Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: For Grades 4-6

Wedgie & Gizmo by Suzanne Selfors

Wedgie & Gizmo book coverGizmo is a diabolical evil genius. He is also a guinea pig and the pet of Elliot. However, Gizmo calls him his faithful servant. Wedgie is the energetic corgi dog that belongs to Jasmine, Jackson, and their Mom. He also believes that he is a super hero and wears a cape around that Jasmine put on him. When Elliot’s dad marries Jasmine and Jackson’s mom, everyone must now live together. Wedgie loves having more humans to protect, but Gizmo would rather not have to live in Jasmine’s Barbie playhouse or with an arch nemesis like Wedgie. This funny chapter book is written in the same style as Jedi Academy and Diary of a Wimpy Kid, but instead of humans’ point of view, it is told from Wedgie and Gizmo’s.

Book reviewed by Laura B., Youth Technology Librarian

The House of a Million Pets by Ann Hodgman

The House of a Million Pets by Ann Hodgman

Did your mom ever tell you that you couldn’t have a pet?  For me, it was a puppy.  No matter how many times I asked, the answer was always no.  Author Ann Hodgman decided that when she grew up, she would have as many pets as she wanted.  She would be the kind of mom that always said yes to pets.   At the time she wrote The House of a Million Pets, she had owned, rescued, or looked after cats, dogs, bunnies, hamsters, guinea pigs, hedgehogs, fish, prairie dogs, pygmy mice, rats, a sugar glider, a snapping turtle, a bat, a frog, an owl, ducklings, moths, and all kinds of birds.  By reading this book, you will learn all sorts of useful facts such as sugar glider pee smells like Froot Loops, prairie dogs like to eat grapes, ducklings do not make good indoor pets, and a bathtub makes a good pond for a snapping turtle.  And most importantly, you should be able to convince your mom to get you a puppy because at least you aren’t asking for a wallaby like Ann Hodgman, the crazy pet lady.  This book is a must-read for animal lovers everywhere!

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

Greeting from Witness Protection by Jake Burt

Cover image for Greetings from witness protection!Nicki has been in foster care for a long time and seen all sorts of stuff, but when US Marshals show up and ask her to be part of the cover for a family entering witness protection, she’s shocked. The marshals know that the mob is looking for a family of three, not a family of four with a son and a daughter. So, all she has to do is pretend she’s always had a brother and the Trevors really are her parents. Easy right? Oh, she’s also got to be perfectly normal in everything. What could go wrong? Turns out plenty! There’s action, humor, and compelling characters to root for here.

Book reviewed by Keary B., Youth Collection Librarian

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

Cover image for Ghost boysJerome is shot by a police officer who thinks he has a gun. Jerome’s ghost tells us the story of how it happened. Jerome is a brave boy trying to protect his sister and be safe in their dangerous neighborhood. He deals with bullies and sees drug dealers near his home regularly. Jerome decides to reach out to a new student at his school (which he normally would not do) and makes a real, actual friend. This story was heartbreaking, and so well told that I wanted to enter the book and help the characters myself.

Book reviewed by Anne W., Youth Services Assistant

Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade by Jordan Sonnenblick

Cover image for The secret sheriff of sixth gradeLife isn’t easy for Maverick. His mom struggles with drinking and a string of bad boyfriends. There are also money problems, and he gets picked on in school. Basically, nothing seems to be going right. So, Maverick decides to change things when he starts 6th grade. He’ll stand up to the bullies, and protect anyone smaller than him. Unfortunately, there’s only one person smaller then him in 6th grade, and generally when he intervenes, he makes things worse. This book can make you laugh one minute and cry the next.

Book reviewed by Keary B., Youth Collection Librarian

Frindle by Andrew Clements

Cover image for FrindleNick Allen has mastered the art of making school a more entertaining place to be, whether that involves transforming his classroom into a tropical island, or making sure there is no homework assigned by asking his trademarked, thought-provoking, time-wasting questions.  When asking one of these questions in Mrs. Granger’s 5th grade language arts class, he finds himself instead assigned a report about words and their origins!  He later devises a plan to create a word of his own: frindle.  Soon everyone is using Nick’s new word, despite fierce opposition by Mrs. Granger.  Who will win the war of the words?

Book reviewed by Caitlin B., Youth Services Assistant

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier 

Cover image for The Night gardener : a scary storyIf you enjoy hearing spooky tales told ‘round the campfire, look no further than the audiobook version of The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier. Listen to the tale of Irish orphans Molly and Kip as they travel to a rural English village to begin working and living inside a quirky family’s old mansion. In the dead of night, they hear heavy footsteps walking throughout the house. Who or what is walking through the house? And how are those footprints connected to the family’s weird behavior and to the old tree just outside the window?This Victorian ghost story, brought to life by the incredible voice talents of narrator Beverly Crick, will keep you riveted.

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant

The Painting by Charis Cotter

Cover image for The paintingAnnie and her mother are very different, and have trouble talking to each other sometimes. Annie finds an old painting in the attic of her house and is drawn to it. It fascinates her every time she looks at it, until she notices one day that things in the painting are actually moving. The more she looks, the closer she gets, until finally she falls into the painting and enters that world. How will she get back? Why do some things feel familiar? Will Annie and her mom improve their relationship?

Book reviewed by Anne W., Youth Services Assistant

Tumble & Blue by Cassie Beasley

Cover image for Tumble & BlueFate can be a great thing, but not for Blue, whose fate it is to always lose, no matter what. Or for Tumble, who wants desperately to be a hero and save others, but always ends up needing to be saved herself in the end. There’s a legend that says a golden crocodile lives in the swamp and on the night of the blood red crescent moon one lucky person who finds him can have a great fate bestowed on them. So, on the night on the blood red crescent moon Tumble and Blue set out to find the golden crocodile and change their fate. However, the crocodile only has one fate he can give. So who should get it? Tumble? Blue? Or someone else that might need it more? This is also a great audio.

Book reviewed by Keary B., Youth Collection Librarian

The Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid by Colin Meloy

Cover image for The whiz mob and the grenadine kidThe Whiz Mob and the Grenadine Kid by Colin Meloy is a whimsical adventure full of tongue-in-cheek humor and a whole lot of twists and turns. When Charlie’s mother abandons him, he finds himself suddenly traveling the world with his diplomat father whom he hardly knows and never sees. They are currently in France and Charlie is bored. One day while sitting on a bench with his notebook, a boy comes up and steals the pen right out of Charlie’s hand. The boy is so sneaky that Charlie doesn’t even know it’s happening! Charlie is so intrigued that he begs the boy to teach him the ways of pickpocketing, and thus gets pulled into the fast-paced, high stakes world of the whiz mob: a group of kids who make their living stealing from the rich.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator