kids

Jun 2, 2022

The Genius Under the Table is bleak but also strangely cozy at times.  It’s hopeful, heartbreaking, occasionally laugh-out-loud funny, and may stir up tender feelings for your own strange family.


Eugene (Yevgeny) is a child growing up behind the Iron Curtain.  His family shares a kitchen and bathroom with several families, including a spy who’s always lurking in the corner of the kitchen.  Eugene is bursting with questions - Why is his grandfather’s face cut out of all the family pictures? Why doesn’t anyone want to talk about defecting (which is too close to the word defecating?)  And why

A Wish in the Dark book cover

A Wish in the Dark

By Christina Soontornvat
5
Rated by Kristen Re.
May 11, 2022

“Those who are born in darkness always return.”


 


A Wish in the Dark meshes fantasy and adventure, set in a place similar to Thailand.  The journey begins for Pong, an orphan who was born in Namwon Prison, when he makes his escape when he’s 12-years- old.  The next four years Pong lives in a temple with monks, which is in a village outside the city of Chattana.  Father Cham becomes his father figure and mentor.  He teaches Pong about trusting himself and how to navigate his new freedom.


The Governor of Chattana powers the city with magic orbs that give light, heat, and power.  Who

Book cover

Poison for Breakfast

By Lemony Snicket
5
Rated by Chris K.
Apr 28, 2022

A perfect little gem of a book.


A book I quickly fell in love with. It may not be a perfect book for every reader, as we all have our different preferences. Not everyone will love it as much as I. But I love it. I find it hard to imagine a book that could be more perfect.


I rarely buy books. I work in a library, so I feel almost every day I have all the books I could ever want at my fingertips for free. I don't often feel the need to buy them for myself. Plus, buying a book means I am unlikely to read it.


These are (most of) the books I currently have checked out from my library

Black mother kisses child goodnight

Bedtime Bonnet

By Nancy Amanda Redd
5
Rated by Becky C.
Feb 4, 2021

Bedtime Bonnet is a joy. When a young child’s special bedtime bonnet goes missing, she searches the house for clues, interviewing each person in her multi-generational family as they prepare their own hair for bed. Brother twist his locs into a durag, Grandma rolls her “silver mane” with old-timey foam rollers, and Dad brushes his hair before donning his wave cap. Mom and Sister fix their hair too, but Grandpa doesn’t need to worry about getting his bald head ready for bed. Oh, wait, speaking of—that silly Grandpa! Where is he hiding? Maybe he knows what happened to his granddaughter’s special

Why Do We Cry?

By Fran Pintadera
5
Rated by Heather McCartin
Oct 15, 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic of 2020 has left many searching for a way to cope with daily struggles.  Fran Pintadera’s picture book on the concept of crying serves as a unique tool to explain to all audiences how tears are an essential outlet for facing the various stages and phases of life.  With exquisite full color illustrations by Ana Sender, there is an aura of compassion in the poetic text as a mother explains to her young son why people cry. 


Young Mario spends an afternoon with his mother at the park.  When he asks the all-important question of why people cry, his mother closes her eyes

May 11, 2020

All good children's stories are the same: young creature breaks rules, has incredible adventure, then returns home with the knowledge that aforementioned rules are there for a reason.


Of course, the actual message to the careful reader is: break rules as often as you can, because who the hell doesn't want to have an adventure?


― Brian K. Vaughan, Saga, Vol. 3


The largest population of orphans anywhere in the world is within the pages of children's books. This Barnes & Noble article gives a nice list of some of the most familiar: Little Orphan Annie, Anne (of Green Gables)

Apr 16, 2020

Psst! Hey, parents! I know you’re at home right now. I know your kids are out of school. I know this because I’m at home right now, and my kid is out of school. I know this because WE’RE ALL #ATHOMETOGETHER RIGHT NOW.  


Ahem. Sorry for shouting. These are stressful times.


If it’s at all possible, I want you to find a private spot in your house—please stop laughing—away from your kids, so you can fully concentrate on a little parenting secret I’d like to share with you.


Who am I, you ask? Here are my qualifications:


I am a professional storytime leader at the Johnson County Library

Apr 3, 2018

It Can’t Be Don’t, Nellie Bly is a short, but interesting chapter book about Nellie Bly, a journalist in 1888, when women were not considered journalists.


