Monday, October 30, 2017


After her mother's sudden departure from the family, Elizabeth Murmur and her dour father Henry move back to his childhood home, or rather, the eerie and enormous Victorian manor where he grew up long ago, Witheringe House. The place is positively creepy, and possibly even haunted. Definitely haunted if you ask Zenobia, Elizabeth's imaginary (or is she?) friend, who is determined to make contact with the spirit presence she is sure is inhabiting the forbidden East wing of the manor. But Elizabeth isn't as brave or daring as Zenobia, and is petrified at the thought of seeing or communicating with a ghost. 

That is until she stumbles across a tombstone on the sprawling grounds, which reads Tourmaline, aged seven years. Beloved daughter of Edward and Lydia. Adored sister of Henry. Does this mean Elizabeth had an aunt she never knew about? What could have happened to her? If her father won't give her any answers, she'll have to discover them for herself, even if spirits and spooks are involved. But what she uncovers will lead her to places--both tangible and other-worldly--she never imagined, and require more than a modicum of bravery, mettle, and heart. 

Elizabeth and Zenobia by Jessica Miller is at turns droll and suspenseful, but always shrouded in the moodiest of mystery. Readers in fifth grade and up will be dying to find out what happens. 

Thursday, October 26, 2017


Quick, close the drawer. Don’t let the creepy underwear out! Jasper Rabbit is all grown up and decides he is ready for some “cool” underwear. When Jasper Rabbit gets home, he realizes his cool underwear glow in the dark….oh so creepy. Although Jasper Rabbit isn’t afraid of the dark, he decides he has had enough of this eerie, glow-in-the-dark underwear, so he decides to get rid of it. However, his underwear keeps coming back. What's a rabbit to do?

Read Creepy Pair of Underwear, written by Aaron Reynolds and illustrated by Peter Brown, to find out if Jasper Rabbit is able to put an end to his creeeeepy underwear. And see if you can find enough pairs of creepy underwear to earn a spooky prize at our library hunts, now through November 4th at Downtown Central Library and October 30th through November 3rd at Grandview Library.  

Ages 4-8

Monday, October 23, 2017


Have you ever wanted to make friends with a ghost? If so, look no further than this delightfully gothic picture book meets spirit-befriending instruction manual. It covers dos and don'ts ("Never ever put your hand through a ghost. It can cause a serious tummy ache"), feeding (fix your ghost a favorite snack--maybe some moldy toast?), activities ("Throw a dance party*! Ghosts like to groove to creepy music"), and hazards ("Do not let your ghost be used as a tissue!"), and so much more. 

How to Make Friends with a Ghost, written and illustrated by Rebecca Green, is a whimsical and lightly spooky delight, ideal for sharing with preschoolers through second graders who prefer treats over tricks. 

*Come join the children's room staff at the Downtown Central Library for Monster Mash, a fun dance party with creepy music, this Wednesday, October 25th at 3:00 pm. Who knows, you might meet an amiable supernatural friend!  

Friday, October 20, 2017


Won't you be my neighbor friend? At first Bunny and Dog keep to themselves on opposite sides of the same fence, observing but never interacting with each other. But over the course of this sweet picture book, these neighbors who see one another every day but never speak eventually grow to be good friends. Bunny lives in a blue house with a cozy reading nook (and lots and lots of cocoa), but a sign on the mailbox says BUNNY HOUSE PRIVATE. Meanwhile, Dog lives in a red house with a comfy spot for eating biscuits and reading, but a sign on the mailbox says DOG HERE DO NOT DISTURB. They study each other through their mutual white picket fence, but neither one says hello, or hi, or nice to see you today. But one night--the night they both look up to see a wondrous shooting star--something changes, and the two come together to share their snacks and some good company.   

On the Night of the Shooting Star, written by Amy Hest and illustrated by Jenni Desmond, is a delightfully heartfelt tale of looking beyond our literal and metaphorical fences to find friendship and community in a sometimes lonely world--and is a wonderful match for preschool through second graders. 

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


Determined to prove there is life on the red planet a young astronaut lands on Mars.  He carries with him a gift, wrapped with a red ribbon, to give to the aliens he is certain he will meet.

Alone, the young astronaut wanders the barren landscape.  The cold, silent darkness seems to stretch on forever in all directions as the astronaut climbs up and down the rocky terrain. 

Author-illustrator Jon Agee makes great use of color, using primarily black, gray, brown and red to help us feel a sense of emptiness in the landscape and to allow us to see what our young astronaut misses, a large friendly red-pink alien following behind him seemingly confused by the astronaut's presence. 

As the young astronaut’s excitement and certainty fade, making way for sadness and despair, he leaves his gift behind and continues his trek, soon discovering that he is lost. 

