Staff Picks

Youth Services Librarian
Baby Monkey Private Eye
Selznick, Brian
Scholastic, 2018

Caldecott Medalist Brian Selznick has created another clever children’s book, this time in partnership with his spouse, historian David Serlin.  It’s called Baby Monkey, Private Eye. Baby Monkey is a detective and clients come to his office with funny mysteries to solve.  But Baby Monkey is still a baby, and he needs his snacks and to put on his pants before he does any detective work.  Brian Selznick’s wonderful illustrations require close examination for clues and themes for each mystery.  In fact, there’s an index in the back of the book referencing everything in the detailed pictures.  Baby Monkey, Private Eye works as a great read-aloud for children learning to read, as well as a picture book for younger children. It’s 192 pages, but don’t be put off The book reads quickly.  Most pages are full illustrations and the others have only one large-print sentence.  Baby Monkey, Private Eye is for pre-k and early elementary-aged children as well as for parents who enjoy “look and finds.”

Youth Services Librarian
Seven Miles to Freedom: The Robert Smalls Story
Halfman, Janet
J 973.7415 HAL
Lee & Low Books, 2008

Robert Smalls was born a slave in 1839 in the town of Beaufort, South Carolina. Although he was his master’s favorite, he began to hate slavery at a young age. At the age of 12, he was sent to work in Charleston. When he wasn’t working, he would head outside to the docks to watch the boats.There, he heard workers talking about what it was like “Up North” where everyone was free to learn to read and write This made Robert want freedom even more.  

Soon he received permission from his master to work on the docks. He started out loading and unloading cargo from ships but eventually began working in the shipyard, making and rigging sails. While working in Charleston, Robert met Hannah. They fell in love and wanted to get married. They worked out an agreement with their masters so they could marry. After the birth of his daughter, Robert became even determined to get freedom for his family.

During the Civil War, Robert became a wheelman on the ship Planter. He was responsible for steering the boat and learned the secret whistle signals to pass many forts. With Union lines, only seven miles to the north, Robert and his fellow crewman came up with a plan to sail to freedom.  

Seven Miles to Freedom is an exciting story of bravery profiling one of the unsung heroes of the Civil War.

Youth Services Librarian
Rise of the Jumbies
Baptiste, Tracey
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

In this sequel to The Jumbies, Corinne, her friends, and the rest of the island are still recovering from Severine and her attack on the island. No one looks at Corinne the same now that her connection to the jumbies has been revealed, and when children start to go missing, suspicion is thrown her way. Determined to help her friends and rescue the missing children, Corinne makes a deal with Mama D'Leau, a jumbie even more formidable than Severine. Corinne, with the help of Bouki, Malik, and Dru embarks on a quest to do as Mama D'Leau asks, but will Mama D'Leau hold up her end of the bargain? 

I previously recommended Tracey Baptiste's The Jumbies, and I enthusiastically encourage you to read this one as well. It's not often that a sequel holds the same energy as the original, but the suspense and danger in Rise of the Jumbies kept me turning the pages as easily as the first story. If you like folklore, mermaids, or just a spooky story, you need to read Rise of the Jumbie.