Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: Picks by Claire B

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

Making it Right by Marilee Peters

Cover image for Making it right : building peace, settling conflictLet’s talk about real life superheroes! When bad things happen, we can’t call Batman or the Avengers, but there are things we ourselves can do. Making it Right, by Marilee Peters, explains how the criminal justice system, which makes rules on how to deal with crime, was developed and how it works today. Most of the time in the US, people go to court and have lawyers, a judge, and jury decide what happens. At school, the principal probably decides your punishment. In some communities, the offender and victim meet, along with a mediator, learn more about each other’s perspectives, and decide together what the offender can do to make up for their wrong. There are stories about kids who learn how to resolve fights at school, kids in New Orleans who worked on solving problems in their schools after Hurricane Katrina, and the ways young people in South Africa worked to heal after apartheid. I thought this was a really interesting book, and a good one to check out to help you deal with problems at school and beyond. All around the world, kids like you are doing something to help others and make the world a better place. Pick up this book if you want to start learning more!

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian

Comics Squad: Recess! edited by Jennifer L. Holm, Matthew Holm & Jarrett J. Krosoczka

Cover image for Comics Squad : recess!In each of these short comic stories, recess plays a part. This book features stories by some of the best graphic novel writers today: Gene Luen Yang, Dav Pilkey, Raina Telgemeier, and more! You’ll hear stories about familiar characters, like Babymouse, Betty from Lunch Lady, and George and Harold from Captain Underpants. You’ll also meet people like Daryl, who wants to join the Super-Secret Ninja Club but needs to prove his skills first, and Jiminy Sprinkles, a cupcake who faces off against the vitamin-fortified Green Gang.  Along the way you’ll find fun activities like a comic character mashup and instructions for drawing different characters.

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian