Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: Picks by Claire B

Knockout by K.A. Holt

KnockoutLevi is tired of being told what he can’t do, of having his mother and brother always hovering and worrying about him. He was born prematurely, and still has some health issues, but that doesn’t mean that he wants to be treated like a baby. His dad encourages him to try a new sport, and he discovers boxing. It turns out he LOVES it, but he can’t tell his mom or brother or they will freak out. This story is a novel in verse, or written in poetry, which makes it a fast read. Levi is a funny guy, who has found that if he clowns around, he will get people laughing with him, instead of at him. I enjoyed the concrete poetry, where the poem takes the shape of something, and Levi’s funny and determined attitude. Pick this book up if you are looking for a fun and fast read about sports, friends, and family.

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian

My Year in the Middle by Lila Quintero Weaver

My Year in the MiddleLu is the daughter of Argentinian immigrants, living in Alabama. She’s in sixth grade, in a recently integrated school and feeling like an outsider of her own because she’s Latina. For the most part, white students and black students sit on opposite sides of the room, are only friends with people who look like them. Lu’s love of running brings her closer to a black student, Belinda, but this also puts her at odds with her traditional parents sometimes. Tensions rise throughout the book with the upcoming election between Brewer and Wallace (the segregationist)… people start choosing sides leading to disagreements between friends, fights, and a lot of confusion about what is right. When Lu ultimately decides to stand up for what she believes in, she’ll discover who her real friends are and who she really is. Pick up this historical fiction novel if you are interested in civil rights, running, and a well written story that’s heartwarming.

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian

Drum Roll Please by Lisa Jenn Bigelow 

Drum Roll PleaseMelly and her best friend, Olivia, are all set for rock-‘n’-roll summer camp and on their way when Melly’s parents announce that they are getting a divorce. Then Melly and Olivia get placed in different cabins and bands…but Melly has only ever played with Olivia. Everyone else in her band has a different style of music and it doesn’t seem like they can find any common ground. Her bandmate Adeline becomes a new friend and Melly realizes she has a crush on her. This novel takes Melly through many emotions: angry, confused, shy, scared, curious, understanding. This is a great story about coming out of your shell, romance, and of course, music.

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian

The Manic Panic by Richa Jha

The Manic PanicWhen the internet breaks, what do you do? You can’t watch TV or play video games or stare at your phone…this is what happens for one family, and the parents are freaking out. It turns out to be their daughter who saves the day, with the help of an amused grandma, forcing her parents to do other things, like go for a walk in the park and play board games. They grumble and drag their feet, but ultimately have a great time. I really enjoyed reading this funny story with a twist, and I bet you will too!

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian

The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon

The Season of Styx MaloneCaleb and his brother Bobby Gene are having an average summer, playing in the woods behind their house, when they accidentally trade their baby sister for a bag of illegal fireworks. Shortly after, they meet Styx Malone, a 16 year old boy. He offers to help them get something better for the fireworks, but it requires some trickery: namely, an elevator trade, where they keep trading things for bigger and bigger things.  Their father doesn’t like them to leave their small town of Sutton, Indiana, fearing what could happen to them in a place no one knows them, but quickly, their friendship with Styx has them doing riskier and riskier things…like swimming in the lake in the woods, hitching a ride on a train, and “trading,” or stealing depending on who you ask. Caleb has always wanted to have an adventure, and he practically idolizes Styx, who doesn’t seem to be afraid of anything. Styx is mysterious and charming and seems to have learned how to get people to like him, but also won’t get too attached to anyone or any place.It’s how he has learned to survive as a foster child. The Season of Styx Malone is an adventure story with laughs and trouble-making, as well as family and friends and the difficulties some people face.

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian