Staff Picks

Emma and the Blue Genie by Cornelia Caroline Funke

Emma and her dog find a floating bottle, and when she pulls the stopper, Emma releases a small, blue genie named Karim.  Karim can’t grant any wishes because an evil yellow genie stole his powerful nose ring.  Now he’s tiny and powerless.  He asks Emma to help him get back his nose ring and he whisks her off on his magic carpet to a city full of scorpions, turbans, desert sands, a dromedary and the evil genie, Sahim.

The War that Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Ada was born with a clubfoot.  Her single mother is ashamed and keeps her inside their cramped apartment at all times. It’s only when her little brother James starts going to school and exploring the neighborhood that Ada learns what happens beyond her walls. When the children of London are evacuated due to the German bombings during WWII, Ada runs away with her brother.  They are placed with a reluctant guardian, Susan, who is suffering with depression. 

I Stand Corrected: How Teaching Western Manners in China Became Its Own Unforgettable Lesson by Eden Collinsworth

Hired to write a book explaining Western etiquette to the Chinese, long-time businesswoman Collinsworth spent a year living in China, exploring the differences between the cultures and customs of China and the West. I Stand Corrected is a funny and entertaining story of her life in China, her struggle to explain Western customs to her Chinese readers and her explanation of the ways China changed in the past decade.

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Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Darrow lives a hard life as a Red, the lowest caste in his society. He works as a HellDiver in underground mines hoping to make Mars habitable for future generations. Through a tragic event, Darrow finds out that he is a slave and that Mars has been livable for hundreds of years. He and his people live below the surface of Mars and are slaves to a society ruled by the Golds. With the help from members of an underground rebellion, Darrow sacrifices everything to seek justice for the enslaved Reds. Brutal and violent, Red Rising is like Hunger Games on steroids.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson

This moving memoir, written in free verse, follows Jacqueline Woodson through her childhood as a young, black girl growing up during the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. The use of poetic verse allows Woodson to capture poignant moments in her childhood and share them in a way that really resonates with the reader.  She talks of growing up with her mother, grandparents, and siblings, first in South Carolina and then in New York City.

The Eighth Day by Diane Salerni

Following the death of his father in a car accident, Jax Aubrey is sent to live with his new guardian, Riley Pendare—someone he’s never heard of, let alone met. Riley is incredibly secretive and doesn’t pay much attention to Jax. One day, which Jax believes to be a Thursday, everyone around him disappears, except for a mysterious teenage girl next door that Jax has never seen before. The next day Jax wakes up and finds it’s Thursday again, except this time everyone is back where they belong and the girl next door is gone.

Surrounded by Sharks by Michael Northrop

Davey’s family is on their first vacation in a couple years and what is his family doing? Sleeping!  While they snore, Davey collects his book and his glasses and, without leaving a note, he heads off to the beach. His plan is to stretch out on the sand and bury his nose in a book, but the sparkling water entices him. The island’s beach is totally deserted. There’s a no swimming sign, but it’s barely readable.

Elephant Company: The Inspiring Story of an Unlikely Hero and the Animals Who Helped Him Save Lives in World War II by Vicki Croke

Englishman Billy Williams landed a job in Burma in 1920 as a “forest man” for a teak company and became enamored with the elephants used by the company to haul logs through remote jungle. Elephant Company is the story of these elephants, their native keepers and Billy’s increasing skill at handling them and fascination with their intelligence and personalities. When Japanese forces invaded Burma in 1942, Billy and the elephants had another job—helping the war effort and saving lives.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Jennifer Niven’s debut novel is poignant and magical. Seventeen-year-old Violet Markey was once an enthusiastic cheerleader, member of Student Council, and a passionate writer. Now, after the death of her older sister, she is depressed, withdrawn, and counting down the days until she can escape from Indiana. Theodore “Freak” Finch, on the ledge of the high school bell tower for reasons that become clear later, meets Violet as she is also peering over the ledge. After helping each other down, Violet and Finch become partners on a school project that encourages them to “explore their great state”.

Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin

Rose is a fifth grader who lives with her father in rural New York.  She has Asperger’s Syndrome and an aide helps her in the classroom.  Rose is obsessed with homophones and prime numbers.  She keeps lists of both and shouts them out when she’s agitated.Rose’s father has a hard time dealing with her endless questions and teacher conferences. He tries, but Rose feels closer to her dog Rain (Reign) and her Uncle Weldon. When a superstorm hits the area, Rain gets lost.

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