eBooks for Kids

Carnivores, animals that eat flesh, seem like an unusual subject for funny children’s books. But there are so many good books out there with this theme! In the following list we go from picture books letting you know it’s not a good idea to eat your classmates, to a beginning-reader chapter book about four carnivores trying to fix their “bad-rap” reputation, to non-fiction titles about some fierce (and not-so-funny) carnivores.

All of these titles can be found in our ebook collection and their descriptions are from our catalog. If you haven’t found it on our website already, we have created a page that links to our kids and teen electronic book selection.

Enjoy!

Picture Books

We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins
It’s the first day of school for Penelope Rex, and she can’t wait to meet her classmates. But it’s hard to make human friends when they’re so darn delicious! That is, until Penelope gets a taste of her own medicine and finds she may not be at the top of the food chain after all. . . . Readers will gobble up this hilarious new story from award-winning author-illustrator Ryan T. Higgins.

Carnivores by Aaron Reynolds
The lion is king of the jungle!
The great white shark is sovereign of the seas!
The timber wolf is emperor of the forests!
But . . . it’s lonely at the top of the food chain. It’s difficult to fit in when plant eaters can be so cruel—just because you ate a relative of theirs that one time! What’s a carnivore to do? Aaron Reynolds’s roaringly funny text is perfectly paired with Dan Santat’s mouthwatering illustrations, creating a toothsome book that’s sure to stand out from the herd.

I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean! By Kevin Sherry
When a giant squid takes inventory of all of the creatures in the ocean, he realizes that he’s way bigger than most of them! Of course, there are bigger things lurking around . . . but maybe this giant squid with a giant touch of hubris doesn’t really care?

Beginning Chapter Books

The Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey
They sound like bad guys, they look like bad guys . . . and they even smell like bad guys. But Mr. Wolf, Mr. Piranha, Mr. Snake, and Mr. Shark are about to change all of that…
Mr. Wolf has a daring plan for the Bad Guys’ first good mission. They are going to break two hundred dogs out of the Maximum Security City Dog Pound. Will Operation Dog Pound go smoothly? Will the Bad Guys become the Good Guys? And will Mr. Snake please stop swallowing Mr. Piranha?!

Non-Fiction

Running with Wolves: Our Story of Life with the Sawtooth Pack by Jim Dutcher and Jamie Dutcher
Discover the wonder of wolves from Emmy-award winning filmmakers Jim and Jamie Dutcher as they tell their story of the six years they watched, learned, and lived with the Sawtooth wolf pack. Adventure, friendship, and family come together in this riveting memoir as two award-winning filmmakers take you through the experience of the years they spent living in the wild with a real-life wolf pack.

National Geographic Readers: Sharks! by Anne Schreiber
He’s quick. He’s silent. He has five rows of deadly teeth. Chomp! Meet the shark-the fish who ruled the deep before dinosaurs roamed the Earth! This fish has soft cartilage so he can glide, twist, and turn before his prey can say “gulp!” Cool photos bring kids into the shark’s world. Fun facts go deep into the shark’s scary science.

National Geographic Readers: Deadliest Animals by Melissa Stewart
Did you know that a tiny golf ball-sized creature called the blue-ringed octopus contains enough venom to kill 26 adult humans? Or why the Sydney funnel web spider is one of the most dangerous creatures in the world? In this Level 3 book, kids will be fascinated by 12 species that you hope you’ll never come across! Sharks, snakes, jellyfish and more-these creatures are among the most threatening-and interesting-in the world!

Read to Your Children (About Race!)

It’s never too early to begin reading to your baby! This is why we love our board book collection. And why we offer storytimes for children as young as three months. It’s also never too early to start talking to them and reading to them about race and racism in America. Just as reading to children will help them succeed later in life, so will early exposure to stories that explore diversity, inclusion, prejudice, and our shared history. And there are urgent reasons to begin early. Racial preference and prejudice sink their teeth into us almost from birth. While researching a different topic, I stumbled upon some alarming statistics. Studies have found that infants as young as three-months have exhibited preference for faces of their own race, while children may begin to embrace and accept racism around three years in age. If this feels as dire to you as it does to me, there is good news too! We have part of the antidote to this insidious threat right here in the library. Each year, more and more books are published that talk about these issues in nuanced and accessible ways, while even more are coming out that feature people of all races, ethnicities, and backgrounds living their lives. I’d like to share a few of my favorites. 

