Young Reader

Do you know a child with an imaginary friend (who most often “appears” when the child is nervous or scared)? This colorful picture book about a little girl and her friend Stella would be a welcome read. Bella moves into a new house where everything is different and nothing feels like home. But with her imaginary friend Stella by her side, she gradually becomes more comfortable in the new place—and even makes a new friend. A very charming read.  -S.B.

By Anika Denise, Christopher Denise (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780399242434
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Philomel Books - November 24th, 2010

This book is strange and enticing and hard to unravel, perhaps the strangest Newbery Winner to date. (In one clever passage, paying homage to an earlier Newbery Winner, A Wrinkle in Time, Marcus, Miranda’s 6th grade classmate, says, “So if they had gotten home five minutes before they left, like those ladies promised they would, then they would have seen themselves get back. Before they left.”)

OK, so Miranda lives in Manhattan in the late 1970s (I think). She has a best friend named Sal who stops speaking to her after being punched, for no apparent reason, by the strange kid, Marcus. She has a lovely relationship with her mother (a paralegal hoping to win some money on the TV show The $20,000 Pyramid), and her mother’s quite-nice guy. Miranda negotiates the shifting friendships and alliances in 6th grade, re-reads A Wrinkle in Time, is concerned with the street person her mother dubs “laughing man,” and is definitely receiving a series of notes which may be from the future. The quirky humor, the authentic setting, and detailed characterizations ground this subtle, quiet, mystery that blooms into science, or science fiction, or simply, revelation. It’s hard to describe, but well worth reading. I’m not sure what grade reader it’s for, but I would start with 6th and go up from there.  --Ga

ISBN: 9780375850868
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Yearling Books - December 28th, 2010

Inspired by the childhood of Edna Lewis (the cook and writer credited by many with starting the slow food movement), this picture book for 4- to 8-year-olds, celebrates the pleasures and poetry of growing, harvesting, cooking, and sharing food with family and friends. From the author’s note: “Edna Lewis was born in 1916 in Freetown, Virginia, a community founded by her grandfather and two other emancipated slaves. The people of Freetown were farmers, and they lived by the seasons, growing and harvesting their own cops, gathering nature’s wild bounty.”  --Ga

ISBN: 9780618158362
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Clarion Books - January 19th, 2009

Diane Stanley, Caldecott writer and illustrator, is known for her amusing fairytale re-tellings (Rumpelstiltskin’s Daughter) or her unique picture book biographies with their well-researched text and enticing detailed paintings (Cleopatra and Bard of Avon). Here in her new novel she is doing something completely different, important, and accessible. Saving Sky is an adventure/survival story for 4th–7th grade readers. Sky Brightman’s family is living an upscale, off-the-grid lifestyle on a large ranch in New Mexico. The time frame of this story is tomorrow, or maybe later today. The family hunkers down as the country is experiencing sporadic, but increasingly frequent, attacks. There are many Red Alert days. Food and fuel shortages are becoming commonplace. Sky’s is a loving family, their self-sufficient ranch, an oasis. This part of the novel is quite familiar, even comfortable, the way it is in books where someone else is going through hardships but you’re pretty sure it will be okay. It is less comfortable when Sky’s seventh grade classmate, Kareem, is arrested with his parents at Home Depot as Homeland Security starts ‘detaining’ anyone of Middle Eastern descent. Sky, brave and hopeful, stands up for what she knows is right, giving us a hero we can root for.  -Ga

ISBN: 9780061239076
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HarperCollins Publishers - June 12th, 2012

Mo Willems, creator of that undeterred pigeon who wants to drive the bus, and Jon Muth, author/illustrator of the Caldecott Honor Zen Shorts, have combined talent and—wow—do we benefit. Never before in a picture book have the round of seasons, and the round of friendship, and the round of life been so seamlessly shown. Willems’ bittersweet text is gently humorous, Muth’s watercolors exquisite. This is a wonderful collaboration. Every word counts. Each painting opens and expands the text. What is most amazing is that children and adults will each read a “different” book, but both are perfect.  -Ga

By Mo Willems, Jon J. Muth, Jon J. Muth (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781423103004
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Disney-Hyperion - June 8th, 2010

Great for a drizzly day, this collection of poems celebrates rain throughout the seasons. Young nature lovers will delight in the many styles of poetry (from Robert Frost to Issa to haiku) as well as the misty and whimsical illustrations throughout. —S.B.

By Rita Gray, Ryan O'Rourke (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781570917172
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Charlesbridge Publishing - July 22nd, 2014

Did you know that when an elephant wanders away from its herd, putting itself in danger of encounters with lions, it is a protective big sister who usually guides the elephant back to safety? Or that wild turkey brothers stay together for life, and even help attract mates and chase off rival males for each other? These revelations, along with more stories about sibling relationships—from Nile crocodiles to black widow spiders—make the new book Sisters & Brothers both informative and fun. Which animal species is most like your family? The Naked Mole Rats who lay down in tunnels for others to walk on depending upon age status, or the beavers who work together with their siblings to gather bark to feed on during winter? Filled with science, animal facts, and great illustrations, this book is a fun exploration for the whole family.  —Casey

ISBN: 9780547727387
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Houghton Mifflin - March 20th, 2012

What could be more unlikely than a boy growing up with a pet cheetah? This true story, told in photographs, text, and drawings, has fascinated my kids ever since they were toddlers—and it is downright compelling for grown-ups, as well. Xan Hopcraft grew up with a pet cheetah (who was abandoned as a baby) at his home in Nairobi, Kenya. When the magnificent animal, Dooms, died, Xan wrote a story about what it was like to have a cheetah as part of his family, and the impact of his loss. How it Was With Dooms is a tender and moving book, but also one that shows that cheetahs are, in fact, wild—and like all living things, deserve our respect.  --S.B.

ISBN: 9780689835391
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Aladdin - August 2000

Five very different people—one teacher, four students—come together to form a winning academic trivia team, all leaning on each other for the support they need to get through school. Led by their paraplegic teacher, the four students deal with bullies, not fitting in, and their own changing lives. Each chapter is told from a different character’s point of view, giving each character depth and making the story connect in a special way. I adored this book as a kid, and it taught me all kinds of useful (and useless) trivia!  --Flannery

ISBN: 9780689817212
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Aladdin Paperbacks - February 1998

Not only is this one of the most perfect books to get kids excited for school, but it teaches you to count to 100! This delightful book chronicles Emily’s first 100 days at school as she learns about numbers and letters and all sorts of other neat things, makes friends, and spends time with them and her family. This book is bright and cheerful in that special Rosemary Wells way, and kids will look forward to school once they see all the fun Emily has there.  --Flannery

By Rosemary Wells, Rosemary Wells (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780786813544
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Disney-Hyperion - August 23rd, 2005



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