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 Blade of Shattered Hope

The 13th Reality
cover for the Blade of Shattered Hope


Book Three of the 13th Reality Series

This third installment finds our two main forces of good vs. evil in combat again.  Tick and the Realitants are in combat against the evil Mistress Jane and her “Blade of Shattered Hope”.  Back from the destruction of Chu’s factory and Mistress Jane’s accident, Tick has been recuperating.  He now has some time to learn how to use and control his unusual amount of Chi-karda within him.  But soon his life changes when he and his best friends, Paul, Sofia, and Master George are summoned to a meeting in Tick’s basement by Mistress Jane.

Mistress Jane is up to her evil ways. She has unlocked one of the universe’s deadliest powers: Dark Matter.  With this power she plans on destroying all the realitants, 1-12, one by one, until the Thirteen becomes the new Reality Prime, her ultimate idea of Utopia. And she insists that Tick and his friends witness it.  Thus Tick begins another journey back to the 13th reality to stop her plans.  If he cannot stop her and shut down the “Blade of Shattered Hope’ no one knows what will happen to reality as they know it.   Will all of the realities still exist in the end?  It will be up to Tick and his friends to come to the rescue before something drastic happens to not only the 5th reality, but the entire universe as they know it.

This book will keep you on the edge of your seat.  There is no lack of mystery or adventure among these 4 teenagers who are charged with saving the 13 realities.  The book ends with a cliff hanger.

I would recommend this story and series to boys and girls ages 9 through 12 or grades 6 -9 who like Science Fiction.

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What's Your Favorite Animal

(2014)
What's Your Favorite Animal

 

This fascinating book by Eric Carle and friends features the favorite animals of famous award-winning authors/illustrators such as Nick Bruel, Lucy Cousins, Jon Klassen, Rosemary Wells, even Mo Willems.  Some illustrators, such as Susan Jeffers, took the assignment more seriously than others.  Nick Bruel's favorite animal description is hijacked by his famous character, Bad Kitty.  At the end of the book are short biographies of each of the author/illustrators, followed by a description of the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art.  All royalties from the book will be donated to the museum.  Highly recommended for all ages.

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Outfoxed

(2013)
Outfoxed

A sneaky fox makes a hasty trip to a henhouse, looking to snatch a chicken for his dinner.  But—oops!  He’s snatched a duck instead! Or is it a duck?  Fox’s daddy always told him, “If it looks like a duck and it quacks like a duck, it’s a duck.”  But this duck barks, and other decidedly doggy "do's!"  Confused but determined, Fox sets out to trick Duck into revealing his true nature.  Can Duck convince Fox that he’s not an animal for his dinner plate?

 This hilarious cartoon picture book is recommended for ages 4 and up.

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Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball (2013)

Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball

 

This picture book is a fun introduction to the history of basketball. The year is 1891 and the problem is a “rowdy gym class.” The students are bored and play rough. Two teachers have already quit when James Naismith is put in charge. James soon realizes he needs a game that emphasizes skill and accuracy over brute force. Drawing on remembrances of childhood games, James invents a new game using a soccer ball and two peach baskets. Only one basket is scored in the first game of basketball, but the players are hooked.  They begin playing it at home and teaching it to their friends. A new sport is born.

 

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Tiddalick the Greedy Frog

An Aboriginal Dreamtime Story (2014)
Tiddalick the Greedy Frog

 

In this tale told by the Aboriginal people of Australia, Tiddalick was a greedy, grumpy frog.  He drank all the water in the lake, then the river, then all the lakes and streams, until there was no water left in the world.  All of the other animals in the land were weak and dying of thirst.  They hatch a plan:  if they can get Tiddalick to laugh, he will have to spill out all of the water he has drunk.  Animal after animal tries, but who will succeed?  This short chapter book is perfect for those who are just transitioning from early readers to early chapter books. 

                                                                                                                                                                                       To learn more about Australia where this book is set, read Australia from the Enchantment of the World Series.

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Itsy Bitsy Spider

(2013)
Itsy Bitsy Spider

 

This new early reader series, Urgency Emergency, tackles expert medical care mixed with characters from nursery rhymes and fairy tales.  In Itsy Bitsy Spider, a scared Miss Muffet brings in an injured spider who needs stitches for a cut on his forehead.  Doctor Glenda, Nurse Percy, and the Pengamedics do a superb job showing the different parts of an ER exam followed by treatment of the cut.  In Big Bad Wolf, a choking wolf is brought in, and Doctor Glenda and Nurse Percy perform an exam and treat the wolf, while managing to ensure that the police arrive in time to take him away.  Let's hope more Urgency Emergency books are forthcoming!