Intersection-Allies-CoverIntersection Allies: We Make Room for All by Chelsea Johnson, LaToya Council, Carolyn Choi, and Ashley Seil Smith is a relatively new picture book that has quickly become a favorite to share with families and friends. From the carefully thought out ‘Letter to Grown-Ups’ at the beginning to the final pages’ rallying cry, this book is both masterfully poignant and thought-provoking. Written in rhyming text, the book celebrates young people of different races, religions, abilities, and experiences while also demonstrating how we can all cherish, value, and protect one another. In less expert hands, a book like this might feel clunky or over-stuffed, but the evident care and passion that went into its creation allow the message to shine without compromising the reading experience. 

81OxQJ1yf-LWhen I first saw Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness by Anastasia Higginbotham, the title made me nervous. The phrase “not my idea” felt too close to an excuse for me, so I was relieved when I read the book and discovered that it does not promote this message. This book begins with a young person watching a news story that involves violence then explores the privilege whiteness can afford and the ways that white people can leverage this privilege to fight for a more just future. The messaging is simple and direct, and Higginbotham deftly threads the needle by encouraging readers to critically examine the world around them while also encouraging self-care and forgiveness. She explains:

Racism is still happening. It keeps changing and keeps being the same. And yet…just being here, alive in this moment, you have a chance to care about this, to connect. But connecting means opening. And opening sometimes feels…like breaking.

I love that Higginbotham goes so far to acknowledge the fear and pain that can surface when confronting racism, while also portraying this mission as both urgent and redemptive. 

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Many other books confront and counter prejudice by telling stories that feature characters who are black, indigenous or people of color. Even when these stories focus on things that might be unique to a group of people, they also highlight our shared humanity and help expand the world that is accessible to young readers. Many of these stories focus on family. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña and Christian Robinson follows a young boy and his nana on a bus ride across town. It would be easy to pair this book with Isabel Quintero and Zeke Peña’s My Papi Has a Motorcycle which also follows a young person on a ride across town. This time lovingly recounting a young girl’s late afternoon cruise on the back of her father’s motorcycle. 

Food, family, history and identity all come together in Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story by Kevin Noble Maillard and Juana Martinez Neal while A Different Pond by Bao Phi and Thi Bui finds a father and son fishing in the early morning, while also connecting this ritual to the father’s own childhood in Vietnam. Nicola I. Campbell and Julie Flett’s beautiful A Day with Yayah is a gentle story of an Interior Salish family foraging in a meadow while an elder passes down knowledge to her grandchildren that fans of Blueberries for Sal are sure to love. And Minh Lê and Dan Santat’s Drawn Together spends a day with a boy and his grandfather who do not speak the same language as they discover a different way to communicate through a shared passion. 

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Other books discuss hair care and head-wear for different people around the US and the world. Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut by Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James, and My Hair is a Garden by Cozbi A. Cabrera take different approaches while celebrating the love, attention, and community connection that can go into hair care. The Proudest Blue: A Story of Hijab and Family by Ibtihaj Muhammad and Hatem Aly and Mommy’s Khimar by Jamiliah Thompkins-Bigelow and Ebony Glenn explore different but affirming experiences connected with the headcoverings worn by some Muslim women.

The Boy & the Bindi by Vivek Shraya and Rajni Perera beautifully tells the story of a young South Asian boy who loves his mother’s Bindi and wishes he could wear one as well. And Sharee Miller’s Don’t Touch My Hair follows a young girl who loves her hair but does not love all the people around her who touch it without even asking. This book feels like it should be required reading delivering powerful messages about personal boundaries, being othered, and finding one’s voice, while somehow still feeling playful, whimsical, and silly. 

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We can certainly all relate to the fear of a young boy on a pools high dive, like that experienced by Jabari in Gaia Cornwall’s Jabari Jumps. And the joy that art can bring to a community, like Mira discovers when she meets a muralist in F. Isabel Campoy, Theresa Howell, and Rafael López’s gorgeous story Maybe Something Beautiful

I love Jacqueline Woodson and Rafael López’s The Day You Begin. This story of new students from different cultures beginning school together is incredibly accessible. On some level we can all understand the experience of being the new person, not quite fitting in, and absorbing negative attention because of our differences. But it is also a powerful story of inclusion, reminding us that our differences make us stronger and that a healthy society welcomes all kinds of people. Mustafa by Mary-Louise Gay also focuses on uncertainty and new friendships, telling the story of a young refugee exploring his new home and making a friend.

