Category Archives: Staff Picks

Staff Pick: Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom

Staff Pick: Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom

Zeus and the Thunderbolt of Doom

When ten-year-old Zeus is kidnapped, he discovers he can defend himself with a magical thunderbolt.

What do you do when giants capture you, you are “rescued” by Harpies (scary birds with witch faces), and you’re dropped in a temple where you pull a lightning bolt from a stone and it sticks to your hand?
After all  this, 10-year-old orphan Zeus is informed by the oracle Pythia that he is a hero-in-training.
He goes on to free two of the Olympians from King Cronus’ belly and they all set off on a journey which leads to more adventures in the series. Attractive to grades 3-5, this book will also lead to series like Olympians and Goddess Girls.

Recommended by: Donna Neblett, Warren Library

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Staff Pick: The Bronte Sisters

Staff Pick: The Bronte Sisters

The Bronte Sisters

Explores the turbulent lives of the three literary siblings and the oppressive times in which they lived, and offers insight into their classic nineteenth-century novels.

Are you interested in the lives of famous people?  Then here is a book for you to read.

These famous writers lived only a short time, but they left a lasting impression on the world.  Their lives were not easy.  Their mother died when they were young.  Their father was a poor clergyman who never had enough money.  That these three sisters were so talented is remarkable.  That they became famous is astonishing!

In the 1800s women had few choices for their lives – marriage, school teaching, or governesses for  wealthy children.  The Bronte sisters tried the last two but found them not to their liking.  They earned very little money from their writing and even had to use men’s names to get their books published.  Today their books have been made into movies and television series.  Would they be surprised!

Recommended by: Cindy Childers, Garfield Park Branch Library

BronteEyre JaneEyre2 WishEyre JaneEyre
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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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