Staff Selections Kids


Ounce, Dice, Trice
Alastair Reid, illus. by Ben Shahn

In the tradition of A Hole Is to Dig, this charming New York Review publication explores the wilds of word usage, encouraging young readers and writers to play with words and enjoy the potential of language.  Ben Shahn’s character illustrations complement the individualist  sentiment of this book perfectly.


The Books of Umber: Happenstance Found
P. W. Catanese

There's a new thrill on every page of this book, with fantastic characters and narrow escapes and magical beings one after the other.  Happenstance, our young hero, has no memory of who he is or where he came from.  Taken under the wing of Lord Umber (adventurer, explorer, collector of rare and magical things), Hap comes to live with Umber in the "medieval" port city of Kurahaven.  But who is Hap?  And who is that hooded figure following him?  And who, really, is Lord Umber?  A fun, Indiana Jones-style adventure with an edge-of-your-seat climax that's sure to please the young action reader.  The second book of this new series is in paperback, while the third is still in hardcover -- so there's plenty more to read once you're hooked!


Matthew Quick

High school senior Finley lives with his widowed father and disabled grandfather in a bleak, often violent town outside Philadelphia where the Irish mob and black gangs rule.  Finley doesn’t talk much, except to his girlfriend Erin, one of his two passions.  The other is basketball, Finley being the only white varsity player.  Both Finley and Erin dream of basketball as their ticket to college and a new life.  An unexpected worry develops when his coach asks Finley to mentor a new student with extraordinary basketball skills.  Russ, emotionally distraught and living with his grandparents after his wealthy parents’ brutal murder in an LA carjacking, presents himself as an alien stranded on earth answering to the name Boy21.  If Boy21 gets a grip and starts playing basketball again, Finley is sure to lose his position on the team.  As an unlikely friendship develops between the two boys, Finley confronts his own tragic childhood.  Boy21, an unusual, gripping page-turner of urban survival and friendship, is full of surprises and, ultimately, hope.