Staff Picks for Children

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

The Man with the Violin

(2013)

 

Dylan is the type of boy who sees things that others often miss. One cold day, Dylan and his mom are rushing around town. Dylan notices the details. He sees an old radio, a man reading a newspaper upside down and a child standing on a bench in red boots. His mom pulls Dylan along to their next destination - the metro station. The station is loud, and everyone hurries to find their train.

Then, Dylan begins to hear something. Music fills the space with notes that make “the hairs on the back of Dylan’s neck tickle.” No one pays attention to the man with the violin, but Dylan is drawn to him. He begs his mom to listen to the man’s music, but there isn’t time to stop. All day, Dylan replays the music in his head. Will Dylan ever discover who the man with the violin is?

Broad sweeping lines and lyrical phrases capture the feeling of the music that Dylan hears. While the story is fictional, the author was inspired by a similar occurrence in 2007 when Joshua Bell played his violin in Washington D.C. metro station and included several notes at the end of the story about the event. Highly recommended for students Kindergarten through Grade 3.

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My Name is Blessing

(2013)
My Name is Blessing

 

Born with two fingers on his right hand and none on his left, his mother named him Muthini, which means suffering. He lives with his Grandmother and eight of his cousins. There are cruel taunts from the villagers and never enough food, but his Grandmother, his Nyanya, loves him very much. Still, nine is too many when food is scarce and Muthini is the youngest. So, one day, his Grandmother takes him to a school to see if there is a place for him there.

Based on the true story of a family in Kenya, this picture book tells a story of hope in troubled times and of how a life can be changed from one of suffering to one of blessing.

 

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Outlaw

(2011)
bookcover for Outlaw


Outlaw
is an action-packed story taking place in Africa.  The story involves kidnapping, mystery, adventure and a political conspiracy.  The two main characters are Jake – 15, and his sister, Kas – 13, children of the ambassador from Britain to the city of Burkina Faso, Africa. The children are looking forward to spending some time with their parents in a foreign country.  But everything changes when they are kidnapped by a wanted outlaw, Jakuuba Sor.  But who is this outlaw?  Is he really against the government or is he a modern day “Robin Hood”?  These are only a few of the subplots in this fast-paced thriller.

Yakuuba Sor is considered by some to be a terrorist and by others to be a hero of the common folks. Jake and Kas come to realize that things are not as they seem, and that the supposed good guys may not be on the right side after all.   

Technological touches include how to charge batteries without a battery charger; the Mosquito ringtone able to be heard only by young ears; a beetle with a GPS component; and most dangerous, the Predator, a highly effective bomb.

If you enjoy action, adventure, technology, and political intrigue you must read this book.  The constant action and twists will keep both boys and girls hooked.

I would recommend this book for boys and girls in grades 5th through 8th grade.

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But I Read It On the Internet

(2013)
But I Read It On the Internet

 

In this tale, Hunter is determined that only books can provide facts, while Carmen is certain that everything on the Internet must be true.  Mrs. Skorupski, the school librarian, provides the students with a "Website Evaluation Gizmo" that assists students in determining if the facts found on a website can be trusted.  Carmen and and Hunter both decide to research the same topic, but both have different ideas as to whether an idea is true.  Hunter, who has never been to a public library before and doesn't have Internet access at home, finds help from a public librarian in using search engines.  Carmen and Hunter both learn about their topic, and discover new facts from the Internet.  The only detraction from this book is that Mrs. Skorupski is depicted as a very stereotypical librarian, from her glasses, down to her shoes.  I enjoyed this book and can see myself using it with 3rd and 4th grade students.

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Santa Claus and the Three Bears

(2013)
Santa Claus and the Three Bears

 In this clever, Christmassy take on a beloved fairytale, Papa, Mama and Baby are polar bears; when they are out walking, waiting for their Christmas pudding to cool, a certain special visitor comes to call, hungry and tired after finishing most of his holiday rounds.  Santa Claus thinks the pudding has been left for him, and thereby hangs the rest of the tale!  Santa, the bears, and their cozy house and surroundings are charmingly detailed in soft watercolors by mother-daughter duo Jane and Brooke Dyer.

 

Santa Claus and the Three Bears is recommended for ages 3-8.

For another Christmas-themed book based on a classic tale, see the other pick on my list today!

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The House that Santa Built

(2013)
The House that Santa Built

A traditional nursery rhyme is given a cute Christmas twist with a little help from Santa Claus, and a lot from de Las Casas and Stone-Barker.  Based on “The House that Jack Built,” and similar to the team's Halloween version, The House that Witchy Built, The House that Santa Built is a rollicking romp of rhythm, with elves and reindeer and snow  and—of course—children taking part of the arctic antics in and out of Santa’s castle.   The cut-paper collage illustrations are fun and fanciful.   There are plenty of sound effects that make this a perfect story to read aloud, and act out.  It might just become a family tradition!