And finally, Breanna J. McDaniel and Shane W. Evans’ Hand Up! is wonderful. In an author’s note, McDaniel explains that she worried that her own niece, a black girl, would only connect negative emotions with the phrase ‘hands up.’ So, she created a beautiful, simple book that celebrates the many things we can do with our hands in the air, from playing peek-a-boo, to dancing, to protesting injustice. 

The publishing industry has come a long way, but all of us who work adjacent to children’s literature still have a tremendous amount of work to do. As the infographic below created by Sarah Park Dahlen and David Huyck demonstrates, we still desperately need more books that center young people from diverse backgrounds. Children and caregivers in our communities need more books that reflect their own heritage, culture, race, and experiences. This is why movements like We Need Diverse Books are so important and powerful. 

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Needless to say, the books I mentioned above are not a complete survey by any stretch of the imagination and I am surely missing incredible books exploring and celebrating many different backgrounds. If you have a favorite that is not featured above or is not in our library, please leave a comment and let us know! 

How to Win Children and Influence Parents

One of the truly great no-downside parts of my job is that I get to share pop culture enthusiasm with young people every day. Whether we’re ranking Harry Potter, judging each other’s floss skills, or kvetching about that darn pigeon, it’s often the highlight of my day. But I also love introducing young readers to their next obsession. This is great when it happens in the library, but I also enjoy being the one to swoop in with under-the-radar recommendations for the children of my friends and family. While I prefer to tailor my suggestions to the reader, I’ve found that there are certain books that rarely fail. And for the low cost of free.99, you too can be the hero of the next family gathering or dinner with friends! Here are a few of my favorite “wise-guy” picks.

9780316483018_p0_v1_s550x406It’s relatively new, but Bob Shea’s Crash, Splash, or Moo! has become the first book I grab when I have a chance to read a story aloud. This is a lightly plotted picture book formatted as a game show. The host is, of course, Mr. McMonkey and the audience’s task is simple: watch ACTION CLAM and (plain, old, boring) Cow complete in a series of increasingly preposterous stunts and predict whether they will end with a crash, a splash, or a….MOO. Like many of Shea’s books, it’s filled with bright, engaging colors and stuffed with jokes and delightfully silly scenarios. I love that this book both encourages a ton of audience participation and leaves everyone (including the reader) cackling with glee. It’s as much fun as I’ve had with a story in a long time and even when I have to read it several times in a row (by popular demand) I never get sick of it.

743b09a15d28ca3221e153270b710b93I have to make a confession about Ms. Rapscott’s Girls by Elise Primavera. This is a stolen recommendation. My mother, who is a remarkable children’s librarian in her own right (as was her mother before her – I seem to have entered the family business) clued me in to this middle grade chapter book. Ms. Rapscott’s Girls follows the titular Ms. Rapscott, the headmistress of a “school for girls of busy parents.” These poor children are sent there because their parents simply do not have the time to care for and raise them. If that sounds awfully dark for the intended audience, fear not! Primavera builds a world that is equal parts whimsical and absurd as Ms. Rapscott and her charges embark on a series of misadventures. And my goodness, this book is at its hysterical best when it is roasting adults. I will leave you with this description of one student’s parents:

Her parents, Dr. Loulou Chissel and Dr. Lou Chissel, were very busy. They had started out in the cinder-block business and slowly but surely had worked their way up to become prominent cosmetic surgeons. In a stroke of genius Beatrice’s father, Dr. Lou Chissel, had even devised a way to fill our wrinkles and lips from the raw materials he had used to make his cinder block.

“It’s a win-win situation,” Dr. Liu often said.

But the Chissels didn’t stop there. Dr. Loulou Chissel had shortened her daughter’s name from Beatrice to Bea to save time, because Dr. Chissel was very busy experimenting with ways to grow hair on cinder blocks.

“Just think of the possibilities,” she crowed.

Dr. Lou rubbed his bald head, “Just think.”

As you can imagine, all this thinking required a great deal of quiet. But their daughter, Bea, was always wanting something -like breakfast- and she was always asking questions like, “What’s a birthday present?”

When no one answered she would get louder and louder, until she would shriek at a decibel loud enough to shatter glass:

“What’s a birthday present?!!!!!!”

