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Staff Reviews by Sharyn Heili

Cover: 'The Lion and the Bird'

"The Lion and the Bird" by Marianne Dubuc

★★★★ Lion kindly helps a bird who is cold and wounded and provides a warm place for the winter. They have a lovely time together, but when spring comes and bird's flock returns, he has to join them. This heart-touching universal tale about friendship, love and the ties that bind us is wonderfully told, and simply, but beautifully, illustrated. Preschoolers,...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book

Cover: 'Hope Is A Ferris Wheel'

"Hope Is A Ferris Wheel" by Robin Herrera

★★★★ Star Mackie has every reason in the world to give up. She lives with her mother and sister Winter in a pinkish trailer with a plastic flamingo glued to the top. She has never met her father or even received a card from him. She starts an Emily Dickinson Poetry Club to meet friends in her new school. In her weeks of assigned vocabulary sentences (which she...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Nightingale's Nest'

"Nightingale's Nest" by Nikki Loftin

★★★★★ The music he heard was like nothing he had ever heard before; it was like magic. Twelve-year-old John Fischer is spending his summer helping his father with his tree removal business when he meets a foster child, Gayle, the bird-like girl with the beautiful voice of a nightingale. When they become friends he discovers that her singing helps heal his body...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Real Boy'

"The Real Boy" by Anne Ursu

★★★★★ The massive walls around the protected island city of Asteri writhe with enchantment.  The wizards’ powerful magic protects the city from illness and harm.  A devastating worldwide plague many years ago killed numerous people from the island. “The boy”, Oscar, works as a lowly “Hand” for Caleb, the most powerful magician in the city. His job is to...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'The Winter of the Robots'

"The Winter of the Robots" by Kurtis Scaletta

★★★★★ It’s science fair time but Jim’s best friend Oliver always wants to build robots so he chooses a girl partner named Rocky.   He “borrows” cameras from his father’s security business and places them in a hidden junkyard in an attempt to study otters for their project.  They don’t find any otters, but discover strange noises and movement coming from...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, action adventure

Cover: 'Spark'

"Spark" by Kallie George, Geneviève Côté

★★★★ Spark is a small, young dragon with a mighty flame.  In other words, he has problems controlling his flames.  He turns marshmallows to a crisp and cracks dishes while trying to dry them.  His family and friends encourage him and try to help him.   This is a cute first chapter book with engaging illustrations for beginning readers....

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, easy reader

Cover: 'Rooftoppers'

"Rooftoppers" by Katherine Rundell

★★★★★ Charles, an eccentric, erudite bachelor with a heart full of love finds a baby floating in a cello case in the middle of the English Channel. He takes her home, names her Sophie, and notifies the proper authorities who reluctantly agree to let him keep her.  Charles and Sophie have a wonderful life together until she turns 12 when the National...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Building Our House'

"Building Our House" by Jonathan Bean

★★★★★ This cozy picture book shows the year-and-a-half long construction process involved in building a house, from moving into a trailer to live until the house is done, picking out the site, consulting the blueprints, digging the basement, raising the frame, and working in all types of weather.  Mom and Dad both work on the house while the children play...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book

Cover: 'Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy'

"Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy" by Karen Foxlee

★★★★★ Opehlia Jane Worthington-Whittard is an extraordinary 11 year old girl; she just doesn’t know it yet.  Accepting a last-minute job offer to curate a sword exhibit at a museum in a foreign city, Ophelia’s father believes that this is just the change of scenery his daughters need after the recent death of their mother.  The plan is for Ophelia and...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Superworm'

"Superworm" by Julia Donaldson

★★★★★ “Hip, hip hooray for SUPERWORM”, repeatedly chant the animals and insects in the forest as their hero Superworm saves them from many disasters.   But in the midst of their happiness the evil wizard lizard captures Superworm with his servant crow and puts an evil spell on him, forcing him to find treasure in the soil.  Will his friends rescue him,...

Audience: children | Genre: fiction, picture book, read-alouds

Cover: 'A Tale of Two Castles'

"A Tale of Two Castles" by Gail Carson Levine

★★★★★ Twelve year old Elodie is forced to leave her family and her island home of Lahnt, to sail to the town of Two Castles and begin a new life.  Stuck in Two Castles without any money to immediately follow her dream of being an actor, she is transported into the lair of a brilliant dragon, Meenore, who offers to employ her as his paid assistant, even...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy, dragons

Cover: 'Sisterland'

"Sisterland" by Curtis Sittenfeld

★★★★★ Whatever direction life carries us, we cannot escape our family of origin no matter how hard we might try.  Kate and Violet are identical twin sisters with psychic abilities, living very different lives. Kate, married with two children, tries to ignore her “senses” and live a somewhat normal life, while her single sister, Vi flaunts hers, even...

Audience: adults | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Out of the Easy'

"Out of the Easy" by Ruta Sepetys

★★★★★ We can’t choose the families that we are born into but we can choose our destiny. Born to a prostitute mother and an unknown father, and living in a brothel with her mother in the French Quarter, Josie Moraine appears to have the cards stacked against her. While cleaning rooms at a brothel, working at a bookstore, and being tangled up in a murder...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Handbook for Dragon Slayers'

"Handbook for Dragon Slayers" by Merrie Haskell

★★★★ 13-year-old Tilda is not your average fairytale princess. Born with a twisted foot, she knows that people in her kingdom don't respect her and she's bored with being a princess. Her boredom, however, comes to an abrupt halt when her evil cousin steals the throne. She is suddenly thrust into a once-in-a-lifetime adventure -- complete with magical horses --...

Audience: children, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy, dragons

Cover: 'Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library'

"Thomas Jefferson Builds a Library" by Barb Rosenstock

★★★★★ Thomas Jefferson’s love of books and reading is wonderfully portrayed in this short children’s book.  Amusing illustrations of books on the roof of the White House, books used to spell out the word “BOOKS” on his fireplace mantle, and a picture of Jefferson being so engrossed in reading a book that they had to wait for him to sign the Declaration of...

Audience: children | Genre: nonfiction, picture book, history

Cover: 'A Street Cat Named Bob'

"A Street Cat Named Bob" by James Bowen

★★★★★ Wounded, hungry and full of fleas, a stray ginger-colored tom cat catches the eye of James Bowen, a street musician struggling to free his life from drug addiction. The two lost souls instantly form a bond. Even though James can barely get by himself on the money he earns performing on the streets of London, he knows that he has to take care of this cat....

Audience: adults | Genre: nonfiction, animals, memoir

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