Children and Young Adult Book Recommendations

A Face Like GlassA Face Like Glass, by Frances Hardinge

In the underground city of Caverna, the world’s most skilled craftsmen toil in the darkness to create delicacies beyond compare—wines that remove memories, cheeses that make you hallucinate, and perfumes that convince you to trust the wearer, even as they slit your throat. On the surface, the people of Caverna seem ordinary, except for one thing: their faces are as blank as untouched snow. Expressions must be learned, and only the famous Facesmiths can teach a person to express (or fake) joy, despair, or fear—at a steep price. Into this dark and distrustful world comes Neverfell, a girl with no memory of her past and a face so terrifying to those around her that she must wear a mask at all times. Neverfell's expressions are as varied and dynamic as those of the most skilled Facesmiths, except hers are entirely genuine. And that makes her very dangerous indeed . . .

Recommended by Gene Nelson


A Family is a Family is a FamilyA Family is a Family is a Family, by Sara O'Leary

A new girl at school is afraid classmates will find her strange for living in a foster home. Little does she know her peers have families that are every bit as unusual and wonderful as hers. The clincher for this book is when the foster mother is asked which ones are her “real” children. “Oh, I don’t have any imaginary children,” Mom says. “All my children are real.”

Recommended by Tina Peterson



A Hat for Mrs. GoldmanA Hat for Mrs. Goldman, by Elizabeth Edwards

Sophia’s kind neighbor, Mrs. Goldman, takes care of everyone in the neighborhood by knitting hats and sweaters. But now winter has come and Mrs. Goldman is still so busy knitting for everyone else that she doesn’t have a warm hat for herself. Sophia decides to brave her shaky knitting skills to solve the problem, but no matter how hard she tries, her hat does not come out right . . . until she comes up with a brilliant plan that will be perfect for Mrs. Goldman.

Recommended by Nathan Spofford, Tina Peterson, April Moody, and Gene Nelson


A Little Book of SlothA Little Book of Sloth, by Lucy Cooke

Hang around just like a sloth and get to know the delightful residents of the Avarios Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica, the world’s largest sloth orphanage. You’ll fall in love with bad-boy Mateo, ooh and ahh over baby Biscuit, and want to wrap your arms around champion cuddle buddy Ubu!

From British filmmaker and sloth expert Lucy Cooke comes a hilarious, heart-melting photographic picture book starring the laziest—and one of the cutest—animals on the planet.

Recommended by Rachel Wadham

A Perfect DayA Perfect Day, by Lane Smith

Today is a perfect day for Cat, Dog, Chickadee, and Squirrel. Cat is lounging among the daffodils. Dog is sitting in the wading pool, deep in the cool water. Chickadee is eating fresh seed from the birdfeeder. Squirrel is munching on his very own corncob. Today is a perfect day in Bert's backyard. Until Bear comes along, that is. Bear crushes the daffodils, drinks the pool water, and happily gobbles up the birdseed and corncob. Today was a perfect day for Cat, Dog, Chickadee, and Squirrel. Now, it's just a perfect day for Bear. Lane Smith uses perfect pacing and vibrant illustrations to emphasize the power of perspective in this hilarious picture book about the goings-on in Bert's backyard.                         

Recommended by Gene Nelson


A Time to Act

A Time to Act: John F. Kennedy's Big Speech, by Shana Corey and R. Gregory Christie

This is the story of JFK—from his childhood to the events that led to his game-changing speech and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Corey and Christie offer a deeply human look at our country’s thirty-fifth president, underscoring how each one of us, no matter who we are, have the power to make a difference. With quotes from JFK’s speeches, detailed back matter, and a thought-provoking author’s note, this biography—published in time for JFK's 100th birthday—offers a sensitive look at a tumultuous time in history and compelling questions about effecting positive change today.

Recommended by Gene Nelson



Alcatraz Versus the Evil LibrariansAlcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians, by Brandon Sanderson

On his thirteenth birthday, Alcatraz Smedry—a foster child—gets a bag of sand in the mail which purports to be his "inheritance," sent from his father and mother. The Librarians, of course, immediately steal the bag of sand from him.

This sparks a chain of events that lead Alcatraz to realize that his family is part of a group of freedom fighters who resist the Evil Librarians—a secret cult that actually rules the world. Alcatraz's grandfather shows up and tows him off to infiltrate the downtown library to steal back the mystical bag of sand. The ensuing story involves talking dinosaurs, sentient romance novels, and a dungeon-like labyrinth hiding beneath the innocent-looking downtown library.



Alcatraz Versus the Rights of CrystalliaAlcatraz Versus the Knights of Crystallia, by Brandon Sanderson

When Alcatraz and Grandpa Smedry make a pilgrimage to the Free Kingdom city of Nalhalla, the Smedry home base, Alcatraz is shocked to see that he is, in fact, a legend. When he was a baby, he was stolen by the Evil Librarians, and his mother—a Librarian herself—was behind the whole scheme. Now, with Bastille, who has been stripped of her armor, and Grandpa Smedry, who is, as always, late to everything (that's his Talent), Alcatraz tries to save a city under siege. From who? Why, the Librarians of course!





Alcatraz versus the scrivener's bonesAlcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones, by Brandon Sanderson

The second book in the adventures of Alcatraz Smedry, Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener’s Bones, follows Alcatraz's search for his father within the dusty shelves of the lost Library of Alexandria, which isn't nearly as lost as the Librarian Conspiracy wants you to believe.






Alcatraz Versus the Shattered LensAlcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens, by Brandon Sanderson

Mokia is under siege by Librarian forces. Who will step up to defend the capital? The rest of the Free Kingdomers think it's hopeless and won't go, but Alcatraz is too stupid not to.






Alexander HamiltonAlexander Hamilton: The Outsider, by Jean Fritz

This book is about the life of Alexander Hamilton, who is the man on the $10 bill.  Read about his upbringing, contributions that he made in the establishment of our country, the different circumstances that he faced throughout his life, and his duel with Aaron Burr that lead to his death.

Recommended by Tim Pead





Amazing Art Projects for ChildrenAmazing Art Projects for Children, by Denise Logan

Unable to find many actual projects in any textbooks for elementary grade art teachers, McKay School alumna Denise (Barrette) Logan decided to fill the gap herself. She wrote and published Dynamic Art Projects for Children (2005) and self-published a second book, Amazing Art Projects for Children (2012).

Amazing Art Projects for Children is a compilation of educational art projects. Her goal in writing and designing these books was to provide regular classroom teachers, parents, and art teachers engaging and easily understood lessons that could bring out the best in children. Extensive step-by-step photography, student examples, patterns, and templates, along with a lay-flat spiral binding, have proven to be what teachers were looking for—both books are doing as well as they were the day they came out.

                                               (See full article here)

Babe Ruth and the Baseball CurseBabe Ruth and the Baseball Curse, by David A. Kelly

He pitched like a dream and hit home runs like crazy, but Babe Ruth was also trouble. He was sent to a school for bad kids. Later, when he was traded to the New York Yankees, his former team, the Boston Red Sox, seemed cursed. The Red Sox could not win a World Series Championship. On the other hand, the Yankees became a legendary baseball team, winning 27 World Series. Read to find out more about this epic baseball rivalry and one of the greatest baseball players of all time, Babe Ruth, the Great Bambino.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Recommended by Andrew E. from Andrew Lem Lovell's fourth grade class


BalderdashBalderdash!: John Newbery and the Boisterous Birth of Children's Books, by Nancy Carpenter

Life in 1726 was anything but easy, but beyond the hardships people had stories. But books were for adults, leaving children to read “. . . preachy poems and fables.” Poor things. But then John Newbery came to London, and wondered, “Why shouldn’t children have delightful books of their own?” John published books for children, and they “. . . gobbled them up like plum cakes!” Sepia tone illustrations and a variety of typestyles tell the story of “John Newbery, the father of children’s literature.”

Recommended by Nathan Spofford

Best in SnowBest in Snow, by April Pulley Sayre

Sharp, crisp text set on sumptuous photographs of a forest cloaked in winter snow. On a duck, snow “dusts wings.” On the ground, snow “crystals feather.” The sun shines briefly, only to be obscured by clouds, “And another snowflake lands . . . on a squirrel’s nose.” A delightful, poetic read-aloud for a dreaded “in-day” at school.

Recommended by Nathan Spofford



Beyond the Bright SeaBeyond the Bright Sea, by Lauren Wolk

Strapped inside a small boat, a newborn baby girl washed up on the shore of one of the Elizabeth Islands off the coast of Massachusetts in 1925. She is taken in by a man she later calls Osh, who promptly named her Crow. He and Miss Maggie from the nearby Island Chuttyhunk care for her and love her deeply.
Most of the people living in Chuttyhunk are kind, yet keep their distance because they fear that Crow was cast adrift from Penikese Island, which used to be a Leper colony.
Though Crow loves Osh and Maggie dearly, she yearns to find out where she came from. Her discoveries take her on an unexpected journey that ends up being more than she bargained for. Crow learns sweet lessons about love and what it means to be a family.

Recommended by April Moody


Blue EthelBlue Ethel, by Jennifer Black Reinhardt

Ethel is a silly, old, fat, black-and-white cat. A great puddle of inactivity. One day she rolls and rolls on the sidewalk. She is still old, fat, and black, but blue sidewalk chalk has rendered her no longer white. She moves through her blue period with all the grace and style of a garden slug, but with firm resolve moves from black and white to colorful. Delightfully droll illustrations enhance the comic story of the world that is Ethel.

Recommended by Nathan Spofford


Charlie and MouseCharlie and Mouse, by Laurel Snyder

A delightful early reader about two brothers and their antics. The book is divided into 4 small chapters: "Lumps", "The Party", "Rocks", and "Bedtime Banana". The story has a timeless Frog and Toad / Maurice Sendak feel with a sequel coming out this fall.

Recommended by April Moody



Charlotte's WebCharlotte's Web, by E.B. White

A pig named Wilbur was raised in a barn by a girl named Fern. Fern went to the barn every afternoon to take care of him. One day, Wilbur meets a spider named Charlotte and she makes a special web that changes Wilbur’s life.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. 

Recommended by Madison J. from Andrew Lem Lovell's fourth grade class



Cricket in the ThicketCricket in the Thicket: Poems about Bugs, by Carol Murray

Clever poetry paired with Sweet’s signature illustrations are served up with a factoid on the side. Mosquito bites are bad enough, “with itching and scratching from morning ’til night!” but thinking about the terrible gallinipper, a mosquito that can “. . . grow as big as a quarter” is just chilling!

Recommended by Nathan Spofford




Dad and the DinosaurDad and the Dinosaur, by Dan Santat

A heartwarming father-son story about bravery and facing fears. Nicholas was afraid of the dark outside his door, the bushes where the giant bugs live, and the underside of manhole covers. His dad was not afraid of anything.

Recommended by Gene Nelson



EggEgg, by Kevin Henkes

This story is a picture book about 4 eggs. The blue, pink and yellow egg all hatch, revealing 3 baby birds that fly away. The green egg does not hatch right away. When the birds return to check on the egg, they find a big surprise and develop an unlikely friendship.

Recommended by April Moody


EscargotEscargot, by Dashka Slater

Bonjour! Escargot is a beautiful French snail who wants only two things:
1. To be your favorite animal.
2. To get to the delicious salad at the end of the book.
But when he gets to the salad, he discovers that there's a carrot in it. And Escargot hates carrots. But when he finally tries one―with a little help from you!―he discovers that it's not so bad after all.

                                Recommended by Gene Nelson

Flora and UlyssesFlora & Ulysses, by Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo tells a superhero story about Flora Belle Buckman and Ulysses the squirrel. “Kate DiCamillo’s newest book . . . is the rarest of all treasures, a truly inventive and appealing children’s middle-grade novel,” said Liz Rosenberg, a book review columnist for the Boston Globe. DiCamillo tells the story of Flora, who befriends a squirrel after a near-tragic event with a vacuum cleaner. Together the two develop special abilities that help them overcome the challenges in their lives.

