Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: Picks by Mary S.

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

Young Fredle by Cynthia Voigt 

Cover image for Young FredleIf it hadn’t been for the delicious combination of chocolate and peppermint, Fredle might have lived his whole life as an indoor mouse. When he becomes ill from overeating, he is pushed from the safety of his family’s nest out onto the unprotected kitchen floor. There, Missus traps him under a glass and releases him outside. Having lived his whole life inside, there are so many outside things that Fredle doesn’t understand. What do outdoor mice eat? Where do they sleep? And what are the dangers to avoid? On his quest to get back home, Fredle is nearly eaten by raccoons, narrowly escapes being lunch for the barn cats, and has a scary conversation with a snake. Will Fredle be able to get back inside? Will he even want to know that he has seen the excitements of outside?

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

The Inquisitor’s Tale or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz

Cover image for The inquisitor's tale, or, The three magical children and their holy dogIt all begins with a dog.  A poor peasant couple leaves their baby daughter with only a dog for a babysitter.  When they return, they find the dog covered in blood.  Crazy with grief, they kill the dog only to find their daughter safe and sound in her crib.   Years later, their daughter Jeanne sees the ghost of this dog, and Saint Gwenforte, the one and only canine saint is born.  Seeing ghosts is not popular with the church so Jeanne has to go on the run so she won’t be burned at the stake.  On her journey she meets Jacob, a Jewish boy who can heal any wound, and William, a young monk with supernatural strength.  You will laugh your way through the children’s adventures as they defeat a deadly farting dragon (it turns out he’s just allergic to cheese), convince evil knights to cover themselves in poop, and generally avoid being martyred.

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle by Janet Fox

Cover image for The charmed children of Rookskill CastleSomething is terribly wrong at the castle.  Is  it haunted by ghosts?  Is it a secret hideout for Nazi spies?  Or is it under the control of an evil witch?  Twelve-year-old Kat and her siblings have been sent to boarding school in the castle in order to avoid the bombing in London.  But when the students start disappearing, Kat is worried that the children may be in even more danger than if they had stayed in London.

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

Tru & Nelle by G. Neri

Cover image for Tru & Nelle : a novelWhen Nelle and Tru first meet, they don’t seem to have much in common.  Nelle’s a tomboy, and Tru likes fancy clothes.   It’s their mutual love of mysteries that brings them together.  Soon they have formed their own detective agency and are off solving cases and having adventures.  One particularly funny scheme involves a plan to make money using a monster fish, a two-headed chicken, and pickled baby pig.  Things don’t go quite as planned when the two-headed chicken escapes, knocking the dead piglet onto the minister’s wife’s feet, causing her to faint.  Needless to say, no money was made that day.

Tru & Nelle is based on the childhood friendship of the famous writers Truman Capote and Harper Lee. I highly recommend this book for readers who like historical fiction, mysteries, and stories about friendship.

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill

Cover image for The girl who drank the moonEvery year the villagers in the Protectorate sacrifice a baby to the “evil” witch of the forest.  And every year, this witch (who isn’t evil at all) wonders why these crazy people abandon their babies.  Before the child can be torn to bits by wild animals, the witch, whose name is Xan, rescues it and delivers it to a deserving family on the other side of the forest.  This continues until one year Xan accidentally feeds the baby moonlight which turns the ordinary child into an extraordinary child filled with dangerous magic.  This means Xan must raise the child, whom she names Luna, herself.  For a while she is able to bind Luna’s magic but as Luna’s thirteenth birthday approaches her magic begins to return with dangerous results.  And what about Luna’s biological mother?  Maybe she didn’t abandon her baby as Xan first thought.  What will happen when Luna gets her magic back?

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

Cover image for The Night gardener : a scary storyWhen Molly and Kip lose their parents on their way over from Ireland to England, they are forced to work as servants at a crumbling Victorian mansion in the middle of a creepy forest.  At first they are grateful just to have food and a place to sleep, but the house and its family are not quite what they seem.  What is behind the mysterious green door?  How can the lady of the house be wearing a ring that her husband sold only that morning?  And most importantly, who is the mysterious creature that thumps around the house at night leaving a trail of leaves and mud?

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Cover image for Echo : a novelThink of a piece of music.  In this song, there are three harmonies that come together to make the melody.  Each of these three children’s stories is one of those harmonies.

Friedrich lives in Nazi Germany.  All he wants is to be left alone to play music, but first he needs to rescue his father who has been arrested.  He must smuggle some money into the work camp to buy his father’s freedom.  On his way there, he is captured by Nazis.  Will he make it?

Mike and Frankie are brothers who live in an orphanage in Pennsylvannia during the Great Depression.  They think their luck has improved when they are adopted by a former concert pianist and taken to live in her mansion.  However, it turns out that Mrs. Sturbridge is only adopting them in order to get her inheritance.  When they try to run away, Mike falls as he is climbing out the bedroom window.   Will he make it?

Ivy’s parents manage a farm in South California.  The farm is owned by the Yamamotos, a Japanese family imprisoned in an internment camp.  Their neighbor Mr. Ward thinks the Yamamotos were spies.  He spray paints hateful words on the house and tears up the garden.  He even insists on being shown the contents of the Yamamoto’s house.  Instead of spy equipment, it turns out that the family is hiding musical instruments.  None of this matters, however, when Ivy’s family receives a telegram about her brother, a soldier in World War II.  Will her brother be okay?

All the children face challenges, but pulled by an invisible thread, their stories come together in an unexpected way.

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

Lunch Witch by Deb Lucke

Cover image for The lunch witch. #1It’s hard to be a witch in modern times because no one believes in magic anymore.  So what is an out-of-work witch who makes terrible tasting brews to do?  You guessed it–become a lunch lady in the school cafeteria.

Perfect, right?  Except there’s one problem.  A student named Madison guesses she is a witch and insists that Grunhilda give her a spell.  Grunhilda plans on brewing an intelligence potion but the ancestors have other ideas. They secretly change the spell so it turns Madison into a frog.

A frog loose in the school–you can imagine the consequences!  Will Madison be dissected in science class?  Will she be trampled by students in the hallway?  And most importantly, will she stay a frog forever or will Grunhilda be able to turn her back into a girl?

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents: Macbeth by Ian Lendler

Cover image for The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue presents MacbethMaybe you’ve heard of Shakespeare from plays like Romeo and Juliet–sappy–or Othello:  boring!  But I promise you, this Shakespeare play is not like anything you’ve ever read before.  The animals are putting on the play MacBeth at the zoo.  There will be yummy snacks–peanuts, bananas, and even earthworms.  You’ll want to make sure you get a good seat–not behind the giraffe (too tall) or next to the skunk (too smelly).  Then sit back and enjoy the laughs, the blood, and the drama.   Will the lion eat the king like his rubber ducky tells him to?  Will the lioness go crazy from doing all that bloody laundry.  Read The Stratford Zoo Midnight Revue Presents:  Macbeth to find out.

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head