As he walks on in search of his space craft he is amazed to discover a flower growing among the rocks and decides that his trip was not a total waste.  As he crests another hill he finds his spacecraft along with the gift he discarded earlier. 

Aboard his ship, making the long journey home to Earth, he decides he deserves a treat for his hard work and discovery.  He opens the gift he had brought with him and discovers that the chocolate cupcake had been eaten.…

Get swept away with your little one in Life on Mars, perfect for children in preschool through third grade.

Thursday, October 12, 2017


As the title Frank the Seven-Legged Spider implies, our lovable protagonist faces a bit of an existential crisis in this spirited and rollicking picture book from author-illustrator Michaele Razi. Frank begins the story as an eight-legged spider (which immediately gave this reviewer some anxiety, of course, as we know by the title that things will inevitably go terribly awry!) who spins the most magnificent webs, but wakes up one morning to find one of his precious legs has mysteriously disappeared. Where could it be? If Frank can't find his lost limb, will he still be able to do all the things he loves? And, most importantly, is Frank still a spider if he only has seven legs? 

Young readers will follow Frank's search for his missing appendage--and ultimately his identity apart from physical attributes like the number of legs he has--with fascination, empathy, and more than a few laughs along the way. This silly yet sincere story of self discovery and finding your inner strength is perfect for sharing with preschoolers through second graders. 

Tuesday, October 10, 2017


The boy that Smoot, our titular fun-loving shadow, is attached to sadly leads a pretty humdrum existence--always sitting still, coloring within the lines, and never daring to do anything fun or extraordinary. Sigh. One day, when he just can't take the boredom anymore, the intrepid shadow decides to strike off on his own to have some real adventures--jumping rope in the park, climbing trees, riding the merry-go-round, and just going wild to his heart's content.  And unlike in Peter Pan, Smoot is not about to be captured and sewed back together with his person. But when the other shadows see what Smoot has done and all the fun he's having, they stage a rebellion of their own. From dandelions to dragonflies, other shadows start to run amok, creating confusion aplenty. But once all the shadows have their fun will they ever want to come back?

Smoot: A Rebellious Shadow, imaginatively written by Michelle Cuevas and brilliantly illustrated by Sydney Smith, is an inventive and jubilant picture book about a shadow gone AWOL and living life to its fullest, perfect for sharing with kindergartners through second graders. 

Thursday, October 05, 2017


Fuddles does not like the new visitor, a dog who drools and makes too much of a commotion.  He tells Puddles to go away--it's his house--but when Fuddles accidentally lands on top of the doghouse next door, unable to escape the ferocious dog, Puddles comes to Fuddle's rescue. Fuddles finally realizes what a true friend Puddles is and they happily share their home together.  

Fuddles and Puddles by local author Frans Vischer is another fun story for readers in preschool through 2nd grade.   

Tuesday, October 03, 2017


As a child, Temple Grandin felt different than everyone else, and didn't seem to fit in with the children around her--she hated loud sounds, crowded places, frilly dresses, and being hugged. It was hard for her to communicate in words instead of tantrums in school. But the thing that made her stand out the most was the way her brain worked--as the title reveals, Temple thought in pictures. And when she was later kicked out of school and sent to live on her aunt's farm, that's when she found her true calling--inventing and building machines to solve problems for the farmers and help the animals be more comfortable. 

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures, thoughtfully written by Julia Finley Mosca and lovingly illustrated by Daniel Rieley, is an inspiring picture book biography that tells the story of Temple Grandin's struggles and triumphs in simple verse and charming art. This book also works as wonderful read aloud about celebrating differences, overcoming adversity, and believing in yourself. Additional backmatter, including a timeline, biography, and fun facts from the author's interview with Dr. Grandin, help provide a more complete picture of her life and work. 

A good fit for students in kindergarten through second grade--or anyone who loves stories about the power of determination and perseverance.

Monday, October 02, 2017


Toddler whisperer/children's book creator Emma Garcia is back with another sure-fire hit in her new picture book, Chugga Chugga Choo Choo. Perfect for storytime as well as sharing individually, this bright and boldly illustrated book covers lots of concept territory--it's obviously a train book, first and foremost, but also includes numbers and animals. Though the text is appropriately brief for the toddler crowd, a story line takes shape between the multiple concepts being explored. As the train makes it's way from the seashore, through the forest, through the city, and past the farmyard, before it finally pulls into the station, picking up different numbers and types of birds along the way. 

A can't-miss book for young train enthusiasts and fan's of Garcia's other vehicle-laden titles, this book is also just the ticket for building multiple early literacy skills, including narrative skills, print awareness, and phonological awareness. Full steam ahead!