2014 Newbery Award Winner



Flowers for SarajevoFlowers for Sarajevo, by John McCutcheon

The moving story of a young boy who discovers the power of beauty and kindness during a time of war. Drasko helps his father sell flowers in Sarajevo, but when war threatens and his father is called to the battlefront, Drasko must take over the flower stall. One morning the boy's familiar routine is shattered when a mortar shell hits the bakery, killing twenty-two people. The next day, a cellist from the Sarajevo Opera Orchestra goes to the crater and plays the most beautiful music that Drasko can imagine. Inspired, he looks for ways to ease the sorrow of those around him. Based on real events of the Bosnian War, award-winning songwriter and storyteller John McCutcheon tells the uplifting story of the power of beauty in the face    of violence and suffering. The story comes to life with the included CD in which cellist Vedrun Smailovic accompanies McCutcheon and performs the melody that he played in 1992 to honor those who died in the Sarajevo mortar blast.

Recommended by Gene Nelson

Freaky FridayFreaky Friday, Mary Rodgers

It all started when a mom and daughter wake up and realize that they’re not in their rooms. They finally realize that they have switched bodies with each other. Now they have to try and figure out how to switch back. In the meantime, the mom has to go to school and be the kid. The kid has to be the mom and go to work and buy groceries. Read this book to find out if they will be able to switch back.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Recommended by Kesley J. from Andrew Lem Lovell's fourth grade class


Frogkisser!Frogkisser!, by Garth Nix

Poor Princess Anya. Forced to live with her evil stepmother's new husband, her evil stepstepfather. Plagued with an unfortunate ability to break curses with a magic-assisted kiss. And forced to go on the run when her stepstepfather decides to make the kingdom entirely his own. Aided by a loyal talking dog, a boy thief trapped in the body of a newt, and some extraordinarily mischievous wizards, Anya sets off on a quest that, if she plays it right, will ultimately free her land―and teach her a thing or two about the use of power, the effectiveness of a well-placed pucker, and the finding of friends in places both high and low.

 Recommended by Gene Nelson


Giant SquidGiant Squid, by Candace Fleming

Like an eerie horror movie, Fleming’s first pages pull the reader “Down, down in the depths of the sunless sea, deep, deep in the cold . . .” Scientists don’t know a great deal about giant squids, but that does not suspend the intrigue and wonder of the mysterious world deep under the sea.

Recommended by Nathan Spofford



Hank's Big Day: The Story of a BugHank's Big Day: The Story of a Bug, by Evan Kuhlman

Hank is a pill bug whose life is full of interesting daily encounters with scary grasshoppers, an occasional skateboard, and many insect friends. The real fun starts, though, when he teams up with Amelia, a human girl who takes him on a flying adventure that demonstrates size is just a matter of perspective. It truly is a big day for Hank!

                              Recommended by Tina Peterson

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of AzkabanHarry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J.K. Rowling

For twelve years Harry Potter has been living with the Dursleys. Harry hated the Dursleys so much that when he got sent off to Hogwarts, he was ecstatic, but now the happiness is ending. Will Harry, Ron and Hermione stop Voldemort from accomplishing more of his evil plans? Will they capture Sirius Black and get away from the Azkaban guards? Find out when you read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Recommended by Jenna L. from Andrew Lem Lovell's fourth grade class



Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's StoneHarry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, by J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter lives on Privet Drive and is teased by his fat cousin Dudley and bullied by his dishonest aunt and uncle. Harry wonders if he’ll ever get a better life. One stormy night, a giant breaks into a shabby little shack where Harry and his aunt and uncle are staying during Harry’s birthday. He’s confused but also amazed to find out that he’s a wizard, and that his parents’ death did not come as a result of a car crash but by an evil wizard named Lord Voldemort. Read this enchanting story to find out what Harry will do!

 Recommended by Azure T. from Andrew Lem Lovell's fourth grade class


Hello UniverseHello, Universe, by Erin Entrada Kelly

In just one day, four lives intertwine in very unexpected ways. Virgil is shy and often feels out of place. Valencia is deaf, smart, and sometimes lonely, Kaori is a self-named psychic who has a tagalong little sister, and Chet Bullens is a bully. The children aren’t friends until Chet pulls a prank that ends with Virgil and his pet guinea pig being trapped in the bottom of a well. As a rescue mission begins, friendships also begin to blossom and a bully is put in his place.

Recommended by April Moody



Henry and LeoHenry & Leo, by Pamela Zagarenski 

Leo, much more than just a stuffed toy, has been Henry’s best friend since he was a baby. When Leo gets lost on a walk through the woods, Henry’s family unsuccessfully tries to find Leo and comfort Henry. It’s a long night without Leo, but it is also a night when best friend magic works to bring the two friends together again.

Recommended by Tina Peterson



Hi, Koo!Hi, Koo!: A Year of Seasons, by Jon J. Muth

Caldecott Honoree and New York Times bestselling author/artist Jon J. Muth takes a fresh and exciting new look at the four seasons. With a feather-light touch and disarming charm, Jon J. Muth—and his delightful little panda bear, Koo—challenges readers to stretch their minds and imaginations with 26 haikus about the four seasons.

Recommended by Rachel Wadham

John Ronald's Dragons: The Story of J. R. R. TolkenJohn Ronald's Dragons: The Story of J.R.R. Tolkien, by Caroline McAlister 

A picture book biography of a boy who imagined a world full of dragons then grew up to be beloved author J.R.R. Tolkien. This story is beautifully illustrated with enough information for young fans to understand the man behind the books.

