Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: Non-fiction

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

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

Dazzle Ships: World War I and the Art of Confusion by Chris Barton

Cover image for Dazzle ships : World War I and the art of confusionHow do you camouflage a huge cargo ship, traveling in the middle of the ocean? You can find out in Chris Barton’s new book, which explains how Britain used an unusual and colorful idea to help them win a war. Dazzle Ships: World War I and the Art of Confusion begins by setting the scene. It was 1917 amid World War I and people on the island of Britain were starving. They relied on ships to bring food and supplies, but Germany’s U-boats kept sneaking up and torpedoing the ships. Then Lieutenant-commander Norman Wilkinson presented a wild idea. Because ships could not be painted in a way that would make them invisible to submarines, he proposed the extreme opposite: paint them with colorful patterns. This would break up the form and confuse the submarine as to which direction the ship is heading and at what speed, making the ships more difficult targets. Amazingly, it worked! Britain went on to paint over 2,000 dazzle ships during World War I, with many different patterns. This book brings the dazzle ships to life in a way that even photographs can’t, since photos of the time were in black and white. You will enjoy the vibrant illustrations while learning a piece of fascinating history.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson

Cover image for The youngest marcher : the story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a young civil rights activistHere is a story of a real-life child hero—an African-American girl who went to jail to fight for Civil Rights when she was just 9 years old. The Youngest Marcher: The Story of Audrey Faye Hendricks, a Young Civil Rights Activist by Cynthia Levinson describes how young Audrey was at the center of the Civil Rights Movement in Alabama in the 1960’s. Her family knew Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Audrey would listen over the dinner table or at church to the adults talking about fighting for equal rights. Audrey was fired up and she wanted to help. The illustrations make this book appealing and accessible to young children to learn about history in a way that doesn’t feel too heavy or boring; it feels relatable. It makes Audrey seem like a girl you might know… and you can really appreciate how brave she was.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

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