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Staff Picks: Books

B.U.G. (Big Ugly Guy)

While working in the chapter books collection of the Children’s Room, B.U.G (Big Ugly Guy), a middle grade chapter book by Jane Yolen and Adam Stemple, caught my attention. Sammy Greenburg gets bullied (a lot) because he stands up for other kids. When a new 6th grader, John “Skink” Skinner, comes to Sammy's aid, they are fast friends - in part because both are musicians and they both love words. Sammy plays clarinet and Skink plays guitar. Sammy introduces his friend to klezmer music and they aspire to start a band with their friend Julia on violin. The plot thickens when Sammy decides to make a golem, the mythical, hulking, protecting colossus of Jewish folklore, out of his father’s pottery clay. And, of course, that’s how they get a drummer for their nascent klez/punk band. It’s pretty cool to find a middle-grade novel with references to The Klezmatics and even a brief explication of some klez scale patterns. There are inevitable problems when building your own golem to vanquish school yard bullies. You’ll have to read the book to find out how it ends.

Unveiling The Cloud Forest Dwelling Olinguito

Olinguito, from A to Z! by Lulu Delacre is an award winning alphabet book written in both Spanish and English. It takes the reader on a journey accompanying an intrepid zoologist searching out the elusive olinguito. An olinguito is a mammal recently discovered to be a separate species. Related to the raccoon, olinguitos live exclusively in the cloud forests of Ecuador.

This beautifully illustrated volume features the many plants and animals who call the cloud forest their home. It also includes the author's notes about the real discovery of the olinguito, as well as additional information about the cloud forest, how the illustrations came to be, on being an explorer, and a glossary of the various cloud forest plants and animals(with their Spanish pronunciations).As an added bonus, there is a built-in puzzle/game that will have younger readers going back to play more than once.

Very creative and truly Magnifico!

Worms For Breakfast: How to Feed A Zoo

What did you have for breakfast this morning? What is usually on your breakfast menu? I bet you are not having dried ants to taste, ¾ pound small oily fish or 1 teaspoon ground cuttlefish bone. But a gorilla will have the ants, a flamingo chick will have the oily fish and a snail will have the cuttlefish bone mixed in his snail trail mix. If this sounds interesting, then you will want to read Worms For Breakfast: How to Feed A Zoo. It is full of information and recipes for feeding all the zoo animals. Feeding time at the zoo is always one of the most popular events and this book is a cookbook for the animals. There are recipes for Predator Popsicles, Presto Pesto Sauce – Koala Style and Elephant-slimming Fruit Fandango. Worms For Breakfast is packed with facts about animal nutrition and feeding them. It also includes how the animals hunt and eat in the wild and how the zoo feeds them so they feel as though they are in the wild hunting for their own food.

The author answers questions about what and how much each animal eats, who cooks and serves the food (a zoo nutritionist) and what does the grocery shopping list look like. There is so much fun information in this book. The photographs and illustrations will keep families busy reading and looking at this book over and over again.

This book really is fun – oh by the way I had an English muffin with peanut butter for breakfast today – hold the ants!

Ada Twist, Scientist

You can never go wrong with a children's book that rhymes.  You can go far with a children's book that promotes STEM.  Ada Twist, Scientist is the newest creation by the authors of Rosie Revere, Engineer and Iggy Peck, Architect.  A must read for inspiring the young and encouraging the curious mind.

Grandparents Day

Yesterday was National Grandparents Day, but these picture books featuring stories about kids and their grandparents are great to share all year long.

Hot, Hot Roti for Dada-ji

My Abuelita

A Morning With Grandpa

North Woods Girl

Last Stop on Market Street

Mango, Abuela, and Me

Plastic, Ahoy!

Last night, I took home a new children's book to read called Plastic, Ahoy! Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. The book is by Patricia Newman, with photographs by Annie Crawley. Right away, I flipped through the book looking for an aerial photo of some huge sea of garbage in the greater sea of...ocean. But there was none. The plastic waste that winds up in the ocean, funneled in by rivers and lakes, swept in from beaches, and blown in by the wind, breaks down into small pieces due to exposure to water and sunlight. Although the garbage shrinks, the problems it causes do not. The book introduces a team of scientists, each with her own hypothesis about the environmental affects of these plastic bits on ocean life. They conduct experiments to try to either verify or disprove their hypotheses, and often, other questions pop up along the way. I liked this book because it discusses concepts such as the scientific theory, food chain, gyres, microorganisms, and chemical leakage and absorption, in addition to other topics, in simple language that kids can easily understand (and adults who haven't taken a science class in a long time). And of course, the authors offer some measures that we can take to reduce our own impact. One that I like, which I had not heard before, is to bring your own reusable container to restaurants to take your leftovers home in. It is interesting and inspiring to follow this scientific adventure, and to learn about the people and organizations that are working to address the issues marine life faces due to human irresponsibility.

An Ode to Girl Power!

Keep Climbing, Girls was written by Beah Richards, the great actress. In LisaGay Hamilton’s introduction of the book she refers to Beah Richards as an actress, a poet, a dancer, and a political activist. Miss Hamilton mentions a collection of poems that Beah Richards had published entitled A Black Woman Speaks, where Beah encourages us all to reach far beyond society’s expectations and to fight for a world that embraces freedom and equality for all.

“The moral of this story is: to keep climbing, girls, and let no one prevent you.”

Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn

As a child walks through her town, she greets the summer morning, the big orange sun, the walking sticks and butterflies . . . “Hello, chill in the air.” And they reply to her; “Hello, it’s time to bring out your thick sweaters and scarves.”

Simple, thoughtful text is matched with lovely illustrations with many small details to catch the eye of the youngest listener. Goodbye Summer, Hello Autumn is a beautiful picture book about the changing season.


Sewers and the Rats That Love Them

There are some kids out there who ask why the sky is blue, what stars are made of, and if magic is real. Then there are kids who ask where the stuff in the toilet goes after you flush. And some adults wonder too. Or maybe I’m the only one.

Anyway, I stumbled across Sewers and the Rats That Love Them, by Kelly Barnhill, after reading The Mostly True Story of Jack and searching Barnhill in the catalog to see what else she has written. I was delighted to discover this book of gross and learned from its 28 pages of sanitation information facts about the history of waste removal, the steps of wastewater treatment, and why sewers make terrific homes for rats. I thought the book was really cool and it made me grateful for indoor plumbing, which is probably my favorite modern invention. Indulge your kids’ or your own curiosity with this interesting book, and maybe look into Barnhill’s other peculiar nonfiction titles, such as Sick, Nasty Medical Practices, The Bloody Book of Blood, and Animals with No Eyes, among others. I won’t even think you’re that weird.

Twenty Yawns

I’ve been reading Jane Smiley’s Twenty Yawns at storytime lately because I really like it. I think it’s one of the best summer themed bedtime books. A child spends the day at the beach with her parents. Later on, at bedtime, mom falls asleep while reading a bedtime story. She sees the pictures she has drawn on her wall looking at her, but it’s not scary. Lucy goes to find her bear, Molasses, and brings all the stuffed animals back to her bed where she tucks them in. Then all the pictures yawn. The stuffed animals yawn and so does Lucy. They fall asleep.

The illustrations are gorgeous. In 2015, illustrator Lauren Castillo received a Caldecott honor for Nana in the City, which she also wrote. Jane Smiley, a well known author of books for grown-ups, won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1992 for her novel A Thousand Acres. In Twenty Yawns, she has crafted a peaceful read for children and families to end a busy summer day.