Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: Picks by Erin E.

Sam the Man and the Chicken Plan by Frances O’Roark Dowell 

Everyone else in his family has a job. Sam wants to earn money too, so he turns to his neighbors to see if they need help doing chores and lands himself not one, but TWO jobs! One neighbor pays him a whole dollar each time he can convince her cranky old dad to join him for a walk. Sam’s second job is helping Mrs. Kerner take care of her chickens, which he discovers a knack for. Sam is soon on a mission to get a chicken of his own– one that lays blue eggs, which he can sell to his classmates to make even MORE money! Will his plan work? What will he do with all his riches? Find out the answers to these questions and see what else happens to Sam the Man in this charming and funny beginner chapter book series. 

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator 

Akissi: Tales of Mischief by Marguerite Abouet 

Akissi: Tales of Mischief

With playful language and irreverent humor, Akissi and her family take readers on a tour of daily life in West Africa. This is more comic than graphic novel; each episode stands on its own. But readers’ affection for Akissi and their understanding of her environment will grow as the collection progresses. Readers may be unfamiliar with some activities, such as having to go outside to use the bathroom or sitting for many painful hours getting your hair braided. And some episodes may shock readers, like when Akissi contracts a tapeworm! Akissi is always scheming… and often getting caught in hilarious ways. 

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator 

The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani

The Night Diary book coverThis book made me hungry for Indian food. One of the things Nisha loves to do is prepare food, which she does with Kazi, who is her family’s cook. Kazi also happens to be Muslim, while Nisha’s family is Hindu. Nisha never thought about this before, until suddenly India is being split into two countries– a new India for Hindu people and Pakistan for Muslim people. Gandhi doesn’t think this is right, and neither does Nisha. The book is told through diary entries that Nisha addresses to her mother, whom she never knew. Her mother was Muslim, which also makes Nisha feel conflicted about her identity. This is a well-written and interesting historical fiction.  The narrator has an authentic voice and the story tells about a part of India’s history with which many kids may be unfamiliar.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani DasGupta

The Serpents Secret book coverKiranmala comes home from school on her 12th birthday to discover that her parents have disappeared from their New Jersey home, there’s a rakkosh demon on her front lawn, and all those stories her parents have always told her about being an Indian princess from another dimension full of demons and magic– well, it turns out it was all true! In order to bring her parents back, Kiranmala and two princes must travel to the Kingdom Beyond, where Kiranmala uncovers surprising facts in her family tree, and comes into her own as a strong young woman.  What sets this novel apart from the rest is the playful tone. I mean, how would YOU react if you’re living a normal boring life and are suddenly meeting talking birds and half-demons? Fans of Rick Riordan will love this action-packed new series!

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

Breakout by Kate Messner

Breakout Book CoverThis exciting novel is told from three girls’ perspectives as they each write letters that will go into their small town’s time capsule. Two prisoners have just escaped from the local prison. Nora’s dad is the superintendent, and Elidee, who has just moved to town with her mom, has a brother who is an inmate in the prison. Nora and her best friend Lizzie form a friendship with Elidee, and the three of them set out to find the escaped convicts in order to end the chaos around them. This book will really make you question why you see things the way that you do, and how someone else with different experiences might see the same situation differently. Breakout is super engaging, thought provoking, and accessible for young readers.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator