Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: Realistic Stories

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Cover image for The crossoverIn The Crossover by Kwame Alexander, narrator Josh Bell delivers a dynamic play-by-play of the basketball season and his middle school turmoil through poems that evoke a hip-hop vibe while telling a heartfelt tale of basketball, brotherhood, and so much more. Josh is the only middle-schooler around who can dunk, his twin brother Jordan has a mean three-point shot, and together they’re a well-oiled machine—both on and off the court. But when Jordan gets a girlfriend, Josh finds their relationship suddenly changing—and he doesn’t like it. A fast read that will hook you from the warm up and deliver an emotional punch before the final buzzer, this book is a slam dunk.

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator

Ruby Goldberg’s Bright Idea by Anna Humphrey

Cover image for Ruby Goldberg's bright ideaHey Scientists! Would you like a machine to do your chores for you? Ruby Goldberg is an inventor, and in Ruby Goldberg’s Bright Idea by Anna Humphrey, she likes to invent Rube Goldberg machines. Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist and an inventor of machines that had many steps to perform a simple task. When Ruby’s grandfather loses his dog, Tomato, Ruby wants to think of a way to help her grandfather to feel better. She decides to make a machine that will pick up the newspaper and put it on the table, and also fetch her grandfather’s slippers and place them by his favorite chair. Tomato used to do these things when he was alive, and Ruby’s grandpa misses Tomato very much.

If you would like to see a Rube Goldberg machine in action, check out the opening sequence of Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. Pee Wee invents a machine that wakes him up and makes his breakfast each morning. Another example is Wallace and Gromit, they also invent a machine to wake them up and feed them breakfast, which you can see in Wallace & Gromit: The Wrong Trousers.

Book reviewed by Anne W., Youth Services Assistant

Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Summer Vacation by Tommy Greenwald

Cover image for Charlie Joe Jackson's guide to summer vacationIf you don’t already know who Charlie Joe Jackson is, the first thing he’ll tell you is how much he hates to read and the lengths he has gone to in the past to avoid reading, including bribing his best friend with ice cream sandwiches to read books for him. So how did he end up at a summer camp for kids who love to read? Well, in a moment of weakness, Charlie Joe agreed to go to Camp Rituhbukkee to make his parents happy. So now he is stuck away from most of his friends at camp for three weeks where most people don’t act anything like him. At least there is basketball, and for once Charlie Joe is the best player on the team! Fans of Origami Yoda, Big Nate, and Diary of a Wimpy Kid will want to check out Charlie Joe Jackson.