Category Archives: Articles

New Books for Older Readers

UpsideDownNowhereUpside Down in the Middle of Nowhere by Julie T. Lamana
Armani is looking forward to an exciting weekend, celebrating her tenth birthday with all her friends. But a heavy storm is brewing in the skies and some of her neighbors are leaving for safer cities. Armani is determined to celebrate her birthday, and despite the gray weather, she and her extended family throw a party complete with the best present of all: a new puppy. This happiness is short-lived as Hurricane Katrina speeds up, causes the levees to break and Armani’s neighborhood to flood. Armani, her parents, her grandmother, and her four siblings race to higher grounds. When their family separates, it’s up to Armani to look after her younger siblings and stay together. The horrors and tragedy of Hurricane Katrina are told in the fist-person narrative of young Armani, her main concerns keeping her family safe. Through this disaster and through Armani’s eyes, readers are taken on a powerful, personal journey of growing up in the harshest of disasters. (ages 9-12)

The-Islands-of-Chaldea-UKThe Islands of Chaldea by Diana Wynne Jones, completed by Ursula Jones
Aileen has failed the test for her wise woman magic powers, but before she has a chance to explain herself to her Aunt Beck – the most powerful wise woman in Skarr – the two of them are sent on an impossible journey to rescue the High King’s son from the warring country, Logra. Accompanying Aileen and Beck is Prince Ivar and his servant, and they’re tasked with creating a team from all the countries of Chaldea to enter Logra. However, at an abandoned island, Aileen befriends a large, almost invisible cat who accompanies the travelers on their quest. With the cat’s help and encouragement, Aileen begins to see and understand more of her country, her family, and herself. Diana Wynne Jones’ final novel, The Islands of Chaldea is a journey through an enchanted land rife with legends, magic, and betrayal. (ages 8-12)

boysofblurBoys of Blur by N.D. Wilson
Charlie and his family return home to Taper, Florida for the funeral of the high school football coach, Willie Wisdom. Mack, Charlie’s stepfather, was one of Willie Wisdom’s star players who made it to the pro-leagues, and has been asked to step in as the new coach. However, before Mack, Charlie, and their family can decide whether or not to stay in Taper, Charlie is pulled along the sugarcane fields with his cousin, Cotton, and the boys run into a strange man with a sword, live panthers, and a dark creature that is not quite alive nor dead. The next time Charlie and Cotton are together in the fields, more of these dangerous creatures emerge and both boys barely escape with their lives! It’s up to Charlie to bury the anger and hatred of the past in order to save Taper and his family. Boys of Blur is as fast-paced as the boys in this story of old legends, football, and family. (ages 10-13)

NightGardener_cover_finalThe Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
Siblings Molly and Kip have traveled a long way to work for the mysterious Windsor family and, upon arriving at the old house, they immediately notice something is very wrong. Molly scrubs the floors every morning because muddy footprints appear in the night; the whole family is pale and dark-haired when in previous family portraits they had rosy-cheeks and light hair; Molly knows her employers have no money but, when creditors come to collect, Master Windsor produces a sackful of coins in minutes. When, one night, Molly hears the same, heavy sound over and over again — THUMP, THUMP — she leaves her room to investigate and encounters a tall, dark figure wandering the house, visiting all the bedrooms. Everyone in the Windsor house desires something, especially Molly and Kip, but they will trade more than they bargained for when they’re wishes are granted. The Night Gardener is a creepy and fascinating tale about the reality of legends and to be careful what you wish for. (ages 9-12)

-Serianna

Monsters and Dragons and Bears, Oh My! New Books for Younger Readers

cover-HYSMD_cover HI-RESHave You Seen My Dragon? by Steve Light
Have You Seen My Dragon? takes readers along on a little boy’s journey as he searches for his lost pet dragon. Each detailed pen and ink illustration features the boy in a different area of a bustling city. Is the dragon riding on a bus or maybe visiting the monkeys in the zoo? Even though the double page illustrations are mainly black and white, with the only color coming from the objects to be counted, they are still the main attraction of this book. The dragon, which can be found on each page, blends into the city background making this counting book even more interactive and fun for young readers. (ages 3-7)

CannotWaitCoverThis Monster Cannot Wait by Bethany Barton
Stewart is waiting, not very patiently, to go on a camping trip. He tries every trick he can think of to make time go by faster, like building a time machine, changing the clocks, and even trying to get the reader to turn the pages faster. With help from his best friend, Stewart realizes that focusing on his impatience is making him miss his last week of school with his friends. Silly colorful monsters illustrate the lesson that good things come to those who wait. (ages 3-6)

deedeeDee Dee and Me by Amy Schwartz
Dee Dee is the quintessential bossy older sibling who steamrolls over her younger sister Hannah and always gets her way. After Dee Dee steals her bear, turns her favorite apron into a purse, and delegates her to the role of butler, Hannah has had enough. She decides to run away and take all of her favorite things with her. But where is Brown Bear? While Hannah is looking for her bear and playing by herself, Dee Dee shows up with Brown Bear having repaired his missing eye. Hannah takes advantage of her sister’s moment of kindness to establish new rules for playing together. Through colorful, detailed illustrations, and humor, Schwartz tells a delightful story of sibling rivalry and love. (ages 4-8)

ThreeBearsBoatThree Bears in a Boat by David Soman
From the co-creator of Ladybug Girl comes a delightful story of adventure and three lovable bear cubs: Charlie, Dash, and Theo. After breaking their mother’s favorite seashell, the cubs decide to set out in their boat to find a new one instead of confessing what they have done. Their voyage takes them far away from home, past islands, over mountains, and through caves until they encounter a mighty storm that sends them back home empty-handed. On their very own beach the bears find a beautiful blue shell just like their mother’s, but are still sent off to bed with no dessert. Children and parents alike will love this tale of familial camaraderie and the beautiful watercolor illustrations. (ages 3-5)

-Sarah Beth

New Audiobooks for Your Summer Road Trips

As you hit the road for summer vacations, I’d like to highlight a few new audiobooks that can help the time pass. Last year I wrote about family entertainment in the car, so this year I’ll focus on some newer audiobooks that are just terrific.

screamingThe Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud
Jonathan Stroud’s newest series, Lockwood & Co., starts off strong with The Screaming Staircase. In an alternate, modern England, psychically sensitive children and teens are the only ones who can see the ghosts that are plaguing the city. Narrator Lucy has moved to London and joined a psychic investigations company made up of two other teens. When their first job together ends in disaster with a burned down house, the company finds itself is in dire straits. But then a new client offers them a windfall if only they’ll visit the most haunted private house in all of England. Stroud combines spooky ghost stories with deadpan humor and ends up with a terrific read. For more fun from Stroud, try The Amulet of Samarkand, one of my all-time favorite audiobooks about the contentious relationship between a young magician and a djinni. (ages 8-12)

Escape-from-Mr.-Lemoncellos-Library-e1391404515145Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein
Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library is a fun read for a wide range of ages. Mr. Lemoncello, the famous game maker, has sponsored the new town library and invited a dozen 12-year-olds to spend the night there before it opens. He constructs a game in which the kids must solve intricate puzzles in order to find their way out of the building by the next morning. There is no true jeopardy in the story – no monsters or mortal terror – and they only real antagonist is one mean kid. But excitement is high due to the fun and complex puzzles, teamwork, and interactions among the players. Plus, who would love spending the night in a brand-new, whiz-bang, high-tech library, solving puzzles with your friends? (ages 8-13)

zombieZombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi
Last year Paolo Bacigalupi, author of the excellent and intense YA dystopian novels Ship Breaker and The Drowned Cities, released a book for a middle grade audience: Zombie Baseball Beatdown. After their baseball coach attacks them and tries to eat their brains, 13-year-old friends Rabi, Miguel, and Joe realize that something is amiss at the local meat processing plant: zombies. The action scenes are terrific, full of zombies and even zombie cows, but just as in his books aimed at teens, there is more here than meets the eye. With discussions of immigration laws, racism, factory farming, and more, this book has a lot for listeners to chew on (BRAINS!). (ages 10-14)

