Staff Picks for Children

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

Little Boo

(2014)
Little Boo

A tiny pumpkin seed has one goal in its life: to be SCARY!  “Boo!” it cries, to leaf and snowflake, grub to grasshopper.  They are not in the least frightened, but the wind encourages the seed: “It’s not time for scaring…not yet.  Be patient.  You’ll soon be scary enough.”  As the seasons turn, the seed has some turning of its own to do: to spring sprout, to summer flower, to autumn pumpkin. Little Boo finds that, sometimes, we need to be patient and grow into our dreams in order for them to come true.  For Little Boo, that long-awaited time is Halloween!

This is a sweet variation on a theme explored in Margaret Wise Brown’s The Fierce Yellow Pumpkin; many children will relate to the impatient little seed, as they can to the “fat little, round little, yellow little pumpkin,” who can’t wait to grow up.  Many will enjoy it beyond the season of fall and Halloween.

Although the story is pleasant, my favorite feature of the book lies in Tim Zeltner’s luminous paint-on-plywood illustrations -- a wonderful mix of moody and cozy. 

Little Boo is recommended for ages 3-7.

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Earthquake Shock

(2014)
Earthquake Shock

 

The first entry in the new Disaster Strikes series features an earthquake in Los Angeles, California.  Joey Flores talks his mom into letting him stay at the skate park with his friends without her for the first time.  However, as Joey, Fiona, Kevin, and Dylan start to walk home, an earthquake hits and Joey and Fiona just barely miss being hit by a collapsing highway.  They frantically start looking for Dylan and Kevin, and first find Dylan trapped underneath a concrete slab.  Thanks to Joey's quick thinking, Dylan is freed from his predicament, and through sheer luck, the friends are reunited with Kevin, who has been looking for them all along.  Joey gets home to his apartment building and reunites with his mom and baby sister and anxiously waits for his dad to get home. They are unable to return to their apartment that night, and go to a recreation center which has been turned into a shelter.  Joey's father returns to his family, and they wait for the go-ahead to return home.  At the end of the book are facts about earthquakes and tips to stay safe.  A quick preview for the second book, Tornado Alley is included.

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The Titanic Locket

(2014)
The Titanic Locket

 

A new series for fans of the scary, spooky genre!  Only the first book of the Haunted Museum series is out so far, but The Titanic Locket did not disappoint.  Sisters Jessica and Samantha visit a Haunted Museum in Southampton England and touch a locket despite all the signage saying not to touch anything.  Shortly after, they board the Titanic 2, a replica of the Titanic which sank in 1912.  The girls almost immediately start hearing scratching noises at their walls, notice their room number changing back and forth, and the locket they saw at the museum has mysteriously appeared in their cabin, and keeps coming back, despite all their efforts to rid themselves of it.  A boy they saw in the museum has also captured their interests, and they both are playing for his attention.  They have encounters with supernatural historical figures, and the tension escalates until Jessica is almost drowned.  The girls' 1912 alter egos Alice and Matilda fight, with Jessica and Samantha struggling to stay in control.   Its a fast read for those who like their stories on the spooky side. 

 For a non-fiction adventure try the interactive survival adventure Can You Survive the Titanic?

 

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Miss Emily

(2014)

 

This work of fiction told using free verse uses people who existed in real life to tell the story.  Miss Emily is Emily Dickinson, and the narrator MacGregor Jenkins was the son of the parson across the street.  Mac's sister and two of Emily's nieces round out the characters.  While many know that Emily Dickinson was mostly a recluse in her adult life, she did enjoy the company of children.  Mutén tells of a possible occurrence in the lives of these five--a nighttime excursion to see the circus train come into town.  The children and Miss Emily steal away in the dark of night, but on the way back Mac hurts his ankle and his parents learn the truth about their activities.  Despite their misdeeds, Mac and his sister Sally are taken to the circus which they then try to re-enact in their neighborhood. 

For more information about Emily Dickinson, try reading Emily Dickinson's Letters to the World or

 

 Emily Dickinson.

 

 

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The Miniature World of Marvin and James

(2014)
The Miniature World of Marvin and James

 

This beautifully illustrated early chapter book stars Marvin (a beetle) and James (a boy).  James is going on vacation for a week, and Marvin is worried that James will forget about him or make new friends and no longer need him.  A funny scene in the book takes place when Marvin teams up with his cousin Elaine and they discover the fun of playing inside a pencil sharpener with the wood shavings, that is, until a pencil is inserted and they can't get out.  This incident is the major event in the book, and Marvin has to be clever to get himself and Elaine out of the situation.  James comes home, and it turns out, he still needs Marvin.  He even brought Marvin a souvenir.  Recommended for readers just starting on chapter books who still enjoy lots of illustrations, and for fans of Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo.

This series is based off of Broach's earlier novel for older readers, Masterpiece. 

