Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: For Grades 4-6

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Cover image for The girl who drank the moonEvery year the villagers in the Protectorate sacrifice a baby to the “evil” witch of the forest.  And every year, this witch (who isn’t evil at all) wonders why these crazy people abandon their babies.  Before the child can be torn to bits by wild animals, the witch, whose name is Xan, rescues it and delivers it to a deserving family on the other side of the forest.  This continues until one year Xan accidentally feeds the baby moonlight which turns the ordinary child into an extraordinary child filled with dangerous magic.  This means Xan must raise the child, whom she names Luna, herself.  For a while she is able to bind Luna’s magic but as Luna’s thirteenth birthday approaches her magic begins to return with dangerous results.  And what about Luna’s biological mother?  Maybe she didn’t abandon her baby as Xan first thought.  What will happen when Luna gets her magic back?

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai

Cover image for Listen, slowlyMai is ready for summer vacation in California. She plans to spend it on the beach with her best friend and maybe even talk to the guy she likes, but her parents have other ideas. Mai’s family is from Vietnam. Her grandmother left with her children after the Vietnam War. Her grandfather was never found after the war. Now, a detective thinks he has found some information on what happened to her grandfather and her grandmother wants to return to Vietnam for answers. Mai’s parents insist that Mai accompany her grandmother on the trip, which means no beach for Mai. Soon, Mai is in Vietnam, a place she considers hot, smelly, and with a lot of extended family. She doesn’t speak the language well and Vietnam is very different than California. It’s even worse when she finds out that her best friend in California is on the beach hanging with the guy she likes. If only the detective and grandmother could work something out. Then, she would get to go home, but that doesn’t seem likely. Now, she must try to find a balance between California life and Vietnam life, and maybe even try to give Vietnam and her extended family a chance.

Book reviewed by Laura B. Youth Technology Librarian

Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

Cover image for The Night gardener : a scary storyWhen Molly and Kip lose their parents on their way over from Ireland to England, they are forced to work as servants at a crumbling Victorian mansion in the middle of a creepy forest.  At first they are grateful just to have food and a place to sleep, but the house and its family are not quite what they seem.  What is behind the mysterious green door?  How can the lady of the house be wearing a ring that her husband sold only that morning?  And most importantly, who is the mysterious creature that thumps around the house at night leaving a trail of leaves and mud?

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story by Nora Raleigh Baskin

Cover image for Nine, ten : a September 11 storyIt is September 9, 2001. A day like any other day. Children in school, parents working, families settling down to their dinners – nothing out of the ordinary in any way. Our story begins here, introducing us to four children and their families, one each in Chicago, Illinois; Shanksville, Pennsylvania; Brooklyn, New York; and Columbus, Ohio. All of them will soon feel the impact of the events of September 11, 2001, each in their own special way. The tragedy of 9.11 is gently brought home through the stories of these ordinary children. The history of the day becomes more personal as we see it unfold through their eyes. If you like historical fiction, and would like to understand 9.11 in a new way, this is the book for you.

Book reviewed by Loreen S., Youth Services Assistant

How to Capture an Invisible Cat by Paul Tobin

Cover image for How to capture an invisible catInvisible Cats? Dogs that can talk? Villains chasing Nate and Delphine? In How to Capture an Invisible Cat by Paul Tobin, Nate and Delphine have to figure out how to shrink Nate’s cat, Proton, to his original size (Nate loves science and experimenting and made Proton the size of an elephant and invisible). The Red Death Tea Society (the villains) are trying to stop Nate and Delphine from shrinking Proton. Who will win? Read this book and find out!

Book reviewed by Anne W., Youth Services Assistant

Bachelor’s Grove Cemetery and Other Haunted Places of the Midwest by Matt Chandler

Cover image for Bachelor's Grove Cemetery and other hauntings of the midwestImagine taking a walk in the woods and coming upon an old cemetery. It’s by a pond that is covered in algae and it looks as if no one has been there in a very long time. It’s quiet, but kind of creepy, and you think that maybe you are not alone. That is exactly what happens when you visit Bachelor’s Grove cemetery in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. This eerie cemetery supposedly has many ghosts and is just one location in this book. If cemeteries aren’t creepy enough, there are haunted houses, theaters, and even the Great Lakes. Do you believe in ghosts? Either way, this book has some fun information about the area where we live and is really fun to read.

Book reviewed by Laura B. Youth Technology Librarian

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Cover image for Echo : a novelThink of a piece of music.  In this song, there are three harmonies that come together to make the melody.  Each of these three children’s stories is one of those harmonies.

Friedrich lives in Nazi Germany.  All he wants is to be left alone to play music, but first he needs to rescue his father who has been arrested.  He must smuggle some money into the work camp to buy his father’s freedom.  On his way there, he is captured by Nazis.  Will he make it?

Mike and Frankie are brothers who live in an orphanage in Pennsylvannia during the Great Depression.  They think their luck has improved when they are adopted by a former concert pianist and taken to live in her mansion.  However, it turns out that Mrs. Sturbridge is only adopting them in order to get her inheritance.  When they try to run away, Mike falls as he is climbing out the bedroom window.   Will he make it?

Ivy’s parents manage a farm in South California.  The farm is owned by the Yamamotos, a Japanese family imprisoned in an internment camp.  Their neighbor Mr. Ward thinks the Yamamotos were spies.  He spray paints hateful words on the house and tears up the garden.  He even insists on being shown the contents of the Yamamoto’s house.  Instead of spy equipment, it turns out that the family is hiding musical instruments.  None of this matters, however, when Ivy’s family receives a telegram about her brother, a soldier in World War II.  Will her brother be okay?

All the children face challenges, but pulled by an invisible thread, their stories come together in an unexpected way.

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

Chasing Secrets by Gennifer Choldenko

Cover image for Chasing secretsIn Chasing Secrets by Gennifer Choldenko, Lizzie’s father is a doctor and one of her favorite things to do is visit patients with him, even though that’s not something girls really do in 1900. She discovers a hidden dark side of the city of San Francisco where she lives, including rumors that the plague is there. Then the family’s Chinese cook goes missing just when Chinatown is quarantined, and Lizzie is determined to find him—he is part of her family after all. Ignoring the rules of race and class, Lizzie must put the pieces together in a heart-stopping race to save the people she loves. This book brought to life a time and place in America’s history that children may not know much about.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

Kid Pickers: How to Turn Junk into Treasure by Mike Wolfe

Cover image for Kid pickers : how to turn junk into treasureHave you ever heard the saying, “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure?” It basically means that the things you don’t want or like could be wanted by someone else. This book is all about that. Mike Wolfe is from the show, American Pickers, which airs on the History Channel. In this show, Mike goes around finding items that some people consider junk and he either buys them or is given them. He then cleans them up and sometime sells them. What this show doesn’t tell you is that Mike has been doing this since he was a kid. It started with old bikes, cigar boxes, and comic books, and it soon grew to more items. This book is great resource for learning how to pick items and will help you either begin a collection or start a new one. Mike explains places you can go to find items, how to research the item, and even how to re-purpose the item into something new. I especially liked reading about the repurposing of items. I also liked that each chapter ends with a kid picker and their collection. So check out this book to start your picking and have a fun summer doing an interesting activity outside.

Book reviewed by Laura B. Youth Technology Librarian

Milo Speck, Accidental Agent by Linda Urban

Cover image for Milo Speck, accidental agentThis is the story of Milo Speck, a boy whose father travels a lot for work, and leaves him with Grandmother, a woman who is not actually his grandmother, and who makes him wear dorky clothes with squawking ducks on them. He’s emptying out the laundry machine one day when a sock pulls him in…suddenly he’s in a world called Ogregon, filled with, you guessed it, ogres! They are giant, not very smart, and obsessed with eating children. Milo is desperate for a way to escape, until he hears that his father might be trapped there as well. So he goes to rescue his father, and learns along the way about secret agents, turkeys that obey commands, the mysterious Dr. El, and something called a whatzit that promises to bring the ogres lots of kids to eat. This book is exciting and explores worlds very different from our own, but it should also make you laugh. If you’re looking for something magical with a sense of humor, check out this book!

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian