Staff Picks for Children

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

Donkeys

(2014)
Donkeys

 

This charming picture book first published in Austria in 2002 and first translated into English in 2005 has been published in the US by NorthSouth Books.  Jenny and Jack are two donkeys who have been married for 25 years.  Jenny wants to help Jack remember their anniversary so she folds the corner of his ear down the night before.  Unfortunately, this blocks the ear, and he is deaf in the other ear, so he doesn't hear the rooster and sleeps throughout the day.  Jenny is livid, and decides that she is leaving the relationship.  The two donkeys have physical markings on their bodies from being together for so long--Jenny has a hollow on her neck, and Jack had a bump in the same place.  They fit together perfectly, but Jack and Jenny both believe they can find someone better.  They meet several different animals, from goats, to zebras, to flamingos, but none have the same fit.  Jack and Jenny end up together again on the advice of a camel.  This sweet love story is unique and for both young and old.

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Shoe Dog

(2014)
Shoe Dog

Prolific author Megan McDonald and versatile illustrator Katherine Tillotson team up again with this slightly sad, sometimes silly and altogether sweet story.

A shelter dog longs for a real home, with kisses, pats, and tummy rubs, "as warm as soup and cozy as pie."  And when a lady (whom Dog dubs “She Herself”) adopts him, Dog feels he finally has that home. There's room to run, and soft, warm places to sleep--and things to chew!   But who needs a bone or a toy when there are SHOES around?  "Shoe Dog!” She Herself cries, and suddenly there are no kisses or tummy rubs or cozy places for Dog.  He wants to be good, and when he is, life is great!  But when She Herself brings home new shoes, he can't seem to resist temptation!  “Bad Dog!”  Can he change his ways and be welcomed back to "The Land of Upstairs" with its Big Bed and Comfy Chair, kisses and tummy rubs?   Or is it back to the shelter, "The Land of Sad Puppies" for him?  It’s She Herself to the rescue with a special surprise!   McDonald's lilting, read-out-loud-able prose and Tillotson's crayon and charcoal drawings combine well to portray the many moods of Dog and his lady.  Especially nice are the illustrations of Dog himself, with tornadic, squiggly lines that match his eager, lively personality, and the unique choice of words reflecting Dog’s point of view.

This picture book is recommended for 4-8.

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Plants Feed Me (2014)

Plants Feed Me

 


This informational picture book is a wonderful way to introduce children to vegetables and fruits. Unless they are gardening themselves, children (and often grown-ups as well) find themselves several steps removed from the contents of their salads.  Where does all that green stuff come from? What part of the plant are we eating? Are potatoes roots or tubers? What about carrots, parsnips and beets? We have all heard about tomatoes being fruits, but what about pumpkins, peppers and eggplants? This book is for anyone who has ever wondered (or is wondering now) where exactly did that salad come from?

 

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Monkey and Elephant Go Gadding

(2014)
Monkey and Elephant Go Gadding

 

Monkey and Elephant are all washed up with no place to go!  They look way too nice to stay home.  Monkey suggests they go gadding.  What is gadding, you say?  Gadding, "is walking along, looking around, finding something fun, stopping awhile, then moving on."  They first meet Elephant's Uncle Phump and get a nice surprise from him, and next run into Monkey's cousin MeeMee.  Another Surprise!  MeeMee has a new family, with three baby monkeys. Monkey and Elephant have had a great day of fun surprises.  This is the third book in the Monkey and Elephant series.  Great series for students who are past Mo Willems' Elephant and Piggie books and are at the Frog and Toad level. 

Don't miss the original Monkey and Elephant,

or the second book, Monkey and Elephant Get Better.

 

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Chitchat

Celebrating the World's Languages (2013)
Chitchat

 

Right now, about 7,000 language are spoken on Planet Earth.  However linguists believe that at one time at least 140,000 languages have been spoken at some time.  The topic of language extinction is only one of the fascinating topics covered in this fun informational text for older elementary age students.  Did you know that some languages don't even have a word for blue?  Others, like Russian, have words that sound nothing alike for the different shades of blue.  The book also talks about how words come into existence:  Shakespeare came up with the phrase "the world is my oyster". Technological developments have forced new words to be invented.  Sometimes we'll borrow words from other languages, blend two words into one, or make acronyms.  The people who write dictionaries will wait several years before adding a new word to the dictionary, to make sure that the word isn't just a fad.  Another fun part of the book talks about invented languages, like Klingon.  Did you know there are more than 20 people in the world who speak Klingon fluently?!  If you like words and playing with language, this is the book for you! 

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Mary Walker Wears the Pants

The True Story of the Doctor, Reformer, and Civil War Hero (2013)
Mary Walker Wears the Pants

 

Mary Walker received her medical degree in 1855 and was one of the very first women to be a doctor, but was only allowed to be a volunteer in the Civil War at first.  In 1863 she was finally commissioned as an assistant surgeon for the Union Army.  In 1864 she was captured by the Confederate Army and thought to be a spy, thus imprisoned in "Castle Thunder" for several months until exchanged for a Confederate surgeon.  In 1866, Mary received a letter from President Andrew Johnson honoring her with the Medal of Honor for meritorious services.  No woman had ever received such an honor.  An extensive author's note tells more about Mary and details her fashion ideas about women wearing trousers.  I was astonished to learn that in 1917 Congress ordered Mary and 910 other Medal of Honor recipients to return their Medals because they had not been in "actual combat with the enemy".  Mary however, would not return her medal.  In 1977, President Jimmy Carter restored the Medal to Dr. Mary Walker. 

For extensive information about Mary, read Dr. Mary Edwards Walker: Civil War Surgeon & Medal of Honor Recipient.

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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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