Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: For Grades 4-6

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

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

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