Staff Picks: Favorites from Childhood

As a first grader, I checked out as many books from our public library as I could pile high in my arms (with my parents’ help). As quickly as my parents could read them to me, we would head back to the library for more. I grew up with favorites including Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton and the Nancy Drew mystery series by Carolyn Keene. 

Having this routine of reading aloud with my parents led to a life of jubilant reading and writing. Having a routine of reading childhood favorites can be a fun way to bond with kids, and discuss how life was different in the past and how the books may be outdated. In that spirit of back to school, I surveyed the Everett Public Library staff to learn what favorite books they read starting from kindergarten through the end of high school. 

Leslie

That’s a tough one. There are so many. I recently read an excellent book by Jason Reynolds called Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, a remix of the National Book Award-winning Stamped from the Beginning by Ibram X. Kendi, and I found it so much more accessible. It was an entertaining and educational read about the history of racism, racism itself and what you can do about it. I highly recommend it!

My favorite easy reader (and once again, there are so many) is called Baby Monkey, Private Eye by Brian Selnick. It’s laid out like a chapter book, so kids feel proud to read it. It’s funny! Baby Monkey, private eye, will investigate stolen jewels, missing pizzas, and other mysteries- if he can only figure out how to get his pants on. (He has a tail, of course!) As for a favorite picture book, I’d choose anything by Julia Donaldson. I can’t pick one. The Gruffalo, The Detective Dog, The Snail and the Whale, Superworm, and The Giant Jumperee are all excellent. I love them because they rhyme, have great stories and usually a surprise ending. 

Lisa 

When I was little I remember really loving books by Gyo Fujikawa and Joan Walsh Anglund. We went through a lot of books as a family so I don’t have one favorite that stands out – just how much I enjoyed reading and being read to. The book that stands out to me most from high school was The Jungle by Upton Sinclair. Not a happy read by any means, but it left a deep impression. 

Linda

I loved My Side of the Mountain by Jean C. George because I was so impressed that he learned how to live in the wild from reading library books! I read it in 4th or 5th grade, so 10 or 11 years old. 

Scott

Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Player Piano, which focuses on the human and social costs of workplace automation, made such an impression on me that within a month I’d read everything of Vonnegut’s I could get my hands on.

Andrea

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl

Each of five children lucky enough to discover an entry ticket into Mr. Willy Wonka’s mysterious chocolate factory takes advantage of the situation in his own way.

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery:

Anne, an eleven-year-old orphan, is sent by mistake to live with a lonely, middle-aged brother and sister on a Prince Edward Island farm and proceeds to make an indelible impression on everyone around her.

Eileen 

If I had to choose a favorite childhood book, it would be the Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I loved the mystical elements, and how Mary’s connection with nature and others helped her grow into herself. I also appreciated the darker, complex themes of grieving, hope and finding non-traditional family. 

Elizabeth

I read The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes when I was in third or fourth grade and it really had an impact on me; in fact I remember crying while reading it. The story is about bullying, accepting differences, and standing up and doing the right thing. It is based on a real life experience the author had in school. Art plays a role in the book as well, which always appeals to me, and the illustrations done in simple but brilliant watercolor and colored pencil are still beautiful all these years later.

Illustration from “The Hundred Dresses”

The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell was probably the first survival story I read, and I still like them to this day. The determination and ingenuity of the stranded young girl, Karana, was so inspiring to me. She inadvertently gets left behind when her people sail away, and is all alone on the remote island for years. She builds shelter and protection, stockpiles provisions, befriends a wild dog, and spends time watching all the animals. It is a true story of female strength, persistence, perseverance, and survival.

Carol

Nancy Drew: The Case of the Safecracker’s Secret by Carolyn Keene

This book—part of a 4 book set my late, great Aunt Judy gave me for Christmas when I was 9—got me hooked on Nancy Drew, mysteries, and reading.

Kristen

Some of my favorite books from my childhood are: Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey, The Poky Little Puppy by Janette Sebring Lowrey and The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. I enjoyed reading them over and over. I also loved reading them to my daughter and getting to share those memories with her.

Kim

The first series I remember reading is the Boxcar Children books by Gertrude Chandler Warner. Four orphans live in an abandoned boxcar until they are discovered by their grandfather. After moving in with him, they set out to solve a variety of mysteries. Next would be the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder following her life from a little girl living with her family in  Little House in the Big Woods to her life with her husband and daughter in These Happy Golden Years. Then moving on to the Nancy Drew mysteries by Carolyn Keene. I read the Hardy Boys too by Franklin W. Dixon but you know, boys. 

Two other stand outs are From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg about a brother and sister hiding out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell. 

If you want to know my most hated book of my childhood it would be Lord of the Flies!

Richard

One I remember loving from my pre-teen years was Grendel by John Gardner: This retelling of the Beowulf legend from Grendel’s point of view clicked with my growing sympathy for the vanquished and the idea that any story has multiple interpretations, depending on the teller.

Emily

When I was in kindergarten, I loved the Frances books by Russell Hoban; especially A Bargain for Frances. How does one get back at a conniving friend? Outsmart them, of course!  

Ron

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler provides the perfect young nerd fantasy: a kid living inside of a museum. This was my favorite book in 4th grade. Imagine the thrill of living independently as a 12-year-old, making use of items at hand for comfort and survival, spending days and nights researching and studying… Sigh.

Joyce 

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

When Harriet is encouraged to track her observations in a notebook, she does.  She fills notebook after notebook with brutally honest takes on her friends and family, school and home. It’s a great outlet until the notebook falls into the wrong hands. I read Harriet the Spy at age 10, and the idea that she would write down what she observed rang so true, I immediately started doing the same. I liked writing in notebooks, but I was very bad at sneaking around and eavesdropping. I decided to not become a spy, and instead continued reading Nancy Drew books to work toward Career Plan B: girl detective.   

Me and My Shadow(s)

As a child, my family moved around quite a bit. My mom always framed it as an adventure. Sometimes I didn’t even consider the idea that we were not coming back to a neighborhood until we were actually driving away, and the place we were leaving became smaller and smaller through the back window. What made these transitions so much easier was that we always brought my best friends, my younger sisters. Of course there were times where we bickered and fought. But more often we were partners in our imaginary play world, sharers of secrets, and protectors of each other.

Today’s book list focuses on siblings. From a sweet sibling bond in Lola Reads to Leo to adventures and mystery in Mission Unstoppable, these titles are all available as downloadable books. The descriptions are from our library’s catalog.

Picture Books

Tea Rex by Molly Idle
Some tea parties are for grown-ups. Some are for girls. But this tea party is for a very special guest. And it is important to follow some rules, like providing comfortable chairs,
and good conversation, and yummy food. But sometimes that is not enough for special guests, especially when their manners are more Cretaceous than gracious. Introducing Tea Rex, a guest that just about any child would love to have to tea!

Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan
Rubina has been invited to her first birthday party, and her mother, Ami, insists that she bring her little sister along. Rubina is mortified, but she can’t convince Ami that you just don’t bring your younger sister to your friend’s party. So both girls go, and not only does Sana demand to win every game, but after the party she steals Rubina’s prized party favor, a red lollipop. What’s a fed-up big sister to do? Rukhsana Khan’s clever story and Sophie Blackall’s irresistible illustrations make for a powerful combination in this fresh and surprising picture book.

Lola Reads to Leo by Anna McQuinn
Join Lola as she learns what it means to be a big sister, in the third installment in the loveable Lola series. We all know how much Lola loves books, so it is no surprise that she can’t wait to share her love of reading with her new baby brother, Leo. Lola gets ready for little Leo’s arrival by reading books about brothers and sisters and picking out the perfect stories that she just knows her little brother will love. When the baby is finally here, Lola takes on the role of big sister—she helps her mommy and daddy around the house and tells Leo stories to cheer him up when he cries. Simple text and bright and charming illustrations celebrate family, reading, and what it means to be a big sister.

