Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: For Grades 4-6

Best Buds Under Frogs by Leslie Patricelli

Best Buds Under Frogs book coverMaking friends at a new school is hard, and its even harder when you throw up on someone’s brand-new shoes during recess. Lily just wants to crawl into her imaginary turtle shell or better yet never ever go to school again.  But, luckily for her, she meets Darby, who doesn’t seem to care what other people think.  Lily and Darby form the Rizzlerunk Club with their own secret handshake, an invisible clubhouse, and candy bracelets. Everything is going great until Darby’s former best friend and original mean girl Jill returns.  Suddenly, Lily finds herself getting into trouble that she never could have imagined such as accidentally shaving off her eyebrows, thinking about shoplifting candy, and even secretly painting the school’s monkey bars.  Is it time to quit the Rizzlerunk Club or simply time to oust its newest member–Queenbee Jill?  With its hilarious hijinks and comical illustrations, this is a great read for 3rd and 4th graders.

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

Stella Diaz has Something to Say by Angela Dominguez

Stella Diaz Has Something to Say book coverStella is a Mexican-American in 3rd grade, growing up in Arlington Heights (yes, our next door neighbor!). She loves marine animals, especially fish, but she has trouble speaking up in school and feeling like she belongs because sometimes she uses Spanish instead of English or doesn’t have the right pronunciation. She doesn’t even fit in with her family, where her Spanish isn’t quite good enough. A new kid, Stanley, joins her class and while she wants to be friends with him, she is too shy to ever talk to him. She also has to do an oral presentation in class, which terrifies her, but she gets help from her older brother, her best friend, and eventually Stanley, who she befriends at the Shedd Aquarium. Can she find the courage to speak up and find her place in the world? This is a story of friendship, bravery, and individuality with funny moments and great illustrations throughout.

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian

Hope in the Holler by Lisa Lewis Tyre

Hope in the Holler book coverWavie and her mother haven’t always had a lot of money, but they’ve been happy together in their trailer home surrounded by thoughtful neighbors and friends. After her mother passes away and she is forced to live with a previously unknown (and unkind) aunt in rural “Convict Holler,” Wavie struggles to stay positive in this different new life. With the help of  some new friends, Wavie may just find a little hope along with some smiles going forward while trying to answer some puzzling questions about her family’s past. This title is recommended for those in 5th grade and up.

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant

Famous Fails! Mighty Mistakes, Mega Mishaps & How a Mess can Lead to Success by Crispin Boyer

Famous Fails! Mighty Mistakes, Mega Mishaps & How a Mess can Lead to Success by Crispin Boyer book coverA book filled with quirky failures and famous flops, this one takes on peculiar tragedies and hilarious calamities in areas like science, technology, food, entertainment and more. Do you know where the world’s tallest empty building is? And just why is this building mysteriously removed from some photographs? Don’t you want  to know about smelly movies, mysterious islands, chocolate French fries, and fortune cookies for dogs? And anyway, how does a dog get away with impersonating a lion….at a zoo? However, not all mistakes are disappointing. How did somebody come up with discoveries like microwave popcorn? Do you know how Noah McVicker invented Playdough? What’s the hype about the cursed baseball team and a goat? (They made a comeback, didn’t they?)

There is a “Lesson Learned” on almost every other page, and at times, a spark of encouragement spurts, “It could have been worse!” There’s also a game challenging the reader to find different mistakes that are purposely embedded in this book! Are you up for the challenge? Find out that some mistakes, mishaps and messes can turn out for the best. Remember, not all setbacks turn out to be failures!

Book reviewed by Darice C., Youth Services Assistant

Tumble & Blue by Cassie Beasley

Tumble & Blue by Cassie Beasley book coverBlue Montgomery comes from a cursed family. Some bad, some good, those curses define who they are. Blue can never win, and his father can never lose. Tumble Wilson is a hero in training but instead of saving anyone, she always seems to end up the damsel in distress. Once in awhile comes a special Red Moon that allows one Montgomery to be freed from his or her curse. As the time of the Red Moon approaches, Blue’s grandmother’s house is overflowing with Montgomerys. Will Blue be the one Montgomery to break his curse and will Tumble be able to help him thus fulfilling her destiny to become a hero?

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke

Mighty Jack by Ben Hatke book coverJack knows his summer vacation is going to be rough. His mom has to work a second job, which means he has to take care of his sister, Maddy. Maddy is autistic and doesn’t speak. Well, Jack thought that Maddy didn’t speak until she asks Jack for a box of seeds a strange man is selling at the flea market. Jack doesn’t have any money, but then the man says he will do a trade. Jack is okay with that, but he didn’t realize the trade was a box of odd seeds for his mom’s car. The next day, they start working on their garden and the plants that start growing are not normal tomatoes or onions. Instead, there are little onion babies walking around and dangerous mud throwing green hand-like plants. One night, a dragon even appears, but he has a dangerous warning for Jack. This warning could mean upsetting Maddy and making his summer worse. This graphic novel is filled with fantastical plants and animals.

Book reviewed by Laura B., Youth Technology Librarian

Grump: The (Fairly) True Story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves by Liesl Shurtliff

Grump: The (fairly) True Tale of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves by Liesl ShurtliffIn Grump: The (Fairly) True Story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarves by Liesl Shurtliff, a grumpy dwarf gets caught up in the feud between Snow White and the wicked queen. Borlen, aka “Grump,” is not like other dwarves. He dreams of visiting The Surface, while most dwarves are terrified of it. Borlen is devastated when he is assigned as the undesirable “Seventh” on a deep underground mining crew. But when the crew unexpectedly digs close to The Surface, Borlen makes his escape aboveground, and finds things are even more wonderful than he imagined. He meets Queen Elfrieda, who spoils him with delicious gemstones… but demands magic in return. Grump ends up stuck in the middle when he discovers the queen’s evil intentions towards Snow White. How can he be magically sworn to serve the queen AND to protect Snow White? And what if the other dwarfs discover what he’s done?

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

Ruby and Olivia by Rachel Hawkins

Ruby and Olivia by Rachel Hawkins book coverEeeeewwww, an old, abandoned, probably haunted house! Why would you want to go inside? Ruby and Olivia have to because they have gotten into trouble and are completing community service at a summer day camp. Live Oak House needs to be cleaned up so it can be turned into a museum. As Ruby and Olivia start their duties, they hear mysterious noises and see things. Are there ghosts in the house? If so, what do they want? Find out along with Ruby and Olivia, who learn to become friends.

Book reviewed by Anne W., Youth Services Assistant

Olive and the Backstage Ghost by Michelle Schusterman      

Olive and the Backstage Ghost by Michelle SchustermanAfter an unsuccessful audition, Olive runs into an old vaudeville theatre to escape the New York rain. In the comfort of the empty auditorium, Olive sings her heart out and receives the attention of the mysterious Maude Devore. Olive is immediately offered a part in Maude’s variety show, and she is impressed by the theatre and her new costars. She loves this new “family” especially since her mother has been strict with her. But…why does the food taste strange? And how can her fellow performers demonstrate such death-defying feats without getting hurt? Read this haunting tale to uncover the answers to these questions and more.

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant

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