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It's Not Yours, It's Mine! (2013)

It's Not Yours, It's Mine

 

In this book about sharing, Blieka loves her new, red ball and doesn’t want anyone else to use it. Soon this fear takes over her days and she cannot go anywhere without bringing her toy. One day the ball deflates.  Blieka’s friends help her re-inflate it and she begins to understand the importance of sharing. It is still hard to do, but her persistence is rewarded when others begin to share their toys as well.

 

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Oddette's Secrets

2013

Odette is an only child living with her parents when Paris is invaded by Nazi's.  Her father enlists in the French Army, leaving Odette and her mother living with food shortages and constant fear of being taken prisoner.  Odette is sent to live in the countryside, hiding in plain sight while living with a family and pretending to be Christian. Her journey takes her on a personal search for her own religious identity. This work of historical fiction was inspired by the autobiography of Odette Meyers, an adult book titled Doors to Madame Marie. Written in beautiful and easy to read free-verse prose with real life pictures of Odette Meyers, Odette's Secrets is recommended for age 10-14.

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Pippi Fixes Everything

(2013)
Pippi Fixes Everything

 

Pippi Longstocking is available as a comic!  Over several four page spreads, Pippi's stories are told.  You learn about her strength, her bad manners, her oddities, and all of her friends.  You meet Pippi's father, the king of the Kurrakurradootas on Kurrakurradoot Island.  The illustrations and stories are charming and this is a good introduction to Pippi for children who are not quite ready for the novel yet.  Don't miss the other comic, Pippi Moves In.

 

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Paul Meets Bernadette

2013

 

Paul is a tiny goldfish who lives in a fish bowl. Day after day, Paul swam in circles. You name a type of circle, and Paul could swim it! He never saw his world in the fish bowl differently. That is until another fish named Bernadette joined him. Bernadette loved to explore and to see what was happening outside of the fish bowl. With Bernadette, Paul began to discover a brand new world. A banana became a boat; a teapot transformed into an elephant; a pair of reading glasses looked like a butterfly; and more!

Lamb’s painterly illustrations capture the movement of Paul and Bernadette along with the metamorphosis of everyday objects into something else! The ordinary becomes abstracted through Paul’s and Bernadette’s point of view. In the end, this charming story gently reminds readers to let their imaginations go wild and try to see things in a different way. Paul Meets Bernadette is recommended for preschoolers through 2nd grade.

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Island of Fire

Unwanted Series, Book Three
Cover for Island of Fire


In the third book of The Unwanteds series, Alex and his friends go on another spectacular adventure.  This book picks up right where The Island of Silence leaves off.  Book 2 ended with Mr. Today gone, Artime in ruins and Lani and Samheed prisoners on Warbler Island. Alex Stowe, the newly head mage, is faced with restoring Artime and saving his friends. With no magic at his disposal, it seemed all was lost. At the same time the two new characters, Sky and Crow, the silent children from Warbler, add a new dimension to life in Artime.  Alex relies on Sky for support and encouragement. 

With no water or food, Alex is helpless to prevent the Unwanted from leaving Artime and returning to servitude in Quill.  He must find a way to get to Warbler Island and rescue his friends and still keep Artime safe from Quill and his brother’s desire to take over as sole ruler.

Immediately a daring rescue mission is started to get Samheed and Lani back, but this turns into a potential disaster as you find out the ship is controlling itself. The ship leads to another island where Sky finds her mother and breaks the spell on the ship and the rescue continues. More adventure occurs when Alex nearly dies and Sky almost runs away.  Another cliff-hanger ending leaves Artime under attack from another enemy that threatens  both Alex and Aaron.

These are only a few of the questions to be answered with the next installment:  Where did Aaron get sent to? Will he make it back in time to help with the attack? Will the imposing war reunited him and his brother?  New readers will have to start at the beginning in order to catch up.

I would recommend this book to anyone who liked the Percy Jackson series, the Kane Chronicles, the Hunger Games, and the Harry Potter series, or any other book with magic and suspense.  The recommended age level is for 4th through 8th grade or for children, both boys and girls ages 9 through 12.

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