Mabel and Sam at Home by Linda Urban
This playful and endearing book celebrates imaginative play as Mable and Sam move into a new house and make it their own. They sail the high seas of their new home, tour the intriguing museum of their living room, journey through outer space to the safety of their own beds, and discover how far afield—and how close to home—imagination can take them. Funny and engaging, this celebration of moving in and settling in is both heart-warming and house-warming.

Early Chapter Books

Ivy + Bean by Annie Barrows
When seven-year old Bean plays a mean trick on her sister, she finds unepected support for her antics from Ivy, the new neighbor, who is less boring than Bean first suspected.

Charlie & Mouse by Laurel Snyder
Join Charlie and Mouse as they talk to lumps, take the neighborhood to a party, sell some rocks, and invent the bedtime banana. With imagination and humor, Laurel Snyder and Emily Hughes paint a lively picture of brotherhood that children will relish in a beginning chapter book format; making this a perfect book for young readers graduating from picture books.

Juvenile Fiction

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
This summer the Penderwick sisters have a wonderful surprise: a holiday on the grounds of a beautiful estate called Arundel. Soon they are busy discovering the summertime magic of Arundel’s sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in Massachusetts. But the best discovery of all is Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundel’s owner, who quickly proves to be the perfect companion for their adventures. The icy-hearted Mrs. Tifton is not as pleased with the Penderwicks as Jeffrey is, though, and warns the new friends to stay out of trouble. Which, of course, they will–won’t they? One thing’s for sure: it will be a summer the Penderwicks will never forget. Deliciously nostalgic and quaintly witty, this is a story as breezy and carefree as a summer day.

Mission Unstoppable: the Genius Files Series, Book 1 by Dan Gutman
The most exciting road trip in history begins! In this action-packed, New York Times bestselling adventure, twelve-year-old twins Coke and Pepsi McDonald embark on a family vacation you’ll have to read to believe.With the real-kid humor that has earned Dan Gutman millions of fans around the world, and featuring weird-but-true American tourist destinations, The Genius Files is a one-of-a-kind mix of geography and fun. As Coke and Pepsi dodge nefarious villains from the Pez museum in California all the way to the Infinity Room in Wisconsin, black-and-white photographs and maps put young readers right into the action. And don’t miss the next leg of the journey in The Genius Files: Never Say Genius!Supports the Common Core State Standards

The Problim Children by Natalie Lloyd
With a dash of Lemony Snicket, a dollop of the Addams Family, and a hearty dose of adventure, kaboom, the seven siblings—each born on a different day of the week—have to move into their grandpa’s bizarre old mansion in Lost Cove. No problem! For the Problim children, every problem is a gift! But rumors about their family run rampant in the small town: tales of a bitter feud, a hidden treasure, and a certain kind of magic lingering in the halls of #7 Main Street. Their neighbors, the O’Pinions, will do anything to find the secrets lurking inside the Problim household—including sending the seven children to seven different houses on seven different continents!

Fairest of All by Sarah Mlynowski.
Mirror, mirror, on the basement wall… Once upon a time my brother and I were normal kids. The next minute? The mirror in our basement slurped us up and magically transported us inside Snow White’s fairytale. I know it sounds crazy but it’s true. But hey-we’re heroes! We stopped Snow White from eating the poisoned apple. Hooray! Or not. If Snow White doesn’t die, she won’t get to meet her prince. And then she won’t get her happy ending. Oops. Now it’s up to us to: avoid getting poisoned, sneak into a castle, fix Snow White’s story. And then, fingers crossed, find our way home.

Gone crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia.
Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern are off to Alabama to visit their grandmother, Big Ma, and her mother, Ma Charles. Across the way lives Ma Charles’s half sister, Miss Trotter. The two half sisters haven’t spoken in years. As Delphine hears about her family history, she uncovers the surprising truth that’s been keeping the sisters apart. But when tragedy strikes, Delphine discovers that the bonds of family run deeper than she ever knew possible.

Graphic Novel

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

Raina can’t wait to be a big sister. But once Amara is born, things aren’t quite how she expected them to be. Amara is cute, but she’s also a cranky, grouchy baby, and mostly prefers to play by herself. Their relationship doesn’t improve much over the years, but when a baby brother enters the picture and later, something doesn’t seem right between their parents, they realize they must figure out how to get along. They are sisters, after all. Raina uses her signature humor and charm in both present-day narrative and perfectly placed flashbacks to tell the story of her relationship with her sister, which unfolds during the course of a road trip from their home in San Francisco to a family reunion in Colorado.

Fairies vs Vampires

Hmmm, should this blog be sweet or gory?

A little while ago, I had a young reader excitedly ask for the Isadora Moon book series. She was so animated while telling me about Isadora, whose mother was a fairy and father was a vampire, and how her favorite colors were pink and black. 

The young reader was such an excellent book-talker, the first in the series made it to the top of my reading list (I believe most librarians have to-be-read lists longer their arm)! The Isadora Moon series by Harriet Muncaster is about a girl who needs to be true to herself and that means not always fitting in where others may expect her to. I love how this relatable theme is shown through the lens of fairy vs vampire.

OK, if you’ve interacted with me before, you knew this was not going to be a gory blog! Check out today’s list of cute downloadable stories, inspired by the Isadora Moon series, combining fairy and vampire characters. The book descriptions are from the Everett Public Library catalog.

Picture Book

Moldilocks and the Three Scares: A Zombie Tale by Lynne Marie

Forget Goldilocks and the three bears—MOLDILOCKS and the THREE SCARES are here, in a delightful new version of the popular story. Papa Scare (a monster), Mama Scare (a mummy), and Baby Scare (a vampire) live in a haunted house where they eat finger sandwiches and alpha-bat soup. One night, they go out to walk their dog (a bloodhound, of course) to let their soup cool down. While they’re away, in walks the zombie Moldilocks, looking for food, a chair, and a bed that’s just right. Kids will love this hauntingly funny story with its surprise ending!

Beginning Chapter Books

Sylva and the Fairy Ball by Margaret McNamara.

With Sylva and the Fairy Ball, Margaret McNamara launches the Fairy Bell Sisters, an enchanting new chapter-book series. The books feature Tinker Bell’s little sisters and are a must-read for lovers of the Rainbow Fairies and Disney Fairies stories. Clara Bell, Golden Bell, Rosy Bell, Sylva Bell, and baby Squeak are fairy sisters who live on Sheepskerry Island. Usually Sylva and her sisters get along just fine–until the week of the Fairy Ball. Sylva has her heart set on going–she’ll get to wear magical diamond wings and walk on beautiful satin ribbons under the stars! But fairies must be at least eight years old to attend, and poor Sylva’s birthday is the day after the ball. But before the night is over, Sylva’s big sisters will need her to come to their rescue. Charming illustrations by Julia Denos bring the world of fairies to life.

Isadora Moon Goes to School by Harriet Muncaster

Meet Isadora Moon! She’s half-fairy, half-vampire and totally unique! Isadora Moon loves sunshine — and nighttime. She loves her magic wand — and her black tutu. She loves spooky bats — and Pink Rabbit. Isadora is half-fairy, half-vampire, and she’s special because she is different!

Now Isadora’s parents want her to start school, but she’s not sure where she belongs — fairy school or vampire school?

Juvenile Fiction

My Fangtastically Evil Vampire Pet by Mo O’Hara

Welcome to Camp Mwhaaa-haa-ha-a-watha! This summer is going to be epic. Epically evil, that is. ‘Cause I’m going to Evil Scientist Summer Camp! No annoying little brothers. No annoying zombie goldfish. Just me, my best friend Sanj, our notebook of evil plans, and my truly evil (and totally forbidden) vampire kitten Fang. We’ve got it all planned out. Okay, so maybe I didn’t expect for the totally not-evil Geeky Girl to show up, or for Sanj to find a new partner to work with, but there’s no way I’m going to let them ruin my summer. Evil Emperor of the Camp, here I come! Signed, The Great and Powerful Mark.

Bunnicula by Deborah Howe

THIS book is written by Harold. His full time occupation is dog. He lives with Mr. and Mrs. X (here called Monroe) and their sons Toby and Pete. Also sharing the home are a cat named Chester and a rabbit named Bunnicula. It is because of Bunnicula that Harold turned to writing. Someone had to tell the full story of what happened in the Monroe household after the rabbit arrived.

It all began when the Monroes went to see the movie Dracula At the theater Toby found something on his seat, a baby rabbit that he took home and named Bunnicula. It proved to be an apt name, at least as far as Chester was concerned. A well-read and observant cat, he soon decided that there was something odd about the newcomer. For one thing he seemed to have fangs. And the odd markings on his back looked a little like a cape. Furthermore, Bunnicula slept from sunup to sundown. He was awake only at night.

When the family started funding white vegetables, drained dry, with two fang marks in them, Chester was sure Bunnicula was a vampire. But what to do about it. None of the family seemed to grasp the trouble, and Chester’s hilarious hints were totally misunderstood.

Was Bunnicula really a vampire? Only Bunnicula knows for sure. But the story of Chester’s suspicions and their consequences makes uproarious reading.

This title is also available as downloadable audiobook!

Juvenile Non-Fiction

Monstrous: The Lore, Gore, and Science behind Your Favorite Monsters by Carlyn Beccia

Could Dr. Frankenstein’s machine ever animate a body? Why should vampires drink from veins and not arteries? What body parts are best for zombies to eat? (It’s not brains.) This fascinating encyclopedia of monsters delves into the history and science behind eight legendary creatures, from Bigfoot and the kraken to zombies and more. Find out each monster’s origin story and the real-world history that informed it, and then explore the science of each creature in fun and surprising ways. Tips and infographics—including monster anatomy, how to survive a vampire attack, and real-life giant creatures of the deep sea—make this a highly visual and fun-to-browse book.

Who Knew?

You may have seen this wonderful viral picture on social media about owls and their long legs. Who knew that’s what was under all those feathers! There are so many things to learn about owls. Did you know that in the Harry Potter series, Harry’s owl Hedwig is a female Snowy Owl. All the owls that played her part in the movies were male.

From the book Snowy Owl Invasion, I learned about a 2013 Snowy Owl irruption, a sudden increase in an animal’s population. Due to the larger number of owls in unusual places, scientists studying these owls found that they flew faster, higher, and further than they thought possible. Sounds like the perfect mail carrying owl for Harry Potter!

Below I have included a list of fantastic owl books, including the non-fiction book Snowy Owl Invasion, and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Through the end of May, Pottermore Publishing and Overdrive has given libraries unlimited access to Book 1 in the Harry Potter Series, in downloadable book and audio versions! All book descriptions are taken from the library’s catalog.

Picture Books

Hoot and Peep by Lita Judge
In the night skies above Paris, an adorable young owl teaches her older brother about the power of imagination—and the unconditional love between siblings 

Little Owl’s Night by Divya Srinivasan
It’s evening in the forest and Little Owl wakes up from his day-long sleep to watch his friends enjoying the night. Hedgehog sniffs for mushrooms, Skunk nibbles at berries, Frog croaks, and Cricket sings. A full moon rises and Little Owl can’t understand why anyone would want to miss it. Could the daytime be nearly as wonderful? Mama Owl begins to describe it to him, but as the sun comes up, Little Owl falls fast asleep.

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell
Features an audio read-along! When three baby owls awake one night to find their mother gone, they can’t help but wonder where she is. Stunning illustrations capture the owls as they worry about their mother: What is she doing? When will she be back? Not surprisingly, a joyous flapping and dancing and bouncing greets her return, lending a celebratory tone to the ending of this comforting tale.

Beginning Readers

Rocket Writes a Story a Story by Tad Hills
Rocket loves books and he wants to make his own, but he can’t think of a story. Encouraged by the little yellow bird to look closely at the world around him for inspiration, Rocket sets out on a journey. Along the way he discovers small details that he has never noticed before, a timid baby owl who becomes his friend, and an idea for a story.

National Geographic Readers: Owls by Laura Marsh
In this level 1 reader, young readers will explore the feathery world of adorable owls. Follow these curious-looking creatures through their wooded habitats, and learn how owls raise their young, hunt, and protect themselves. Beautiful photos and carefully leveled text make this book perfect for reading aloud or for independent reading.

Favorite Stories from Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa by Erica Silverman
It’s springtime on the ranch. Cowgirl Kate is excited about the arrival of all the baby animals: a newborn calf, a frisky puppy, and a nest of little barn owls. Her best friend Cocoa the horse is not so excited. Babies are a lot of work! But they are also sweet, as Cocoa and beginning readers will discover in this delightful addition to Green Light Readers. Short sentences and simple dialogue keep newly independent readers engaged and confident.

Beginning Chapter Book

Owl Diaries by Rebecca Elliot
Eva Wingdale gets in over her head when she offers to organize a spring festival at school. Even with her best friend Lucy’s help, there is NO way she will get everything done in time. Will Eva have to ask Sue (a.k.a. Meanie McMeanerson) for help? Or will the festival have to be cancelled? This book is written as Eva’s diary — with Rebecca Elliott’s owl-dorable full-color illustrations throughout!

Juvenile Non-Fiction

Origami Papertainment: Samurai, Owls, Ninja Stars, and More! By Christopher Harbo
From samurai and owls to ninja stars and dragonflies, exciting traditional and original paper folding projects await young origami artists. Organized from easy to challenging, each project includes clear, step by step, photo illustrated instructions that make developing paper folding skills fun. All projects also include creative tips for using and displaying models to impress friends and family.

Snowy Owl Invasion! Tracking an Unusual Migration by Sandra Markle
Late in 2013, snowy owls started showing up in places no one expected to find them—including Florida. What had caused so many of these majestic birds to leave their Arctic home and fly to southern Canada and the United States? Scientists quickly began working to find out. Author Sandra Markle brings together firsthand reports from the scientists involved along with stunning photographs of the owls to explain this rare event, known as an irruption. Follow along as scientists figure out why snowy owls took part in this unusual migration and discover what they learned from the unexpected opportunity to study them up close.

Middle Grade Fiction

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen
Roy, who is new to his small Florida community, becomes involved in another boy’s attempt to save a colony of burrowing owls from a proposed construction site. Unfortunately, Roy’s first acquaintance in Florida is Dana Matherson, a well-known bully. Then again, if Dana hadn’t been sinking his thumbs into Roy’s temples and mashing his face against the school-bus window, Roy might never have spotted the running boy. And the running boy is intriguing: he was running away from the school bus, carried no books, and–here’s the odd part–wore no shoes. Sensing a mystery, Roy sets himself on the boy’s trail. The chase introduces him to potty-trained alligators, a fake-fart champion, some burrowing owls, a renegade eco-avenger, and several extremely poisonous snakes with unnaturally sparkling tails.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter has no idea how famous he is. That’s because he’s being raised by his miserable aunt and uncle who are terrified Harry will learn that he’s really a wizard, just as his parents were. But everything changes when Harry is summoned to attend an infamous school for wizards, and he begins to discover some clues about his illustrious birthright. From the surprising way he is greeted by a lovable giant, to the unique curriculum and colorful faculty at his unusual school, Harry finds himself drawn deep inside a mystical world he never knew existed and closer to his own noble destiny.

Rah Rah Robots!

Robots – they spark the imagination for so many. Here are a few titles I’ve enjoyed and recommended to families in the library – with storylines ranging from evil geniuses using powerful robots to take over the world, to sweet self-aware robots that wouldn’t want to harm anyone.

All of these titles are available as downloadable books, and the descriptions are from our catalog.

Picture Book

The following title is found within the Tumblebooks library. While I don’t have a direct link to this book, I am able to link to their database. Once there, you can search by title, author, subject, or even by language, genre, lexile or accelerated reader level!

Mechanimals by Chris Tougas
When a tornado leaves a farmer with a heap of scrap metal and no animals, his neighbors are sure it’s all over for him. But the determined farmer refuses to admit defeat. His plans are big, and when his neighbors dismiss them with the words, “When pigs fly,” they grow bigger still. The farmer sets to work to turn that scrap metal into some rather surprising creatures. Mechanimals will help all of us believe in our dreams, despite what the neighbors may say.

Beginning Chapter Books

Super Rabbit Boy Blasts Off! by Thomas Flintham.
Help! Meanie King Viking is causing trouble in space! Super Rabbit Boy knows he can stop him. But can he fly a wobbly Level 1 rocketship, stop an army of space robots, and find King Viking?

Tired of always losing to Super Rabbit Boy in their video game world, King Viking goes to the Secret Lands to find the Super Power Up that will give him super powers–Super Rabbit Boy must stop him, but first he must make it past goblins, ghosts, and other video dangers.

Mighty Robot by Dav Pilkey
Ricky Ricotta, a small mouse, is being bullied at school, but when he rescues a powerful robot from its evil creator, he acquires a friend and protector–and saves the city from Dr. Stinky

Frank Einstein and the Antimatter Motor by Jon Scieszka
In his Grandpa Al’s garage workshop, child genius Frank Einstein tries to invent a robot that can learn on its own, and after an accident brings wisecracking Klink and overly expressive Klank to life, they set about helping Frank perfect his Antimatter Motor until his archnemesis, T. Edison, steals the robots for his doomsday plan.


Middle Grade

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown
When robot Roz opens her eyes for the first time, she discovers that she is alone on a remote, wild island. She has no idea how she got there or what her purpose is—but she knows she needs to survive. After battling a fierce storm and escaping a vicious bear attack, she realizes that her only hope for survival is to adapt to her surroundings and learn from the island’s unwelcoming animal inhabitants. As Roz slowly befriends the animals, the island starts to feel like home—until, one day, the robot’s mysterious past comes back to haunt her. From bestselling and award-winning author and illustrator Peter Brown comes a heartwarming and action-packed novel about what happens when nature and technology collide.

The Stonekeeper by Kazu Kibuishi
Graphic novel star Kazu Kibuishi creates a world of terrible, man-eating demons, a mechanical rabbit, a talking fox, a giant robot—-and two ordinary children on a mission. After the tragic death of their father, Emily and Navin move with their mother to the home of her deceased great-grandfather, but the strange house proves to be dangerous. Before long, a sinister creature lures the kids’ mom through a door in the basement. Em and Navin, desperate not to lose her, follow her into an underground world inhabited by demons, robots, and talking animals. Eventually, they enlist the help of a small mechanical rabbit named Miskit. Together with Miskit, they face the most terrifying monster of all, and Em finally has the chance to save someone she loves.

The Resisters by Eric Nylund 
When twelve-year-olds Madison and Felix kidnap him, Ethan learns that the Earth has been taken over by aliens and that all the adults in the world are under mind control. 

You can hear me talk about The Resisters here!

Non-Fiction

Cover of National Geographic Readers: Robots by Melissa Stewart

National Geographic Readers: Robots by Melissa Stewart
Discover the coolest robots of today and tomorrow in this colorful, photo-packed book. In this inviting and entertaining format, kids will learn about the science behind these amazing machines. This Level 3 reader is written in an easy-to-grasp style to encourage the scientists of tomorrow!

Here Be Dragons

As a youth services librarian, getting perfect books into the right hands is one of my favorite responsibilities, second only to presenting storytimes. Getting to know patrons and finding out what they have previously enjoyed, sharing titles of books that they may not have heard of yet… Oh, the thrill of the hunt. I’ve had the pleasure of working with some families for years. A couple weeks ago, a young man told me one of his earliest memories was of me visiting his school to talk about summer reading. That had been 8 years earlier, almost half his lifetime ago!

Today’s list of titles follows a Dragon theme. We start off with a wonderfully silly picture book about dragons and tacos, then move on to an exciting beginning chapter book series about kids who can communicate with their dragons, and I end with a colorful graphic novel based on a best selling juvenile fiction book.

All of these titles can be found in Everett Public Library’s electronic book collection and the descriptions are from our catalog.

Picture Books

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri
Dragons love tacos. They love chicken tacos, beef tacos, great big tacos, and teeny tiny tacos. So if you want to lure a bunch of dragons to your party, you should definitely serve tacos. Buckets and buckets of tacos. Unfortunately, where there are tacos, there is also salsa. And if a dragon accidentally eats spicy salsa . . . oh, boy. You’re in red-hot trouble.

Beginning Chapter Books

Bo and the Dragon-Pup by Rebecca Elliott
Bo Tinseltail lives in Sparklegrove Forest, where lots of other magical creatures live. Bo and the other unicorns learn about dragons at school, but they have never seen them before. That is, until now! A blanket and a pair of glasses go missing from school, and the clues lead to the dragon caves! Will Bo and the other unicorns meet a scary creature there? Or will they make a brand-new friend?

Discover this full-color series from Rebecca Elliott, creator of the USA Today bestselling Owl Diaries series!

Dragonbreath, Ahoy! by Ursula Vernon
Danny Dragonbreath can’t breathe fire, but he has no fear. And that comes in handy when a bad grade at school inspires him to enlist his cousin the sea-serpent’s help with a research project. Using a hybrid of comic-book panels and text, Ursula Vernon introduces an irresistible set of characters that will have readers laughing until smoke comes out of their noses!

Rise of the Earth Dragon by Tracey West
Dragons, a Dragon Stone, a king, a wizard, and magic! In the first book, 8-year old Drake is snatched up by King Roland’s soldier and taken to the castle. He is to be trained as a Dragon Master. At the castle, he is joined by three other young Dragon Masters-in-training: Ana, Rori, and Bo. The Dragon Masters must learn how to connect with and train their dragons—and they must also uncover their dragons’ special powers. Does Drake have what it takes to be a Dragon Master? What is his dragon’s special power?

Juvenile Fiction

My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett
When Elmer Elevator tells a stray cat about his dream of being able to fly, he learns of a captive dragon on Wild Island. The dragon has been forced by the jungle residents to serve as their shuttle across a wide river — and anyone who rescues the dragon from its cruel captors might be entitled to a free ride.

Elmer needs no further encouragement to stow away aboard a ship to the island, where he matches wits with hungry tigers, an irate gorilla, cranky crocodiles, and other moody creatures. A charmingly illustrated Newbery Honor Book, this comic adventure story has delighted generations of children.

The Dragon in the Sock Drawer by Kate Klimo
Cousins Jesse and Daisy always knew they would have a magical adventure, but they are not prepared when the “thunder egg” Jesse has found turns out to be a dragon egg that is about to hatch.

The Dragonet Prophecy by Tui T. Sutherland
This title falls under two categories, and both styles are fantastic, so I listed the title twice! Read the book description below.

Graphic Novels

The Dragonet Prophecy by Tui T. Sutherland
The New York Times bestselling Wings of Fire series takes flight in this first graphic novel edition, adapted by the author with art by Mike Holmes.

Not every dragonet wants a destiny…

Clay has grown up under the mountain, chosen along with four other dragonets to fulfill a mysterious prophecy and end the war between the dragon tribes of Pyrrhia. He’s not so sure about the prophecy part, but Clay can’t imagine not living with the other dragonets; they’re his best friends.

