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Great New Audiobooks for the Whole Family

Ah, summer. The long and boring car trips I remember from my childhood are no more. Now with audiobooks, they can now be so much more fun for the whole family! Here are some new audiobooks that can help put off the Are We There Yets.

Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall, read by Susan Denaker
Cover-Penderwicks-Spring-450wThe fourth book in The Penderwicks series does not disappoint. Eldest sister Rosalind has gone away to college and the other OPSs (Older Penderwick Sisters) are busy with high school, leaving the stage free to tell the now 10-year-old Batty’s story as she tries to raise money for singing lessons so she can stage a Great Birthday Concert. This modern classic series makes for wonderful family listening. (ages 8-12).

Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures by Jackson Pearce and Maggie Stiefvater, read by Cassandra Morris
pipbartlettBecause Pip Bartlett can speak to magical creatures, even though no one believes her, so she’s excited to spend the summer helping at her aunt’s Magical Veterinary Clinic. With her highly allergic new friend Tomas, Pip encounters snooty unicorns, ballet dancing Hobgrackles, and exploding Fuzzles. Packed with more magical creatures than you thought possible, this is fun for the whole family. (ages 8-12)

Leroy Ninker Saddles Up by Kate DiCamillo, read by Arthur Morey
Younger listeners and their grown-ups will love Kate DiCamillo’s foray back into the world of Mercy Watson with former robber-turned-cowboy Leroy Ninker! He’s got a hat, he’s got a lasso, he even has boots! What he’s missing is a horse. Enter Maybeline. It’s love at first sight, but Leroy doesn’t know how to ride, and Maybeline is afraid of the rain. Even so, Leroy says, “Yippiee-i-o!” (ages 4-8)

The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel, read by Nick Podehl
boundlessAll aboard The Boundless, the longest and most luxurious train ever, as it crosses the Canadian wilderness. As he makes his way forward to the engine, young Will, son of the railroad manager, encounters members of the outstanding Zircus Dante and together they find robbers, mystical paintings, and even Sasquatch. With action, colorful characters, and just a big of magic, this will keep listeners glued to their seats. (ages 8-12)

My favorite way to listen to audiobooks is straight from my phone, through library books from Overdrive and 3M. You can check out downloadable ebooks and eaudiobooks for free! They check out for three weeks, just like physical books and audiobooks. You can listen on headphones or over bluetooth in the car. Some fun ones to try are A Dragon’s Guide to the Care and Feeding of Humans by Lawrence Yep, The Sasquatch Escape by Suzanne Selfors, and The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter.


From Witch’s Boys to Lumberjanes: New Books for Older Readers

Mikis and the Donkey by Bibi Dumon Tak, illustrated by Philip Hopman
Mikis lives on the Greek island Corfu with his parents and grandparents. When his grandfather gets a new donkey, Mikis is allowed to pick the jenny’s name. Mikis looks deep in to the donkey’s eyes and begins to suggest names. He watches. He suggests. The donkey doesn’t react. Mikis suggests more names and watches. Suddenly, she blinks. A name! She likes the unusual name of “Tsaki.” Although his grandfather and others guffaw at the notion that Tsaki helped him choose her name, Mikis knows it’s true and a special friendship develops between the boy and the gentle beast. When Mikis becomes convinced that his grandfather is working Tsaki too hard, all kinds of adventures ensue. This slim, sweet book tells a realistic tale with humor and grace. It has an old-fashioned feel and makes for a lovely bedtime read. (ages 8-11)