Inspired by Jules Verne’s book Around the World in 80 Days, Nellie tries to see if one can, in fact, travel around the world in eighty days. And in trying, she wants to beat Verne’s time. Halfway through her journey she finds out there is a journalist from the magazine Cosmopolitan trying to beat her. It Can't Be Done, Nellie Bly takes you on her adventure.  Come along and see if she makes it!


 

Cool Bacon Recipes

By Kuskowski, Alex
4
Rated by Terri B.
Mar 5, 2018

Do not let the unattractive cover of Cool Bacon Recipes fool you into not checking this book out for your child. Because if you like bacon, check out these easy recipes. This book did not have very many recipes, but what it did have looked appetizing. The explanation of utensils and terms is perfect for 3rd - 6th graders with the guidance of an adult. And the step by step pictures are always a plus!

Echo

By Pam Muñoz Ryan
5
Rated by Emily D.
Nov 29, 2017

Echo follows the stories of Otto, Friedrich, Mike, Ivy, and the mysterious harmonica that ties them together! The magical thread of music carries you through this wonderful tale. Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California are all dealing with the wrath of a war that tore countries and families apart. Friedrich is living with a birthmark that Hitler deems unsuitable, Mike will do anything to keep him and his brother together, and Ivy is learning that prejudice in America affects even the innocent. But they all find solace in music. With the help of the harmonica, someone

Coraline

By Neil Gaiman
5
Rated by Sam S.
Oct 26, 2016

While exploring the new home Coraline and her family have just moved in to, she stumbles upon a small, mysterious door hidden behind wallpaper in one of the rooms. Through it, she discovers a world very much like her own, and yet very different, including alternate versions of her parents and neighbors. This alluring world turns dark when she finds that her parents have been kidnapped and she is slowly becoming trapped in a web of her Other Mother's making.

George

By Alex Gino
5
Rated by Becky C.
May 23, 2016

I don’t normally recommend books about elementary school kids to teens, but this is an exception. Especially a book about a hot topic in the news: transgender rights. See Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s recent speech here. From the speech, here's a quote that gets me in the feels:


“Let me also speak directly to the transgender community itself. Some of you have lived freely for decades. Others of you are still wondering how you can possibly live the lives you were born to lead. But no matter how isolated or scared you may feel today, the Department of Justice and the entire Obama

Apr 23, 2015

Tuan is an orphan, raised by his neighbors. He is a hard worker and buys himself a small house and field, but he is lonely and unable to find a suitable match even with the help of a matchmaker. Yet Tuan continues to work hard and, one day, finds a large snail in his garden that he begins to care for. Shortly thereafter, he finds delicious meals prepared for him when he returns home from work. Every night, the meals become larger and more delicious. Tuan cannot seem to find out who is cooking for him, so he decides to return home early to catch the generous cook. What he finds is a fairy, who

Weird Frogs

By Chris Earley
4
Rated by Diane H.
Apr 4, 2015

This was one of the shortest and most fun books I’ve read in a long while. The pictures of the frogs and toads are gorgeous. The pictures are why I picked up the book in the first place.


While I can’t pretend that I’ll remember all the facts (the Latin names have already slipped through my mind), I doubt I’ll forget the wide variety, rich colors, and sheer awesomeness of the amphibians on display throughout the book. Weird Frogs reminded me of Rebecca Johnson’s science books for kids, such as When Lunch Fights Back, Zombie Makers, and Chernobyl’s Wild Kingdom. All these books impart

The Whispering Skull

By Jonathan Stroud
5
Rated by Hilary S.
Mar 21, 2015

Lockwood & Co. is a paranormal investigative team comprised of three teens: Anthony Lockwood, George Cubbins and Lucy Carlyle. Because only children can see and hear ghosts they are ideal hunters of the paranormal. In The Whispering Skull, second in the Lockwood and Co series by Jonathan Stroud, the team is hired for what seems a simple job in the cemetery. But nothing is ever simple for this trio. What's found in and stolen from the cemetery leads to a fast-paced and thrilling investigation into the late Dr. Edmund Bickerstaff, and his methods for contacting the dead. The skull jar introduced

Feb 23, 2015

Jordan Stratford has taken a neat idea—young Mary Shelley and young Ada Lovelace team up to solve mysteries—and crafted a juvenile adventure story that's so much fun, it threatens to burst out of the book jacket and shoot off the pages like a cannon ball.