So when one of the dragonets is threatened, all five spring into action. Together, they will choose freedom over fate, leave the mountain, and fulfill their destiny – on their own terms.

When School Ends, Summer Reading Begins!

As school winds down those of us who work with youth hit our busiest time of the year. Here at EPL, the youth services librarians visit as many schools as possible, introducing Summer Reading and getting students excited about all of the books that they can read over the summer.

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As always, any youths entering 12th grade or younger can sign up for Summer Reading. To sign up simply stop by one of our service desks and ask for a summer reading log. 

So what do we expect from our readers? We want participants to read for about 30 minutes every day, which we round out to 24 hours over the course of the summer. It’s worth noting that we count all interaction with books as reading including reading comics and graphic novels, being read to, listening to audio books, reading eBooks, and especially for our toddlers and preschoolers, paging through and playing with books.

Prizes are awarded at 12 hours and 24 hours and will be available until August 31 (or until we run out):

  • 12 hour prize: pick a prize from our Mystery Box! (available beginning July 2)
  • 24 hour prize: choose a free book! (available beginning July 16)

If they complete the full 24 hours by August 17, readers will also receive an invitation to our end of the summer party where they get to meet Mayor Cassie Franklin and they are entered into a drawing for a chance to win a grand prize which varies depending on their age.

On our school visits, we want students to hear about all these great prizes and get excited for Summer Reading but we also love to tell them about some of the wonderful new books in our collection. I mostly visit middle schools and I’m always surprised about which books elicit the biggest response from students. Here are a few of this year’s hits:

The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya

Arturo leads a pretty quiet life. He hangs out with his friends, plays basketball, works in his family’s Cuban restaurant, and explores his Miami neighborhood. He’s looking forward to a summer full of all these things when two events rock his world. First, a family friend moves into their apartment building. Carmen is smart, funny, and just a little bit mischievous and Arturo is desperate to impress her and willing to follow any schemes she cooks up.

The second person who comes to town is a lot less fun. A land developer plans to build a high-rise in the neighborhood, demolishing Arturo’s family restaurant in the process. Carmen, with her passion for activism, and Arturo, with his passion for Carmen, are determined to stop this from happening. Soon Arturo is wrapped up in a plan that – if it works – just might save the restaurant AND impress Carmen. But if it doesn’t work? Well that would definitely be an epic fail.

Last Day on Mars by Kevin Emerson

Bad news, Earth is gone. Last Day on Mars takes place about two hundred years in the future. When scientists discovered that the Sun was dying and that it was going to destroy the solar system, humans banded together, put aside their petty squabbles, and began to look for a new home. The first stop was Mars. Martian colonies proved to be a safe place to look for an inhabitable planet and build the technology to send billions of people there. A planet was found, so far away that the trip will take over 100 years, but that is just a blink of an eye for the future of humanity- they’ve developed stasis technology that will allow them to hibernate without aging.

The book opens on the last day before this voyage will begin. Liam and Phoebe are two tweens set to take the last ship from Mars. Their parents are scientists and are still working on tech to make the new planet more Earth-like. As Liam and Phoebe wait for their parents, strange things begin to happen that make them question their safety and whether humans are alone on Mars. Suddenly, their future is cast in doubt and Liam and Phoebe find the fate of all humanity in their young hands.

The Marrow Thieves by Cherie Dimaline

This book takes place in a post apocalyptic future version of North America. Global warming has wreaked havoc, leaving society on the brink of collapse. Perhaps even worse, people have lost the ability to dream and this seems to be driving them to madness, losing their minds and committing horrible acts.

The only people who can still dream are indigenous and native people and it seems that the difference is tied to the marrow inside their bones. It is believed that their bone marrow can be used to restore dreams to others, but the process of extracting the marrow is terrible and often fatal so indigenous people are hunted by deceitful, cruel, and greedy bounty hunters know as recruiters.

French is one of these indigenous people, a young Métis Indian on the run with a small group hoping to find others like them, for there is safety in numbers. As they flee, French’s relationship with one of his companions develops into more complicated feelings, but he also begins to realize that there might be a way to stop those hunting them and maybe secure the safety of those around him.

Scales & Scoundrels written by Sebastian Girner, art by Galaad, & lettered by Jeff Powell

Luvander is a rogue. She actually reminds me a little of Han Solo, except in a world of dwarves and dragons instead of one with droids and Death Stars. She’s a treasure hunter, but she’s found more trouble than treasure and she is wanted by the lawmen of the kingdom. So she sets out on a dangerous quest to find the gold that is supposedly at the bottom of the Dragon’s Maw, a notorious and dreaded underground labyrinth. Along the way she is joined by some companions including a dwarf and a prince, each with their own secrets. But none of their secrets are as powerful or potentially dangerous as the one that Luvander herself is about to unleash.

A Skinful of Shadows by Frances Hardinge

When Makepeace goes to sleep every night her battle begins. Makepeace has some special but dark abilities. She can see the spirits of the dead that roam the land and she is able to house them inside of her. Every night she must fight them off, lest she be possessed by these desperate ghosts. Makepeace lives with her mother in a small village but England is on the brink of Civil War so Makepeace is sent to live with father, a powerful nobleman. At the same time, Makepeace fails in her efforts to protect herself and is possessed by something far more powerful and wild than she ever imagined.

In her new life, Makepeace learns how deceptive she must be about her abilities. Yet her father’s family seem determined to use Makepeace in ways that could prove both terrible and dangerous. As Makepeace begins to realize that she is in grave danger with these people, she decides to run, preferring the dangers of a country at war to the deceptions of her “family.”  As she flees, she begins to collect an odd group of companions and learns to harness the powers that come with possession, rather than fighting them. Makepeace begins to realize she might have a larger role to play in the world around her. If she can survive long enough.

The Witch Boy written & illustrated by Molly Ostertag

Aster lives in a village where many families have magical abilities, including his own. But magic in this world works in rigid ways – all the boys develop powers that turn them into shape-shifters able to turn into different animals, while girls become witches with the ability to cast magical spells. Aster has never been able to shift and he’s realized that he can cast spells. He is terrified this secret will bring shame on his family, so he hides it from all but one friend.

Then, a couple of the other boys in the village go missing and Aster suspects that his powers are the only way to find them and rescue them from the dark forces who hold them. But in doing so, he will expose his secret and expose himself to backlash and perhaps even banishment. He must decide if doing the right thing is worth risking everything.

Best of 2017: Books for Children

Today we share with you all of our picks for the best in Children’s Fiction, Non-Fiction, Picture Books and Graphic Novels from 2017. Place your holds now! Also, remember to check out the Library Newsletter for all of the library staff’s recommendations.

Children’s Fiction

The Princess and the Page by Christina Farley

Keira used a magic pen to write a story and win a trip. Keira was mad at her mom, and wrote an “unhappily ever after” story. Now she has to try to change the story to save herself, her friend Bella, and her mom.

I really like fantasies and fairy tales, so this was a fun book. It had just enough twists and turns to keep me wondering what would happen next.  –Linda

The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla

Charlie is a boy with autism and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder who loves birds and struggles with life. He must leave the comforts of home on a road trip to see his father, a journalist who suffered brain injuries while on assignment in Afghanistan. Charlie, his siblings, and their caregiver set off on a mission in this road trip story about war, peace, birds, family, loss, and hope.

I picked up this book because I am a birder, and I love road trips. I stayed because the characters are all so real and human.  –Julie

Patina by Jason Reynolds

As a newbie to the track team, Patina “Patty” Jones must learn to rely on her family and teammates as she tries to outrun her personal demons.

