Spring 2020 Featured Titles

available on Libby / Overdrive & Hoopla

The Epic Fail of Arturo ZamoraThe Epic Failure of Arturo Zamora | by Pablo Cartaya | Audiobook 

Summer break means 13-year-old Arturo will help out with his close-knit family’s Cuban restaurant in Miami. His relationships with his mother and Abuela are put to the test when a developer, Mr. Pipo, threatens to stop the expansion of the restaurant and none of the family members is able to agree on how to save the business. Arturo must find the confidence to speak up for his family as he navigates his first love and friendships, the ailing health of his dear grandmother and the complex ups and downs of community advocacy.

Why Amy recommends this book: I really enjoyed how the author brings an authentic voice to the likable Arturo while beautifully portraying the vibrant bonds of a Cuban American family working to support a dream. I also like that Spanish and poetry are woven throughout the story but in a way that all readers can understand. As Arturo fights to save his family and the restaurant, funny moments help break the heartache of loss. There is magic in the Zamora family’s rich traditions and stories that create even deeper community ties. Recommended for grades 5-8.

White BirdWhite Bird: A Wonder Story | by R.J. Palacio 

This graphic novel continues the author’s story of Auggie & Me about Julian's grandmother and her experiences during World War II in France. As a young Jewish girl, Sara escaped her school and was hidden for over a year by a family during the Nazi occupation. She tells her grandson about how a classmate who was shunned ended up saving her life. Although Sara suffers the loss of family and friends, she is willing to talk about this time in her life so that he understands the importance of speaking up about injustices when others are unwilling.

Why Amy likes this book: I read this book in one sitting! I was deeply moved by this upsetting yet hopeful story in our history. The book’s gorgeous illustrations showing both the world’s cruelty and beauty will stay with you. Despite its troubling topics, the author is able to write in way that is honest and gracefully connects the past with the present for children or readers of any age. I felt inspired to share this story with my younger girls because Sara’s message about the Holocaust is so important: kindness helps preserve humanity. Recommended for Ages 10+.

The Secret GardenThe Secret Garden | by Frances Hodgson Burnett | Audiobook

After losing both of her parents, young Mary must live with her widowed uncle in England. She is described as foul-tempered, sickly and selfish but things begin to change for Mary as she becomes determined to unlock the mystery of her uncle’s secret garden. Mary begins to spend more time exploring the garden, becoming healthier and happier, but her discovery of a boy hidden away in her uncle’s estate also proves to be another opportunity for transformation and renewal.

Why Amy likes this book: A classic of English children’s literature, this story shaped my love of reading. I still remember my mom reading this and how it ignited my imagination. Even as a child, I understood the novel’s lessons about how nature and friendships can heal and change people for the better. As a parent, I now also appreciate the way the author honestly portrays difficult feelings like loneliness, sadness and anger in a way that helps children work through emotions. *This title is part of the hoopla BONUS BORROWS COLLECTION! For a limited time, this is one of 1000+ titles you can borrow without using any of your monthly hoopla Borrows!*

 
MatildaMatilda | by Roald Dahl | Audiobook 

Matilda is a gifted child who finds solace from her unkind parents in her town library at the tender age of four when she learns how to read. Although her school discovers just how brilliant she really is, Matilda soon makes her very own discovery: she has telekinetic powers that can be used to fight back against her parents and horrifying headmistress, Ms. Trunchbull. Matilda finds comfort in Ms. Honey, her classroom teacher, who supports her throughout this classic tale of challenges and triumphs. 

Why Amy likes this amount: There are many reasons why children love Roald Dahl’s timeless stories: fantasy, gross things, unlikable adults, pictures, made up words and the ability of young characters to find some kind of power. This was indeed a favorite of mine growing up and I loved reading this again as an adult because I admire that Matilda never gives up and enjoy Dahl's playful imagination. Despite being young and small, she is smart and shows how reading, learning and a little perseverance change her life for the better.

BreadcrumbsBreadcrumbs | by Anne Ursu 

A modern retelling of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen, Breadcrumbs is its own original fairy tale that weaves in many classic children’s fables throughout this story of friendship, loss and change. Hazel and Jack are eleven-years-old and best friends until one day Jack changes and disappears. Hazel is hurt but knows that his heart has been frozen and soon encounters many adventures as she must brave the woods alone to save her friend.

Why Amy likes this book: I fell in love with the way the author magically blends fantasy with reality through her writing as well as illustrations to create a beautiful space for children and adults to grieve changing friendships. Growing up can be hard, but I like how this book helps comfort its readers through Hazel’s transformation from self-doubt to strength and bravery amidst a confusing world of unspoken rules. I was taken aback by the honest and gorgeous writing. I did not want this book to end! 
 

Reader's Advisory for Children's Books

Chapter Books Recommended by Ms Kim


The War that Saved My LifeThe War That Saved My Life  & AudiobookThe War I Finally Won & Audiobook | by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley | Suggested Grades 4-6
 
Set during World War 2 in Britain, these stories focus on Ada, a young girl born with a disability. Her abusive mother keeps her held prisoner in their apartment, but when the opportunity comes to evacuate out of London, Ava sneaks away with her younger brother. They are taken in by a woman named Susan and as they adjust to their new lives, the wartime struggles around them grow more intense.
 