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Colors Versus Shapes

(2014)

Who are the stars of this book?  Colors or Shapes?  With the help of three unusual judges (featured in Boldt’s 123 versus ABC), two teams vie for the honor.  Team Color takes the stage to begin a talent contest, but Shapes soon crash it, and the game is on.   Red, Blue and Yellow do some fancy mixing to create a variety of new colors--everything from purple to turquoise.  But the shapes, including Circle, Triangle, and Square, show that they can change as well, adding sides, creating octagons, nonagons, irregular polygons—and-on-and-on-agons!  The competition is so fierce, that it isn’t long before colors and shapes collide!   Who will win?

There is plenty of humor and action in this basic introduction of two important concepts. Colors versus Shapes is recommended for ages 4-8.

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Leroy Ninker Saddles Up (2014)

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up


Leroy Ninker dreams of being a cowboy. He has a lasso. He has a hat and boots. He knows about tracking and has even been practicing his “Yippie-i-oh.”  The one thing he does not have is a horse.  Fortunately for Leroy, a special horse named Maybelline has just become available. As Leroy is soon to learn, however, it is one thing to dream of being a cowboy, and another to own a horse. Especially if that horse “enjoys the heck out of a compliment,” eats lots of grub” and “gets lonesome quick.”

 Fans of Kate DiCamillo will be delighted to read another tale chock full of heart, hope and dreams coming true. Fans of the Mercy Watson series will be delighted to see some of their old favorites as well as make new friends. All in all, the first book in the Tales from Deckawoo Drive looks like a rip-roaring good time for everyone.

 

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The Sealed-Up House

(2014)
The Sealed-Up House

 

This unusual story in the Twicetold Tales series retells the tale of Sleeping Beauty in an extremely fractured format.  Brendan is new in town and is fascinated by the Sova House covered in ivy and surrounded by overgrown shrubs and weeds which would make it difficult to enter.  After an unsuccessful attempt to enter and being attacked by vines, he visits the school nurse, who tells him about the house's inhabitants who have not left for at least 10 years and also tells Brendan that he has a little magic in him.  After that, Brendan is determined that he will enter the house and meet the child named Talia living inside. When he finally breaks in with the help of a machete, Talia is in a zombie-like state, until Brendan starts reading stories to her.  Little by little she begins to wake up, until her father bursts into the room and orders Brendan to leave. Talia's mother reminds him, though, that a witch had placed a spell upon their home that they would sleep, stupefied, until love found Talia, and Brendan was that love.  The school nurse comes to the house--it turns out she was the witch who placed the spell on the house, and she moves back into the house on the third floor, against the wishes of the family.  Brendan and Talia grow up together and marry as adults.

 

Now, the 2nd part of the book was new to me.  I did not recognize it as being part of the Sleeping Beauty story. Brendan and Talia have three daughters: Roxanne, Dawn, and Aurora.  One day the witch, who they now refer to as the spirit, asks Aurora to have the cook serve Roxanne for lunch.   Aurora is justifiably horrified.  Instead the cook prepares a goose and tricks the spirit.  Next, the spirit asks to eat Dawn for dinner.  Aurora is again scared, for she does not realize the cook is substituting lamb for Dawn, and hiding Roxanne and Dawn away.  Next the spirit asks to consume Aurora and the cook gives the spirit a pork roast.  When the spirit finds that Roxanne, Dawn, and Aurora are still alive, she is furious, but the cook locks her into the pantry and she is never seen again.  I looked at a couple websites online, and I learned that in many versions of Sleeping Beauty there is a second half to the story that is remarkably similar to this half of the book.  What a fun book to read, and I'm looking forward to looking at more versions of the original Sleeping Beauty.

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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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Cinderella Stays Late

(2014)
Cinderella Stays Late

 

This new chapter book series, featuring multiple characters from the large collection of fairy tales compiled by the Brothers Grimm, is perfect for students in 3rd through 6th grade who love fairy tales.  In Cinderella Stays Late, Cinda is starting her first year at Grimm Academy.  Her evil stepsisters (the Steps) are not going to make her new life easy.  Cinda easily makes friends with Red (Riding Hood), Snow (White), and Rapunzel.  Plus, she makes a favorable impression on Prince Awesome, who is planning a ball for the start of the school year.  The Steps aren't pleased.  Cinda really doesn't want to go to the ball because she doesn't like dancing, she'd much rather play masketball.  But she plays along with her friends when going to the library to "check out" their ball gowns and slippers and checks out a gown for herself.  On the night of the ball, Cinda has a plan to miss the ball: she will make a mess on the hearth (she is the hearthkeeper for her school assignment, after all).  But, someone has already made a huge disastrous mess!  She goes to confront the Steps and overhears them plot to bring back the E.V.I.L. Society, and their plan to get Prince Awesome to join.  She vows to stop the Steps by going to the ball after all, but the Steps have destroyed her dress and slippers.  And the library will only allow one dress to be checked out.  With a little unexpected help, Cinda makes it to the ball.  She decides to wear a masketball mask, and it turns out the glass slippers she found in the library make her into a fantastic dancer!  Can Cinda stop the evil plot?  This story was a fast read, and the authors also write the Goddess Girls series.  A fun, fractured fairy tale series.

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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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