Staff Picks

Summer Staff Picks

Recommended books from the Children's Staff 

Big Bad Detective Agency 
By Bruce Hale
In Fairylandia poor Wolfgang the wolf gets blamed for trashing the three pigs houses. Wolfie has to find the “real” lawbreaker by sundown or into the jail. Wolfie’s helper? The lesser known fourth little pig.” 

For grades 2-4
Recommended by: Sheila

Little Robot 
By Ben Hatke
A kid finds a box floating down the stream and wades in to get it. What he finds is a machine that turns out to be a robot just waiting to be activated. At first they are fearful of each other but then best friends. Then something is sent out to find and return the missing robot.

For grades 1-5
Recommended by: Sheila

Mimi and Maty to the Rescue: Book 1 
By Brooke Smith
Mimi has decided to be an animal rescuer just like she rescued Maty from the dog shelter. Her first job is to find Roger the runaway rat. She has to find out about Roger’s quirky habits first and she only has one day to find him.

For grades 1-3 
Recommended by: Sheila

The School Is Alive! (Eerie Elementary: Book 1)
By Jack Chabert 
Sam Graves is chosen as hall monitor for the year at school and has to wear a stinky orange sash. On the very first day strange things start happening and Sam finds out the job is going to be a little more challenging and strange than he figured.

For grades 2-4
Recommended by: Sheila

By Josh Lieb
Joey has just moved to the city with his mom and has had to leave his old school and friends. He is already unhappy when an old talking rat comes in his room and bites him. Joey shrinks and wakes up a rat destined to pull a spork from a stone hard scone and try to save the rat kingdom.

For grades 4-6
Recommended by: Sheila

For more titles see previous picks below!

Check out past staff recommendations:

Have You Seen My New Blue Socks?
by Eve Bunting
Poor Duck has lost his beautiful new blue socks! He looks in his box, he looks down by the rocks, and he asks his friend the fox. But he still can’t find them. Wherever could they be?

For ages 3 to 7
Recommended by: Jennie

The Turn of the Tide
by Rosanne Parry
Since the author live in Portland a lot of her stories are based in somehow in Oregon and this is no exception. Cousins, one in Japan and one in Oregon, make serious mistakes when disastrous weather hits and must depend on each other to survive.

For grades 5-7
Recommended by: Sheila

Icky Ricky #1: Toilet Paper Mummy
by Michael Rex
Six interconnected short chapter stories keep the reader laughing and guessing at what could possible happen next with this group of kids. They think of things to do that will not be that unusual for most children’s imaginations.

For grades 1-3
Recommended by: Sheila

Xtreme Illusions 2
by National Geographic
Color is an illusion created in my brain? What? That’s what it says in this book. There are photos that will make you think gray is green and red is moving and throbbing. I thought so. Lots of fun.

For all ages
Recommended by: Sheila

The Pirate Pig
by Cornelia Funke
This adventure starts with Sam and Pip finding a barrel on their beach. Inside is a cute little pig they name, Julie. Julie is no ordinary pig, she is a pirate pig, treasure sniffer-outer. She is valuable and will be in danger by Barracuda Bill.

For grades 2-4
Recommended by: Sheila

Meet the Dogs of Bedlam Farm
by Jon Katz
This is the true story of four farm dogs.  Where they came from; what they’re like; and how they came to be great friends.  Excellent photos and heartwarming dog stories. 

For ages 4-8
Recommended by: Steven

Here Be Monsters! 
by Alan Snow
This the book that the movie “Box Trolls” is based on. It’s long, silly, and weird in a fun way. It also has great pictures, with drawing on most every page. For fans of Roald Dahl and Lemony Snicket.

For ages 9-12
Recommended by: Steven

The Silver Pony
by Lynd Ward 
A classic magical tale about a boy who discovers a flying horse. But it’s not your typical chapter book:  The whole story is told through 80 pictures, with no words at all.

For ages 5-11
Recommended by: Steven

What Presidents are Made of 
by Hanoch Piven
Fun historical facts about many of our country’s presidents. And the pictures are fun too:  They are made from “found objects...everything from feathers and springs to peanuts and jellybeans...and put together to resemble each president.

For ages 8-11
Recommended by: Steven

Athena - Grey-Eyed Goddess
by George O’Connor 
In Greek Mythology, Athena was a warrior from the day she was born (fully dressed in armor). Her strange and heroic adventures are shown in this graphic  novel, part of the excellent “Olympians” series.

