Category Archives: Staff Picks

Staff Pick: Goblin Secrets

Staff Pick: Goblin Secrets

Goblin Secrets

Hoping to find his lost brother, Rownie escapes the home of the witch Graba and joins a troupe of goblins who perform in Zombay, a city where humans are forbidden to wear masks and act in plays.

*Goblin Secrets* is a terrific fantasy novel, inventive and odd like a novel that Hayao Miyazaki (filmmaker of *Spirited Away* and others) might write.

Rownie is a young boy living in a household of abandoned children raised by a witch-like “grandmother,” Graba. The children are sent out to make deals and steal for her and Rownie is sometimes responsible for winding up her mechanical chicken legs. That’s right – chicken legs. She lost her legs somehow long ago and had them replaced by huge metal chicken legs. And this is only the beginning of the oddness. Rownie lives in Southside, the part of the City of Zombay on the south side of the River (which needs a capital R). He is also looking for his brother Rowan, an actor who disappeared after the Mayor of Zombay banned all acting. The Mayor also has a troop of mechanical Guardsmen, supposedly former humans he has punished.

While Rownie is on an errand from Graba, he sees a touring acting troop of “Goblins” – former humans who have been changed in some way into odd green people. He joins their troop and finds that they and the masks they wear might be the key to all of the strangeness in Zombay. And he himself might be the key to saving the city from the River which is about to flood.

This is a relentlessly fascinating and completely weird book, yet satisfying at the end. The masks are a big emotional key – be careful what mask you wear in life; you might become what you wear. *Goblin Secrets* is the first novel by this author (but a companion novel, *Ghoulish Song*, has just been published). It’s for children 6th grade and up, who like fairy tales and fantasy but who are ready to jump away from the well-trod paths. And for adults who don’t mind remembering that they once were children in search of themselves.

Winner of the 2012 National Book Award for Children’s Literature.

Recommended by: Steve Bridge, Irvington Library

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Staff Pick: Runaway Twin

Staff Pick: Runaway Twin

Runaway Twin

Thirteen-year-old Sunny, accompanied by a stray dog, takes advantage of a windfall to travel from her Nebraska foster home to Enumclaw, Washington, to find the twin sister from whom she was separated at age three. Young Hoosier Book Award, 2011-2012, 6-8 Nominee.

What if you lost your family when you were just three years old? What if you had the chance to find the sister you thought you would never see again? How far would you go to find her? Well that is just the scenario that Sunny finds herself in when she becomes the Runaway Twin.  This is a tale of how far one sister will go to find her twin. Sunny defies the foster care system, bullies, and death to find her family. How will it all turn out for Sunny? Find out by reading Runaway Twin by Peg Kheret.

Recommended by: Kamara McKinney, Spades Park Library

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Staff Pick: Brothers at Bat

Staff Pick: Brothers at Bat

Brothers at Bat

Documents the story of the Baseball Hall of Fame honorees, tracing how the Acerra family of New Jersey formed their own semi-pro baseball team in the 1930s and became the longest-running all-brother team in history.

Wouldn’t it be fun to have 11 brothers?  And wouldn’t it be cool if you all loved baseball and made up an entire baseball team?  I had never heard of such a thing until I read this book about a semi-pro baseball team in the 1930’s with enough brothers to have a full team and three on the bench. The Acerra brothers played together for many years until they all grew up, got married and had children of their own. Read their remarkable story.

Recommended by: Mary Sullivan, Decatur Library

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Chapter Books Written in the 1960s

Chapter Books Written in the 1960s

A Wrinkle in Time

The 1960s was a great decade for chapter books – look how many of these books are still widely read and loved today…fifty years later! Plus, several of them were Newbery Medal and Newbery Medal Honor books…the kind that are still favorites. Read these together…right NOW! Because you can’t get much better than A Wrinkle in Time, From the Crazy Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basel E. Frankweiler and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. All three all-time favorites.

jFIC AIK Aiken, Joan The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (1962)

jFIC ALE Alexander, Lloyd The High King (1968; Newbery Medal)

jFIC ALE Alexander, Lloyd Time Cat (1963)

jFIC ARM Armstrong, William Sounder (1969)

jE BRO Brown, Jeff Flat Stanley (1964)

jFIC BUR Burnford, Sheila The Incredible Journey (1961)

jE CLE Cleary, Beverly The Mouse and the Motorcycle (1965)

jE CLE Cleary, Beverly Ramona the Pest (1968)

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

jFIC COO Cooper, Susan Over Sea, Under Stone (1965)

jFIC DAH Dahl, Roald  Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (1964)

jFIC DAH Dahl, Roald James and the Giant Peach (1961)

jFIC FIT Fitzhugh, Louise Harriet the Spy (1964)

jFIC FLE Fleming, Ian Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1964)

jFIC HAM Hamilton, Virginia The House of Dies Drear (1968)

jFIC HUN Hunt, Irene Across Five Aprils (1964; Newbery Honor)

jFIC HUN Hunt, Irene Up a Road Slowly (1966; Newbery Medal)

jFIC JUS Juster, Norman The Phantom Tollbooth (1961)

jFIC KON Konigsburg, E.L. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1967; Newbery Medal)

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

jFIC LEG Le Guin, Ursula The Wizard of Earthsea (1968)

jFIC LEN L’Engle, Madeleine A Wrinkle in Time (1962; Newbery Medal)

jFIC NEV Neville, Emily Cheney It’s Like This, Cat (1963; Newbery Medal)

jFIC ODE O’Dell, Scott Island of the Blue Dolphins (1960; Newbery Medal)

jFIC RAW Rawls, Wilson Where the Red Fern Grows (1961)

jFIC SEL Seldon, George The Cricket in Times Square (1960; Newbery Honor)

jFIC SNY Snyder, Zilpha Keatley The Egypt Game (1967; Newbery Honor)

jE SOB Sobol, Donald Encyclopedia Brown, Boy Detective (1963)

jFIC SPE Speare, Elizabeth George The Bronze Bow (1961; Newbery Medal)

jFIC TAY Taylor, Theodore The Cay (1969)

jE WAR Warner, Gertrude Chandler Boxcar Children: The Lighthouse Mystery (1963)

~Recommended by: Emily Chandler, Lawrence Branch Library & Janet Spaulding, Selection Services


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Staff Pick: Dog Diaries – Secrets of the WOOF Society

Staff Pick: Dog Diaries – Secrets of the WOOF Society

Dog Diaries: Secret Writings of the WOOF Society

At the first annual meeting of WOOF–Words of Our Friends–assorted dogs preserve their heritage by sharing tales of canines throughout history, including Abu, who ruled all of Egypt except for one pesky cat, and Zippy, who simply must find the squeaky toy.

Have you ever noticed how many dog books are sad? I decided to sniff out one that wasn’t, and dug up a dog story about dogs telling stories. The WOOF Society (Words of our Friends) have gotten together to share stories about dogs AND prove that they more much more than “sit” and “stay.” They begin their first meeting by reciting their motto, “Woof! Woof! Woof!” Then dogs begin to tell stories of other dogs. Jack, whose person is an archaeologist, tells the story of Abu, the dog who was the king of Egypt. Einstein, who is very smart, explains why dog names are so important. Mimi just gives dog tips (to get table food without begging, sit beside the baby). I cannot promise that nothing sad happens, but the dogs are all OK! Woof! Woof! Woof!

Recommended By: Doriene Smither – Pike Branch

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