Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: Picks by Mary S.

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

Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis

Cover image for Bud, not BuddyThings have not been going well for ten-year-old Bud.  First, Todd, his foster brother, sticks a pencil up his nose while he’s sleeping.  Then when he defends himself, Todd beats him up and Bud is the one who is punished by being locked overnight in the shed.  There he sees a huge vampire bat, which he attacks with a rake.  Only it turns out the bat is really a hornet’s nest with about 6000 hornets heading straight for him.

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

Greenglass House by Kate Milford

Cover image for Greenglass HouseIt’s the middle of winter at Greenglass House, a smuggler’s inn on the side of a steep hill.  The only way up is a creaky old cable car or a long hike up the stairs.  The house used to belong to the famous smuggler Doc Holliday, who disappeared mysteriously some years ago.   Twelve-year old Milo thinks he will spend a relaxing vacation snowed in with just the owners (his parents), because who would want to stay at the hotel at this time of year?  Wrong!  Guests begin arriving out of nowhere, each one with their own secret agenda, turning Milo’s quiet holiday into chaos. Strange things begin to happen.  Milo finds a mysterious nautical map.  Who does it belong to and where does it lead?   Then items begin disappearing from the guests’ rooms.  Now it is up to Milo and his friend Meddy to follow the clues to find the thief and discover the secrets of the Greenglass House.

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head