Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: Realistic Stories

Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai

Cover image for Listen, slowlyMai is ready for summer vacation in California. She plans to spend it on the beach with her best friend and maybe even talk to the guy she likes, but her parents have other ideas. Mai’s family is from Vietnam. Her grandmother left with her children after the Vietnam War. Her grandfather was never found after the war. Now, a detective thinks he has found some information on what happened to her grandfather and her grandmother wants to return to Vietnam for answers. Mai’s parents insist that Mai accompany her grandmother on the trip, which means no beach for Mai. Soon, Mai is in Vietnam, a place she considers hot, smelly, and with a lot of extended family. She doesn’t speak the language well and Vietnam is very different than California. It’s even worse when she finds out that her best friend in California is on the beach hanging with the guy she likes. If only the detective and grandmother could work something out. Then, she would get to go home, but that doesn’t seem likely. Now, she must try to find a balance between California life and Vietnam life, and maybe even try to give Vietnam and her extended family a chance.

Book reviewed by Laura B. Youth Technology Librarian

Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff

Cover image for Lost in the sunIn Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff, 12-year-old Trent used to love sports and had lots of friends, but 6 months ago all that changed—a boy died after getting hit in the chest with a hockey puck. And guess who hit that hockey puck? So Trent is having a rough year to say the least. His tense visits with his standoffish dad aren’t helping. His homeroom teacher, who he calls the “wrinkled old crone,” forcing him to water her plants after school isn’t helping. The only things that may be helping are his “Book of Thoughts” and the unexpected friendship that’s springing up with Fallon Little, the outcast girl with the scar across her face. Lost in the Sun is a heartfelt and emotional story from a boy’s point of view, with a little bit of sports thrown in.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

Almost Home by Joan Bauer

Cover image for Almost homeTalk about a challenging life. Sugar has a deadbeat dad, a mom with emotional issues and they lose their house. You would think that would make this sixth grader very negative and troubled. Not Sugar (that is her name :)) She rises above it all with the help of a puppy, poetry and a few people who take the time out to build into her life. This is a really good book!

 

The Truth about Twinkie Pie by Kat Yeh

Cover image for The truth about Twinkie PieThe Truth About Twinkie Pie unfolds as GiGi begins 7th grade at a new school and learns more about herself, her mother and her sister. This is a heartwarming story of love, loss, sacrifice, and what it means to be a family. Each chapter begins with a recipe from mama’s cookbook which adds to the charm of this middle grade novel. Readers who like character driven stories with a bit of mystery are sure to enjoy The Truth about Twinkie Pie.

Book reviewed by Amy S., Youth Outreach and Programming Assistant

Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur

Cover image for Love, AubreyPut this book on your must-read list if you are a fan of stories where the main character must struggle to overcome real-life obstacles. Although Aubrey is only eleven, she has had her share of hardships. Her father and younger sister suddenly pass away in an accident. Then, her mother is unable to cope with their deaths and drives away from the house, leaving Aubrey to fend for herself. Aubrey quietly accepts her abandonment and lives alone for days before her grandmother discovers the truth and whisks her away to her house in Vermont.  With a new place to live and new people in her life, Aubrey searches for what will help her move forward but won’t let her forget precious memories. There are many moments of hope and happiness in this book, but also many sad moments, so get your tissues ready!

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Programming Assistant