texasFrom Texas with Love by Dan Gutman
Here’s a perfect book for a road trip. In the fourth installment in The Genius Files series, From Texas with Love finds twins Coke and Pepsi still on the run from mysterious and nefarious villains as they drive from Graceland in Tennessee to Roswell, New Mexico. Dad loves driving his new convertible Ferrari and Mom insists on stopping at every roadside tourist attraction, while the kids focus on outwitting their enemies. Laugh-out-loud funny and full of hair-raising adventure and geographic trivia, this is a delight for the whole family. (ages 8-12)

Don’t forget about the library’s downloadable e-audio resource: Overdrive. It has a growing selections of audiobooks for adults and children that can be downloaded directly to your iPhone or Android device or to your computer. Some children’s audiobooks recently added to our Overdrive collection are Lemony Snicket’s Who Could That Be at This Hour, The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom by Christopher Healy, and Rick Riordan’s Demigod Files.

Drive safely this summer, and have a fantastic vacation!

-Lauren

 

Summer Fun Drop-In

While many of our programs that require advance sign-up have filled, we also have many programs that don’t require sign-up. Just mark your calendar and come to these terrific events! For more information on all our summer programs for kids, download the Full Steam Ahead flyer (pdf).

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 or a sensational snack.

June 30: Natasha will share stories about music and perform a piece on her violin.

July 7: Our annual Paper Bag Puppet Party

July 14: Wear your PJs for Molly’s Pajama Jammy Story Time (6:30pm in the Children’s Room)

July 21: Toni’s going to read stories about patterns and then do a repeating pattern craft.

July 28: Bring a favorite stuffed friend to Lauren’s Stuffed Animal Sleepover. Your stuffie gets to spend the night at the library! (6:30pm in the Children’s Room)

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 entering kindergarten and younger.

July 1: Jump and Dance with Jamie Currier

July 15: Jelly Jam Time – Story Dancing

August 12: Bingo Schmingo music

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

June 25: Magician Dan Chan

July 2: The Amazing Bubble Man

July 9: Bluegrass Boogie with Emily Bonn and Jody Richardson

July 16: Andre Thierry & Zydeco Magic

July 23: Coventry & Kaluza Circus Act

July 30: Kirk Waller, Storyteller

August 6: Kenn Adams Adventure Theater

August 13: Steve Lucky & the Rhumba Bums

Thursdays – Creekside Room

July 10: Spin Me a Shadow, Tell Me a Tale – Shadow Puppet Workshop – All Ages 2:00pm

August 7: Lizard Lady Reptiles – Grade K+ – 2:30pm

Fridays – Creekside Room

July 25 – Lego Play Day – Grade K + – 2:30pm

We also have a week of movies, games and legos starting August 18, plus our End-of-Summer Party on August 22 with drummer Mika Scott, free ice cream, face painting, hula hoops, bubbles and more! Stay tuned…

-Jessica

A Mad Potter and a Dumb Idea: New Books for Older Readers

madpotterThe Mad Potter: George E. Ohr, Eccentric Genius by Jane Greenberg and Sandra Jordan
Meet George Ohr, the “mad potter” of the South, a self-described “ranky kranky solid individualist.” With his fabulously flyaway moustache, casual manner, and bulging arm muscles, Ohr did not look like the usual citizen of early 20th-century Biloxi, Mississippi. Nor did he act that way. This dashing and risk-taking man devoted himself to pottery and produced some of the most astonishingly fluid, lovely, and whimsical vases you may ever see. Jane Greenberg and Sandra Johnson tell Ohr’s story simply and vividly. The book’s lively use of typefaces, integrated images, and fresh photographs makes it all the more intriguing — and true to the spirit and soul of its subject. (ages 7-12)

