Staff Picks

Librarian Assistant
Izzy Barr, Running Star
Mills, Claudia
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015

Izzy has a problem, she is always coming in second place after her big brother, Dustin, when it comes to her father’s free time. She is a star athlete and her goal is to win the city’s 10k race for her age group. But will her dad show up to cheer her on or be too busy?  Izzy learns to find her inner strength and to face her feelings.  Will it be in time to head off disappointment and show everyone who is the fastest in the whole third grade? This book is in a series of Franklin School Friends books that features three girls who stick together through the ups and downs of third grade with real friendship.

Youth Services Librarian
A Handful of Stars
Lord, Cynthia
Scholastic Press, 2015

Twelve-year-old Lily lives with her grandparents and blind dog, Lucky, in a remote corner of Maine known for blueberries. One summer day, Lucky slips out of his collar and runs across the blueberry barrens. She races after him, and tries everything within her power to stop him. She can’t and he keeps running until a girl feeds him part of her lunch. The girl’s name is Salma, and her family is one of the migrant families that come to Maine every summer to rake the wild blueberries. Usually local kids and the migrant kids don’t talk to each other; but after Salma helps stop Lucky, Lily knows she must thank her.  Lily’s grandmother insists she take something with her, since Lucky at her lunch, so Lily heads back to Salma’s with a pork pie for her family.

After that, Lily and Salma become great friends. Salma comes by almost every day to help Lily paint bee houses that Lily sells at her grandparents store, saving the money to get Lucky an operation that may restore his vision. The houses are selling so well, Salma talks Lily into selling them at the local blueberry festival. Lily has a plan of her own, to help Salma win the title of blueberry queen. It won’t be an easy task: no migrant worker has ever competed in the blueberry queen pageant, she has no dress, and isn’t sure if her artwork will count as a talent. Lily and Salma work together to make the blueberry festival the ever.

Youth Services Librarian
I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives
Alifirenka, Caitlin and Martin Ganda
305.23509 ALI
Little, Brown and Company, 2015

Lots of people have had a pen pal at some time in their life. But few people have had the life changing experience with long distance friendship as Caitlin Alifirenka and Martin Ganda. Their wonderful story is shared in I Will Always Write Back: How One Letter Changed Two Lives. In alternating chapters, Caitlin and Martin chronicle their amazing international friendship. 

In 1997, Caitlin is a typical 12 year-old girl from Pennsylvania, interested mostly in clothes, music, and boys. But her interests start to change in 7th grade with an assignment in English class. The assignment is to pick an international pen pal. Caitlin picks a student from Zimbabwe in Southern Africa.  Martin Ganda is the student from Zimbabwe.  Worlds apart, culturally, socially, and economically, Martin and Caitlin start exchanging letters. Martin’s letters slowly reveal to Caitlin how very difficult his life is. His family struggles to find enough food and to pay the rent in their rough, impoverished neighborhood.    Despite all his struggles, Martin succeeds in school, becoming the best student in his class. Caitlin learns that many people, like her friend Martin, have life challenges more significant than deciding what to wear or what movie to see on Friday night.

As years pass, the bond between Caitlin and Martin grows deeper.   Martin’s dream of attending college in the United States and making a better life his family becomes Caitlin’s dream too. Caitlin and her parents work day and night to secure Martin a scholarship and entry into the U.S.   They succeed – to everyone’s joy!  For an inspirational read about friendship and the pursuit of a dream, pick up this memoir. For ages 12 on up. 



Mary Poppins & Page Turner
Youth Services Pet Frogs
I'm a frog
Willems, Mo
Hyperion Books for Children, an imprint of Disney Book Group, 2013

Our esteemed frog reviewer, Page Turner says, “Everyone was saying this author writes funny books so I took a look. But as soon as I saw the cover I began to have doubts. What does a pig know about being a beautiful, green, hoppy frog? So I was SO surprised to find myself laughing at Piggy who discovered how great it is to hop! 
“Well, I too, liked this book even though there is no picture of a frog!” croaks Mary Hoppins. “It is great to be a frog! And I hope that everyone tries using their imagination, ribbit!”
 Two frog thumbs up for this book.