This is how Beatrice Chissel became Known for Being Loud.

jason-reynolds-spidermanYA is one of my favorite areas to read, so I have many go-to books for teenagers. I was tempted to talk about Nic Stone, but I’ve blogged about both of her novels before. I thought about mentioning Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse books, but I’d rather devote a future post to them. So I’ll go with my favorite, an author I talk about nearly every day but don’t write about enough, Jason Reynolds. While all of his books are transcendent, the recent popularity of Marvel’s animated film, Into the Spider-Verse, makes this a wonderful time to give a teen Miles Morales: Spider-Man.

This book follows Miles through a particularly tough stretch of his junior year of high school. His uncle just died, as has Peter Parker, his spider-sense is on the fritz, and, oh yeah, his history teacher? He might be a super-villain. Add to that the stress of school, family pressure, and his crush on a classmate and Miles has his work cut out for him! I love that this book is appropriate for a wide range of teens – I’m as comfortable recommending it to sixth graders as I am to high school seniors. Reynolds is also simply a phenomenal writer, exploring serious issues like race, class, and identity, while also flashing a masterful ability to create realistic teenage characters. Don’t take my word for it – I’m currently discussing All-American Boys, which he co-wrote with Brendan Kiely, with a high school book club and the students all agree that he nails teenage dialogue. I have little doubt that Miles is the Spider-man we need right now and I can think of no one better than Jason Reynolds to do him justice.

New Picture Books for Children (and Adults) of All Ages

Each week, tons of new books hit our shelves from the strange, to the enchanting, to the very, very creepy. Usually I don’t have time to do more than check out the covers or read the dust jackets, but because I lead storytimes and help children and caregivers find books, I try to make time to read some of our new picture books as they come in. I’m always delighted by the wonderful artwork and nuanced, rewarding stories that I find in this collection. Even on my busiest day I can find five minutes to dive into a story that might take me on a fantastic adventure, make me laugh out loud, or help me understand someone who leads a life very different from my own. As the summer begins to wind down, I thought it would be a good time to take stock of a few of my favorite recent arrivals.

Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love follows a boy who absolutely loves mermaids. When he decides that he is in fact a mermaid himself and dresses up like one, he is unsure how his abuela will react. In addition to having a lovely message about acceptance, individuality, and intergenerational relationships, this is a lushly illustrated book. While the text tells Julián’s story through short simple sentences, Love’s beautiful use of color and meticulous attention to detail begs the reader to linger on each page.

I don’t particularly enjoy my own birthday, but I LOVE Julie Fogliano’s When’s My Birthday. This slim book takes the reader through a series of questions and excited statements about birthdays that run the gamut from sweet to silly. The theme of this book is sure to be a hit with many young readers, but for me the star of the show is Christian Robinson’s art. Robinson has long been my favorite illustrator and he once again delivers with his playful depictions of animals, children, cakes, and party accessories. Every book that Robinson works on is a homerun (I recommend them all) and When’s My Birthday does not disappoint.

Danny McGee Drinks the SeaI recently had the privilege of working with summer school students at Challenger Elementary. When reading to these students, certain books were hits with all classes no matter the grade. One of these was Danny McGee Drinks the Sea written by Andy Stanton and illustrated by Neal Layton. This hilarious book follows a young boy who boasts to his older sister that he can drink the entire ocean. After she doubts him, he rises to the challenge but does not stop with the sea:

“I will swallow it all!”
shouted Danny McGee. 
And he swallowed the sand 
where the sea used to be.

And he swallowed the mountains,
and every last tree.
And he swallowed the jungles. 
He did it with glee.

And he swallowed the people 
and that includes me. 
And I’m writing this book
inside Danny McGee.

This is the rare read-aloud that had all the students and teachers in the room cackling without fail. If you want to induce fits of giggles, I can’t recommend it strongly enough.

I love the short-but-sweet fairy-tale Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack and Stevie Lewis. When it is time for a kingdom’s prince to find his bride, he searches far and wide but fails to find the love of his life. Then, a fearsome dragon attacks and the prince must confront this beast in order to save his people. He is victorious, thanks in part to the help of a mysterious knight in shining armor. When the prince and knight meet, the prince realizes that he has found his true love and his family and kingdom rejoice! Lewis’s gorgeous illustrations and Haack’s gentle writing combine to present a romance that models loving acceptance without distracting from the rest of the story.