thicketyThe Thickety: A Path Begins by J.A. White
The impenetrable, darkly magic woods of the Thickety surround Kara’s small village. Always encroaching, always threatening, the Thickety is dangerous and fearful, home to fearsome creatures such as the gra’dak, a boar-like monster with small, beady eyes and five snapping mouths. To keep the Thickety at bay, the grim people of Kara’s village have stamped out magic, outlawed wishful thinking, fiercely controlled their actions, and killed all witches, including Kara’s mother. Yet, one night, Kara follows a raven with one eye on its chest into the Thickety and unearths a grimoire, a magic book, a book left there for her by her mother. From there, the path begins. (ages 8-12)

dumbestThe Dumbest Idea Ever! by Jimmy Gownley
On the verge of high school, Jimmy Gownley was like so many kids: He played sports, suffered through the chicken pox, labored over his homework, endured the ups and downs of crushes, and devoured comics. Then, a friend gave him what he considered the “dumbest idea ever”: to make and publish his own comic book about himself and his friends. He did it. In this graphic memoir, Gownley recounts with humor and heart what happened when his labor of love came to life, and then became wildly popular. With strong colors and energetic panels, Gownley’s illustrations complement the honest storytelling of how one kid had a dream and followed it. (ages 10-13)

projectkidProject Kid: 100 Ingenious Crafts for Family Fun by Amanda Kingloff, photographs by Alexandra Grablewski
With clear, beautiful photographs and easily detailed steps, this new crafts book promises hours of summer fun. The projects featured here place an emphasis on recycled household materials, such as jar lids, toothpicks, plastic bottles, paper towel tubes, and cotton balls. Fun outdoor activities include an “upcycled bird feeder” made from a small nuts container and “bedazzled branches” designed from backyard sticks. Six extra “art lessons” include how-to techniques for making pom-poms, mosaics, and homemade clay. So, whether you’re more attracted to hardware-store accessories or prefer to blast off with bottle rockets fashioned from re-used plastic bottles, you’re in for a lot of fun. (ages 3-14)

-Molly

Pigeon, Pets, and Superpowers: New Books for Younger Readers

PigeonNeedsaBathThe Pigeon Needs a Bath! by Mo Willems
The pigeon is back and PEE-YEW! He needs a bath! But he will do anything to convince you that you are completely, and utterly out of your mind. Will you fall for the pigeon’s tricks, or will there be a big splash? Caldecott honorary medalist Mo Willems writes another great story for fans who enjoy the humorous, sarcastic, and insubordinate feathery friend. Written as a direct conversation with the audience, this expressive and hilarious book is ideal for all ages, especially very young children who enjoy an enthusiastic performance.

flyguyA Pet for Fly Guy! by Tedd Arnold
Buzz is a just like any other ordinary boy with a best friend…except his friend is a fly, named Fly Guy! When Fly Guy wants a pet, Buzz helps him find the right fit. But puppies are too slobbery, frogs are too jumpy, and worms are way too slimy. Together the duo find Fly Guy’s perfect pet, in a special place they forgot to look. Tedd Arnold has received the Theodore Seuss Geisel Honors for his Fly Guy stories, and this is his Fly Guy’s first appearance in a picture book format. This charming and meaningful story about friendship is a great read-a-loud book, since the sentences are short and contain dialogue between the characters. The cartoon styled art makes the characters look friendly to young kids, who will even feel a personable connection to a housefly!

superpowersThe Day I Lost my Superpowers by Michal Escoffier, illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo
This spunky girl has special superpowers that are out of this world. She can fly (when projected into air from a slide), make things disappear (like yummy cupcakes), and go invisible (when she hides under the bed in a ball). One day her superpowers fail her, and when she is down and out she discovers the superpower her mom yields! This  comical story shows how wonderful imagination is and will delight kids and parents alike. The Don Quixote state of bliss makes a person believe they can do extraordinary things, which in fact they can, in the playground of their mind. The handmade style illustrations mimic a child’s way of drawing, with crayon and imperfectly filled shading. Michael Escoffier has also written last year’s hilarious picture book The Brief Thief.

