Alex G.'s blog

Staff Picks: Dactyl Hill Squad

Reviewed by Ellen A. 

Welcome to 1863 New York City, where dinosaurs roam the streets! Magdalys Roca and her fellow orphan friends are enjoying a field trip in the city when riots break out and a few of their group are kidnapped. It's up to Magdalys and the Dactyl Hill Squad to rescue their missing friends and defeat the evil magistrate, Riker. 

This alternate history involving the U.S. Civil War, a diverse bunch of heroic orphans, and dinosaurs is quite a thrilling ride. The exciting adventure, written by Daniel José Older, also touches on deeper issues such as extreme racial injustice and fighting for what is right.

I'm looking forward to the second book in the series, Freedom Fire, to be released in May 2019.

Staff Picks: Waiting for Winter

Reviewed by Aubrey D. 

What is wet, white, cold, and soft? Snow of course! For squirrel and his friends snow is a new adventure that they can't wait to experience. Meschenmoser's sketchy illustrations are charming and his characters are endearing, a great book for sharing one on one!

Find it in the Children's Picture Book Collection!

Staff Picks: The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge

Reviewed by Dana D.

Brangwain Spurge, the historian of the elves, is sent into rival goblin territory to deliver a peace offering in hopes of easing tensions between the two worlds. Werfel, the goblin historian is thrilled to meet Brangwain and has been put in charge of planning the perfect visit. But, things go wrong before Brangwain even steps foot on goblin territory, and get worse after that.

Fans of the Hobbit and The Invention of Hugo Cabret will love this tale told half in pictures and half in words.

Staff Picks: Serafina and the Black Cloak

Reviewed by Ginny H. 

Serafina and her Pa live in the basement of the Biltmore Estate. Serafina loves her Pa and the quiet nights when she can skulk around the estate kitchens and catch rats. She loves everything about her life except for the fact that no one but her Pa knows she exists.

One night, while out catching rats, she witnesses a kidnapping of sorts. And then, more children begin to go missing from the estate. Serafina has no choice but to team up with the young master, Braeden, to figure out what is happening to all the children before she or Braeden fall victim next.

Staff Picks: Garvey's Choice

Reviewed by Alex G. 

Garvey loves reading and singing, but he's a little awkward and doesn't have too many friends. Even at home, his family doesn't quite get him. To cope with his feelings, Garvey turns to food as a source of comfort.

But when his best friend encourages him to join choir, Garvey may finally have found a place to belong and shine. 

Garvey's Choice is a beautifully written novel in verse. Nikki Grimes does a wonderful job of telling the story of a boy trying to relate to to the people around him and the way she writes Garvey's attempts at a relationship with his father is so real and, at times, heartbreaking. The poetry format of this novel make it a quick read and a great reading suggestion for reluctant readers.

Try Garvey's Choice is you like moving realistic fiction. 

Staff Picks: The Firefly Code

Reviewed by Ginny H. 

In this adventurous, science fiction story, Mori lives a perfect life in Old Harmonie. Their town is a utopian community where kids are genetically altered to super-enhance a powerful trait, like puzzle solving, physical agility, or photographic memory. But when a strangely perfect new girl named Ilana moves in, Mori and her friends begin to question the only world they have ever known. 

Check out The Firefly Code by Megan Frazer Blakemore! 

Staff Picks: The Doll People

Reviewed by Dana D.

In 1898, a very special dollhouse (complete with a china doll family) arrived from England for a little girl. Annabelle, one of the dolls, has now been an 8-year-old for over 100 years and it’s getting boring. She sees the human girls grow up and new girls come to play with her, but she remains the same.

One night while looking at “books”, which are really just blocks of wood with titles painted on them, she discovers the real diary of her long-lost aunt. No one knows about the diary and she wants to keep it secret. She decides to solve the mystery of how her aunt disappeared by leaving the dollhouse.  When she asks if anyone in her family has ever looked for her aunt outside of the dollhouse, they all answer “NO!” A doll risks Doll State, an inability to move for 24 hours, if it is seen moving about on its own. And if a doll is seen doing something very extraordinary it can end up in Permanent Doll State, which lasts forever.

Staff Picks: The War That Saved My Life

Reviewed by Stephanie H. 

I love Ada! Ada and this character-driven historical fiction won many awards, including the Newbery Honor book. She and her younger brother Jamie are evacuated from London to the English countryside during World War II. Away from the bombings and their abusive mother, they find the rural setting and their new caregiver both frightening and joyful. 

Never have I been so glad for a sequel! Ada grew so much in the first novel, but in the sequel she really demonstrates her strength against the formidable Lady Thorton, runaway horses, and a war that now reaches the countryside and those she has come to love. 

Powerful and uplifting! 

Spotlight on the Newbery Medal

It's that time of year for cheering on our favorite children's books—the 2018 ALA Youth Media Awards are upon us. On February 12, the best of the best books, videos, and other media for children and teens are announced at the American Library Association's annual conference, and we'll be here at the Library watching. Among the popular and prestigious awards given at the event are the Coretta Scott King Book Award, the Randolph Caldecott Medal, and others.

January 17th is Kid Inventors' Day

kid-inventor-peace-sign_0.jpg

The world needs terrific inventors—so every January 17th, the world celebrates Kid Inventors' Day! Encourage the creativity of a young inventor you know by reading these inspiring tales of creation and innovation together.

If I Built a House Chris Van Dusen 

Inventing requires imagination—and there is no shortage of that in this hilarious picture book. Young Jack tells his mom about all the unique ways he would build a house. A space-age robot that cooks and cleans? Slides? Art Room? They're all here in Jack's house! What would a house you built look like? Recommended for ages 3–5.

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