Staff Picks : 100 Favorite
Alissa Lauzon, Head of Youth Services
- Llama, Llama Red Pajama
- Click, Clack Moo
- Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus
- The Day Jimmy’s Boa Ate the Wash
- The Lion and the Mouse
- There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly
- Saint George and the Dragon
- Chicka Chicka Boom Boom
- No David!
- Smash! Crash!
- Interrupting Chicken
- Claudette Colvin: Twice Towards Justice
- Number the Stars
- Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
- The Lightning Thief
- The Amulet of Samarkand
- Anne of Green Gables
- Gregor the Overlander
- My Side of the Mountain
Donna Talmage, Children’s Librarian
- Each Peach, Pear, Plum by Janet Ahlberg : Whimsical illustrations featuring well known storybook characters like Cinderella enhance this introductory level “I Spy” book. For younger readers.
- Shaker Boy by Mary Lyn Ray: An introduction to historical fiction, this book portrays the life of an orphaned boy raised by the Shakers in the 19th century. Caleb flourishes in his new community, both giving and receiving musical gifts that enchance everyone’s quality of life.
- Something From Nothing by Phoebe Gilman: A beautifully illustrated Jewish folktale that evokes the world portrayed in Fiddler on the Roof. A family of mice that live beneath the floor enact a humorous subplot that reflects the action in the human world.
- The Cut Ups by James Marshall
- Mole Music by David McPhail A mole living in a cozy little burrow sends away for a mail order violin. At first the self taught
- Have a Good Day Café by Park
- The Song in Derricks Heart
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie
Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter by Astrid Lindgren
Travel Far, Pay No Fare by Anne Lindbergh
The Moorchild by Eloise McGraw
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
Ramona The Pest by Beverly Cleary
Something Upstairs by Avi
Gael Nappa, Children’s Room Assistant
Guess Who? by Margaret Miller jPic/Mil A lively read for a group, this book asks a question and then poses silly picture answers. Kids love to yell “NO!” in response. I love to read this one for storytimes.
Sunflower House by Eve Bunting jPic/Bun Unlike so many of her books, Eve Bunting does not focus on any serious issues in this one. It’s just a lovely look at summer as seen through the eyes of one boy, noting the seasonal cycle and even manages to touch on beginnings and ends and the circle of life, very gently.
High Wire Henry by Mary Calhoun jPic/Cal Delightful story of a cat who is very unhappy with the addition of a puppy to the family. He sulks and is only drawn out of it when he is needed to walk a telephone wire to save the puppy from falling out an upstairs window. Appeals to any cat lovers, and older siblings.
How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the U.S.A. by Marjorie Priceman jPic/Pri Super for looking at the diversity of our country and its industries. Great study of geography, while bringing everything home to its impact on our own lives.
Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes jCaldecott/Henkes Kitten is a delightfully naive and adventurous protagonist, who is convinced the moon is a bowl of milk. If only he can just figure out how to get it, he will be happy. He ends up in a pond, and very sadly returns to his home where he finds, reassuringly, a lovely bowl of milk waiting for him.
Duckat by Gaelyn Gordon jPic/Gor Ludicrous but charming story of a girl and a duck that thinks he is a cat. There is a recurring refrain of “Odd, very odd” which the kids like to help repeat, and I find I use it in my own life! Surprise ending… a cat who thinks he is a duck shows up…
Love You Forever by Robert Munsch jPb/Pic This book is a moving story of a mother who loves, cuddles, cares for her son through all his life, until he is grown and she is old, and their roles are reversed. Lovely, charming and usually produces tears from the parents.
Officer Buckle and Gloria by Peg Rathmann jPic/Rat In this adorable book Officer Buckle is a police officer whose job is to teach kids about safety. Unbeknownst to him, his sidekick, a dog named Gloria, does tricks to demonstrate his lesson, enchanting the children. When he realizes, Officer Buckle feels upstaged and leaves Gloria at the station. When he realizes she was the secret to his success, she is happily reinstated.
Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown jPic/Bro, jBoard, jPb/Pic Classic children’s bedtime story which lulls everyone, including the reader, into a slumberous state!
