Staff Picks for Children

 Recommended books for kids. Comment on a review by clicking on its title. You can also write your thoughts about any book on our Facebook Wall.

You can still access reviews from pre-September 2012 for Adults and Children.

The Mystery of the Gold Coin

(2014)
The Mystery of the Gold Coin

 

The first book in a new early chapter book series, Greetings from Somewhere, introduces us to twins Ethan and Ella Briar.  Ethan and Ella are dismayed to learn that their journalist mother has taken a job that will require the entire family to travel around the world to different countries--they don't want to say good-bye to their friends or Grandpa Harry.  However, before they leave, Grandpa Harry give each twin a gift: Ethan receives a gold coin and Ella receives a journal.  When Ethan's coin disappears the day they are planning to leave, he and Ella retrace their steps from the previous day to find the coin.  Ella finds her journal comes in handy for taking notes on solving the mystery.  A very brief selection from book 2 is included at the end.  There are plentiful black and white illustrations which add very nicely to the story.  A promising new series for emerging readers who enjoy mysteries.

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The Chicken Squad

The First Misadventure (2014)
The Chicken Squad

 

This is the first book in the new early chapter book series about a watchdog J.J. Tully and four chicks: Dirt, Sugar, Sweetie, and Poppy.  When a terrified squirrel named Tail runs into the yard telling the chicks about the big scary thing that has landed, the chicks are on the case.  Sugar takes careful notes and Dirt draws a composite sketch, which they then deduce must be a UFO.  The book gets sillier and sillier, and the illustrations only add to the fun of the story.  A great start to a new series for kids starting chapter books.  Give this to fans of Mercy Watson.

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Uni the Unicorn

2014
Uni the Unicorn

 

Believing is magical, and Amy Krouse Rosenthal is a champion of always trusting magic. In Uni the Unicorn, Rosenthal invites you to discover the beauty in believing, no matter how ridiculous an idea might seem.

Uni is a unicorn. On the surface, she looks and acts like your typical unicorn. She has a beautiful mane, sparkling eyes and golden hooves. She even brings wishes to life.

Yet, Uni is different from other unicorns in one way - she believes that little girls are REAL! The other unicorns often tease Uni, and her parents only smile and nod when Uni talks about the existence of little girls. But, she holds firm to her belief. Uni knows that if she ever meets a little girl, then she would find a best friend to have amazing adventures with - like sliding down rainbows! As this whimsical picture books comes to a close, you will be left smiling by a gentle twist in the plot.

With Uni the Unicorn, Rosenthal excels at what she does best - creating seemingly simple stories with a deep impact. Rosenthal invites you to hold your childlike wonder close because you never know who you may find believing in you one day.

Recommended for preschoolers and all believers in unicorns.

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Mr. Ball Makes a To-Do List

(2014)
Mr. Ball Makes a To-Do List

 

This graphic novel entry in the Jump-Into-Chapters series stars Mr. Ball--a round yellow ball with arms and legs who enjoys making lists.  The book has arrows at the beginning and end of the chapters stating things like "the intro starts here" and at the end "the intro ends here".  Each day Mr. Ball makes a list, and has trouble completing his list, until he makes a list that cannot possibly fail!  He will eat breakfast, give out lots of hugs, and eat dinner.  Until, he meets a skunk, and no one wants to hug him anymore.  What will Mr. Ball do?  The large print and easy text are perfect for new readers, and the graphic novel format is a good medium for this book.  I look forward to more books about Mr. Ball.

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Secrets of the Seasons

Orbiting the Sun in Our Backyard (2014)
Secrets of the Seasons

Have you noticed it?  Alice’s friend Zack has.  The summer sun is setting earlier and earlier every day.  Together, the friends notice other changes in light, temperature, weather, animals and other things in the world around them as one season turns into another.  Alice narrates her and Zack’s many observations, conversations, and wonderment.  In between, Alice’s comical chickens, Maisy and Daisy, are on hand with more explanations for the reader of the science behind the seasons: the movement of the earth on its axis, and its orbit around the sun, as well as facts about the seasons' effects on animal and plant life.  Kids can relate to the friends’ sensory experiences as summer falls into winter, which springs into summer; author Zoehfeld describes well the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings of each season.  The information is broken up into bite-sized charts, diagrams and talk bubbles, making it easier for young readers to take in. This companion book to her Secrets of the Garden also features Patricia Lamont’s light-hearted, intricate pen and watercolor illustrations, which capture nicely Alice’s changing landscape.

Secret of the Seasons is recommended for ages 4-9.