Last year I recommended Ghost, about a boy trying to outrun his troubles. Patina is the second book in this series, and it focuses on his teammate. With too heavy a burden for any person, Patty’s story is heartfelt and well-written. Teamwork, trust, and friendship are key.  –Andrea

My Kite is Stuck! and Other Stories by Salina Yoon

Loud and in-charge Big Duck, quiet and clever Little Duck, and friendly and gentle Porcupine are back in another charming trio of stories.

This is a collection of stories for early readers , focusing on friendship and cooperation. The three characters’ personalities shine brighter than ever. I found myself laughing out loud while reading!  –Andrea

Restart by Gordon Korman

Chase does not remember falling and hitting his head, in fact he does not remember anything about himself. He begins to learn who he was through the reactions of the others–trouble is, he really is not sure he likes the Chase that is being revealed.

This book shows that it may not be too late to define who you are and who you will become. Korman does a beautiful job of creating plausible characters and laugh-out-loud scenes while dealing with the serious subject of bullying.  –Andrea

The War I Finally Won by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

This is the sequel to The War That Saved My Life. Eleven-year-old Ada is still adapting to her new life during World War II.

These books would make a wonderful movie or television series, in the style of Downton Abbey or Homefires–Julie

The Good For Nothing Button! by Charise Harper

Yellow Bird has found a button and wants to share it with Red Bird and Blue Bird. This is just an ordinary button. It does not do anything when you press it. But, yes it does!

From the Elephant and Piggie Love Reading series, this easy reader is funny and fun.  –Leslie

Children’s Non-Fiction

Penguin Day: A Family Story by Nic Bishop

A story in photographs featuring a family of three Rockhopper penguins. The penguins are followed through a day in their life.

Beautifully photographed and accompanied by brief, concise text explaining how the mother penguin gets food for the baby and how the father penguin saves the baby from danger.  –Margaret 

Botanicum by Katie Scott and Kathy Willis

This book showcases dozens of full-color plants from around the world in a gallery format. Images are complemented by identifying information and brief descriptions.

This is a fascinating and gorgeous book.  –Leslie

Two Truths and a Lie: it’s Alive! by Ammi-Joan Paquette and Laurie Ann Thompson

Each chapter presents three stories of truly bizarre and befuddling natural phenomena. The catch is: two stories are true and one is (mostly) make believe. Readers must use critical thinking skills to figure out the truth.

My son and I loved reading this together. We learned about many weird and intriguing things, and we enjoyed talking about why we thought each story was true or false.  –Mindy

That is my dream! : a picture book of Langston Hughes’s “Dream variation” by Langston Hughes & Daniel Miyares

This picture book is an illustrated version of Langston Hughes’s poem “Dream Variation.” A young boy lives the words written by Hughes, contrasting the boy’s day in a segregated town with a day of true freedom from oppression.

This beautifully illustrated book does a masterful job presenting Hughes’s vision. The message is delivered with subtlety, allowing discussion with a young reader to develop as the reader grows. –Jesse

Children’s Picture Books

Emma and the Whale by Julie Chase

Emma, a young girl with an affinity for the ocean, finds a baby whale beached on the shore and tries to save her.

Absolutely beautiful painted illustrations adorn a touching tale of conservation and empowerment. Highly recommended.  –Alan

A Greyhound, A Groundhog by Emily Jenkins

A groundhog and a greyhound meet each other and decide to be friends as they play and run around together.

The words are slightly tongue twisty, and the unlikely friendship between these animals grabbed my attention. The illustrations are cute and simple and tell the story well.  –Margaret

If I Had a Little Dream by Nina Laden

Children and parents alike will delight in the simple cadence of this whimsical book depicting a young child’s dream wishes.

The swirly blue cover art and gold embossed lettering instantly attracted me. This wonderful story of a young child gives voice to universal dreams full of hope, joy, and contented relationships. I guarantee you will smile the whole way through!  –Margo

Be Quiet! by Ryan T. Higgins

A silly and fun picture book, with cartoonish mice discussing and writing a wordless book with funny dialog.

Such creativity and silliness, it made me giggle and laugh out loud. Another favorite to add to my list of special kids’ books.  –Margaret

The Legend of Rock, Paper, Scissors by Drew Daywalt

From the Kingdom of the Backyard, Rock searches for an adversary that might best him, meanwhile Paper and Scissors set off on their own quests for competitors.

This hilarious picture book is from the author of The Day the Crayons Quit.  It will entertain young ones and even elementary school age kids.  –Leslie

Hooray for Birds by Lucy Cousins

In an exuberant display of color, Lucy Cousins invites little ones to imagine themselves as brilliant birds. Birds of all feathers flock together in a fun, rhyme-filled offering by the creator of Maisy.

I love the artwork and the rhythm of the text. A wonderful picture book.  –Leslie

The Alphabet from the Sky by Benedikt Groß, Joey Lee

The whole family will be totally fascinated by this book! Using aerial photography, the authors ask you to identify accidentally or naturally occurring letters of the alphabet. Each photo is labeled with its location including latitude and longitude.

It’s like a real life “Where’s Waldo” with letters. Awesome! — Mona

The Giant Jumperee by Julia Donaldson

There’s something in Rabbit’s burrow and all of his friends try to help him get it out.

I love this new picture book. It has everything going for it: animals, rhymes and a surprise ending.  –Leslie

Reach for the Moon, Little Lion by Hildegard Muller

A little lion is teased by animals who tell him that real lions are so big that they can touch the moon with their paws, a claim that saddens the little lion until a wise raven helps him fool his tormentors.

Beautiful painted faux-naive art that appeals to young eyes, a message of perseverance and pride, and minimalist poetry for the text. What’s not to love?  –Alan

Now by Antoinette Portis

With words and art that are simple, yet eloquent, this book shows the way children feel their favorite thing is whatever they have or are doing at that exact moment. Or, in other words, now.

The art and the story are touching and sweet.  –Mona

Children’s Graphic Novels

Hilo 2: Saving the Whole Wide World by Judd Winick

The extraterrestrial robot boy is back, with his human friends by his side. As usual, the adults have no clue Earth is about to be wiped out by beings from another dimension.

Funny dialog, running gags, puns, and visual humor will appeal to fans of Captain Underpants. Adults may appreciate that there is less potty talk than in Dav Pilkey’s books.  –Emily

Swing it, Sunny by Jennifer Holm

Sunny is back, adjusting to life with her brother away at a strict military school. Letters and calls to her cool grandpa in Florida don’t tell the entire truth. Her new neighbor is a great mentor who teaches her more than just flag twirling.

Set in the 1970s, Sunny and I have a shared past and present. But she is way cooler than I ever was.  –Julie

Real Friends by Shannon Hale

Calling all Raina Telgemeier fans! A young Shannon traverses the difficult friendships she has at school and home. Shannon learns about true friendship and what it means to be a friend.

I enjoyed this book for many reasons: the honest depiction of friendship between girls, the poignant yet imperfect relationships Shannon has at home and the integration of her Mormon upbringing.  –Serena

All’s Faire in Middle School by Victoria Jamieson

Imogene has always been homeschooled, but this year she will go to middle school. Not only has she been homeschooled, but her family actively participates in the town’s local Renaissance faire and refers to themselves as Rennies.

This story perfectly captures the difficulties of navigating friendship, bullying and popularity during the middle school years.  –Serena

Summer Reading for Everyone!

It is a busy time of year for Youth Services Librarians! We know how hard students work all year to strengthen their reading skills, and we don’t want them to lose those gains over the summer. This is one of the main reasons why we are so enthusiastic about our Summer Reading Program!  We want youths to read for at least 30 minutes every day so that they continue to build their reading skills and we have designed our summer program around this goal. We take this so seriously, our very own Andrea even wrote a song about it!

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Have any questions about our reading program? We have answers!

Who can participate?
Our Youth Summer Reading Program is for anyone going into 12th grade or under. We also have a separate adult summer reading program that anyone else can sign up for.