For ages 12-15
Recommended by: Steven

Edible Science: Experiments You Can Eat
by Jodi Wheeler-Toppen
If you like food and science this is a fun book. I like the happy birthday egg in a bottle and the dancing fruit soup. But that’s only two of about 50 experiments with edibles.

For ages 7-11  
Recommended by: Sheila

by  Pharrell Williams
This song has happily made into a fun photo collage book to sing or to rap along together with family. I checked out the cd to go with it and downloaded the song from I tunes. Happy!

For ages 0-up  
Recommended by:  Sheila

The Enchanted Files: Diary of a Mad Brownie
By Bruce Coville
Poor Angus the Brownie! He has inherited the curse of his ancestors and now has a new family he has to live with that has menfolk. The curse does not both the girls. He and Alex must figure out some way to stop the curse before Alex’s family is affected forever.

For ages 7-11  
Recommended by: Sheila

Hero Tales, a family treasury of true stories from the lives of Christian heroes, v.1
By Dave and Neta Johnson
Fifteen lives of men and women are described and the attributes that were outstanding in each. For example, Harriet Tubman was an example of compassion, joy and perseverance and her tale is told to help understand why.

For ages 5-10
Recommended by: Sheila

Molly Moon’s Incredible Book of Hypnotism
By Georgia Byng
Molly Moon is no poor orphan. Well, she is an orphan but she also has handy hypnotic powers. She discovered the secret in an old book. Now she can make people do whatever she wants. But someone wants to steal her secret.

For ages 9-12  
Recommended by: Sheila

Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer
By John Grisham
Theo is well versed for a thirteen year old in the ways of the legal system. He is able to advise friends and help his teacher get class seats for an important trial. Then he gets tangled into the actual trial as the only one who notices a possible witness to the murder. Good story!

For ages 9-12  
Recommended by: Sheila

Hamster Princess
By Ursula Vernon
One upon a time there was a beautiful princess named Harriet Hamsterbone, a hamster who for a hamster was stunning. She played checked and knew fraction. The tiny hamster reminded me a bit of determined sleeping beauty?

For ages 8-11
Recommended by: Sheila

Big Bad Detective Agency
By Bruce Hale
Poor Wolfgang. He gets all the blame when the three not so little pigs home are broken into and messed up. The king gives Wolfgang one day to clear his name before he goes to jail. Strangely the little known fourth little pig makes a pretty good unwanted assistant for Wolfgang. But they only have one day to figure out what happened.

For ages 7-10  
Recommended by: Sheila

Blackbird Fly 
By Erin Entrada Kelly
Apple has dreams and they so don’t mesh with what her mother wants for her. She desperately wants to play the guitar the way her father did. She is not allowed to touch her father’s guitar. He died years ago and her mother still mourns. Apple has trouble fitting in at school with her biracial background and her mother unable to give her any independence from studying. She is so smart she has scholarship to a private school and her only hope is her musical gift she is not allowed to show.

For ages 9-12    
Recommended by: Sheila

A Handful of Stars
By Cynthia Lord
Lily loves her dog so much but he is blind so she watches him carefully. One day he gets away from her and he runs almost into a busy road when one of the migrant farm girls lures him with her sandwich. Lily is so grateful she and the girl become friends but how will a friendship last with her and what will her other friends think?

For ages 9-12  
Recommended by Sheila

I Got the Rhythm  
by Connie Schofield-Morrison; illustrated by Frank Morrison
It's a sunny day in the city, and as one little girl walks to the park with her mom, she feels rhythm all around her…and she's not afraid to let it show: She shakes and bounces. Soon the park is transformed into a dance party and with a marching band. Fun filled illustrations, dancing words encourage kids to do some stomping, bopping, and hopping too. Picture Book

Ages 3-7
Recommended by: Sheila

The Nest  
by Kenneth Oppel
Steven's baby brother is sick, and while his whole family is worried, Steven is having dreams about a strange winged creature who promises to help. At first he thinks the creature might be an angel, but as her behavior becomes more threatening -- and the unusual wasp nest on Steven's house grows larger -- Steven realizes that something more deadly than illness is threatening his family. The Nest gets creepier and more intense, building to a breathless, terrifying story for the reader. Fiction