Full disclosure: Sarah Jacoby and I went to college together and I have long enjoyed following her career as an artist from afar. Yet I don’t think I’m acting with any bias when I rave about her debut book, Forever and a Day. Her breathtaking, richly detailed watercolor illustrations tell the story of a family on a trip. These pictures are then combined with a thoughtful meditation on the concept of time. By building an accessible narrative while introducing fairly complex concepts, Jacoby’s work is sure to draw in readers of all ages. 

A Different Pond written by Bao Phi is a perfect picture book for budding comic buffs. The illustrator, Thi Bui, is also the author of a graphic novel and it shows in both the style of her work and her occasional use of cells, which split a page to show several scenes. A Different Pond tells a universal story of a young boy and his father who set out on an early-morning fishing trip. Their close relationship takes center stage as they build a fire, bait hooks, and reel in a catch. The father also tells his son of his own childhood in Vietnam, hinting at the difficult circumstances that might have brought him to America. This is a careful, warm story of an immigrant family that will resonate with anyone who has shared special moments with a loved one.


Anyone gearing up for the school year will be sure to enjoy Ryan T. Higgin’s We Don’t Eat our Classmates. This book follows Penelope Rex who is surprised on her first day of school when she discovers that the rest of the students are children. She immediately eats them, of course, since children are delicious! After her teacher forces her to spit out the other students, Penelope must find a way to control her impulses and make friends. This was another book that got big laughs at Challenger this summer. It is written with a wicked but ultimately sweet humor, teaches empathy to readers, and shows that even the worst first days can lead to a happy and friend-filled school year.

My Hair is a Garden by Cozbi A. Cabrera tells another loving, warm story. When MacKenzie is teased for having wild, untamed hair, she flees to the house of her neighbor, Miss Tillie. Miss Tillie takes the time to teach her how to care for her hair. MacKenzie learns that by treating it like a garden and giving it loving attention, her hair will thrive. She comes to be proud of her hair and her heritage and realizes that she is beautiful for who she is. I love this gorgeous, tender story of self-love and affirmation.


Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut is also about hair care. In this case, Derrick Barnes is eulogizing the barbershop experience. Accompanied by Gordon C. James’s vivid, life-like illustrations that celebrate black beauty, Barnes leads the reader through the experience of getting a haircut and the wonderful feelings and overflowing confidence that result. This book is filled with joy and is sure to excite even the most barber-averse reader.

Books to Love and Share

Even though we live nearly three thousand miles apart, I’m very close with my nieces and nephew. In my mind I’m the cool uncle who takes them on fun trips and gets them the most exciting presents. Of course when your uncle is a librarian the fun trips usually involve libraries or bookstores and those exciting presents are, well, books. Luckily for me, these kids are born readers so even if I’m not the cool uncle I am the uncle who gets asked for book recommendations and invited to class visits. I’ll take it.

Here are a few of the books that I’ve loved and shared with my young readers this past year.

methodetimesprodwebbin2146bf82-bd60-11e6-a53a-ca2ad7b229f9My youngest niece is almost two. She loves to laugh and is great at identifying animals, as long as it’s a dog or a bear, so I knew she would love Horrible Bear! by Ame Dyckman. Horrible Bear! follows a no-nonsense young girl who crashes her kite into a bear’s den. The sleeping bear rolls over, crushing the kite. The girl storms off furious at the bear, while the bear is filled with righteous indignation for being blamed. Behold, bitter enemies! Ultimately, the bear and the girl come to understand each other and this silly story delivers a meaningful yet subtle message about accidents and forgiveness. This is a great read-aloud with the girl and bear stomping around shouting HORRIBLE BEAR and HORRIBLE GIRL. It also features Dyckman’s signature humor and lively illustrations by Zachariah OHora.

A1CIvMxnmGL (1)I also read with my 3-year-old niece but of course a 3-year-old is sophisticated and requires more complex and devious narratives. This is why I recently sent her The Wolf, the Duck, & the Mouse by Mac Barnett. When a mouse is swallowed by a wolf, it seems like the end of the world – literally. But the mouse gets new perspective when it meets a duck who has made quite a lovely home in the wolf’s stomach. Their new haven is threatened when a hunter pursues the wolf and the mouse and duck must find a way to save their home. I love the sharp turn this story takes after its grim beginning and the way expectations are constantly subverted. This book also has the benefit of Jon Klassen’s illustrations, who could even make the phone book a twisted delight.