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The Tooth Fairy Wars

The Tooth Fairy Wars

 

 

Most children happily trade their baby teeth for money from the tooth fairy, but not Nathan. He wants to keep his baby teeth FOREVER. Unfortunately, the tooth fairy is equally determined to find them and she is very good at her job. He tries hiding them in places both usual and unusual, but to no avail. He leaves a polite letter asking to keep his teeth, and receives a polite form letter from the League of Enchanted Commerce informing him that he may appeal for an exception and can expect to have his case reviewed….sometime in the next 25,990 years!

 Will Nathan find a way to outwit the magical beings and hang on to his baby pearly whites?

 

 

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The Alchemist War

(2014)
The Alchemist War

 

Dawk and Hype live in the 25th century, but their parents are research scientists which allow them to travel through space and time.  In the first installment of the Time-Tripping Faradays series, they end up in Prague in the 1600s.  They meet a man claiming to be an alchemist (someone who can turn a non-gold material into gold)--using technology from later than the 1600s.  Its up to Dawk and Hype to stop Richthausen and find out how he discovered the new technology.  25th century technology is explained in the first few chapters so the reader can keep up with the story, and the time travel component may be fun for fans of the Magic Tree House and Time Warp Trio series. 

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The Lost Stone

(2014)
The Lost Stone

 

This first entry in the new Kingdom of Wrenly series is an excellent beginning chapter book for new readers.  With large text, and numerous illustrations, children should gravitate towards it.  The book is about Prince Lucas, an 8 year old boy, who longs for friends, but his father has forbidden him to play with the peasant children.  After Lucas sneaks out of the castle to go to school with the peasants he is caught, and convinces his parents to let him at least be friends with Clara, the daughter of a seamstress at the castle.  When the queen loses a precious emerald, Lucas and Clara set out to the different lands in the Kingdom of Wrenly, which were inhabited by wizards, fairies, trolls, and mermaids.  Will Lucas and Clara find the emerald?  The book includes an excerpt from the second book to hook children on the series. 

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Missing Monkey

(2014)
Missing Monkey

 

This new early chapter book series introduces the reader to Jillian and Billy Crook, who are children of two real thieves.  Jillian and Billy both harbor a secret--they actually don't want to steal things and commit crimes, they want to do good deeds!  On the day that Jillian and Billy secretly go to the zoo to volunteer, their parents follow them and end up stealing a monkey, who they will train to be a pick-pocket.  Its up to Billy and Jillian to return the monkey to its real home at the zoo.  Of course, a few animals might also get released while trying to return the monkey but its all in good fun.  The chapters are short with fun illustrations. 

Don't miss book 2, Dog Gone.

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Help! We Need a Title!

(2014)
Help! We Need a Title!

First published in France in 2013, this book by the author of Press Here is a fun addition to Tullet's growing collection of stellar interactive picture books.  When the book is opened, a pig and fairy (two characters who appear hastily drawn or scribbled) notice that someone is watching them.  They call out to other characters to see that something is looking at their book.  They think about offering a landscape, since the book is a bit messy--there are scribbles and smudges everywhere like you would expect in an unfinished book.  After realizing that the landscape doesn't provide a story they try to add a bad guy, who is actually pretty nice. So, they set out in search of an author.  Just so happens, they know an author and shout out for him--AUTHOR!!! Hervé Tullet opens the door (an actual photograph of his head, placed on a blue colored torso.  Mr. Tullet's facial expression's are priceless, as he tells the reader that they can't stay because he hasn't finished yet.  But the characters are insistent that a story be written so a basic short story is told, and the author sends the characters back on their way.  The characters say good-bye to the reader, and all is well with the book.  There is a reference to the author's bestselling first book to look for, and its fun to see the process of a book being written. 

Don't miss this interactive picture book first published in  2010.

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This is a Moose

(2014)
This is a Moose

This is a very serious non-fiction book about a very serious documentary film about about a mighty moose in his natural, traditional habitat—CUT!  Book review about This is a Moose: Take Two!

 Duck director Billy Waddler sets out to film a serious documentary about the mighty moose in his natural, traditional habitat, but his subject is far from the typical moose.  This one has big dreams-of being an astronaut!  “CUT!” cries Billy.  But take after take, Moose’s dream, and his extraordinary friends (including a lacrosse-playing grandma moose, a flying chipmunk, a giraffe who dreams of being a doctor) cannot be denied!  Lichtenheld’s pencil, ink, and gouache illustrations are the perfect match for Morris’ zany story, with plenty of details to notice and laugh about, and an underlying message of following your dreams (and overcoming stereotypes) to feel good about.

This is a Moose is especially great for fun-loving dreamers aged 4 to 8!

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