Grades 5-9
Recommended by Sheila

Splendors and Glooms  
by Laura Amy Schlitz
Clara’s wealthy father, after the accidental poisoning deaths of all her siblings, hires for his daughter the amazingly talented – even magical -- puppeteer Grisini to perform at her 12th birthday party. And then Clara gets kidnapped. Told from several different characters' points of view, this spooky, complex story set in Victorian London will appeal to readers who like mysterious goings on and I loved the setting. Fiction

Grades 5-8
Recommended by Sheila

Fish in a Tree  
by Lynda Mullaly Hunt 
“Everybody is smart in different ways. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life believing it is stupid.”
Ally has been smart enough to fool a lot of smart people. Every time she lands in a new school, she is able to hide her inability to read by creating clever yet disruptive distractions.  She is afraid to ask for help; after all, how can you cure dumb? However, her newest teacher Mr. Daniels sees the bright, creative kid underneath the trouble maker. With his help, tries again and has hope. Fiction

Grades 4-6
Recommended by Sheila

Story Thieves  
by James Riley 
Life is boring when you live in the real world, instead of starring in your own book series. Owen knows that better than anyone, what with the real world’s homework and chores.

But everything changes the day Owen sees the impossible happen—his classmate Bethany climb out of a book in the library. It turns out Bethany is half-fictional and has been searching every book she can find for her missing father, a fictional character.

Bethany can’t let anyone else learn her secret, so Owen makes her a deal: All she has to do is take him into a book in Owen’s favorite series, and he’ll never say a word. Besides, visiting the book might help Bethany find her father…Fiction

Grades 5-7
Recommended by Sheila

May B.  
by Caroline Starr Rose
Winter is coming and young May’s parents need to hire her out to help a settler and his wife. May B. accepts this but what she doesn’t expect is to have to fight for her life. I love reading a wintery historical survival story while I’m cozy warm on my couch.Fiction

Grades 4-6
Recommended by Sheila

Love That Dog  
by Sharon Creech
Jack wants to tell the story of Sky, his dog, but it’s not until he starts learning about poetry in class that he finally finds a way to do it. The book is about 100 pages and you can read it pretty quickly: the whole book is told in poems! Fiction

Ages 7-11
Recommended by Steven

Super Simple Things to Do with Pressure  
by Kelly Doudna
Want to work on your Science Fair project? This book has some fun, pretty simple ideas. Most of the experiments use supplies you might already have at home, or can be found at the grocery store. Non-Fiction

Grades 1-6
Recommended by Steven

Mitch and Amy  
by Beverly Cleary
Most readers know about Ramona Quimby and Henry Huggins. But one of the best Beverly Cleary books is about Mitch and Amy, nine-year-old twins. They drive each other crazy most of the time, but when it really counts they’re best friends. Fiction

Ages 8-11
Recommended by Steven

By Pam Muñoz Ryan
Lost and alone in a forbidden forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and suddenly finds he is caught up in a strange adventure involving a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica.
Many years later, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania and Ivy in California each, in turn, find themselves caught also when the same harmonica lands in their lives. All the children face tough challenges: rescuing a father, protecting a brother, holding a family together. Neatly, their suspenseful separate stories come together. 

Recommended by: Sheila

Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War 
By Steve Sheinkin 
This is historical nonfiction of a tense, exciting time describing how Daniel Ellsberg transformed from plain government analyst into "the most dangerous man in America," and risked everything to expose the government's deceit. On June 13, 1971, the front page of the New York Times announced the existence of a 7,000-page collection of documents containing a secret history of the Vietnam War. Known as The Pentagon Papers, these documents had been ordered by the Secretary of Defense. The papers, detailing every action the government had taken in the Vietnam War, showed deceit over twenty years and four presidencies, and forever alerted American citizens to politicians claiming to be honest and “for the people.” 

Recommended by: Sheila

Falling In
by Frances O’Roarke Dowell
When she is sent to the principal's office one day for daydreaming in class, sixth-grader Isabelle Bean opens a supply-closet door...and falls into a completely different world! More curious than frightened, she begins exploring and meets a group of children who are fleeing from a supposedly murderous witch. Isabelle, unworried, marches off hoping that she will meet the witch. Suspenseful, funny, and surprising, Falling In is a book that is like a realistic fantasy twisted fairy tale!

