Here’s the scoop on some new children’s titles read by our Children’s Librarians. This month Linnea reviews a prank-filled realistic fiction story, a disgustingly interesting nonfiction book, and a suspenseful, death-defying biography.
Whats Hot!?: Last Boy at St. Edith’s by Lee Gjertsen Malone, Worms for Breakfast by Helaine Becker, and Crossing Niagara by Cynthia De Felice.
Last Boy at St. Edith’s
by Lee Gjertsen Malone
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Summary: Jeremy goes to St. Edith’s, a private school with a great academic reputation but a boring social one. Originally an all-girls school, boys were invited to attend years ago as the school attempted to go co-ed. Unfortunately, as years passed, the number of boys enrolled dropped to fewer and fewer until one year, Jeremy finds himself the ONLY boy. What’s worse? His mother refuses to let him transfer. Determined to leave but with now way out Jeremy hatches a desperate plan. With the help of his best friend, Claudia, they decide to pull pranks that will get him expelled. There are two rules for pranking: NO ONE GETS HURT & NOTHING GETS BROKEN.The first prank goes off without a hitch but as the pranking continues, the rules are broken. Jeremy realizes that his life at St. Edith’s may not be as miserable as he thought and now he might stand to lose everything.
For kids who like: realistic fiction, “The Dumbest Idea Ever” by Jim Gownely, “Fort” by Cynthia De Felice
Age group: 10+
This Librarian’s opinion: I was pleasantly surprised by this book. It was the right combination of silly situations mixed with serious themes. Enough to be relatable without being too ridiculously over the top or sounding too much like an afterschool special. Also, I feel like it’s hard to find this kind of story with a male main character. Throughout the book we see Jeremy mature. He begins to realize that events and situations have been keeping him from being a “normal guy” are the things that have actually made him a better person. A good lesson for soon to be middle schoolers. That being said, there is nothing to offend younger readers here but the characters are complex. Most of the conflict in this book stems preteen friendships and social pressures, issues that a younger reader may not be able to identify with yet.
Worms for Breakfast: How to Feed a Zoo
by Helaine Becker
Summary: What does it take to be a Zoo chef? What do they do? What do zoo animals eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner? This book answers all these questions and more, providing young readers with interesting facts about animal behavior and how zoo workers work to preserve these behaviors in their captive clients. The book includes interviews and recipes from real zoo chefs.
For kids who like: National Geographic’s Weird But True series, Ripley’s Believe it or Not? Series, learning about animals and zoos
Age group: interest level 7+, reading level 9+ , This isn’t really a “read from cover-to-cover book” it’s more fun to sift through the pages and pull out interesting facts. The cramped text may intimidate younger readers but the subject matter may be compelling enough to draw them in.
This Librarian’s opinion: This book does a great job of covering a subject that would be interesting to kids (& adults) but would never occur to them. Plus, it is filled with the gross but true facts kids love. For instance, I learned the rabbits eat their own poop because it contains some essential nutrients. With quality “nuggets” like that, what’s not to love!
Crossing Niagara: The Death-Defying Tightrope Adventures of the Great Blondin
by Matt Tavares
Genre: Biography, picture book
Summary: Jean Francois Gravelet, aka. The Great Blondin, longs to cross the great Niagara falls on a high wire. After much time spent generating interest and working to find landowners that will let him install his wire, Blondin makes his first attempt to cross in 1859. Throughout the summer of 1859 and 1860, Blondin crosses several more times often while performing daring tricks (even carrying a man on his back!).
For kids who like: true stories/biographies, Who Was/Is? series, “The Man Who Walked Between the Towers” by Mordicai Gerstein, “Mirette on the High Wire” by Emily Arnold McCully
Age group: 7-9
This Librarian’s opinion: Picture book biographies have become a trend over the past couple years and while they are a great way to convey nonfiction information to younger children, I feel like some authors neglect to think about whether the subject matter will appeal to children. What could be more compelling than the true story of a “death-defying” act? Beautifully illustrated with an interesting (and sometimes anxiety inducing) storyline.
written by Linnea Moosmann