Staff Picks for Children

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

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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Words With Wings

(2013)
Words With Wings

Words With Wings, by the author of the Dyamonde Daniel series for young readers, is about a girl named after a creature with wings, the angel Gabriel.  Gabriella loves to daydream, and daydreaming helps her cope with her parent's recent divorce.  However Gabby still craves her mother's and her teacher Mr. Spicer's approval.  Gabby tries to stop daydreaming, but Mr. Spicer encourages her to dream like "the best thinkers, writers, inventors in the world", but tells her, "still, sometimes you have to slide your daydreams in a drawer and let them wait until later, like after I'm done teaching a lesson you need to learn."  The book flows seamlessly from page to page, including several of Gabby's poems.  I highly recommend this book to students in 3rd grade and up.

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I Dare You Not to Yawn

(2013)
I Dare You Not to Yawn

“Yawns are sneaky.  They can creep up on you when you least expect them.”  And--yawns can lead to pajamas, bedtime stories, lullabies and tucking in—whether you’re ready or not!  The book serves as a witty warning for all those readers who are definitely not ready for bed, with challenges to resist anything cozy, cuddly, sleepy or snuggly.  But, also heed my warning: this book will make you yawn, not because it’s boring, but because--as author Hélène Boudreau knows all too well--yawns are contagious!  This charming funny book with the lively, distinctive cartoon modern illustrations by Serge Bloch (see last month’s review for I Scream, Ice Cream) makes the perfect ease-into-bedtime story, or feature in a bedtime-themed storytime.  This review is dedicated to Kristi.

This book is recommended for ages 3-8.

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Windblown (2013)

Windblown

 

In this fanciful tale, tiny scraps of paper in various shapes and colors become animals. Each animal claims the shapes belong to them. The chicken, “saw them lying around!” The fish “cut the paper into pieces.” Each animal has a good reason for believing the paper belongs to them, but just then the wind blows the paper over to you. It just might be that the shapes of paper really belong to you. What will you make out of them?

 

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The Reason I Jump

The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism (2013)
The Reason I Jump

 

The Reason I Jump is a fascinating look into the mind of a Japanese thirteen-year-old boy with autism.  Naoki Higashida wrote the book using an alphabet grid to answer questions, because he could not answer out loud.  The book is a series of curious questions and down to earth, honest answers.  For example, "Why are your facial expressions so limited?" or "Why do you write letters in the air" are answered in ways that give the reader new insight into the author's mind.  His answer to "What's the worst thing about having autism?" brought tears to my eyes.  This book is recommended for students in grades 6 and up.

To explain autism to younger children, try using Autism by Marlene Brill or Some Kids Have Autism by Martha Rustad.

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The Fairy-Tale Princess

Seven Classic Stories From The Enchanted Forest (2012)
The Fairy-Tale Princess

 

The breathtaking images for these fairy tales were created from the pages of old books--paper sculptures of characters and their surroundings!  All of the sculptures have text on them, however it is not usually clear that the text is related to the scene.  Occasionally, however, the words on the sculpture will perfectly match the story, for example in Sleeping Beauty, on the sculpture of the spinning wheel is the text "ever touch a spinning-whe".  The seven stories included in this collection are Cinderella, The Frog Prince, The Twelve Dancing Princesses, The Princess and the Pea, Snow White, Rapunzel, and Sleeping Beauty.  Snow White and Rapunzel do not shy away from the gruesome roots of their story.  These stories are best shared one on one where the images can be closely scrutinized and enjoyed.

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One Came Home

2013

It's the summer of 1871 in the small town of Placid, Wisconsin when 13 year old Georgia Burkhardt, a rugged girl with a bullseye shot, sets out to find the truth behind her older sister, Agatha's disappearance.  Georgia knew that she had something to do with her sister's broken engagement to a wealthy older gentleman but Georgia didn't expect Agatha to run off like that.  After the town sheriff is sent to find Agatha and bring her home, he returns with an unrecognizable body wearing Agatha's dress.  Everyone in the family but Georgia, accepts that Agatha is dead.  Georgia sneaks off in the heat of the summer on a mule with one of her sister's former suitors, Billy McCabe to solve the mystery.  On the way, Georgia discovers that she herself has some romantic feelings toward Billy McCabe.  She also discovers evidence about the band of people her sister had run into before she disappeared and that shooting people is far more difficult than shooting pigeons.  Author Amy Timbelake weaves this story between two historical Wisconsin events of 1871, the largest recorded nesting of passenger pigeons that spring and the Great Fire that fall.  Readers of many different genres will enjoy this strange mix of Historical Fiction, Mystery, Adventure, Romance and Western.  Find a comfortable seat. Recommended for grade 5-8.

