We love connecting reader's to their next "read."
Please feel free use these links to access our former RA Staff Picks:
Title: The Loud Librarian
Author: Jenna Beatrice
Illustrator: Lynne Jones
Penelope is perfect for the job of student-librarian. She is friendly, and helpful, and a booklover. There's just one itsy-bitsy thunderous snag. Penelope is LOUD. When it is finally Penelope's turn to be student-librarian, she is all prepared. She has practiced her alphabetizing, her book-cart pushing, and her due-date stickering (all key duties of the librarian!); however, when the time comes, Ms. Berry must remind her that libraries need library voices.
Penelope is stuck. How can she do her dream job if she cannot lower her voice? Finally, Penelope realizes that not ALL library voices are quiet… and Penelope's story time hour becomes a big hit with the other students!
Yes, libraries are usually quiet places. However… I think many of our regular patrons will recognize there are times, even at the WFL, when we share our voices loud and proud! You can have fun in libraries too… especially with a loud librarian for storytime!
Title: The Library Fish Learns to Read (Book 2)
Author: Alyssa Satin
Illustrator: Gladys Jose
The Library Fish returns for a new adventure! This is the second book in the Library Fish picture book series. Following Library Fish settling into her new home in the library, this time around Library Fish decides that she loves story time at the library so much, she would like to learn to read for herself.
Every night, after Mr. Hughes, the librarian, and all his students go home, Library Fish leaves her bowl and practices reading. Mr. Hughes teaches his readers that first they must learn the alphabet; so, Library Fish practices her ABCs. F for Fish is one of her favorites, of course!
After learning her letters, Mr. Hughes says that letters make sounds, and that we string sounds together to make words, and then these words make stories. Every night, Library Fish practices her letters, and her sounds, and then her small words, and then eventually big words. She even practices reading out loud to her friend Bookmobile every night. Soon enough, Library Fish is able to read a whole book all by herself.
This picture book is a fun continuation for those familiar with the first Library Fish book, and a great read-along for young ones gaining the confidence to read independently.
Title: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
Author: Abbi Waxman
Have you ever felt like you were finally at a place in life where you were just getting comfortable with everything, and then suddenly, it all turned into chaos? If so, you'll probably empathize with our protagonist, Nina, a 29-year-old bookstore employee who loves trivia and is a huge fan of using daily planners to keep her life organized. Nina suffers from anxiety and is about to burst at the seams when she's informed by a lawyer that the father she never met has passed away, named her in his will, and that his other children (Nina's half siblings) live nearby.
While grappling with this discovery, Nina becomes drawn to a man who's a member of an opposing trivia team, but tells herself that he's too interested in sports and not a reader, so it just wouldn't work. She’s also, obviously, unable to tolerate having one more person to socialize with, now that she has extended family to meet! But is it possible that one more threat to Nina's status quo might change her mind about opening her life to new people…and new possibilities?
Title: Weather Together (Not Quite Narwhal and Friends Series #3)
Author/Illustrator: Jessie Sima
Have you ever felt pressure to be one of those people that's always the life of the party? You wanted to share your real self, but felt like you might bring others down, or worried that they wouldn't understand? In this story, we meet Nimbus, a Pegasus who struggles with a cloud that follows her around. Her best friend - Kelp the unicorn - is always happy and brings sunshine and rainbows wherever he goes. Nimbus does her best to keep her cloud hidden, so as not to spoil their fun times, but finds that the more she tries to hide it, the bigger the cloud grows. Finally, it turns into a huge rainstorm!
This book is full of endearing illustrations that change in color, matching the many emotions that people (and animals!) may go through on a daily basis. It's a wonderful guide that can help us all learn that it's better to speak about our not-so-fun emotions, than to bottle them all up until they become a big "storm" like the one that overwhelms Nimbus in this story. Happy reading!