Chapter Books The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi Pb/YA On a long, grueling journey from England to Rhode Island in 1802, a 12 year old changes from a prim and proper girl to a swashbuckling mate of a mutinous crew and is accused of murder by the captain. Awash with shipboard activity, intense feelings, and a keen sense of time and place, the story is a throwback to good old-fashioned adventure yarns on the high seas.
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin j/Ras, jPb/5-7 Great mystery puzzle with fun quirky characters. A rich man is murdered, leaving his fortune to a variety of heirs who don’t know him, or how they are connected. But they must solve the mystery of his murder in order to receive their inheritance.
The Dollhouse Murders by Betty Ren Wright jPb/5-7 A seriously scary book in which a girl learns of and must try to solve the murder of her grandparents, with the prompting of a haunted dollhouse, in which the dolls keep reenacting parts of the story. Creepy, and suspenseful!
Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan j/Newbery/McL In the late 19th century a widowed midwestern farmer with two children–Anna and Caleb–advertises for a wife. When Sarah arrives, she is homesick for Maine, especially for the ocean, which she misses greatly. The children fear that she will not stay, and when she goes off to town alone, young Caleb–whose mother died during childbirth–is stricken with the fear that she has gone for good. But she returns with colored pencils to illustrate for them the beauty of Maine, and to explain that, though she misses her home, “the truth of it is, I would miss you more.” The tale gently explores themes of abandonment, loss and love.
Dragonsong by Anne McCaffrey SciFi/McCaffrey A, YA/McCaffery, A Dragonsong, the first volume in a series of science fiction tales regarding a world in which dragons and riders bond mentally, is the enchanting tale of how Menolly of Half Circle Hold became Pern’s first female Harper, and rediscovered the legendary fire lizards who helped to save her world.
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke j/Fun Meggie’s father Mo has an interesting talent: when he reads aloud, things, and sometimes people, come out of their stories and into the real world! But now the evil Capricorn wants to use Mo’s talents to bring himself great wealth and power. Then Meggie discovers that maybe Mo isn’t the only one who can read things to life. This is an enchanting story full of adventure, suspense, and magic. The characters are vivid and delightful. Unlike many books for younger readers there is a distinct emphasis on the importance of family as seen in the close relationship between Meggie and her father.
Running Out of Time by Margaret Haddix j/Had, jPb/5-7 Jessie lives with her family in the frontier village of Clifton, Indiana, in 1840 — or so she believes. When diphtheria strikes the village and the children of Clifton start dying, Jessie’s mother reveals a shocking secret — it’s actually 1996, and they are living in a reconstructed village that serves as a tourist site. In the world outside, medicine exists that can cure the dread disease, and Jessie’s mother is sending her on a dangerous mission to bring back help. But beyond the walls of Clifton, Jessie discovers a world even more alien and threatening than she could have imagined, and soon she finds her own life in jeopardy.
Catwings by Ursula LeGuin j/LeG Down an alley in a dumpster, Mrs. Jane Tabby gives birth to four kittens. But these are no ordinary offspring – each has a pair of wings. Although Mrs. Tabby is unperturbed by her kittens’ appearance, her neighbors are not so charitable; when the kittens are old enough to fly, Mrs. Tabby sends her children out into the world. Because both winged and four-footed creatures mistrust them, the kittens have trouble finding a place to live, but eventually discover a loving home.
Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle YA/L’Engle M, Pb/YA, jPb/5-7 Everyone in town thinks Meg is volatile and dull-witted and that her younger brother Charles Wallace is dumb. People are also saying that their father has run off and left their brilliant scientist mother. Spurred on by these rumors, Meg and Charles Wallace, along with their new friend Calvin, embark on a perilous quest through space to find their father. In doing so they must travel behind the shadow of an evil power that is darkening the cosmos, one planet at a time. Young people who have trouble finding their place in the world will connect with the “misfit” characters in this provocative story. This is no superhero tale, nor is it science fiction, although it shares elements of both. The travelers must rely on their individual and collective strengths, delving deep into their characters to find answers.
Because of Winn Dixie by Kate Dicamillo jCam, YA/Camillo K With her newly adopted, goofy pooch at her side, Opal explores her bittersweet world and learns to listen to other people’s lives. This warm and winning book hosts an unforgettable cast of characters, including a librarian who fought off a bear with a copy of War and Peace, an ex-con pet-store clerk who plays sweet music to his animal charges, and the neighborhood “witch,” a nearly blind woman who sees with her heart.
Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott jPb/5-7 Rose Campbell, tired and ill, has come to live at “The Aunt-Hill” after the death of her beloved father. Six aunts fussing and fretting over her are bad enough, but what is a quiet thirteen-year-old girl to do with seven boisterous boy cousins? And with a guardian uncle who has the strangest ideas about how to raise a young girl? Uncle Alec wants her to live and breathe, not wither and pine. She learns to enjoy life and take chances, and that she is not nearly as fragile as everyone thought.
Julia Aybar, Children’s Room Assistant
Picture Books The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric CarlE jPic/Car, jBoard A classic, colorful picture book where readers will learn about colors, counting, and the cycle of a caterpillar. Describes the insect eating his way through an apple, two pears, three plums, and a series of others treats. Children will enjoy the beautiful illustrations, the flaps, and little holes made by the caterpillar.
I am Rene, the Boy. Yo Soy Rene, El Niño by Rene Colato Lainez; illustrated by Fabiola Graullera Ramírez jPic/Lai/Spanish A wonderful tool when helping children cope with a new culture or language. This is the fascinating story of a young boy, Rene who migrated to the United States and discovered that his name is a girl’s name. The illustrations are just brilliant.
Have you filled a Bucket Today?: a Guide to Daily Happiness for Kids by Carol McClou; illustrated by David Messing Helps teach children that being considerate and respectful to others is the best way for them to feel good about themselves. The illustrations are lovely with buckets filled with rainbows, stars, hearts and flowers.
Smile a Lot by Nancy Carlson jPic/Car A friendly, young frog, encourages the reader to smile through good and bad times and gives examples on how smiling will help through everyday life situations. The illustrations are colorful and cute.
Love You Forever by Robert Munsch; illustrated by Sheila McGraw jPb/Pic It’s the sweetest story about the unconditional love between a son and his mother. It begins when she rocks him singing “I will love you for ever…” The illustrations are realistic and well done.
Oh, The Places You Will Go! by Dr. Seuss; illustrated by David A Carter jPic/Seu In this modern classic and perennial bestseller, Dr. Seuss addresses the ups and downs of life and encourages everyone to find the success that lies within them. The illustrations are inspiring and fun.
The 10th Good Thing about Barney by Judy Viorst; illustrated by Erik Blegvad j/Pic/Vio Whenever a pet, friend or family dies, it can be a little like this story: Barney was a cat. He died. His owner, a young boy should think of ten good things to tell at his funeral but he can only think of nine. Illustrations are appropriate.
My Mother Gave Me the Moon by Patrick Reagan; illustrated by Becky Kelly There is a no one more deserving of our love and affection than our mother. This story is a beautiful message of gratitude to her. You will be delighted with the light and the soft colors of these heavenly illustrations.
I Love You Like Crazy Cakes by Rose Lewis; illustrated by Jane Dyer jPic/Dye It’s a celebration of the love and joy a baby brings into the world. This heartfelt story follows a woman on her journey to adopt a baby girl from China. The watercolors are delicate and perfect!
When the Relatives Came by Cynthia Rylant; illustrated by Stephen Gammell jCaldecott/Ryl This is an exceptional and all time favorite picture books. This story is full of fun, love, warmth and the simple pleasures that can be found in a large, loving and close family.
The Little Weed Flower by Vicky Whipple
Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia McLachlan j/Newbery/McL Caleb and Anna hope that the mail order bride who comes from Maine to their prairie home will stay. Their mom died and the family is sad. Sarah comes and cheers the family up. I found a wonderful message in this book: there is always a chance to have a new beginning.
11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass j/Maas Amanda and Leo are born on the same day at the Willow falls Birthday Center. They spend every birthday together, hosting joint birthday parties. It’s a fabulous book full of surprises, fun, humor and most of all true friendship. The reader will find ways to fix a broken friendship and make it stronger than ever.
Becoming Naomi Leon by Pam Munoz Ryan j/Rya Naomi Outlaw lives with her brother Owen and great grandmother until her mother reappears and wants to take Naomi back. With their father’s agreement Gram is granted guardianship of the children and Naomi Outlaw becomes Naomi Leon. Naomi demonstrates that every human being is in charge of his own destiny. It is a treasure book that will be enjoy by all.
Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White j/Whi, jPb/3-5 A talented spider uses all her energies to save the life of her friend Wilbur, a farmyard pig and soon-to-be dinner. It’s an all-time favorite that celebrates the power of friendship and love.
The Report Card by Andrew Clements j/Cle Nora Rose Rowley is a genius but she purposely brings home a terrible report card just to prove a point. Due to the importance given to test scores and grades, this is a book everyone should read.
A Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson jPat, jPb/5-7 Story about two kind and interesting kids, Leslie and Jess. They live in a world of their own creation where they develop a very special friendship and spiritual love story. It’s a lovely classic, a very emotional and unforgettable story.
When Tia Lola Came to Visit (Stay) By Julia Alvarez j/Alv Tia Lola brings healing, compassion and laughter into a family that is hurting. This is a very warm and flavorful story. It is full of humor, surprises, family moments, fun and the Dominican culture. Delicious!
Pollyanna by Eleanor H. Potter j/Pot Pollyanna is a poor orphan girl who arrives in a strange place and through her wonderful personality, explores and conquers a new environment. Pollyanna makes people see the good in life rather than the sad and negative. Pollyanna’s eternal optimism has made her one of the most beloved characters in American Literature.
Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume jBlu, jPb/5-7 The story about a sixth- grade girl who grows up with no religion. Margaret’s mother is Christian and her father is Jewish. She seeks for a religion of her own. She also confronts some pre-teen female issues.
Frindle by Andrew Clements jCle A creative boy named Nick is challenged by his English teacher to think about who makes the words that are in the dictionary. He decides to create his own word and renames the pen “frindle.”
Kathy Alexander, Children’s Room Assistant & ECRC Coordinator
Picture Books The Empty Pot by Demi jPic/Dem A beautifully crafted book that will be enjoyed as much for the richness of its illustrations as for the simplicity of its story. When the Chinese emperor proclaims that his successor will be the child who grows the most beautiful flowers, Ping is excited. Like the emperor, he loves flowers and anything he plants burst into bloom. But the emperor’s seed does not grow, and he must bring only his empty pot to the emperor.
Paper Dragon by Marguerite Davol j398.051/Dav Sabuda’s illustrations are endlessly inventive; the forms of clothing, dragon, plants,and trees are portrayed in painted tissue-paper collages affixed to Japanese papers; the faces of the figures are expertly painted, using economical brush strokes that express the personalities of the people Mi Fei loves so much. Mi Fei is an artist, painting scenes of gods and heroes, and content to live in the small village where he is always ready to listen to the tales of his neighbors. But his peaceful life is shattered when the great dragon awakens from sleep, and Mi Fei is chosen to appease the dragon.
Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes by Litwin This is a funny story about Pete the cat walking down the street wearing his brand new white shoes. Along the way his shoes change from white to red to blue to brown, etc depending on what he steps in from strawberries to blueberries. There are bright, childlike illustrations showing the long-limbed feline regularly altering his footsteps but continuing not to watch where he is walking. The moral of the story is to keep going no matter what happens to you in life. This story is a great read aloud book.
The Missing Mitten Mystery by Steven Kellogg Annie has lost five mittens during the winter, and she’s in trouble. So she and her dog, Oscar return to where they went sledding and retrace her steps. The author, Kellogg has outdone himself with pictures that are filled with good cheer, warm spirits, and happy daydreams. It’s a cute story that captivates the reader with Annie’s imagination of where the mittens could turn up.
Papa, Please Get the Moon for Me by Eric Carle jPic/Car This is a stunning picture book, drawn in thick brilliant brushstrokes of blues, greens and red that dazzle the eye. Monica wants to play with the moon, but can’t reach it, so she asks her father to get it for her. The book is designed with several foldout pages which will delight young listeners.
The Little Engine That Could by Watty Piper jPb/Pic This story is one of the greatest tales of motivation and positive thinking. In this well loved classic, a little train carries oodles of toys to all the good boys and girls despite all the obstacles it encounters while climbing over the mountain.
