Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: For Grades 2-4

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

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

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

The Adventures of Arnie the Doughnut: Bowling Alley Bandit by Laurie Keller

Cover image for Bowling alley banditArnie is a pet “doughnut dog.” His owner, Mr. Bing, was hoping to eat him for breakfast, but when Arnie started talking he knew he had to come up with something else to do with his doughnut. He’s exactly the kind of pet you might like to have: he tells jokes, does impressions, and most people think he’s adorable. In this book, Arnie tries to figure out why Mr. Bing keeps rolling gutter balls in his championship bowling match. Together with his friends, a pizza slice, the karaoke lady, and some bowling balls and pins, Arnie will discover if someone is trying to sabotage the game. Along the way there will be songs, dancing, and lucky pink sprinkles galore! If you are a new chapter book reader, and love laughs and silliness, pick up The Adventures of Arnie the Doughnut:Bowling Alley Bandit.

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian

Inspector Flytrap and the Big Deal Mysteries by Tom Angleberger and Cece Bell

Cover image for Inspector FlytrapInspector Flytrap is a venus flytrap (that’s a plant that eats insects) on a skateboard, who solves mysteries with the help of his sidekick, Nina the Goat. They only take “Big Deal” mysteries, like the case of a mysterious blob on a famous painting or a single giant stinky shoe! This book has mysteries that need to be solved, but also a lot of funny parts like Nina eating everything in sight or the mysteries too small for Inspector Flytrap to take.  The first in the Inspector Flytrap series is a fun and quick read, especially for someone just starting to read chapter books. You might also like it if you’ve read other books by Tom Angleberger (like Origami Yoda) or Cece Bell (like El Deafo). The second in the series is already out, so there’s a lot to enjoy!

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian

Lulu’s Mysterious Mission by Judith Viorst

Cover image for Lulu's mysterious missionHave your parents ever gone on vacation without you?!? In Lulu’s Mysterious Mission, Lulu’s parents have decided to leave her home with “the best babysitter in town—maybe the world—,” Ms. Sonia Sofia Solinksy. Lulu doesn’t agree with any of this, so she comes up with several plans to try to get rid of the stern babysitter. Nothing seems to work, and it’s not until Lulu tries to blackmail Ms. Solinsky that she learns this trained professional babysitter is also a retired spy—code name Triple S—and Lulu’s dream is to be a spy when she grows up. Luckily for her, Triple S agrees to teach Lulu tricks of the trade as long as Lulu is obedient and keeps the spy training a secret. Can Lulu follow through with the deal? And what will happen when her parents finally return from their vacation?

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

How to Capture an Invisible Cat by Paul Tobin

Cover image for How to capture an invisible catInvisible Cats? Dogs that can talk? Villains chasing Nate and Delphine? In How to Capture an Invisible Cat by Paul Tobin, Nate and Delphine have to figure out how to shrink Nate’s cat, Proton, to his original size (Nate loves science and experimenting and made Proton the size of an elephant and invisible). The Red Death Tea Society (the villains) are trying to stop Nate and Delphine from shrinking Proton. Who will win? Read this book and find out!

Book reviewed by Anne W., Youth Services Assistant