Staff Picks for Children

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

Extraordinary Warren Saves the Day

(2014)
Extraordinary Warren Saves the Day

 

This second addition to the graphic novel series about a chicken with red spectacles named Warren introduces the reader to a newly hatched inquisitive chicken named Egg.  Warren teaches Egg everything he knows.  One morning, Egg gets up earlier than everyone else and is detemined to fly, and he makes it across the road where he talks to a cow and then gets lost in a field of corn.  It isn't until after lunch that Warren realized that Egg is missing!  Warren also crosses the road, looks everywhere for Egg, and doesn't know where to look next, until he hears Egg's voice.  Egg is busy asking a spider question after question, and Warren follows the voice to Egg.  They try to exit the cornfield to no avail, until Egg remembers some of the wisdom Warren had shared earlier--"Always follow the brightest star".  They follow the star all the way back to the farm, where the other chickens are having a "search party".  This silly graphic novel is perfect for new chapter book readers up to 3rd grade, younger for reading aloud.

Don't miss the first book, Extraordinary Warren, a Super Chicken.

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The Jacket

(2014)
The Jacket

 

This fabulous story is about Book, a blue rectangle with stick arms and legs, and a beautiful smile.  Unfortunately, Book had not yet been discovered by a child, and worried that it might never happen.  Then, he met the girl.  She loved the Book, but also loved her dog, Egg Cream.  He was a wonderful dog who did everything that dogs should do, but he was a definite threat to Book.  On an afternoon when Book and the girl were together peacefully, mud suddenly flew everywhere.  Book could no longer see, and he knew what a terrible mess he was.  He was no longer the perfect book.  All was not lost, though.  The girl made Book a jacket of his own and he is just like brand new.  The end of the book has instructions on how to make book jackets for your own books.  The illustrations are fantastic, Egg Cream appears to be drawn as scribbles, which fits his character perfectly.  This will be a great book to share with students about how to care for books. 

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Leroy Ninker Saddles Up

(2014)
Leroy Ninker Saddles Up

 

Tales from Deckawoo Drive is a spin-off series from the popular Mercy Watson early chapter book series starring reformed thief Leroy Ninker.  Leroy still wants to be a cowboy, but is working at the movie theater selling popcorn instead.  His co-worker Beatrice tells him that a cowboy must have a horse, and she knows about a horse that is for sale cheap.  Leroy goes to meet Maybelline and it is love at first sight.  He takes her home after learning to compliment the horse into moving, and feeds her pot after pot of spaghetti with tomato sauce.  Maybelline doesn't fit into Leroy's apartment unfortunately, so when there's a terrible storm, Maybelline runs away, and Leroy is desperate to get her back. The book ties in nicely as a snack of buttered toast with the Watsons takes place. 

 If you haven't read Mercy Watson Fights Crime, read that one first.  A promising series for new chapter book readers.

 

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Here Comes Santa Cat

(2014)
Here Comes Santa Cat

In “Here Comes Santa Cat”, we meet a cat dressed up in a Santa suit that is having a conversation with an unseen narrator.  After viewing Cat’s “current year to date” pie chart showing a ratio of his naughty to nice behavior, we learn why he wants to be Santa—he wants a present.  Maybe if Cat does some nice things, Santa will give him a present after all.  Cat’s attempts at niceness go terribly awry over and over, until finally he does it right.  And Cat meets Santa after all.  The ink and colored pencil illustrations show Cat with a multitude of emotions, and the uncluttered set-up and white space makes the book easy to read.  Excellent to share one-on-one or with a group.  

Don’t miss the companion book, Here Comes the Easter Cat.

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Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold

(2014)
Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold

 

 

 

"What do the trees know?

To bend when all the wild winds blow.

Roots are deep and time is slow.

All we grasp we must let go.

What do the trees know?

Buds can weather ice and snow.

Dark gives way to sunlight’s glow.

Strength and stillness help us grow."

Joyce Sidman and Rick Allen, whose Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night became a 2011 Newbery Honor Book, once again combine masterful poetry, intricate linoleum block illustrations, and fascinating nature facts in a gorgeous picture book.  This time the focus is on winter: from snowflakes and sleeping snakes; dormant trees and clustering bees, to migrating geese and stalwart chickadees, moose, wolves, voles, and ravens, doing what they need to in order to survive the cold core of the season, until the early spring skunk cabbage pokes through the melting snow.  Sidman’s poems range from whimsical to wistful.  Observant readers/viewers will be on the lookout for a fox in the various nature scenes.

Fans of this offering may also enjoy Winter Eyes by Douglas Florian and Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner.  Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold is recommended for ages 5 and up.