Recommended by April Moody



Keith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept DrawingKeith Haring: The Boy Who Just Kept Drawing, by Kay A. Haring

From the time he could hold a pencil or crayon, Keith Haring drew. It seemed that he never stopped. The short life of an enormously creative talent is told by Keith’s sister, Kay. The text reads like an eyewitness account, which, of course, it is. It even includes telling photographs of the Haring kids from the 1970s. While it is true that Keith’s life was cut short by a tragic death, the focus here is the inspiring story of a boy who lived his life, and dreams, to the very fullest.

Recommended by Nathan Spofford


King and Kayla and the Case of the Missing Dog TreatsKing & Kayla and the Case of the Missing Dog Treats, by Dori Hillestad Butler

Kayla made peanut butter treats for Jillian’s new puppy, King. King loves peanut butter treats! When three go missing, King is the prime suspect. Lucky for him, Kayla is a pretty good detective and adds together enough clues to figure out it wasn’t King. King also has a clue—there is an intruder in the house—but Kayla doesn’t understand what he tells her. Can King help Kayla solve the mystery?

Recommended by Tina Peterson



Last Day on MarsLast Day on Mars, by Kevin Emerson

It is Earth, year 2213—but of course there is no Earth anymore. Not since it was burned to a cinder by the sun, which has mysteriously begun the process of going supernova. The human race has fled to Mars in preparation for a second trip: a one-hundred-fifty-year journey to a distant star, our best guess at where we might find a new home.

Recommended by Gene Nelson




Leave Me AloneLeave Me Alone!, by Vera Brosgol

The humorous story of an old woman who is frustrated by all the interruptions she encounters while trying to knit 30 little sweaters for her grandchildren. But solitude can be hard to find, no matter how high you climb. Who knew that knitting could be so entertaining?

Recommended by Tina Peterson



Lexie the Word WranglerLexie the Word Wrangler, by Rebecca Van Slyke

This is a word-lovers delight! Lexie wrangles words every which way, from rhymes to anagrams and back again. The twinkling s-t-a-r in the sky turns to r-a-t-s and Lexie knows “. . . we got us a word rustler.” Lexie has what it takes to ferret out the outlaw, and soon makes things right. Filled with wordplay and a cockeyed view of what words can become, this is rich food for the budding writer or poet.

Recommended by Nathan Spofford

Life on MarsLife on Mars, by Jon Agee

In this sneaky, silly picture book for fans of Oliver Jeffers and Jon Klassen, an intrepid—but not so clever—space explorer is certain he’s found the only living thing on Mars.

Recommended by Gene Nelson




Lion LessonsLion Lessons, by Jon Agee

A comically charming story about a boy who decides to take Lion Lessons to earn his Lion Diploma, but can he really be a lion? His pro teacher, a real lion, isn’t so sure . . . until the last lesson of all—looking out for your friends.

Recommended by Tina Peterson 



ListenListen: How Pete Seeger Got America Singing, by Leda Schubert

As much as The Rooster is metaphor, Pete Seeger is literal. Pete sang with anybody and everybody. He sang out about human rights, rivers full of pollution, and plain folks struggling to make ends meet. And he suffered oppressive blacklisting under McCarthyism. Through it all, he taught the country to sing and rejoice, work together, and make a difference. Colon’s lavish illustrations round out this biography perfectly.

Recommended by Nathan Spofford



LocomotiveLocomotive, by Brian Floca

Locomotive takes readers back 100 years to tell the story of America’s early railroads through one family’s experiences. “The committee was impressed with Floca’s ability to creatively capture the immensity and inner workings of the early locomotive and combine it with a family’s adventurous journey West,” said Marion Hanes Rutsch, Caldecott Medal Committee Chair.

2014 Caldecott Medal Winner


MasterpieceMasterpiece, by Elise Broach

This exciting story begins when James, an 11-year-old boy living in New York City, receives a pen and ink set for his birthday. Marvin, a beetle, lives in James’ apartment. One morning James wakes up to find an intricate ink drawing by Marvin, who is able to create tiny masterpieces using James’ bottle of ink. Marvin’s special talents and James’ penchant for adventure get them both wrapped up in a thrilling mystery involving an Albrecht Durer drawing at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

(Read the full article here)



Midnight ThiefMidnight Thief, by Livia Blackburne

Growing up on Forge's streets has taught Kyra how to stretch a coin. And when that's not enough, her uncanny ability to scale walls and bypass guards helps her take what she needs. But when the leader of the Assassins Guild offers Kyra a lucrative job, she hesitates. She knows how to get by on her own, and she's not sure she wants to play by his rules. But he is persistent—and darkly attractive—and Kyra can't quite resist his pull. In her arresting debut novel, Livia Blackburne creates a captivating world where intrigue prowls around every corner and danger is a way of life.

Recommended by Rachel Wadham



Moo: A NovelMoo: A Novel, by Sharon Creech

Most all of us have sat in traffic and wished we could escape. In Moo, Reena’s family does just that. To the coast of Maine, no less. Reena and her brother are sent by their parents to help Mrs. Falala, a neighbor lady, with her animals. And among the animals is Zora, a selfish, dirty, obnoxious cow. As it turns out, there is fun to be had, and plenty to learn. An entire summer’s worth.

Recommended by Nathan Spofford




My New Friend is So Fun!My New Friend is So Fun!, by Mo Willems

Gerald is careful. Piggie is not. Piggie cannot help smiling. Gerald can. Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to.

Gerald and Piggie are best friends.

In My New Friend Is So Fun!, Piggie has found a new friend. But is Gerald ready to share?

Recommended by Rachel Wadham


Narwhal Unicorn of the SeaNarwhal: Unicorn of the Sea, by Ben Clanton

Narwhal is pretty awesome with his tusk-like, toothy horn, but when he meets Jelly, the level of awesome soars as these two new friends imagine their way through three fun adventures.

Recommended by Tina Peterson




Noodleheads See the FutureNoodleheads See the Future, by Tedd Arnold

Tedd Arnold, the guy who does Fly Guy, and renowned storytellers Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss have done it again: the wacky Noodlehead brothers, who first appeared in Noodlehead Nightmares, are back for a second adventure that brings folktale tomfoolery into the 21st century.

