Monday, November 28, 2016


A review by Adam: 

Trenton Lee Stewart, author of The Mysterious Benedict Society series, is back with The Secret Keepers, a new mystery where an ordinary boy goes on the adventure of a lifetime.

Living in a tiny, rundown apartment, Reuben Pedley and his widowed mother spend their evenings together dreaming and drawing up blueprints for magical homes filled with firefighter poles and hidden staircases. During the day, while his mother is at work, Reuben spends his solitary afternoons wandering the streets of New Umbra. As he explores the nooks and crannies of the city Reuben tries his best to avoid the searching eyes of the Directions, a group of sinister men who terrorize the citizens of New Umbra under the orders of a secretive and tyrannical figure known only as The Smoke.

One day while climbing up a perilously tall building Reuben comes upon a mysterious pocket watch. To Reuben’s surprise the watch doesn’t tell time, but instead gives Reuben an incredible power and launches him on a whirlwind journey as he attempts to stay one step ahead of The Smoke’s searching grasp and uncover the secret behind the watch’s mysterious origin.

4th to 8th graders will love the twists and turns Reuben’s journey takes, and will delight in uncovering the book’s many mysteries along with Reuben.​​

Thursday, November 24, 2016


Bob Shea's newest picture book, The Happiest Book Ever! gives other books about feelings a run for their money. Instead of focusing on just plain happiness or sadness or anger, with no allowance for anything in between, this very meta book subversively examines the complex ways emotions can be expressed and shows that it's okay not to feel happy all the time. 

Right away, this book introduces us to some of its so-called happiest friends, an inexpressive frog and a dancing cake. The dancing cake is rendered in simply-drawn, brightly-colored caricatures, like the rest of the over-the-top happy cast (cheerful clouds, contented kittens, and a whimsical whale, to name just a few), that is, except for "grumpy" frog, the only photo-realistic image in the entire story and the unwitting monkey wrench in the book's goal of total happiness domination. 

Will the happiest book ever wear down frog with its incessant outward displays of the only socially-acceptable emotion allowed within its pages, and make frog turn his "unhappy" deadpan expression upside down--or else? This thoughtfully engaging yet ultimately entertaining meditation on expressing one's feelings and giving others the space to express theirs makes a fun read-aloud, as well as a compelling book to share one-on-one. 

Recommended for preschoolers to 2nd graders. 

Monday, November 21, 2016


Rory the dinosaur, who made his first appearance in Rory the Dinosaur: Me and My Dad, returns in this story about finding the perfect pet.

After an exuberant morning of playing fetch and hide and seek with his friend’s exciting new pet hermit crab, Rory is determined to seek out a pet of his own. He earnestly scours his island home, but is dismayed to discover that none of the other animal inhabitants are keen to play his pet. Just as he’s resigned to his pet-free fate, Rory proves that, with a bit of creativity, we can find friendships in all places and forms.

Liz Climo’s Rory the Dinosaur Wants a Pet is a quirky picture book that charmingly captures the preschool-aged imagination and spirit. For more endearing, if odd, picture books about unconventional pets and friends, check out Peter Brown’s Children Make Terrible Pets and Pat Zietlow Miller’s Sophie’s Squash.

Ages 4+

Thursday, November 17, 2016


Here's Erin Gleeson's forest feast for younger cooks featuring some fabulous photos and vegetarian recipes.  Set with large text, these very easy recipes are for kids who are adventurous eaters.  Recipes such as Kale Tacos or Pesto Pepper Pizza may be easy but kids with difficulty reading or not yet fluent will need adult help since each recipe is in a different font style, size and have directional arrows pointing to things may make it difficult to track.   

All in all, Forest Feast for Kids : Colorful Vegetarian Recipes that are Simple to Make is a very stylish and visually appealing cookbook like its adult counterpart.  Look through this cookbook for some holiday cooking choices along with the children's cooking magazine Chop Chop

For 4th-8th graders. 

Monday, November 14, 2016


All you need for apples are circles and the color red.

As summer ends, the apples in a tree hang just out of reach. What would you need reach the fruit? In this French import by Lucie FĂ©lix, cut-out shapes and bold colors ask and answer a series of questions to tell the story of an apple tree through the seasons.

The magic of this deceptively simple picture book is in the author’s ability to transform ordinary shapes and colors into tangible solutions. Six rectangles make a ladder. Two circles become an apple with a single missing bite. Three triangles, two circles, and an oval take flight as a red-breasted robin.

Apples and Robins invites young readers to exercise their problem solving abilities and imagine the potential in shapes. Pair with Christie Matheson’s delightful interactive book Tap the Magic Tree.

Ages 4+

Thursday, November 10, 2016


Laura Marx Fitzgerald, author of Under the Egg, is back with a new art-centric mystery in The Gallery. It's the height of roaring twenties, and twelve-year-old Martha O'Doyle finds herself employed as a servant for the wealthy, pompous newspaper magnate, Mr. Archer J. Sewell. The grand Fifth Avenue mansion is a far cry from the tiny Brooklyn apartment she shares with her family, and our inquisitive heroine wastes no time exploring every opulent corner. But it is the ever-absent eccentric mistress of the house--Mrs. "Wild Rose" Sewell, supposedly bedridden due to her madness--who really piques Martha's curiosity. What drove her so crazy in the first place? What is the story behind her hidden collection of world-renowned paintings? And what can a mere maid like Martha possibly do to bring all the secrets of this mansion to light? 

This compelling middle-grade novel features a spunky and relatable protagonist, backed by a cast of intriguingly quirky characters, fascinating historical details, and an action-packed mystery that will keep young readers in 5th to 8th grades turning the pages all the way to the very end. 

Monday, November 07, 2016


Suspects:  Fowler the Owl, Porcini the Pig, or Hot Dog the Dog? 
Victim:  Miss Rabbit
The Case: The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake by Robin Newman Illustrated by Deborah Zemke

Our hardworking mice detectives are on the hunt for the thief who stole Miss Rabbit's Carrot Cake.  Doggedly following all the crumbs and interviewing all suspects the two detectives track down the cake thief and it's not who might have suspected. This is a fun beginning reader with lots of puns and word plays.

For 1st - 2nd grade readers.

Thursday, November 03, 2016


Dennis is a regular boy in some respects, but has a markedly unconventional way of expressing himself. Why does he speak through movement instead of just talking when he has something to say? It's because Dennis is a mime. It's not easy for the other kids to relate to "Mime Boy," who dresses in a top hat and stripes, wears white face makeup and gloves, and only acts out scenes during show-and-tell and on the playground. Living a silent yet poignantly dramatic life can get a bit lonely sometimes. Will Dennis ever find a friend who understands how he sees the world and speaks his language? 

Be a Friend is sparely written and strikingly illustrated by Salina Yoon, so that, much like Dennis himself, the book is more visual than textual. Yoon articulates Dennis's expressive movements with a red dotted line to make his mime skills really come alive. This fascinatingly offbeat yet compellingly sweet picture book will make an affecting read for preschool through second graders, whether in a group or one-on-one setting. Just be sure to get your jazz hands ready!