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Shooting At the Stars

The Christmas Truce of 1914 (2014)
Shooting At the Stars

Shooting at the Stars is a fictionalized account of the Christmas truce that occurred in the trenches between British and German troops during World War I in 1914.  The story is told conveyed through a letter by a British soldier to his mother.  He tells of December 24th, when the British soldiers heard singing coming from the opposing trench 30 paces away.  Stille Nacht--Silent Night.  The next morning, they woke up to calls from the German soldiers.  Warily, soldiers from both sides began to step out into “No Man’s Land”.  They first buried their dead, then took pictures with each other, traded with each other and even played football with an old biscuit tin.  In the evening, they returned to their trenches, and the War resumed the next day.  Even though this book is fiction, it is based on letters and interviews with soldiers who were there that day.  According to the extensive author’s note, it was along many miles of trench lines that British, French, and German soldiers celebrated Christmas together.  A glossary and bibliography round out the book.  This book received starred reviews from Kirkus, Publisher’s Weekly, School Library Journal, and Booklist, and it receives high praise from me as well. Share this book with elementary students as an example of the “real people”, not government or military leaders, who fought in World War I.  

For extensive information about the Christmas Truce of 1914, check out Truce: the Day the Soldiers Stopped Fighting by Jim Murphy.

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Take Away The A

An Alphabeast of a Book (2014)
Take Away The A

 

This innovative and unique alphabet book takes a basic word like "beast", take away the "a" and "the BEAST is the BEST". "Without the B, the BRIDE goes for a RIDE."  Reading the book straight through would be fun for preschool and kindergarten, but for older students and their teachers, its a great excuse for wordplay!  Highly recommended.

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Maddi's Fridge

(2014)
Maddi's Fridge

 

In Maddi's Fridge, we are introduced to two young friends, Maddi and Sofia.  After playing near Maddi's apartment building, Sofia suggests a snack and starts running to Maddi's apartment, even when Maddi asks her to wait.  Sofia discovers that the refrigerator has only milk in it, which Maddi is saving for her little brother.  When Sofia prepares to leave, Maddi makes Sofia promise not to tell anyone.  Sofia looks at her own refrigerator which is full of food.  While she eats her dinner of fish and rice, she thinks of Maddi who has only bread to eat.  Sofia wants to tell her mom, but she remembers her promise.  Sofia gets the idea to bring food to Maddi, although her ideas of fish, then eggs turn out not to work so well. Finally she gets a little food to Maddi's apartment for the refrigerator, but Sofia realizes that it just isn't enough.  Sofia decides to break her promise and tells her mom.  They put together bags of groceries and take them to Maddi's.  Sofia is worried that Maddi will be mad, but they decide they are still friends.  This book is unique in telling the story of children who are hungry like Maddi.  The book is not didactic, there is a genuine story to the book as well as the lesson.  The book ends with a page called "Let's help friends who have empty refrigerators". More information is available at www.MaddisFridge.com.

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Melody of the Qeej

(2013)
Melody of the Qeej

 

Mai Kou Xiong wrote this book as part of the Reading Together Project which addresses the need for children's books about the experiences of Asian children in the United States.  Phengxue is playing with his friends and when they come inside they end up in Phengxue's brother Meng's room.  Tyrone and Timmy see a qeej (pronounced "keng") hanging on the wall and are curious about the musical instrument.  The boys take the qeej to Phengxue's grandfather who gives background on the instrument, such as what type of ceremonies it is played at.  He shows them how the qeej is put together with bamboo pipes, and plays a melody for the boys.  Phengxue is motivated to learn to play the qeej for himself, after his grandfather tells him to remember that even though he is in America and does what American kids do, he is still Hmong.  I have always been curious about the qeej, and this book explained it for me.  I hope that Xiong continues to write books about Hmong children for younger children to read.

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The Vanishing Coin

(2014)
The Vanishing Coin

This is the first book in a promising series about a fourth grade boy named Mike whose school year is not off to a good start.  Mike struggles to sit still and pay attention, and ends up in the principal's office at least once every week.  And this year, he has to spend every afternoon after school with new neighbor gifted Nora.  Mike's not looking forward to it, until he and Nora discover an antiques store called "The White Rabbit".  This store also is a little magical. When Mike is able to solve a riddle from the shopkeeper, he is taught his first magic trick.  Mike is hooked on magic.  He amazes his classmates with his new trick, and incites the wrath of his enemy Jackson when a trick takes away the bully's quarter.  The book has intermittent black and white illustrations which nicely complement the text.  The instructions for how to perform Mike's magic tricks are provided for budding magicians as well. 

 Don't miss the second book in the series, The Incredible Twisting Arm!

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Baby Bear Counts One

(2013)
Baby Bear Counts One

Another of my favorite seasonal picture books is this companion book to Baby Bear Sees Blue.  In an autumn landscape, a curious bear cub asks Mama Bear questions about the sounds of animals around them, and then counts the animals as they make their preparations for the winter. Once winter comes, Baby Bear discovers something new to count!  Multiple concepts and themes of counting, seasons, and animals make this a versatile book.  Wolff’s linoleum block and watercolor illustrations, with a great blend of realism and whimsy, are warm and inviting.

Storytime tested and approved, this book is great for ages 2-6.

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