Staff Picks for Children

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

Ukulele Hayley

(2013)
Ukulele Hayley

 

In Ukulele Hayley, shy third grader Hayley is the shortest person in her class, and seems to be the only student without a talent suitable for school's talent show.  At a yard sale, Hayley bargains for a ukulele, and gets the school's new music teacher, Mr. Y to teach her a few chords.  Hayley practices incessantly, and ends up gaining self-confidence and providing a showstopping number at the talent show.  After this great success, Hayley starts a ukulele club which gains many members and performs well.  Throughout the book, there are rumblings are budget cuts, and having not enough funding for programs. When the school's music program is cut midway through the year by the school board Hayley stages a protest with news media showing up at the school district offices.  The ending is implausible, with the school board restoring the program in an unlikely manner, but the spirit Hayley and her fellow classmates show makes up for that flaw in the story.  Recommended for 2nd graders working on chapter books up to 4th grade.

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No Monkeys, No Chocolate

(2013)
No Monkeys, No Chocolate

 

 

 

 

 

 

so much chocolate depends

upon

 

a white cocoa

bean

 

glazed with monkey

spit

 

among the red

ants.

 

This great picture book about what makes chocolate possible is recommended for grades 3 - 7.

(Thanks, William Carlos Williams!)

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Lost in Bermooda

(2014)
Lost in Bermooda

 

Bermooda is a tropical island home to 9 year old cow Chuck who one day discovers a hu'man boy, Dakota, washed up on shore.  Chuck is terrified!  The animals on the island were shipwrecked hundreds of years ago and have evolved to two legged talking creatures who are afraid that hu'mans will return to the island--they have all seen the book "The Art of Cookery".  When Chuck realizes that Dakota is just as scared as he is, he comes up with a costume for Dakota and introduces him as a sea cow, and its a stretch that everyone falls for it.  Chuck tried valiantly to get Dakota home, but every attempt just doesn't work out.  This illustrated first book in a planned series "Welcome to Bermooda" is recommended for grades 2-4.

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Extreme Opposites

(2013)
Extreme Opposites

 

This quirky opposite book is definitely for an older, more sophisticated child.  My favorite spreads included the dinosaurs who were too late for Noah's ark compared to the rooster crowing too early in the morning, and the too easy/too difficult spread showing an archer shooting a gigantic apple on a head vs a team of surgeons looking at a textbook while performing surgery.  Even the back of the book is the title and author's name written backwards.  Max Dalton lives in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and he's illustrated another picture book called The Lonely Phone Booth which isn't available through OWLS, but that I'm looking forward to reading through Interlibrary Loan.  Recommended for students in 1st grade and up.

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Okay, Andy!

(2014)
Okay, Andy!

 

Andy is an alligator, and Preston is a coyote pup (according to the publisher).  The dynamic between Andy and Preston reminds me somewhat of Elephant and Piggie by Mo Willems.  The book starts simply: " Hi, Andy."  "Hello, Preston."  "What are we doing?" "We are doing nothing."  "But it seems like we are doing something."  "But we are not."  The text is easy to read for new readers, and the situations that Andy and Preston get into are humorous.  Another Andy and Preston book is coming out in September!  Recommended for beginning readers.

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The Dark

2013

 

What happens when Lemony Snicket teams up with Jon Klassen to create The Dark? Pure awesomeness!

Laszlo, a small boy clad in pale blue pajamas, lives in an old, rickety house. But, he isn’t alone. The dark is with him, and it terrifies Laszlo. At night, Laszlo arms himself with a flashlight and a nightlight to ward off the dark. Each morning, Laszlo carefully creeps to the basement door and greets the dark in hopes that the dark will NEVER visit him. Then the dark does the unthinkable, it consumes Laszlo’s entire home and eerily beckons Laszlo to the basement. What will the dark share with Laszlo? Will Laszlo ever overcome his fear of the dark?

Klassen’s illustrations create a visual world for Snicket’s suspenseful text. Laszlo’s house looks as creaky as Snicket describes. When the dark engulfs Laszlo’s house, Klassen cuts through the darkness with Laszlo’s flashlight only leaving part of the space illuminated.

The CCBC awarded The Dark the 2014 Charlotte Zolotow Award for the best text in a picture book. Lemony Snicket visited Madison to receive his award and gave a memorable acceptance speech as he sang about the importance of words while playing an accordion. Check out the video here.

The Dark is recommended for preschool through 2nd grade.

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The Void of Mist and Thunder

13th Reality
cover for The Void of Mist and Thunder

Book 4 of the 13th Reality Series

In the last book Tick and Jane disrupted the realities when Jane used her blade of shattered hope to try and destroy a reality but broke the other realities. They fixed one problem but made another one.  In this story we find Tick, Mr. Chu and Mistress Jane lost in the Nonex, a no-man’s land of no escape.  The three enemies try to set aside their difference and plan to work together to escape the Nonex.  When they finally get out, they find something mysterious has happened in the 13th Reality.  Their return has caused a rip in the seam of the realities and the fourth dimension in the form of a void of mist and thunder has invaded reality and is attempting to destroy all the known worlds.