The House that Santa Built is recommended for ages 0-6.

For another Christmas-themed book based on a classic tale, see the other pick on my list today!

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The Big Book of Art

(2013)
The Big Book of Art

 

 

 This fantastic book is an interactive, abstract, visual adventure inviting the reader to explore their own ideas of art through mixing and matching different colors, patterns, shapes and lines. With the exception of a few whole pages scattered throughout, this book is made up of half pages allowing the reader to arrange and rearrange designs in a multitude of interesting ways. Some of the patterns are recognizable such as flowers or fish. Others are quite abstract such as blobs of color or squiggly lines. There is also a section on the alphabet which encourages children to visually play with recognizing letters both in whole and in part. This is a book that celebrates creativity and imagination. It is a wonderful way to introduce children to art and will hopefully inspire children to make some art of their own.

 

 

 

 

 

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Me First

(2013)
Me First

 

In this book, translated from the French, a duckling is determined to be first at everything in his day, from going outside, to fishing, to bathing, to lunch.  Until he hears humans at lunchtime discussing the lunchtime menu: duck.  He slinks away slyly, meowing all the way.  He has learned that being first is maybe not always the best option!  I love Di Giacomo's illustrations--bright and vibrant colors.  Highly recommended for preschool through grade 2.

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The Favorite Daughter

(2013)
The Favorite Daughter

 

Allen Say has long been one of my favorite authors/illustrators.  I love his autobiographical journeys in Japanese and American culture, and The Favorite Daughter does not disappoint me.  This book tells the story of Say's daughter Yuriko.  The children at school make fun of Yuriko because of her blonde hair and Japanese features, and because her name sounds like "Eureka".  Yuriko is also upset because she is asked to do yet another art project involving the Golden Gate Bridge.  Yuriko and her father go to a favorite sushi restaurant and a Japanese garden where a man draws a Japanese ink painting of Yuriko's name for her.  Yuriko is newly inspired about her name, and about her project for the Bridge.  The watercolor paintings are complemented by two photographs of the real Yuriko, one as a young girl, and one as a young woman.  I loved this book and highly recommend it to younger school age children.

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Hoop Genius: How a Desperate Teacher and a Rowdy Gym Class Invented Basketball

2013

In 1891 a school teacher named James Naismith, desperate to manage a rowdy gym class in Springfield, Massachusetts, invented a new game he called "Basket Ball". It started with a list of rules scratched on paper, two old peach baskets and a soccer ball. The game was an instant sensation. The origin of the national sport of basketball is humorously written and illustrated in this picture book. Enjoy the original first draft of "Basket Ball" rules inside the cover. Author's notes add biographical details for the curious reader. This is a must read for basketball lovers. Recommended for age 6 - 8, as well as parents and teachers alike. What a hoot!

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Spirits of the Season

(2012)
bookcover for Spirits of the Season


The fourth book of the Saranormal Series

In this continuation of the saga of Sara and her ability to see and talk to ghosts, finds her at Christmas time in Stellamar.  During this busy time of holiday shoppers there is far more ghostly activity than ever before.  Sara has been seeing ghosts for as long as she can remember, but now that she and her father have moved to this small tourist seashore city she has been in contact with many spirits.  Lady Azura, the owner of the house they are renting, has similar abilities as Sara and has been teaching Sara how to use and control her new powers.  Lady Azura explains to Sara that the twelve days before Christmas is a special time where the ghosts of the departed can come back to Stellamar to visit their friends and family.

When a spirit of a dead soldier, named Franklin, seeks out Sara begging her for help, she is faced with a dilemma.  Franklin wants Sara to help him find his lost love.  He had been visiting her every year on December 22nd  for the past years.  But when the area was modernized he couldn’t find his way to her home.

Other plot developments include Sara’s relationship with Lady Azura, the importance of December 22nd, and the connection Sara has with the opal stone that helps make wishes come true.  What is the connection between Lady Azura and the dead soldier?  Will Sara learn more about her mother and her family’s background?  These are just a few of the conflicts that will be solved at the end of the story. Sara may see her mother!?

Here is a story for readers who enjoy a good book about humor, friendship, and a little mystery and paranormal activity.   All the main characters from the previous books are portrayed plus some new characters, including Lily, Jayden, Janelle, her father’s girlfriend and her two daughters, Dina, and Chloe, and of course, there is Franklin.

This book is recommended for grades 4th through 6th; ages 9-12.

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