mybusMy Bus by Byron Barton
Joe is a bus driver who drives the “123” bus. He picks up one dog, two cats, then three cats, and then four cats. He takes them to their destinations, where they travel further, on planes and boats. Joe’s last stop is home sweet home. Who will get off the bus with him? This beginner picture book is a wonderful introduction to life concepts such as going somewhere, picking someone up, dropping someone off, and traveling by bus or plane. My Bus is excellent for helping kids associate nouns versus action verbs, and of course counting! Barton makes an ordinary day of taking transportation a magical and colorful adventure. The endearing art emphasizes simple shapes, and is full of bright colors accompanied with large text. This is a fabulous book for first-time listeners and first-time readers.

-Courtney

Summer Reading is Here!

full_steam_ahead_header smallSummer is almost here, and we’re ready! Library staff have been visiting schools this week to promote our summer reading programs – Full STEAM Ahead (for toddlers through incoming 5th graders), Spark a Reaction (for kids entering 6th through 8th grades) and Choose Your Own Adventure (for teens in high school). What is STEAM? It’s an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math. While the core of what we do at the library is getting kids excited about reading and instilling a life-long love of reading, we are well-positioned to offer STEAM programming. Here, kids can observe, question, explore, investigate, and make in a fun, hands-on learning environment. We want to expose kids to different STEAM disciplines that they may not have experienced already such as astronomy, paleontology, computer science, physics, and engineering. We also hope to hear kids saying as they leave our programs, “That was so much fun! I want to know more!”

Here’s the STEAM programming we’ll be offering this summer (many programs require advance registration):

Science
Cosmic Creations – Thursday, June 26 – Grade 3+
Magnetic Magic – Friday, June 27 – Grade K+
Fun with Fossils – Thursday, July 17 – Grade K+
Balloon-powered Raceway – Friday, July 18 – Grade 2+
The Hungry Owl Project – Friday, July 11 – Grade 1+
Lizard Lady Reptiles – Thursday, August 7 – Grade K+

Technology
Introduction to Coding – Thursday, July 3 – Grades 4 and 5
Create a Video Game in Scratch – Thursday, July 31 – Grades 6 – 8

Engineering
Maker Air Force – Thursday, June 26– Grades 6 – 8
Lego Play Days – Friday, July 25 and Wednesday, August 20 – All Ages
Super Structures – August 1 – Grade 1+
Playground Adventure – Friday, August 8

Art
Draw Your Own Superhero – Thursday, July 24 – Grade 2 +
Spin Me a Shadow, Tell Me a Tale – Thursday, July 10 – All Ages
Jewelry Making – Thursday, July 24 – Grades 6 – 8

Math
Math Patterns with Toni – Monday, July 21 – All Ages

Most programs require advance sign up. Registration opens June 9.

Along with our STEAM programming, we have our ever-popular Laugh-out-Loud Book Club for Grades 3 – 5 and Pizza & Pages Book Club for Grades 6 – 8. If you have toddlers or preschoolers, check out our fantastic line-up of Little Sprouts! programs. And that’s not all! We also know that summer is about gathering together and being entertained. Don’t miss Wednesdays on Stage from June 25 through August 13. We have an incredible line-up of entertainment for the entire family at 3:30 p.m. each Wednesday in the outdoor amphitheater behind the library. For a complete listing of all our events, you can download the Full STEAM Ahead flyer and visit the Spark a Reaction web page. Or register online now by clicking here.

-Jessica

Middle School Summer Reading

spark-teen-english-poster-rgbIntroducing a summer reading program just for you! If you’re entering grades 6 through 8 this fall, keep track of what you read over the summer on our reading log and you’ll earn raffle tickets for fantastic prizes! You’ll receive one raffle ticket for each book you finish this summer. The more you read, the more chances to win!

Register online, in person, or by phone. Then come in to the library after June 23 and pick up your prize just for signing up! You’ll also get entered into the raffle, and prizes include: an iPad mini, two tickets to a Giants Game, iTunes gift cards, gift certificates and more!

