Staff Selections Kids


Arbor Day Square
Kathryn Osebold Galbraith, illus. by Cyd Moore

 Arbor Day Square is a fine example of the picture book format as a vehicle for historical fiction.  Katie and her papa admire the brand-newness of their town as it springs from the prairie, but sorely miss the presence of trees.  The community antes up to purchase fifteen saplings and an Arbor Day tradition begins.  Most precious to Kate, her father and her own family, as the author follows them into their future, is the dogwood that commemorates the life of her mother.



Jenny Offill, illus. by Chris Applehans

A girl's desperate longing for a pet and her mother's reluctance and conditional allowance lead to--with the help of a resourceful librarian--the logical choice:  the adoption of a sloth.  Investing her hopes in her pet, she names him Sparky, and attempts to play with him and show him off.  After a few misfires, she adjusts to Sparky's character (and vice versa), and comes to the moment when she finds the ineffable satisfaction of the pet that is hers.  Chris Appelhans' watercolors enhance the wistful humor.


The Peculiar
Stefan Bachmann

The Peculiar is a highly original fantasy:  part steampunk, part mystery and part Oliver Twist.  Fairies have entered the human world and, after they lost the war between the two, now live uneasily alongside the humans.  Bartholomew Kettle and his sister, Hettie, are half-bloods (half human and half fairy), or changelings.  Shunned by both fairies and humans, these children are called "peculiars" and live a hard life with their mother in the slums.  Bartholomew witnesses a mysterious kidnapping of a changeling boy and steps into the lingering fairy magic to investigate.  Meanwhile, Mr. Jelliby, a wonderfully reluctant hero, has noticed strange goings-on in the halls of Parliament.  These two join forces to solve the strange disappearances of changeling children.  Dark, creepy, fascinating and fantastically imaginative, Mr. Bachmann weaves a tale that continues in the sequel -- and conclusion of Barthy and Hettie's tale -- called The Whatnot.  Enjoy!


The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles
Michelle Cuevas, illus. by Erin Stead

A quiet book for wishers and dreamers, The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles celebrates friendship, community and the worth of every human being. Expressive, engaging text and Erin Stead’s richly detailed illustrations about the man who opens and delivers messages in ocean bottles beg for repeated readings. The quirky, memorable protagonist finds his way into your heart as he delivers messages from bottles that he finds on the shore.                     



Mary Ann Hoberman, illus. by Michael Emberley

Former Children’s Poet Laureate, Mary Ann Hoberman, has selected poetry from more than 120 classic and contemporary poets for this anthology.  She includes tips for memorizing and reciting aloud. She states, “When you learn a poem by heart, it becomes a part of you. You know it in your mind, in your mouth, in your ears, in your whole body. And best of all, you know it forever.” This would make a great summer project for families.


The Mystery of Hollow Places
Rebecca Podos

For Imogene Scott, “loneliness isn’t just being alone.”  She is struggling with her own isolation when her father disappears, pitching her into a mystery of the heart, both literal and figurative.   Imogene is difficult to like, but easy to love.  This beautifully written book about family, loss, and mental illness will become, like Imogene’s copy of Rebecca, one of readers’ “all time beloved darling favorites.”