nathan Hale goes on to tell his story as an American spy during the Revolution through pictures in a graphic novel format.  This book is packed with battles, spy work, and really great characters that lived in real life. Another thing about this book is that it is written by Nathan Hale. Not the Nathan Hale in the story, but a graphic novelist with the same name.

Book reviewed by Laura B. Youth Technology Librarian

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

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

Wet Cement: A Mix of Concrete Poems by Bob Raczka

Cover image for Wet cement : a mix of concrete poemsIt takes great skill to say a lot without a lot of words and even more so to do that within the constraints of a specific format, like a haiku or other type of poem. Bob Raczka’s collection of 21 concrete poems presents fun, clever, and surprising poems that kids can relate to and be inspired by. Concrete poetry’s meaning is conveyed partly or wholly by visual means, using patterns of words or letters and other typographical devices. Down to the wordplay in the title, there is not a word wasted in this collection. If you enjoy this one, check out one of Bob Racka’s other poetry books—he has written several.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

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