Category Archives: Staff Picks

Staff Pick: The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict

Staff Pick: The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict

The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas BenedictIf you know The Mysterious Benedict Society then you’ve already met Reynie (brilliant), Sticky (everything he sees, hears or reads…sticks), Kate (with her bucket of tools) and tiny, brilliant Constance. The children have been pulled together by their mentor and benefactor Mr. Nicholas Benedict, to use their considerable talents to follow clues, solve puzzles and figure out codes to keep bad guys in check. But where did Mr. Benedict himself come from? Why does he feel compelled to take on the world’s evils be assembling a brilliant group of kids? He could recruit Navy Seals or Marines, but no, he chooses kids. Why is that?

This book begins the answer to that question as you learn what Mr. Benedict’s childhood was like and how he became such an expert on, well, everything!

Smarts, friend loyalty, a mystery – it’s all there, just like in the other Mysterious Benedict Society Adventures. Author: Trenton Lee Stewart

Stewart has gone back in time 40-50 years to show us the early life of Nicholas Benedict, the quirky genius who started the MBS.   Nicholas is a nine-year old orphan, being shuttled to orphanages and foster homes, when he arrives at the orphanage of Rothschild’s End, known as “The Manor.”  Nicholas is already a genius, with a tremendous reading speed and an eidetic memory, able to remember anything he reads.  He is also undersized and has narcolepsy, meaning he is apt to fall asleep at particularly inconvenient moments.  He has never had a friend and understands nothing about the dynamics of a family.  The orphanage is in serious financial trouble, in danger of closing, and has several bullies and a staff severely deficient in the knowledge of how to take care of children.  Just surviving is going to be a challenge for Nicholas; but there is the rumor of a missing Rothschild treasure to spur him on. 

This is clever, can’t-put-it-down writing, with interesting characters and several nice twists at the end.  You could easily start with this one in the series or start with “The Mysterious Benedict Society.”

Recommended by, Steve Bridge – Irvington

More Staff Picks

  • The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict on CD
  • Amazon Look Inside The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict
  • GoodReads: The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict

Don’t miss the first three books of The Mysterious Benedict Society! Nicholas took his extraordinary education and did some adventuring with it!
The Mysterious Benedict Society The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner's Dilemma
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Staff Pick: The Only Ones

Staff Pick: The Only Ones

The Only OnesAfter setting off from the island where he has been leading a solitary existence, thirteen-year-old Martin discovers a village with other children who have been living similarly without any adults, since the grown-ups have all been spirited away. Author: Aaron Starmer

“Martin lives on a lonely island with his eccentric father, who insists on staying apart from society to work on his “machine”.  Martin has very little contact with other people, not even with the summer visitors to the island, knowing about the rest of the world only from books.

One day Martin’s father goes off to get the last part for the machine and never returns.   When the summer people don’t return either, Martin rows to the mainland and discovers that everyone in the world has disappeared, except for about 30 children.  These children from all over the United States have mysteriously found their way to a town they have named Xibalba.  There they build a small attempt at community while trying to figure out where everyone went.   Things get much stranger after Martin arrives.
This is a tense, gripping novel, in the tradition of other child-centered societies like Lord of the Flies and Ender’s Game, flavored by a Stephen King-like eeriness, but with original characters and twists.   Questions are answered by the end, but not in ways that readers will predict.   5th-8th grade level.”

Recommended by: Steve Bridge, Irvington Library

More Staff Picks

If you like Martin’s story and thinking about what it might be like to be in a situation where the kids are in charge, try one of these::
The Girl Who Owned a City The True Meaning of Smekday Found Lost & Found
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Staff Pick: The Camping Trip That Changed America

Staff Pick: The Camping Trip That Changed America

The Camping Trip That Changed America

Offers insight into the camping trip that President Theodore Roosevelt and naturalist John Muir took to the redwoods of Yosemite in 1903, during which the two men had experiences and conversations that eventually contributed to the establishment of national parks in the United States.

“This special book will transport young readers  into the 1903  camping trip President Teddy Roosevelt took  to the Yosemite wilderness.  With the world famous naturalist, John Muir as his guide, they saw the giant Sequoia trees, camped on a mountaintop  and  even played in the snow that fell one night.  It inspired Teddy Roosevelt  to push Congress to pass laws that eventually created our national parks.  The story and illustrations blend perfectly to capture the exuberance and passion of two great Americans for saving the wilderness of America and a joy to read.”

Recommended by: Beverly Elrod, Haughville Library

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Here are some more books about Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir and the lands they loved and helped preserve in our national parks and reserves:
Camping with the President John Muir Welcome to Yosemite Natural Wonders of North America
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Staff Pick: An Elephant in the Garden

Staff Pick: An Elephant in the Garden

An Elephant in the Garden

1944. Elizabeth’s mother works at Dresden Zoo, where her favorite animal is an elephant named Marlene. When the zoo director tells her the dangerous animals must be shot to prevent them running amok when the town is bombed, Elizabeth’s mother moves Marlene into the back garden to save her. And then the bombs start to fall…

Author: Michael Morpurgo

“This remarkable story, based on actual events, tells of young girl named Lizzie living with her family in Dresden, Germany during World War II. While her father serves his country, Lizzie’s mother takes a job at the nearby zoo where a bond is formed with an orphaned elephant named Marlene. As the threat of bombing looms, the zoo must face the task of disposing of the animals. Unable to think of Marlene being put down, the family houses her in their garden until the bombs finally fall. Along with the other surviving residents of the city, the family makes their way through the country side in search of safety.  Lizzie soon learns, however, that having an elephant as a travel companion in the midst of war can make the trek far more complicated. Morpugo has crafted a unique coming-of-age story with an unusual friendship at the heart of it that proves that some bonds are unbreakable.”

By :  Jeff Huttinger, The Learning Curve Central Library

More Staff Picks

If you liked The Elephant in the Garden you might like some of these books about animals at war:
Cracker the Best Dog in Vietnam Faithful Elephants Saving the Baghdad Zoo Soldier Bear
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Staff Pick: The Next Place

Staff Pick: The Next Place

The Next Place

An inspirational journey of light and hope to a place where earthly hurts are left behind. Author: Warren Hanson

“This beautifully illustrated, poetic book tackles death with such sensitivity; it is a wonderful book for an adult as well as a child. It’s very comforting after the death of a loved one, person or pet. This 1997 book is timeless in its relevance, in the same manner that The Fall of Freddie the Leaf by Leo Buscaglia is ageless.”

Recommended by: Diane Palguta, College Avenue Library

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