Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: Picks by Claire B

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

Stella Diaz has Something to Say by Angela Dominguez

Stella Diaz Has Something to Say book coverStella is a Mexican-American in 3rd grade, growing up in Arlington Heights (yes, our next door neighbor!). She loves marine animals, especially fish, but she has trouble speaking up in school and feeling like she belongs because sometimes she uses Spanish instead of English or doesn’t have the right pronunciation. She doesn’t even fit in with her family, where her Spanish isn’t quite good enough. A new kid, Stanley, joins her class and while she wants to be friends with him, she is too shy to ever talk to him. She also has to do an oral presentation in class, which terrifies her, but she gets help from her older brother, her best friend, and eventually Stanley, who she befriends at the Shedd Aquarium. Can she find the courage to speak up and find her place in the world? This is a story of friendship, bravery, and individuality with funny moments and great illustrations throughout.

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian

If My Moon Was Your Sun by Andreas Steinhöfel 

Cover image for If my moon was your sunThis book is about a kidnapping, but not the kind you might be imagining. You see, Max’s grandfather lives in a nursing home for people who have “lost their marbles,” as grandfather says. Grandfather hasn’t lost all his marbles, but he forgets things and people sometimes (we know this is dementia, but Max doesn’t). That’s why Max has to break grandfather out of the nursing home and take him to a place he’ll never forget. It isn’t Max’s fault that Miss Schneider sneaks out along with them and decides to follow them. Max knows this is his chance to help his grandfather, his favorite person, remember. Of course, now the police and caregivers and Max’s mom are out looking for them! This short book includes pictures and an audiobook with music to accompany the story. It was translated from German, and is a sweet, amusing story about family and a mini-adventure.

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian

Auma’s Long Run by Eucabeth Odhiambo

Cover image for Auma's long runAuma’s Long Run transports the reader to a Kenya where people are just discovering and coming to grips with the AIDS epidemic. Auma, unlike most of her classmates, looks beyond a career as a farmer or wife and dreams of being a doctor. It’s part of why she works to understand why so many people are dying and what can be done. Auma, and most in her community, have to deal with being poor and the limited options there are for women, but she has a great relationship with her family, and the whole community works together to help one another. The author did a good job of putting us in that setting, so that even though it is not my own culture, I could relate. Auma is not only a dutiful daughter and student, but a runner and someone who wishes to go back to being a child. Her friends and classmates experience grief, taunting, romantic feelings, and moments of laughter, just like teens here. I recommend this story especially to middle grade and teen readers who want a new perspective.

 Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian