Staff Picks 4 Kids Category: Realistic Stories

Sarai and The Meaning of Awesome by Saraí González 

Sarai and The Meaning of AwesomeSarai Gonzalez is in fourth grade. She loves to dance, bake cupcakes, and spend time with her family. When she is with them, they pronounce her name the Spanish way, SAH-RAH-EEE, which is different than the English way of SAR-EYE. However, this doesn’t bother her since that means her name is awesome for having different ways to say it. Also, she thinks her life is pretty awesome all the time, but then, she finds out that her grandparents, aunt, uncle, and cousins are going to have to move from the house they have lived in forever. This means they won’t be as close to the Gonzalez’s house anymore and Sarai may not get to spend as much time with her family. How is she going to help them save the house? There has to be a way to make sure they can all stay together. She’s not sure, but she knows it will be awesome. Find out in this chapter book that also includes some great drawings of Sarai and her family.  

Book reviewed by Laura B., Youth Technology Librarian 

Missing Mike by Shari Green 

Missing MikeMike and Cara are inseparable. Mike is a one-eyed rescue mutt who has had encounters with coyotes. 12-year-old Cara Donovan sometimes feels friendless until she picks this rust colored mutt to adopt. When wildfires encroach on the family’s town they are forced to evacuate. In the chaos of leaving Mike is lost and the family was not able to search for him. Cara and her family are placed into a volunteer host family’s home. Cara meets Jewel but her friendship can’t stop her thinking about the friend she left behind. Cara and Jewel start searching for Mike and soon find out how dangerous wildfires can be. This heartwarming story of is one girl’s stressful journey to find a new definition of home. 

Book reviewed by Rebecca R., Youth Collection Librarian 

Sam the Man and the Chicken Plan by Frances O’Roark Dowell 

Everyone else in his family has a job. Sam wants to earn money too, so he turns to his neighbors to see if they need help doing chores and lands himself not one, but TWO jobs! One neighbor pays him a whole dollar each time he can convince her cranky old dad to join him for a walk. Sam’s second job is helping Mrs. Kerner take care of her chickens, which he discovers a knack for. Sam is soon on a mission to get a chicken of his own– one that lays blue eggs, which he can sell to his classmates to make even MORE money! Will his plan work? What will he do with all his riches? Find out the answers to these questions and see what else happens to Sam the Man in this charming and funny beginner chapter book series. 

Book reviewed by Erin E., Youth Services Programming Coordinator 

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor 

The Truth As Told By Mason Buttle This is Mason: 

Mammoth in size 

Always sweaty 

Super at dog care 

Outstanding friend 

Not good at reading and writing 

Not only is Mason big in size, he also seems to have a big amount of bad luck.  First, his grandpa dies, then his mom, and then fifteen months ago Benny Kilmartin, his best friend, turned up dead in the Buttle Family orchard.  Now Lieutenant Baird won’t stop asking questions because he believes Mason knows something he isn’t telling. Just when Mason thinks his luck is improving, his new friend Calvin disappears.  What is happening and will anyone believe Mason’s story?   

Book reviewed by Mary S., Youth Services Department Head 

Checked by Cynthia Kadohata

Checked Book CoverConor is a typical 11-year-old boy who eats and breathes hockey. After Conor, his dad, and his Doberman, Sinbad, temporarily relocate due to wildfires near their home, he discovers his dog is suffering from cancer and his dad is struggling with his stressful job as a police officer. Because hockey can be an expensive sport, he decides to take some time off to fund his dog’s cancer treatments. With that time off, Conor tries to answer a few questions: will he go back to playing hockey? What can he do to help his dad? What if Sinbad doesn’t recover? Conor’s relatable and thoughtful outlook on life will keep you turning the pages.

Book reviewed by Amy M., Youth Services Assistant