Recommended by Gene Nelson




Old Dog Baby BabyOld Dog Baby Baby, by Julie Fogliano

With simple and lyrical rhyming, this story is about a baby and the old family dog who meet and explore the world under the kitchen table. At the end of the day, a new friendship is solidified as both buddies snuggle together, sound asleep.

Recommended by Tina Peterson


One Proud PennyOne Proud Penny, by Randy Siegel

Have you ever wondered where that penny traveled before it came to you? Or perhaps you have wondered where pennies are made, or how many pennies are actually out there. After reading this story about one penny’s travels, you just might have all the answers, plus some other interesting facts all about pennies!

Recommended by Tina Peterson



Owl Sees OwlOwl Sees Owl, by Laura Godwin

A simple book based on reverso poetry that tells the story of a small owl’s exciting nighttime adventure away from the safety of his nest . . . As owl sees his own startled reflection in a pool of water, the words reverse to help owl travel back home to safety. Clever yet simple.

Recommended by Tina Peterson




PandoraPandora, by Victoria Turnbull

Pandora lives in a world where everything is broken. She collects many of the broken things and makes herself a beautiful home with them. Unfortunately, she has no one to share it with until a bird with a broken wing arrives. As the bird begins to fly it returns bringing seeds and other things—until one day it doesn't come back. Though she is heartbroken, she gradually sees that things are growing all around her and that the seeds of friendship continue. A beautifully illustrated story about friendship, growth and renewal.

Recommended by April Moody


Percy Jackson and the Lightning ThiefPercy Jackson: The Lightning Thief, by Rick Riordan

Percy Jackson thinks that he is a normal kid. He has a suspicious teacher, Mr. Chiron, who tells him he is a half-blood and sends him to a very weird camp for all half-bloods. Percy now begins to realize that he is not a normal kid; he can do unusual things like read Greek. At camp he meets Grover and Annabeth. These three are about to have the biggest adventure of their life.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Recommended by Thomas W. from Andrew Lem Lovell's fourth grade class




Picture This: How Pictures WorkPicture This: How Pictures Work, by Molly Bang

Molly Bang’s brilliant, insightful, and accessible treatise is now revised and expanded for its 25th anniversary. Bang’s powerful ideas—about how the visual composition of images works to engage the emotions and how the elements of an artwork can give it the power to tell a story—remain unparalleled in their simplicity and genius.

Recommended by Gene Nelson



Princess Cora and the CrocodilePrincess Cora and the Crocodile, by Laura Amy Schlitz

Princess Cora is sick of boring lessons. She’s sick of running in circles around the dungeon gym. She’s sick, sick, sick of taking three baths a day. And her parents won’t let her have a dog. But when she writes to her fairy godmother for help, she doesn’t expect that help to come in the form of a crocodile—a crocodile who does not behave properly. With perfectly paced dry comedy, children’s book luminaries Laura Amy Schlitz and Brian Floca send Princess Cora on a delightful outdoor adventure.

Recommended by Gene Nelson



Range's ApprenticeRanger's Apprentice Series, by John Flanagan

This series focuses on Will, an orphan living in the Castle Araluen in a medieval-type setting. On Choosing Day, Will is bound as an apprentice to Halt, the most famous ranger in all the lands. During his five years of training, he learns the ranger skills that enable him to battle monsters and human enemies as he serves the king and protects the people of the kingdom of Araluen.

Recommended by Joyce Terry (See full article here)





RevolutionRevolution, by Deborah Wiles

It's 1964, and Sunny’s town is being invaded. Or at least that’s what the adults of Greenwood, Mississippi, are saying. All Sunny knows is that people from up north are coming to help people register to vote. They're calling it Freedom Summer.

Meanwhile, Sunny can’t help but feel like her house is being invaded, too. She has a new stepmother, a new brother, and a new sister crowding her life, giving her little room to breathe. And things get even trickier when Sunny and her brother are caught sneaking into the local swimming pool—where they bump into a mystery boy whose life is going to become tangled up in theirs.

As she did in her groundbreaking documentary novel Countdown, award-winning author Deborah Wiles uses stories and images to tell the riveting story of a certain time and place—and of kids who, in a world where everyone is choosing sides, must figure out how to stand up for themselves and fight for what's right.

Recommended by Rachel Wadham

Ruin and RisingRuin and Rising (Grisha Trilogy), by Leigh Bardugo

The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne. Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army. Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives. Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction, and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

Ruin and Rising is the thrilling final installment in Leigh Bardugo's Grisha Trilogy.

Recommended by Rachel Wadham


Scar IslandScar Island, by Dan Gemeinhart

Jonathan Grisby is a new arrival at the Slabhenge Reformatory School for Troubled Boys. The school is in an old crumbling fortress on an island that is slowly eroding. Riddled with guilt for his mistakes, Jonathan feels he deserves to be in this place. Just as Jonathan is getting used to the cruel punishments of the “admiral,” a freak accident leaves all of the boys without any adult supervision. The boys have newfound freedom but don’t expect the dangers that come with it. This story is an intense page turner while also being insightful about the prisons we create for ourselves. This was a Lord of the Flies best for older middle readers.

Recommended by April Moody




Secrets at SeaSecrets at Sea, by Richard Peck

In 1887, two families occupy the Cranston home in the Hudson Valley: the Upstairs Cranstons—a human family consisting of Mr. and Mrs. Cranston and their two daughters, Olive and Camilla, and the other family—the Mice Cranstons, who have occupied the home for generations longer than their human counterparts. The mice consist of four surviving siblings: Helena, Louise, Beatrice, and Lamont. On the day that the mice learn that the social-climbing Human Cranstons plan to set sail for England to find a husband for Olive, they refuse to be left behind. Certain that they are needed to shape the destiny of their human counterparts, the Mice Cranstons decide that they also must travel to Europe. The four mice encounter many aristocratic humans and mice as they set sail on a life-changing journey filled with danger and surprise.

