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.

Mitchell Goes Bowling (2013)

Mitchell Goes Bowling

 

 

After wowing me with Mitchell’s License in 2011, I viewed the latest adventure of this loveable, energetic youngster with some trepidation. How could it possibly be as quirky, charming and delightful as the first one? I was wrong to doubt. 

 Mitchell LOVES knocking things down. He is in the middle of knocking down as many things as he can, when his dad corrals him and takes him off to the bowling alley.  The bowling alley is a fantastic place, but there is one problem. Mitchell’s dad seems to be winning. Will this awesome duo find a way to fix the problem? Of course, but you will have to read the book to find out how.

 

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The Streak

How Joe DiMaggio Became America's Hero (2014)
The Streak

 

This fascinating look at one summer in baseball history looks at Joe DiMaggio in 1941.  It started on May 15th, nothing particularly special about that day, but it was the start of a perfect baseball summer.  After DiMaggio had 20 hits in 20 straight games people noticed, and now people were watching...how long could Joe's streak go?  Joe had a special bat that he called "Betsy Ann".  He took special care of her, and used her for games only.  Joe looked confident on the field, but was secretly constantly worried about keeping the streak alive.  The tension gets greater when Betsy Ann is stolen, but later returned.  Joe managed a 56-game hitting streak in 1941, and its never been broken, in fact, no one has come within ten games of DiMaggio.  An extensive author's note tells us that in the minor-leagues, the record for a hitting streak was held by Joe Wilhoit in 1919 who hit for 69 straight games!  DiMaggio holds the 2nd highest streak in the minor leagues.  I'm not a huge baseball fan, but this book held my interest all the way through.  It earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly. 

For more information about Joe DiMaggio, try Something to Prove: the Great Satchel Paige vs. Rookie Joe DiMaggio.

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Following Papa's Song

(2014)
Following Papa's Song

As Little Blue, a humpback whale, sets off with his papa on his first coastal journey to the whales’ summer feeding grounds, he is full of questions:   What time will they go?  Which way?  How far?  How does Papa swim so fast?  He asks, “When I am big, Papa, will I still hear your song?”  With his papa’s gentle guidance, Little Blue travels farther than he has ever done before, learns more about humpback life, and discovers a great big, colorful underwater world.  Marveling at the sights and sounds of sea life he encounters during his journey, Little Blue goes deeper and deeper, until he loses sight of his papa!  How will he find his way back?  Listening to Papa!

Marino’s luminous illustrations, created with mixed media on watercolor and mulberry paper, accompany her beautiful story of a bond between father and child, and their connection to time and nature.

Great for Father’s Day—or any day!

Following Papa’s Song is recommended for ages 3-6.

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The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail (2013)

The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail


“Every time a human walks out of a room, something with more feet walks in.” While this might not be comforting to most people, it is a fact of life in this fantastical Victorian world, created by the award-winning author Richard Peck, where human events are often mirrored in, or perhaps mirror, what happens in the mouse kingdom.

The hero is a small but plucky mouse known only by the nickname Mouse Minor. While his Aunt Marigold insists that “Nameless is Blameless,” Mouse Minor would very much like to know who he is, where he comes from and what his name should be. When running away from school bullies turns into a full-fledged adventure involving humans, horses, bats, a punch bowl and a multitude of finely made uniforms, Mouse Minor isn’t quite sure if his mouse life is to end shortly or if maybe, just maybe, these adventures could lead him into the heart of the palace and the presence of great Queen Victoria herself. Could this powerful, seemingly all-knowing queen have the answers he so desperately craves?

Filled with questions, answers and surprises, this is one adventure that is meant to be shared.  

 

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Wait! Wait!

(2013)
Wait! Wait!