What counts as “reading?”
For our youth program, we really like to emphasize that any form of reading counts including but not limited to reading on your own, stories read aloud by someone else, reading to younger siblings, listening to audiobooks, and of course, reading graphic novels and comics.

How does the program work?
For our youth program, we are challenging readers to read a total of 24 hours over the course of the summer. This can be broken down into half-hour segments. On our reading log, each half of a book represents one half-hour of reading. Starting on July 10 readers can bring their logs in for prizes. Prizes are awarded at 12 hours and 24 hours, and will be available until August 31 (or until we run out).

  • 12 hour prize: pick a prize from our Mystery Box!
  • 24 hour prize: choose a free book!

If they complete the full 24 hours by August 18, readers will also receive an invitation to our end of the summer party, where they get to meet Mayor Ray Stephanson and they get entered into a drawing for a chance to win a grand prize which varies depending on their age.

Adult Summer Reading is a bit different. The reading log has eight reading challenges. Complete one and return the log for a chance to win an Everett Public Library coffee mug. Complete at least seven, and be entered to win one of two Everett Public Library tote bags!

I like prizes! How do I sign up?
To sign up, just pick up a reading log at any one of our reference desks. Logs are already available, and students can begin the reading challenge as soon as their school ends for the summer.

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Like I said, we take this seriously! And we want to make sure that we get as many opportunities to tell students about this program and get them excited about all the great books they can read this summer. That’s why we spend several weeks in May and June visiting schools. During these school visits, we talk about the Summer Reading Program but we also do a lot of book talks. Book talks are exactly what they sound like – we bring a bunch of books and we tell the students about them. The majority of my visits this year are to Middle Schools and I have included several of my book talks below.

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The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson
Matthew has a cruel nickname, the goldfish boy. This is because he never leaves his house and rarely leaves his room. He suffers from an extreme form of OCD and the world beyond his four walls is too overwhelming for him to handle so he stays in his safe place, like a goldfish in a tank.

Because he can’t leave the house Matthew spends a lot of his time watching his neighborhood, noting people’s coming and goings, their habits and their quirks. It’s through this hobby that he happens to be the last person to see a young neighbor’s toddler before the child is shockingly kidnapped.

Matthew is certain that he is the only one who can solve the case, since he was the last one to see the boy. But Matthew soon realizes that his neighbors have secrets, and that they are all suspects. So Matthew must figure out how to save this child, all while facing his fears, controlling his anxiety, and stretching the boundaries of his world.

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The Pants Project, by Cat Clarke
Middle school can be a scary time for anyone. You have to make new friends, face a ton of new teachers, and manage way more homework. Who wouldn’t feel overwhelmed!? But when Liv starts middle school he has even bigger issues. See everyone believes that Liv is a girl, because that was his assigned birth gender but he knows that he is actually a boy.  Considering that not even his friends or family know about this yet, it adds some stress to his life but not as much stress as a rule at his new middle school – all girls must wear skirts.

Liv hates skirts and can’t imagine wearing them every day. He also believes it is unfair to others. Plenty of girls, he figures, would rather be able to wear pants and they should be allowed to!  So he starts a movement to get this policy changed. Unsurprisingly, he meets plenty of resistance and Liv must decide if he is willing to stand up for himself and for his beliefs, even if it means exposing his personal secrets to his new school and even the wider world.

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Empress of a Thousand Skies, by Rhoda Belleza
Intrigue, murder, war, deceit, BUT ALL IN SPACE!

Rhee is the last of her line. Her family has been killed and Rhee believes it was intentional, but she is about to assume the galactic throne and as Empress she will finally have her revenge. Then Rhee is brutally attacked and nearly killed. She escapes with the help of a strange and ruthless ally but must go into hiding unsure of who to trust, fearful of who might betray her next and determined to finally exact her revenge.

Alyosha, a soldier turned reality TV star, is no stranger to contempt. He is from a planet of dark-skinned refugees and has overcome bigotry through hard work and determination. When Rhee is attacked, he is framed for her attempted murder and his life falls apart. Like Rhee, he is on the run, unsure of who to trust or how to clear his name. With the help of old comrades and new allies, Rhee and Aly must find a way to discover their betrayers and reveal them to the world. And they need to act fast if they want to prevent a disastrous interplanetary war!

The Left-Handed Fate25774386, by Kate Milford
The year is 1812, America and Britain are at war once again and Oliver Dexter, a 12-year-old American sailor, has just gotten his first (accidental) command- a captured pirate ship.

On this ship are several prisoners including Lucy the daughter of the privateer captain and Max a young man who believes he is close to discovering a weapon so powerful that it would not only end this war, but all future wars as well. Although Oliver is determined to follow orders, he is tempted by both the friendship and the mission of Lucy and Max. So Oliver chooses to help his two young companions jeopardizing his standing in the navy and the safety of his crew, although he is not certain whether he is doing so because he believes in their cause or to ensure that this mysterious weapon is destroyed before it puts his own young country at risk.

This book plays with a fun and exciting time in history but it does not stick to the rules. Instead it flirts with the mystical and mythological, giving otherworldly qualities to a mostly real world.

51f+8+iExbL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_In the Shadow of Liberty: the Hidden History of Slavery, Four Presidents, and Five Black Lives, by Kenneth C. Davis
In school we learn a lot of deservedly great things about the founding fathers of America. At times it is far too easy to overlook the fact that many of these men were slave owners, while many more profited off the labor of slaves. This book tells the stories of five people, Billy Lee, Ona Judge, Isaac Granger, Paul Jennings and Alfred Jackson who were owned by Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Jackson.

Beyond telling their stories, Davis goes to great effort to give us the information we need to understand the times they lived in. For example, Ona Judge was a woman who was owned by George and Martha Washington. At the time, the US Capital was in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania where a law decreed that if any slaves of a certain age remained in the state for six months they were freed. To prevent his own slaves, like Ona, from being freed, Washington would move his slaves from the Capital to his Virginia plantation before six months had gone by. It is certainly difficult to reconcile this behavior with some of the more positive stories we learn about Washington.

Davis also shows how these oft-forgotten individuals, who were considered property, had complex relationships with the Presidents who enslaved them and often had sufficient influence to shape history in profound ways. This book is an unflinchingly honest depiction of the ways our early leaders, though supposed champions of liberty, were deeply entwined in a system that enslaved and exploited millions.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe51SpFoMEW3L._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_, by Ryan North
Squirrel Girl is exactly what she sounds like. A teen with the incredible power of squirrels! She has squirrel strength and super senses and she can speak squirrel, so she has an army of squirrels that she can summon. Oh, and she truly is unbeatable. She’s taken down many of Marvel’s greatest villains who make the grave mistake of underestimating her powers.

In this issue, which is a great place to dive in, she is accidentally cloned. At first this is great- double the crime fighting squirrel girls! But her clone is determined to destroy mankind after concluding that most problems are caused by humans, while very few are caused by squirrels. So it is up to the REAL squirrel girl to save the day with a little help from the Avengers.

Goldie Vance, by Hope Larson51JS3Wqvz4L._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_
Goldie Vance is probably the coolest character that I’ve encountered this year. She’s 16 years old and lives with her Dad at a resort he manages in Florida. Although she has tons of skills, including being a top-notch car-chase driver, her true gift is solving mysteries. Her dream is to become the resort’s official detective. She gets her chance to prove her value when a guest complains that a piece of priceless jewelry was stolen from his room. Before Goldie knows it, she’s been swept up into exciting Cold War intrigue complete with rocket scientists, Russian spies, and much more.  This is an ongoing series that I am really really excited about.

Best of 2016: Children’s Fiction & Picture Books

Today, we continue our staff picks of the best of 2016 with children’s fiction and picture books. For a full listing, check out the Library Newsletter.

