Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: For Grades 4-6

Pablo and Birdy by Alison McGee

Cover image for Pablo and BirdyWelcome to the island of Isla where an infant and a mute, flightless parrot arrive in a child’s inflatable pool after a storm. The islanders have kept Pablo and Birdy safe ever since.

Ten years have passed and suddenly brought some very strong winds of change. Pablo becomes desperate to learn about his origins. Will his parrot companion Birdy help him in is his discovery?

This is a fable like story and do not forget to pay close attention to the wonderful illustrations.

Book reviewed by Marsha D., Youth Services Assistant

What a Waste! Where Does Garbage Go? by Claire Eamer

Cover image for What a waste! : where does garbage go?Did you know that recycling bins are blue due to the fact that blue plastic takes longer to decompose than any other color of plastic? Discover more facts like this one in this fascinating non-fiction book recommended for those in 3rd grade and up. Since the dawn of civilization, people in groups have accumulated garbage. What did they do with it? Using a blend of history and science, this book answers this question and also explains how different countries manage their large amounts of trash in modern times. The colorful layout and “trash talk” sidebars will have you hooked immediately.

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant

Young Fredle by Cynthia Voigt 

Cover image for Young FredleIf it hadn’t been for the delicious combination of chocolate and peppermint, Fredle might have lived his whole life as an indoor mouse. When he becomes ill from overeating, he is pushed from the safety of his family’s nest out onto the unprotected kitchen floor. There, Missus traps him under a glass and releases him outside. Having lived his whole life inside, there are so many outside things that Fredle doesn’t understand. What do outdoor mice eat? Where do they sleep? And what are the dangers to avoid? On his quest to get back home, Fredle is nearly eaten by raccoons, narrowly escapes being lunch for the barn cats, and has a scary conversation with a snake. Will Fredle be able to get back inside? Will he even want to know that he has seen the excitements of outside?

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk

Cover image for Wolf Hollow : a novelAnnabelle has lived on her family’s farm in rural Pennsylvania her whole life. She lives in a nice house that has been in the family for a long time and she helps around their farm when needed. She is also friendly with her neighbors including Toby, a World War I veteran who lives in a shack and is always around to help when needed. He doesn’t speak much, but the whole small town knows that he is a nice guy. Then Betty Glengarry comes to live with her grandparents due to the current war, which we know as World War II. Betty is not nice. In fact, she is a bully and her main target is Annabelle. Betty’s grandparents and the town people all think Betty is a nice girl, so Annabelle thinks she has no one to talk to. One day, Annabelle attempts to be strong and stand up for herself and Betty does stop bullying her. However, Betty changes her target to Toby and soon the town is wondering if Toby is as nice as they thought.

Book reviewed by Laura B., Youth Technology Librarian

Roll by Darcy Miller

Cover image for RollRen’s family decides to move to the outskirts of town. He misses being close to his best friend, Aiden, and he just wants things to go back to normal. Imagine his surprise when he looks up in the sky and sees birds just falling towards the ground. He watches closer and begins to think they’re falling on purpose.

As he investigates, he learns his new neighbor, Sutton, is training the pigeons to fly in competition. While Ren becomes better friends with Sutton, he faces some challenges in his friendship with Aiden. Ren has to figure out the type of friend he wants to be and the type of friends he wants to have. I would recommend this book for 4th-6th graders who love realistic fiction.

Book reviewed by Katharin B., Youth Outreach Liaison

Roller Girl  by Victoria Jamieson    

Cover image for Roller girlOne night, Astrid’s mom takes her and her best friend to a roller derby, and this sets off a course of events that changes Astrid’s life.  Astrid becomes obsessed with everything roller derby and decides to join roller derby camp the summer before entering junior high.  This decision leads to some major problems with her best friend.  To add to her troubles, Astrid discovers that skating for the roller derbies is much harder than she ever imagined, and she can’t think of an awesome roller name like the other girls in the league.  How will she ever be as talented as her idol, Rainbow Bite?  Roller Girl is a fun, entertaining graphic novel with strong female role models.  It is a great choice for those who enjoyed reading Smile.

Book reviewed by Caitlin B., Youth Services Assistant

Auma’s Long Run by Eucabeth Odhiambo

Cover image for Auma's long runAuma’s Long Run transports the reader to a Kenya where people are just discovering and coming to grips with the AIDS epidemic. Auma, unlike most of her classmates, looks beyond a career as a farmer or wife and dreams of being a doctor. It’s part of why she works to understand why so many people are dying and what can be done. Auma, and most in her community, have to deal with being poor and the limited options there are for women, but she has a great relationship with her family, and the whole community works together to help one another. The author did a good job of putting us in that setting, so that even though it is not my own culture, I could relate. Auma is not only a dutiful daughter and student, but a runner and someone who wishes to go back to being a child. Her friends and classmates experience grief, taunting, romantic feelings, and moments of laughter, just like teens here. I recommend this story especially to middle grade and teen readers who want a new perspective.

 Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian

Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

Cover image for Under the eggTheodora “Theo” Tenpenny knows a lot about artwork. Her grandfather was an artist and worked as a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Then, he passed away and left her a note telling her to “look under the egg.” What egg? Did he mean the painting that hangs in his art studio? It has a large egg on it. When she accidentally spills water on this painting, she finds that there is another painting; one that looks like it should be in a museum. How did her grandfather get this painting?  Did he do something illegal? Theo doesn’t know what to do. With the help of a new friend, Theo decides she must figure out what her grandfather did to get this painting and also clear his name if she needs to. This mystery has many twists and turns as well as some great information about art, World War II, and a special group called the Monuments Men.

Book reviewed by Laura B., Youth Technology Librarian

Real Friends by Shannon Hale

Cover image for Real friendsGrowing up can be rough: sometimes your friends move away, sometimes your friends aren’t as kind as they should be, and sometimes you just feel out of place. Shannon Hale writes about how she viewed the world while she was in elementary school. Like most kids, she had trouble with her sibling and friends. As the story goes on, she realizes she may not always realize all the things the people in her life are dealing with. It’s a helpful reminder that growing up isn’t always easy, and sometimes we need to walk in someone else’s shoes to understand them. If you loved Smile or El Deafo, you’ll enjoy this graphic novel too!

Book reviewed by Katharin B., Youth Outreach Liaison

I Will Always Write Back by Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda

Cover image for I will always write back : how one letter changed two livesStarting as an assignment for school, Caitlin is a middle school student in the United States who decides to write to Martin in Zimbabwe. They learn about each other’s lives and become friends long after the assignment has been completed. As Caitlin realizes that Martin and his family are in increasing danger in their country, she and her family find ways to help and eventually get Martin to the United States so he can continue his education. It’s a true story.

Book reviewed by Anne W., Youth Services Assistant