Staff Picks for Children

When you're in the Library, be sure to browse the "Staff Picks" display for additional staff suggestions.

Hana Hashimoto, Sixth Violin

(2014)
 Hana Hashimoto, sixth violin

 

After hearing her Ojiichan play his violin for her in Japan, Hana Hashimoto is inspired to learn the violin herself.  After only three lessons, Hana signs up to perform in the school's talent show.  She is mocked by her brothers--how can she possibly be ready to perform with so little experience?  Hana is confident until it is time to perform.  She becomes uncertain, then hears her grandfather's encouraging words of support.  She takes the stage, the sixth violin act, and shows her version of violin music.  This picture book would be useful when discussing stage fright, or when talking about confidence and courage.

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To This Day: For the Bullied and the Beautiful

(2014)
To This Day: For the Bullied and the Beautiful

 

Bullying is not new. It is not restricted by geography, age or income level. It is not something that used to happen. It is happening right now. The “good news” about bullying is that people are starting to speak out about their experiences and push for change. To This Day: For the Bullied and Beautiful by Shane Koyczan is just such a story. Touching on both the experiences of the poet and those of others, this book offers comfort, solidarity and something more. It assures the reader that they are not a victim, but a survivor. “We are graduating members from the class of WE MADE IT/  Not the faded echoes of voices crying out/Names will never hurt me/ of course/they did.”  By not shrinking from the depths of the damage done, Koyczan is able to offer his readers a way through the darkness and into the light. Read this book with tissue in hand, share it with those you love and then gather around to watch him perform it during his TED talk.

 

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The Haunted Library

(2014)
The Haunted Library

 

This new early chapter book series will be an easy sell to students looking to transition from early readers.  Kaz is living with his family in his haunt when a wrecking ball causes damage to their home, and Kaz is blown away from his family by the wind.  He arrives at a library, and meets another ghost Beckett, and a "solid" girl, Claire, who can see ghosts.  The library is rumored to be haunted, but Beckett is adamant that he is not the ghost that is haunting the library.  But if Beckett isn't the library ghost, then who is?  Claire, a budding detective, sets up a stake-out with Kaz to find out who is truly haunting the library.  The chapters are short, and there are lots of black and white illustrations.  The story may be about ghosts, but is certainly not scary.  Look for the second book in the series, The Ghost in the Attic, as well.

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Hermelin the Detective Mouse

(2014)
Hermelin the Detective Mouse

 

Hermelin the mouse, so named because of the box he lives in, is an extraordinary mouse.  He can read, type on a typewriter, and solve mysteries.  While looking through binoculars, Hermelin spies notices put out by the people living on Offley Street, looking for lost and missing items.  Hermelin immediately gets to work typing notes to everyone telling them where to find their items.  After Hermelin saves a baby from being crunched in a garbage truck, everyone wants to meet him!  The neighbors post a new notice on the board--an invitation to Hermelin for a thank you party in his honor.  Hermelin goes to the party...and discovers that mice are not welcome animals, and that he is considered a pest.  Hermelin prepares to leave Offley Street, but finds a note in his cheese box from one of the people he helped.  Emily (also a detective) is looking for a partner!  I can't wait for a sequel for this picture book.

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The Orchestra Pit

(2014)
The Orchestra Pit

A wide-eyed spotted snake from the zoo wanders into “the wrong pit,” and wends its way among the instruments of an orchestra: brass, winds, strings, percussion.  It is impressed by all the sights and sounds—and hiding places: charmed by the oboe, cozy in the tuba.  The snake’s fascination is not returned by the musicians, however, and the zookeeper is summoned.  Time to hide!  As the musicians warm up their instruments, the snake likens the sounds to those of other animals in the zoo.  But when the warm-ups end, and the concert begins, it’s time to find the right pit: home!   Readers will find the snake to be a little charmer; Wright’s intricate ink and acrylic illustrations add to that charm, as well as add layers to the story.

While not all-inclusive, or informative, the story provides a fun introduction to the orchestra.  This book is recommended for  ages 2-6.

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The School is Alive!

(2014)
The School is Alive!

 

This new early chapter book series is for students not yet ready to tackle the Goosebumps series.  With its larger font and plentiful black and white illustrations, its a good series to help transition from early readers.  Sam is upset that he has been chosen to be the new hall monitor--he didn't even know Eerie Elementary had hall monitors.  On his first morning, Sam steps outside after everyone else has gone to class and gets trapped in quicksand.  He is just barely saved by the school janitor Mr. Nekobi.  The whole day seems strange, with the tree outside looking like a waving hand and the clock sounding like a beating heart.  After school, Sam falls asleep during his hall monitor duty, and finds himself attacked by the fire hose.  Again, he is saved by Mr. Nekobi.  The next day when Sam arrives at school Mr. Nekobi tells Sam all about Eerie Elementary.  The school is alive!  Mr. Nekobi has been keeping the school in check for many years, but he is now growing old and must pass on the responsibility to a student.  He has chosen Sam.   He begins to train vigorously in order to protect the school when the need arises, and when the school makes it move, Sam needs to be ready.  Look for book 2, The Locker Ate Lucy as well.

