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.

The Tooth Fairy Wars

The Tooth Fairy Wars

 

 

Most children happily trade their baby teeth for money from the tooth fairy, but not Nathan. He wants to keep his baby teeth FOREVER. Unfortunately, the tooth fairy is equally determined to find them and she is very good at her job. He tries hiding them in places both usual and unusual, but to no avail. He leaves a polite letter asking to keep his teeth, and receives a polite form letter from the League of Enchanted Commerce informing him that he may appeal for an exception and can expect to have his case reviewed….sometime in the next 25,990 years!

 Will Nathan find a way to outwit the magical beings and hang on to his baby pearly whites?

 

 

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The Alchemist War

(2014)
The Alchemist War

 

Dawk and Hype live in the 25th century, but their parents are research scientists which allow them to travel through space and time.  In the first installment of the Time-Tripping Faradays series, they end up in Prague in the 1600s.  They meet a man claiming to be an alchemist (someone who can turn a non-gold material into gold)--using technology from later than the 1600s.  Its up to Dawk and Hype to stop Richthausen and find out how he discovered the new technology.  25th century technology is explained in the first few chapters so the reader can keep up with the story, and the time travel component may be fun for fans of the Magic Tree House and Time Warp Trio series. 

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The Lost Stone

(2014)
The Lost Stone

 

This first entry in the new Kingdom of Wrenly series is an excellent beginning chapter book for new readers.  With large text, and numerous illustrations, children should gravitate towards it.  The book is about Prince Lucas, an 8 year old boy, who longs for friends, but his father has forbidden him to play with the peasant children.  After Lucas sneaks out of the castle to go to school with the peasants he is caught, and convinces his parents to let him at least be friends with Clara, the daughter of a seamstress at the castle.  When the queen loses a precious emerald, Lucas and Clara set out to the different lands in the Kingdom of Wrenly, which were inhabited by wizards, fairies, trolls, and mermaids.  Will Lucas and Clara find the emerald?  The book includes an excerpt from the second book to hook children on the series. 

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Missing Monkey

(2014)
Missing Monkey

 

This new early chapter book series introduces the reader to Jillian and Billy Crook, who are children of two real thieves.  Jillian and Billy both harbor a secret--they actually don't want to steal things and commit crimes, they want to do good deeds!  On the day that Jillian and Billy secretly go to the zoo to volunteer, their parents follow them and end up stealing a monkey, who they will train to be a pick-pocket.  Its up to Billy and Jillian to return the monkey to its real home at the zoo.  Of course, a few animals might also get released while trying to return the monkey but its all in good fun.  The chapters are short with fun illustrations. 

Don't miss book 2, Dog Gone.

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Help! We Need a Title!

(2014)
Help! We Need a Title!

First published in France in 2013, this book by the author of Press Here is a fun addition to Tullet's growing collection of stellar interactive picture books.  When the book is opened, a pig and fairy (two characters who appear hastily drawn or scribbled) notice that someone is watching them.  They call out to other characters to see that something is looking at their book.  They think about offering a landscape, since the book is a bit messy--there are scribbles and smudges everywhere like you would expect in an unfinished book.  After realizing that the landscape doesn't provide a story they try to add a bad guy, who is actually pretty nice. So, they set out in search of an author.  Just so happens, they know an author and shout out for him--AUTHOR!!! Hervé Tullet opens the door (an actual photograph of his head, placed on a blue colored torso.  Mr. Tullet's facial expression's are priceless, as he tells the reader that they can't stay because he hasn't finished yet.  But the characters are insistent that a story be written so a basic short story is told, and the author sends the characters back on their way.  The characters say good-bye to the reader, and all is well with the book.  There is a reference to the author's bestselling first book to look for, and its fun to see the process of a book being written. 

Don't miss this interactive picture book first published in  2010.

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This is a Moose

(2014)
This is a Moose

This is a very serious non-fiction book about a very serious documentary film about about a mighty moose in his natural, traditional habitat—CUT!  Book review about This is a Moose: Take Two!

 Duck director Billy Waddler sets out to film a serious documentary about the mighty moose in his natural, traditional habitat, but his subject is far from the typical moose.  This one has big dreams-of being an astronaut!  “CUT!” cries Billy.  But take after take, Moose’s dream, and his extraordinary friends (including a lacrosse-playing grandma moose, a flying chipmunk, a giraffe who dreams of being a doctor) cannot be denied!  Lichtenheld’s pencil, ink, and gouache illustrations are the perfect match for Morris’ zany story, with plenty of details to notice and laugh about, and an underlying message of following your dreams (and overcoming stereotypes) to feel good about.