Recommended by Dr. Terrell Young (See full article here)


ShortShort, by Holly Goldberg Sloan

In this heartwarming, funny middle-grade novel by the bestselling author of Counting by 7s, Julia grows into herself while playing a Munchkin in a production of The Wizard of Oz.

Recommended by Gene Nelson






Some WriterSome Writer: The Story of E. B. White, by Melissa Sweet

This book describes a brilliant life, brilliantly portrayed from primary source documents and photographs and lavishly coalesced by Melissa Sweet’s colorful, detailed, scrapbook-style art. Choosing to do a biography on an iconic and beloved writer is risky business. It has to be just right, a carefully balanced nuance of research and wonder. And this work is indeed just right!

Recommended by Nathan Spofford




Step Right UpStep Right Up: How Doc and Jim Key Taught the World about Kindness, by Donna Janell Bowman

A beautifully illustrated true story of a former slave turned doctor/veterinarian. William “Doc” Key was well known in his community for providing remedies to both humans and animals. While the biography shares general information about Doc’s life, its focus is on how Doc Key healed a sickly foal named Jim and then taught the horse to read, spell, and even do math problems. Doc and Jim toured the United States, amazing audiences and promoting kindness to animals. This is an amazing story of how one man and one horse profoundly changed the ideas of a nation through something as simple as kindness. More extensive information about Doc’s life as well as archival photos are included in the back of the book.

Recommended by Tina Peterson


Strange the DreamerStrange the Dreamer, by Laini Taylor

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around—and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he's been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance or lose his dream forever.

Recommended by Gene Nelson





Super Narwhal and Jelly JoltSuper Narwhal and Jelly Jolt, by Ben Clanton

The fun continues as Narwhal and Jelly superfy their friendship. Jelly Jolt has a superpower, but what is Narwhal’s superpower? Come find out as these two friends adventure their way across the ocean, superfying other sea creatures along the way.

Recommended by Tina Peterson





TeacupTeacup, by Rebecca Young

Breathtaking illustrations partnered with a simple text tell the allegorical story of a boy who needs to leave his home and find a new one. He carries with him a book, a bottle, and a teacup full of earth from his home. After a tree grows from the cup and he is safely rooted in his new home, a girl arrives with a broken eggshell cup. . . . A book deliciously filled with many possible meanings.

Recommended by Tina Peterson




The Art of SecretsThe Art of Secrets, by James Klise

When Saba Khan's apartment burns in a mysterious fire, possibly a hate crime, her Chicago high school rallies around her. Her family moves rent-free into a luxury apartment, Saba's Facebook page explodes, and she starts (secretly) dating a popular boy. Then a quirky piece of art donated to a school fund-raising effort for the Khans is revealed to be an unknown work by a famous artist, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and Saba's life turns upside down again.

The true story of the fire that sets events in motion and what happens afterward gradually comes together in an innovative narrative made up of journal entries, interviews, articles, letters, text messages, and other documents.

Recommended by Rachel Wadham



The BoundlessThe Boundless, by Kenneth Oppel

The Boundless, the greatest train ever built, is on its maiden voyage across the country, and first-class passenger Will Everett is about to embark on the adventure of his life.

When Will ends up in possession of the key to a train car containing priceless treasures, he becomes the target of sinister figures from his past.

In order to survive, Will must join a traveling circus, enlisting the aid of Mr. Dorian, the ringmaster and leader of the troupe, and Maren, a girl his age who is an expert escape artist. With villains fast on their heels, can Will and Maren reach Will’s father and save The Boundless before someone winds up dead?

Recommended by Rachel Wadham



The Candy Shop WarThe Candy Shop War, by Brandon Mull

Four kids go to a candy shop and start helping the owner clean up for candy. One day the lady and the kids are hard at work and the lady gives them magic candy. First she gives them Moonrocks that makes them jump super high. She then sends them on a secret mission. Read to find out what happens next.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Recommended by Trenton B. from Andrew Lem Lovell's fourth grade class





The Cow Who Climbed a TreeThe Cow Who Climbed a Tree, by Gemma Merino

Tina isn't like the other cows. She believes that the sky is the limit and that everything is possible. But her sisters aren't convinced—and when Tina tells them she has climbed a tree and met a dragon, they decide that her nonsense has gone too far. Off they go into the woods to find her . . . and they soon discover a world of surprises!

Recommended by April Moody




The Legend of Rock Paper ScissorsThe Legend of Rock Paper Scissors, by Drew Daywalt

You’ve all played the game. This fantastically hilarious story explains how rock, paper, scissors first came to be. Are you wearing your battle pants?

Recommended by Tina Peterson




The Lost Kingdom of BamarreThe Lost Kingdom of Bamarre, by Gail Carson Levine

Lady Perengrine (Perry) is a Lakti who has been taught that the Bamarre people are inferior. Perry soon learns secrets from the fairy Halina that make her doubt all she has been taught. Still, she accompanies her father on a military expedition armed with several magical items given to her by her mother. Perry is captured, but her fate is not what she expected. She finds herself learning who she really is and that the fate of the Bamarre may rest with her. A delightful fantasy that references Rapunzel, the Seven-League Boots, and the Good Table Cloth. Fans of Levine will not be disappointed!

Recommended by April Moody





The Many Reflections of Miss Jane DemingThe Many Reflections of Miss Jane Deming, by J. Anderson Coats

Jane's father passed away in the battles of the Civil War. Her stepmother is determined that she will find a new husband and a better life in the Washington Territory. They join an expedition bringing unmarried girls and civil war widows out west. They leave from New York City and travel around South America then up to the Washington territory.
Seattle doesn’t turn out to be quite as advertised. In this rough-and-tumble frontier town, Jane is going to need every bit of her broad mind and sturdy constitution—not to mention a good sense of humor and a stubborn streak a mile wide. Jane learns how to live in the territory, to love a new family and to find creative ways to continue her education.

Recommended by April Moody




The One and Only IvanThe One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate

Applegate’s story comes to life through a gorilla’s distinctive narrative voice, which is filled with wry humor, deep emotion, and thought-provoking insights into the nature of friendship, hope, and humanity.

