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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

Dancing, Biking and More: New Books for Younger Readers

It’s Only Stanley by John Agee
only stanleyA family is woken up in the middle of the night by a spooky sound, but it turns out it’s only their dog, Stanley, howling at the moon. Then they hear a clanking sound, a buzzing noise, and more, but each time, “it’s only Stanley” fixing the tv or making catfish stew. Readers paying close attention will notice that Stanley’s tasks get more and more outrageous, until reaching a fantastic and awesome conclusion. This is another brilliant and funny book from local author, John Agee. (ages 5-8)

Hippos are Huge! by Jonathan London, illustrated by Matthew Trueman
hipposHippos have always been my favorite animals. They look so cuddly but are actually very dangerous. This book neatly captures that contrast, with illustrations that are round and soft on pages that talk about the animals’ size (“They can weigh as much as 50 men!”). But the art turns fierce once that hippo opens her mouth: “Watch out! Hippo’s ‘yawn’ is a threat!” This nonfiction picture book mixes in amazing facts with intense illustrations that bring hippos to life, and then cools down with images of hippos gently gliding through the water. A note about the animals’ endangered status completes the book. (ages 3-7)

Tommy Can’t Stop by Tim Federle, pictures by Mark Fearing
TOMMY-CANT-STOP-coverAuthor Tim Federle, who wrote the excellent middle grade book Better Nate than Ever, taps into his own childhood for this picture book about a boy who can’t stop moving.  He’s a a pogo stick when he bounces through the house and a bulldozer when he kicks a ball in the kitchen. His parents try everything to wear him out before his sister – a ballet dancer – suggests tap class. Now he can kick (it’s a brush), hurdle (it’s a leap), and clomp (it’s a stamp), and he loves it all! The illustrations are exuberant and full of movement, and they include fun modern touches, like the sister’s attachment to her cell phone. With just a few lines on each page this will appeal to a wide range of ages, and particular to parents with children who just don’t ever stop moving. (ages 3-5)

My Bike by Byron Barton
my bikeByron Barton has written and illustrated two of my favorite and most crowd-pleasing books for toddlers: My Car and My Bus. Now he brings us the equally terrific My Bike, which follows Tom as he rides his bike to work as a circus performer. With simple and large text, bright colors, and bold illustrations, Barton captures the delight children take in passing buses and trucks on the road, and then adds monkeys and acrobats to the mix. (ages 2-4)


Take a Hike with Your Kids, and Have Fun!

children-535399_1920Hiking Marin’s beautiful trails is one of my family’s favorite things to do together. When we first moved to Mill Valley from New York City eleven years ago, I was eager to explore our new surroundings and I wanted our four-year-old girls to experience everything that Marin offered, especially its open spaces. What I quickly realized was how unprepared I was for our family hikes. We had many failed hikes because the girls became tired, bored and hungry. We learned that a bit of preparation goes a long way when taking a hike with our kids. Bringing things for them to do along the trail was helpful for keeping them engaged, noticing their surroundings, and forgetting about the distance they were walking!

The library has Experience Backpack for Kids that will help you with the preparation and keep your young hikers busy throughout their hike. Not only can you get out to the trail sooner, but your time spent hiking will be more fun!

Each Experience Backpack for Kids includes:

  • Exploring Marin Trails: Includes a map for each trail and easy to follow directions for the trail with level of difficulty for each hike.
  • A pocket naturalist guide: Nature of San Francisco and the Bay Area with  pictures to help identify trees and shrubs, wildflowers, marine life, reptiles and amphibians, birds, mammals, and butterflies
  • A journal and colored pencils to write or draw something you experienced during your hike to share with families who will be using the backpack in the future
  • One pair of  waterproof binoculars
  • One handheld magnifying glass
  • A pocket compass
  • A Nature Scavenger Hunt and a dry erase pen to mark what you find
  • A first aid Kit

Two Experience Backpacks for Kids are available for check out.  Backpacks can be checked out for seven days on a first-come, first-served basis. Rules for checking out and returning Experience Backpacks and their contents will be explained when the backpack is picked up at the Circulation Desk. Also available are two Experience Backpack kits for adults: Wildflower Guide and Bird Guide.