The Witch’s Boy by Kelly Barnhill
witch's boyWhile this book has been at the library since last October, I can’t resist writing about it now. It deserves the attention! With The Witch’s Boy, Kelly Barnhill gives us a gorgeously crafted, lush tale of magic, grief, adventure, and greed. A boy who stutters is forever seen as “the wrong boy” to be saved from drowning. A girl, bereft of her mother, finds her father turning ever more back to his glittering-eye days of banditry. Eight extraordinarily powerful and mystical stone giants, asleep for centuries, begin to awaken. A wolf cub. A queen on one side; a spoiled boy-king on the other. A witch. A band of outlaws intent on riches. And, bubbling and spouting and whining and reacting with lightning speed: the ill-tempered, unpredictable, wildly powerful magic. As all these forces begin to orient toward each other, the story of Sister Witch and her son weaves a wondrous and moving story. (ages 9-13)

Lumberjanes: Beware the Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis, illustrated by Brooke Allen
Lumberjanes-001-Cover-AFriendship to the max! In this madcap, fantastical, and totally funny graphic novel, five campers at Miss Quinzella Thiswkin Penniquiqul Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady-Types (gulp!) surprise three-eyed foxes, outwit sarcastic Yetis, and narrowly escape a zombie Boy Scout troop. Holy Joan Jett! The five main characters are so cool and unique that you’ll miss them when you put the book down. Don’t worry, Volume 2 is just around the corner. Once you meet the Lumberjanes, you’ll want more. (ages 10 and up)

13 Architects Children Should Know by Florian Heine
13architectsIn this recent entry to the lively and accessible “13…Children Should Know” series, we stroll through the doors and gaze down the halls of some of the West’s most legendary structures. Along the way, we meet such notable architects as Frank Lloyd Wright, Gustave Eiffel, and, wow, Thomas Jefferson! Equally distinguished but, often, less well known creators such as Christopher Wren, Antoni Gaudi, Le Corbusier, and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe also make their appearances. Each entry provides biographical background; lush, large-format pictures; and drawings. A timeline running along the top of the pages situates the architect and his or her work. Surprising little details bring spark to the entries. For instance, the Eiffel Tower may be beloved today, but when Gustave Eiffel first built it, people grippingly called it “the skinny pyramid of iron ladders.” Ooh la la! (ages 11 and up)


The Not So Scary Dark – New Books for Younger Readers

Bear and Duck by Katy Hudson
bear duckWhat is a bear to do when he no longer wants to be a bear? Well, he’ll be a duck of course. Ducks do not have hot fur or have to sleep all winter, and they get to walk in line and quack! Before Bear can truly be a duck he must learn a few tricky lessons, such as building a nest, swimming without splashing, and worst of all… flying. Bear realizes that maybe being a bear isn’t so bad, after all bears get to climb trees and eat honey. Bear and Duck is a downright adorable story of self-acceptance that is further enhanced by the sweetly expressive characters and beautiful illustrations. This is one fun-filled story that is destined to be a family favorite. (ages 4-8)

Monty’s Magnificent Mane by Gemma O’Neill
montysMonty the lion loves that his meerkat friends praise his magnificent mane so he lets them play in it until their fun gets out of hand. He stalks off to check his reflection in the water hole, but instead of meeting more adoring fans he runs into a hungry crocodile who threatens to eat his mob of meerkats. Monty realizes that the state of his mane is not as important as keeping his friends safe. A sweet if under-developed story of friendship is brought to life by truly magnificent mixed media illustrations and the adorable meerkats will make this a favorite among animal lovers. (ages 3-7)

Orion and the Dark by Emma Yarlett
orion and the darkFunny little Orion is scared of almost everything… dogs, bicycles, storms, grandma, popping balloons, but especially the Dark! One night Orion has simply had it with the Dark and yells at it to just GO AWAY! Instead of going away the Dark materializes into a cuddly looking, star covered being who helps Orion investigate all the dim, creepy places in his house and discover what makes all of the scary nighttime noises. This charming story about facing your fears will help young readers understand that people are often afraid of things that they don’t understand. Fans of Oliver Jeffers will appreciate the many sketchbook elements. (ages 3-7)

-Sarah Beth

We Need Diverse Books

WNDB_ButtonIn April 2014, authors Ellen Oh and Malinda Lo exchanged tweets expressing their frustration about the lack of diversity in children’s literature. They decided, along with some other authors, bloggers and book industry people, that it was time to take action, and on April 24, 2014, Aisha Saeed sent the first tweet with the hashtag #WeNeedDiverseBooks. Since then WNDB has become an established and active voice for diversity in children’s and teen literature.