“Katherine Applegate gives readers a unique and unforgettable gorilla’s-eye-view of the world that challenges the way we look at animals and at ourselves,” noted Newbery Medal Committee Chair Steven Engelfried.

2013 Newberry Award Winner




The Orphan KeeperThe Orphan Keeper, by Camron Wright

This novel is based on a true story about a young boy that was kidnapped from his home in India and then adopted by a couple living in the United States. It helps you realize the strength of family ties.

I think that this book would be enjoyed by almost any age reader.

Recommended by Patti Greaves





The PenderwicksThe Penderwicks, by Jeanne Birdsall

Celebrating the joys and pains of family life, Birdsall’s The Penderwicks tells the story of one family’s summer vacation. Filled with humor, this book captures eras past with its nostalgic tone and style, which is sure to appeal to fans of L.M. Montgomery, Marry Norton, and Beverly Cleary. Although it captures those sensibilities, Birdsall’s tale is in no way old fashioned as it deals with the daily issues of family and friendship in sensitive and charming ways. Since the sisters represent a span of ages, this book has great appeal for a wide variety of age groups as a read-aloud or a read-alone. Since it is followed by two sequels—The Penderwicks on Gardam Street and The Penderwicks at Point Mouette—any reader who falls in love with the Penderwicks clan will find much more to enjoy.

Recommended by Rachel Wadham




The Pilot and the Little PrinceThe Pilot and the Little Prince, by Peter Sis

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry was born in France in 1900, when airplanes were just being invented. Antoine dreamed of flying and grew up to be a pilot—and that was when his adventures began. He found a job delivering mail by plane, which had never been done before. He and his fellow pilots traveled to faraway places and discovered new ways of getting from one place to the next. Antoine flew over mountains and deserts. He battled winds and storms. He tried to break aviation records, and sometimes he even crashed. From his plane, Antoine looked down on the earth and was inspired to write about his life and his pilot-hero friends in memoirs and in fiction. Peter Sís’s remarkable biography celebrates the author of The Little Prince, one of the most beloved books in the world.

Recommended by Rachel Wadham



The Poet's DogThe Poet's Dog, by Patricia MacLaughlan

Don’t be fooled by this book’s size; it may be little, but it is fierce. In the hands of another writer, this story might have become trite and foolish. With MacLachlan at the helm, it is deep, thoughtful, and poignant. Teddy, an Irish Wolfhound, uses flashbacks to tell the story of losing his dear poet, Sylvan, while rescuing two children lost in a snowstorm—children who turn out to be real jewels!

Recommended by Nathan Spofford






The ReaderThe Reader, by Traci Chee

Sefia’s mother is dead. After her father is also viciously murdered, she follows instructions her parents gave her should anything ever happen to them. She flees to the forest with her aunt Nin and a strange object she later learns is a book. Sefia and her aunt spend years hiding and traveling, but when Nin is kidnapped, Sefia vows to find her, learn how to use the book, and get revenge. She and her new friend Archer, who she rescues from a life of slavery, embark on a swashbuckling adventure. As Sefia learns to read she slowly begins to unravel secrets about her world, her place in it, and the power of stories. A great YA page turner with a sequel expected this November.

Recommended by April Moody





The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet!The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet, by Carmen Agra Deedy

This Mexican village is downright noisy until a new mayor is elected, one who gradually enacts new laws eventually requiring absolute silence. That is, until a rooster, equal parts happy and noisy, refuses to stop singing, no matter what the new mayor tries. Perky, colorful art illuminates and intensifies the storyline.

Recommended by Nathan Spofford





The Secret ProjectThe Secret Project, by Jonah Winter

Mother-son team Jonah and Jeanette Winter bring to life one of the most secretive scientific projects in history—the creation of the atomic bomb—in this powerful and moving picture book.

Recommended by Gene Nelson






The Sun is Also a StarThe Sun is Also a Star, by Nicola Yoon

What an unlikely pair: a Korean-American boy and a Jamaican girl about to be deported. It’s not easy to find love, especially when you have an obnoxious brother, a father you can’t understand, and less than twenty-four hours. But Natasha and Daniel do find love in this brutally honest, emotionally intense series of seemingly magical moments. The magic of love is delicately chronicled into a story of immense power and raw emotion, hurtling forward at hurricane speed.

Recommended by Nathan Spofford






The Uncorker of Ocean BottlesThe Uncorker of Ocean Bottles, by Michelle Cuevas

The uncorker of ocean bottles has the job to open any bottle found washed up on shore and make sure the message is delivered to the right person. When a message washes up with no name attached, he tries to find who it belongs to and in the end finds what he most desires. A beautifully illustrated picture book.

Recommended by April Moody



The Unexpected Love Story of Alfred FiddleducklingThe Unexpected Love Story of Alfred Fiddleduckling, by Timothy Basil Ering

A tender metaphor for the power of love, Alfred Fiddleduckling unwittingly enters a lost and confused world. But mystery and fear are no match for his singular courage and unflagging hope. Not to mention he is one heck of a fiddle player!

Recommended by Nathan Spofford






The Warden's DaughterThe Warden's Daughter, by Jerry Spinelli

Set in the 1950s, 12-year-old Cammie lives with her dad in a prison apartment where he works as the warden. When she was a baby she and her mother were in a tragic accident. Though she survived, her mother did not. Cammie does not realize she is in her own prison of grief as she longs to have a mother to take care of her. Cammie has a trustee/housekeeper inmate who keeps track of her and the house. Cammie longs for more and tries everything she can to get the trustee to be her mother. I loved the ending of this book. Cammie learns lessons about dealing with grief, seeing people for who they are, and growing up.

Recommended by April Moody





The WitchesThe Witches, by Roald Dahl

A little boy experiences the real story of witches in this dangerous journey to stop the grand high witch. Read this book to find out the real way of witches and to see if a little boy can save England and the whole world!