Thursday Night @ the Library | 7:00pm – 8:30pm
All programs are for kids entering 6th, 7th, and 8th grades. Advance sign-up required for most programs. All programs meet in the Creekside Room.

June 26: Maker Air Force
The Maker Air Force needs YOU! Get hands on and learn how to build powered aerial vehicles: planes, helis, airships and more! Then take to the skies and pilot your aircraft all around the library airspace. Creekside Room. Advance sign-up required. This program is currently full. Click here to be added to the wait list.

July 10: Life-Size Clue
It’s an exciting night of murder mystery when we bring the classic game of Clue to life. But there’s no stuffy old Col. Mustard here. You’ll be a great book character like Katniss, Percy or Harry as you move yourself around the giant board and solve the mystery. Advance sign-up required. This program is now full. Click here to be added to the wait list.

July 17: Pizza & Pages Middle School Book Club
Come together to dine and discuss Scott Westerfeld’s steampunk thriller Leviathan. In an alternate 1914 Europe, fifteen-year-old Austrian Prince Alek, on the run from the Clanker Powers who are attempting to take over the globe using mechanical machinery, forms an uneasy alliance with Deryn who, disguised as a boy to join the British Air Service, is learning to fly genetically-engineered beasts. Advance sign-up required. This program is currently full. Click here to be added to the wait list.

July 24: Jewelry Making
Join artist Chelsee Robinson for a 90-minute class of jewelry-making instruction and construction. All materials are provided, including tools, beads, stones, crystals and gift bags. Creekside Room. Advance sign-up required. Click here to sign up.

July 31: Create a Video Game with Scratch
Learn coding by creating a simple game in Scratch! Learn basic computer science concepts and create a game that you can play and share. Creekside Room. Advance sign-up required. Click here to sign up. This program is currently full. Click here to be added to the wait list. 

August 7: Movie Night and Raffle
Celebrate your summer of reading at our Middle School Movie Party. We’ll watch Catching Fire (PG-13) and chomp on some freshly popped popcorn before we announce our raffle winners! Creekside Room. No advance sign-up required.

Get a free PeRL!
Want help deciding which books are perfect for you? Sign up for a 30-minute appointment with a librarian and get personalized book recommendations. Participants must be entering grades 5 through 8 in the fall.

Volunteer!
Need community service hours? We need help with program prep (cutting, sorting, counting, etc.) and assistance with afternoon programs. Shifts are either 10:00 a.m. to noon or 2:00 to 4:30 p.m. Must be good with kids, responsible, and be willing to do tasks assigned. If you’re interested, click here to join our volunteer list, or email or call us at children@cityofmillvalley.org or 415-389-4292 x4741.

-Lauren

Mystery and Fantasy: New Books for Older Readers

bunnyOperation Bunny by Sally Gardner, illustrated by David Roberts
Operation Bunny is the first book in the WINGS & Co. fairy detective series that follows Emily Vole, a young girl who was abandoned in a train station when she was a baby. Now she is the adopted daughter of the horrible Dashwoods who have delegated her to a life of washing dishes and changing diapers. When Emily befriends the elderly lady next door and her talking cat, Fidget, she becomes entangled in a magical world or fairies and witches. She must help Fidget defeat a wicked fairy-capturing witch who is turning everyone that gets in her way into pink bunnies. Short chapters and plenty of quirky illustrations make this book a perfect choice for a child’s first juvenile novel. (age 7-10)

cover-half-a-chanceHalf A Chance by Cynthia Lord
For twelve-year-old Lucy, making new friends is never easy, even though she gets plenty of practice. Her family has moved many times following her adventurous father around the country, this time ending up in New Hampshire. When Lucy is asked to join her neighbors  to monitor the loons on the lake next to her house, she gets a chance to make friends with Nate, his sister, and grandmother. Her budding friendship with Nate is tested when they decide to enter a photography contest and Nate disagrees with one of the photos she has decided to enter. Lucy is forced to learn some hard lessons about what it means to be a friend and how to trust her own judgment. Half a Chance is a moving story about getting to know yourself and what life is like around someone with dementia. (age 8-12)