The website for We Need Diverse Books explains the benefits of children reading books by and about a diverse range of people:

  1. They reflect the world and people of the world
  2. They teach respect for all cultural groups
  3. They serve as a window and a mirror and as an example of how to interact in the world
  4. They show that despite differences, all people share common feelings and aspirations
  5. They can create a wider curiosity for the world
  6. They prepare children for the real world
  7. They enrich educational experiences

WNDB recognizes diversity as “including (but not limited to) LGBTQIA, people of color, gender diversity, people with disabilities, and ethnic, cultural, and religious minorities.” In our Library we support the idea of diversity in kids’ books, and have many books about a wide range of diverse experiences appropriate for kids of all ages. Here are just a few of our favorites:

Picture Books and Chapter Books

Ling & Ting: Not Exactly the Same written and illustrated by Grace Lin
Ling & Ting are identical twins, but that doesn’t mean they behave in the same way or like the same things.

Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
In this first in a chapter book series, sparky Dyamonde moves to a new neighborhood and tries to make friends.

Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress by Christine Baldacchino, illustrated by Isabelle Malenfant
Morris loves to wear the orange dress from the school dress-up box, but is teased and isolated by his classmates until he helps them realize that what you wear is less important than who you are.


Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez
Tyler’s father tries to save their farm in Vermont by hiring undocumented Mexican workers. Despite Tyler’s initial reservations, he soon becomes friends with Mari, the daughter of one of the workers.

Rickshaw Girl by Mitali Perkins, illustrated by Jamie Hogan
Bangladeshi Naimi must disguise herself as a boy to help her family.

Better Nate than Ever by Tim Federle
An eighth-grader who dreams of performing in a Broadway musical concocts a plan to run away to New York and audition for the role of Elliot in the musical version of “E.T.”

Graphic Novels

El Deafo by Cece Bell
Cece bell lost her hearing when she was four and this awarding winning autobiography describes how she learns “Our differences are our superpowers.”

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
The stories of Jin Wang, Danny and the Monkey-King are woven together in this book about working out your place in the world.


Summer Drop-In Programs

Under_the_Sun_Web_Square_ArtWhile many of our programs that require advance sign-up have filled, we have many more that don’t require sign-up. Just mark your calendar and come to these fun, free events! For more information on all our summer programs for kids, download the Everything Under the Sun flyer.

Mondays – Stories and More (2:30pm in the Creekside Room except where noted)
Every Monday you can come and hear stories with a little something extra, such as a cool art project.

June 29: Children’s author Betsy Rosenthal will read her new book An Ambush of Tigers: A Wild Gathering of Collective Nouns and do a fun activity with the kids. Books will be available for purchase and signing.

July 6: Three generations – Charles Hobson, Mary Daniel Hobson, and Anna – will share their book, The Wolf Who Ate the Sky, and tell the story of how this book originated.

July 13: The Planet Bee Foundation will present a hands-on, family-friendly program workshop about bees and tell why they are important to the environment.

July 20: We’ll be making fairy magic in the Children’s Room! Hear enchanted fairy stories and make your very own fairy from a clothespin, felt, and objects from nature.

July 27: Amazing Jellies! Hear stories about these mysterious creatures, and then you’ll make your own jellyfish.

August 2: Who doesn’t love bugs! Hear stories about bugs and then create a creepy crawly out of egg cartons.

August 10: Our annual stuffed animal sleep over! Don’t miss a change to have your favorite stuffie spend the night at the library!

Tuesdays – Little Sprouts at 11:00am in the Creekside Room
Three of our preschool programs require no advance sign-up. These programs are limited to kids who are ages 2 -5.

