Category Archives: Staff Picks

Staff Pick: Ashley Bryan Words to My Life’s Song

Staff Pick: Ashley Bryan Words to My Life’s Song

Words to My Life's Song

An introduction to the life and career of the writer and artist Ashley Bryan, a three-time winner of the Coretta Scott King Award.

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be an award-winning artist? Words to My Life’s Song is an autobiography that gives a glimpse into the imaginings and memories of three-time Coretta Scott King Award winning illustrator, Ashley Bryan. Mr Bryan frames the book as an afternoon spent walking around his home on an island in Maine. As we wander, Mr. Bryan tells us about his life growing up in the Bronx, going to art school, being in the army, teaching art, and discovering his passion for illustrating books. Along the way, we see a lot of his colorful paintings, stained glass and cut paper creations. This book is a bright, joyful celebration of life and creativity.

Recommended by: Hannah Wheeler – Lawrence

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Staff Pick: Counting by 7s

Staff Pick: Counting by 7s

Counting by 7s

Twelve-year-old genius and outsider Willow Chance must figure out how to connect with other people and find a surrogate family for herself after her parents are killed in a car accident.

In this book by Holly Goldberg Sloan everyone and everything is just a bit quirky. 

Counting by 7s is the story of Willow Chance, a 12 year old genius obsessed with medical conditions, the number 7 and gardening.  Willow’s adoptive parents are supportive of her interests and are excited for her to have a new start at making friends as she starts middle school.

 When Willow’s parents are killed in a car accident the focus of the story is on Willow and her quest to find a new family and a new place to fit in.  Willow is helped along the way by her school counselor, a Vietnamese immigrant family, and a taxi driver.   Through Willow everyone becomes a better person and through this rather unusual group of friends Willow blossoms as well.

This book is recommended for all ages and will make you both laugh and cry.

Recommended by:  Nancy Coughlin – Nora

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Staff Pick: A Medal for Leroy

Staff Pick: A Medal for Leroy

A Medal for Leroy

In World War II-era England, Michael learns about his black British Army soldier grandfather, a World War I officer who risked his life to save wounded men but who did not receive special commendations because of his race.

Michael grew up in London in the years after World War II. He never knew his father, Roy, who had been killed in the war. But he and his mother would often visit his father’s beloved aunts, who had raised Roy when he was too orphaned during an earlier world war. Michael liked Auntie Snowdrop better than Auntie Pish, and he loved their dog Jasper. What he didn’t like was that neither his mother nor his aunts ever seemed to want to talk to him about his dad. But one day, after his Auntie Snowdrop has died, Michael finds a letter from her explaining things about his father, himself and even his grandfather that not even his mother knew. His grandfather Leroy was a hero in World War I and had saved many soldiers, but because he was black, he had not received a medal or any recognition for his bravery. It is up to Michael to change that if he can.

This book was inspired by the true story of Walter Tull, the first black officer in the British Army.

Recommended by: Doriene Smither – East Washington

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Staff Pick: The Secret River

Staff Pick: The Secret River

The Secret River

A young girl takes her dog to a river in a forest, where she catches enough fish to feed her neighbors, even after giving some to forest creatures she meets on the way home.

Children will enjoy this tale of enchantment written by Newbery winner Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, and wonderfully illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. Main character Calpurnia and her dog Buggy-horse go off to explore a secret river in the forest, since the local river has gone dry, and fisherman like her father are not able to have any income. She encounters a number of animals in the back country of Florida, and learns a few life lessons. But the question is will Calpurnia find the secret river with the help of the wisest person in the forest Mother Albirtha? Readers will have to check this book out to find the answer.

Recommended by: Denyce Malone – Flanner House

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Staff Pick: Come to the Fairies’ Ball

Staff Pick: Come to the Fairies’ Ball

Come to the Fairies' Ball

All the fairies are excited to be invited to the King’s ball, except for one young fairy whose only party dress is in tatters.

“Come to the Fairies’ Ball” is a children’s book, written in rhyme with a cadence as delightful as it is rhythmic, good for reading aloud to a child. The story features a magnificent ball to which all fairies are invited, but one female fairy who finds her dress ruined almost does not make it—until she becomes determined and finds a way. This story teaches children success is mostly a matter of making one’s own luck. Good story, lovely illustrations, happy ending!

Recommended by: Patricia Fogleman – Southport

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