Staff Picks for Children

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

The Year of Billy Miller

(2013)
The Year of Billy Miller

 

Billy Miller is about to enter the 2nd grade and is a little worried due to a mishap over the summer which left him with a bump on the head.  Until his teacher tells him he is smart, that is.  This book is broken into four sections: teacher, father, sister, mother, each focusing on Billy's relationship with that person.  The story is filled with funny episodes reminiscent of Ramona Quimby, and while the book is over 200 pages, its not out of reach of all second graders.  This would be an excellent read-aloud for classrooms as well.  I recommend this book for 2nd grade and up, and as a read-aloud.

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That Is Not a Good Idea!

(2013)

 

Mo Willems takes a familiar tale and adds his signature style. In That is Not a Good Idea!, fox sees a goose and pursues the sweet, innocent creature for his next meal. Step by step, the fox lures the goose farther away from her home until the couple eventually ends up alone in the fox’s kitchen with a pot of boiling water. Building the tension, a gaggle of goslings pop into the action reminding the reader “That is not a good idea!” Will the fox succeed in his devious plot or will the goose be rescued from this evil villain? Remember that this is Mo Willems’ world, and everything is not always what it seems.

Willems adds a twist to the standard tale by setting it to the visuals of silent film. The characters actions are overdramatic and intentional. The dialogue becomes white text on a black background framed in elaborate curlicue lines. And, if you look close enough, you will find Willems’ Pigeon hidden among the illustrations! 

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Moon Bear (2010)

 

Gently explaining the habits of moon bears, this beautifully illustrated book begins with a “Sleepy moon bear, waking up from a long winter snooze.” It follows the bear as she hunts for food, marks her territory and eventually curls back up for another winter nap. This lyric tale is an excellent introduction to moon bears for the youngest of readers. The author’s note includes information about the rescue work being done in China and Vietnam and shows pictures of some very happy rescued moon bears.

 

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When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky

Two Artists, Their Ballet, and One Extraordinary Riot (2013)
When Stravinsky Met Nijinsky

 

This informational picture book tells the fabulous story of how "The Rite of Spring" ballet came to be.  Igor Stravinsky was a traditional composer and Vaslav Nijinsky was an extraordinary Russian ballet dancer, but when they met in 1911, they decided to collaborate on a new ballet.  The music of this ballet, "The Rite of Spring", was based upon the Russian folk songs Stravinsky's past, and the dances were inspired by Russian folk dances.  During the first performance, some in the audience began to boo.  Others began to support the dancers.  According to extensive notes from the author, shouts and fistfights in the aisles soon followed.  A riot broke out and police needed to assist.  All over a new piece of music!  The illustrations are bright and vibrant and reference many of the author/illustrator's favorite paintings from that time period.  To hear this piece of music yourself, click here.  This book received starred reviews from Booklist, Kirkus, School Library Journal, and Publishers Weekly--quite a feat!  Highly recommended.

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Cheese Belongs to You

(2013)
Cheese Belongs to You

 

A cute little rat with a red bow announces at the very beginning of this book that rat law declares:cheese belongs to you.  Unless a big rat wants it.  Unless a bigger rat wants it.  And so on.  This cumulative tale gets sillier and sillier as rats get hairier and stronger and dirtier.  And finally, the cheese once again belongs to the rat with the pretty red bow, which is rat law, who is kind enough to share it with all of her rat friends.  This innovative book is good for preschool storytimes, as well as for sharing with early elementary age students. 

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The Tree Lady: The True Story of How One Tree-Loving Woman Changed a City Forever

(2013)

 

Kate was a little girl growing up in northern California in the mid-1800’s. She loved to get her hands dirty and study science - even though girls weren’t supposed to do either at this time. When she graduated from college, Kate moved to San Diego and became a teacher. Surprised by the desert terrain, Kate carefully researched plants and trees that grow in arid climates. Eventually, she transformed the landscape of San Diego into a lush garden oasis.

In this non-fiction picture book, the illustrations fully support the text allowing viewers to see the contrast between the forests of northern California to the desert terrain of San Diego. Tiny details like muddy handprints, leaves with labels of their scientific names and images plant cells from a microscope give readers a sense of how Kate researched and observed the world. Recommended for elementary students in Grades 1 through 3.

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Flora and the Flamingo

(2013)

 

In this wordless picture book, an unlikely friendship is formed between a little girl and pale, pink flamingo. Flora sneaks up on an unsuspecting flamingo and begins to mimic its movements. After a misstep or two, the flamingo becomes a patient teacher and eventual partner in a synchronized dance with Flora. The interactive flaps immerse the reader into the story and reveal humorous interactions between Flora and the flamingo. With graceful lines and delicate hues of pinks and yellows, the reader’s imagination creates the music that Flora and the flamingo dance to (along with a couple of giggles from Flora and squawks from the flamingo) .

Recommended for Preschool through Grade 2.

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A Little Book of Sloth

2013

Meet the most adorable sloths in Costa Rica's Sloth Sanctuary!  The photographs are stunning and the humorously presented information about sloths will keep the reader’s attention.  Meet the cutest baby sloths and some of their older companions.  Learn about all their goofy personalities and silly antics.  Also learn how the sanctuary helps rescued baby sloths by giving them their pick of stuffed animals to cuddle with.  If you like baby animals or think sloths are funny, don’t miss this one!  Recommended for children age 7-9.

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Dot.

(2013)
Dot

 

Dot is a young lady obsessed with electronic devices.  She taps, touches, tweets, tags, and so on.  And she talks and talks, using multiple devices.  Finally, Dot's mom sends her outside to "Reboot! Recharge! Restart!"  And Dot finds herself tapping, touching, tweeting, and tagging outside.  And she still could talk and talk and talk.  This is a fun story comparing electronic devices to outdoor play.  The illustrations were created using traditional media and Photoshop.  Recommended for early elementary age students. 

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The Man with the Violin

(2013)

 

Dylan is the type of boy who sees things that others often miss. One cold day, Dylan and his mom are rushing around town. Dylan notices the details. He sees an old radio, a man reading a newspaper upside down and a child standing on a bench in red boots. His mom pulls Dylan along to their next destination - the metro station. The station is loud, and everyone hurries to find their train.

Then, Dylan begins to hear something. Music fills the space with notes that make “the hairs on the back of Dylan’s neck tickle.” No one pays attention to the man with the violin, but Dylan is drawn to him. He begs his mom to listen to the man’s music, but there isn’t time to stop. All day, Dylan replays the music in his head. Will Dylan ever discover who the man with the violin is?

Broad sweeping lines and lyrical phrases capture the feeling of the music that Dylan hears. While the story is fictional, the author was inspired by a similar occurrence in 2007 when Joshua Bell played his violin in Washington D.C. metro station and included several notes at the end of the story about the event. Highly recommended for students Kindergarten through Grade 3.

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My Name is Blessing

(2013)
My Name is Blessing

 

Born with two fingers on his right hand and none on his left, his mother named him Muthini, which means suffering. He lives with his Grandmother and eight of his cousins. There are cruel taunts from the villagers and never enough food, but his Grandmother, his Nyanya, loves him very much. Still, nine is too many when food is scarce and Muthini is the youngest. So, one day, his Grandmother takes him to a school to see if there is a place for him there.

Based on the true story of a family in Kenya, this picture book tells a story of hope in troubled times and of how a life can be changed from one of suffering to one of blessing.

 

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