Category Archives: Staff Picks

Staff Pick: Ivy & Bean Series

Staff Pick: Ivy & Bean Series

It is said that opposites attract, such is the case with the crazy characters, Ivy and Bean.  While Ivy is quiet, Bean is loud.  While Ivy is pensive, Bean is compulsive.  What these two little girls are both good at however is getting into mischief around the neighborhood.

My daughter, who is six years old, and I just finished reading all nine of the Ivy and Bean books together.  We are anxiously awaiting the next in the series.  I asked her what her favorite thing was about Ivy and Bean.  She stated, “I like that they are weird.”

  • if you like “weird”…
  • if you like digging for worms…
  • if you like being put under a dancing spell…
  • if a neighborhood known as “Pancake Court” intrigues you…

you should read the Ivy and Bean Series. Author: Annie Barrows

Recommended by Addie Hirschten, Warren Branch Library

Ivy & Bean Series:

#1: Ivy & Bean
#2: Ivy & Bean and the Ghost That Had to Go
#3: Ivy & Bean Break the Fossil Record
#4: Ivy & Bean Take Care of the Babysitter
#5: Ivy & Bean Bound to be Bad
#6: Ivy & Bean Doomed to Dance
#7: Ivy & Bean What’s the Big Idea?
#8: Ivy & Bean No News is Good News
#9: Ivy & Bean Make the Rules

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Staff Pick: Eight Cousins

Staff Pick: Eight Cousins

Orphaned Rose Campbell finds it difficult to fit in when she goes to live with her six aunts and seven mischievous boy cousins.

“Louisa May Alcott is most famous for her story of the four sisters in Little Women but she wrote about other well-behaved, strong-willed girls, too, and Rose Campbell is one of them. Orphaned Rose has been sent to her aunts to await the arrival of her guardian uncle, and she is very unhappy: lonely without her father; uncertain of her affection for her aunts; and shy of her seven rowdy boy cousins. But most of all, she is fearful that her uncle will be strict and unkind. To Rose’s relief he is neither, and he even encourages her to give up her prim and proper ways. Soon Rose is running, boating and even riding horses, as well as gently bossing the boy cousins! This book was written over 100 years ago, so some of it seems very old-fashioned (one of the aunts disapproves of slang) but some things could happen today, as when Rose sneakily has a friend pierce her ears! Mostly, it is just a story of a young woman having adventures and learning from them who she wants to be.”

Recommended by: Doriene Smither – Pike

If you like sassy girls learning how to be confident and strong and occasionally take on the boys…try one of these:

Caddie Woodlawn Roller Skates All of a Kind Family Rebecca of Sunnybrooke Farm Anne of Green Gables
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Staff Pick: Home of the Brave

Staff Pick: Home of the Brave

Kek, an African refugee, is confronted by many strange things at the Minneapolis home of his aunt and cousin, as well as in his fifth grade classroom, and longs for his missing mother, but finds comfort in the company of a cow and her owner. (Young Hoosier Book Award, 2009-2010, 6-8 Nominee)

Here is a story of loss and discovery. Lou is old and alone, living on a small farm in the middle of a Minnesota winter. Kek is young and lost, new to America from a Sudanese refugee camp. Lou thinks she has nothing left, but discovers she alone has what Kek needs. Kek thinks he knows nothing useful in this new life, yet he brings a little happiness to all he meets. In caring for Lou’s old cow, Kek reclaims the wisdom of his old life. Kek tells us that “you will have lived just half a life if you never love a cow.” Venture into this sweet story for a glimpse of the wonder of a cow and how it changed a life.

Recommended by: Barbara Obergfell, Outreach

Also by Katherine Applegate – Don’t miss The One and Only Ivan.

The One and Only Ivan

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Staff Pick: Zen Shorts

Staff Pick: Zen Shorts

When Stillwater the bear moves into the neighborhood, the stories he tells to three siblings teach them to look at the world in new ways. To Addie he tells a story about the value of material goods. To Michael he pushes the boundaries of good and bad. And to Karl he demonstrates what it means to hold on to frustration.

When Michael, Addy and Karl meet Stillwater, a panda with his paws full of Zen wisdom, each are made trustees of an ancient tale….

Addy, kind and curious, brings Stillwater a cake, and in return, hears of the neighboring bear’s enlightened uncle Ry, who awakened one night to the rummaging of a robbing raccoon. The robber is startled, but Ry’s pity for the pilferer brings him to offer the thief his robe, which is all that fills the empty house; a peaceful demonstration of value. The next day, among the boughs of a tall tree, Michael is told the of “The Farmer’s Luck” and after, Karl, the youngest, is aided in his frustrations through the telling of “The Heavy Load”.

Written and illustrated by Jon Muth, Zen Shorts, a 2006 Caldecott Honor book, is gentle in its message and wonderfully enlivened by delicate watercolors on every page. Neatly shelved in the children’s section, an all-age treasure awaits, inviting passerby to share in a peaceful moment with three Zen shorts.
Recommended by: Kevin Kirkpatrick, Garfield Park Branch Library

More Staff Picks

If you like Zen Shorts you might also like these three books also by Jon Muth. In The Three Questions a boy asks his animal friends three questions: “When is the best time to do things?” “Who is the most important?” and “What is the right thing to do?”. Zen Ghosts and Zen Ties again feature the wise Zen stories of Stillwater the bear:

The Three Questions Zen Ghosts Zen Ties
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Staff Pick: Last of the Gullivers

Staff Pick: Last of the Gullivers

Last of the Gullivers

After orphaned twelve-year-old Michael Pine, who seems headed for trouble, meets old Lem Gulliver, he finds new purpose as protector of the Lilliputians who live in Lem’s back garden, even if that means saving them from one another. Author: Carter Crocker

“Michael Pine is always in trouble – he’s headed right for the Young Offenders Institution if he messes up again. Then one night he hears strange singing and discovers the Lilliputians, tiny people (the size of your thumb!) with tiny animals, living in a garden surrounded by a tall stone wall.  At first, Michael can’t believe it, but pretty soon he is visiting them every day and helping out in their village.  When weasels and other humans attack the Lilliputians, Michael must turn his life around if he is going to save them.”

Recommended by: Melissa Wooten, Glendale Library

If you like Michael’s adventure with little people, try the original story, Gulliver’s Travels, which will tell you how Gulliver came across the Lilliputians in the first place. Also try The Borrowers, The Minimoys and The Littles – more little people with large adventures living in our regular-sized world:

Gulliver's Travels The Borrowers Arthur and the Minimoys The Littles
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