For ages 9-12
Recommended by: Sheila

The Marvels 
By Brian Selznick
Now we go off on a voyage! Two seemingly unrelated stories--one in words, the other in pictures--come together. The illustrated story begins in 1766 with Billy Marvel, the lone survivor of a shipwreck, and follows the adventures of his family of fabulous actors over five generations. The written story opens in the 21st century and continues with Joseph, who has run away from school to his uncle's puzzling house in London, where he, and we, try to piece together many family questions. 

Ages 9 and up
Recommended by: Sheila

Once Upon a Marigold 
By Jean Ferris
Follow the adventures of a love sick boy who longs from afar for Princess Marigold. But he’s been raised in a cave by trolls. Whether a beautiful princess can ever come to love a cave boy is fun and funny and a real bad villain is out to get the poor princess. Two more books follow in this series.

Ages 9-12
Recommended by: Sheila

The Other Side
By Jacqueline Woodson
Annie is one of Clover’s nearest neighbors, but there’s a fence that keeps them apart. What will it take to bring them together? A thought provoking picture book about friendship and the things that keep people separated.

Ages 7-10
Recommended by: Sheila

By Katherine Applegate
Jackson and his family are facing hard times. Their five jobs don’t bring in enough money to pay the rent and no one is getting enough to eat. Jackson remembers that once they had to live in their van. Crenshaw is a giant cat, loud and imaginary. He has returned to help Jackson sort out his thoughts. What can an imaginary friend do?

Ages 8-11
Recommended by: Sheila

Goodbye Stranger
By Rebecca Stead
Bridget is an accident survivor trying to understand who she is now. Friend Emily has new curves and has been messaged by a boy wanting a certain kind of picture. Tab sees through everybody’s cover—or so she says. The three girls are best friends in middle school with one rule-no fighting.   Then Sherm starts to be friends with Bridge. Another girl wants to disappear for a day.  As the story progresses it builds like a mystery and all is not spelled out until…

Ages 11-16
Recommended by: Sheila

Space Taxi: Archie Takes Flight

by Wendy Mass
I knew this title would be a space adventure fantasy. Dad has a surprise for his son. His job as a taxi driver is intergalactic and Archie finds out. Archie is shocked and pleased. I loved the cat “Pockets” from the planet Friskopolis.  

For ages 7-9.
Recommended by: Sheila

The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond
by Brenda Woods
Violet is happy except that she wonders about her dad’s family. He died when she was young and her grandma never wanted to get to know her. Violet feels half her life is a mystery. So why don’t they like her? 

For ages 9-13. 
Recommended by: Sheila

Binny for Short
by Hilary McKay
Hilary McKay is one of my favorite authors.  This one’s about a girl, her family, her missing dog, and the boy next door who’s kind of her friend and kind of her enemy.

For ages 9-12.
Recommended by: Steven
Magic Secrets
by Rose Wyler & Gerald Ames
I’m not great at magic tricks, so I love this book because it has easy ones that even I can do.  My favorite tricks:  “Magic Hand” (page 26) and “Magic Wand” (page 40).  

For ages 5-8.
Recommended by: Steven 
The War that Saved My Life 
by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
Ada’s club foot keeps her a prisoner. Her brother Jamie loves her but can’t always protect her from their cruel mother. They escape during WWII to the country to live. Will it be better there?  

For ages 10-13 
Recommended by: Sheila
One Million Things: Space
by Carol Stott
A lot of pretty complicated information presented in a less complicated visual format. Enough facts and figures to spark curiosity and maybe answer some of those perpetual questions about the sun and moon and the stars and everything in between.
Recommended by: Shannon 

National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry
by J. Patrick Lewis
Fun for the whole family—amazing pictures of animals and a good mix of poems for new and more practiced readers.  
Recommended by: Shannon 

Mister Bud Wears the Cone
by Carter Goodrich
Mister Bud has an itchy hot spot and he keeps scratching. Out comes the cone. Mister Bud hates the cone! See how he does in this funny tale.  

For ages 4-8.
Recommended by: Patty
Rain Reign
by Ann Martin
 As I love dog stories this one was especially appealing. Lost in a storm, a dog goes missing and the young owner with Asperger’s syndrome plans and hopes to find him against all odds.

For grades 4-6
Recommended by: Sheila

Hold Fast
by Blue Balliet
A mystery different from her others, Balliet writes about a family that is very down on its luck. Dad has disappeared suddenly and the family ends up in a homeless shelter. They know they must find out what happened to him.

For grades 5-7
Recommended by: Sheila