Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: Realistic Stories

Best Buds Under Frogs by Leslie Patricelli

Best Buds Under Frogs book coverMaking friends at a new school is hard, and its even harder when you throw up on someone’s brand-new shoes during recess. Lily just wants to crawl into her imaginary turtle shell or better yet never ever go to school again.  But, luckily for her, she meets Darby, who doesn’t seem to care what other people think.  Lily and Darby form the Rizzlerunk Club with their own secret handshake, an invisible clubhouse, and candy bracelets. Everything is going great until Darby’s former best friend and original mean girl Jill returns.  Suddenly, Lily finds herself getting into trouble that she never could have imagined such as accidentally shaving off her eyebrows, thinking about shoplifting candy, and even secretly painting the school’s monkey bars.  Is it time to quit the Rizzlerunk Club or simply time to oust its newest member–Queenbee Jill?  With its hilarious hijinks and comical illustrations, this is a great read for 3rd and 4th graders.

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head

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

Hope in the Holler by Lisa Lewis Tyre

Hope in the Holler book coverWavie and her mother haven’t always had a lot of money, but they’ve been happy together in their trailer home surrounded by thoughtful neighbors and friends. After her mother passes away and she is forced to live with a previously unknown (and unkind) aunt in rural “Convict Holler,” Wavie struggles to stay positive in this different new life. With the help of  some new friends, Wavie may just find a little hope along with some smiles going forward while trying to answer some puzzling questions about her family’s past. This title is recommended for those in 5th grade and up.

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant

Greeting from Witness Protection by Jake Burt

Cover image for Greetings from witness protection!Nicki has been in foster care for a long time and seen all sorts of stuff, but when US Marshals show up and ask her to be part of the cover for a family entering witness protection, she’s shocked. The marshals know that the mob is looking for a family of three, not a family of four with a son and a daughter. So, all she has to do is pretend she’s always had a brother and the Trevors really are her parents. Easy right? Oh, she’s also got to be perfectly normal in everything. What could go wrong? Turns out plenty! There’s action, humor, and compelling characters to root for here.

 

Secret Sheriff of Sixth Grade by Jordan Sonnenblick

Cover image for The secret sheriff of sixth gradeLife isn’t easy for Maverick. His mom struggles with drinking and a string of bad boyfriends. There are also money problems, and he gets picked on in school. Basically, nothing seems to be going right. So, Maverick decides to change things when he starts 6th grade. He’ll stand up to the bullies, and protect anyone smaller than him. Unfortunately, there’s only one person smaller then him in 6th grade, and generally when he intervenes, he makes things worse. This book can make you laugh one minute and cry the next.

 

Frindle by Andrew Clements

Cover image for FrindleNick Allen has mastered the art of making school a more entertaining place to be, whether that involves transforming his classroom into a tropical island, or making sure there is no homework assigned by asking his trademarked, thought-provoking, time-wasting questions.  When asking one of these questions in Mrs. Granger’s 5th grade language arts class, he finds himself instead assigned a report about words and their origins!  He later devises a plan to create a word of his own: frindle.  Soon everyone is using Nick’s new word, despite fierce opposition by Mrs. Granger.  Who will win the war of the words?

 

All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson

Cover image for All's faire in middle schoolImogen is starting public school for the first time after being homeschooled all her life. She’s worried about fitting in, especially since her family works year round at the local renaissance faire and doesn’t exactly act normal. In an effort to make friends, Imogen ends up becoming a bully herself, but knows it’s wrong and doesn’t fit with her knight training at the Faire. Can she find the courage to be who she really is? Give to fans of Raina Telgemeier, Sunny Side UpEl Deafo, or Roller Girl.

 

Absolutely Alfie and the Furry Purry Secret by Sally Warner

Cover image for Absolutely Alfie and the furry purry secretAbsolutely Alfie and the Furry Purry Secret by Sally Warner is the first book about Alfie, who is the younger sister to EllRay Jakes, which is another series for young chapter book readers. Alfie is a little nervous about starting 2nd grade, and not looking forward to her forced playdates with a neighbor girl, Hanni, who she has heard can be a bit bossy. The girls actually have fun together. Then Hanni’s family gets a bunch of kittens and they’re just giving them away! For free! Alfie can’t resist, even though there’s a family rule: no pets allowed. That’s because Alfie is allergic. But Alfie thinks the rule is wrong and she just knows she can handle taking care of a kitten on her own. She just has to keep it a secret. What could possibly go wrong?

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

Pablo and Birdy by Alison McGee

Cover image for Pablo and BirdyWelcome to the island of Isla where an infant and a mute, flightless parrot arrive in a child’s inflatable pool after a storm. The islanders have kept Pablo and Birdy safe ever since.

Ten years have passed and suddenly brought some very strong winds of change. Pablo becomes desperate to learn about his origins. Will his parrot companion Birdy help him in is his discovery?

This is a fable like story and do not forget to pay close attention to the wonderful illustrations.

Book reviewed by Marsha D., Youth Services Assistant

Roll by Darcy Miller

Cover image for RollRen’s family decides to move to the outskirts of town. He misses being close to his best friend, Aiden, and he just wants things to go back to normal. Imagine his surprise when he looks up in the sky and sees birds just falling towards the ground. He watches closer and begins to think they’re falling on purpose.

As he investigates, he learns his new neighbor, Sutton, is training the pigeons to fly in competition. While Ren becomes better friends with Sutton, he faces some challenges in his friendship with Aiden. Ren has to figure out the type of friend he wants to be and the type of friends he wants to have. I would recommend this book for 4th-6th graders who love realistic fiction.

Book reviewed by Katharin D., Youth Outreach Liaison