Tick is able to rejoin his friends, The Realiants, but only for a brief time before he is captured by Mr. Chu.  Now Tick is told he will be sacrificed in order for Mr. Chu to have absolute power over the realities and the void. The Realiants gather their forces, but the battle is too huge, with Mr. Chu’s forces on one side, and the void and it’s monsters on the other.  Will Tick be able to save the Realiants and stop the destruction of the world?

In this story friends and enemies are forced to work together to keep the realities from being destroyed.  Atticus Higginbottom, Tick, has faced many threats and stopped them all.  But this last challenge is far more evil. They must save the world and stop the destruction the 4th Dimension is causing.  As a solution Mistress Jane and Tick must go into the center of the void to stop it. 

What happens in the conclusion of the story will leave readers satisfied.  It is not your usual happy ever after ending, but it is a good solution to the end of a series.  What becomes of Tick when he meets the void and uses the powers of the Karma is surprising.  This book was a great end to the series.  The story leads the read to the conclusion that it ended while letting it seem to continue with Tick at the helm.

I would recommend this book to readers in 4th through 6th grade who enjoy reading a good science fiction adventure story about space and time.

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Daisylocks

(2014)
Daisylocks

 

In Marianne Berkes' latest book, a daisy seed named Daisylocks is not happy with where is planted.  She asks the wind to help her find a more suitable home.  Throughout the book, the wind takes Daisylocks to numerous habitats, such as desert, wetlands, and rain forests.  Always, Daisylocks says its not just right. At the end Wind takes Daisylocks back to where she was originally planted, because that was the just right place.  Don't miss looking at the right hand bottom corner of each page, which shows a daisy growing from a tiny seed into a beautiful flower.  At the back of the book are educational sections which can be used by teachers in connection with the story.  For preschool and older.

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The Beatles Were Fab (and They Were Funny)

(2013)
The Beatles Were Fab (and They Were Funny)

This is a fab(ulous) and funny book about John, Paul, George and Ringo—four lads from Liverpool, England who together, achieved worldwide fame and admiration as the Beatles, rock music band extraordinaire.  Adept storytelling by co-authors Krull and Brewer, and spot-on caricatures and designs by Stacy Innerst capture the magic of the Beatles’ fresh, lively early career: the band’s origins and originality; and the creativity, long lean look, mop top hair, unique style, wit and fun that inspired a frenzy of fanhood-- “Beatlemania!”

 The book is full of stories of how the bandmates’ sense of fun and humor charmed audiences all over in concert with musical hits like “Love Me Do,” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand," (which John jokingly called “I Want to Hold Your Nose”). Other funny stories describe some of the ways fans reacted to the Beatles, and how the band reacted to the fans, and to fame.  The Beatles were often interviewed by reporters, who tried to fill the public’s hunger for news of the “Fab Four.”   Several questions and the bandmates’  witty responses are also featured. Some examples:

 Question: “How do you find all this business of having screaming girls following you all over the place?

George: Well, we feel flattered…

John:-and flattened.”

Question:  “What do you call your hairstyle?”

George: “Arthur.” 

The Beatles’ musical genius, wit and style has entertained, inspired and influenced people all over the world for more than 50 years.   Music and/or biography fans young and old will enjoy this romp with the group at their beginnings, when the four had fun together doing what they loved.

Recommended for ages 5 and up.

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The Scraps Book

Notes from a Colorful Life (2014)
The Scraps Book

 

This fascinating autobiography looks at the artwork of Wisconsin author/illustrator Lois Ehlert.  It starts with Lois' thought that maybe she could someday create a book after reading all the books at the library.  Her mom and dad had multiple scraps of fabric lace, wood, and various art supplies which allowed her to create at an early age.  She explains where she got ideas for several of her books (a squirrel actually was in her house!).  She explains how with collage, her preferred method of design, she can use whatever is around her to illustrate her books.  Lois has illustrated 35 picture books in her career, and received a Caldecott Honor for Color Zoo. 

 

My personal favorite?  Definitely Top Cat!  Recommended for fans of Ehlert, and also for teachers doing an author study.

 

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Tippy and the Night Parade

(2014)
Tippy and the Night Parade

 

In the morning, Tippy's room is a mess!  Tippy has no idea, however, how it got that way.  When she goes to sleep, she tells her mother she doesn't know how her room gets so messy overnight...but the reader learns how!  Tippy is a sleepwalker who walks out on a dock, through a garden, on lily pads, and several other places, picking up all sorts of items and animals along her way.  Once again in the morning, her room is a disaster, but Tippy doesn't remember anything!  This fun graphic novel from the Toon Book series is great for emergent readers, and even older readers looking for a fun, fast read.  The book reminds me of Good Night Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann, but for an older audience. 

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