Staff Selections Kids


The Rain Train
Elena De Roo, illus. by Brian Lovelock

Elena De Roo's train poem transports a child from the busy activities of the day through a rainy night and into sleep.  The reader of this bedtime adventure will share (and share in) the sights, sounds, and motion of travel.




Sometimes It's Nice to Be Alone
Amy Hest, illus. by Philip C. Stead

Behind glasses as big and blank as Orphan Annie’s eyes, a lone little girl considers the pleasures of solitude. Casually, she decides that she could also enjoy the company of a friend.  As she ruminates, a small stuffed toy sits nearby.  Is it listening? Every child in this situation knows the answer—yes!  And when they turn the page, there is the proof!  The stuffed toy comes alive, and plays like a friend.
This picture book masquerades a predicament that is familiar to any child who longs for a playmate, and it shows that, with a good imagination, you can enjoy being alone as well. Philip Stead’s rustic, richly colored transfer prints have a gauzy effect, like looking through a veil of an imagining.  Sharp-eyed listeners will anticipate the plot, spying the benign stuffed toy that will burst onto center stage of the little girl’s fantasy. Empathetic and sweetly sly, readers and listeners will enjoy sharing time together with this story.   


Shadow Scale
Rachel Hartman

The sequel to Seraphina has arrived!  The story picks up right where we left it, with the kingdom of Goredd preparing for war with the dragons of the north.  Seraphina has set out for the countryside to find the other half-human, half-dragons from her visions to unite them as part of Goredd's defense.  But building a coalition is not easy for a court musician with little experience in diplomacy or war, and Seraphina is forced to improvise and compromise along the way.  Author Rachel Hartman gives us a stunning conclusion to Seraphina's story, complete with eye-opening revelations about love, betrayal, religion, and allies likely and unlikely, climaxed by a battle scene I guarantee you'll remember long after you've finished the book.  Seraphina and Shadow Scale are a two-volume set of one of the best YA fantasies I've read in a long time.  Wow!


Nell Plants a Tree
Anne Wynter, illus. by Daniel Miyares

Travel back in forth in time with Nell, from planting a tree in childhood to becoming a grandmother encouraging her grandchild’s appreciation of the now mature tree bearing pecans. Rhythmic text begs for repeated readings as exploration of illustrations reveal new details upon every reading. Sure to prompt memories and tales told from your own family’s heritage.(ages 4-adult)


Darius the Great Is Not Okay
Adib Khorram

Sophmore Darius Kellner is bullied at school, takes medication for clinical depression, and feels he is nothing but a big disappointment to  his father. He is sure he will have a terrible experience in Iran, where the family is going to stay with grandparents he has never met except by computer moniter. He is in for many surprises in the village where his mother grew up: a loving grandmother, a gruff granddad who is dying, and a new friend named Sohrab all add to the mix to make him feel he belongs for the first time ever. This book is both funny and moving as this teen boy makes many discoveries about himself and the world. He is a changed person when he returns to his high school and others take notice.


Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans
Don Brown

Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina & New Orleans is a moving and startling portrayal of Hurricane Katrina in the days after it hit shore, destroying the city. This graphic novel is an incredibly honest telling of the storm’s destruction and the suffering that followed and may in fact be too grim or graphic for younger readers. However, it will certainly lead advanced readers to understand the grave, brutal experience of this contemporary American natural disaster. The careful and affecting drawings magnify the weight of this important book.



Small in the City
Sydney Smith

From Sydney Smith, a story of shifting perspectives—both in the prose and the stunning illustrations.  This is a truly exceptional book that seems like a simple story, one that kid readers will respond to—it’s about what it’s like to be small in a big, busy world.  But as the snow falls and it becomes evident what’s really happening, adult readers will be drawn in, too, until they reach an ending that leaves all readers thinking and wondering and feeling just a taste of bittersweet.  I’m going to call it now: this book will be on everyone’s Caldecott awards list.  My favorite picture book of the year so far, and apparently the kids book world agrees—it has received five starred reviews.