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!


Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms
Katherine Rundell

12-year-old Wilhelmina Silver (aka Will, Wildcat, Madman or Cartwheel) lives what she considers an idyllic life on a remote farm in Zimbabwe where her father is foreman.  A bright girl and good reader, Wilhelmina has acute observation skills and a passionate love and understanding of the outdoors. Raised by her beloved father since her mother’s death from malaria, Wilhelmina has spent years exploring the bush with her best friend, Simon, riding bareback on her horse and enjoying the company of her pet monkey. None of this prepares her for an unexpected move to a stifling, private girls’ boarding school in London. Escaping from the school's urban environment with its mean-spirited classmates is the hardest thing she's ever done, but Wilhelmina is stricken and determined. Readers, ages 8 – 12, will surely turn cartwheels after devouring this compelling, hopeful adventure of resilience, and friendship. P.S. Author Katherine Rundell turns a cartwheel every day!


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.


A Thousand Nights
A.K. Johnston

In this retelling of the Arabian Nights, the unnamed protagonist is taken from her desert village to the palace of Lo-Melkhiin to serve as yet another in a long line of ill-fated wives.  But rather than succumb to him, she uses her uniquie abilities to challenge his rule.  This beautifully written story of sisterhood, magic, and female power has a lush, immersive setting, surprising plot turns, and wonderful portrayals of the protagonist’s unexpected strength.