June 30: Jelly Jam Time – Story Dancing with Risa Lenore

July 14: Jump & Dance with Jaime Currier

August 11: Jammin’ with Charity Kahn

Wednesdays on Stage – 3:30pm Outdoor Amphitheater – All Ages
Bring a blanket or cushion to get comfy at our outdoor amphitheater shows.

June 24: Magician Donny Crandell

July 1: Edwardo Madril – Native American Hoop Dancer

July 8: Puppet Art Theater – Three Billy Goats Gruff

July 15: Mark & Dre Comedy Show

July 22: Crosspulse: Music & Movement

July 29: Alicia Retes, Native American Storyteller

August 5: Essence, Children’s Musician

August 12: Circus of Smiles

Thursdays – Creekside Room; 2:30pm

July 2: Hands-on STEM Drop-in (Grades K-5)

Fridays – Creekside Room; 2:30pm

July 3 – Lego Play Day – Grade K-5– 2:30pm

July 17 – Shadow Puppet Show and Workshop – All Ages

August 7 – Maker Drop-in – All Ages

August 14 – End-of Summer Party with drummer Mika Scott, free ice cream, face painting, hula hoops, bubbles and more!

And, starting on Monday, August 17 through August 21, we’ll have movies, games, and Lego days! Stay tuned…


Islands and Imaginary Friends: New Books for Older Readers

Moonpenny Island by Tricia Springstubb
moonpennyjpg-fc00229d7f967427Flor lives on a tiny island in a great lake where her life is wonderful – full of bike rides and long talks with her perfect friend, Sylvie. But when fall arrives and the summer islanders head home, Sylvie reveals that she’s moving away to the mainland, leaving Flor as the only sixth grader around for miles. Flor’s home life takes a turn as well when her mother is called away to deal with a sick relative, and Flor worries that everyone is leaving her. Fortunately, a geologist studying fossils on the island brings his daughter, who strikes up a strange and rewarding friendship with Flor. This sweet coming of age story will resonate with many going through the friendship changes that come with burgeoning adolescence. (ages 8-12)

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place, by Julie Berry
scandalous sisterhoodThe seven girls who live at St. Etheldreda’s School for Girls are presented with a dilemma when their nasty headmistress and her even worse brother drop dead at supper one evening. If they report it, they’ll all be sent home, but what if they can go on as usual, and no one is any the wiser? This hilarious tale set in Victorian England combines mystery with farce, working the dark tale of murder into the story of very clever and funny girls. The audiobook is particularly good, deservedly winning a 2014 Odyssey Honor as one of the best audiobooks for children. (ages 10-14)

The Imaginary, by A.F. Harrold, illustrated by Emily Gravett
imaginaryRudger is Amanda’s best friend, even though he is imaginary. They do everything together, having grand adventures in the back yard. But things change when Rudger becomes separated from Amanda and he is chased by the sinister Mr. Bunting, who hunts and eats imaginaries. Rudger tries desperately to get back to Amanda, even though the others tell him it’s impossible. At times warm and touching, and also scary, this beautifully illustrated story is refreshingly original. (ages 8-12)

Arcady’s Goal by Eugene Yelchin
arcadyEver since his parents were declared enemies of the Soviet State, Arcady has lived in a boys’ home and excelled at nothing but soccer. This talent gets him noticed by Ivan Ivanych, who says he is a soccer coach and offers to have Arcady come live with him. The hardened young boy can’t believe that this man has anything but greed in his heart, but Ivan Ivanych may prove to be quite a different man than those Arcady is used to. Inspired by a 1945 photo of the Red Army Soccer Club, this book offers a peek into Stalinist Russia, as in Yelchin’s Newbery Honor book, Breaking Stalin’s Nose. (ages 9-12)