Title: How Dinosaurs Went Extinct: A Safety Guide
Author: Amy Dyckman
Illustrator: Jennifer Harney
All kids love dinosaurs, so this title is a definite attention grabber, in addition to having a hilarious cover illustration! A dinosaur is roller skating off a ramp at high speed wearing underwear and goggles with a rocket strapped to his back…and then you notice the sub-title, "A Safety Guide."
Follow the story of a dad at a museum teaching his daughter about how the dinosaurs went extinct by applying the common sense safety rules to dinosaurs that parents teach their children. Some examples include: "Gallimimus ran with scissors" and "Tyrannosaurus rex didn't change his underwear.” The illustrations are incredibly funny, and this story is a great way to review safety rules in a humorous, non-preachy way. Your children and grandchildren will beg you to read it again!
Title: The Watermelon Seed
Author/Illustrator: Greg Pizzoli
We're in the middle of the dog days of August, and one of the best ways to beat the heat is to enjoy watermelon - the wonderful, sweet summer fruit. In this book we meet a funny crocodile who adores watermelon. He eats it for every meal and snack until one day, he swallows a seed! Chaos reigns as the unlucky croc imagines vines growing out of his ears and his body turning pink among other disastrous and hilarious results. His tummy rumbles and grumbles, and an enormous BURP expels the offending seed. He then promises to never eat watermelon again, but does he keep his promise... what do you think?
Kids adore this book. It's a perfect blend of comedy and horror. After you read this title have some seedless watermelon.
Title: Simon and the Better Bone
Author/Illustrator: Corey Tabor
Right off the bat, there is something unique about this picture book. It opens vertically, as opposed to horizontally. The title and verso pages are mirror images of each other. This gives detail oriented children a big hint about the story.
A sweet looking puppy finds his best bone ever! And then in the mirror image page he sees a better bone being held by another puppy. He tries to get the other bone in a variety of ways, but the other puppy knows exactly the same tricks as Simon.
They pounce and the bone is lost in the depths. As Simon goes home, he finds a "better better bone." He gives it to the "other" puppy and is happier than ever.
With his empathy and compassion, he may have "lost" his bone, but he found a friend!
Title: The Book of Turtles
Author: Sy Montgomery
Illustrator: Matt Peterson
Children love turtles! They are superheroes...think Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They are familiar and fascinating; we feel like we know so much about them, but I learned so much more about them by reading this book.
The illustrations are magnificent, detailed and realistic. The writing and pacing of the scientific material was interesting and engaging. I couldn't put the book down. The author starts with the turtle's most important feature: "… 9 million years before the first crocodile - the shell invented the turtle." The author presents small chunks of information that would interest children and most factoids are accompanied by realistic illustrations. The book ends with information on the declining populations of turtle species, and suggestions on how to help. A must read for budding naturalists!
Title: Blueberries for Sal Cookbook: Sweet Recipes Inspired by the Beloved Children's Classic
Author: Robert McCloskey
This is a sweet, little cookbook containing 30 family friendly blueberry recipes. It is illustrated with many scenes from the iconic picture book first published in 1948. It also contains lots of little interesting tidbits about blueberries and their importance in our lives.
You might consider reading Blueberries for Sal with your children and then have the whole family choose and prepare some of these delicious treats. It will be a tasty literary and mathematic activity!
Title: Blueberries for Sal
Author/Illustrator: Robert McCloskey
“Kuplink, kuplank, kuplunk” go the first blue berries into Sal’s tin pail. Those berries look so delicious that Sal has a hard time putting them into the pail…she’d much rather put them into her mouth! As she and her mother move up the hill picking the berries for winter storage, Sal decides that sitting and eating the berries is far more fun.
At the same time, Little Bear and his mother are coming up the other side of the hill EATING berries to hold them over the winter. When both Sal and Little Bear become distracted in their pursuit of berries, they eventually end up losing their mothers and what happens next is a BIG surprise for everyone – people and bears.