The year is 1826. Fourteen-year-old Mary Godwin, the sensitive and curious daughter of feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and free thinker William Godwin, is beginning her tutelage alongside the brilliant but temperamental and eccentric 11-year-old Lady Ada Byron, daughter of the famous poet Lord Byron. Their tutor is the young, handsome Peebs

Jan 29, 2015

Teeth, claws, horns. These are animal defenses we’re familiar with. What about slime? Toxic explosions? Blood shooting from an eye? Learn about these and other totally cool and utterly gross ways that animals protect themselves in Rebecca Johnson’s When Lunch Fights Back: Wickedly Clever Animal Defenses.


This is a short, intriguing book for older children and anyone interested in fun (and rather disgusting) facts about animals.


Rebecca Johnson has written numerous science books for children that are entertaining as well as informative, such as Zombie Makers: True Stories of Nature’s

Rascal

By Sterling North
5
Rated by Hannah Jane W.
Nov 22, 2014

Enchanting language, lush scenery, a romping, completely factual story and a rascally, joyful raccoon are the fixings for this adorable and happy memoir by Sterling North. 


This was my favorite animal story as a child.  And it is still at the top of my list.  I started squealing the moment Rascal was swiped from the woods, and made no efforts to contain my delight for the duration of the book.  My adult squeals echoed the squeals of my 10 year-old self as Rascal snuggled his way into Sterling’s bed, made a sugar lump disappear and trilled all of his desires, questions, indignations and love

Pennyroyal Academy

By M.A. Larson
4
Rated by Katie S.
Nov 8, 2014

Step into a world where princesses fight witches and knights battle dragons and prepare to become enchanted with the wonderful Pennyroyal Academy


M.A. Larson creates a truly imaginative world of cadets in training to become princesses and knights who will ultimately rid the world of evil. If you think princesses are just beautiful girls living in castles, then think again. The cadets have to battle each other in obstacle courses and training exercises, jump from towers onto the horsebacks of their heroes, and learn to find confidence and compassion within themselves when faced with evil

Willow Run

By Patricia Reilly Giff
4
Rated by Terri B.
Oct 2, 2014

This historical fiction book is about Meggie Dillon's life.  To help improve the family's income, Meggie's family ups and moves to Willow Run, Michigan, during WWII. Her father has obtained a job working on war planes at night to help the war effort. Because they are moving into a small apartment they have to leave her German grandfather behind in New York.  Meggie soon realizes that she misses him but quickly meets other kids in the same circumstance as hers.  Then, coming home one day to a military car parked outside, she learns that her older brother is missing in action, and Meggie must

The Vanishing Coin

By Kate Egan
5
Rated by Hilary S.
Jul 26, 2014

My family read The Vanishing Coin and its sequel, The Incredible Twisting Arm, in quick succession. The main character is a fourth-grade boy who has trouble concentrating and following up on his school work, and who generally seems to always be putting the wrong foot forward. Besides failing to live up to his parents' and teachers' expectations, he's got a class bully to deal with and a new neighbor, Nora, who is embarrassingly smart, that he spends after-school hours with.


 In The Vanishing Coin, when Mike discovers The White Rabbit, a shop downtown that he's never seen before, he enters

Doll Bones

By Holly Black
4
Rated by Terri B.
Feb 11, 2014

Zach, Poppy and Alice are at an age where they should be putting away such things as dolls. At least this is what everyone keeps telling them. By using their action figures, Barbies and dolls they have purchased from Goodwill, they have created their own unique fantasy world of pirates, ladies and one bone-china doll they have dubbed Queen. To save their friendship, Poppy takes Queen out of her mother's cabinet and strange things begin to happen. Queen convinces them to undertake their own quest where they take a bus trip, sail a sailboat and break into a library, all to fulfill what they

Anna Was Here

By Jane Kurtz
3
Rated by Terri B.
Feb 11, 2014

Anna, a Gold Ribbon Safety Citizen is prepared for anything except moving from her beloved Colorado home to her father’s small Kansas hometown.  Her father, a minister, is called to accept this post until a replacement can be found.   Most of Oakwood's townspeople are related but she eventually embraces them and their unique ways.  Anna has a bumpy ride from the first but she soon comes to see things differently.  This book would be appropriate for ages 8-12.