Bears, Whales, and More: New Books for Younger Readers

Chu’s Day at the Beach by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Adam Rex
chus-day-at-the-beachWhat can possibly go wrong when a little panda named Chu gets a nose tickle? Apparently a lot! The sea goes awry, the whales cannot get home, and merpandas are stunned when Chu sneezes a disaster at the beach. Can Chu muster another sneeze to fix the ocean? Neil Gaiman and Adam Rex collaborate to create a whimsical, funny tale about making mistakes, taking responsibility, and mending problems with friends. Using oil and mixed media, Adam Rex’s characters are detailed, bright, and unforgettable. Gaiman adds magic and mischief to a seemingly normal day at the beach through narrative language. This is a fabulous story time book and a great read-aloud! (ages 3-5)

Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh by Sally Walker
winnie“Oh Pooh!” said Christopher Robin. “How I do love you!” Before A.A. Milne created his beloved literary bear Winnie the Pooh, there was the real bear: Winnie from Winnipeg. Orphaned at a train station, this bear cub won the heart of World War I military veterinarian Harry Colebourn. Winnie became part of the regiment’s family, sleeping under Harry’s cot nightly and nuzzling warhorses’ muzzles. Winnie found a new home at the London Zoo when Harry went to battle, where she fit in with bears and people alike. Then one day, a little boy named Christopher Robin and his writer father visited… Based on archival documents and photographs from the Archives of Manitoba, this true story will captivate parents and kids. The use of watercolors and pen ink enhances the endearing nature of the story. Winnie the Pooh enthusiasts will see their childhood friend in a whole new light. (ages 4-8)

Trapped! A Whale’s Rescue by Robert Burleigh
trappedA magnificent humpback whale travels from the Arctic seas to the California coast, splashing water with her enormous tail and feeding on tiny krill. Near the San Francisco bay, dangerous fishing nets loom. The humpback whale may be mighty, but she is trapped! Flailing for her life, she exhausts herself and looks into the eyes of her rescuers as they cut the netting. Rescuing entangled whales is dangerous, but these divers will risk their lives to save her and set her free. This story captures the phenomenon of sea life through poetic language and gouache watercolor. Perfect for budding oceanographers and conservationists, this book will show young readers the responsibilities and bonds that we have towards nature. It is based on the remarkable true rescue event in San Francisco of December 2005. (ages 4-6)

My Pen by Christopher Myers
mypenIn this beautiful book, Myers brings vitality to the old adage, “the pen is mightier than the sword.” Our young narrator is not rich, powerful, nor famous, but he has a pen. With an imagination that soars, his pen rides dinosaurs, makes giants of old men, worries about wars, and tells everyone he loves them. Who knew that a pen and paper contained endless possibilities? Sometimes his pen makes mistakes, but it is always there for him. Illustrated with pen to mirror the story, Christopher Myers once again dazzles readers with his art. This book is meaningful and wondrous, and will inspire budding young artists to harness their creativity and channel their emotional experiences. Christopher Myers is a Caldecott and Coretta Scott King award-winning illustrator. (ages 3-5)


Everything Under the Sun

Under_the_Sun_Web_Square_ArtSummer is almost here, and we’re ready in the Children’s Room! This summer’s theme is Everything Under the Sun which means there’s no limit to the fun kids can have at the Library this summer.

The Summer Reading Game begins on June 18. Kids can pick-up their reading log and a prize to start them off. We ask that they read three hours each week and write the titles of the books on their reading logs. Each week starting on Mondays, we’ll check off their reading log with a stamp and have a new prize for them through the week of August 10. Kids who stick with the program for all eight weeks will get a super cool t-shirt!

Also on Mondays, our Stories and More series is a great drop-in activity each week. We have children’s author Betsy Rosenthal beginning the series for us. She’ll read her newest book: An Ambush of Tigers: a Wild Gathering of Collective Nouns. The following week, local authors spanning three generations – grandpa Charles Hobson, mom Mary Daniel Hobson, and daughter Anna – will read their book The Wolf Who Ate the Sky on July 6. They’ll also tell the story of how this book originated from a story Anna and her mother told to each other on the way to school. We also have The Mighty Bee Project coming on July 13, and each week after that staff-led programs about fairies, jellies, bugs, and our stuffed-animal sleepover.