A timeless book with simple, expressive illustrations that evoke the richness of late summer and early autumn magic. This has always been one of my favorite books – I revisit it annually when readying myself for autumn in anticipation of the sweater weather approaching and the joy of tramping through woods and fields in search of blue treasure.
Title: A Wrinkle in Time
Author/Illustrator: Madeleine L’Engle
Upon my first introduction to this book in the 6th grade for an Honors English project, I’ve been in love with Murry family, Meg’s determination to be herself, in spite of being thought odd, and the idea of tesseracts.
Follow Meg’s harrowing journey across space and time to rescue her father, save her brother, and find her place in her family and the world. Meet the Mrs’s (Whatsit, Who, Which) and Aunt Beast as they help Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin fight the ultimate battle between good and evil. Relish this really good story of love and acceptance of ourselves and others.
Like no other coming of age book, this one remains relevant today, 61 years after its initial publication. Technology may have opened the reader’s eye to greater possibilities today, but the human condition remains the same – we still doubt our own worth, struggle to find our places on the planet, and need the love and support of our friends and family to survive/succeed.
Author: Rosamunde Pilcher
Set in Scotland, the story opens with preparation for a 21st birthday celebration of a young local woman and snippets from those invited to this gathering. The book makes liberal use of flashbacks to weave a tapestry of magic as we come to know the people and the history binding them together and bringing them to present day.
We find ourselves entranced, engaged, and invested in Lord Archie Balmerino, emotionally fragile ex-military man, Isobel, his caring wife, Pandora, Archie’s wayward sister, Violet Aird,, 78 year old matriarch of the family, her son Edmund, Alexa, Edmund’s daughter from his 1st marriage, Henry, Edmund’s son from his 2nd marriage to Virginia, Virginia, Edmund’s 2nd wife, and Edie, Mrs. Aird’s benevolent and beneficent housekeeper – the woman who has seen them all through tragedy and triumph and loves them as her own.
Title: Sabriel (Old Kingdom Series – Book 1)
Author: Garth Nix
Welcome to the Old Kingdom with its dark secrets, fearsome magic, sinister characters, and a young heroine struggling to manage her ancient magical powers as an Abhorsen-in-Waiting.
Sabriel was sent across the Wall to Ancelstierre to safety as a child, but now at eighteen years of age, she finds herself in receipt of an enigmatic message from her father who is trapped in Death by a malevolent Free Magic entity. As the Abhorsen – a person tasked to bind and return souls back to Death that won’t stay dead - her father is the most critical magical worker beyond the Wall, and his rescue depends upon Sabriel’s entry into Death to free him.
Her journey and acceptance of her powerful inheritance take the reader into a brilliantly crafted world rich in character and eternally relevant themes such as familial loss, sacrifice, coming to terms with oneself and one's responsibilities, and destiny. I always find these quotes - "Everyone and everything has a time to die," and “Does the Walker choose the Path, or the Path the Walker” - particularly significant to the work, relaying a sense that neither death, nor one’s destiny, are to be feared, and losses sustained provide character-building opportunities. A good coming-of-age book set in both “real” and fantasy world settings that has a universal appeal.
Title: The Penderwicks (Book 1)
Author: Jeanne Birdsall
In addition to the lovely silhouette cover illustration, the caption “A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits, and a Very Interesting Boy couldn’t help but catch my attention. The opening paragraph sentence “…but Cape Cod was booked solid…” ensnared me and I couldn’t put the book down.
I was fortunate enough to visit my grandparents during the summers of my childhood and spent many magical hours exploring the woods, beach, yards, and cemeteries during these times. This book brings back all of the joy of discovery during those dreaming times as the reader follows the sisters as they catch fireflies, play monkey in the middle, spy on cute boys, and explore the grounds of Arundel, the beautiful estate that their summer cottage sits on.
A simple, family story with simple, everyday happenings that will have you giggling along with the mishaps and manic behaviors, and tearing up in sympathy for the summer crush. This book belongs in children’s classics and I continue to return to the series for a dose of common sense and lighthearted joy when necessary.