Staff Picks

Youth Services Librarian
Can I Tell You a Secret?
Kang, Anna
Harper, 2016

Monty the frog has a very big secret to share with the reader. He doesn’t know how to swim.  He’s tried for a very long time to hide it from everyone he knows, but with a little prodding, he decides to tell his parents. When he finally tells his parents, he gets an unexpected reaction:  they already knew Monty didn’t know how to swim. With the help of his friends, Monty might finally overcome his fear of the water and learn to swim. 

This meta book, or book that involves the reader in the story, is sure to become a favorite of children and adults. 

Find out what Alan does when he gets his teeth back in this humorous new picture book.

Youth Services Librarian
Alice Hoffman
J Hof
Wendy Lamb Books, 2015

Twig and her family live in Sidwell, home to a mysterious winged monster. Every now and then the men of the town talk about hosting a monster hunt to rid Sidwell of the beast once and for all, but nothing ever happens. Twig knows the truth about this supposed monster, and it's the reason her mother's so reclusive and why Twig can never have friends over. Everything changes, though, when the Hall family moves in. Twig thinks she's finally found a friend in her new neighbor, Julia, but when Twig's mother discovers that the Halls are descended from the witch who cursed their family, she forbids Twig from seeing Julia. But what if their friendship holds the key to finally destroying the curse for good?

Hoffman beautifully weaves magic and mystery into the world of the everyday and ordinary in this tale of family, friendship, and forgiveness.

Youth Services Librarian
Fatal Fever: Tracking Down Typhoid Mary
Jarrow, Gail
J 614.5112 JAR
Calkins Creek, 2015

One of the most fascinating medical histories that has ever existed has to be the case of Mary Mallon, also known as “Typhoid Mary.” The book Fatal Fever chronicles her story, and the story of the horrible scourge of typhoid fever, a contagious disease that victimized and killed many people more than 100 years ago.

Mary Mallon was just like millions of young female immigrants coming to America from Europe in the 1880s.  Mary came to America from Ireland to seek a better life.  And she did have a relatively good life in the U.S., for a few years.  Mary was a good cook and she worked for wealthy families in New York, making more money than her fellow immigrant women who worked as domestic servants or laundresses. But life ended as Mary knew it when some of her employer’s family members got sick and died.  It was Mary’s fault.  Mary was a carrier of typhoid bacteria. 

Typhoid bacteria is spread when food is handled or processed with unclean hands.  After investigating, Dr. George Soper and Medical Inspector Josephine Baker of the New York Board of Health tracked Mary down.  Mary put up a fight and tried to flee the medical professionals, but she was caught and sentenced to live in relative isolation on North Brother Island, ¼ mile across the East River in New York City.  After a court fight against the Board of Health, Mary was offered a deal: she would be freed, if she promised not to work as a cook or food handler. Mary agreed to this condition.  But a few years after her release, Mary broke her promise and more people died. 

As Gail Jarrow writes in Fatal Fever, the case of “Typhoid Mary” changed America.  After the Mary Mallon case, and other typhoid outbreaks, the U.S. Public Health Service recommended that cities and towns to build sewer systems and treat water supplies. It also encouraged milk pasteurization for safety.  Handwashing and proper sanitation became a campaign by local and national health departments.  Vaccines were also studied and used to try to prevent typhoid Fever. Today, antibiotics are used if a typhoid outbreak reoccurs. 

Librarian Assistant - Youth Services
Haunted Histories: Creepy castles, dark dungeons, and powerful palaces
Everett, J. H.
J 133.122 EVE
Henry Holt, 2012

This book is all about looking at history of certain buildings and different time periods by visiting some of the ghost stories told about them. It contains good information; for instance, how did one go to the bathroom in the White Tower of London?  It also tells the stories of the people who lived in castles, palaces or were enslaved in dungeons all over the world. The chapter on King Henry VIII and his wives is especially interesting!

The book is illustrated with many pen and ink drawings that make it look like a comic book. This helps the stories from being too dark or scary. There is a part on torture devices, but again, the drawings are clever and the descriptions are not graphic.  

The section in the book about some of the duties in the palace was divided into “Awesome and Awful.”  Did you know they called young knights “Yonkers”?  Or that being a “Wart Rubber” was a real job? Yes, you actually rub people's warts to make them go away! That is better than a “Tripe Dresser.” Their job was to clean deer and cow stomachs after the animals were killed!  Cooks would prepare meat dishes that were stuffed into the stomach linings to cook. Yummy!