New this summer! The Library’s SmartGarden will be completed just at the start of our summer season so we’ve planned garden programs in June, July and August for kids entering Kindergarten through 5th grade that will meet in the new garden. We’ve also added Garden Club for kindergartners through 3rd graders which begins on Tuesday, July 21 and meets weekly for four weeks. We’re committed to teaching kids about the benefits of having a garden, learning about beneficial plants and insects, and learning more about the environment in which they live. We hope Garden Club will continue in the fall, as well.

Our Little Sprouts! programs for ages 2 through 5 meet every Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. beginning June 30. We’re bringing back Risa Lenore of Jelly Jam Time who will do an interactive story and dance called The Apple Tree and the Honey Bee. Programs such as Totally Tote Bag, Sensory Exploration Time, Plant a Seed, and Yoga Sprouts are hands-on activities that require parent or caregiver participation and advance sign-up. We have two concerts scheduled for the toddler-set, too! Jump & Dance with Jaime Currier on Tuesday, July 14 and Jammin’ with Charity Kahn on Tuesday, August 11 will bring everyone to their feet to dance and sing along! No sign-up is required for Jelly Jam Time, Jaime Currier, or Charity Kahn.

On Wednesdays, just as the fog burns off and the sun begins to shine, we know it’s time for our Wednesdays on Stage performance in the Amphitheater at 3:30pm. Magician Donny Crandell kicks-off the series on June 24, and then Native American hoop dancer Edwardo Madril performs on July 1. Puppets, comedy, music, movement, storytelling, and acrobatics will fill the stage each week after that until our closing performance on August 12 with Circus of Smiles.

We’re continuing to offer a series of STEM-related programs as we did last summer on Thursday afternoons at 2:30 p.m. We’ll begin with a hands-on STEM drop-in on July 2 at for kids entering kindergarten through 5th grade. They will be able to go from station to station trying different science experiments, math activities, and engineering challenges. We’re offering two Lego Robotics workshops this summer for grades 4 and 5 and for grades 6 and 8. Kids will work in pairs to program their Mindstorms robot to perform challenges. We’ve partnered with the Bay Area Discovery Museum to do two STEM programs called Push, Pull, Crash! and Fairytale Engineering. These will get kids thinking about ways to solve problems, build protypes, and understand the laws of physics. Parent participation in these programs is encouraged.

We’re calling Fridays this summer Maker Magic. We’ll be making hula hoops, jewelry, puppets, and have a drop-in maker day on August 7.

There’s even more! This is just a taste of what we’ll have. Download the Everything Under the Sun flyer (pdf) to learn more about all the summer programs or check our web site! Program sign-ups begin June 8. Click here for registration information.

Can’t wait to see you at the Library this summer!


From the Ground Up

Last year, the Library held its first ever Middle School Summer Reading Program, called Spark a Reaction, and the reaction was tremendous! Kids entering grades 6 through 8 played Life-size Clue, made balloon air force vehicles, and much more. Plus they read a ton of books! We had nearly 1300 entries in our end-of-summer raffle.

MiddleSchool_ArticleImg_WebThis year, we have even more in store for you! It’s summer reading: From the Ground Up. With all new programs like an Iron Forge demonstration and a Harry Potter Party, we’re looking ahead to a fantastic summer. Come kick things off with us on Saturday, June 20 for our Middle School Mash-Up Concert. We have a terrific lineup of teens and tweens who can’t wait to perform. There will be popcorn to eat and door prizes to win. Bring your friends – it’s going to be a blast!