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The Misadventures of Salem Hyde

Spelling Trouble (2013)
The Misadventures of Salem Hyde

 

On the first pages of this graphic novel for younger readers, Salem Hyde turns her school crossing guard into a dinosaur.  Salem's parents don't have magical powers so they ask her Aunt Martha for advice:  Salem needs an animal companion.  Salem really wants a unicorn, so when Percival J. Whamsford III, M.A.C. (magical animal companion) shows up at the door she is not thrilled.  Whammy writes up a standard contract with the family to teach Salem how to use her witching abilities.  Fast forward to the school spelling bee--Salem thinks that Whammy has quit, she casts a spell to help her win the spelling bee which turns out disastrous until Whammy returns to save the day.  Number 2 in the Salem Hyde series will be debuting in May of 2014.  Recommended for 2nd grade and up.

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Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library

(2013)
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library

 

The town of Alexandriaville has been without a public library for 12 years. That was until Mr. Lemoncello, a world renowned game maker, designed a state of the art facility for the community. In celebration of the library’s grand opening, a committee selected a dozen of the town’s twelve year olds to spend the night in the new building. Little did this group know that their overnight in the library would turn into an adventurous game to escape the building. With the help of the Dewey Decimal system, endless twists and turns and numerous references to classic and contemporary children’s literature, Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library is a book for readers who love books, libraries and a good game. Recommended for 4th grade through 7th grade.

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The Mad Potter: George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius (2013)

The Mad Potter : George E Ohr, Eccentric Genius

 

 

 This biography, a Sibert Honor recipient, introduces readers to a little known, but unforgettable artist.

George E. Ohr’s father was a blacksmith, but George, eccentric and free spirited, couldn’t agree with his father and didn’t want to work in the forge. Describing himself as a “rankey krankey solid individualist,” he eventually became a potter and began making both traditional items and colorful, twisty creations he called “mud babies.” Despite becoming famous locally for his personality, no one was interested in buying his artistic creations. He continued to make them claiming, “I am making pots for art sake,…when I’m gone my work will be prized, honored and cherished.”  Years after his death, his pots were discovered by an antiques dealer. Now interested viewers may visit the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum of Art in Biloxi, Mississippi to see the work of someone who may have been as great an artist as he claimed to be all along.

 

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Dead City

(2012
cover for Dead City

 

Zombies in Manhattan! Who would guess? There are different levels of the “undead” (they do not like the word Zombie) living in the world amongst the living.  But the “undead” aren’t just normal zombies in this book.   They can speak, think, and have emotion depending on the level of the Zombie.   A new twist is making the undead emotional, feeling creatures - some of which are just trying to live peacefully among humans. But some zombies are trouble makers and that’s where the Omega Society comes into play.  It is now Molly and her team's job to gather clues, solve puzzles, and track down the evil undead.

Molly Bigelow, a seventh grader, learns about the existence of the “undead” from her classmates.  She is recruited into an organization called the Omega, a secret group that both protects and fights the “Undead” Of New York.  All of the members follow the rules of CLAP: keep Calm, Listen, Avoid physical confrontation and Punish. 

New York City has been under siege by zombies ever since 13 workers were killed while digging subway tunnels in 1896.  The zombies acquire their strength from a special rock found under Manhattan. Thus the Omegas need to keep track of these undead and protect the city.

During Molly’s training, she learns that her mother was an Omega.  She realizes that her mother had her take martial arts classes and memorize the periodic table in order to follow in her footsteps.  The Omegas use the Periodic Table of Elements to construct codes.  After extensive training Molly is ready to conquer any challenge thrown her way.  When the evil Marek shows up and puts the city in danger, Molly is ready to defend herself.

This is definitely a fast-paced, fun adventure story for middle school age students in 5th through 7th grade who love books about zombies.  The story moves along at a good pace and has plenty of plot twists to keep things interesting.  The ending leads towards a sequel.

I would recommend this book for students in 5th through 7th grade.

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