Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: For Grades 4-6

The Most Amazing Creature in the Sea by Brenda Z. Guiberson

Cover image for The most amazing creature in the seaWhale shark vs vampire squid! Nothing is more amazing then this book under or above the sea! Read it and debate with your friends which animal really is the most amazing creature in the sea. Maybe it’s the mimic octopus who is a master of disguise or the box jellyfish with deadly venom. You decide! Teachers and parents this would make a good read aloud if you are looking for short nonfiction or a conversation starter.

Book reviewed by Keary B., Youth Collection Librarian

One Dead Spy: The Life, Times, and Last Words of Nathan Hale, America’s Most Famous Spy by Nathan Hale

Cover image for One dead spy : the life, times, and last words of Nathan Hale, America's most famous spyNathan Hale is an unlucky spy for the American rebels during the American Revolution. On his first mission, he gets caught and sentenced to be hung. As he bravely faces the hangman, he says, “I regret that I have but one life to give for my country,” and then gets swallowed by a giant history book. Literally. When he returns, he has witnessed the history of America. While the hangman is interested in hearing his story, the British soldier is ready to hang him. However, Nathan Hale goes on to tell his story as an American spy during the Revolution through pictures in a graphic novel format.  This book is packed with battles, spy work, and really great characters that lived in real life. Another thing about this book is that it is written by Nathan Hale. Not the Nathan Hale in the story, but a graphic novelist with the same name.

Book reviewed by Laura B. Youth Technology Librarian

The Creeping Shadow (Lockwood & Co. series) by Jonathan Stroud

Cover image for The creeping shadowDo you enjoy slightly spooky stories that feature a hint of mystery and a dash of adventure? Then dive into this 4th installment from the thrilling Lockwood & Co. series! Once again, the reader is returned to the alternate-London world in which deadly ghosts are a daily part of life, and only children can detect their presence. Lucy Carlisle, a freelance agent who can communicate with ghosts, is getting used to her independent life. A surprise break-in at her home, however, forces her back to her former place of employment to seek help. Lockwood & Co. may have just what she needs to help solve the break-in mystery. Trust me; you will not believe what Lucy and her friends discover by the end of this gripping tale!

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant

Blind Guide to Stinkville by Beth Vrabel

Cover image for A blind guide to StinkvilleImagine moving across the country and leaving your best friend when your Dad gets a new job. Now imagine doing all of that with a depressed mom who barely gets out of bed and an older brother who barely speaks to you. Oh, you are also blind and have albinoism. Sound rough? Well, Alice handles it all like a champion and proves along the way the difference between having a vision and having sight.

Book reviewed by Keary B., Youth Collection Librarian

The Matchstick Castle by Keir Graff

Cover image for The matchstick castleFans of Pippi Longstocking are sure to enjoy the The Matchstick Castle by Keir Graff. Brian is stuck spending the summer with his boring uncle’s family in Boring, Illinois while his dad is researching in Antarctica. Instead of spending his days playing soccer with his friends, he must work on a summer school computer program which his uncle is developing. However, once he and his cousin venture into the forest (which is forbidden by his uncle) and encounter the strange castle and its eccentric residents, summer takes a turn for the exciting! With wild boars, swarms of gigantic wasps, a boat resting precariously on the roof of the house, and some unusual new friends, can Brian and Nora help to save the house from destruction? Fans of realistic fiction and adventure are sure to enjoy this book recommended for 4th – 6th graders.

Book reviewed by Carol C., Elementary School Liaison

I am Drums by Mike Grosso

Cover image for I am drumsDrums are Sam’s life. She hears music everywhere she goes, even when she is dreaming. She even makes her own drum kit out of her encyclopedias and her Calvin and Hobbes books so she can practice all the time. Sam wants to become a better drummer, and she has to figure out how she can pay for lessons. This story is funny, sad, and cool.

Book reviewed by Anne W., Youth Services Assistant

Save Me a Seat by Sarah Weeks

Cover image for Save me a seatImagine starting fifth grade at a new school in a new country. It’s tough! Ravi, who has just moved from India, is stunned to learn that his classmates and teacher at Albert Einstein Elementary do not seem impressed by his previous stellar grades, popularity among his former classmates, and his athletic prowess at cricket. At first, he feels his only hope for climbing the social ladder involves befriending Dillon Samreen, an outgoing classmate. Joe, a fellow student who sits behind Ravi, is bullied frequently by Dillon and notices that he has his sights now set on Ravi. With viewpoints of Ravi and Joe alternating every chapter, you’ll root for each one as they both do their best to navigate life in the fifth grade.

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant

The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and John Jory

Cover image for The terrible twoIf you like funny books and are up for a good prank or two, then have I got the book for you, The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and John Jory. In it, Miles Murphy assumes he will be the school prankster when he moves to Yawnee Valley, “the cow capital of the United States, this side of the Mississippi, excluding a couple of towns that cheat.” Unfortunately, his new school already has a resident prankster. An epic prank war ensues to prove just who can pull the best prank and trick their principle, teachers, and classmates. My favorite prank involves cows, but don’t worry you don’t have to like cows to enjoy the hilarity of it all.

Book reviewed by Keary B., Youth Collection Librarian

As Brave As You by Jason Reynolds

Cover image for As brave as youEleven-year old Genie and his older brother Ernie are sent to live with their grandparents in rural Virginia for the summer while their parents go on a trip to work on their relationship. Coming from Brooklyn, and barely knowing their grandparents, this comes as a shock– there is no internet, no TV, and they have to do chores, including shoveling dog poop! What also comes as a shock is that Grandpop is blind. Genie has so many questions, about Grandpop and just about everything else. From, “Where do crickets go when it rains?” and “Why am I so stupid?” To, “How does [Grandpop] match his clothes?” and “Why would a blind man have a gun?” Genie keeps a notebook of these burning questions and also grills Grandpop at every opportunity…especially about the private room he calls his “nunya bidness” room and also why Grandpop never leaves the house. The dialogue and growing bond between Genie and Grandpop is hilarious and heartwarming. Readers learn about generations of family and community issues, as Genie and Ernie question what it means to be brave. This book is one of my favorites of the year because it just feels so real, and is also one of the best audiobooks I’ve listened to in a while. Reader Guy Lockard has the perfect intonation and pace.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

Cover image for The Night gardener : a scary storyA spooky, mysterious tree is at the center of this story. Molly and Kip encounter the Windsor family, who are in need of a housekeeper/cook and someone to take care of their yard. The longer Molly and Kip stay, the more they realize that the tree (which the house has been built around) has magical powers. They also meet a malevolent figure who only comes out at night to take care of the tree. I felt sympathy for Molly and Kip, who have to make their way in the world, because they are not sure they will ever see their parents again. I found this to be a satisfyingly creepy story. Check it out for yourself!

Book reviewed by Anne W., Youth Services Assistant