Of course, it’s about more than just Summer Nights @ the Library. We want to encourage kids to read, Read, READ. This year we are trying a new system for the raffle: logging books online. For every book you read this summer, you can log it online on our website, rate it for up to five stars, and be entered in the end-of-summer raffle. You could win gift certificates to local businesses, iTunes gift cards, or even a Kindle Fire. The more books you read, the better your chances to win!

Throughout the summer we’ll have fantastic programs just for middle schoolers. You can come to an Anime Drawing Workshop, program Lego Mindstorms robots, dine and discuss Airborn by Kenneth Oppel at our Pizza & Pages Book Club, see a real Iron Forge in action, have a Harry Potter Party, and craft beautifully at the Jewelry Making Workshop. Finally, we’ll draw raffle winners at our Trivia Night and End of Summer Party.

One more thing… if you’re looking for more to do this summer, why not volunteer at the Library? Come on in and fill out an application, or give us a call at (415) 389-4292 x4.

We can’t wait to see you this summer!

Mystery and Adventure Galore: New Books for Older Readers

The Thickety: The Whispering Trees by J.A. White
thickety whispering treesThis suspenseful and creepy sequel to The Thickety: A Path Begins picks up right where the first book left off. Kara and her brother have escaped their village and have no choice but to seek refuge in the darkness of the Thickety. With the forest demon, Sordyr, on their heels they are forced to accept help from an unlikely ally, the witch known for stealing children’s souls, Mary Kettle. With Mary’s help the children travel deeper into the Thickety facing creatures out of their worst nightmares and overcoming terrifying obstacles all while Kara is learning how to use her magic without the assistance of her grimoire. Expect many twists and turns and another cliffhanger ending in this delightfully frightening installment. For lovers of dark adventure stories this series is a must read! (ages 10-14)

If You Find This by Matthew Baker
If-You-Find-ThisLife for Nicolas Funes is not easy.  Being a mathematical genius and musical prodigy has turned Nicolas into a social pariah at school. His only confidant, his deceased brother, is buried under a tree in the backyard. To make matters worse, his parent’s financial problems have forced them to put their house up for sale, threatening to separate Nicolas and his brother forever. Hope comes in the form of Nicolas’s senile grandfather — fresh from prison and bursting with muddled memories about long lost family heirlooms. Nicolas, with help from fellow outcasts, must piece together his grandfather’s clues to find the treasure and save his family. An intriguing cast of characters, well-paced action, and clever writing make If You Find This a truly engaging mystery. (ages 9-12)

Murder Is Bad Manners by Robin Stevens
3murderMannersHazel Wong and Daisy Wells have no idea that when they start the Wells and Wong Detective Society that their first case will be solving the murder of their teacher Miss Bell. The two eighth graders attend Deepdean Boarding School where nothing exciting ever happens, until the evening that Hazel discovers the body of their teacher on the gym floor. When the students are informed that Miss Bell has quit, Daisy and Hazel realize that someone at their school is covering up the murder and it is up to them to not only discover who the murderer is, but also prove that a murder did indeed take place. Written in the form of a diary, the narrator Hazel helps the reader to understand 1934 England as she is also new to this world having recently moved from Hong Kong to receive an English education. A clever and surprising ending makes this book a worthwhile read for children who love mysteries. (ages 10-14)

Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel by Megan Morrison
grounded_cover1Everyday is much the same for Rapunzel: she reads books starring herself, plays jacks by herself, washes and braids her abnormally long hair, and is visited by Witch who takes care of her every need and protects her from the many dangers waiting on the ground. She is perfectly content with life in her tower until the day when a strange boy named Jack climbs into her room seeking a cure for a fairy that Rapunzel had supposedly poisoned the day before. Rapunzel has no choice but to leave her magic tower and beloved Witch to discover the truth about the fairy and her lost memories. As Rapunzel journeys further from her tower she realizes that the world is not the terrible, frightening place that Witch had described, so why was she kept locked away? Adventure, suspense, and humor abound in this fairy tale mash up that will have readers clamoring for a sequel. (ages 10-14)

-Sarah Beth