RSS Feed

Staff Picks: Books

Coding for Kids!

While computer coding is a deep topic, like math and technical fields, it never hurts to set foundations early. Kiki Prottsman and DK have created a fun way to set these foundations with the new “My First Coding Book.” The basics of coding have to do with learning logic and the words used to describe certain actions and ideas. My First Coding Book teaches young readers these concepts, with fun illustrations, and lift-the-flap style games. This book is very cute, great fun, and I recommend it to anyone (even adults) who want a better sense of how this computing stuff -- at its core -- really works.


Books became our language.  Books became our home.  Books became our lives.  Yuyi Morales has created another beautifully illustrated picture book about her experience as a young immigrant mother with her infant son.  She left her home in Juarez, Mexico and settled in San Francisco feeling completely lost, until the day she discover the public library.

The Word Collector

Like many in the library profession, I am a fan of words. So is young Jerome, who has a unique way of collecting them and sharing them. To be enjoyed are both the story and the artwork.

A Donkey Named Winslow

Sharon Creech is a multiple award winning author of Moo, one of my all time favorite J fiction books. So, when i saw that she had published another, titled Saving Winslow, just this past September 2018, i grabbed it and read it in one sitting. The book is a short 165 pages making it a very engaging, quick  read.

This time , the story revolves around middle schooler Louis and a donkey named Winslow. Louis is surprised when his father gives him a day-old , gray, mini-donkey from Uncle Pete's small farm. The newborn donkey's mother is too sick to care for him, so both adults hope the animal will fare better under Louis's attention, this despite his track record for nurturing young animals in the past  have never been successful. Louis however, is undaunted by his past pet failures , and accepts the mission to care for this pitiful donkey, even though is parents and others tell him not to get too attached to the young animal because it will probably end up dying in a day or so. Undeterred, Louis is determined to succeed this time.

The ending is a somewhat surprising revelation about the special bond between boy and donkey, and the special love that letting things go requires. A well written book that will tug at the heartstrings of any school aged child who loves animals. Sharon Creech has done it again!

Night Job

Karen Hesse is renowned for Out of the Dust, a Newbery Medal winning dust bowl story written in verse, and other great reads. Hesse has some wonderful picture book collaborations, too, where words and pictures combine to make something really special. The new picture book, Night Job, with illustrations by G. Brian Karas, is a great example. The story seems pretty mundane: dad brings child to work as custodian at a large middle school. But what makes the book special is the representation of father and child in their everyday lives. Sure, they ride a motorcycle to and from work, but it's a mode of transportation, nothing flashy. There's something really poignant about shooting baskets in the big-kid-gym while dad works or falling asleep in an office until dad is done and it's time to go home.

Happy Birthday, Harry Potter!

Today is Harry Potter's birthday, and J.K. Rowling's, too. The series is remarkable in its appeal to a wide range of readers (and read-tos). For that reason, Kalamazoo Public Library has copies of the books in this most well-known series in a variety of formats and in a variety of locations. The audiobook (and eAudiobook) versions of the Harry Potter books, voiced by Jim Dale, are standouts. The larger format and more heavily illustrated, yet unabridged print editions that began to come out a few years ago are another great way to enjoy this modern classic. And, soon to be released 20th anniversary editions with cover art by Caldecott Medalist Brian Selznick are something to look forward to in the very near future. It's always nice to have something to look forward to. Like a birthday. Happy birthday, Harry!

Animals that Work Together

I recently discovered a wonderful new children’s non-fiction series entitled, “Animal Teamwork.” Books on Elephants, Wolves, Gorillas, and Meerkats are now part of the collection. Each book details how the animals live and work together, and like many great non-fiction picture books, extra facts added to each page provide additional chances for young readers to learn more about these incredible creatures.

A Dog Named Doug

A Dog Named Doug by Karma Wilson and illustrated Matt Myers is a fun book for children and adults, especially for anyone who has a dog or knows a dog who loves to dig holes. This story features a daring dog named Doug who cannot stop digging. There is much repetition of the "D" sound throughout the book, "Once there was a dog named Doug. Doug liked to dig, but when Doug dug... " Doug meets a ground squirrel who challenges him to dig holes and longgggggg underground tunnels. Consequently Doug digs to the White House, a farmer's fields where Doug digs a hole SO big that a huge tractor falls into the hole! Doug digs to mountains and all the way to China! Doug digs directionally: North, South, East, and West! The simple, expressive, colorful illustrations are excellent and this is a helpful book for teaching alliteration and homonyms. The Kalamazoo Public Library has many books by Karma Wilson and many books illustrated by Matt Myers.

Ocean Meets Sky

Ocean Meets Sky is a delightful picture book with wonderful illustrations.  Little Finn, who lives by the sea, goes on a magical journey in search of the place his grandfather told him stories about. It is the place with the ocean meets the sky.  Along the way, he sees many incredible sights and visits intriguing places like the Library Islands.  Preschoolers will enjoy the pictures and words created by the Fan Brothers


The author of "Box Turtle"  is John Himmelman, an award -winning author and illustrator  of over 80 books! He also happens to be a naturalist who has traveled throughout both North and South America studying wildlife.

This book is beautifully illustrated with colorful depictions of a box turtle and her journey which begins in a New England forest in 1892. With the passage of time the little turtle's forest home is invaded by newly built houses and cars driving on a dirt road. One of these cars slightly damages her shell. Despite the injury, the turtle survives and becomes a pet for a young boy who before entering college releases the turtle back into the woods.

Box turtles live on land, not in ponds or water and should never be considered for pets.The Eastern box turtle can live anywhere from 40 to well over 100 years in age. Supposedly, the oldest living box turtle on record was believed to be about 145 years old!

This is a great book for kids with a valuable conservation message.