This is a Moose is especially great for fun-loving dreamers aged 4 to 8!

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Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times

(2014)
Flights, Chimes and Mysterious Times

 

This steam punk adventure takes place primarily in Londinium, a dangerous alternative London ruled over by the Lady and filled with all things mechanical. Periodically, the Lady longs for a son who is completely flesh and blood with no clockwork pieces. When this happens she sends someone to cross over into the other London to bring one back for her.

 Home from boarding school for the summer, Jack is bored. His mother and father never have time for him and, truthfully, he feels that no one wants him very much. When he meets the mysterious Mr. Havelock, he finds himself becoming insatiably curious about magic, about mysteries and about this strange man who seems, out of all the adults in his world, to truly want him for something.  

 The problem with other worlds is that in them the rules are different and getting home, assuming one wanted to, can become a difficult problem indeed.

 

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Never Say a Mean Word Again

A Tale From Medieval Spain (2014)
Never Say a Mean Word Again

 

This picture book is based on a medieval folktale about poet Samuel Ha-Nagid, a vizier in Granada, a city in Spain.  I learned from the extensive author's note that a vizier is the highest royal advisor to a ruler.  In this story, Jules imagines that Samuel is a young boy who mistakenly offends another boy Hamza, the tax-collector's son, by first running into him, and then by spilling lamb sauce onto him.  Hamza says many mean things to Samuel, but instead of punishing Hamza, Samuel's father the vizier tells Samuel that Samuel himself must take care of the problem by making sure that Hamza never says a mean word again.  Samuel is perplexed as to how he will do this.  He comes up with several unlikely scenarios, and then comes up with a plan: he'll take a lemon to Hamza's house and make Hamza eat the lemon, but instead they end up playing with the lemon as a ball.  Samuel comes up with more plans, but they keep going wrong: he and Hamza end up playing together each time.  In the end, Samuel realizes he has fulfilled his father's words: by making Hamza his friend, Hamza will never say a mean word again.  Similar to Enemy Pie by Derek Munson, the story works to share with early elementary age students about friendship.

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Dog Days

(2013)
Dog Days

 

The first entry in the Carver Chronicles series introduces the reader to Gavin, the new kid at Carver Elementary.  This is the same school where Nikki and Deja are students, in another of English's early chapter book series.  Gavin makes a new friend, Richard, but almost immediately gets into huge trouble when he and Richard break his older sister's Danielle's beloved snow globe.  When Gavin's Great-Aunt Myrtle moves in for a week and needs Gavin to walk her Pomeranian Carlotta every day, Gavin has the opportunity to earn money to pay Danielle back for the snow globe.  This new series has great potential for early readers looking for stories about kids with every day concerns.

Check out the first book from Karen English's original early chapter book series, Nikki & Deja!

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Benji Franklin, Kid Zillionaire

(2014)
Benji Franklin, Kid Ziollionaire

 

Benji Franklin is a smart kid.  He invents a computer app called "Excuse Yourself" that creates excuses for kids when they don't want to do something.  Not only does it create an excuse, it shows the odds of the excuse of working, a list of advice for the user, and a tracking option so a kid doesn't accidentally use the same excuse too often.  The next day Benji logs into the account he created for app sales--$344,052!  The app had been downloaded nearly 250,000 times overnight.  And the number of downloads just keeps going up and up and up.  Benji is becoming famous.  Famous enough, that when a group of scientists lose the dinosaurs they recently cloned, they call Benji for help with the excuse (why the dinosaurs escaped) and catching the dinosaurs.  Benji of course knows exactly how to catch the dinosaurs and in the process saves his mother's food pantry problems at the same time.  The book is silly, and absolutely everything in it is implausible, but that's why it works.  Recommended for those reluctant readers and anyone who wants a good laugh.

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Scribbles and Ink

Out of the Box (2014)
Scribbles and Ink

 

Scribbles and Ink are back with their huge imaginations.  Ink is shopping online, and what he ordered is coming "super speedy express delivery".  It's cheese, but Scribbles wants the box.  Ink says, "Sure. Why not? It's just a box."  Scribbles loves his box.  He comes up with idea after idea of how to play with the box.  Then Ink wants the box back.  Then we come to a page where the two are both shouting "Mine!" while tugging at the box.  And the box rips in two.  How does one solve this problem?  With more online shopping, of course!  All of the boxes in the book are real photographs of boxes, which is a neat juxtaposition with the illustrations of Scribbles and Ink. 

 Compare this book to Not a Box by Antoinette Portis.

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