Frederick by Leo Lionni jCaldecott/Lio, jPb/Pic The poet mouse, Frederick, stores up something special for the long cold winter. While other mice gather food, Frederick seems to daydream the summer away and ends up keeping his friends warm with his words. This book is a Caldecott Honor book and picked as the NY Times best illustrated Children’s Book of the Year.
Grandfather’s Journey by Allen Say jCaldecott/Say Elegantly honed text accompanies large formally composed paintings of Say’s family history. A portrait of Say’s grandfather opens the book, showing him in traditional Japanese dress. A young man when he left his home in Japan, to travel the world. The story evolves around his life in California and his longing to return to Japan one day. This book won the Caldecott Medal in 1994.
Pete’s a Pizza byWilliam Steig jPic/Ste Pete’s father tries to cheer him up by making him into a pretend pizza. They carry him into the kitchen and toss and knead him like dough, and continue to apply oil and tomatoes. The amiable quality of Steig’s easy pizza recipe will amuse all readers as they detail the instructions with simple line drawings on a spacious white background.
Peanut by Linas Alsenas jPic/Als A lonely old woman finds a stray & strange “puppy’. The colorful, ink outlined illustrations show Mildred walking a baby elephant by the trunk. Readers will be amused by Mildren’s misconception about Peanut’s identity. A great read-aloud story about feelings and older people.
Chapter Books Little Women by Louisa May Alcott jPb/5-7, jAlc The story about the four March sisters who learn the hard lessons of poverty and of growing up in New England during the Civil War.
Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume jBlu, jPb/5-7 Faced with the difficulties of growing up and choosing a religion, an eleven year old Margaret tries to make a decision herself by attending a temple with her grandmother and going to church with a friend. But neither of these make sense, so she talks over her problems with her own private God.
Bread & Roses too by Katherine Patterson jPat, jPb5-7 This novel takes place in the winter of 1912 in Lawrence, MA where the plight of textile mill workers unfolds and the lives of two children are enmeshed in complex events. During the strike, Jake and Rosa are sent to live in Barre, VT with an elderly couple. Paterson the author has skillfully woven true events and real historical figures into a fictional story and created vivid settings, clearly drawn characters, and a strong sense of the hardship and injustice faced by the immigrant mill workers. An excellent read for grades 5-8.
Little House on the Prairie by Laura IngallsWilder j/Wil Pa Ingalls decides to sell the little log house, and the family sets out for Indian country. They travel from Wisconsin to Kansas, and there, finally, Pa builds their little house on the prairie. Sometimes farm life is difficult, even dangerous, but Laura and her family are kept busy and happy with the promise of their new life on the prairie.
The Call of the Wild by Jack London jLon, jPb/5-7 The adventures of Buck, part Saint Bernard and part Scotch shepherd, that is forcibly taken to the Klondike gold fields where he eventually becomes the leader of a wolf pack.
Saving Zasha by Randi Barrow jFic/Barrow A gentle and suspenseful story straight from the heart of a dog lover. Just after WWII ends, 13 year-old Mikhail finds a german shepherd named Zasha and her owner, Petr in the woods. The owner dies and Mikhail does everything he can to hide the dog. This novel is a quick read yet weighty and captures the prejudices and aftereffects of the war.
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes jEst None of her classmates pay much attention to Wanda Petronski, a Polish-American girl, until she announces she has 100 dresses in her closet. Everyone laughs and teases her so much that she stops coming to school. Then, her classmates discover she really does have 100 dresses and discover something about teasing and themselves.
The Magic Half by Randi Barrows Eleven-year-old Miri Gill feels left out in her family, which has two sets of twins and her, until she travels back in time to 1935 and discovers Molly, her own lost twin, and brings her back to the present day.
Freckle Juice by Judy Blume jBlu, jPb/3-5 More than anything in the world, Andrew wants freckles. His classmate Nicky has freckles. One day after school, Andrew gets enough courage to ask Nicky where he got his freckles. Sharon offers Andrew her secret freckle juice recipe for fifty cents. He gets more than he bargained for.
Tales of a Fourth-Grade Nothing by Judy Blume jBlu, jPb/3-5 Peter, because he’s the oldest, must deal with Fudgie’s disgusting cuteness, his constant meddling with Peter’s stuff, and other grave offenses, one of which is almost too much to bear. All these incidents are presented with the unfailing ear and big-hearted humor of the masterful Judy Blume.