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Vera Brosgol’s Leave Me Alone! introduces a granny who feels straight out of a nursery rhyme. Living in a cramped house with her large family, she sets out to find a peaceful place to knit. She travels far and wide through harsh environments filled with terrible beasts, and even goes to space! This is another story that starts out with a slightly sardonic tone before settling into a heartwarming conclusion. Brosgol’s illustrations are pitch perfect, creating a story that feels like a loving and quirky tribute to Strega Nona.

9780545700580_mresRecently one of my cousins had her first child who is nicknamed Froggy. I’m using this as an excuse to give them Rain! By Linda Ashman. Rain! follows the parallel stories of an older man who is irritated to have to deal with wet weather and a young boy in a frog hat who is delighted to explore the rainy world. This is a sweet story with a wonderfully goofy conclusion. Rain! has the added bonus of featuring the brilliant illustrations of Christian Robinson. Robinson’s work has been on my radar for some time, but it was not until I saw him speak last year at a conference that I took the time to explore his work in-depth. He is a stunning artist who has quickly become a personal favorite.

9780545403306_mresFor the older readers in my life (ages 7 and 9) I like to introduce series that they can fall in love with. The challenge, of course, is getting these books in their hands before they hear about them from friends. This year these series included Whatever After by Sarah Mlynowski and The Ranger’s Apprentice by John A. Flanagan. The Whatever After series follows a young sister and brother, Abby and Jonah, who are swept away into the lands of various fairy tales such as Cinderella and the Frog Prince. This might be a delightful adventure for the young siblings if they didn’t accidentally intervene in these classic stories and jeopardize their traditional plots. Abby and Jonah must frantically save the day, delivering the fairy tale endings we all know so well. Some middle grade series do not hold up for adult readers. These do. Abby’s narration is laced with gentle sarcasm and the two siblings repeatedly delight by finding new and ridiculous ways to disrupt these established stories. Book one in this series is Fairest of All.

The_Ruins_of_Gorlan_(Au)The Ranger’s Apprentice is a slightly older series perfect for lovers of world building or medieval fantasy. These books follow a young man named Will who becomes (wait for it) a ranger’s apprentice helping to protect a kingdom from a multitude of dastardly threats both internal and external. I was nervous to suggest these books to my nephew as I had not actually read them myself, but my nephew has fallen deep into their world. I asked him to tell me what he likes about the series and he explained that he is enjoying the way that the story is told from different perspectives, not just one narrator. He’s also relishing all of the action and appreciates the details that go into the development of different characters. Book one in this series is The Ruins of Gorlan.

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

PAWS to Read at the Everett Public Library

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Madeline Finn and the Library Dog by Lisa Papp is a wonderful new picture book. Madeline Finn DOES NOT like to read. Not books. Not magazines. Not even the menu on the ice cream truck. But Madeline Finn DOES want a gold star from her teacher. Stars are for good readers. Stars are for understanding words. And saying them out loud. Fortunately, Madeline Finn meets Bonnie, a library dog. Reading out loud to Bonnie isn’t so bad. When Madeline Finn gets stuck, Bonnie doesn’t mind. Madeline Finn can pet her until she figures the word out. As it turns out, it’s fun to read when you’re not afraid of making mistakes. Bonnie teaches Madeline Finn that it’s okay to go slow. And to keep trying. Just like the sticker says.

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Did you know that the Everett Public Library has just such a program?  It’s called PAWS to Read and happens at the Evergreen Branch on Mondays from 3 to 5 PM and at the Main Library on Tuesdays from 3:30 until 5:00 PM. This program runs through December 13th, 2016, but will start up again in January. We have wonderful dog and human volunteers who come to the library faithfully each week to help our children learn to read.

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The dogs act as an incentive for the children to read more and to read better. Dogs are viewed as a non-threatening entity to promote reading, writing, and increased interaction and social skills in the child. As a result, children experience higher reading levels and higher levels of word recognition as well as word comprehension.

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The dogs used in this program are especially calm and unobtrusive and settle in as part of the class. The children view the dogs as lovable and non-judgmental, which are the keys to success in this program. Children report that the dogs give them confidence because the dog does not make fun of them if they read slowly or mess up pronouncing a word. The dogs are great listeners and give the child a sense of comfort while reading. Children have been known to practice with their personal pets at home in preparation for the Paws to Read dogs.

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Come on down to the library just like Madeline Finn and meet our PAWS to Read dogs. They’re awesome!