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The Ghosts Go Haunting

(2014)
The Ghosts Go Haunting

 

Spooky creatures are descending upon M.T. Tombs Elementary School in time for a Halloween party.  Ghosts, goblins, bats, and monsters scare the principal, librarian, teachers, and computer repairman.  The book scans to the tune of "The Ants go Marching", but if you're planning to sing it to a group, definitely practice ahead of time.  The illustrations are well-done, not too scary, so the book can easily be shared with younger children. The last page of the book shows what 1x1 ghost looks like, 2x2 witches, 3x3 bats, up to 10x10 zombies for that final math connection.

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Antonia, the Horse Whisperer

(2014)
Antonia, the Horse Whisperer

 

This is the first entry in the Rosenburg Riding Stables series, first published in Germany in 2011.  Antonia has a gift with horses.  She is an accomplished jumper, and has been patiently waiting for her beloved horse, Snow White, to recover from an accident.  Snow White unfortunately does not recover fully, and will not be able to jump anymore.  Antonia is disappointed, but learns that a famous French horse owner wants to keep his horses at Antonia's family's stables, she is thrilled.  However, he is very strict about who is allowed to train or even be near his horses.  Despite not being allowed near the horses, Antonia forms a deep connection with Elfin Dance, and when the man charged with Elfin Dances' care is hurt, Antonia steps in to care of the horse.  One day the Frenchman makes a surprise visit.  Will Antonia be able to show him that she is able to take care of Elfin Dance, and thus keep the horses at her family's stables?  This is a sweet start to a promising new series.  Zoller has written over 100 children's books, but this is the first I have seen published in the United States.  I recommend this book to any child who loves horses and stories about the children who love them.

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Two Parrots

(2014)
Two Parrots

 

Iranian author/illustrator Rashin Kheiriyeh's first book published in the United States is inspired by a story told by the medieval Persian poet Rumi.  A merchant in Persia traveled frequently and was given a beautiful parrot as a gift in India.  The merchant loved the parrot, and put him in a cage, where the parrot appeared to be sad.  The next time the merchant traveled to India, he asked each servant if he could bring them something special as a gift.   He asked the parrot as well, who asked only that the merchant find his parrot friend, and give him a message.  The parrot would love to see him, but cannot because he lives in a cage.  The merchant promises to deliver the message.  At the end of his trip, he finds a large group of parrots and repeats the message, but at the end, the friend falls down dead.  The merchant is shocked.  "How can I tell this sad news to my parrot?"  After returning home, he reluctantly tells his parrot what happened in India, and just like the other parrot, his beloved parrot falls down dead.  The merchant is crushed and takes his bird out of the cage, but then the parrot flies out of his hands and escapes.  He explains he does not want to spend his whole life in a cage, and his friend in India gave him the idea for how to escape.  The kind merchant understands, and welcomes the parrot back to visit anytime.  The parrot and his friend do come back to visit the merchant, who is overjoyed to see them.  I had never heard of Rumi before, but am tempted to look up his poetry.  I also look forward to more of Rashin Kheiriyeh's books being published in the US!

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Sam & Dave Dig a Hole

(2014)
Sam & Dave Dig a Hole

 

Sam and Dave leave home with one mission - to dig a hole. However, this is not any ordinary hole. It is a hole that will lead to “something spectacular.” As Sam and Dave dig deeper and deeper, they come SOclose to many spectacular things, but decide, at the last second, to change their course of digging. Sam and Dave dig straight down. They dig to the left. Then, the team digs to the right. They even separate from one another to dig paths in opposite directions!

Eventually, their supplies begin to run out. Sam and Dave drink all of the chocolate milk, and they share the last animal cookie. As the day wears on, the duo decides to rest, which leads to them falling asleep. While the pair naps, their canine companion continues the digging mission. Sam, Dave and the dog begin to tumble through the sky and land back at home...or do they? To find out, read the book!

If you are looking for a good laugh, check out a video of the author Mac Barnett and the illustrator Jon Klassen forming their own hole digging team to celebrate the release of Sam & Dave Dig a Hole.

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Archie Takes Flight

(2014)
Archie Takes Flight

 

The first book in the new early chapter book series Space Taxi features 8 year old Archie, who is going to spend Take Your Kid to Work Day with his dad in his taxi during the night shift.  Archie is excited and ready to go but very quickly becomes confused as the taxi dashboard lights up with special buttons and screens.  The taxi starts morphing...into a taxi with wings.  As they pass the moon, Archie is stunned.  He never imagined that this was his dad's job.  He takes over as dad's co-pilot, quickly learning how to read the solar system map in order to get the taxi to the correct address by taking the right wormhole.  A few more adventures on different planets round out the story, setting us up for the September sequel.  Three scientific facts are at the end of the book.  A great series for grades 2-4.

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