News from Youth Services Category: Staff Picks

Parent Category of Picks

In the Key of Us

by Mariama Lockington

in the key of us book cover
JF LOCKINGTON, M.

Harmony Music Camp is a big deal. You have to apply and be accepted for camp, and each week you audition for your seat in the band.  

This is Andi’s first year at camp, and it kind of feels like her aunt and uncle are trying to get rid of her for the summer. Her mother died ten months ago and she hasn’t been able to adjust to life with her aunt and uncle or enjoy the things she used to, like playing the trumpet.  

Zora has been going for many years and has many friends, but because she and Andi are black, people seem to think they should be best friends. And at first, they are definitely not. Andi wears all black and mostly keeps to herself. Zora is bubbly and colorful and friends with everyone. But behind it all, Zora feels all this anxiety to be the best and make her parents happy. And as Andi and Zora get to know one another, they grow closer. Each helps the other be truer to herself and happier. 

If you couldn’t already tell, this book deals with some difficult subjects: death of a parent and anxiety among them, but also self-harm. However, this is also the story of first love and a first kiss.  

Because this is a story about a music camp, there is also a lot of talk about music. The author created a playlist on Spotify to listen to everything mentioned, which I really enjoyed because it let me get to know the characters a little better. Here is the link: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0OhGaB2Ao5WGTl07C0uCDn?si=dc0313ab6f804301  

This story is best for readers of realistic fiction, who can handle some of the sad things and will enjoy the budding romance. I hope you enjoy the world of Andi and Zora as much as I did! 

Jennifer Chan is not Alone

by Tae Keller

jennifer chan is not alone book cover
JF KELLER, T.

Do you believe in aliens? The new girl, Jennifer, does, but Mallory knows admitting that would make Jennifer an outcast. Mallory decides to help Jennifer to fit in, but when Jennifer goes missing, she has to admit that maybe her “help” was actually bullying.  

Mallory wants to find Jennifer, so she looks for clues in Jennifer’s journals, and asks her former friends to help. As they search, weird things start happening; things that could be connected to Jennifer’s disappearance, or even aliens. Will Mallory risk her popularity and current friendships to find Jennifer?  

This story is told by Mallory, who goes back and forth from talking about what happened before and after Jennifer’s disappearance. She can be an unreliable narrator, especially when she tries to convince herself and others that she didn’t do anything wrong. Reading a story from the perspective of the bully was new and interesting to me. This was an interesting and realistic mystery, with the best kind of mischief (to help find the truth). The author writes at the end of the book about her own experience being bullied as a child, and I really, really appreciated that. This story was exciting, sad, even funny sometimes, and I recommend it to fans of mysteries and books like Wonder and Restart.  

The Way of the Hive: A Honeybee’s Story

by Jay Hosler

the way of the hive: a honey bee's story book cover
J GRAPH HOSLER, J.

Bees are not my favorite (since I have been stung many times) but I know they are important. The author makes the reader care about honey bees by describing their growth and development. He personalizes it by telling us about one bee, Nyuki. I learned why honey bees are so important and I also care about what happens to them because Mr. Hosler told the story in a beautiful way. 

Apple of My Pie

by Mika Song

apple of my pie book cover
J GRAPH SONG, M.

Apple of My Pie is a cute story about how Grandpa Squirrel falls into an apple truck and is driven away to an apple orchard. His squirrel family wants to save him, so they use their friends, a bird and a man with a food truck who can read, to figure out where Grandpa has been taken. The family makes it to the apple orchard and fall into the assembly line that makes apple pies to be sold in stores. Will Grandpa and his family get eaten? Will they make it back to their city home? Read this story to find out.