Why Kim liked these books: Ava was such a likeable character and was living such a difficult life. She had so many things working against her and she kept trying to move forward. I just kept rooting for things to work out for her.
 
 
The Candymakers | The Candymakers and the Great Chocolate Chase | by Wendy Mass | Suggested Grades 4-8
 
It's a candymaking contest at the Life is Sweet candy factory, and the competitors are four 12 year olds. Each is trying to create the new best candy in the country, and the factory has all kinds of amazing equipment and ingredients to help them. But when a secret ingredient goes missing, the contestants have to up their candy creating skills to try and solve the mystery.
 
Why Kim liked these books: These stories combined humor, mystery, and solid plot lines about each character. I enjoyed seeing how each person responded to the challenges of the candy making contest and the promotional tour of the country that followed. 
 
 
Greet Treehouse WarThe Great Treehouse War | by Lisa Graff | Suggested Grades 4-6
 
When Winnie's parents get divorced, they decide she will spend three days a week with each of them in their adjoining houses. Since there are seven days in a week, she would spend Wednesdays by herself in a treehouse between the two houses. As she gets more frustrated with her parents she decides to barricade herself in her treehouse and then her friends decide to join her. Will the kids or the parents agree to compromise first?
 
Why Kim liked this book: Although it's unlikely that parents would actually set up this scenario, I could understand why Winnie preferred the peacefulness of the treehouse when her parents were being unreasonable. Despite the situation, a fair amount of humor was included, and I enjoyed the interactions between the characters.
 
 
Notorious & Audiobook | by Gordon Korman | Suggested Grades 3-7
 
Keenan usually lives all over the world with his mother, but while recovering from an illness he is sent to live with his father on Centerlight Island, half of which is in the United States and half in Canada. Keenan's neighbor ZeeBee is both obsessed with the island's history and the belief that her first dog, Barney One, was murdered. As Keenan recovers from his illness, he gets caught up in ZeeBee's quest to solve mysteries about both of these. A good amount of humor and adventure follow!
 
Why Kim liked this book: I am a big fan of Gordon Korman. Most of his books involve characters that readers can relate to in various ways. In this story, I really liked the characters of both Keenan and ZeeBee, and easily got caught up in the plot. 

 

Children's Book Series to Recommend

When Just One Book Isn't Enough

Alien in my Pocket Series | by Nate Ball | Suggested Grades 1-5

Blast Off! Part One: Author Nate Ball, who is an MIT graduate and host of PBS’s Emmy Award-winning Deign Squad Series, writes about fourth-grader Zachary whose life is turned upside down when a small alien, Amp, crash-lands into his bedroom window. Zachary realizes the alien is not there to harm him and must figure out with his best friend, Olivia, how to protect the alien and repair his spaceship. Fun ensues when Amp causes trouble for Zachary at home and school. Alien in My Pocket has eight chapter books in this series. 

Blast Off!The Science UnFairRadio ActiveOn Impact!

Why Amy likes these books: This is a great way for readers who love science and aliens to start to ease into chapter books! It is very funny and has great illustrations as well as do-it-yourself science experiments and facts throughout these adventurous and fast-paced books. Ms. Kim actually recommended this series to my daughter which we really enjoyed reading together. She laughed a lot and looked forward to visiting the library to find the next books in the series. 


Secret Agent Jack Stalwart | by Elizabeth Hunt | Suggested Grades 1-4

Jack Stalwart is an ordinary boy by day who becomes a secret agent at night as he searches the world for his missing brother, Max. Armed with plenty of secret agent equipment, Jack is summoned to a new location each night to fight off evil and solve a mystery.

The Escape of the Deadly DinosaurThe Search for the Sunken TreasureThe Mystery of the Mona Lisa The Caper of the Crown JewelsThe Secret of the Sacred TempleThe Pursuit of the Ivory PoachersThe Puzzle of the Missing Panda
 
Why Kim liked these books: Each story takes place in a new location, so readers can travel around the world with Jack. Seeing the different tricks and spy equipment he can pull out to help solve the mysteries is also fun.
 
 
Mr. Lemoncello | by Chris Grabenstein | Suggested Grades 3-7
 
Luigi Lemoncello is the most famous gamemaker in the world, and he just designed the new town library. Twelve children are selected to spend the opening night locked in the library, which has amazing interactive features. To get out, they must solve the puzzles and figure out the clues before the others do. The sequels follow the contestants through many other challenges.

 Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's LibraryMr. Lemoncello's Library OlympicsMr. Lemoncello's Great Library RaceMr. Lemoncello's All-Star Breakout Game
 
Why Kim liked these books: As a librarian, I always like to read about libraries! But this library was unlike any that anyone could imagine. The puzzles were tricky but also fun to try and solve. The humor, great characters, and puzzles made these stories really enjoyable to read.