We hope that this Experience Backpack for Kids will help instill a love of the outdoors and ensure many family hikes in the future!

Funding for the new Experience Backpacks for Kids was made possible by a grant from the Walker Rezaian Memorial Fund.


An Echo of Honey: New Books for Older Readers

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan
echoA harmonica acts as the silken thread that connects three children who seem worlds apart. Frederich in Nazi Germany, Mike in a Pennsylvanian orphanage, and Ivy on a Southern Californian farm encounter family hardships and rely on their musical gifts as their stories crescendo into tragedy. Each character stumbles upon the beloved harmonica with the curious engraved M, unaware of the promise it brings: “Your fate is not yet sealed. Even in the darkest night, a star will shine, a bell will chime, a path will be revealed.” Harmonica tabs introduce each protagonist’s part, enhancing each story with the magical sounds each character leans on. Pam Munoz Ryan is a master storyteller, weaving these intricate plots together like a symphony. Themes of hope, musical transcendence, and courage will shine to readers. Fans of West of the Moon will gravitate towards this story for its folk-like undertones. (ages 10-14)

Honey by Sarah Weeks
honeyTen-year old Melody Bishop must get to the bottom of who Honey is. Her thesaurus-happy father has been singing “You Are My Sunshine” around the house and wearing a hushed grin when he hangs up the phone. When the irritating Teeny Nelson tells Melody that her father has been bitten by the love bug, Melody follows the trail of information to the Beehive Nail Salon. Meanwhile, a French bulldog named Mo is eager to discover the sunflower-haired girl that appears in his dreams. Orphaned to a tall lady with red hair, Mo is happy but feels that something is missing. Two characters with seemingly polar opposite lives eventually meet at the Beehive for a sweet sense of clarity. This delightful story will please readers who enjoy realistic fiction, short novels, and a touch of mystery. Fans of Pie will not be disappointed. (ages 8-12)

The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis
madmanBenji Alston is a spirited and arrogant boy who aspires to be a cracking journalist. He has a lot to write about, especially in Buxton, Canada, where neighbors whisper about the Madman of Piney Woods, the former slave who terrorizes forest intruders. Sensitive Red lives on the other side of Piney Woods. Besides dodging blows from his Irish grandmother, Red is wary of the notorious South Woods Lion Man, the vicious hermit among the trees. Benji and Red may live on opposite ends of the woods, but their paths will intertwine to uncover friendship and the startling truth. Young history buffs will enjoy this sweeping book that takes place post-American Civil War. Readers will learn about the self inflicting nature of resentment, the healing effects of forgiveness and the power of friendship through the eyes of this fascinating generation. (ages 8-12)

Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai
listen slowlyTwelve-year old Mia is ready to spend the Southern Californian summer ogling over HIM and discussing lip gloss with her best friend at the beach. Too bad her plans have been thwarted and she is forced to go to Vietnam with her grandmother, Ba. As soon as Ba meets with the Vietnamese detective who has uncovered new information about her long lost husband, they can go home. Mia schemes to get back, especially after she gets eaten alive by mosquitoes, is rarely given a second of privacy, and has to access Facebook through dial-up in town. But slowly, she begins to see the magic here, and opens her heart to this home away from home. In this funny, angst-driven book about growing pains, Thanhha Lai gives a candid voice to first generation Asian American youth. A Newbery honoree for the novel-in-verse Inside Out & Back Again, Lai writes Listen, Slowly as a novel, once again conquering cultural gaps and encouraging dialogue about identity. Fans of Kira-Kira and Blackbird Fly will like this book. (ages 8-12)