Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: Realistic Stories

E-Book & E-Audiobook – Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish by Pablo Cartaya

Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak SpanishEighth grade is hard. When you’re 180 pounds and six feet tall, it can be even harder. Most of the kids in Marcus Vega’s school are terrified of him. Marcus uses his intimidating size to help protect smaller kids from the real school bully, Stephen. He uses the money he earns at school to help his mom and his brother. When Stephen says something horrible about Marcus’ brother, Marcus gets into a fight with Stephen and finds himself suspended. Their family decides to take a break and visit Puerto Rico. On this trip, Marcus discovers new things about himself and his family. He realizes that things around him are not always what they seem. If you enjoy realistic fiction, I would highly recommend this for fifth and sixth graders. 

 This book is available as an ebook and e-audio in OverDrive’s Digital Library.  

 Book reviewed by Katie D., Youth Outreach Liaison 

E-Book & E-Audiobook – Greetings from Witness Protection! by Jake Burt 

Greetings from Witness Protection OverDrive Book & AudioNicki Demere is an orphan, a great pickpocket, and about to be adopted by the U.S. Marshalls, sort of. See, the Marshalls are in charge of protecting and hiding people in Witness Protection, which is not always easy. So, to make it even harder for the Trevor family to be found, they decide to add a daughter to the family. Now, a family of three becomes a family four. This means that Nicki needs to learn how to be a normal B-minus grade point average daughter and sister while also protecting the family from hitmen and more. However, the Trevor family are not the only ones that have a past that needs to stay hidden. Nicki does too and that past may unravel everything she’s worked for since being adopted by the U.S. Marshalls and gaining a new family.  

This book is also available as an ebook and e-audiobook in Overdrive’s Digital Library. 

Book reviewed by Laura B., Youth Technology Librarian 

E-Book & E-Audiobook – Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed

Amal UnboundTwelve-year-old Amal’s dreams of becoming a teacher are crushed when she accidentally insults a member of her Pakistani village’s ruling family. Her punishment is to become a servant for the insulted family. As Amal navigates this new, harsh life, her unwavering courage keep her going.   Amal’s sense of hope makes this ultimately an uplifting story. Anyone moved by Malala Yousafzai will love this beautifully written, suspenseful and empowering story.   

 For Grades 4 and up.   

This book is available as an ebook and e-audio in OverDrive’s Digital Library. 

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

E-Book & E-Audiobook – Alvin Ho: Allergic to the Great Wall, the Forbidden Palace, and Other Tourist Attractions by Lenore Look   

Alvin Ho: Allergic to the Great Wall, the Forbidden Palace, and Other Tourist AttractionsAlvin’s family is going on vacation to China! That sounds great, but Alvin is terrified, no, not terrified, allergic to scary things like this. He’s pretty sure they will all be standing upside down, in the future, and who isn’t afraid of that? Since he has to go, he packs his Personal Disaster Kit and prepares for all the scary things he will run into. On his journey, Alvin will be naked and questioned at the airport, climb 28 flights of stairs many times, ride a cable car to the top of the Great Wall, and search for souvenir candy. It’s also Christmas, and Alvin decides to get a gift for a girl in an orphanage. But she wants a friend, and how do you give someone that? Alvin manages to figure it out, and maybe, just maybe, he will have fun along the way. This book will make you laugh out loud! I especially loved how Alvin refers to baby Claire, who he says is the size of a fish, as a different fish each time.  

The whole series is available as ebooks and  e-audio on Overdrive Digital Library.   

Book reviewed by Claire B., Youth Outreach Librarian 

E-Book – Operatic by Kyo Maclear and Byron Eggenschwiler 

Operatic OverDrive BookHave you ever had a hard time making friends? Charlie is more of a shy, quiet person, but she is able to connect with people through music. She discovers opera music and Maria Callas specifically, and is able to be more empathetic to her friends Luka and Emile. Charlie sees that she is not the only person who struggles or feels unsure. She also has a wonderful teacher, Mr. K, who is just the understanding adult you need who will listen to you and not laugh at you. I feel like Charlie could be my best friend if she were a real person. 

This book is also available as an ebook in Overdrive’s Digital Library. 

Book reviewed by Anne W., Youth Services Assistant