sevenSeven Wild Sisters: A Modern Fairy Tale by Charles de Lint, illustrated by Charles Vess
In Seven Wild Sisters, the companion novel to The Cats of Tanglewood Forest, tomboy Sarah Jane befriends Aunt Lillian, a slightly eccentric woman who lives in the forest close to her family’s farm. Sarah Jane loves listening to Aunt Lillian’s stories of fairies and magical creatures that live in the surrounding forest but she never expects them to be true until she finds a ginseng fairy who is dying from poisoned arrows. When she decides to save the little fairy’s life, she steps into the middle of a fairy war that threatens her entire family. Sarah Jane and her sisters take readers on an adventure to the fairy world that no one will want to leave. (age 8-13)

large_Under_the_Egg-copyUnder the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald
Theodora Tenpenny is an unusually resourceful thirteen-year-old, but then again, she has had to be since the death of her grandfather, who left her only $463 and his last words: “look under the egg.” Since then she has been solely responsible for taking care of her mother and their crumbling 200-year-old home. The money is quickly dwindling and the painting that she finds under the egg has set her in the middle of a mystery that began during WWII. Theo must use all of her knowledge about art and any help she can get to put the pieces of her grandfather’s puzzle together before she loses everything. Young readers will love helping Theo solve her mystery while learning something about the art world in the process. (age 8-12)

-Sarah Beth

From Carnivors to Early Birds: New Books for Younger Readers

earlybirdEarly Bird by Toni Yuly
The old adage “the early bird gets the worm” is given new life in this brightly colored picture book. Early Bird cannot wait to start her day! After waking up early, she races ahead, going through, over, and around all kinds of objects to get to her goal: the worm. Full-page illustrations and flowing texts take readers on Early Bird’s journey, which concludes with a surprisingly sweet ending. This fun new take will leave young readers happy and wanting to share their own breakfasts. (ages 1-3)

princess penelopePrincess Penelope and the Runaway Kitten by Alison Murray
Since her parents are busy, Princess Penelope decides to play with the new kitten near her mother’s pink, shiny yarn. All of a sudden the kitten abruptly runs away, trailing sparkly yarn behind her! Penelope and Doggy chase the kitten all throughout the castle, the gardens, and the kitchens. More and more animals join Penelope and Doggy as they run after the mischievous kitten. The chase ends when the kitten is where he wants to be, much to the delight of Penelope. Rhyming text and a glittery, tactile yarn bring this charming story to life. (ages 3-7)

sparkySparky! by Jenny Offill, illustrated by Chris Appelhans
When her mother finally promises she can have a pet, “as long as it doesn’t need to be walked or bathed or fed.” one little girl gets creative with her choice. After consulting her school librarian, the little girl decides to adopt a sloth, an animal that sleeps for most of the day and is considered one of the laziest animals in the world. When the sloth arrives, she names him Sparky and he immediately falls asleep. Despite Sparky’s nature, his owner is determined to have a pet to play with and train and, as the little girl preps for a show Sparky will star in, she realizes that being a good pet owner accepts her pet’s personality and quirks. A sweet tale for animal lovers and would-be pet owners.

carnivoresCarnivores by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Dan Santat
The lion, the shark, and the timber wolf are three of the most feared creatures in the wild, but being scary doesn’t mean they’re feelings can’t be hurt. Movies and folktales give these carnivores a bad rap! Just because the lion has eaten most of the animals around, the shark is a fast eater, and the timber wolf is sneaky doesn’t mean they’re horrible — does it? The three begin meeting regularly to discuss their woes and how to fit in with the other animals. After several failed attempts to change their ways, the unlikely friends ask for the owl’s wise opinion on the matter. A fun story reminding everyone to be who they are and not try to change into someone they’re not. (ages 5-8)

-Serianna