Children’s Fiction

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The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Regan Barnhill
An epic fantasy about a young girl raised by a witch, a swamp monster, and a Perfectly Tiny Dragon, who must unlock the powerful magic buried deep inside her.

I made myself slow down while reading this book. It wasn’t just about finishing the story; it was a world with rich characters and imagery. I enjoyed how critical thinking, empathy, and legend were interwoven in this magical fantasy. -Andrea’s pick

The Princess in Black and the Hungry Bunny Horde by Shannon & Dean Hale
It’s a case of monstrous cuteness as the Princess in Black encounters her biggest challenge yet: a field overrun by adorable bunnies.

The Princess in Black series just right for children almost ready for chapter books. With bright and colorful illustrations, short chapters, and an appealing plot, the books will entertain readers and make them want more. -Andrea’s pick

Kingdom of Wrenly: Pegasus Quest by Jordan Quinn
As Lucas and Clara set out to investigate some mysterious happenings in Wrenly, they discover a horse with wings that is lost and in danger.

This is an adventurous beginning chapter book series, with the right balance of illustrations and excitement to keep a new reader going. -Andrea’s pick

Poison is Not Polite: a Wells & Wong Mystery by Robin Stevens
A tea party takes a poisonous turn, leaving Daisy and Hazel with a new mystery to solve in the second novel of the Wells & Wong Mystery series.

Book 2 in a series I’m obsessed with takes us back to 1930s England with boarding school besties Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong. Sort of a Sherlock Holmes for middle grade readers, it’ll capture your interest and heart. -Carol’s pick

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The Classy Crooks Club by Alison Cherry
Twelve-year-old AJ is dreading spending the summer with her uber-strict grandmother–that is, until she’s recruited to join Grandma Jo’s madcap band of thieves.

Entrapment meets The Golden Girls! What more do you need? -Carol’s pick

Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes
Fifth grader Deja is in a new school, and it’s a good one for the first time. That’s the only thing going right in her life: she lives in a shelter; her dad is sick, and her mom, stressed. It’s 15 years after 9/11, and she is just learning about the tragedy.

I listened to the audiobook version which is read by the author. While the narration is a little shrill at times, I appreciated the intensity of feeling the author put into Deja’s voice. It is a believable tone for someone who has had a tough life. -Elizabeth’s pick

The Inquisitor’s Tale: Or, the Three Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz
In the year 1242, a peasant girl and her recently resurrected dog become unlikely friends with a suddenly orphaned Jewish boy and a giant of a boy who is studying to be a monk, and he just happens to be black.

We don’t always see a lot of racial and cultural diversity in children’s historical fiction, and there are reasons for that. Historically, not all countries were as diverse as they are today. -Emily’s pick

The Book You’re Not Supposed to Have (Timmy Failure Series) by Stephan Pastis
Timmy and his imaginary (?) polar bear friend, Total, are amateur detectives with good intentions but not much common sense. So, Timmy’s mother insists he close down his detective agency, Total Failure.

This author also writes and illustrates the comic strip “Pearls Before Swine.” The humor in this book is dry, wry, and full of sly cultural satire.  -Emily’s pick

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Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart
Lily is a transgender girl whose differences make her a target. Dunkin is desperate to fit in and hide his bi-polar disorder.  After meeting one summer, they must figure out if their friendship can survive the cruel realities that surround them.

This is a beautiful, heartfelt and narratively compelling story. But it is also a marvelously empathetic work that does an incredible job placing the reader in the shoes of these two unique, resilient characters. -Jesse’s pick

Word of Mouse by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein
Isaiah is a very smart mouse that gets separated from his family while escaping the “horrible place.”  He joins another mischief of mice that help him in a grand adventure to rescue his family.

It was a really fun book, and has a happy ending (of course!) Kids will enjoy Isaiah’s “can do” attitude, and his optimism and words of wisdom are inspiring. -Linda’s pick

Sweet Home Alaska by Carole Estby Dagg
It’s 1934 and times are tough, but opportunity and adventure await when young Terpsichore and her family move to Palmer Alaska. Terpsichore meets adversity with determination, gaining community support and new friendships along the way.

A delightful and witty story interjected with historical facts. Terpsichore’s youthful spirit is refreshing. She brings life and enthusiasm to her new surroundings. -Margo’s pick

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier
Catrina and her family have moved to the northern coast of California for the sake of her little sister, Maya, who has cystic fibrosis. Cat is even less happy about the move when she’s told that her new town is inhabited by ghosts, but Maya sets her heart on meeting one.

I snagged an advance copy from our head of Youth Services, who was also eager to read this one. It is heartwarming, fun, endlessly optimistic– I bought my own copy so I can re-read it whenever I miss my family. -Carol’s pick

Children’s Picture Books

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The Hueys in What’s the Opposite? By Oliver Jeffers
Quirky egg-shaped creatures known as the Hueys explore the concept of opposites.

It’s hard to make a concept book interesting, but Oliver Jeffers is clearly up for the challenge. His adorable art and elliptical story arc add tremendously to the book’s teaching value. -Alan’s pick

A Hungry Lion, or, a Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins
Members of a large group of animals, including a penguin, two rabbits, and a koala, disappear at an alarming rate but the hungry lion remains.

Takes the “once upon a time” story structure and twists it until the narrator becomes part of the story, and the lion. Really, almost too clever, but lots of fun for older toddlers and preschoolers as they “get” what’s going on… -Alan’s pick

When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes & Laura Dronzek
Animals and children watch as the world transforms from the dark and dead of winter to a full and blooming spring.

Henkes and Drozek previously collaborated on Birds, a lovely paean to nature delivered in a style both exacting and emotionally satisfying. Henkes delivers a lovely message for older toddlers and preschoolers. -Alan’s pick

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There is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith
Simple text follows a young boy and the many animals he meets on his adventure through the jungle.

Connecting kids with nature is critical for their spirit as well as education. This perfect little book runs somewhere between an adventure and an education, with expressive images of the boy meshing with different creatures until a satisfying end. -Alan’s pick

The Thank You Book by Mo Willems
This is the very last “Elephant and Piggie” book to ever be written, and it is a wonderful one.

I used it at all of the elementary schools I visited to talk about summer reading.  Thank YOU for being a reader! -Leslie’s pick

Rules of the House by Mac Barnett
Ian always follows the rules and his sister, Jenny, never does. But when Jenny angers some monsters while breaking all the rules of their vacation house in the woods, Ian first runs away, then realizes there should be a rule about protecting your sister.

There’s a rule against pinching!  It’s a tad bit scary but that’s okay. -Leslie’s pick

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One Day in the Eucalyptus, Eucalyptus Tree by Daniel Bernstrom
Gobbled by a snake, a crafty boy finds a find a way out of his predicament by encouraging the snake to eat an increasing number of animals.

This is another slightly scary book, and it’s well written. -Leslie’s pick

Extremely Cute Animals Operating Heavy Machinery by David Gordon
Cute animals are bullied by other animals and then solve the problem in an extremely unique and surprising way.

The title grabbed me, the story was creative and unexpected, and you learn the use of the word extremely, if you didn’t already know it. -Margaret’s pick

Bloom by Doreen Cronin and David Small
This is an encouraging fairytale about an unusual fairy, a crumbling castle, and who can finally rebuild the castle before it’s too late!

I’ve always loved fairytales, and it’s been a long time since I’ve read a new and very different one like this story. Very creative and appealing; encourages confidence in one’s abilities as well. Fun illustrations besides!  -Margaret’s pick

Gingerbread Christmas by Jan Brett
It is the well-known story about the gingerbread man but done with Brett’s own creative and unexpected twist to the story, with a little search thrown in for extra fun.

Jan Brett’s books are all very special, with their amazingly detailed and colorful illustrations, as well as engaging stories. I’m very happy to see a new addition to her wonderful collection for children to love. -Margaret’s pick