Feb 6, 2014

The third book in Catherynne M. Valente's Fairyland series, The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two, may be the best of the lot. (I reviewed the first two books here and here.) September, the young Nebraska girl who is our protagonist, is growing older and growing up. She desperately wants to return to Fairyland, but she's also anxious about her future there and at home. She doesn't know what she wants to do with her life, what she'll be when she grows up, and she's certain this is something she needs to figure out as soon as possible. She's insecure and uncertain, and when

Lara's Gift

By Annemarie O'Brien
4
Rated by Diane H.
Jan 30, 2014

The setting is Russia. The time is 1914. The place is a count’s estate. From the time she was young, Lara has spent most of her time in the kennels with the famed borzoi dogs. For centuries these dogs were bred by aristocrats for hunting. To Lara, they are her life and her future. She has a special bond with the dogs that goes beyond the normal relationship between animals and their humans.


What seems so obvious to Lara, that she belongs in the kennel with the Borzoi, is not as clear-cut to her father. And in 1914, the decision is her father’s to make.


This story would be a good read for

Take Me Out to the Yakyu

By Aaron Meshon
5
Rated by Hilary S.
Jan 30, 2014

 

My daughters and I found this book especially fun to read. We all enjoy baseball, but we also love to learn about Japan (we have family there). My girls love learning words in Japanese, besides the fun comparisons on each page of differences between Japan and America. The art is funky and and exciting. - See more at: http://jocolibrary.bibliocommons.com/item/show/1226618036_take_me_out_t…

 

Jan 15, 2014

Life was good for Bad Kitty when it was just her at home with her human parents.  Then one day they adopt a stupid, disgusting dog.  Bad Kitty eventually learns to tolerate the dog.  Then, Bad Kitty’s human parents bring home another horrible, retched creature.  Bad Kitty assumes it’s another dog, but the neighborhood cats think it’s another cat.  They decide to enter this new creature into The Kitty Olympics to see how she competes.  Bad Kitty finally learns that this creature is not a cat or a dog: it’s a human baby.  Now what's she supposed to do?  This children's chapter book is hilarious

Fortunately, the Milk

By Neil Gaiman
4
Rated by Hope H.
Dec 2, 2013

I'm generally proud of myself when I successfully make it home after a Saturday stop at my local wholesale store, but that's a drop in the bucket compared to the fantastical adventures that ensue during this run to the corner store for milk.
Mom is out of town for a few days, so dad is tasked with keeping the house in order.  Breakfast is delayed while he spends an inordinate amount of time venturing out to replenish that most important complement to breakfast cereal and British tea -- the milk.  Dad finally returns with a larger than life tale that features aliens, dinosaurs in hot air

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

By Jeff Kinney
5
Rated by Becky C.
Nov 16, 2013

Parents: if you’re looking for a few hours of uninterrupted time to yourself, check out Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney--for your kid.  NoveList, an online database the Library subscribes to, is a great resource for books.  It lists the minimum reading level for this book at 2nd grade and the maximum reading level at 8th grade.  I’d agree that’s about right.  If you’ve got a 7-year-old Human Reading Vacuum, a 14-year-old reluctant reader, or anyone in between, it’s a good bet they’ll become engrossed in this book.  


I let our seven-year-old Human Reading Vacuum stay up way past her

Oct 19, 2013

Love this author – love this illustrator – love this author and illustrator combo – love this book. That’s a lot of love, but if you read this book I think you’ll agree with me. I don’t remember how I came across the illustrator Mark Hearld, but my guess (and hope) is that we will be seeing and hearing a lot more from this talented British artist. His mixed media work reminds me of Eric Carle, but colorful and vibrant in a fresh new way.


Award-winning children’s author and biologist Nicola Davies provides the perfect poetry to go along with the artwork, to vividly present the abundance of