 

The illustrations in this small, square picture book are breathtaking.  The book was first published in Japan in 2002.  Sakai uses acrylic and oil pencils to draw a toddler chasing a variety of animal life (butterfly, lizard, worm, cat), and calling after each, "Wait! Wait!," but never catching his/her targets.  At the end a parent comes, sweeps the child up and takes the child on a new adventure, saying "Here we go!"  The toddler could be any child, and I think that's one of the things I like best about the book--the child looks and feels realistic.  This book earned starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, and School Library Journal, and I recommend it for parents to share with their young children, as well as for beginning readers.

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Smile, Pout-Pout Fish

(2014)
Smile, Pout-Pout Fish

 

This simple board book stars a sad looking fish and a pink sea creature who tells him not to be worried, not to be sad, not to be scared and not to be mad. It turns out all the fish needed was a little smooch, and he becomes a smiley fish again.  This basic book is perfect for babies and toddlers, and teaches that smiles can be found with just a little encouragement. 

For older children,  try reading the original Pout Pout Fish

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The Day I Lost My Superpowers

(2014)
The Day I Lost My Superpowers

 

This charming picture book originally published in France in 2013 is about a little girl who believes she has "superpowers".  She can make things disappear (like cupcakes), make plants stop moving, and become invisible when something breaks in the house.  One day she falls while "flying" and her superpowers disappear.  Just like that. And her knee starts to hurt and she starts to cry.  Then she learns that her mom has superpowers too!  Magic kisses can make things all better again.  A very pleasant book about a child and love for a parent.

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Surprise

(2014)
Surprise

 

This picture book first published in the Netherlands is a gem.  I loved it from the very first spread--a drawing of a bird opposite of the word yearning.  Followed by hoping, expecting, marveling--each showing a beautiful bird in a stage of parenting.  Each spread consists of a word opposite a bird--and the pages with words become increasingly more complex in design.  When I got to the final page, letting go, I was so impressed with the beauty of the book.  Mies Van Hout is becoming one of my favorite author/illustrators. 

If you haven't read Happy yet, its another masterpiece to enjoy.

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Hank Finds an Egg

(2013)
Hank Finds an Egg

“Storywoods” blog creator Rebecca Dudley uses her expert photography and multi-media diorama art in this beautiful wordless picture book story featuring Hank, a sweet little animal of the woods. While on a walk, Hank finds an egg on the ground beneath a bird’s nest.   When he fails in his valiant attempts to return the egg to the nest before nightfall, Hank cares for the egg and keeps it warm until he can try again the next day.  This time, he has some help, and makes new friends as a result. Children will enjoy pouring over the delightfully detailed and dreamy pictures, and telling the fanciful story again and again.  Teachers and others looking for ideas on using the book in a lesson can find Peter Pauper Press’ Hank Finds an Egg page, which includes a link to a free downloadable Common Core Aligned Teaching Guide.

 Hank Finds an Egg is recommended for ages 3-8.

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The Real Boy (2013)

The Real Boy


Oscar works for the only true magician remaining in the Barrows. He spends his days in the forest gathering herbs and in the dark, quiet basement grinding and mixing them into potions.  He barely remembers the Children’s Home where Caleb found him, and he would like to keep it that way. Herbs and potions make sense to him, but he struggles with human relationships. Then one day Caleb leaves on a business trip and his apprentice vanishes into the woods. Suddenly, Oscar is left alone in a world that turns out to not be as well ordered as he had thought.

Filled with magic, adventure, danger, bravery and the kind of growing that only comes from believing the truths you didn’t want to be true, this is an unforgettable story.

 

 

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Fighting Fire!

Ten of the Deadliest Fires in American History and How We Fought Them (2014)
Fighting Fire!

 

This book examines ten major fires from America's history, including Boston in 1760, to Chicago in 1871, to 9/11/01, and to the San Diego wildfire of 2007.  While the author points out that every fire resulted in more laws and regulations, fire still remains a threat.  Science and technology has also improved, but "according to the National Fire Protection Association, U.S. fire departments responded to nearly 1.3 million fires in 2010.  That's one every 24 seconds.  Those fires caused $11.6 billion in damage and killed 3,125 people, not including firefighters."  The author includes extensive source notes.  The book is powerful and is recommended for 5th grade and up.

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