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Recommended by Jane P. from Andrew Lem Lovell's fourth grade class






The Young ElitesThe Young Elites, by Marie Lu

Enzo Valenciano is a member of the Dagger Society. This secret sect of Young Elites seeks out others like them before the Inquisition Axis can. But when the Daggers find Adelina, they discover someone with powers like they've never seen.

Adelina wants to believe Enzo is on her side, and that Teren is the true enemy. But the lives of these three will collide in unexpected ways, as each fights a very different and personal battle. But of one thing they are all certain: Adelina has abilities that shouldn't belong in this world, a vengeful blackness in her heart, and a desire to destroy all who dare to cross her.

Recommended by Rachel Wadham





They All Saw a CatThey All Saw a Cat, by Brendan Wenzel

“The cat walked through the world, with its whiskers, ears, and paws . . .” seeing and being seen by many different creatures. “They all saw a cat,” but what a different cat each of them witnesses. Science and art masterfully blend in a simple book about perception.

Recommended by Tina Peterson



Thick As ThievesThick As Thieves, by Megan Whalen Turner

This story is set in the same world as Turner’s Queen’s Thief Series, though it isn’t necessary to read them to fully understand this one. Kamet, a slave, minds his own business keeping track of the accounts for his cruel master. When he is told his master has been killed, a soldier in the shadows offers escape. They are pursued across rivers, mountains and deserts, and Kamet is determined to protect his own future at all costs. Similar to The Thief, this story has a long journey, storytelling, plot twists, and multilayered characters you grow to love.

Recommended by April Moody






This Is Not My HatThis Is Not My Hat, by Jon Klassen

In this humorous tale, a tiny fish knows it’s wrong to steal a hat, but the hat fits him just right. When the big fish that owns it wants his hat back, a humorous situation with a lesson is created. Klassen’s controlled range of vocabulary, opposing narratives, and subtle cues compel readers to follow the fish and try to figure out the outcome. “With minute changes in eyes and the slightest displacement of sea grass, Klassen’s masterful illustrations tell the story the narrator doesn’t know,” Caldecott Chair Sandra Imdieke explained.

2013 Caldecott Medal winner

Three Billy Goats GruffThe Three Billy Goats Gruff, by Jerry Pinkney

Striking illustrations and crisp, vivid text combine to make an extraordinary, yet updated, retelling of the famous goats. Detailed endpapers give the before and after, and story trip-traps along to a new, unexpected, but fully satisfying conclusion.

Recommended by Nathan Spofford



Thunder UndergroundThunder Underground, by Jane Yolen

A fun collection of poems that all take place underground in places like the subway, the garden, the basement, and buried treasure. This would be a fun addition to any child’s poetry collection.

Recommended by April Moody






TriangleTriangle, by Mac Garnett

A humorous story about a triangle and square who like to play tricks on each other. A pair of practical jokes will leave readers wondering who started it. The tongue-in-cheek text and trademark illustrations make this a funny read-aloud.

Recommended by April Moody




Under the EggUnder the Egg, by Laura Marx Fitzgerald

When Theodora Tenpenny spills a bottle of rubbing alcohol on her late grandfather’s painting, she discovers what seems to be an old Renaissance masterpiece underneath. That’s great news for Theo, who’s struggling to hang onto her family’s two-hundred-year-old townhouse and support her unstable mother on her grandfather’s legacy of $463. There’s just one problem: Theo’s grandfather was a security guard at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and she worries the painting may be stolen.

With the help of some unusual new friends, Theo's search for answers takes her all around Manhattan, and introduces her to a side of the city—and of her grandfather—that she never knew. To solve the mystery, she'll have to abandon her hard-won self-reliance and build a community, one serendipitous friendship at a time.

Recommended by Rachel Wadham




Vincent and TheoVincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers, by Deborah Heiligman

From the time Vincent left home for school in 1864 until his death with Theo at his side, Vincent exchanged letters with Theo, sometimes several in a single day. Heiligman’s genius here is taking those letters and creating the warp and weft of a life lived on the very edge. Keeping readers captivated for 464 pages, here is a biography full of life, insight, compassion, and awe. Not to be missed!

Recommended by Nathan Spofford







Wait Till Helen ComesWait Till Helen Comes, by Mary Downing Hahn

Molly’s mother gets remarried, and now Molly and her brother Michael have a stepsister named Heather who holds terrible secrets. Heather does horrible things and blames it on Molly and Michael. Soon, Molly’s family moves into a church, and in the backyard there is a graveyard where Heather finds a never-before-seen tombstone and a new friend, Helen. Heather will go any distance to get Molly and Michael in trouble. Can it get any worse? Yes . . . when Helen comes.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Recommended by Ruth S. from Andrew Lem Lovell's fourth grade class





Wolf in the SnowWolf in the Snow, by Matthew Cordell

A girl is lost in a snowstorm. A wolf cub is lost, too. How will they find their way home?
Paintings rich with feeling tell this satisfying story of friendship and trust. Here is a book set on a wintry night that will spark imaginations and warm hearts. From Matthew Cordell, author of Trouble Gum and Another Brother.

Recommended by Gene Nelson



Yvain: The Knight of the LionYvain: The Knight of the Lion, by M.T. Anderson

Eager for glory and heedless of others, Sir Yvain sets out from King Arthur’s court and defeats a local lord in battle, unknowingly intertwining his future with the lives of two compelling women: Lady Laudine, the beautiful widow of the fallen lord, and her sly maid Lunette. In a stunning visual interpretation of a 12th century epic poem by Chrétien de Troyes, readers are—at first glance—transported into a classic Arthurian romance complete with errant knights, plundering giants, and fire-breathing dragons. A closer look, however, reveals a world rich with unspoken emotion. Striking, evocative art by Andrea Offermann sheds light upon the inner lives of medieval women and the consequences that Yvain’s oblivious actions have upon Laudine and Lunette. Renowned author M. T. Anderson embraces a new form with a sophisticated graphic novel that challenges Yvain’s role as hero, delves into the honesty and anguish of love, and asks just how fundamentally the true self can really change.

Recommended by Gene Nelson